A simple suggestion for the overwhelmed newbie


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  1. #1
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    A simple suggestion for the overwhelmed newbie

    Recently, once again, some poor unfortunate tried to get advice about what distro he should start with, and once again, the contridictory cacophony of partisan voices that responded couldn't have been very helpful.

    So I had a thought. While it's perfectly acceptable to just jump in and install something, and then maybe install something else, those who are what I like to call "li-curious" and wonder if there's a way to make a logical, orderly approach might want to forget about picking a distro for a while and concentrate on picking your favorite desktop environment.

    Besides offering a choice of disributions, Linux offers a choice of desktop environments-- graphical user interfaces. Each of them approaches the question of "point and click" in its own way. The most popular and beginner friendly desktop environments are Gnome and KDE. KDE has the reputation for being the desktop most similar to Microsoft WIndows in terms of look and feel, but there's only so many ways that you can point and click, and if you're used to MS windows, you ought to find gnome reasonably intuitive and easy tp pick up.

    Gnome (my personal favorite) is fairly simple and intuitive for me, makes for a nice, uncluttered desktop, and has a couple of features I really love. (I can open a console window just by right-clicking on the desktop). KDE is flashy, powerful, and feature-rich.

    Get your hands on a couple of live CD's. A live cd is a linux operating system that doesn't need to be installed on your hard drive ; it runs entirely from the CD and from the RAM. This means that a live Linux CD is not only easy to try, you can try it without risking any of your current hard drive data. You can go online , surf, play games, play audio and video files from your hard drive, and a lot more. If you have more than one CD drive, you can burn CDs, using data from your windows hard drive. (a live CD won't write to your hard drive unless you enable it, but most can READ from your hard drive.

    Besides being an easy, no risk way to test-drive Linux, live CDs have a lot of great uses, including repair and rescue-- but that's for another post.

    You want to get a live CD for each desktop environment. Live CDs that use KDE include Knoppix and Kanotix. Live CDs that use Gnome include Gnoppix, and the live version of Ubuntu. Try them both out thoroughly, and see which you prefer.

    Remember that you're testing the desktop environment itself, and not the applications. Certain applications are associated with gnome (they tend to have names that start with "g", like gedit and gthumb, and others are associated with KDE (they tend to have names that start with "k", like kedit and k3b). On live CDs, these associations tend to be rigidly enforced due to space restrictions-- but when you pick a distribution to install to your hard drive, you can almost always mix and match with ease, according to your preferences. If (like me) you prefer gnome but love to use the CD burning utility K3B, you absolutely can have both.

    When you've decided which desktop you prefer, you're already starting to get a handle on what sort of distro you want. You can usually pick either desktop to go with most distibutions, but there are definitely distros that don't go so well with gnome (mepis, kanotix, and slackware need to have it installed. In my limited experience, it crashes a lot with SuSE) . Gnome tends to run good on those distros where it is the default: debian, red hat/fedora, and Ubuntu. (If there are distros that don't go well with KDE, I don't know much about them, ' cause I'm not a KDE guy,)

    These are only the two most popular options. I should mention that there are other, more specialized desktops that can be installed on your system, but beginners shouldn't worry about them just yet. Some are good for older systems because they don't use as many resources. Others are (to my uninformed eyes) just plain weird. And then, of course, there's the Linux Power User-- who don't need no stinkin' desktop!

    Anyway, if you find the choices of distro dizzying, there's a chance that knowing whether you prefer KDE or Gnome will give you enough practical knowledge to make it all seem less intimidating-- and there's also the chance that I have confused you further. If I have, I'm sorry. Just remember, it's all about the fun!

    I'll be back with 24 hours to dress up this post with some nice helpful links and screen shots... oh, and I'll also clean up some of the typos.

    HEY! I think that THIS IS MY 1000th post! Before I was blackbelt_jones, I was posting in here as spiderbaby1958. That was when I was posting in here with a Windows computing. When I got online with my fist superslow Mandrake system, I immediately came here and opened a new account. Therefore, I mark my beginning with Linux from the time I joined this forum as blackbelt_jones, three years ago this month.
    Last edited by blackbelt_jones; 10-11-2005 at 12:58 PM.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackbelt_jones
    You want to get a live CD for each desktop environment. Live CDs that use KDE include Knoppix and Kanotix. Live CDs that use Gnome include Gnoppix, and the live version of Ubuntu. Try them both out thoroughly, and see which you prefer.
    For KDE live CD's, don't forget SimplyMepis!
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  3. #3
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    This should be a link on the main page.

    http://eedok.voidofmind.com/linux/chooser.html

    EDIT
    or maybe this one. just googled it.

    http://www.zegeniestudios.net/ldc/
    /edit

    hlrguy
    Last edited by hlrguy; 10-11-2005 at 08:10 PM.
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by hlrguy
    This should be a link on the main page.

    http://eedok.voidofmind.com/linux/chooser.html

    or maybe this one. just googled it.

    http://www.zegeniestudios.net/ldc/
    Here is another distro chooser: http://polishlinux.org/choose/quiz/

    And a Linux Distribution Comparison table: http://polishlinux.org/choose/comparison/

    Regards,
    Borys

  5. #5
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    Nice thread! I really think that if there were more sites that people could go and demystify Linux, many more people would use it.
    I am currently (when we have time) teaching my wife (under Mandrake 10.1) and so far she has been able to do everything she was able to do under XP.
    I have mailed my first copy of Ubunutu to a friend in Minnesota, and have demonstrated Knoppix and Ubunutu to several people, many have taken the step to do more research on their own.
    black)belt, I wish I had read something like this a year ago! I saw a live cd only 5 months ago and was blown away that an entire OS could be run and interacted with from a cd!
    Screen shots would be really cool, since most of the people I know are not technical, and they are afraid of leaving the MS Safety Blanket and it would be helpful if they knew what to expect the first time.
    Dual booting is so easy though, and obviously that's the next step; is there a Linux program that is as easy and friendly to use as Partition Magic? Aside from that, I have suggested that people just install a secondary drive (I have even given away no less than 3 20 gb drives for that purpose).
    Cool, thread maybe some screen shots of a standard gnome and kde enviroment. I'd be more than happy to help, let me know.

    Tim

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by HAL_JORDAN
    is there a Linux program that is as easy and friendly to use as Partition Magic? Aside from that, I have suggested that people just install a secondary drive (I have even given away no less than 3 20 gb drives for that purpose).
    The SimplyMepis live CD has a graphical partitioning tool called QTParted that IMHO is easier to use than Part Magic.

    There is also the terminal based cfdisk that is very intuitive and straightforward.
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  7. #7
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    Fairly good discussion point...

    but most distros strive to be objective and provide both. It might not help them. but you can say that as of date of posting, most major distros support gnome, and surely its worth a try. Yet some continue to say how gnome devels this and that, and kde is better....

    Yeah... the only sure way is to try it and find out. But, kde's reputation is not really fair --- on first start, kde will allow you to choose the settings, which includes how behavior are defined for applications.

    Can someone make this a permanent main thread?
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  8. #8
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    Good Idea

    A sticky would be a good idea IMO, maybe we could even post results of people that have never tried Linux before and their opinions.

    Since I am fairly new (just a few months, as of July 2005), I'll start with me. I prefer gnome of kde, because it just looks cleaner to me. I also like the way that the menus are laid out.
    When I first loaded Mandrake 10.0, I didn't know what Gnome or kde even was, so it defaulted into kde and that's what I was used to. After trying various distros (Mandrake, Debian, CentOS, FC4, Ubunutu and Gentoo), I am back to a dual boot Mandrake and Debian, and I am running both with the gnome desktop.
    I can accomplish all tasks in kde that I can in gnome, it's just a preference.

    After new users discover that they can change the application window, border and, theme and icons anyway they choose, then those that like to tweak rarely if ever go back.

    Such an unlimited freedom of choice can me daunting to many new people, but thanks to the Linux community, more and more new people are discovering what Linux has to offer.

    Tim

  9. #9
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    Yes, Live CDs is a good intro to the maddingly wonderful world of Linux. It was several years before I came across one. By that time I had installed and played with several distros.

    Success is must for a newbie to keep coming back. So I would recommend Ubuntu and Mepis. The first has the Gnome DE and the second comes with KDE. These two will give a newcommer to Linux a taste of what one can do. They just work. Later, when one feels comfortable jump on the Debian proper band wagon.

    Like the previous poster, I too am a Gnome fanboy. I started out the first two years using KDE. Then tried Gnome. Haven't looked back. Before this turns into a flame war, let me state, also like a previous poster, that it's all a matter of taste. I can do the same things using Gnome as with KDE. Some not so easily, still... As this is a thread on advice for newbies, I would suggest starting with Gnome. It's a simpler and cleaner DE if for no other reason that KDE has a menu that tends to over whelm you. Even I get lost in it sometimes.


    Dual booting is certainly a viable way to have Win and Linux on one machine. I've tried it but find it a bit messy for my taste. A better way is to purchase a HD caddy. It allow one to easily swap HDs with ease. Only $30 or so.

  10. #10
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    the best part is, you can install as many desktop environments as you want, and use each one, and make up your own mind that way.

    I personally choose GNOME, but I haven't tried xfce or e17 yet. I *really* like the looks of e17. =)

    -Charles

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigmac99
    the best part is, you can install as many desktop environments as you want, and use each one, and make up your own mind that way.

    I personally choose GNOME, but I haven't tried xfce or e17 yet. I *really* like the looks of e17. =)

    -Charles
    e17?

    I've started using xfce on my Debian System. (Still using Gnome on my SUSE system, which is what I usually run.) For me, xfce started to look good once I figured out how to set keyboard shortcuts. Keyboard shortcuts have become as essential to my way of working as using 10 workspaces. I love the simple simple simple look of fluxbox, but if there are no keyboard shortcuts (could find no mention of themin the fluxbox wiki) I'm not interested.

    HEY, I JUST NOTICED THAT SOMEONE MADE MY THREAD INTO A STICKY! I feel like I just won an Oscar. I'd like to thank the academy, and my good friend Linus...
    Last edited by blackbelt_jones; 02-02-2006 at 02:17 PM.

  12. #12
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    A lot of people will be wanting to get as far away from Windows as quickly as they can. So Enlightenment might be good for them, with no Gnome or KDE.

    It's also much smaller and faster and as close to tastefull as a computer ever gets.
    Last edited by lugoteehalt; 02-02-2006 at 02:37 PM.
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  13. #13
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    blackbelt_jones

    I'm at work right now but when I get home I'll post a link I found on how to setup keyboard-shortcuts in fluxbox.

  14. #14
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    Vector

    I saw a ref to Vector Linux on another forum. This information is great for a newbie like me. I have alot of spare time right now and want to get as knowledgable of Linux as I can.

    Of course, the first "challenge" was what to DL from the Vector site. I simply selected the latest date, largest item (SOHO 5.1.2 Live 2). I have no idea if that was the right DL or not. There are some follow-on files that were put on the FTP site after that file and I guess I'll check them out when I get this one up and running.

    Naturally, I can change which Linux I install and work with with the wind and it sounded like Vector might be quick and easy. The latest refs here probably would be too and perhaps I'll check them out too.

    Anyone wanting to give me initial heads-ups on how to best install this Vector version let me know. I'll look around and try to understand what KDE and other lingo stands for too.

    This should be an interesting endeavor.

    Gt
    Last edited by goingtopot; 02-11-2006 at 12:19 AM.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackbelt_jones
    e17?

    I love the simple simple simple look of fluxbox, but if there are no keyboard shortcuts (could find no mention of themin the fluxbox wiki) I'm not interested.
    Fluxbox has a hotkey system Blackbelt.


    http://fluxbox.sourceforge.net/docbo...html/c290.html
    Last edited by ill_bill; 08-07-2006 at 09:23 AM.
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