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Last post Author Topic: What’s this "Linux" thing and why should i try it?  (Read 19490 times)

zridling

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What’s this "Linux" thing and why should i try it?
« on: March 12, 2008, 09:19:26 PM »
[via makeuseof.com]:
a short article explaining the Linux thing.

So, what is this Linux thing?
Linux is an operating system, just like Windows and OSX are operating systems.... When someone says they use Linux, what they mean is they use a distribution (aka distro) of Linux. Without the GNU tools or any applications, it can be a little useless. A distro is a software bundle. It includes the Linux kernel (the part that actually talks to the hardware), the GNU tools, and whatever applications the person or people who started that distro thought were useful, all configured in a way that they think works well.

tux-small.png

Why should I use it?
There are a number of reasons you may want to try Linux on your computer. For me, the main reason to switch was to try something new. I wanted to know what else was out there besides Windows, which I was bored with, and OSX, which I don’t like. Trying something new and learning more about how computers work might not be your thing, though, so here are some other reasons.
  • It’s free.
  • You’re free.
  • It’s secure.
  • It’s easy.

How do I get it, and what’s with that penguin up there?
________________________________________________
PS: If you do try it, don't automatically reach for Ubuntu if you don't want to. Linux Mint, PCLinuxOS, Mepis, et al. are better in some ways.

f0dder

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Re: What’s this "Linux" thing and why should i try it?
« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2008, 08:08:13 AM »
Quote
It’s free.
Only if your time is free.
Quote
You’re free.
Not if you're a developer :]
Quote
It’s secure.
Only if you're not running insecure software on it...
Quote
It’s easy.
Unless you want to do something slightly poweruser-ish, then you have to drop to a shell and edit arcane configuration files. Last time I played with Ubuntu, getting support for multiple monitors was a poweruser-ish thing.

:D
- carpe noctem

zridling

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Re: What’s this "Linux" thing and why should i try it?
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2008, 08:19:00 AM »
I'll have to give the author his due on these points:
— It’s free.
— You’re free.
— It’s secure.
— It’s easy.

While your counterpoints are all true, no one's time is free, right?; developing naturally ties you to a platform; insecure software doesn't reach the kernel level in Linux; and the Ubuntu forums provide unparalleled support, and have helped me solve a few problems unrelated to Ubuntu since I don't use it.

f0dder

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Re: What’s this "Linux" thing and why should i try it?
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2008, 08:33:36 AM »
Quote
no one's time is free, right?
True, but then we could go into a "what is most time consuming?" discussion. And that isn't just about windows having more familiarity, really - it's about windows being more polished. If something requires a couple of clicks on windows but you end up having to google or use support forums on linux, linux loses.

Quote
developing naturally ties you to a platform
Yes, but I was (once again) referring to the GPL virus. It's hard to do very much on a linux platform unless you either A) reinvent the wheel or B) use GPL components and thus have to release your own stuff under GPL. This isn't as big an issue when developing for windows.

Quote
insecure software doesn't reach the kernel level in Linux
Oh, it has done so every now and then... my point was more that if you say "linux is secure", you have to say "NT is secure" as well. The NT kernel actually offers better and more granular security than the linux kernel... although things are slowly getting better for linux. But normal distros still use root-and-restoftheworld instead of ACLs.

Quote
and the Ubuntu forums provide unparalleled support, and have helped me solve a few problems unrelated to Ubuntu since I don't use it.
That's great, but I still have the sense of having had to google or user forums/whatever for things on linux that just should have worked out of the box. Like the multi-monitor thing. I specifically picked Ubuntu since it' supposedly targeted at regular users and tries to be friendly and easy to use etc.
- carpe noctem

allen

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Re: What’s this "Linux" thing and why should i try it?
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2008, 09:01:25 AM »
I have willed myself away from installing Linux on this machine.  In moments of weakness, I've downloaded 3 or 4 iso's but manage to stop myself before burning them.

I love linux.  I typically just run fluxbox, live in the shell, and watch as my productivity grinds to 5%.  When I'm in linux, I spend 45% of my time in the web browser reading linux crap, and 45% of my time tooling with it, editing this and that, and the other 10% is split up between making coffee, pissing and actually being productive.  The two least productive years of my life were the years I spent playing, literally, with Linux.

So I'm using my will powers to stay where I play less (and enjoy more software compatibility) -- Windows.

justice

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Re: What’s this "Linux" thing and why should i try it?
« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2008, 09:40:25 AM »
I'd love to run an alternative desktop OS to Windows, because I believe things can be a lot better. Whenever someone says linux is ready for then masses I'm excited, but then I read about things like stopping audio stuttering and jerky video; and fixing hibernate and suspend and the lack of commercial ecosystem for multimedia and design software that I'd like to see. And every year is the year of linux for the desktop, but last year the most media-profilic person that created desktop orientated patches stopped working on it.

So I'm hoping for a new competitor, maybe desktop bsd or yahoo will come with a desktop os that keeps the person in mind. (beos) Windows works for a lot of people because they learned how to sidestep many issues. Everyday I depend on software to make the desktop experience less flawed (farr, arsclip, roboform, clickoff, foldershare, anti virus, anti spyware, logmein etc) and i guess it's a bit grating. it certainly motivated me to become involved in IT, it's really bad (on windows) and it's really hard to make a program/website that's as effortless to use as your tv. Perhaps better middleware is now coming available (.net etc, I'm not aware of competiting technologies on OSX or linux except for similar implementations like mono).
« Last Edit: March 13, 2008, 09:48:08 AM by justice »

Rover

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Re: What’s this "Linux" thing and why should i try it?
« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2008, 11:31:10 AM »
I've been "playing" with Linux since 1995 or so and have yet to move to it full time.  I moved from DOS + Win 3.11 (for workgroups) to OS/2 3.0 in about 1 day.  Tweaked it over the next month and used the heck out of it for a long time.  I moved from there to XP. (OS/2 and XP are cousins you know... maybe brothers even)

Using lots of little tweaks, I have XP running about like I want, with a cmd line available as needed (seldom). 

Currently, my biggest problem with XP is that freaking registry.  What a f*ed concept that is....  Bloatware is #2 on the "windows things that suck" list.

I'd love to move to Linux and continue to look for the distro. that will let me.  I will not spend two months tweaking sound, video, codec installation, etc.  I'm even willing to consider OSX given it's BSD base and Intel architecture these days.  I know that my same email and browser apps seem to run better on Linux (Thunderbird, Firefox) and I'm willing to bet my overall system performance will be better.    I just really don't want to spend the rest of my computer life compiling drivers, a new kernel, etc.

Linux Mint and Mandrake 2008 Spring (currently in beta) look to be good candidates.  Time will tell.
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f0dder

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Re: What’s this "Linux" thing and why should i try it?
« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2008, 11:37:14 AM »
Quote
(OS/2 and XP are cousins you know... maybe brothers even)
I'd say a bit more distant than cousins - it's true that Microsoft worked along on OS/2, ditched it, and then went off to do NT, pulling in Dave Cutler of VMS fame... but it wasn't like MS just grabbed the OS/2 code and ran, and based NT on that :)

Quote
Currently, my biggest problem with XP is that freaking registry.  What a f*ed concept that is....  Bloatware is #2 on the "windows things that suck" list.
The registry is a good idea (as opposed to a zillion different config file formats placed a zillion different locations), it's just heavily mis-used.

- carpe noctem

Gothi[c]

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Re: What’s this "Linux" thing and why should i try it?
« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2008, 11:49:05 AM »
I've been using GNU/Linux as both desktop and server OS for years now.
I'm at the point where I'm much less productive in windows, and generally get really frustrated using it. Even though once upon a time I used to use and develop in it frequently.

In my experience, setting up things the way you want it takes much longer in GNU/Linux, but the end result is ever so much worth every single minute spent.

I don't really like going into the whole Freedom debate since it is a minefield full of opinions. Some see the GPL as freedom and others see it as restrictive. It's probably both! It prevents developers from making non-Free(as in freedom) software (don't forget you can still sell software for money under the GPL.). This creates a situation where a vast array of Free development libraries is available which you can modify, edit, build upon, use, abuse, etc, as long as your program is also free. I think, as a developer, that one restriction for the developer, to make your software Free, is very much worth the restriction (of not being able to make your software non-Free.).

Over the years, "arcane" configuration files are not arcane at all, to me, GUI's feel arcane. This is all a matter of what you're used to, one is not superior over the other.

I don't think any one should push one other into any one operating system. Each OS has it's pro's and con's to different people. Right now there is more windows users on dc than there is GNU/Linux fellows, and I'd love to see DC become a place where both can share their experiences in peace without namecalling and prejudgementalisms (is that a word?  :-[ ). Especially now that cross-platform applications are becoming more common and widespread, there is no reason for that not to be possible.

It has to be said though, that the more I grow into one OS the more I outgrow the other, and despite the availability of more cross platform applications, they are still vastly different worlds and require vastly different mindsets to use to their full potential.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2008, 11:52:00 AM by Gothi[c] »

Rover

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Re: What’s this "Linux" thing and why should i try it?
« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2008, 11:52:46 AM »
Quote
(OS/2 and XP are cousins you know... maybe brothers even)
I'd say a bit more distant than cousins - it's true that Microsoft worked along on OS/2, ditched it, and then went off to do NT, pulling in Dave Cutler of VMS fame... but it wasn't like MS just grabbed the OS/2 code and ran, and based NT on that :)
Actually, it's more like that than you think.  I used to run OS/2 v 2.1 apps under NT 4.0.  NT uses OS/2 variable in the environment settings.  The XP Kernel is just a tweaked version of NT, right?  (I could be wrong)
Quote
Currently, my biggest problem with XP is that freaking registry.  What a f*ed concept that is....  Bloatware is #2 on the "windows things that suck" list.
The registry is a good idea (as opposed to a zillion different config file formats placed a zillion different locations), it's just heavily mis-used.

As opposed to a zillion config files all over the place, yes.  As opposed to a sane process of keeping your app and config files to your own directory structure, no, it is not. 

There are about 236 other ways of handling config files, 96% of which are better than the registry as implemented by M$.
(These are precise numbers BTW  :P )
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f0dder

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Re: What’s this "Linux" thing and why should i try it?
« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2008, 12:01:05 PM »
Win2000 is NT5.0, XP is NT5.1.

And just because there's similarities between OS/2 and NT doesn't mean NT was based on OS/2 - although there's obviously some influence there... and heavy influence from VMS :). Btw, NT can run other subsystems than just Win32 - posix, for instance. And iirc there was some OS/2 support as well?

Gothi[c]: I sorta prefer config files to GUI config, actually, my problem with linux is that there's so many different incoherent formats, and that files are different places on different distros, despite that unified hierarchy project whatever.

Quote
As opposed to a sane process of keeping your app and config files to your own directory structure, no, it is not.
Ho humm, I still think the registry is a better idea than <whatever> config file format. There should have been better/easier hive-file support though, so you could place the hivefile next to the application for portable apps.
- carpe noctem

Edvard

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Re: What’s this "Linux" thing and why should i try it?
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2008, 02:50:52 PM »
Geez folks, use Linux or don't. It's all a matter of personal taste and what you're willing to do to get work done.

Personally Linux does exactly what I want it to do when I need it done. Period. Windows fights me the whole way taking me from dialog to menu to check box with no results until I finally give up and Google it anyways, and 90% of the time I find NO answer for my Windows problem and I end up saying under my breath "If this was Linux I'd be DONE".

I'm taking my GNU and going home now...
 >:(

Lashiec

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Re: What’s this "Linux" thing and why should i try it?
« Reply #12 on: March 14, 2008, 07:53:50 PM »
I'm taking my GNU and going home now...
 >:(

OK, we accept the Tux Droid as a pet ;D

urlwolf

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Re: What’s this "Linux" thing and why should i try it?
« Reply #13 on: March 15, 2008, 09:10:54 PM »
I agree re: productivity and messing around with linux.
Mostly drivers/low level stuff.

Although people who cross the threshold (their sysadmin-fu becomes really good) do get more done compared to windows users... a point I have never reached.

If you _Must_ use a linux app (e.g., fish terminal, ksh, package management for some OSS) on windows, the best way to go without  fiddling with drivers is this:

http://www.andlinux.org/index.php

Really cool.

zridling

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Re: What’s this "Linux" thing and why should i try it?
« Reply #14 on: March 16, 2008, 10:45:09 PM »
Kudos to f0dder for the Dave Cutler reference. Haven't heard that name in ages.

Quote
Gothi[c]: I don't think any one should push one other into any one operating system. Each OS has it's pro's and con's to different people. Right now there is more windows users on dc than there is GNU/Linux fellows, and I'd love to see DC become a place where both can share their experiences in peace.... Especially now that cross-platform applications are becoming more common and widespread, there is no reason for that not to be possible.

This is where I'm at. While I deeply dislike Vista's heavy footprint, I realize the OS is a tool of familiarity first, choice second. Once you grow accustomed to one, you tend to stick with it, much like the type of toothpaste you use. And so far, DC members have been overly kind to my GNU/Linux newbie talk for the past year. Windows will always be more popular, but the point of GNU/Linux is not popularity, trust me. The reason I've stuck with it is that now that I'm past the beginner stage, it's become a lot of fun.

[thank you!]  :-*

techidave

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Re: What’s this "Linux" thing and why should i try it?
« Reply #15 on: March 17, 2008, 08:50:23 PM »
I just downloaded and installed Simply Mepis on my Gateway laptop.  Everything works ok BUT the wireless and I cannot figure out how to install it.  It keeps saying "no network device found".  I have installed the "wireless tools" but still no luck.

I like some of the features but the degree of dificulty I am experiencing in getting the wirelss working is unacceptable.    :wallbash: :wallbash: :wallbash:

Any ideas?

f0dder

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Re: What’s this "Linux" thing and why should i try it?
« Reply #16 on: March 17, 2008, 08:58:02 PM »
Wireless on linux (well, on "anything-but-windows", more or less :)) is a big pain. For some reason, wireless NICs are one of the device types that's very hard to get specifications for, and many w-NICs require some firmware code that it's also basically impossible to get a (re)distribution license for.

Your best bet is probably http://ndiswrapper.sourceforge.net/ + windows drivers, but I've never messed with this myself.
- carpe noctem

Armando

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Re: What’s this "Linux" thing and why should i try it?
« Reply #17 on: March 18, 2008, 11:00:22 PM »
Or just find a linux distro that will have it work out of the box. That's what I did... The first one to work was PCLinuxOS. Then Ubuntu.

Stoic Joker

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Re: What’s this "Linux" thing and why should i try it?
« Reply #18 on: March 18, 2008, 11:44:29 PM »
I've got Slackware 12 running on a VPC on my Vista x64 box. I'm going to agree with f0dder on the spread all over hell and back .config files as I can't seen to get the damn thing to do shit and that's after Goggling my ass off for about a week.

The typical Linux-esk answer to any question I've found is a quick off-handed blurb of "Just put arcane reference in the .config file" and then no information is given about where in the file to put it, or where the freaking file is at.

This is about half as friendly as a home lobotomy kit.

f0dder

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Re: What’s this "Linux" thing and why should i try it?
« Reply #19 on: March 19, 2008, 04:55:44 AM »
To be fair, slackware isn't the easiest distro to get along with, and is mostly used by elitists, imho. If you don't mind wasting (yes, wasting!, since it doesn't give much real benefit) some time on compiling things from source, I find gentoo is the distro I've gotten best along with for my server needs. Flexible, relatively decently laid out, etc.

Ubuntu is nice if you don't need to do anything special, but as soon as you do, you're back to opening terminals and hand-editing config files. Last time I checked, things like installing Java, decent video drivers, and getting multi-monitor support were to be considered special ;)
- carpe noctem

Gothi[c]

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Re: What’s this "Linux" thing and why should i try it?
« Reply #20 on: March 19, 2008, 05:06:36 AM »
Quote
yes, wasting!, since it doesn't give much real benefit
It does give real benefit, but the benefit isn't useful to your average joe user.
Portage lets you compile many packages directly from cvs/svn, and have the result managed by your package management. It's also very easy to apply/manage patches when everything is compiled from source. Which is great if some patch for a security problem is released and you want to fix it before your repositories have the fix, which is impossible with binary distributions unless you want to compile your own stuff and have it not managed by your package management, which always comes to bite you in the ass anyway. When I find myself on a binary distro, I find myself compiling half of the stuff I need from source anyway, manually. It drives me bonkers to not have it supported by my package management system. If you're doing development it just makes sense. For 'normal' desktop users it doesn't. I find the whole optimization stuff just as much bullshit as the next guy, since the benefit is minimal. But there are definitively countless other advantages.

Like I said before, if you're relatively new to GNU/Linux, or if you're not very proficient in it, and you don't have the time to spend to learn a new system, then just stick to what you're using, instead of trying it for 2 days and then coming back to complain in forums. It requires you to edit config files. Deal with it. That's just way it's built. Just like windows makes you use GUI's. You don't see me bitching in forums about windows making me use a GUI, and I HATE GUI'S for configuring stuff  :D So, I just don't use windows. As simple as that.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2008, 05:11:17 AM by Gothi[c] »

Stoic Joker

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Re: What’s this "Linux" thing and why should i try it?
« Reply #21 on: March 19, 2008, 08:23:09 PM »
...Have you read the topic for this thread?

You're complaining about people who are trying Linux ... In a thread that's about "Why You Should Try Linux".

 :o

So... Back to the trials... :)

I selected Slackware because I'd had fun with it (v9) a few years back and thought I'd give it another go. The objective being that if I started with the one that had the worst reputation for being a pain in the ass ... Then the rest should be easy.

It's not per-se' that I have a issue with the rather scattered manner in which the OS is configured ... It's the complete lack of anything even vaguely resembling concise documentation that I'm finding annoying. e.g. Slackware.com (now at v12) has approx have a useful "manual" posted for v9 which is a bit of a g-a-p. I'm guessing the folks there were too busy making hugh improvements to be bothered with writting anything down to share with the rest of the class.

The install instructions (on their site) for creating partitions which must be done manually before running the install ramble on for two or three pages, and yet somehow still  manage to not contain enough information to create a partition!

Even when installing on a bare drive, LILO (the mandatory boot loader) is listed as "Optional" by the installer.

While I've actually managed to get the damn thing on the internet, and get the Samba config widget to give the shares a clean bill of health ... the machine can't even browse itself. It actually managed to force me to appreciate the fact that I've earned an error message; Oh goody I finally fiddled with it enough to get it to share a crumb of information about wtf is wrong!

etc. etc. etc.

*Sigh*

However I refuse to be defeated, so I will continue the fight.

CodeTRUCKER

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Re: What’s this "Linux" thing and why should i try it?
« Reply #22 on: March 19, 2008, 08:51:31 PM »
Face it, Folks... Bill trained us all real good!  If Henry Bergunstmmer had invented "Strom" and managed to outdo Bill on the marketing thing we'd all be arguing why "Strom" was so good! 

For me, when the MS corporate types decided to make a unilateral decision which impacted millions of developers and billions of users I said, "That's it!"  I have been going through a series of painful surgeries to have Microsoft removed from my inner ganglia.  Don't get me wrong, I like the software and the IDEs associated with MS, but the direction Bill and the Gang are going doesn't make me sleep real well at night.  So, I'm on a quest to go totally...

Cross-Platform/Open Source.

Just imagine where C-P/OS would be today if we had invested billions in those efforts?  Personally, when I find a good app that shows the developer(s) really used there noodles I don't just send a "couple 'o bucks," but rather an amount equal to what I would have spent on "commercial" offerings.  That reminds me, I forgot to send some money to a developer.  Glad you reminded me!  :P


f0dder

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Re: What’s this "Linux" thing and why should i try it?
« Reply #23 on: March 19, 2008, 09:15:41 PM »
Quote from: CodeTRUCKER
Don't get me wrong, I like the software and the IDEs associated with MS, but the direction Bill and the Gang are going doesn't make me sleep real well at night.
I feel that way as well, but I don't see any alternatives, when keeping stability, documentation, ease-of-use and performance in mind. Linux (kernel as well as distros) have a lot of good things going, and a bunch of stuff I miss in Windows, but there's too much half-baked crap and incoherency for me to use it as a desktop replacement.
- carpe noctem

Gothi[c]

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Re: What’s this "Linux" thing and why should i try it?
« Reply #24 on: March 19, 2008, 11:48:52 PM »
Quote
You're complaining about people who are trying Linux ... In a thread that's about "Why You Should Try Linux".
I wasn't complaining about people trying GNU/Linux. I was complaining about people who don't have the time to spend to learn a new way of doing things, and instead of just saying they are just used to the OS they have been using and don't have the time to learn something new, they immediately dismiss the alternative as 'crap' because they aren't used to it.
___

I find it very exciting to have more cross platform applications out there these days, and that as a result of that, there will be more co-operation and compatibility between all the OS flavors.

There are some very great cross-platform development toolkits out there, making it easier for developers to make and maintain their cross-platform applications.

Especially in the commercial software market, there has always been this humongous fear that making and maintaining a cross platform application is a tremendous task requiring much more money and development time.

This is no longer the case in my opinion. Some of my C++ applications compiled instantly without modification on GNU/Linux, Windows, BSD, and Solaris. Many toolkits such as qt, gtk, wxWidgets, etc, are making this so much less painful, and I really do believe we will be seeing more cross platform stuff out there, not just in the Free/Open Source arena.

It sounds exciting to me, to be able to run your OS of choice, keep your way of doing things, and be able to run any application on it. Users of different Operating Systems can share plug-ins, software experiences on forums like this one, etc,... It will definitively help tear down some of the barriers that exist now between the users of different operating systems.