Suggestions for Ubuntu switch

Discussion in 'Tech Chat' started by Wicked, Sep 5, 2013.

  1. Wicked

    Wicked Active Member

    Hello. Long story short cant find my Win7 keys, decided to switch to an open source. Im thinking im going to go with Ubuntu, seems like everything I typically run works on it. What I want to know of is is anyone else here running Ubuntu? I wont be dual booting, although I may have to in the future if something arises, which I do have a copy of Vista laying around as a last resort. What kind of headaches do you deal with? Does it run games well? Anything I should know before going into it?
  2. VintagePC

    VintagePC GodModePC VF4-S (Server Operator) Forum Operator Minecraft Operator Global Moderator Staff Member DMC Tester TF2L developer

    I don't run Ubuntu myself but I do run Linux as my main desktop OS and for just about everything I do.

    Personally I prefer OpenSuSE, but distros are really a matter of personal preference and experience - I tried several like ubuntu, mandrake, redhat probably 8 or 9 years ago... and this was with really _really_ flaky hardware on an old PC. openSuSE was the only one that would successfully install and work reliably. So I stuck with it (and I have since encountered some other insane situations like bad memory where it just kept on chugging without giving a damn) and it's been rock solid for me ever since. It’s even passed the "mom test" in that I have a family member that knows little about computers/OSes use it as their daily driver for web browsing, email, and productivity (word processing etc). Best part is you don't even have to worry about malware/viruses unless you visit _really_ shady sites because all the drive-by and downloadable crap you can pick up doesn't run natively in Linux. If you've got the common sense to realize when you're being conned by trying to download a wallpaper but get sent wallaper_downloader.jpg.exe, you'll be fine. :)

    I'd highly recommend you look at a few distributions and try out their "live CDs" which let you boot the distribution and get a feel for it without committing to a full install just yet. Ubuntu, openSuSE, and Linux Mint are some of the more popular ones that I'd recommend for a new beginner. There are others like Red Hat, Fedora, Centos, Debian, but they tend to have different markets and are more for folks that really know what they're doing. Most distros will have very comprehensive software repositories with all manner of software that can be installed through a package manager without even needing to go to the dev's website to download it. Often, click, click, install, done. (and it even handles all the dependencies for you where it can... so you'll rarely see the linux equivalent of "X requires C++ runtime 2005, you need to find/download/install that first"... instead you get a dialog "Yeah, this needs X,Y,Z so If it's fine with you I'mma install those too right now"

    Dual booting is usually less hassle if Windows is installed first, which is something to keep in mind if you say it may be an option in the future. This is just because the Linux boot loader is a lot more "friendly' towards windows, whereas the Windows one tends to just nuke everything and replace it, so you have to re-install the Linux boot loader afterwards. Not saying windows can't be installed later, but it might not be as easy if you don't have experience prior.

    Also beware that partitioning is different. Linux uses its own file system (usually ReiserFS or Ext4) so you won't be able to access your Linux files from Windows (but accessing your Fat32/NTFS partitions from Linux is possible). The good news here is the linux FSes are set up such that you don't ever need to worry about having to defragment your drive. They simply don't fragment files like Windows does, and they're also "journalling" file systems so it keeps logs of what goes on and you are less likely to lose/corrupt files if the power goes out or so.

    Most hardware is decently supported under Linux. Bleeding-edge stuff maybe not yet, but anything older will have support in some form or another. Some manufacturers (Intel, nvidia, ATI, and others) do provide Linux drivers and/or specs for other people to write and provide support for their hardware - so if whatever hardware you have has a reasonable amount of people using it, there's a good chance it works properly. Accessories like webcams are sometimes odd because of how they work/communicate. WiFi cards are generally well supported, and in the worst case there's actually a wrapper that lets you load the windows NDIS driver for your wifi card and use that. In both cases though, there's generally a set of "common" chips which are well supported so it should be fine unless you have an obscure product like uncle Bob's super Wifi card you found in a back room of a thrift shop... even then it may just be a rebrand of a more common chipset and still work fine. Other stuff like audio, video generally works out of the box (but for video cards it's a lot like Windows- it works but performance may not be great until you install the manufacturer's drivers for 3d acceleration)

    For running games (which don't support Linux through Steam or otherwise) and Windows software you can't find a substitute for - there's a piece of software called WINE which basically provides a windows compatibility layer, and tends to do very well at running most Windows software on par or better than in Windows. Some things may not work because it's such a difficult thing to handle - every game and dev has "quirks" and methods they use which may work fine in Windows but haven't been implemented in Wine. That said, Wine can be fiddly sometimes. I've been using what is essentially a "paid" version of Wine called Crossover which eliminates a lot of mucking around when trying to install stuff like runtimes, directx etc and they even have some windows software that is "officially supported" and more or less guaranteed to work for you through their package.
    More info here: Yes, it's pricey at $60 but personally... I find it well worth it, and yearly renewals are a lot cheaper ($30) after that - I've gotten discounts/promos per email when I got close to my subscription expiry that saved me another 10-20 on top of that.

    I think that sums up the most important questions/points you had... but I'll answer anything else and help out where I can.
  3. VintagePC

    VintagePC GodModePC VF4-S (Server Operator) Forum Operator Minecraft Operator Global Moderator Staff Member DMC Tester TF2L developer

    Probably just two more things I should mention in regards to moving from Windows to Linux are the mentality changes involved. In Windows, the mentality tends to be that problems are solved with reboots and re-installs, whereas in Linux, just about everything (except a kernel update) can be accomplished without a reboot. Reinstalls of the entire OS are also rarely necessary and really only if it's more time efficient than fixing what the problem itself is.

    Also, try to avoid the windows mentality of having to run everything as the "administrator" (or Root on linux). It's only necessary to ever enter your root password (NEVER log into your desktop environment as root. it's usually harmless but can be bad) when you make system-level changes such as installing a piece of software via the package manager, or changing a system setting like date, time, etc. In these cases your system will prompt you for the password - but you'll rarely, if ever have to actually log in under the root account to do stuff unless you do advanced things.

    Finally, the two most common "trolly" things to beware of when browsing sites for help with Linux are being asked to run the following commands (or anything that looks similar). Best practice is to make sure you understand what the command is doing before you do it... and try to avoid copy-pasting commands from websites, rather retype them yourself. It's not common, but it _is_ possible for sites to hide code in seemingly innocent pieces of text. There's a lovely example here:

    rm -rf /
    is the windows equivalent of "format c: /Y" . rm = "remove" -r = "recursively", -f = "forcibly", / = your entire filesystem's top level. (note command arguments can be strung together, e.g. "-rf", or separate, "-r -f". either works)
    This is generally only super dangerous if you're running with elevated permissions, (as root, or through the su (superuser) or sudo commands). If you run that as a regular user in most cases it will only trash your home directory and other files you have write access to. Still devastating but it won't clobber the _entire_ system

    :(){ :|:& };:
    That innocent little beast of an emoticon is called a Fork Bomb (wiki)
    Basically, it creates a process that starts two copies of itself. It goes out of control within a few seconds and your system grinds to a halt from all the processes running. Not particularly dangerous per-se, since it's fixed by a reboot and does no lasting damage, but still something to beware of.
  4. Reechard

    Reechard Server Admin VF4-S (Server Operator) Minecraft Operator Staff Member Minecraft Admin

    Linux Steam support is pretty good, if you've bought a lot of humble bundles like me you may be surprised at how big your game library is when you boot it up the first time (mine had like... 30 games in it and is probably bigger now).

    I'd go with Ubuntu for a beginner. It has the best community support, the best driver support out of the box, in that it installs the Nvidia driver for you without any special work needing done, and is easy to get help with if you get stuck. I use Fedora for my personal stuff, but that's only because my job is working on RedHat-based machines all day every day, so I'm familiar with it.

    The only thing I'd say that Vintage didn't cover is.... Don't give up! Most things, if someone has done them before, you can do. You might break something big on your way. If something says "add these 6 lines to this file over here", make a backup of that file first. Ask for help if you need it, you know where there are a couple of guys that are pretty damn good at *nix hang out, PM me and ask me to jump into teamspeak and I will. I might not be nice about how I help you, but I do that for a reason. I've trained a LOT of great linux techs to think for themselves and find the solution rather than get spoon-fed all the answers, and I'll help you get it fixed even if I don't do it for you.
  5. VintagePC

    VintagePC GodModePC VF4-S (Server Operator) Forum Operator Minecraft Operator Global Moderator Staff Member DMC Tester TF2L developer

    Also - do keep in mind there are variants of ubuntu which use different desktop environments - regular ubuntu (uses gnome), KDE = kubuntu, XFCE=xubuntu etc.

    so if you (for example) like how openSuSE looks for a desktop (it uses KDE by default) but want to stick with ubuntu, then try kubuntu, and so on.
  6. Nacasius

    Nacasius Trophy: Keeps Coming Back. You must like it here!

    If you still have your Windows comp running you can get registry editor readers that will tell you your windows key.
  7. Reechard

    Reechard Server Admin VF4-S (Server Operator) Minecraft Operator Staff Member Minecraft Admin

  8. VintagePC

    VintagePC GodModePC VF4-S (Server Operator) Forum Operator Minecraft Operator Global Moderator Staff Member DMC Tester TF2L developer

  9. Wicked

    Wicked Active Member

    So I tried that and im pretty sure it didnt work, as i remember Win 7 codes are 5 strings of 5 letters and numbers right?
  10. VintagePC

    VintagePC GodModePC VF4-S (Server Operator) Forum Operator Minecraft Operator Global Moderator Staff Member DMC Tester TF2L developer


    Though IIRC there are ways to back up your WPA activation and "reactivate" without being online after a fresh install, I don't know if that works if you don't have a key to type in.
  11. Nacasius

    Nacasius Trophy: Keeps Coming Back. You must like it here!

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