Linux optimize

10+ mistakes Linux newbies make

You can make things a lot less frustrating for your new Linux users by helping them avoid these typical rookie mistakes.

New desktop users can make plenty of mistakes (as can anyone). But knowing which mistakes to avoid, from the start, helps prevent a LOT of frustration. I've handled the topic of mistakes new Linux admins make, but never those of desktop users. Here are some of the most common Linux desktop mistakes I see new users make.

Note: This article is also available as a PDF download.

1: Assuming they are using Windows

Although this might seem way too obvious, it's not. The average user has no idea there are even different operating systems to be had. In fact, most average users couldn't discern Windows XP from Vista from 7 (unless they are certain Windows 7 was "their idea"). Because of this, new users might believe that everything works (or doesn't work, as the case may be) as it does in Windows. Make your end users aware that they are using a different operating system -- and that it works differently.

2: Trying to make exe files work

Unless you have done your homework and installed WINE, double-clicking those .exe files simply won't do anything. And when that happens, your end users are going to be upset. I have seen many an end user download an app made for Windows assuming that it will work for Linux. Make it clear to users that Linux, like Windows, will only run applications made for that operating system. This, of course, is tossed out the window when WINE is involved. But new users won't be using WINE anyway.

3: Choosing the wrong distribution

One of the biggest problems for users is choosing the wrong distribution. Imagine being a new user and selecting Gentoo or Slackware or Fedora! Yes those are all good distributions, but any of them would send a new user running away in fear. If you are in the initial stages of helping a new user out, do yourselves both a favor and choose the distribution carefully. Consider the user's ability, needs, and hardware before you make that selection. Don't just jump on board Ubuntu because everyone says you should. A lot of distributions out there are made specifically for new users. Give them all a close examination before making the choice.

4: Not finding software

Because so many new Linux users are migrating from Windows, they think software can be had from the same channels. Most of the time, this is not the case. The new user needs to become familiar with their package management tools right away - especially tools like Synaptic, Packagekit, and Ubuntu Software Center. Each of those tools is a mecca of software where users can most likely find all the applications they need.

5: Sending OpenOffice documents to Microsoft Office users in the default format

I see this so often. New Linux users are proud of the strides they have made but dumbfounded (and sometimes turned back to Windows) because the people they share files with can't read their formats. Remember, Microsoft products are not good at getting along with other operating systems and other applications. Make sure your new users are saving in file formats that are readable by the Microsoft equivalents.

6: Avoiding the command line

I can't, for the life of me, figure out why people completely avoid the command line as if it is the most complex tool there is. I know people who can work absolute magic with Photoshop but can't seem to type a simple rm command at the command line. Why this is I will never know. New users shouldn't shy away from the command line. Knowing the command line isn't essential anymore, but it will make them more capable users.

7: Giving up too quickly

Here's another issue I see all too often. After a few hours (or a couple of days) working with Linux, new users will give up for one reason or another. I understand giving up when they realize something simply doesn't work (such as when they MUST use a proprietary application or file format). But seeing Linux not work under average demands is rare these days. If you see new Linux users getting frustrated, try to give them a little extra guidance. Sometimes getting over that initial hump is the biggest challenge they will face.

8: Thinking the Windows directory hierarchy translates to Linux

There is no C:\ in Linux. Nor do you use the "\" character. Nor should you use spaces in filenames. These are common mistakes new users make. Trying to map out Windows to Linux, directory for directory, is impossible. You can get as far as C:\ = / and maybe Default User = ~/, but beyond that you're out of luck. Make sure new users understand that everything starts at / and their most important directory is their home directory (aka ~/ aka /home/USERNAME/).

9: Skipping updates

I have been burned with Windows updates many times. Need I bother mentioning the update from Explorer 7 to Explorer 8? Very rarely has a Linux update fubar'd a system of mine. In fact, I can't remember the last time it has. So I am always up to date on my systems... and with good reason. Those updates bring new security patches and features to software and should be applied. Having an installation with a security hole is not what your users need, especially on a machine that houses important information.

10: Logging in as root

I really shouldn't have to say this. But just in case, be sure to tell your users DON'T LOG IN AS ROOT! But... just in case they must... DON'T LOG IN AS ROOT! Instead, have them open up a terminal window and either "su" to root or use "sudo". And just in case you didn't hear me the first time, DON'T LOG IN AS ROOT!

11: Losing windows to the pager

The pager is one of the handiest features of the Linux desktops. But over and over, I've seen that new users don't quite understand what the pager is for and what it does. Because of this, they will "lose" their windows from the desktop. Where did it go? It was there a moment ago! I guess it crashed. No. More than likely, they moved it to another desktop. Another desktop? You see where this is going? Help the new user understand what the pager is and how useful it can be.

12: Ignoring security because it's Linux

A big part of me still wants to boast and say, "In the 12 years I have used Linux, I have never once had a virus or worm or been hacked." Although that is true, it doesn't mean I should ignore security. I have witnessed the effects of a rootkit on a Linux machine. They aren't pretty and data will be lost. Tell your users that they can't ignore security just because they're using Linux. Security is crucial, regardless of the OS.


Been there?

We have all fallen victim to these types of mistakes at one point or another. But you can avoid them, and you can help other new users avoid them as well. Let's all help to make Linux a better experience! If you've encountered other big Linux mistakes, share them with other TechRepublic members.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

310 comments
docesam
docesam

providing choices to people to choose from is far far easier than requiring them to remember something.it is how the human brain work mate ,that is why people are so afraid from the command line..

gmanon
gmanon

Newbies: * Try to run sh, and binary files without the proper permissions * Believing that they can not run multimedia on Linux * Believing that they need to share the system with windows to have a complete system. * Not understanding that everything is a file * Giving recursive permissions to folders * Boot up a computer to restart a server * Not understanding that Linux has everything they need and more * Thinking that to install applications in Linux is hard * Thinking that Linux distributions are too different from each other * Thinking that Windows file system is easier than Linux * Thinking that wizards are easier and better than configuration files.

disasterboy.info
disasterboy.info

A long long time ago. I was exposed to Mac computers that required Trash cleared or deleted, now and then to improve performance. When I first had use of a student Unix account, I wondered what the bin folder was for and whether it needed cleaning out too? Luckily I asked before deleting the contents and understaood that it was for binaries rather than unwanted data.

phanthaihuan
phanthaihuan

``6: Avoiding the command line" In Viet Nam, I saw many users come to Linux and avoid it because they cannot use CLI for daily task. For me, CLI is a hardest problem when we switch to Linux from Windows (GUI). ``10: Logging in as root" I really don't know why my friends always logging in as root. I always advice him/her don't logging in as root but they always logging in as root. I did suggest they use "su -" or "sudo". Logging is as root is very dangerous, any mistakes will be damaged with system. Regards, Huan

robertgoodman
robertgoodman

Windows is case insensitive. Linux is case sensitive. Throws people for a while.

Tea.Rollins
Tea.Rollins

"Remember, Microsoft products are not good at getting along with other operating systems and other applications." What operating systems would those be? Just because you can toss out 30 linux variants doesn't mean it's some grand scheme of interoperability, or even a different OS. WINE isn't really a solution either. It has less to do with the operating system and more with the fact that no one uses open office, whereas everyone uses microsoft office. The burden is therefore on open office to cross communicate. The same is not true of the reverse, for the same reason we should never spend a great deal of time supporting users who use obscure applications just to be 'unique.'

ananthap
ananthap

Regarding point 5,do yourself and the noobs a favour. Set the default file save to the equivalent MS-Office format if the user has to interact regularly with windows users ans send MS-Office files. No harm in that.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Well... it is, and for the exact same reasons it's useful. It does a lot of things, and can do those things in a very widely applied way. A new user doesn't want to have a shiny red "destroy universe" button sitting in front of them. Can you blame them?

john barker
john barker

the first mistakes are runing linux it dos made over who want to do all that work command line typeing john barker and yes i try it

realpeople2
realpeople2

> The pager is one of the handiest features of the Linux desktops. But over and over, I?ve seen that new users don?t quite understand what the pager is for and what it does. Because of this, they will ?lose? their windows from the desktop. Actually, it's an utterly useless feature for normal people. As any normal person will tell you!

AbdulRahiem
AbdulRahiem

Yes, generally I am up-to-date on updates. BUT, if I see anything remotely to do with nVidia is the listing of updates, I skip it. Why, in 99% of cases any major updates and most definitely ALL upgrades will completely mess up my video settings, never to be got back correctly at all. There will forever be missing RANDR and such like. This is my experience under Ubuntu since Gutsy.

martah26
martah26

Many years ago I was guilty of Point 7 - Giving up too quickly - I think it should be top of the pile - because it delayed my full transition to Linux by at least 3 years.

Ocie3
Ocie3

[i]"One of the biggest problems for users is choosing the wrong distribution."[/i] So, which wrong distribution do you recommend that we choose? Security holes? in Linux? But you're right, the first hump is the hardest challenge. ;-)

staylor
staylor

This article is actually a list of 10 reasons why non-technical users should avoid Linux like the plague.

JoeyD714
JoeyD714

To answer you question in item No.6; that you don?t understand why some people will never try to learn to use the command line Let me say this: Q: "6: Avoiding the command line I can?t, for the life of me, figure out why people completely avoid the command line as if it is the most complex tool there is." A: Because for them, it is. Some people, for better or worse, are made for windows and will never try anything new. The reason GUI was invented was NOT PRIMARILY to eliminate typing errors. That was a side benefit. The primary reason GUI was invented was the same reason Most Americans were extremely slow to adopt computers in the first place: Most American people are Lazy & complacent & don't like to have to learn anything new. They find it very difficult to type properly let alone learn a command line language. Many people have little time or patience for learning a new command language. They have talents & skills in other areas lawyers, writers, artists, ect. & feel they?re time is better spent in those areas, and that computer ?programming? is a technical skill area they have little or no interest in. They just want it to work ? for them Windows GUI is the perfect answer. Simply put; with a command line you have to learn all the commands & their related syntax, as well as avoid typos.... Each alone a daunting task for people who struggled to graduate high school. People who have a very low desire (& in some cases ability) to learn new technical information, who feel they shouldn't have to, that everything should be done for them, basically, these people are made for windows & windows was made for them. Unfortunately, due to that mindset, when things, even simple things do go wrong, they lack the ability to figure out what happened or why. When windows throws an error msg box, they quickly click ?OK? without even thinking about reading what the error msg said and say "it just don't work". Then when I ask them "well what happened? What did it say?" they just say ?I don't know, I don't understand that stuff. Here you try it." usually it's something incredibly simple, (like you asked it to read a CD but forgot to put the CD in) But they Just don't want to READ. They NEED a gui BC they Need to click on Icons BC they Can't or won't learn to read. McDonalds figured this out years ago when they decided to put icons on their cash registers. I know this sounds mean & hard, but It really needs to be said; Our educational system began to seriously fail back in the mid 1970s... I saw this 1st hand and accurately predicted today's results. JMHO, JoeyD

jerome
jerome

You've made the classic mistake that all well meaning techies make and which is what actually turns off many of us linux newbies faster than an unfamiliar OS - you've told us what we should do but not how to do it... for example, how do I not log in as root? sorry, NOT LOG-IN AS ROOT? ;) You've forgotten that what is easy and second nature to you guys is just plain obtuse to anyone coming to the OS from fresh... and the cryptic, supposed 'help' forums and docs that can be found on the net don't help either... no wonder people turn back to the more familiar Windows. I know how to set-up different user accounts, with different administrative privileges on a Windows box but I have no idea where to begin with my brand new Ubuntu installation. Examples please! It took me days to work out how to mount a network drive, just because all the advice I could find presupposed a sysadmin background. Then I had problems with illegal unicode characters in file names... I thought there's got to be a simple find or list command that I can run from the Terminal (no, I'm not scared of the command line!) but here's the advice I got back (having made it very plain that I was a total newbie): "I haven't tried doing it, but I suspect you could use "find" to list all filenames one by one, then feed each name in turn to "iconv". inconv knows about UTF-8, so if you tell it to convert UTF-8 to something else (say UTF-32) and it gives an error, then you know it's bad." err.. what? where do I begin?... I'm up for persevering but please pitch your help and advice in a way that makes sense to your audience. that's the only way to encourage us to make the move over. (Unless you're all just using the cryptic jargon as a badge of office that's designed to keep the plebs at bay from your favourite playground?)

Sirgwain
Sirgwain

And these are just some of the reasons keeping people from migrating to Linux en mass. People give up because they find out they have to go back to a "dos command" type structure to get a lot of things accomplished. Linux software producers are going to have to do a lot better to bring in more Windows users.

luiant1
luiant1

So true... i gave up because i dint know how to install a driver on ubuntu. Also didnt understand anything that has to do with the command line. Or the directories. I love linux but never been able to do a simple thing on it. any help or someone to guide me would make me go back to it. I really want to learn to use it. I have been on websites where i have not understood anything at all. Want to help just email me: luis_es_1990@yahoo.com thanks

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I know having to become root to do it would have caused me to question what I was up to. Good thing you asked first though; especially if it was a shared computer.

JCitizen
JCitizen

for contributing to TechRepublic, we appreciate your participation!

Glenn from Iowa
Glenn from Iowa

That is an excellent point! My teenager belives case is irrelevant, a view shared by most of the upcoming generation, especially since the advent of text-messaging. I had to remind him the other day that, even on Windows, passwords are case-sensitive.

techrepublic@
techrepublic@

"fact that no one uses open office, whereas everyone uses microsoft office"? Fact? Really?! In the two months after the release of the most recent version of OpenOffice 3.2, more than 100.000 of the portuguese version where downloaded from the OpenOffice site. That is an impressive number for the market size. From personal and professional experiense, I can say that OpenOffice is very common around here. I routinely send ODF files, and rarely does the recipient has any problems opening it.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

to cut down work If you know how to do it, or your are prepared to learn there are a lot of things the CLI can do for you with way less effort. Simple block copy rename delete etc. Easy from teh command line, total clickfest from the GUI. Just because you don't want it, doesn't mean no one else does. As for requiring CLI in linux, not often with modern distros. Which distro did you try?

eclypse
eclypse

The pager was one of the first things I saw on a Linux desktop that made me not want to use Windows ever again. That was in the winter of 1996 when I saw my friend's cool new PC running RedHat 4 with the AfterStep desktop and xsnow going in the background. I didn't know what it was at first, but I thought it was the coolest thing I'd ever seen - if you had non-maximized windows on the screen the snow would lay on them and pile up. You couldn't do that on Windows. He had transparent terminals and all sorts of goodies and you could have different desktops for different things and easily switch back-and-forth between them. I believe that the Reflection-X people and maybe the eXceed people may have had a version of the pager for Windows, but it didn't seem to work as smoothly under Windows as it does under X. So, does that make me abnormal? I listened to myself for at least one minute...

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

When you get a moment, check your Caps Lock key. It seems to get stuck a lot. I'm sure that's all it is, since 'normal people' don't introduce themselves by ranting like steroid-crazed lunatic with a taser up his bum.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

You're one of the teachers in "We Don't Need No Education", aren't you?

Archiac
Archiac

The wrong distro is the one you don't like.. there are many mainstream distros that have a live cd, live cd usually means that it has a gui. For demo'ing I use Puppy Linux, it is internet ready and small. I don't recommend it for an install. (K,X)Ubuntu all have a nice installer, and a pretty much full blown live cd. If you are more of a figure it out type of person, give the LiveCD from Gentoo a try, the older one had a GUI, although I have yet to find a newer one with the point click GUI, even though the console shows a GUI-like setup with icons. There are 3 kind of Linux Distros, just remember that and you'll be fine. Slackware, Red Hat, Debian/Mandrake These pages may help http://distrowatch.com/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux_distribution http://www.linux.org/dist/ Cheers.

JCitizen
JCitizen

Totally agree with you there Nick! :)

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Interesting, but based on what categories? I'd have separated them by packaging base. (Deb) Debian -> Ubuntu/kubuntu, Maemo, Knoppix (Rpm) Red Hat -> Fedora, Mandriva, Meego (src) Slackware, Gentoo, LFS, (whatever else uses build from source by default) The lineage including package type provides the family relations for me. If your going by difficulty: - Slack, Gentoo, Linux From Scratch (other "geek's" distros) - Debian, Red Hat, (other full distros) - Mandriva, PCLinuxOS, Ubuntu/Kubuntu, Suse (other basic liveCD or new user distributions) Anyhow, always interesting to see how others categories stuff.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"There are 3 kind of Linux Distros, just remember that and you'll be fine. Slackware, Red Hat, Debian/Mandrake" Yeah, but how does a newbie (or someone with relatively limited experience like me) tell which of these a distro falls under? And besides the package manager, do any of the differences matter to me as an inexperienced neophyte?

Ocie3
Ocie3

100% Open SuSE 095% Mandriva (computer may be too slow) 095% Ubuntu (computer may be too slow) 095% Kbuntu (computer may be too slow) 095% Linux Mint (computer may be too slow) 090% Fedora (may require Linux knowledge) The computer is going on 8 y.o., but it has a 2 GHZ AMD Athlon XP 2400+ CPU on an Asus A7N8X-VM mainboard with an NVidia nForce 2 chipset, 2 GB of 333 MHz DDR, a new 160 GB WD Caviar Blue HDD, and 4 USB 2.0 ports. Also has DVD & CD-ROM R/W drives, HP w1907 LCD monitor & HP Deskjet D1420 printer. FWIW, I have a four-DVD set containing Ubuntu and Kbuntu 9.10. I bought them from Amazon in April, in the event that I had to abandon Windows XP, perchance Microsoft refused to extend the license when I "activated" it after re-installing it for about the 8th or 9th time. At least one DVD has a "Linux Tutorial" on it, but I've never been a good "video" learner. (Read and listen, yes. Trial-and-error or watch, no.)

santeewelding
santeewelding

Up to your full height. That, still, is not enough, here. Whenever I do, I get knocked down, still.

Ocie3
Ocie3

FWIW, I have read many entries in the tables found in the Wikipedia article "List of Linux Distributions" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Linux_distributions). Mostly, I was curious as to [i]how[/i], or maybe I should say [i]whether[/i], the distributions that were recommended by the "Linux Distro Chooser" (http://www.zegeniestudios.net/ldc/index.php), suggested by Palmetto, are related to one another. Its 100% choice, OpenSuSE, certainly seems to be in a different part of the family tree than Ubuntu, Kubuntu, and Linux Mint, which apparently have a different genealogy than Mandriva and Fedora. The distinctions apparently depend upon which "package manager" is used to create and maintain each respective collection of files, if only because that is the premise upon which the list is organized and presented. However, one has to wonder whether the "code base" -- the ultimate source(s), [i]literally[/i] -- is identical for all of them. The remarks in some of the entries imply that it is not, and perhaps even the Linux kernel is not identical among them. So, that leaves me wondering whether an application program that is developed to run on Ubuntu (developed by a for-profit enterprise) would likely run on OpenSuSE without any modification. That does not seem likely to me. Clearly, the inspiration, or motivation, for those who have created the respective distributions appear to be different. Some distributions are evidently created and maintained by commercial firms, others by "communities" of Linux software developers and users, still others by individuals or teams who have a distinct, specific purpose. A significant number of "distros" are listed as "Discontinued." So there seems to be some risk that one's commitment of effort, time and money will become a waste. In contrast, I doubt that anyone believes it likely that Microsoft will go out of business any time soon, if ever, although the nature of their enterprise and its products is likely to change in the future, as it has in the past. Looking at Wikipedia's "List of Linux Distributions" reminds me of the sign at one end of a country dirt lane: [b]Choose Your Ruts Carefully. You Will Be In Them For The Next Twenty Miles.[/b]

Archiac
Archiac

Well, for starters, you should ask what is being handed to you. The person handing it to you, should know a little about it.. otherwise, you need to go get one yourself...Linux is not for the lazy, and that goes with any distro. But after it completely boots up, and how it boots up. If it has a gui with the mouse and everything, more then likely it is a Debian based OS. If it boots up and all you see is text, I mean looks like a DOS prompt (it will be a shell), then it is more then likely slackware based. If it boots up and it is text, and goes right into an installer but it is text-based gui, (can't use your mouse to drag and drop things), then it is more then likely Red Hat based. And whoever hands you the live cd, should tell you a little about it.. I know I don't just pop in any cd someone hands me.... well actually I do, but not the point.. ask questions about the cd. What's on it, did you like it, how long did you use it, etc... Cheerio - pm for more information if needed. I don't mind helping at all..

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

All that's great, but back to my question: if someone hands me a Live CD for a particular distro, how do I know which of these three types it falls under?

Archiac
Archiac

A distro is a wrapper, that is where all the bells and whistle come from. Linux is as plain as a piece of paper, and you hold the pen that is given to you from the distro. So the breakdown, of the 3 distro types. Now don't be confused a type is just that, there are more distros then 3, but they all are classed in 3 types. Now your choice should be directed by what type of reason you are using linux in the first place. IE server, desktop, streaming share, etc... Slackware Based - text based, comes with a gui, but the installer is all text based graphic installer. Has a package manager, but you have to find and make it work with your Slack version. This distro type is NOT recommended for new linux people. Red-Hat Based - text/gui based. I do not know much pertaining to the ACTUALL red hat these days, as I gave up on them after RH 5.0. Has a package manager, using RPM (dot rpm files). Debian - This is the type that is being followed, with Ubuntu, Puppy, Linspire, etc.. For a new Linux user, I would recommend one of these. Since most of these types of distro come with a live cd, this will allow you to play with it without installing it. Now the above being said.. if I were to recommend any distro to any new linux user, I would have to go with one that I know they would feel most unafraid of. That of course would a Debian type Linux. I would also recommend to play with a live 'cd'. It is easier to go get more cd's then to reinstall you computer. With the live cd you'll get the chance to play without needing to worry about breaking anything, as it is running from a cd and does NOTHING to you hard drive. (BUT it will if you make it) As far as package managers, you have to read about each, for the distro you are looking at. IE, Synaptec = ubuntu's, ePackages = Gentoo, Slaptget/Swarat = Slackware, and so on. Remember Linux is the bare bones of the OS. You are researching the Window Manager Distro, and Package Manager. Each distro has it's own distro package distribution method. The more informed you are the better you will decide. Don't rush your choice, take you time. Get opinions from some of your co-Linux friends, ask them what they like or don't like about a distro you are looking at. IE. I install (KX)Ubuntu for the simple fake that I can have it up and running and anything i need installed for the client in about 30 minutes. - The only using it for docs and email. KUbuntu = KDE, Ubuntu = Gnome, Xubuntu = XFCE4 They look and feel much differently. If you choose this route, I would recommend going with the one that looks the best to you. I install Slackware and Gentoo for my servers, Slackware is used if I need the server up right then; I can have a Slackware based server up in around 20 minutes. Gentoo on the other hand, I take my time, as every from install is built right from the beginning, and if done quickly, can be installed in about 4 hours. So you see, the distro does make the difference. Hell I might make a blog about this now... feels like I already did.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

This is more and more becoming the norm. Many of my utility CDs also boot using some version of Linux. It's less expensive than Windows and, in my experience, much more reliable. You could boot to the CD and use it to back up your Linux installation, but the TrueImage Home program itself only runs properly in Windows and is optimized for backing up Windows (NTFS/FAT) drives.

Ocie3
Ocie3

appeared to me to be a Linux application that was ported to Windows XP/Vista/7. Perhaps the clearest evidence was that, while Acronis was running on Windows XP, when I used it to create a "bootable Recovery CD" and tested it, some flavor of Linux booted from the CD, not Windows XP, and the Recovery software was, obviously, running under Linux. So Acronis is evidently a "hybrid". Overall it has the look and feel of a CLI application with a text-based UI that has been updated to accept input from a mouse, apparently even to require it in some places, but I found the overall design of the UI was very uneven in that respect. There are many programs that run under Windows which are not "Windows programs". Their design and coding is such that the features and functions available from the Windows API are seldom, if ever at all, used in the program. For example, one thing that is missing from such a program is the ability to highlight text and copy it to the Windows Clipboard.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

The Home 2010 version is for Windows XP, Vista, and 7. If you want live back-up for a "consumer" Linux such as Ubuntu or Mint, try one of these. http://www.debianhelp.co.uk/backuptools1.htm Personally, I use Clonezilla every Sunday morning. Connect the external drive, boot to CD, and get it started. By then the coffee's ready and the paper's been delivered...

Ocie3
Ocie3

require me to re-configure the BIOS first, so that it will look at the internal primary HDD last (instead of first), and configure it to look for an OS on a disc in the DVD drive instead of the CD drive. Not a big chore, of course, just one of those niggling details. Probably Ubuntu will boot from one DVD, and Kubuntu will boot from another, since the respective versions of Linux are supposed to be [i]installable[/i] on a partition on the primary HDD from the corresponding DVD. I do not know whether it is possible to simply run either distribution from its DVD [i]without[/i] installing it on the HDD. But bear in mind that changing from Windows XP to some flavor of Linux was and is a [i]last resort[/i], not a voluntary conversion. As things stand, it seems doubtful whether I have the time to climb the learning curve. Also, if Acronis True Image 2010 Home is representative of the state-of-the-art design for Linux software, then Linux will absolutely remain the last resort. If I must contact tech support because the user interface doesn't work the way that it appears to have been designed to work, and the "documentation" is silent, misleading or simply [i]wrong[/i] about the matter, then the cobbled-together-ware is on a short lease. After the third contact for that reason, such software is no longer installed on my computer. Succinctly, I am not going to pay any developer for "support" because their software is poorly designed and difficult to use. Make of that what you will.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I bet if you put the first DVD in the drive and boot the system, you'll get an option to run the OS off the DVD (a 'Live CD' in Linux terms, even though it's a DVD :-) ). If so, you can run the OS without altering the hard drive or your XP installation. If that's the case, try it; you have nothing to lose but time. Somebody out there please confirm Ubuntu will run as a Live CD. Thanks!