Linux

From XP to Fedora 7 with ease


The day after Thanksgiving my boss asked me if I would be willing to go to his house and do something about his computer. He had been told by Insight that his XP-based computer had a spambot placed on it and had sent out over 364,000 spams in one day. I had already attempted to fix the computer once before (before I knew there was a spambot on it) by doing the usual defrag/add spyware remover/add antivirus. The computer (a fairly nice piece of hardware) had come to a near stop. The machine was taking up to ten minutes to boot and the applications were practically unusable.

The needs of the computer were simple: Web, e-mail, instant messaging, word processing, digital camera. The problem was that the boss had teenage girls that would click on this and click on that and unwittingly install malicious software. So the boss had only one request: redo the machine and make it so this (the spambot) couldn't happen again.

I had a plan. I would install Fedora 7 on the machine and see what they thought. We were using Fedora 7 at work and the boss could use it. Understand the boss is one of those that wouldn't know an OS from an e-mail client. So he was pretty much in the dark with what was going on. But I did tell him that my intent was to set up his home PC just like the work PC. All good with him.

So I went to his house and installed, without hitch, Fedora 7 on his home PC. I had everything up and running (after I called Insight to get their network connection working - after the spambot incident) within an hour. KDE was up and running swiftly and reliably. So I left hoping they would be happy with my work.

I show up at work the next day to hear my boss tell me his wife LOVES me. They were so happy with their computer. It was working better than they ever remembered. And when I told my boss that they didn't have to worry about installing any antivirus, spyware removers, or firewall, and that if there was any type of application they needed, I could most likely find them what they wanted (and find it for free). His reaction? Why isn't everyone using this?

I told him that if the average computer user knew about it, they probably would be using Linux.

I managed to introduce a family who would have otherwise never even heard the word Linux to a new operating system that will keep them from having to ever deal with Insight shutting them down due to a spambot infiltrating their system.

The family had all their needs met, and I spread the word.

Long live Linux!

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.

45 comments
samranelahi
samranelahi

The only issue with fedora is compatability of softwares like MS .net cann't run on linux which is cutting edge technology a part from that, in order to view a movie on fedora. It is really a complicated job so I prefer Win XP due to compatability and nothing else

Photogenic Memory
Photogenic Memory

http://www.mono-project.com/Main_Page This is an open source software that allows .net framework to be cross platform. I think this resolves that problem perhaps? I haven't tested it myself. Have you tried? What were the results? Was it worth it?

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

for reasons better explained by others on this site, Fedora generally disallows viewing/listening to media that requires proprietary codecs to view/listen to. While my understanding is that via CLI folks can tweak Fedora to do so, other flavors of Linux make it significantly easier to deal with proprietary codecs. Ubuntu comes immediately to mind.

mikifin
mikifin

I have been converting as many people as I can from Windows to either Linux (for experienced users) and Mac (for the inexperienced).

noqlk3v02
noqlk3v02

I got a widescreen lcd monitor on Black Friday. The native resolution is 1680x1050, but the best XP can do with my ancient ATI Rage 128 All-In-Wonder is 1280x1024. The graphics and video look ok, but text is crappy. I restarted my pc, and booted into my Ubuntu 7.10 partition. After a few adjustments, one involving an edit to an *.xml file, I had the Gnome desktop running at the lcd's native resolution. It looks fantastic! If I could get the sound recording to work reliably, I would seriously consider wiping the XP partition.

patfoley
patfoley

Can anyone with experience comment on harddrive format issues and file compatibility. I am sure this is a concern to those that want to make the switch.

w2ktechman
w2ktechman

I will say to load a 'live' distro, such as PCLinuxOS. While in the Live vversion, it boots to a cd, and allows you to use it and play around with it without making changes to your current OS. Linux can read NTFS, so you can browse your data. If you like it, you can install it on your HDD, but I would suggest, first to backup all of your data, as installing it will convert the file system. Actually, better yet, if you like it and want to install it, pull the HDD completely (after backing it up) and install a new drive. Then use the old drive in a USB cradle to copy your data to the Linux box. Of course, me, I kept XP on my newer machine, and put Linux on the rest of 'em...

aginj
aginj

How did you go about adding Adobe reader, flash, Java and all the other multi media cool stuff to Fedora 7? Currently I am using Ubuntu and love it!

The Listed 'G MAN'
The Listed 'G MAN'

he never gets 'that virus' you say the system can't get. No viruses on Linux - yeah right! Is the world still flat? Security is, as we all know, a process, not a product. So when you use Linux, you're not using a perfectly safe OS. There is no such thing. But Linux and Mac OS X establish a more secure footing than Microsoft Windows, one that makes it far harder for viruses to take hold in the first place, but if one does take hold, harder to damage the system, but if one succeeds in damaging the system, harder to spread to other machines and repeat the process. When it comes to email-borne viruses and worms, Linux may not be completely immune - after all, nothing is immune to human gullibility and stupidity - but it is much more resistant. www.theregister.co.uk Currently there are under 100 native Linux viruses known but in many organizations the fact that a Linux viruses exists is enough reason to install and use Linux antivirus protection on Linux desktops and servers. Additionaly users of StarOffice and OpenOffice.org have the ability to open and view Microsoft Office documents that may contain viruses. These viruses may not infect the Linux computer but the user can easily attach and send these infected documents unknowingly to someone else and that is a serious problem.- Potential Red face for your Boss here. desktoplinux.com So while more difficult to infect & spread on a Linux box the possibility is still there. With more and more people turning to open source alternatives the possibility of new, unknown virus attacks grow.

jlwallen
jlwallen

the average user isn't going to wind up with a virus on his linux machine. first - the entire family has no idea how to install software (the father wanted it that way). second - SELinux is set to enforcing and the firewall is only letting ssh traffic through (in case i need to admin from afar). so the chances are pretty much nil in comparison to what they were.

jlwallen
jlwallen

i've been using Linux for 10 years now and not one virus, rootkit, worm, or trojan has bothered me.

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

linux AV is not resident, it does not scan real time, its an on demand based system run from cron scripts. So you can still get the virus or trojan, and you may well just get rid of it again latter that night or week, or you may not, but you will at least know there is a problem from the logs.

jlwallen
jlwallen

first and foremost there isn't anything mission critical on this PC. it's a home PC used for surfing the web and email. if i thought, for a second, this was mission critical there would be a clamav or such on the machine.

Oktet
Oktet

"Currently there are under 100 native Linux viruses known but in many organizations the fact that a Linux virus exists is enough reason to install and use Linux antivirus protection on Linux desktops and servers." The simple fact that you have not had "one virus, rootkit, worm, or trojan" for 10 years does not mean you boss will follow suit and spend that 10 years without the same problem. What would you say to your boss when he finally has that first virus, on a linux box, when you guaranteed him no viruses? Especially in light of the fact that ClamaAV is free (better safe than sorry).

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"...if there was any type of application they needed I could most likely find them what they wanted..." I was with you right up until then. Apparently you're more willing than I am to accept long-term, no-fee, support commitments.

TechExec2
TechExec2

. [b][i]"...I was with you right up until then. Apparently you're more willing than I am to accept long-term, no-fee, support commitments..."[/i][/b] So... With respect to this notion of "long-term, no-fee, support commitment", except that he is employed by the man, how does what Jack did differ from the Windows "geek next door" who helps his neighbors, friends, and relatives with their Windows computers for free? BTW: The answer is not "commercial ISVs provide support". In all of my many years of running Windows, with precious few exceptions, I have found ISV support essentially worthless. It's even worse now that the person on the other end of the line is offshore and there is a language issue too. Just about everyone I know has a "broken Windows" sob story to tell. I am asked to help with Windows computer problems for free by essentially every family member, every neighbor, and every tech illiterate friend, just about every time I see them. Holiday-time is the worst! [i]"...Hey...After you finish that pie, gotta minute?..."[/i] :^0 I help whenever I can. I was even cornered once by a classless clueless helpless neighbor at a funeral for one of my close family members. I politely but immediately changed the subject ... to the life of the deceased and how much he would be missed.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"...how does what Jack did differ from the Windows "geek next door" who helps his neighbors, friends, and relatives with their Windows computers for free?" He doesn't differ from them. My comment wasn't about Linux vs. Windows, or commercial support. It was about the difference between Jack and I. I view committing to find, download, and install applications as a burden I would not have accepted or offered. I'm not willing to make a long-term, no-fee support commitment to help neighbors or friends, period. My support to family is limited to my parents and sister. Those two personal positions don't change, regardless of the OS involved. A single, one-time, "Hey, when you finish that pie, ... " is different. Yeah, I'll take a look, but I'm not going to be over here every weekend when you have a problem or want to install a new app.

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

but Fedora7 and Fedora8 are not that bad... I want to like them, but for some reason I keep going back to Debian. One of my long standing complaints was the unbearable crappyness of YUM vs Apt. now that YUM EXTENDER is available, YUM is actually usable, and in a few years will be as polished as apt... that being said "view committing to find, download, and install applications as a burden " can be accomplished 90% of the time by opening YUMEX, searching for the package (and here I will admit there can be issues, as which package to install is many times preference, and not always consistant across distros (I'm looking at you mplayer)) in the handy serch box, clicking a check box, and hitting "process que". Packages and dependancies are downloaded while you watch TV or a DVD. If its been a while since you looked at Fedora, its worth looking again. Just be sure to do an "yum install yumex" right after the regular post install update cycle. EDIT: I should have finished reading your and Jack's exchange before posting this, I see your point, and I can easily see how you got there. Hence Im training my Dad to use google better, as I have become the unofficial (and unpaid) IT for his office, since they farm it out to some mega-firm that prefers to never actually do work or enter the building.

Justin James
Justin James

Due to the abuse by friends and family over the last 20 years, I do not touch anyone else's PC at this point. As was mentioned, it would not be so bad, but every initial service provokes hours of phone calls and spawns so many follow up servicings. Like it will be 11:30 PM on a Sunday and you need to walk someone through an "emergency defrag" (on that note: why do people think that defrag fixes *anything*?). Oh you do some work getting the new CD burner up and running, three years later the motherboard blows out, and the "thanks for the help!" become "you killed my PC". Maybe I just have friends and family who are much more difficult that other people, or I am more cynical. But I don't have my friend with a degree in accounting touch my taxes. Why? Because if I ever get audited, I don't want to hold it against him. And I don't want to abuse our friendship. And he doesn't get PC support from me. But this is a matter of personal opinion, and we've filled Jack's comments with this thread a half dozen times already with this. :) J.Ja

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

You're giving me way too much credit. I do have the concerns you mentioned. They don't factor into my decision as much as my simple desire to not feel the stress of rebuilding a computer when I could be digging in the garden. If I wanted to configure systems after normal work hours, I would have stayed late at work. Again, thanks for portraying me as more concerned than I really am.

Oktet
Oktet

I think what Palmetto is saying is that there are way too many variables to take into account when fixing someones-PC, sure you can help them by installing Fedora 7-this is good thing; however, what happens when you install Fedora 7 and a couple of weeks some undetected hard drive or motherboard problem occurs that causes the entire computer to cease to work. Your boss might be under the assumption that your installation of Fedora 7 is responsible for this problem, even though that might not be the case. However, if you like taking chances by fixing your bosses computer and you are not running a computer fixing business and are fully aware of the risks involved-kudos to you. A good intentioned deed could easily turn into a bad deed you could end up paying for this in the long run (even if it is not your fault-that the power supply on that compuer running Fedora 7 has just stopped working).

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I've responded to less than ten requests for home "hands on" service. I'll answer all the questions you want, but I'm almost certainly not touching your home system. I'm not coming to your house, and don't want you bringing the hardware to mine. I don't want the hard drive to coincidentally die ten minutes after I replace the keyboard. I don't want to be called months later about a problem I don't remember. I don't want your brother calling me after you get a new system and give him the old one. If I wanted to service personal systems, I'd be running my own service and repair shop instead of working for a corporation. This isn't because I'd get compensated, but because I'd have the easy access to the software and hardware tools to diagnose, back up, and repair the system, just like I do at work. Karma? The thick brown sauce you put ice cream, right? The Vista is a region of downtown Columbia along Gervais Street, between the capitol and the Congaree River; I've come close to crashing (and burning) there a time or two.

jlwallen
jlwallen

what you're saying is that if you have a friend or a boss (who happens to be one of the single nicest guys i've ever met) who asks you for a little help, you wouldn't do it? come on... the karma that could come back to haunt you on that one might bring every Vista installation you have crashing down. ;-)

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"so i'd rather have someone say "Hey, I need something to do my finances with...can you help me?" than someone say "My computer is getting slower and slower every day....can you help me?" any day." I'd rather not be involved at all :-) Ten reasons not to provide free support: http://techrepublic.com.com/5208-6230-0.html?forumID=102&threadID=229464&messageID=2276826 Ten ways to decline requests for free support: http://techrepublic.com.com/5208-6230-0.html?forumID=102&threadID=230359&messageID=2282238 Both from right here at TR.

jlwallen
jlwallen

i would venture to say finding an application every once in a while is a much better job than having to solve the myriad of problems that can go wrong when dealing with Windows. with my friends running Windows i have had to: constantly defrag get rid of worms/viruses/trojans solve networking issues locate and remove buggy software solve random crashes jump over the various Norton hurdles the list goes on and on. with those people i intrude to Linux i have had to: install an application get flash working on Firefox that's about it. so i'd rather have someone say "Hey, I need something to do my finances with...can you help me?" than someone say "My computer is getting slower and slower every day....can you help me?" any day.

jlwallen
jlwallen

otherwise i wouldn't have said that. :-D

mitoplasm
mitoplasm

Any screen shot of an installed user screen with Fedora7 on it? Can windows applications still run when Fedora 7 is installed?

kingttx
kingttx

He installed Fedora 7 but Fedora 8 is already out and available for use. From reports, it is actually several leaps ahead of 7 versus the changes from Fedora 6 to 7. The link the previous poster gave you will send you to the Fedora Project for more information. Many major Windows applications can run on Linux under an API layer called wine (http://www.winehq.org/). There are at least two projects based on wine: CodeWeaver's Cross Over Office which allows MS Office products to be installed and operated easily on Linux, and Transgaming's Cedega (http://www.transgaming.com/products/cedega/) which allows many mainline games made for Windows to be installed and run on Linux easily. Each of these three projects maintains a list of compatible applications. That being said, there are FOSS alternatives to almost every single Windows applications, some of them superior and some of them not yet mature. Most of them are simply good enough to get the job done well, and each distribution usually has them available through its own package manager (like Fedora's yum).

w2ktechman
w2ktechman

http://fedoraproject.org/ Actually, this is Fedora 8 now, sorry.. You may just find PCLinuxOS a nice one as well. I like it a lot myself. And Beryl is so much fun. I have people see me using it and say How are you doing that, or That is cool. But then, alas, they think its Win Vista :( so I need to set them right! http://www.tuxmachines.org/gallery/v/pclos2007/ Now for your second question, Win Apps...Ughh... Why would Win Apps just 'work' on another platform? Ok, Ok, there are a few tools that can emulate Windows for many applications. You can also put Win in a VM and run it at the same time as Linux (provided you have the resources). If you do VM, just remember, it is different than running a VM in Win with more Win OS's, as Linux uses less resources (in general).

Oktet
Oktet

PCLinuxOS 2007 final is what got me hooked, the ease of installation/use is amazing-overall I think this has to be one of the coolest distro's for a newbie, it can't get any simpler than PCLinuxOS 2007 final.

yschoo1
yschoo1

even though I prefer Ubuntu.

w2ktechman
w2ktechman

but yes, I agree. I had tried Fedora and SUSE first. Didnt like Fedora much, and SUSE took hours to load/setup. It ran like XP, a bit bloated. But once it got up and running it is a good distro. I had then stumbled across PCLOS and wow, wifi worked, quick and easy to use. mostly everything I wanted pre-loaded (unlike Kubuntu), and was up and running almost immediately after the installation... Since then I recommend PCLinuxOS often. It is a great little distro.

The Listed 'G MAN'
The Listed 'G MAN'

You need a license to run that Windows VM on your distro of choice. Just because the machine is virtual does not mean it goes without an official license (unfortunately).

w2ktechman
w2ktechman

I was just pointing out some alternatives. Personally, I havent used a VM since I left IT. At that time, they were all corp licenses (images) and I didnt have to worry bout it. But I should have mentioned it, thanks.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

I've been reading good things here and there about it... It comes with Ubuntu 7.10. Nice distro, btw. Whoda thunk an OS could install and find everything in less than 45 minutes? lol Am having minor troubles with an extra hard drive that won't mount, but at least I think I know why... Bite me Uncle Billy! :D edit to add: Virtual machine, here I come. Gotta keep a piece of Windows and Office Suite for work...

TechExec2
TechExec2

. Yes, it is true. Linux is far more ready for regular end users than Microsoft and its minions would like it to be. Were it not for the incredible amount of inertia that Windows has, many more would switch to Linux. Can you imagine what would have happened if Linux were this ready in 1995?

alaniane
alaniane

OS2 Warp 4.0 existed in 1995 and it was far superior to Win 95; however, IBM did not market it. The problem is not which product is superior; it is which has better marketing. Linux still suffers from the lack of marketing.

JackOfAllTech
JackOfAllTech

Sony (although usually overpriced) has come up with some dandy products over the years. The Beta format was vastly superior to VHS, the (re-)recordable MiniDisk was UberCool, but their marketing absolutely sucks. The only thing that really took off was the Walkman.

Photogenic Memory
Photogenic Memory

If this did happen; the majority of users would be much more computer literate than they are today, maybe? I can only assume so because "back in the day" Linux was so unfriendly. However; perhaps some things would have stayed the same like coporatism and marketing in the software world. This might have derailed Linux curent development for public in some way. I'm glad things actually transpired the way they did. I like my Linux free of charge and can't wait for the newest incarnations that are yet to come because of it's GPL policy. I am not a developer or have serious programming skills but I'll continue to contribute to open source software by using it.

Photogenic Memory
Photogenic Memory

I use Linux as my main system. I run CenOS 4.5 and it basically runs like a champ. I also don't do nearly enough tweaking to cause harm so in effect it's very stable. But I do now this: Install An Antivirus Application. As secure Linux is compared to other OS's; it can still be violated. AVG or F-prot can help(as far as viruses) and also they're free. I'm so glad your boss liked it. I don't think I could get my older family members to adopt it. Even though their needs are very very basic; it's would be too much of a difference from Windows. But you never know? Some mega-OS-eating-Windows virus might be around the corner forcing people to retreat to free operating systems. In any event, I think the next generation of young computer users will help lead the way. Congratulations! You just removed another zombie PC(your boss's XP) from the net! I thank you very much.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

Even with the launch of Vista being less than stellar, the FACT is *nix and Apple combined are a tiny dot on the OS map. The very nature of open source dictates that there will never be one or maybe even two major versions backed and marketed on the same level as Microsoft. This means that it will never dominate in the home user, or corporate marketplace for that matter. Just look at Apple...yes they are taking more of the market but in oh so tiny baby steps. With all the bad rep out there on Vista (most of it undeserving) Linux, Apple or anyone else just can't step up to the plate and take the lead. I'd love to see more choices out there, but I'm not wasting my valuable time at home googleing ways to make my brand new chipset or my latest generation graphics/sound whatever card work with some obscure version of *nix when Xp/Vista works just fine, provided I download the latest drivers from the hardware manufacturer's site. Your boss will LOVE linux provided YOU keep coming back and supplying him with whatever software he needs...since he can't run down to BestBuy and grab software like the average user (not me, I always try to find something free...hence I have Windows and *nix boxes at home). YOur boss more than likely makes alot of money, and time is money so he's not willing to surf the open source community to get free software that would actually cost him LESS money if he went out and bought the Window's equivolent...if you fator in the time is money part. Don't get me wrong...I'm all for open source development. But it's just that, development. It's not ready for the masses (the same ones who couldn't work with Xp upon release because the Start menu looked "different" than 2000) and until you get to under 5 different versions, it never will be.

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