General discussion


Moving to open source

By NaughtyMonkey ·
I am looking to move to open source for the better security and no more MS BS for my home computer. This will be used by my wife and eventually my 3 kids. I have not used it in at least 7 years for a desktop and can't remember what all I used. I was frustrated with it at the time due to the differences and abandoned the idea since I found it unusable for that purpose.

I do use it at work everyday, but they are servers and I mostly use SSH to get in. I read a lot about how much it has changed for home usability and would like opinions on the best for home as far as interface. I am not a guru on nix, but I can get around and work with my specific configs at work.

Anything I move to would have to have clear documentation. I would need an office suite of course which can easily be satisfied with OpenOffice, but I also need to edit music, videos, pics, and web design. I also need to keep disk images for backups, work with MP3 Player and IPod, and DVD/CD burning.

If I can get all of this from a usable nix interface, i will gladly dump MS. Any opinions are greatly appreciated.

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You still need windoze

by EvilDaemon In reply to Moving to open source

I would suggest just taking an older box that you're not using, and playing around with some different distros. Don't forget about the BSD's, Solaris, etc. Linux isn't the only open source OS available. You could also try burning some bootable CD's. This is a good way to check for hardware compatibility before you install. Also, if you have some memory/disk space to spare, you could even try installing vmware on your windows machine. This will allow you to install one or more open source distros on top of windows without affecting your existing installation.

There may also be a few things (very few) that you won't be able to do with an open source OS. From my experience of having gone a few years without windows, it usually involved some stuff like MS file formats, such as Word, maybe some types of streaming video/audio, and some web media (like flash). Also, you might run into a situation where you need to use a specific software program that is only available for windows.

From a security standpoint: an improperly configured or unmaintained unix box can be more hazardous than windows.

Then there's the fact that your family is already used to windows, and might be resistant to the change. If nothing else, this could cause a little tension.

Bottom line... check it out, play around with it, but you probably should keep a windows box around anyway.

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Keeping the Windows Box Around

by NOW LEFT TR In reply to You still need windoze

then what is the point in changing at all?

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I do plan on keeping 2 laptops...

by NaughtyMonkey In reply to Keeping the Windows Box A ...

My kids do play games, and those can be used just for that. I can keep them cut off from the internal network and if they get corrupted or infected, just throw an image on 'em.

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by EvilDaemon In reply to Keeping the Windows Box A ...


And since variety is the spice of life, why not try it out? There's nothing to lose. Who knows, you might actually like it.

Imagine a world where the only flavor of ice cream was vanilla. Wouldn't that be kinda boring? Of course, some people prefer vanilla.

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like I said

by NaughtyMonkey In reply to Variety

I have heard of great improvements since last time I tried it. If you could recommend some apps that do some of the jobs I need that have done well for you, I would appreciate it. I just don't want to spend a year testing to find the particulars that I need.

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by EvilDaemon In reply to like I said

OpenOffice, like you said, but last time I used a Word doc, it didn't show the comment balloons that were in the particular file. I've never edited music or video, but gimp is great for pics/graphics. Personally, I never used a wysiwyg editor, I've just use the vi text editor for web development. The dump and restore utilities are very reliable for block-level backups of entire unix filesystems, and I use backuppc as a network backup server to back up the files on my widows machines. I've used mplayer for mp3s... dunno about the ipod format. The cdrecord and growisofs utils on freebsd have worked for me for burning disks.

A lot of distros will allow you to select a particular package of software to install when you initially install the OS, based on what you want to use the machine for -- PC, workstation, server, etc. Debian is nice. And if you get a live CD (like freesbie) they have a lot of commonly used software already installed. Docs and support communities are great, and most of the online manuals for various distros will recommend software for common tasks.

Like I said, I went years without a windows box, and didn't run into too many things I couldn't do. I got a couple of windows machines about a year and a half ago, and mostly use my WinXP laptop for my PC now. The unix machines I have are mostly used for various network and server things. For instance, took an old k6 machine and turned it into a router/bridge/firewall, used another one to make a WAP, using just a wireless nic.

Yeah, there a few things you can't do without windows, but there are many, many things you can't do without unix. It all really depends on your needs.

Have fun!

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Some suggestions

by TechExec2 In reply to Moving to open source

Desktop Linux has come a VERY long way since you last used it seven years ago. You can do all of the things you listed on a modern Linux distribution. There is no native iPod/iTunes/QuickTime support for Linux, but I've read there are ways to run it anyway. I suggest you download the Ubuntu Live CD (1) and try it. It boots directly from the CD and allows you to run it through its paces without actually installing it. It has the best hardware detection I have seen in Linux. Note: Personally, I prefer the K Desktop Environment because it is more like the Windows that I have been using (2). Same OS, just a different default desktop manager.

You didn't mention any Windows applications. But, if you need to run them, you could easily do so by running Windows in a VM on your Linux workstation. I would plan for this. Your kids will likely want to run some educational software that only runs on Windows.

Another option: Run the new X86-based Macintosh. It too can do all of the things you listed and has direct iPod, iTunes, and QuickTime support. The Mac is the premier platform for digital media creation and editing. You can also run Windows in a VM very well on the X86 Mac (very fast).

Good luck!


(1) Ubuntu

(2) Kubuntu

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I just can't afford a MAC...

by NaughtyMonkey In reply to Some suggestions

but I haven't looked since they went x86. I don't really care about any specific apps, just as long as they work well. I guess if I keep a Windows machine for my kids to game, they can do their I-Pod off of that. I am not a big fan of I-Pods and use an RCA MP3 player. Don't like DRM.

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by bradgalliford In reply to Some suggestions

And pay 2 times the amount of moolaa for the hardware you would be getting that will just die anyway and you will have to spend even more money to get it worked on by a vendor..


Ubuntu is the way to go. It does not do wifi all that well, at least from what I have experienced, but everything else runs great on it.

The nice thing about ubutnu is that you can pop in the live cd, then go to the add remove applications and view all the apps that you can download. They are sorted by type (office, Multi-media, Game.. blah blah)and popularity. It also gives you a good description on what the software is able to do.

After you get ubuntu installed hop out on their IRC and just ask people "I need the Linux equivalent to "insert windows application here" and within a couple seconds you will get people giving you what they use.

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You can do all that with Linux

by _Psyk_ In reply to Moving to open source

Everything you've listed can be done in Linux at varying levels of simplicity/complexity and detail.

Ubuntu appears to be the fastest growing Linux and I'd recommend that, i'm currently using Fedora 7.

Latest version of OpenOffice has some new features which may have been missing since you last used it.

edit music with audacity, edit videos with cinelerra (similar edius/premiere), collate and edit pics with f-spot/picassa for linux, web design use bluefish/nvu.

Disk images for backups - there are many options under linux, for example you may not need to take images - do an rsync of your /home directory to another drive on a regular or scheduled basis for backups.

Music player with ipod support is easily done with amarok. dvd/cd burning is easily done with K3B.

The only time I ever boot into Windows is to play some of the _latest_ games that haven't been supported under Wine. Other than that I do pretty much everything exclusively in Fedora/Linux.

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