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If you were a new linux user, how would you set up your system?

By kaicremata ·
i'm committed, new system (intel duo e6600/2 gig of DRAM/nvidia 7300le/250gb HD/20"dell e207fwp) coming in next week, and i want to go lynux.

I am pretty sold on the KDE office, which is important, as i am a good document generator (on a killer dell 5110 color laser which dims the light when it kicks in). i am liking the beryl interface, although out of fairness, i have to save i have never touched a line of linux code in my life.

my system comes with vista, i don't want to use it all. i don't want to ever use msword again, it is horrid, i like thunderbird over outlook, am a happy firefox user and i voip (viatalk), which has turned out to be a fine value.

i am looking for some constructive path directions for distros, painless integration, worthwhile plugins and oh, we do like bells and whistles...for a purpose.

impress me with your experience, show me the way...and i thank you in advance for your input.

heck, if i could some good response, i'll even post my picture up (no conceit in our family)

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by Jaqui In reply to If you were a new linux u ...

pclnuxos, got all the bells and whistles except berl installed by default.
[ has the same UI as Vista without the MS bloat to bog it down. ]

but them there bells and whistles are why I use linux from scratch, I detest them and don't want them on my system at all.

no plugins, no multimedia garbage. just a plain jane ui that works.

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Says it all really

by NOW LEFT TR In reply to snag

first response is called "Snag".

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I recommend PCLinuxOS

by stress junkie In reply to If you were a new linux u ...

There is a brief discussion of PCLinuxOS here:

You can find PCLinuxOS here:

Get the 93a Big Daddy version. The 2007 version is still in beta.


I would set up my system as follows:
The first hard drive would have three partitions. The first partition would be 12 gigabytes and would be used as the root partition. The second partition would be 500 megabytes and would be the swap partition. The third partition would be the data partition and would be mounted at /home. Your normal user accounts have their home directories in the /home directory. That means that when the third partition is mounted at /home then all of the data in the user home directories is going into the third partition.

The first and third partitions would use the ext3 file system. It is a reliable and robust journaling file system. Journaling file systems are said to have several benefits. From my point of view the main advantage is that if a journaling file system is disconnected without being dismounted, such as in a power failure, then it usually does not have to run fsck file system checker before it can be used.

I would create two user accounts. One is for using the Internet. The other is for personal information and it never uses web browsers or IRC or other vulnerable applications. The personal account uses email but otherwise it does not use the network at all.

You have to make sure that the account that uses the Internet cannot read the home directory of the account that has personal information.

You don't necessarily have to log off of the Internet account to use the personal account. I use a terminal window and the su command to log on to the personal account while I'm using the Internet account. Then I set the DISPLAY variable to :0.0 in the personal account and when I start an X application it displays on the same desktop as the Internet account is using. It looks like the TR web server is interpreting part of the contents of the DISPLAY variable as an emoticon. In English, the contents of the DISPLAY variable are colon zero period zero.

In order to do this you have to log in to the Internet account, open a terminal window, and enter the following command.
xhost +localhost
You only have to enter that command one time when you first set up your accounts. That command tells the X window manager to allow other accounts on the local machine to display their X applications on the desktop of the Internet account.

Using this configuration I almost never log on to the console in the personal information account. I always log on to the Internet account. When I want to use data in the personal information account I open a terminal window, enter the su command with a dash after it followed by the name of the personal information account. It looks something like this.

su - personal

Then you enter the name of the software that you want to run, such as kmail or kontact. You will see a bunch of messages in the terminal window and if there are no problems then the window of the application that you ran will display on your desktop.

The main vulnerability here is that if the Internet account is running some software that scans the video memory then whatever is displayed on the screen can be read by the Internet account. So your personal emails that are still in video memory could be read by a rogue program that is being run by the Internet account. You can prevent this if you log off of the Internet account and log on at the console to the personal information account.


I compared KOffice, gnumeric and abiword, and Open Office dot org office document software. I finally decided to use OOo instead of KOffice or abiword and gnumeric. Since KOffice file format is not compatible with OOo you may want to give OOo a test drive before you commit a lot of time to KOffice. You should probably look at gnumeric for spreadsheets and abiword for text documents if you haven't already done so.

Open Office dot org software can be found here:

And yes the "dot org" is officially part of its name due to some restriction on the expression "Open Office".

I chose OOo over KOffice due mostly to compatibility with other software. I receive documents created with MS Office so it was important to be able to read them. While none of the office document software suites that I tried were perfect replacements for MS Office I found that OOo was as close as I could get. I still have trouble with MS Excel macros and graphs and multiple worksheets but can generally get by ok. I still sometimes have to use genuine MS Office to read some files that I receive.

If you don't need compatibility with MS Office then you may still prefer KOffice. I just thought I'd contribute the results of my own testing.


I hope that you enjoy using Linux. It can be a lot of fun. All of the high quality software that is available for free is amazing. You can find a lot of software for Linux here:

You can learn about which software works well and which doesn't by reading Linux web sites such as:

Those will get you started.

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Could the /home directory be installed on a fat partition

by pennatomcat In reply to I recommend PCLinuxOS

so that Windows (on a dual-boot system or network) could read/write to the user's home directory? If it can be done, would it be advisable?

I'm REALLY impressed with Damn Small Linux running on my ancient Dell P2 laptop. It flies! Goodbye Win98!

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by Jaqui In reply to Could the /home directory ...

because the MS partitions don't support the permissions structure that linux requires for a lot of files.

the app specific folders [ .gnome for example ] would be displayed.
the temporary files in ~/tmp/ [ dcop etc ] would not be able to be made.

you would have to completely rebuild the entire distro to have no permission settings at all, which would break the entire os, to use a fat partition for /home/[user].

NTFS has permissions, but it won't play nice so it also isn't a viable partioning scheme for this.

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So then the best possible solution would be

by pennatomcat In reply to nope

to copy or backup the windows files to the /home partition? I'd like to sort out this isssue before I partition for a permanent install. I have 4 computers that I'd like to sync the data on a regular basis, even with dual-boot on all systems. (cron backup?)

Thanks for the info.

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The best solution,

by Jaqui In reply to So then the best possible ...

if you are using both is to create a small fat partition to use for the shared files, both operating systems can read and write to it, you just have to remember to put any new or changed files into the shared partition.

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Wouldn't it work the other way around?

by CharlieSpencer In reply to nope

Install Windows on a FAT partition, install Linux in a dual boot configuration, and access the Windows "My Documents" from inside Linux? Not as /home/user, but as some other mounted resource?

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yup that would

by Jaqui In reply to Wouldn't it work the othe ...

or, install windows onto NTFS for the security, but keep a small fat partition around and specify a mountpoint for that in linux, use it to transfer between them.

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Very illuminating

by intj-astral In reply to nope

I've learned something new today- this explains why things got strange when I
set up an external drive with fat32 and
accessed it from Linux. Thanks.

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