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General Help & Advice => Linux Support => Topic started by: Helen Pixels on February 09, 2022, 04:10:06 PM

Title: Can I have some advice please?
Post by: Helen Pixels on February 09, 2022, 04:10:06 PM
Okay, I'm totally new to the idea of Linux, but I am quickly becoming very disillusioned with Windows 8.1 (which runs fine, until I install all of the updates and drivers Microsoft wants me to install), and then runs for 30 minutes before becoming cripplingly slow and I have not much choice but to reboot... rinse and repeat. I have no idea where I went wrong and I am pretty sure this isn't meant to happen.

I am considering trying out Linux, but need some advice on which version is best for people who are new. Something with a desktop similar to how Windows is laid out (minus the terrible 8.1 version touchpad style start button). I must be honest I am nervous about this as I have used Windows ever since I was a teenager and learned how to use a computer originally on 95, then 98. Honestly if they still offered support for XP I would downgrade to that version because I loved that one, but that is no longer an option. I mean, I won't know how to fix a problem when it happens, in Windows I usually at least have an idea. But I have heard from various videos on youtube that Linux is more stable, less prone to viruses, and that as long as I don't download something I shouldn't, it should be okay.

What I need to know is:

Which version of Linux is best for a total beginner who has been using Windows her whole life?
Do you guys have software options for:
- word processor similar to openoffice?
- something similar to krita for drawing?
- something similar to magicavoxel?
- a screen recorder? (I currently use OBS studio, for which I had to download a pack of drivers)
- a video editor? (similar to minitool moviemaker or the old fashioned windows movie maker)

Obviously I know it is going to mean learning totally different software and a completely foreign operating system, because I highly doubt that .exe files will run on anything but windows, but I'd be willing to learn everything I need to know, just so I don't have to put up with continuous updates, a malfunctioning computer, and the frustration of having to go through the tedious process of 'refreshing' windows and beginning the entire cycle of madness again.

I would be grateful for any advice :)

Title: Re: Can I have some advice please?
Post by: Keith on February 09, 2022, 08:52:51 PM
Hello Helen - and welcome to the Forum.

There are many versions of Linux to choose from, each with their own advantages depending upon the individual user's needs. 
I think most Linux users would agree that someone new to Linux would be best advised to choose a version that is best supported, even if that has much more than you need.  Ubuntu fits the bill as many other versions are actually cut-down versions of Ubuntu and with their own appearance and layout. 
Ubuntu is very stable and very resistant to viruses due to the way it was designed - unlike Windows that was designed before viruses and hacking were thought of.  Indeed, most Linux users don't bother with firewalls or antivirus software, although they are available. 
As for downloading doubtful applications:  you are right to be careful.  Ubuntu (and the others) come with a "software centre" where you will find a wealth of applications that are free to install, and the installation is very easy. 

Do you guys have software options for:
- word processor similar to openoffice?  LibreOffice comes as standard in Ubuntu.  A reliable version of Open Office
- something similar to krita for drawing?  LibreOffice has a drawing application
- something similar to magicavoxel?     I believe there is a Linux version of magicavoxel
- a screen recorder?      These are available e.g vokoscreen
- a video editor?    There are many free ones available. See e.g. https://itsfoss.com/best-video-editing-software-linux/ (https://itsfoss.com/best-video-editing-software-linux/)

Obviously I know it is going to mean learning totally different software and a completely foreign operating system,
         Actually, you will find it very intuitive and very like windows.
I highly doubt that .exe files will run on anything but windows,.  Well, it possible using a Windows emulator but why would you need to?

Best of all, you can create a "Live USB" that contains a complete Linux operating system of your choice and runs from the USB (or DVD).  You can use this to experiment and see if you like it, and then install it if you want to, either alongside Windows or in place of it.

Advice and assistance is always available on several Linux Forums, such as this one, and I expect several other Members will encourage you to take the plunge.
Welcome to Linux.

Keith
Title: Re: Can I have some advice please?
Post by: Brian000 on February 09, 2022, 10:39:05 PM
I think Keith has covered it nicely ;)

Just check your hardware requirements:
https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Installation/SystemRequirements

....And start with the LiveCD, which will allow you to experience a Linux "Distribution" without altering your current Windows installation (it doesn't write anything to disk)

If you don't met the minimum system requirements - that's fine, there are other editions/flavours or Ubuntu and many different distributions catering for lower spec.

...you may not like the desktop look and feel, but again there are many options which are more Windows like. I think "Mate" is more of an XP style desktop user experience than the default install.

https://ubuntu.com/download/flavours

good luck, and welcome aboard!
Title: Re: Can I have some advice please?
Post by: Keith on February 10, 2022, 09:06:58 AM
Re Brian's comment about the Ubuntu Desktop:  the default desktop, called "Unity", is based on large icons.  I don't know anyone who likes it, but you can change it very easily to "Classic view" which uses simple menus and is very intuitive, so you don't have to use a different version of Linux just to get a good desktop. 
The Ubuntu desktop can be changed only after installation, but I'm confident you'll prefer Classic View.  And I feel that there is more help available for Ubuntu than other flavours.

Keith
Title: Re: Can I have some advice please?
Post by: Helen Pixels on February 10, 2022, 11:34:03 AM
Thanks for your help, I am beginning to think my hard drive is actually starting to fail because my computer is becoming so slow and I get the blue screen of death at least weekly. I'm planning to buy an external SSD to install Linux onto, and change the bios setting so it runs from that drive as the first option, leaving my windows based failing HDD untouched, and still bootable when the external drive is unplugged, windows 8.1, and all it's problems can live as long as the hard drive lasts, but given the state of things, I probably have a month or two at most. I've been fighting to keep my computer working for this long if I am honest, I feel like I am having a wrestling match with my computer almost daily, and that isn't a good place to be with a computer. this will give me the chance to at least save some of my files on a USB device and bring them over to a linux system, because your programs should be able to read pngs and mp3s and other basic file formats. As far as I know, all of my other hardware is functioning as it should, it is only the HDD that is giving me issues.

Given what you've said, Ubuntu sounds like a good option, I am not sure of my processor speed, but my RAM is 4GB, so not tiny but certainly nothing special. Does Ubuntu use less system resources than Windows. Sometimes I go into task manager to kill processes I do not need running, and sometimes I am afraid to terminate something because I don't know what it is or what it's doing, because things aren't always obvious. Of course I can kill some background processes like smart defrag and driver updater (both iobit softwares) because these don't actually need to be running constantly. But...seems like windows has A LOT of system hogging stuff running.

Oh, that reminds me, what program would you recommend me download for anti-spyware/anti-virus, driver updater and defragmenter? Iobit only do windows versions of their products.

Finally, there is just ONE program for windows I would like to be able to keep if I can, RPG Maker VX Ace. I was trying to make a small 2D computer game to sell on steam, or at least I would be able to without these constant computer problems. I may however just learn Godot (which I have checked, does have a Linux version) and use my existing pixel art in that (which is why I wanted a drawing tool). I'm so torn on it because RPG Maker is so easy by comparison, and I wouldn't have to learn so much code (basically it's an entry level game engine and I am a beginner). But, at the end of the day it is a windows based program.

Oh, and the SSD I am wanting to buy will be approx 250GB, same size as my existing HDD. There is no way I would possibly fill all of that space even if some of my programs take up an entire GB of data, but most of my programs would be smaller than that. I will replace my HDD with a new one eventually, but the SSD is a good option long term for backups and stuff.

It is also good to know that Linux can be set up to resemble a windows style layout, and if it is a bit like XP, all the better (I loved that operating system, but microsoft don't make them like that any more).
Title: Re: Can I have some advice please?
Post by: Keith on February 10, 2022, 12:17:29 PM
QuoteI am beginning to think my hard drive is actually starting to fail because my computer is becoming so slow and I get the blue screen of death at least weekly
The Blue Screen of Death and veeerryyy slow system is a Windows thing and is almost certainly nothing to do with your hard drive.  A lady friend had a Windows PC that took 1/2 hour to boot up and continued to be very, very slow.  I changed it to Ubuntu and she shed tears of joy. 
To save buying a new drive, you can install Linux alongside Windows on your existing drive.  When you boot up, you are given a choice of which system you want to boot into (default is Linux).  Then when you are happy, you can remove Windows and claim the space for Linux. 

You can copy all your files to a USB device using a Linux LiveDisc or LiveUSB.  As Brian mentioned; you can run Linux temporarily from the Live USB/disc and do any thing you like except save files to the HDD (until you actually install it, of course).  We can help you create a Live USB/disc but as your system is causing so much trouble you might like to buy one from here:
https://thelinuxshop.co.uk/ubuntu-m-35.html (https://thelinuxshop.co.uk/ubuntu-m-35.html) It costs ~£7.

Your RAM is fine if you don't want to play games or do heavy video editing (I think you mentioned that).  Most people recommend 8GB but my laptop is 2GB running Ubuntu very well.  Do check if you can simply upgrade the RAM in your PC, but if it's old it might not be possible. 

QuoteI can kill some background processes like smart defrag and driver updater (both iobit softwares) because these don't actually need to be running constantly. But...seems like windows has A LOT of system hogging stuff running.
Linux doesn't need to defragment as it works in a different way from Windows, which speeds things up quite a bit. 
Updating:  You can opt to have important updates installed automatically (although I find that a nuisance) but generally you, the owner, have to take responsibility to actually say "yes" to any update notices that pop up. And you can choose what to update or not (I always accept all updates). 

Quotewhat program would you recommend me download for anti-spyware/anti-virus, driver updater and defragmenter?
Don't bother because:...
1. Linux doesn't fragment files (mentioned above),
2. updates are always from the Ubuntu repositories (so guaranteed to be virus/spyware free).  If you are in the habit of forwarding compromised Windows files to people then you might like to use anti-virus s/w to preserve your reputation.  It's available. 
3. the updater is built-in to Linux

QuoteI would like to be able to keep if I can, RPG Maker VX Ace
If you install WINE (WINdows Emulator) you can run this.  See https://everythingisamiracleblog.wordpress.com/2018/07/26/how-to-use-rpg-maker-vx-ace-on-linux-ubuntu/ (https://everythingisamiracleblog.wordpress.com/2018/07/26/how-to-use-rpg-maker-vx-ace-on-linux-ubuntu/)

Quotethe SSD I am wanting to buy will be approx 250GB,
SSDs are noticeably faster than HDDs but there is some evidence that they do lose some bits.  Mine has several bad blocks and I am considering reverting to a HDD as I don't really need the speed.  The Mad Penguin (the Forum Manager) might comment on this later.


Keith

Title: Re: Can I have some advice please?
Post by: Helen Pixels on February 10, 2022, 12:42:38 PM
I do have the required 4GB RAM (I checked the requirements on the link provided), but I am worried because it is the bare minimum needed, not the optimum, I might try the XFCE version which is apparently lighter. How did you get Ubuntu working on a system with only half the required RAM? That sounds miraculous to me.

You sure it isn't my hard drive? I watched a youtube video that said slow computer and screen of death is normally a sign of hard drive failure. The computer spent many hours just repairing it;s own disk errors just last night, overnight. Thankfully the computer was up and running when I got up this morning. Maybe it is the stupid updates windows automatically clogs my computer with in that case, updates seem to go on in the background without me actually having a choice to install them or not, I don't like that. I would have gone without many of them because at one point after a system refresh my computer was actually working well for a day or two, it was actually fast for a change. I am beginning to think Microsoft doesn't care about the effect their updates have on computers not running the latest hardware.

Dual boot sounds good, I'm just afraid of accidentally wiping windows away just in case I need it for anything (such as getting what I have saved from onedrive) I'm pretty sure onedrive probaby isn't compatible with Linux because its a microsoft thing. I work almost exclusively out of it because I never know when my computer is going to die (again) and I need things constantly backed up. Do you have any cloud storage, it comes in handy. I have heard some horror stories about dual boot gone wrong on youtube.

You have a windows EMULATOR? Wow, the only emulator I ever used was WinUAE which allows windows to simulate an old Amiga. I used to use it to play retro games at one time. I never thought something as powerful as windows could be emulated yet (well, I thought maybe '95 could but... not something powerful like a modern version). I'd give Wine a go, for RPG Maker at least. I can't think of any other windows program I'd need to save.

Not having anti-spyware running in the background is a foreign idea to me, but I'd give it a go, it might mean a faster system because the system resources aren't being used by it and can instead be used by programs I actually do want to run.

Now as for games, I do SOME gaming on the computer (though to be fair I do most of my gaming on my completely unconnected Nintendo Switch), I play forge of empires, which is a browser game I play in firefox, and I also play minetest, which is similar to minecraft but will work on much lower spec computers and is free and open source, and it definitely not the same game. I can run this even in my very buggy windows, so it shouldn't be an issue in Linux, in fact one of my new friends in there has said he uses Linux on his computer and he is able to run minetest in there. I'm not sure if there is a linux version though or if he is using the wine emulator you mentioned. I will ask him.

Title: Re: Can I have some advice please?
Post by: Keith on February 10, 2022, 01:02:38 PM
QuoteI do have the required 4GB RAM (I checked the requirements on the link provided), but I am worried because it is the bare minimum needed, not the optimum, I might try the XFCE version which is apparently lighter. How did you get Ubuntu working on a system with only half the required RAM?
It's fine - trust me.  As I mentioned; I am running Ubuntu very well on 2GB and one lady friend used to run Ubuntu on 1GB!  I'm too mean to upgrade mine to 4GB. 
XFCE is very nice but be warned that smaller, Ubuntu-based OSs like that might not be supported by some software suppliers.  For example, Trueconf video conferencing doesn't have a version for XUbuntu. 
QuoteYou sure it isn't my hard drive?
No - not sure.  It might be.  Depends what you mean by Windows repairing the disc.  Might be repairing itself.   Buying a separate drive is a good thing anyway, so if you are worried, then go for it. 

QuoteI am beginning to think Microsoft doesn't care about the effect their updates have on computers not running the latest hardware.
I think a lot of people are at one with you there.  But I couldn't possibly comment. 

QuoteDo you have any cloud storage
Although I do use super-secure, free and encrypted mega.nz (http://mega.nz) I tend to use it mostly as an easy way to give friends access to photos. 

QuoteYou have a windows EMULATOR?
Well, you'll have to install it. 

Let us know how you get on.  We are always here to help.

Keith

Title: Re: Can I have some advice please?
Post by: Helen Pixels on February 10, 2022, 01:20:01 PM
It's fine - trust me.  As I mentioned; I am running Ubuntu very well on 2GB and one lady friend used to run Ubuntu on 1GB!  I'm too mean to upgrade mine to 4GB.
XFCE is very nice but be warned that smaller, Ubuntu-based OSs like that might not be supported by some software suppliers.  For example, Trueconf video conferencing doesn't have a version for XUbuntu.

Oh, in which case just plain Ubunu might be the way to go. Sounds like the devs might have said 4GB to be on the safe side even if it can and does run on much less.

No - not sure.  It might be.  Depends what you mean by Windows repairing the disc.  Might be repairing itself.   Buying a separate drive is a good thing anyway, so if you are worried, then go for it.

Well, I got the blue screen of death after windows failed to boot, then it went into diagnosing the problem, and then it began to repair the disk. I think a seperate drive might be best JUST IN CASE, if I lose the hard drive and it's dual boot, I both operating systems, if I have a seperate drive for Linux, then I only lose windows and I still have a useable computer. If I am right and it is the HDD, it's safest way, if I'm wrong them worst case scenario is that I can only use windows by unplugging the external drive, which isn't actually much of a hardship.

Although I do use super-secure, free and encrypted mega.nz I tend to use it mostly as an easy way to give friends access to photos.

Sounds cool, I'd use it as a backup in case of disk problems, major updates or anything that could cause problems. Windows has turned me into a bit of a backup freak.

Well, you'll have to install it.

Let us know how you get on.  We are always here to help.

Thank you :) I'm going to have to wait until next week or the week after before I can afford to buy the seperate drive, but once I have I should be able to get the ball rolling. I've seen some quite reasonably priced 250GB external SSDs on amazon.

Now, it is my understanding that I need to 'burn' the image of the OS onto the disk and then attempt to boot from that disk before I can go through the installation and setup process, what software do I need to burn the image?
Title: Re: Can I have some advice please?
Post by: Keith on February 10, 2022, 01:33:29 PM
QuoteNow, it is my understanding that I need to 'burn' the image of the OS onto the disk and then attempt to boot from that disk before I can go through the installation and setup process, what software do I need to burn the image?
This why I suggested that you buy the disc or USB all ready for you to use - especially as you are having so much trouble with your system.  I recommend doing so. 
If you are set on burning your own USB then I recommend installing Unetbootin from http://unetbootin.github.io/ (http://unetbootin.github.io/) as it will download Ubuntu 20.04 (or many others) and burn it to USB all by itself.  Painlessly.  BUT I still suggest that you buy one in view of your system problems, especially as you have to await delivery of your new SDD, anyway. 

Don't forget to change the PC's boot order so it looks for USB, DVD then hard-drive/ssd in that order. 

Keith
Title: Re: Can I have some advice please?
Post by: Helen Pixels on February 10, 2022, 01:41:08 PM
okay thanks. Maybe having the CD would have some benefits,like not having to worry about burning it correctly. I'll consider it because I don't have a CD burner I only have an old 2GB USB storage device I was going to buy a new bigger one which will probably set me back a similar amount of money. My computer performance is ridiculously sporadic, it can sometimes have an hour or two good behaviour and sometimes be beyond terrible. I never know what it's going to do. It is useable but it is a continous uphill battle to keep windows ticking over.
Title: Re: Can I have some advice please?
Post by: DavidMcCann on February 10, 2022, 05:04:26 PM
A few comments.

Firstly, I'd recommend Linux Mint, which is a cleaned up and improved version of Ubuntu. I'm not sure when Keith last used Ubuntu — Unity is not the default desktop, having been dropped a couple of years ago.

For seeing what software is available, have a look at https://linuxappfinder.com/ (https://linuxappfinder.com/) that lists applications by category and also lets you search for equivalents to Windows programs.

For creating a Mint usb, they recommend a free Windows program called etcher. Have a look at the Mint installation instructions:https://linuxmint-guides.linuxsecrets.com/en/latest/index.html (https://linuxmint-guides.linuxsecrets.com/en/latest/index.html) As they say in the guide, usb creation is more reliable than burning a disk.

For a bit of background, you might like to read
https://itsfoss.com/what-is-linux/ (https://itsfoss.com/what-is-linux/)
https://www.lifewire.com/basic-guide-linux-operating-system-2202786 (https://www.lifewire.com/basic-guide-linux-operating-system-2202786)
Title: Re: Can I have some advice please?
Post by: steve57 on February 10, 2022, 06:53:22 PM
I would also suggest Linux Mint for someone completely new to Linux, and it's also lighter weight than Ubuntu. When I first started dipping my toes in the Linux waters about 3 years ago I started with Mint, and found it to be an ideal beginner's distro. One other thing, take your time and don't try to rush anything. You know the old saying "Patience is a virtue", well that's as true with Linux as much as anything else.
Title: Re: Can I have some advice please?
Post by: Gaz511 on February 10, 2022, 07:07:24 PM
Hope I am not going to confuse the issue here by offering more choice (feel free to ignore if that is the case).
But could I suggest Linux Lite which while being ubuntu based will run easily with 4GB of ram (1GB+ recommended minimum) and is set up "to make the transition from Windows to Linux Lite, as smooth as possible." & " A familiar, Windows like Desktop" as they state on there web site.

https://www.linuxliteos.com/ (https://www.linuxliteos.com/)

Plus they have an excellent help manual to aid people new to Linux.

https://www.linuxliteos.com/manual/ (https://www.linuxliteos.com/manual/)
Title: Re: Can I have some advice please?
Post by: Keith on February 10, 2022, 07:23:06 PM
The reason that I suggested Ubuntu is that there is more software available for someone wanting to find Windows-like equivalents.  Most of the light versions are not supported by some applications - as I mentioned. 
But with Live Discs, one can experiment to one's heart's content before deciding on the one most appropriate to one's needs, and there are many good light versions to try, as you've indicated.
Title: Re: Can I have some advice please?
Post by: Helen Pixels on February 10, 2022, 08:51:38 PM
So, should I buy several small USB sticks to try each of these versions and find out what is most compatible with my computer (by trying it before the install to make sure there are no hardware incompatibilities or it's not too heavy on CPU or RAM usage?) That way might be best so I know what is safe to install.

I could also use the 'try it' option to find out exactly what software is available for each, because there is no point in installing something if there isn't software available for what I want my computer to actually be able to do (make videos and upload to youtube, and run RPG Maker) From what I have seen on youtube, the desktop itself is often customisable so that I can alter some settings to make it feel more windows-like in layout (like, having a start button equivalent). So it's not like I am expecting my fairly modest laptop to suddenly become all powerful, of course not, it's hardware would still be limited no matter what OS I run... BUT, I do want something that runs stable on my hardware, that has a good selection of apps to install for my needs, allows me to connect to the internet...etc. So really some pretty basic stuff with some little extras.

BTW... if you want to stop a stubborn program from running, do you still CTRL-ALT-DEL and get a task manager equivalent, or is there some other keyboard shortcut?

I also LOVE, from what I've seen on youtube, how I won't have to go to a load of websites first to download apps or install drivers. You have access to it all right away... mind blown. It's just so different. I should be able to create these install sticks, my system is not yet at the point in it's cycle where it is totally crippled just yet.
Title: Re: Can I have some advice please?
Post by: Keith on February 10, 2022, 11:16:41 PM
QuoteBTW... if you want to stop a stubborn program from running, do you still CTRL-ALT-DEL and get a task manager equivalent, or is there some other keyboard shortcut?
I've installed on my top panel an icon for stopping a stuck application.  Can't remember what it's called just now. 
I click the icon then click on the offending application window and it goes away.  Easy.  It's Linux. 

Keith
Title: Re: Can I have some advice please?
Post by: DavidMcCann on February 11, 2022, 05:12:06 PM
Keith's tool is called Xkill. When you run it, the cursor becomes a skill and crossbones — click on a window and the program is shut down. Ctrl-Alt-Backspace will end the current session and take you back to a log-in screen. In some distros Ctrl-Alt-Delete is available, but it causes a reboot.

4 GB is ample for Linux. I have that on my desktop. At the moment I have a browser and word-processor running under the Xfce desktop. 1 GB is being used for the software, 1 GB for buffering and caching, and 2 GB are free. As for hardware incompatibility, almost the only time that happens these days is when the computer is much newer than the distro and has the very latest chips, or when the computer is as old as my 2002 laptop.

I wouldn't get a bundle of USB's — it would take for ever to evaluate the distros. If you go to http://distrowatch.com/ (http://distrowatch.com/), you can look up the various distros and read actual users' reviews. Some are silly, but the general trend is worth noting — if the average vote is at least 8/10 , it's not going to be bad. I'd try Mint, as a couple of us have advised — I've tried the current version and liked it. Never having owned a Windows computer I can't make a comparison, but one reviewer said the Cinnamon version of Mint is more like Windows 10 and the Mate version is more like Windows 7.

If you do have any problems, it's easier to get help than to switch to another distro, where you will probably have a different problem. Tinkering can become addictive: https://xkcd.com/456/ (https://xkcd.com/456/)
Title: Re: Can I have some advice please?
Post by: Helen Pixels on February 11, 2022, 11:41:32 PM
From what I've seen on youtube and some of you have said here, it might be worth me comparing just two distros: either Ubuntu or Mint Cinnamon. It might be less confusing that way. I never realized that there would be such an enormous choice on offer. I knew that a few versions existed, but, I thought maybe it would be about 5-10 different ones, not literally hundreds. I mean, in the windows world there are few actual choices, right now it is between 7, 8.1, 10 and the upcoming 11, they stopped supporting previous versions a while back, and Windows 8.1 seems to be highly unstable and buggy after updates and I wouldn't wish it on an anyone. If anyone told me they wanted windows 8.1 I would tell them to try something else, get 7 if they seriously wanted windows.

I've never used anything but windows, and it's taken a lot of hassle to get me to realize I might have been needlessly fighting my computer because the OS is not fit for purpose. It isn't even like I am careless with my computer, I've always been diligent about making sure I have antivirus, that I defragment at least weekly, that I clear out junk, keep all software and drivers up to date...etc, and still it becomes unusable.

I can get a 4GB usb drive to use for burning the disc image EXTREMELY cheaply, but you know what else I found, I found a high speed 1 or 2TB USB drive for £5.99 - £6.18 on e-bay! I've also researched online and it's said that these kind of devices can serve as external hard drives. The crazy part is that even the smaller of these has four times what my actual inbuilt hard drive has. I do have 2 USB ports, so I can use a little 4GB to burn the disk image to, and the big fast one as my linux hard drive. Literally a pocket sized hard drive! I thought I'd have to get some big bulky thing, but it's tiny! Sometimes the advances in technology amaze me.





Title: Re: Can I have some advice please?
Post by: steve57 on February 12, 2022, 12:28:17 PM
Yes, comparing just two would be a sensible thing to do, things may well just get confusing otherwise. As you say, for choice there are hundreds to choose from, but for distros that are genuinely suitable for complete beginners it probably does come down to only 5-10.

Technically speaking Windows choices no longer include 7, as that isn't supported anymore, and it looks like an awful lot of PC's won't be able to run 11. I've never used 8, but if I remember correctly didn't it get a lot of bad press from the day it was launched?

A 4GB USB stick will be fine for trying out Mint or Ubuntu. I suggest you try that for a start, then cross other bridges when you get to them.
Title: Re: Can I have some advice please?
Post by: Helen Pixels on February 12, 2022, 03:30:17 PM
I didn't know that they'd stopped supporting 7, that's a shame because that was actually half decent despite the usual bloat.

Windows 8 got bad rap from the beginning because of the horrible GUI, I mean, they totally screwed up the start menu to the point that it looked as if it was designed for a touchscreen pad rather than an actual PC. Bear in mind, it's entire userbase was accustommed to a layout that had not really changed much (apart from nicer looking graphics) since 1995. But, I think as time went on and more people were using it for longer, people realized that there was more wrong with it than a wonky interface. It's inherently more unstable, loaded with rubbish that people don't ask for (like, it comes with the ultra CPU hogging McAfee antivirus for a start), I prefer to use a free alternative iObit antimalware, there is a paid version of this which automates a lot of stuff, but for the sake of clicking a few buttons I prefer the free one. I mean, why not just give customers bare bones windows and let them choose what they would like to install? Makes more sense to me.

Like I said, I think I will end up using either mint or ubuntu, and I'll have USB as the first boot priority, so windows only loads when the usb is removed. That way I won't need to be hopping into bios every time I decide which OS to use. There are people other than me who use the computer, who might prefer to continue using windows because it's what they know, neither of them have any idea what a bios is, let alone how to use it, therefore it I want to make it as simple as possible (in fact they don't know much apart from how to google stuff and play a couple of browser games).
Title: Re: Can I have some advice please?
Post by: Rich J on February 13, 2022, 12:28:46 PM
Hi Helen and a belated welcome to the forum from me!  I'm Rich (in name only :() one of the helpers on here.

A few years ago, I was exactly where you are now and was asking the same questions.  I, too went through the process of trying out various versions of Linux before settling on Mint and I've stuck with it ever since.  The change from Windows, for me, was really borne out of frustration that, here I was spending loads of money, only to find further down the road that I didn't really own anything, I was merely a licensee (a renter) of the software I'd 'purchased', that I couldn't modify it to suit my circumstances nor pass it on when I'd tired of it.  And every so often, said software was made redundant and I'd need to 'upgrade' to the next 'best thing' in order to keep up!  Changing to Linux completely altered that scenario. 

Without going into too much detail, (there's plenty around the 'net if you wish to find it) what you have to remember is that Microsoft is a commercial company dedicated to making money - and credit to them - they've been very good at it!  Linux isn't a company - in fact isn't an entity at all - it's an association of like-minded people who collaborate to produce an operating system, or distro (short for distribution) in varying guises, that is free to use, add to, delete from, modify and change for other versions and pass on to others without any recourse to licences* or permissions or payment.  Crazy notion, eh?  (I bet that went down well on your side of the pond!!)  From the start, Linux was and still is, designed to be secure, so no need for antiviruses and the like - a simple (included) firewall will suffice.  So, where to start?

Ok, there will a learning curve but it's nothing like it was back in the day and reading what you have written and the way you express yourself, I believe that you will cope with it very well.

Firstly, jot down the items that you use the most to keep a focus on what you require from your operating system.  We are all different and you will end up with a distro that will be unique to you - another crazy notion - and it's easy to get bogged down if you're not careful as there is sooooo much choice out there!

Then, read up a bit on the various distros which already contain the bulk of the software you need.  No one may have everything you require but - as already stated - it is easy to add in more software later.  Distros may be designed by a single individual or by teams of up to hundreds and tend to reflect what they consider important - so bear that in mind too - you can change anything you like later for a more suitable alternative.

I would advise that, in the short-term, stick to a distro that is more 'mainstream' in that it has more users, will be more rounded and polished and there will be a larger 'pool' of advice to draw from.  ;)

As said, my preference has always been Mint (and even then I'm not on the very latest version) and one last point - given your system specs, should you choose Mint, go for the MATE (pronounced MAR-TAY) version over Cinnamon.  MATE is less resource-hungry and is more 'Windows'-like in appearance which does help the new user when first migrating.

Hope this helps, take your time and come back with as many queries as you like - all questions are valid!

Rich

EDIT: * Google GNU License for info on this.
Title: Re: Can I have some advice please?
Post by: Helen Pixels on February 13, 2022, 11:09:15 PM
Hi Rich, thanks for your response. In terms of what I require, it's my understanding that the distros have repositories for various software for me to explore, and that I should be able to get hold of windows equivalents for most things (like there is a Linux version of Krita I can use, which probably works the same way it does on Windows), and there is video editing software, I don't need a super powerful resource hungry one, just one that will allow me to stip clips, marry some music to the visuals, and combine the lot into a single mp4 for upload to youtube. So really I only need a very rudimentary video editor.

Now onto the more complex stuff: I got RPG Maker VX Ace, which is exclusively a windows program which runs through steam. I know WINE can run standalone .exe files, but I don't know if this is going to be the case when the program runs through steam. Therefore I might be better off getting virtual box and emulating some previous version of windows that can run on lower spec computers (so that at least half my RAM and processing power is still available to the host system and not the emulated one), and run it through that. VX Ace was from 2012, so emulated windows NT would be a sensible choice. Steam of course requires internet access, and I've watched on youtube that virtual machines can connect to the internet (safely, because you can always shut down and even delete virtual machines without ever risking your main OS). I can use RPG Maker in there, which is the only instance in which I will actually need a windows program from the looks of things. If I can get it running in simulated windows NT, or wine, I will be happy.

Oh, and I am with you about the whole windows liscence thing, you think you buy windows, but you don't, you're really long term renting it. The more I have researched into it, the less and less I like Microsoft for some of their choices. They bloat up your OS from day one with rubbish you don't want or need, when really it would be nice to be asked if I want dozens of stupid little games and shopping buttons before just installing them. My answer would be no thank you. Then they install Microsoft office, want it or not, which leads me to uninstalling it (and much of the other bloatware) and installing what I do want. In all it takes me approximately one and a half days to debloat, install all updates, defragment the hard drive, and set up things how I would like them. Some of it could be avoided if they asked me what I wanted in the first place. I also didn't realize until recently that Microsoft can access any windows computer at any time, which is actually an invasion of privacy. While I've nothing to hide, I don't see why microsoft would really need to see what I am doing online. Me doing pixel art and making youtube tutorials on making tilesets in various styles for RPG Maker can't be that interesting to those guys. More worryingly, if they can do this, so can hackers, and you can bet that wouldn't want the data for the purposes of advertising.

But, getting back to which distro I'd go for, it really depends. I will be taking a look at some, but NOT TOO MANY, otherwise I am going to confuse myself. As long as I can get the software I need to do what I need, and get on with the work I want to do on my computer without random freezes and crashes, then I will be happy. From what I understand, Linux distros tend to be extremely stable. As long as it supports NVIDIA graphics drivers it should be fine (I know Ubuntu does).

You know, I am really glad I made my way to this forum instead of just asking people on some other place for help with my malfunctioning windows 8.1, because you've all been really helpful and insightful. I suspected it was time to look for different solutions to my computer problems, and this fix, changing my OS, will likely be a permanent fix.
Title: Re: Can I have some advice please?
Post by: Helen Pixels on February 14, 2022, 12:09:42 PM
UPDATE: I have placed an order for my USB sticks from e-bay, and I should recieve them by the end of the week. In the meantime I am learning about virtualbox, I've set myself the challenge of getting windows 98 SE to run within it, just to see how it is done. Even on my buggy 8.1, I should be able to do this fairly easily as the RAM and processor requirements for this OS are so low, literally I could give it what would have been extremely high spec for a computer running 98 back in the day and still not strain my host resources. This will help me learn about virtualbox and be a practice run for me getting another OS working inside of it. I'll be needing NT or higher for RPG Maker, but 98 SE would be a nice addition to run old DOS based games.

Edit: I have Win 98 SE working, love virtualbox and will definitely use it when I migrate to Linux.
Title: Re: Can I have some advice please?
Post by: Rich J on February 14, 2022, 04:59:44 PM
For my two penn'orth, you are welcome!

Just a thought - as 'dual-booting' has been mentioned and you are new to Linux - rather than go that route first-off, which can be a bit daunting for a newbie, is there a chance for you to acquire another machine?  Perhaps a family member or friend has an unused laptop gathering dust?  A loan machine from work maybe?

If so, it might be better to start afresh with a stand-alone where you can install a fresh copy of your chosen distro, play with it, make mistakes, (you will!) all the time protecting your work machine from harm.  Once you feel competent, then you can wipe your Windows lappie and install Linux on that.

Linux will run happily alongside Windows and 'see' its files - sadly the opposite isn't true.  In order to dual-boot, it is critical that the installation steps are carried out to the letter, which is ok if followed, but one mis-step can screw the whole lot and you're getting deep into data recovery and so on.  I'm not trying to scare you here, nor put you off Linux, just speaking from my own experiences!  Linux is such a good system - you can go from the full-blown 'all bells and whistles' distro, all the way down to something that is so light, it fits easily on to a USB stick, lives in your pocket, plugs into any computer with a USB drive, does your work then, when unplugged, leaves no footprint.  Infinitely adaptable.

You're correct in that .exe files will not run in Linux and some people install an emulator to cope with this.  Not really a good idea security-wise, in my opinion.  The idea is to get away from the colander that is Windows and use the sealed container that is Linux!  If you do need to send files from Linux to Windows, Linux has a neat trick which (from memory) Windows doesn't have, or didn't the last time I used it (many years ago).  A simple example -

In Linux, let's say you produce a letter using Libre Office Writer. It saves with a .odt suffix.  You attach it to an email and send to your friend who can't open it.  They complain!  You simply right-click on the closed document icon, left-click on rename and replace the .odt bit with .doc or .docx.  Linux automatically re-formats the document which then can be read by Windows.  Neat - re-send, job done.   Of course, you would only do this once - for future documents, you simply save it as .doc or whatever, Linux does that too!

I've never used music or video software of any kind so can't comment if similar tricks are available but suspect that many will have a universal format (like PDF's have) that can be read by anything.

Good luck with your new adventure!

Rich

Title: Re: Can I have some advice please?
Post by: Helen Pixels on February 14, 2022, 08:48:58 PM
Oh no, I'm NOT going to be partitioning the hard drive and doing that kind of dual boot, that is just asking for trouble. The sort of dual boot I am doing is running Linux entirely from a 2TB USB flash drive, leaving my windows HDD untouched. This is for two reasons: dual booting two totally different operating systems from the same hard drive can cause serious problems, serious enough to leave the computer unusable (I've heard of horror stories including the bios being wiped, don't know how exactly someone accomplished that, but apparently it's a risk, and without bios you can't really do anything with that machine ever again). It CAN go right, but I won't take that risk. Secondly, even if the install went correctly on that one hard drive, there is nothing to say that a windows update couldn't wipe out Linux and leave me with a corrupted partition. I don't want that to happen either. So, I am well aware of the risks, and I am taking steps to completely mitigate them. And finally, I am none too sure about the health of my hard drive.

All I am going to be doing, is installing Linux on the flash drive, and changing the bios settings so that the computer looks for boot information from my USB device first. That way, if it's there, I will get Linux, if it is not, it will then look to the (empty) CD ROM, and finally, look to my HDD which contains Windows 8.1. So which system I boot into depends on if the USB flash is in the port or not. I don't have much money to play with, so I cannot at this time afford a second machine. This option seemed like the most sensible one and the best of both worlds (in total it has cost me only £10 to order what I need to set this up). It protects both the Linux and the Windows installations by keeping them seperate, but using the same machine, and it means I can still use my computer in Linux if the hard drive containing windows fails completely, as it may. Ultimately, I'm saving myself a huge headache and quite a lot of money.

Now, as for the work I will be doing in emulated windows. I'm making a small computer game to sell on steam, and the program I am using is Windows exclusive. I know it to be virus free, so the risk is lower than you think IF you're careful and you know what you're doing. If the virtual machine got infected somehow, I could always delete it and Linux would not be touched. Even with the bidirectional file sharing enabled, that simply allows me to bring my work, such as pdf images back and forth between the emulated environment and the host system depending on where it needs to be. Most of the traffic will be going from Linux to Windows. I can do my pixel art in Linux, only transfering it to emulated Windows when it is ready to be added to RPG Maker. The ONLY traffic going the other way will be the final .exe file when the game is completed and ready for upload. So, I won't be irresponsible with it. But, I might even do that upload from inside the virtual machine, so the traffic may end up one directional.

I am going to be exploring what software you have on offer in the repositories, I suspect that RPG maker might be the only program I need an emulation for. As for other emulations, such as the one I set up earlier for Windows 98SE, can be doing from my windows hard drive, my system easily has enough RAM and processor power to support what would have been a top of the range computer back in the day, without straining my system. I plan to use this simulation for DOS based games, which should run just as they would had I really been using an old computer with Windows 98, perhaps even better. It's not much good for anything else, you can't even get online with it it's so old, because the internet setup assumes you're using a dial up modem and asks for information on what brand of modem it is! That said, even if I could, I suspect the ancient incarnation of internet explorer wouldn't display modern webpages correctly.

Oh, and thanks for the info on Libre Office, I'll remember to make sure I save anything like that as .docx, that way if I have to send anything to someone else, they'll be able to get it to display correctly in MS Word.