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Can I have some advice please?

Started by Helen Pixels, February 09, 2022, 04:10:06 PM

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Helen Pixels

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 :)


Keith

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/

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


Brian000

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!

Keith

#3
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

Helen Pixels

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).


Keith

#5
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 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/

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


Helen Pixels

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.


Keith

#7
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 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


Helen Pixels

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?


Keith

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/ 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

Helen Pixels

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.

DavidMcCann

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/ 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 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://www.lifewire.com/basic-guide-linux-operating-system-2202786

steve57

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.

Gaz511

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/

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

https://www.linuxliteos.com/manual/

Keith

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.