New laptop

I’m sure this question has been answered in part and full many times across this forum, however:

I have just bought a new laptop, which, as default, has windows 7 OS pre-installed. I have never used Windows 7 or Linux and am not terribly tech-minded.
Do the benefits of installing Linux (ubuntu or whichever) outweight any tech-based hassle I might incur? I like the idea of open source, but have only ever used windows and feel nervous about switching. . .

I am a light home user, and the machine will not be used for any real gaming.

Thanks in advance.

I think it comes down to what you “are” going to use it for. If you “need” one or more specific Windows programs and can’t or are not prepared to use an alternative - the decision is made. On the other hand however, if you’re going to do office work, surf the web or any kind of development or design, it’s a bit of a no-brainer in favour of Linux.

Few weeks ago I sat behind a chap (retired) who would find installing Windows difficult … and watched him install Ubuntu in around 15 minutes onto a blank hard drive. (his hard drive / Windows had crashed horribly and although I put a clean drive in for him, I don’t do XP …)

I know he has some questions and wants some training, but he’s checking his email and surfing the web every day and I’ve not had a phone call.

It is true I had to bin his ADSL modem and give him a 30 quid router, and I had to install his printer for him as it required a download, but all these issues are relatively easy and answered here on the forums … :slight_smile:

If that helps?

You can always “test drive” Linux from a Live CD.
(follow the above link for an explanation of “LiveCD”)

A LiveCD is a fully working distribution that boots and runs from a CDROM/DVD, without making any changes to your hard drive… so you can test drive Linux before deciding whether to install it.

Most Linux distributions now have LiveCD versions.

please be aware that running Linux from a CD/DVD is nowhere near as quick as running it from a hard drive, so don’t draw any conclusions about speed :wink:

Also because it’s being run from a non-writeable medium, you won’t be able to save any setting changes software installations or files… they will work but won’t survive a reboot.

If you want to test drive and be able to save (and you can boot from a USB key)… take a look at creating a LiveUSB key

Thanks for your replies.

I’ll try running from LiveCD and see how I get on, though further forum probing suggests waiting for Ubuntu 10.10 before giving it a go.

Thanks again

10.10 still has the same load average issue as 10.04, but it’s easily solved in either version by installing the 2.6.31 kernel.!)/

You may not even notice the problem… most people are unaware of the problem, or don’t notice it.

If you let us know a bit about your hardware we might be able to tell you if you’re going to have any problems :slight_smile:

I wouldn’t wait until next month for 10.10 to be released. Grab yourself a copy of Ubuntu LiveCD and maybe one other, such as Fedora 13 Live CD and take them for a test drive.

If it helps, my father (who’s retired) has been using Ubuntu for more than 2 years now and he’s virtually non-technical. He installed it himself without any trouble whatsoever and uses it day-to-day with the minimum of complaints. Modern distributions are designed to be easy to use nowadays :slight_smile:

Mmm, the load average problem isn’t going to affect desktop users much if their machines are reasonably powerful … the desktop doesn’t generally create ‘too’ much stress and the interrupt problem seems to be relative to the number of CPU’s (or cores) you have, which again won’t be so painful for single processor/core desktop machines.

However (!) there are some other kernel / driver related bugs that you really will notice. I for instance fell foul of an Nvidia bug that absolutely crucified my system and made it completely unusable. The fix is out from Nvidia, not sure if it’s in Ubuntu yet (doubt it!) but the driver download for anyone wanting to fix their box is here;

Only became available two weeks ago, to quote their release notes under the bugs fixed section;

Fixed a bug that caused extremely slow rendering of OpenGL applications on X screens other than screen 0 when using a compositing manager.
And then NVIDIA use the word "extreme" , they really do mean it .. and for anyone wondering why their Xorg is eating 1G, there's a memory leak fix in there too (!)

Note these are issues that will affect ANY distro choosing to use the latest Kernel version (i.e. 2.6.32+) so you might consider using a not-quite-up-to-the-minute version of whichever distro you’re going to go for. I can certainly recommend Ubuntu 9.10 for example … and I think (maybe) by the time 10.10 comes out they should have the [available] kernel patch for the load average problem and the [available] driver update for the NVIDIA problem incorporated … I’m hoping at least.

I’ve heard people calling 10.04 Ubuntu’s “Vista” … :-X

The laptop is an asus K501J - sx249v
Pentium dual core T4400 2.2GHz, 2x2gb DDR2 RAM, 500gb SATA HHD, graphics- Intel GMA X4500M. (Is that enough info to be useful?)

I tried with a Live CD and like the look of Ubuntu, although it doesn’t pick up the wireless network. I’ll try downloading the drivers (atheros AR9285 wireless card) and see how it goes. Thanks for the friendly advice, that in itself makes me want to switch.

Try the madwifi drivers:

the ones you want for kernels>=2.6.25 are here: