Which distro and will it work?

At present I use Windows 7, and I’m seriously considering changing to Linux. Above all I think a change would be nice, and I find the idea of having much more control over my computer quite exciting. I like the idea of having such a wealth of various open source software, and also I think the file system on Linux is far superior. I have a raspberry pi with the Raspian distribution, so I have a rough idea of what Linux is like, but changing the OS on my computer is quite a bit more drastic! I just want to check that it is actually the right decision for me!

As for usage, I do a lot with my computer, however I do very little media editing and absolutely no gaming (Which I know aren’t Linux’s strengths anyway). I do quite a bit of programming, particularly in Python, and I’m also trying to learn assembler for a bit of fun. I stream the odd video online. I do a lot of word processing, particularly homework essays. I am starting my A levels next year (The final school exams before university in the UK, started at 16 and taken at 17/18) and I plan to use my laptop for taking notes and such, so word processing will be very important. I use spread sheets a lot, and I do the odd Powerpoint. I download and listen to quite a bit of music (iTunes and Spotify mainly). I edit images, admittedly only using paint, but I think without those capabilities I’d be at a loss for posting pictures on Facebook and such like. I also use Skype occasionally. A lot of my usage is maths and science orientated; I use python a lot to look in to maths formulae (I’ve downloaded the ScyPy stack), and I have Geogebra which I use to plot graphs of functions and other things.

Things that I would particularly like included in an OS are a sleek and attractive GUI, yet not to go so far as to significantly reduce performance, because I would also like it to be clean and efficient. Obviously I would also like it to suit my usage.

I’m not too worried about the shock of changing OS (Maybe that’s naivety apart from anything else :stuck_out_tongue: ), I can teach myself things quickly (I’m teaching myself to program), and I know the very basics of the Linux terminal from using the raspberry pi.

I just have a few concerns about compatibility and such. Firstly, will I be able to open and edit my existing Microsoft Office files using open office? My memory sticks are all formatted as FAT32, and I believe Linux uses a different one, so will it be able to read my memory sticks?

I’m also concerned about all the hardware and peripherals; will things like Bluetooth, wifi, my keyboard, trackpad, USB ports, HDMI, jacks, VGA, Ethernet still work, or will I have to set them up manually? Also will my speakers and controls still work? I ask these because windows came pre installed on the laptop, so I don’t know what will happen once it’s uninstalled. Also driver software for things like printers (At the moment I have an Epson one); will the driver software work with Linux?

I’m also concerned about setup. Will it take a long time and a large effort?

Finally I’ll tell you what I’ve looked at and what I like the look of. Firstly, Arch Linux. I know it’s really throwing myself in at the deep end, but I also know I get a very high level of control and customisation with it. I’ve also looked at Cinnamon, as I really like the GUI. And finally Ubuntu.

So basically my question boils down to: Will Linux work with my hardware, and which distribution should I choose? (It doesn’t have to be one of those 3)

Many thanks for any answers :slight_smile:

Hi, just to say that I am very much a beginner so will not attempt to answer the majority of your questions, but rest assured the people on here will give you first class advice. What I will say to you is that you do not need to worry about your word documents etc, Libre Office will open your MS Office docs without problem. I have recently installed Peppermint 4 onto an old laptop as a dual boot system with the XP that was originally on there and my documents are all fine, Libre Office will even open the docs I had with Microsoft Works!
Good luck to you and you will get good advice from the guys on here that know.

Regards,
Degsy

I just have a few concerns about compatibility and such. Firstly, will I be able to open and edit my existing Microsoft Office files using open office?

Yes, but there may be some minor formatting changes in the word document (pictures and text moving etc.) particularly if they were originally saved as .docx (.doc seems much more compatible)

As for Spreadsheets, I couldn’t be 100% accurate, but I don’t think they are 100% compatible either.

That said, I’m pretty sure some Office 2007 and 2010 can be installed under WINE (think of it as a Windows emulator … even though it’s actually described as a compatibility layer) though this may or may not be easy.

My memory sticks are all formatted as FAT32, and I believe Linux uses a different one, so will it be able to read my memory sticks?

They most certainly can be read and written to in Linux … Linux has no problem reading and writing to FAT/FAT32/NTFS/etc.

I'm also concerned about all the hardware and peripherals; will things like Bluetooth, wifi, my keyboard, trackpad, USB ports, HDMI, jacks, VGA, Ethernet still work, or will I have to set them up manually? Also will my speakers and controls still work? I ask these because windows came pre installed on the laptop, so I don't know what will happen once it's uninstalled. Also driver software for things like printers (At the moment I have an Epson one); will the driver software work with Linux?

Most likely everything will “just work”, but the only way to be 100% sure would be to know what all the hardware is … or to “test drive” Linux from a LiveCD or LiveUSB stick (A liveCD/LiveUSB will allow you to boot into a fully working Linux environment without making any changes to your hard drive … after test driving, it can then be used as the installation media, if you choose to install)

See here:
http://linux.co.uk/index.php/pages/livecd/
and
http://linux.co.uk/index.php/pages/usb-key/
for what those are :wink:

I'm also concerned about setup. Will it take a long time and a large effort?

Unless there are things that don’t immediately work and need manual configuration … absolutely NOT … in fact it’s MUCH easier to install than Windows.

Finally I'll tell you what I've looked at and what I like the look of. Firstly, Arch Linux. I know it's really throwing myself in at the deep end, but I also know I get a very high level of control and customisation with it. I've also looked at Cinnamon, as I really like the GUI. And finally Ubuntu.

Personally I’d say (at least at first) stick to one of the Ubuntu based distros … simply because you’ll find help/tutorials/etc. easier to come by.

SO out of those 3 …

Mint Cinnamon
or
Ubuntu

But referencing your:-

Things that I would particularly like included in an OS are a sleek and attractive GUI, yet not to go so far as to significantly reduce performance, because I would also like it to be clean and efficient. Obviously I would also like it to suit my usage.

comment … can I also chuck PeppermintOS 4 [<-- link] into the mix (SeZo will probably shout at me for that … I’m part of the Peppermint dev team, and he thinks I over promote it on here :wink: ) … which is Ubuntu based but uses a lighter desktop than Mints Cinnamon, or Ubuntus Unity.

The next question you should ask (after deciding on a distro, or a few distros, to test drive) should be how do I create a persistent LiveUSB :slight_smile:

Let us know when you’re ready, and we’ll explain how to create one in Windows :wink:

Haha I was going to put that in the original but I forgot :stuck_out_tongue: I’ve managed to make a LiveUSB of Ubuntu because it’s very well documented, I haven’t yet tried cinnamon or peppermint, and arch Linux doesn’t seem to be working with the burning software I used for Ubuntu. Some help on all that would be great :slight_smile: Thanks a lot for your reply :slight_smile:

Having just read the ‘About’ page on the peppermint website, I notice that it says it’s ‘web-centric.’ What exactly do you mean by that? Because from the sounds of itI think I would prefer something less-so, as my internet connection is very slow :slight_smile:

One other thing I would like to know is about the ‘cleanliness’ I guess, of Linux. In Windows, you install a program, and all the supporting files are downloaded, and changes are made to the registry, and probably other things happen that I don’t know about. Then when you’re finished with the program, you uninstall it. In Windows, your inevitably left with useless keys in the registry, and the program leaves files behind so it begins where it left off when you uninstalled it.

Over time this gets messy and slows the computer down, this is something I find particularly frustrating about Windows. I say Windows reservedly however, as I’m not sure if it’s any better with other OSs. Is it better, or will I get the same frustration whatever I turn to?

Linux doesn’t have a “registry”

As for whether files/dependencies/config files will be left behind after uninstalling an application … it depends how you uninstall it.

Simply uninstalling will leave behind the config files and dependencies.

Purging will also remove the config files

running (in Debian based systems) autoremove every now and again will remove orphaned dependencies.

left behind dependencies and/or config files should not (in general) slow your system.

But unlike Windows it’s up to you how much control you want in what gets removed and when.

Well I’ve tried making LiveUSBs of Ubuntu (which worked); Linux mint 15, which after trying to boot had an “uncompression error” or something. To flash those I used the program Ubuntu suggests on their website: “Universal-USB-Installer-1.9.3.7”.

Since that doesn’t support all distros, to try out arch Linux, I used “rufus_v1.3.4” (Just something I found online) but it just came up with a command line sort of interface, with a name and a copyright notice and didn’t go any further. I tried it with a couple other distros and the same thing happened. Some help would be great :slight_smile:

Try:

or
http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/
then let us know if you still need help.

Ubuntu is the only one I can get to work!!! Using UNetbootin I installed Linux Mint 15 (With a .iso image I downloaded myself), but when I tried to boot, it would just restart the computer again and again. Using Linux Live USB creator, this would be written to the screen “SYSLINUX 4.04 EDD 2011-04-18 Copyright (C) 1994-2011 H. Peter Anvin et al” and it would go no further.

In trying to boot Arch Linux (installed with UNetbootin, With a .iso image I downloaded myself) I got: “Uncompression error – System halted”

In trying to boot Linux Mint 15 again (But using the image the program downloaded itself) I got the same error message I got with Arch Linux.

I haven’t tried any others yet because it’s ridiculously time consuming! Please help!

You cannot use UNetbootin with Arch. You would need to use dd which is not for a novice.
I would discourage you from starting in the deep end with Arch. The command line interface you got with this distro was the expected result (not the error).
It is an installation CD (it does not boot to a full desktop enviroment). But if you want to try Arch in that format then you could try Manjaro. See instructions for creating the media
It would be advisable at this stage to give us some idea of what hardware you are using. Also if you can use a LiveCD then that would be easier to create. Live USB can be problematic.

Can I even use dd anyway? I thought that was an LXTerminal command, and I’m installing from windows :stuck_out_tongue: I’ve already discouraged myself from Arch, I was just trying it to see if it worked at that point :stuck_out_tongue:

As for hardware, I have an HP Pavilion dm1-1110sa. So my CPU is intel Celeron U2300.

The only CDs I have are 700MB so not big enough, although I have 4.7GB DVDs, can I use them?

Hi Jizzadaman

The only CDs I have are 700MB so not big enough, although I have 4.7GB DVDs, can I use them?

You can use CD’s or DVD’s but some distros such as ubuntu are too big for a CD and need to be burnt to a DVD , however I’m sure Peppermint will fit on a CD you can try that 1. Download and Install – Updated 10/15/2023 – Peppermint OS

Good luck

Graeme

Well I’ve narrowed things down to openSUSE with KDE or Manjaro with Openbox. I preferred the DE on Manjaro, but at a cursory glance (By no means a comprehensive judgement) I thought that openSUSE was probably the better OS. I’m aware that I can install Openbox with openSUSE, which is what I will probably do, but which distro of those two would you recommend?

I also have some final reservations. First, it is VERY slow to boot up, and also slow when up and running (Opening programmes and such). I have optimistically assumed that it is a combination of factors like the fact that it’s a live CD and the OS is not on the hard drive, and also the connection to the disk drive is via USB. Will it be faster once properly installed?

Also none of the distros I’ve tried out have detected any kind of wireless network, and I’m not at all knowledgeable enough to set it up from scratch. It is however very easy to set up a wired connection. (Interestingly, I can copy my connection settings from my Windows 7 laptop onto a memory stick, which creates an executable that I think sets up the wireless connection on another computer using the same settings. Will this work with Linux?) Otherwise will I need to set up a wifi connection from scratch or will it set it up automatically once properly installed?

Well I've narrowed things down to openSUSE with KDE or Manjaro with Openbox. I preferred the DE on Manjaro, but at a cursory glance (By no means a comprehensive judgement) I thought that openSUSE was probably the better OS. I'm aware that I can install Openbox with openSUSE, which is what I will probably do, but which distro of those two would you recommend?

Out of those 2 probably Manjaro, simply because I (personally) think both openSUSE’s package manager YaST2 and KDE4 blow chunks, suck them back in and blow them again.

Manjaro will also be the quicker/lighter of the 2 … but don’t expect to find easy to follow tutorials, or PPA’s, etc. … that said, you do get to brag you’re an “Arch” user, if that’s worth anything … but expect it to be more of a “sink or swim” experience.

In reality “I’d” choose neither … but it’s for YOU to decide which distro suits you, nobody else :wink:

I also have some final reservations. First, it is VERY slow to boot up, and also slow when up and running (Opening programmes and such). I have optimistically assumed that it is a combination of factors like the fact that it's a live CD and the OS is not on the hard drive, and also the connection to the disk drive is via USB. Will it be faster once properly installed?

Yes, a LiveCD is MUCH slower than a proper hard drive installation … for MANY reasons … but yeh, the biggest is the disk access times.

Also none of the distros I've tried out have detected any kind of wireless network, and I'm not at all knowledgeable enough to set it up from scratch. It is however very easy to set up a wired connection. (Interestingly, I can copy my connection settings from my Windows 7 laptop onto a memory stick, which creates an executable that I think sets up the wireless connection on another computer using the same settings. Will this work with Linux?) Otherwise will I need to set up a wifi connection from scratch or will it set it up automatically once properly installed?

Wireless can probably be fixed, but NO you can’t import any settings from Windows.

Best thing to do would be to boot to a LiveCD … open a terminal … run these commands:

lsusb

and

lspci | grep -i net

and post what’s returned in the terminal for each of those commands … that way we can get an idea of the wireless hardware.

Result from “lsusb”:

Bus 005 Device 003: ID 03f0:2a1d Hewlett-Packard
Bus 007 Device 002: ID 152d:2339 JMicron Technology Corp. / JMicron USA
Technology Corp. JM20339 SATA Bridge
Bus 007 Device 003: ID 090c:637b Silicon Motion, Inc. - Taiwan (formerly
Feiya Technology Corp.)
Bus 001 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 002 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0001 Linux Foundation 1.1 root hub
Bus 003 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0001 Linux Foundation 1.1 root hub
Bus 004 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0001 Linux Foundation 1.1 root hub
Bus 005 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0001 Linux Foundation 1.1 root hub
Bus 006 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0001 Linux Foundation 1.1 root hub
Bus 007 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub

Result from “lspci | grep -i net”:

02:00.0 Network controller: Broadcom Corporation BCM4312 802.11b/g
LP-PHY (rev 01)
03:00.0 Ethernet controller: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd.
RTL8101E/RTL8102E PCI Express Fast Ethernet controller (rev 02)

In an ubuntu based distro you’d need to make sure you’re connected to the internet with an ethernet cable, then run:

sudo apt-get install firmware-b43-lpphy-installer

Dunno what that would be in manjaro or suse … search in their respective package managers for a package called:-

firmware-b43-lpphy-installer

or similar.
(it’s the lpphy bit that’s important for your card, as it’s the low power variant of the Broadcom BCM4312)

Well having slept on it I’ve seen sense :stuck_out_tongue: I’ve decided to go with Linux Mint initially, until I get used to things, and then if I want to I can always change to Manjaro.

Well I tried running that command on Mint (On the live CD, so I don’t know if that could actually work). So what do I do after that? There seemed to be no obvious changes in the network settings or anything

No worries, it’s all sorted now! I rebooted (so I presume the software you got me to install was not saved, correct me if I’m wrong) and then I went into driver software in system settings. It had the correct driver software, but selected by default was “Do not use”!!!

Oh well done now :stuck_out_tongue:

Thank you so much for all your help guys, it has been invaluable, I’ll go ahead and install it now :slight_smile:

No you can’t save any changes to a LiveCD (all changes are made in RAM, so are lost when you reboot) … you could if you were using a LiveUSB with persistence.

Let us know how the install goes … and if you need help with the wireless drivers.