===== IS LINUX FOR YOU? ===============================================
First off….. is Linux for you? Well that depends what you want from Linux.
If you want Windows without the Windows price tag… Linux IS NOT for you.
If you want an OS that prides itself on security, stability, speed, and giving you a wealth of choices and power… Linux will make you very happy.
If you’re a power user… a programmer or IT professional… Linux will make you giddy like a school girl.
===== WHICH LINUX DISTRO? ===============================================
So you still want to try Linux? My recommendation for newbs is OpenSuSe because it has the best installer of any OS, and it has a powerful GUI control panel.
===== MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS ===============================================
To run feature rich Linux desktop distro like SuSe, you’ll want roughly:
– Celeron 300 Mhz / Pentium II 300 Mhz or faster
– 128 MB of RAM, but you’ll be significantly happier with 256 MB
– At least 4 to 5 GB free space on the hard drive
If your system can’t meet those specs, you should use a distro specifically for older hardware such as "Damn Small Linux" or "Puppy Linux". These are harder to install, but perform like champs on the most meager of hardware configurations.
===== EVIL HARDWARE ===============================================
In advance, the following hardware will provide problems in Linux:
– 3D acceleration on ATI Mobile graphics cards and new ATI graphics cards (ATI provides no working driver to achieve this). Linux will display on your monitor, but hang up playing 3D games.
– Winmodems (aka "soft modems" or "software modems")… they’re lame, cheap, and suck. Thankfully they’re vanishing from the super duper cheap PCs these days.
– Roughly half of all wireless devices for laptops. They will work, but it will not be as easy as clicking a checkbox and tah dah. How happy you will be depends on the chipset of your wireless device.
Good chipsets: Orinoco, Prism, Prism2, Hermes, Atheros, Atmel (aka at76c503a)
Bad chipsets: Broadcomm (a BUTTLOAD of devices, especially integrated), Marvell, RaLink
To find out which chipset you have…. Google for your wireless device’s manufact, model, and then the word chipset.
===== INSTALLING OPENSUSE ===============================================
Still going with OpenSuSe? Good.
Step 1) Choosing the right set of CDs
– If you are using a 32-bit Macintosh (G4 and earlier), download the 5 PPC CDs (or DVD if you have a DVD burner).
– If you are using a system that has an AMD Opteron or AMD Athlon 64 as the processor, download the 5 x86_64 CDs (or DVD if you have a DVD burner).
– Everybody else get the 5 x86 CDs (or DVD if you have a DVD burner).
Step 2) Download the ISO files
– The CDs/DVD come as a file called an ISO … it’s a bootable disc image. Download the files appropriate for your system as determined in step 1.
Step 3) Burn the ISO files to disc
– IMPORTANT: DO NOT burn the ISO files to disc in "data format" — it will make the resulting discs useless. You want to burn the files to disc in "Disc Image" format. Look for an option that says something like "Write Disc from Image" "Burn Disc Image". If you have a super lame CD/DVD burner that does not support this option, and you’re using Windows, here is a free CD/DVD burner that supports this option:
Optional: If you want to see the Installer in action before you run it, check this link:http://madpenguin.org/images/reviews/suse101/siia/suseinstaller.html
Step 4) Put in CD #1 and reboot.
– DO NOT shut down Windows improperly (i.e. – press the power button). SuSe will refuse to resize Windows if you do this, because it could cause massive corruption to your Windows partition.
– The CD will boot up. Choose "Installation" obviously 😛
– If the Installer fails to run and you’re on a laptop, reboot and try again using "Installation — ACPI Disabled". This works 99% of the time that regular Install fails on a laptop.
Step 5) Misc Install Options
– By default if SuSe sees Windows it will automatically suggest resizing it and setting up your system to dual boot Windows and Linux. The default recommended scheme is always ideal from my experience, so accept default.
– If you want an environment that feels more like Windows, choose "KDE" instead of Gnome. KDE is faster and has alot better apps IMHO.
Step 6) Finishing CD #1
– After the installer finishes CD #1 it will reboot. Just let it sit there. It will boot up Linux and then go about finishing the install (CDs 2-5). It will also do this if you chose a DVD install method.
Step 7) More install stuff
– It will ask you for a root password. This is the "God password" for your system. In Linux root can do everything. So make it a good ‘un.
– On the final summary screen, be sure to enable SSH if you to be able to get into your system remotely, particularly if you know and trust a Linux expert and want to provide him/her an easy means to troubleshoot your system. This doesn’t just let the world in though, somebody would have to know your password. Don’t enable this if your password is really lame ("god" "admin" "password" etc).
– For "authentication method" — just choose Local. The others are for unusual things such as logging in to a "master server".
Step 8) The installing is done.
– You will now be taken to your KDE desktop!
===== USING OPENSUSE ===============================================
Core applications and their equivalents.
– Microsoft Office –> OpenOffice.org
— OpenOffice can even read from and save to all the MS formats
– Trillian, AOL IM, Yahoo IM, Google Talk, MSN IM, ICQ –> Gaim, Kopete
— Most prefer GAIM, but Kopete comes by default in KDE. So install GAIM (covered in just a bit)
– Firefox –> Firefox 😀
– Outlook –> Thunderbird
– BitTorrent –> Azureus
– Winamp Classic –> XMMS
— XMMS even uses Winamp skins
– VLC –> VLC 😀
– Nero –> k3b (k3b puts nero to shame.. it’s awesome)
– Windows Media Player –> MPlayer
— MPlayer is the Linux swiss army knife of audio/video. It plays *everything*.
Installing security updates.
– Note in the bottom right hand corner in the system tray the green circle with a smiling chameleon. That’s the system update notifier. The colors:
Green: Up to date
Yellow: No internet, cannot tell if updates are available
Red: Updates available
To update, simply right click on the icon and go to "Start YOU" … from there simply Next Next Next until done 🙂
YaST: The uber GUI control panel
– Almost all system tasks are done in YaST. Install software. Remove software. Setup a printer. Setup a scanner. Add users. Delete users. etc etc etc.
– It’s fairly self explanatory and easy to use, so I’ll let you poke around.
Accessing your Windows files
– By default suse will mount your windows partitions like so:
— /windows/C/ (C: Drive)
— /windows/D/ (D: Drive)
… etc ….
Setting up repositories
– People have gone out of the their way to allow you to install extra bits of software not included in SuSe by default. These are called repositories… stacks of software you can install in YaST by simply searching for them and clicking a check box.
– For the sake of clarity and speed, I have created a script so you can do this with no hassle.
– Open up Konsole … if you cannot find it, look in the K Menu, which is located and works just like the Start Menu in Windows.
– Type in "su" and then hit enter… this is to change to root.
– Type in your root password and hit enter.
– Type in the following commands:
(If you chose x86) wget
(If you chose PPC) wget http://www.ncaabbs.com/~gts/suse-repo-script-ppc.sh
(If you chose x86_64) wget http://www.ncaabbs.com/~gts/suse-repo-script-x86-64.sh
chmod +x suse-repo-script*.sh
(This will now go and add all the relevant repos for you. If you’re on slow internet, this could take awhile. On reasonably fast broadband, this should take < 5 mins.)
That’s it. Done.
Stuff you want to install (requires additional repos)
– mplayer (uber audio/video player)
– mplayerplug-in (to play audio/video in firefox)
– java-1_5_0-sun (java)
– kdemultimedia3-mad (mp3* support)
– xmms (winamp clone)
– xmms-lib-mad (mp3* support)
– mad (mp3* support)
– gaim (Trillian style uber IM client)
– realplayer (obvious)
– acroread (Adobe Acrobat for Linux)
– flash-player (Flash in your browser)
– libquicktime (Quicktime support)
– divx4linux (divx support)
===== BOOTING BACK INTO WINDOWS ===============================================
– When you reboot, you will be given a simple menu to choose to boot either Windows or Linux. Use the up/down arrow on the keyboard to select which one then hit enter to boot it.
– IMPORTANT: On some HP machines, you will see "windows_1" and "windows_2". Select Windows 2!!! Windows 1 is actually a small HP autorecovery partition, which will begin running a special app that completely erases the Linux bootloader and suggests doing a complete system restore!!!
– When you boot back into Windows the first time, Windows will run a hard drive scan. This is because Linux had to beat Windows into the corner to create some free room on the hard drive, and Windows must rescan its partition to know where it can and cannot write to. Just let the scanning continue until finished.
===== QUIRKS (aka Linux IS NOT Windows) ===============================================
– In Linux, to do anything significant to the system, you must be root. This makes Linux very secure, as a virus would have to know your root password. You will notice every time you open YaST you’re prompted for your root password. That’s root in action.
– In Linux, the entire file system is one big tree. In Windows, you have C:/ and D:/ and so on. In Linux it’s all one big folder, only organized. The only location you will likely concern yourself with is your home folder, which is:
/home/(username) … that’s where your files are. Everything there is yours and yours alone. Only root can screw with those files. Conversely, you can’t screw with /home/(someotherguy) files either. Again, security measures built in due to the nature of Linux.
– Linux hides nothing from you. It can be very easy to use and maintain, but you can get under the hood and be as advanced as you want to be. You are not hindered by the lack of source code and "idiot proofing" Windows has. SuSe has made large efforts to make this distribution of Linux very user friendly… but it’s still Linux. So you can do whatever you want… up to and including making your own kernel if you’re so inclined.