Setting up for Linux - need advice

Discussion in 'all things UNIX' started by bellgamin, Apr 8, 2014.

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  1. bellgamin

    bellgamin Very Frequent Poster

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    BACKGROUND
    I'm going to have my computer tech set me up for dual-boot to XP & Linux. I am presently in the process of choosing which Linux distro to use. My main goal is to select a distro that is enough like XP that I don't encounter too steep of a learning curve.

    In order to make this choice, I am buying DVDs from here for each distro that my research indicates MIGHT be sufficiently similar to XP. I will trial each distro live from my DVD drive. Once I select one, my computer tech will install it & set up the dual-boot.

    So far I have bought 2 distro DVDs: LXLE & Zorin.

    ADVICE PLEASE
    1- Please suggest any other distros that you think I should consider.

    2- Should I install security apps on the Linux OS? If so, which (antivirus, firewall, anti-execution, or whatever) -- & where can I obtain them?

    3- Any other comments that you might care to make will be greatly appreciated. I am really out of my comfort zone as pertains to Linux usage & lore. :sick:
     
  2. wtsinnc

    wtsinnc Registered Member

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    Hello bellgamin;

    only some friendly advice;
    If you have a DVD burner, you can save money and time by downloading distros from here http://distrowatch.com/ and depending on the size of the download, burn the downloaded ISO to either a CD or DVD.
    An additional advantage is that you won't have to wait days for the new distro to arrive.

    In case you like the idea, I suggest Imgburn for your burning application. http://www.imgburn.com/

    And here http://www.linux.org/ http://www.linuxquestions.org/ http://www.livecdlist.com/ are a few other good Linux websites.

    Good luck in your search.
    ps: I like Zorin 32 bit as an alternative OS for my old Dell PC.
     
  3. aztony

    aztony Registered Member

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    Agreed, the only out of pocket expense would be the cost of blank DVDs, and the time necessary to do the download(s). I also did the dual boot option with my XP rig, and settled on Zorin. My research prior to installing that distro inferred it is the one which could be best configured to mimic Windows.

    ~ Inserted Quote in Italics Text to Make It Read Better - JRViejo ~
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 8, 2014
  4. fblais

    fblais Registered Member

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    I suggest Mint XFCE.
    The initial setup GUI is quite bland (very grey) but there are already several themes included and you can download many others thereafter.

    As for security apps, I only use the firewall. (UFW)
    You can also install SELinux if you wish.
     
  5. mattdocs12345

    mattdocs12345 Registered Member

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    I would highly recommend buying a CD. The reason is that they are guaranteed to be good and you are supporting linux community. I have had lots of trouble before with self made CDs, actually I found USBs to be much more reliable than CDs.
    As for the first linux I suggest you go anything ubuntu based, I would say Linux Mint Cinammon and Netrunner (if your PC can handle it) are your best choices. Netrunner comes in with pre-installed skype and dropbox. It has everything you will need for simple computing. Linux Mint Cinammon is easier on resources but uglier.
    If you are okay with radically new UI then you may want to go with Ubuntu itself. It's a good OS.
    As for security then I read somewhere a nice comparison. Windows/Mac is like having a mansion in Chicago, you are asking to get robbed. Linux is like having a mansion in the middle of a jungle. Nobody will bother because you are the 0.83%.
     
  6. 0strodamus

    0strodamus Registered Member

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    I think in order to achieve an XP-like Linux experience, the Desktop Environment you select will be more important than the underlying distribution. In my opinion, Xfce, LXDE, or Cinnamon would be good choices. I migrated from XP and 7 to Arch Linux with Xfce without too much trouble. Manjaro Linux with Xfce would be easier to get up to speed quickly without worrying about choosing and installing every little aspect of your system. My second choice would be Linux Mint with Xfce.

    As far as security applications, I'm using TOMOYO Linux as an application firewall for all applications and as a MAC for Firefox, java, etc. I like using iptables better than ufw, but there are GUI front-ends for ufw if that's your preference. I'm not running any on-access antivirus, but I do have clamav and fprot installed for the occasional scan.

    I believe that once you settle on a distribution, your learning curve won't be as great as you may think. I was expecting the worse before I switched and within a few days, I was wishing I had switched years before.
     
  7. Setcho

    Setcho Registered Member

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    For a linux noob I would suggest sticking with Ubuntu based distros (which you appear to be doing with your current choices) and also if you want them to be like XP stick to the LXDE and XFCE desktops.

    What are the specs of your PC? A couple of years ago I set up an old dell dimension P4 with 512mb ram for my mother. I tried a number of distros all with the low powered desktops LXDE and XFCE. In the end I settled on Lubuntu as it used the least amount of ram and everything was slightly quicker than the XP system already installed. Later I bought an extra 1gb of ram and I found that most XFCE distros that I tried (Fedora, Debian, Linux Mint) worked quite well but I opted for Xubuntu in the end as I thought it was the easiest to use.

    As for security I don't use any AV and iptables firewall will already be installed on any distro you use, to this I add Gufw as a gui which you will find in your distros software center or package manager. Lastly you can save yourself some money and DVD's by testing them all from a USB drive. Just download the iso file and then put it on the USB drive with unetbootin or the universal USB installer.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2014
  8. Kyle1420

    Kyle1420 Registered Member

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    Definitely has to be Linux Mint for you Bellgamin. I'd skip trying Ubuntu completely IMO... Then - if you're feeling like you want to learn more, you could install virtualbox and experiment with other distributions such as Opensuse, Manjaro and ofcourse, Debian. I'm obviously bias on Debian because that's what I use, but you can basically think of it as a "nlite xp" linux mint\ubuntu and you can shape it from there with all the familiarity you had while using Linux mint.
     
  9. aigle

    aigle Registered Member

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    Last edited: Apr 9, 2014
  10. Veeshush

    Veeshush Registered Member

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  11. mattdocs12345

    mattdocs12345 Registered Member

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    I dont think I would recommend debian, arch, fedora or suse to anyone who is new to linux unless you were an expert windows user. The reason is that more often than not he will have to install his own flash or codecs or even do a manual installation of the os.
    The first distro should be one that has everything working out of the box. Linux Mint and Ubuntu fit that bill. Since OP wants an XP like UI then Linux Mint Cinammon is the best. Xfce would be close second if the OP doesnt care about fancy graphics. Xfce is a little dull IMO.
     
  12. Gullible Jones

    Gullible Jones Registered Member

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    Personally I would go with the better known distros for security and reliability reasons. I would also prefer stable/long-term support versions. Xubuntu LTS is the best of the lot at the moment, IMO (in terms of hardware requirements vs. functionality). But I don't have much truck with desktop distros at the moment.

    On the other hand, I would recommend most strongly against any variety of Linux Mint. It is very insecure by default, and very hard for a novice to make more secure.

    Antivirus -> not very useful on an end-user desktop.

    Anti-executable -> simple to implement on Linux, but may cause some very non-obvious problems. I can't really recommend this approach to novices.

    Other -> use a firewall (Ubuntu ships with UFW for instance, you just have to enable it). Use some kind of content blocking in your browser. Keep up to date with the patches. That's pretty much all you can do, if you want to avoid the steeper parts of the learning curve.

    Linux can be an incredible learning experience, or an incredible waste of time, depending on how you approach it and what you do with it... So it might be best to approach it with some caution. Yes, I'm quite serious.
     
  13. Sadeghi85

    Sadeghi85 Registered Member

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    In my experience, the closest linux distro to XP is Linux Lite. It has shortcuts in the menu to easily install things a windows user would likely want to install. Version 1.0 is based on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS. If you wait till May/June, version 2.0 will come out which will be based on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS. Also, you don't need to install any security software beside some browser extensions.

    PQ02l5e.png
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2014
  14. Baserk

    Baserk Registered Member

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    Ubuntu, Mint, Suse.
    Ubuntu is based on Debian. Mint is based on Ubuntu. Both try to give a better user experience than their predecessor.
    Keep an eye on LTS/Long Term Support versions especially.
    No. Forget security apps, at least for the moment.
    You'll get a GUI frontend for what's called ip-tables and that's your firewall.
    When you download and update software from your own linuxOS/distro repository(=safe library of OS, programs and updates) only and don't install programs/enter random linux commands posted on whatever website, there's not much else needed security-wise.
    Might sound peculiar from an XP view but use a browser like Chromium/Chrome (using their own sandboxing) and you are set.
    On Ubuntu, you can use pre-defined rules for certain programs, using the program AppArmor (Mandatory Access Control (MAC) system which is a kernel (LSM) enhancement to confine programs to a limited set of resources). link
    But I'd get familiar with linux first before going there.
    First of all, read up on linux lingo. Mostly it's just a matter of different phrasing. C-drive/partition is called 'sda1', administrator is 'root', etc. Expect peculiar naming also, it's popular.
    You know how to create a bootable usb-stick, download and boot any linux distro you'd like to try.
    Use them as a Live-session/running-in-RAM, thus without touching any current data on disc. That will also give you a pretty accurate indication if all hardware is working properly with that linux version.
    No need to pay anyone for that when you can do it yourself.
    Hardware wise, I run Fedora 20 with Xfce as a (light but fully functional) desktop environment on an old PentiumM 1.7GHz.
    I'd say, if you have even the oldest Core2Duo, you can run any GUI, whether it's KDE on Suse, Cinnamon on Mint or Unity on Ubuntu.
    Read up on basic linux info<->detailed specifics on lowfatlinux.com
    Check some of the linux reviews from local 'Mrkvonic' on his dedoimedo.com.
    That will give you an idea of the different versions, different GUI/DE desktop environments and how to check hardware performance yourself when running in a Live-session.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2014
  15. act8192

    act8192 Registered Member

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    Bellgamin,
    Currently I have dual booting on XP, Pentium 4, 1meg RAM. Bootloader was modified by Mint v13 (Long Term Support) installation so I can boot to Mint or Windows or Memory test.
    I can also use a YUMI utility which allows me to boot from a USB stick to WindowsXP, Mint v13 , Acronis boot, and Memory tests. I've read here how people put multiple Linux things on that YUMI flash so that's pretty cool.

    Other than lack of printer drivers, and a decent firewall it works well. There's Firestarter firewall, unsupported but works. Nothing great as Kerio on XP. Not even close. The provided GUI of Mint is rather nothing special and rough to use.

    Download for the 32bit was big, needed a DVD burned initially (ImgBurn). It won't fit on a CD. There's a XFCE version which is smaller - less preinstalled stuff.

    Future - not sure, because later version of Mint might not boot - there was some stuff I read about PE processor, whatever it is, and I don't think I have it. So maybe stuck forever on this version.

    Help - well, that's a very weak spot. You get tons of links to places which tell you to enter some gibberish into command prompt, most incomprehensible. Or you have to compile your own driver. That's not fun.

    Mint is pleasant to use. Works well with Windows files in the Windows partitions. GUI is nice. Very close to Windows. Not difficult to navigate but I miss a tree view of directories very much. It's just a single panel with the path on top. Filesharing with 2 Windows boxes here via SMB is flawless with just one directory allowed to be shared on each and only local, of course.

    One of the things you might want to test via LiveCD is standby - if you use it. I once used Mandriva and it always crashed coming out of standby, but Mint v13 has no issues.

    Edit: added Mint version
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2014
  16. Kyle1420

    Kyle1420 Registered Member

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    I would recommend to stay away from Opensuse\Debian as your first choice as there is a good chance things like your wireless drivers and flash may not work out of the box, also for a new user you may have difficulty installing and configuring graphical drives where as Distros such as ubuntu\mint have a really nice GUI tool for that.

    Also check out this guy! our resident linux guru :p
    http://www.dedoimedo.com/computer_software.html#linux
     
  17. mattdocs12345

    mattdocs12345 Registered Member

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    Heck I've been on Linux for over 6 months and Im still having trouble setting up openVPN on my laptop. So yeah....
     
  18. Longboard

    Longboard Registered Member

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    Go Bellgamin !
    I support paying for CDs too.

    Heh: generated heaps of info with that post: good to start one of these threads again!
    Not sure where you are up to in experience, forgive me if this is a bit undergrad: we can step it up any time.

    Your system specs and HW are important to know before making final installation re HW issues, drivers etc...

    There are many google references to various branded Systems and compatibility with different Linux distros, and, specific HW options for custom builds: check first; dont want an unsupported video card !. Really it would be rare to have a "terminal" issue, usually there is a solution and most distros very 'compatible'.

    Have you tried VMs ?: Virtual Box ( free and very functional ) or VMWare: can install different *nix flavours and test.
    Can have simultaneous Windows and Linux systems up and running.
    Can have more than one Distro up and running simultaneously.
    With your experience setting up VMs would be easy and intuitive.

    Can also test with LiveCD distros on native system: boot from Live CD straight into the OS without installing.
    Can boot Live CDs in VMs.

    Ubuntu has an interesting option : WUBI: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/WubiGuide: can install Ubuntu as a "file" on disc that then offers boot options at start up: very nice to play with. -Does not work well with W8 or UEFI see notes at that link-
    Very easy to uninstall. Does not hash around with the boot manager.

    Mint used to have the same with "mintforwin": I'm not sure about current status of that option.

    AS for Distro recommendations:
    ( I would suggest a distro with Synaptic pkg manager ( software installs and updates tool) or other easy GUI option, and easy desktop GUI/menus etc. as best first option while getting experience, No CLI guruism required ^_^ . )

    Ubuntu : ubiquitous, works out of the box, good starter. great documentation and support in the community. Really works. Can easily try the alternative desktop environs: Xubuntu, Kubuntu

    PCLOS: a remarkable distro: seems to work well with almost all HW. Great experience oob. Supportive community, good documentation. Rolling releases for updates makes it easy.
    Various setups and desktop options. Very useable +++, was my first Linux experience: really nice to get a feel.

    Between those two you will get a real 'feel' for how Linux works.

    When you are ready: CentOS: (RHEL in other clothes) rock solid, usable, great support. Unbreakable and believe Ive tried, LOL. ( My current primary OS when I dont need Win. )

    (I was very happy with Open SUSE in the past but Mrkvonic has just given v13.1 a savage pasting: prolly best not to go there just now. )

    Second the suggestion to visit Mrkvonic site.
    The distros I have mentioned have the Live CD option ( most do)

    Without meaning to get too far off into the void: you might want to consider looking at third party options for managing boot and partitions; such as the Terabyte tools for Boot and partition management.

    FWIW, best $$ I ever laid out on any tools were for Terabyte, VMWare (and FDISR :thumb:)

    Between Brian and Mrk, and all of us you'll have it covered.

    Good luck :cool:

    PS: i've been doing a bit of catch up reading: you will have to do some checking re various distros and any UEFI and GPT issues.

    PPS: Crap Ive just realised that Synaptic is an option for Ubuntu now. Sorry. the new system is good and easy: essential recommendations still stand ;)
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2014
  19. bellgamin

    bellgamin Very Frequent Poster

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    Many thanks for all your VERY helpful comments. Based on assimilation of above suggestions, I just ordered 4 more distros:
    Linux Lite 1.08
    Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon
    Linux Mint 16 XFCE (I often dig "bland")
    Pinguy OS 12.04 LTS (I did a search at osdisc.com for "beginner linux distros" & it came up with this one. I needed the extra few bucks price to qualify for free shipping so I went for it. Yes, I read Mrkvonic's not-so-salutory review. Even so, I liked pinguy's response thereto -- plus this is a much later version than the one reviewed by Mrkvonic so I wanted to have a look at it for myself.)
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    I request comments re Gullible Jones remark in Post #12 -- "On the other hand, I would recommend most strongly against any variety of Linux Mint. It is very insecure by default, and very hard for a novice to make more secure."
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    My computer was special built in 1996. Celeron cpu 1.7Ghz, 3 internal HD all 300GB. Ram 2Gig
     
  20. amarildojr

    amarildojr Registered Member

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    My 2 cents:

    1 - If you're starting, I'd recommend either Ubuntu or Mint. Once you're more confident with your abilities, it's more than recommended to try other distros as well. You shouldn't stick with a distro unless you tried at least 10 of them (Ubuntu, Mint, Debian, Fedora, Arch, openSUSE, Manjaro, etc).

    2 - Stick to the official repositories, have strong passwords, don't run unknown 3rd party software,run Java only on Virtual Box, set up a firewall, make back-ups, don't think your system is immune, don't visit known malicious websites, only log in as root when necessary, etc. These will keep you more than safe. Unless you think you're a viable target for attacks, like if you store important (and valuable) data, etc.

    And don't bother with Anvirus. We're on Linux, not on Windows. As long as you keep the previous measures, you won't need any.
     
  21. fblais

    fblais Registered Member

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    I'm not sure Cinnamon will run well on your machine.
    Anyway, you have other ones to try. :)
     
  22. Setcho

    Setcho Registered Member

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    For information on this issue go to http://www.howtogeek.com/176495/ubuntu-developers-say-linux-mint-is-insecure-are-they-right/
    It is debatable whether Mint is less secure than Ubuntu (and I will leave the debating to those more knowledgeable than myself), however take a look under the section "Controlling Security Updates in Linux Mint" in the above link. If you want Linux Mint to have the same kind of updates as Ubuntu they can be enabled without too much difficulty. I'm using Mint 16 Cinnamon and I enabled them after reading about this in November last year and I haven't had any stability issues since doing so, but then I never had stability issues whenever I ran Ubuntu either.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2014
  23. Gullible Jones

    Gullible Jones Registered Member

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    I wasn't actually aware of the Ubuntu developer thing when I posted the above.

    It's not just updates, it's also default settings. Mint follows the old Windows doctrine of enabling everything by default for convenience, including several potentially vulnerable network services. The worst of these is SSH, with password authentication enabled. It also has xhost set to allow everything by default, so other limited users can spy on your X session... and probably other issues (I haven't cataloged all of them).

    And yes, I know: "this is Linux, nobody uses it so nobody will hack me." But
    a) There are more users than there used to be.
    b) Network security is a whole other kettle of fish IMO. If you step out from behind your router with a vulnerable SSH configuration for any period of time, some script kiddy will be very glad to start pounding away on that port.

    Mind, the SSH thing is pretty easily remedied by turning it off and/or enabling the UFW firewall, but I would hesitate to recommend to novices a distro that pays this little attention to security. Or recommend it to anyone for that matter. A desktop OS should not require dozens of tweaks from the default settings to be reasonably secure.
     
  24. act8192

    act8192 Registered Member

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    @Bellgamin, if you're still reading this - in my post#15 I mentioned Mint - I forgot to tell it's v13 MATE version, as the newer Mints might not work. So do check hardware compatibility, because, like fblais said in post #21 I'm not sure you'll be ok with 16.
    also see this post:
    http://desktoplinuxreviews.com/linux-mint-reviews/linux-mint-16-cinnamon/
    @fblais - what is PAE? how can we tell for sure, through windows if we have/or not? I read someplace old computers such as mine P4 from 2006 don't have PAE. Please explain in simple terms, like you once did for me :)
     
  25. Veeshush

    Veeshush Registered Member

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    That hardware should run most distros fine. However, that can't be a 1996 mainboard- no socket then supported a Celeron cpu 1.7Ghz. Your mainboard is AT LEAST Socket 478, so 2001.
     
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