My little Linux adventure...

Kev2442

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42 (Loire) is the answer.
Hi all,


this is and will be some kind of log.


Warning : this is gonna be one hell of a ride. Beware of the TLDR syndrom.


Introduction (Day 0) :

I started using computers as a kiddo in 2002 or so, and I've been using Windows almost daily ever since.


I've always been interested in IT and hardware stuff, and I've come to have a pretty good user knowledge of Windows, DOS and computers in general.


And of course, I've been interested in Linux many times. Like at least since 2005, when I sometimes booted my brother's (who introduced me to computers and I owe him big time for this) Knoppix Live CD just for the sake of it. And maybe a little bit of bubble busting. :p


But as you come to know your everyday OS, you're more and more afraid of the change.


What if I can't run "insert software/game/whatever here" ? What if my über specialized hardware isn't recognized ? What if I run into an error and have no idea of what I've done ? What if I accidentally modify the very file I should NEVER touch ? What if... oh hell, let's stick with Win7 for now.


And this has been going for months, if not a year or two lately. I keep learning frightening things about Microsoft and other closed-source software companies.


Earlier this year, I changed most of my computer, so I tried a Linux install. But as a Linux newbie, you quickly get discouraged.


I tried Linux Mint Debian with KDE if I remember well. Very nice and easy to use, but only for the newcomer.


A simple thing as my NVIDIA GeForce 970's driver. I have to compile it myself ? Well this I understand, as there are too many package managers out there for them to make'em all.


But to do so, I have to get out of the Desktop Environment ? And I need to run it in command line - which I know only the very basics.


Well okay, but this is my workstation and personal computer. And at the time, I had nothing else to comfortably browse the net looking for solutions.


This wasn't even the worst issue. I don't know if this has changed to date, but my soundbox (Roland UA-55 Sound Capture) isn't working properly on Linux as it has no dedicated driver. Blame the manufacturers, as always.


So what now ?


Well I've been looking for the Pyra for more than a year, and I've decided months ago that it will be my official Linux Welcoming Platform.


But it's still quite some time before it comes out.


My other brother is about to give me his old laptop. Not that I really need one, but I have plans for it anyway.


And this is why I'm starting this topic.


For this laptop, I'm thinking about installing Debian, with either KDE or whatever the Pyra will get (XFCE I guess).


It's a simple thing, with basic Intel HD Graphics and other cheap laptop components. Should be ready-to-go from day one.


The perfect plan. I have an easy-to-use computer, which is not necessary to me. I'm free to format it everytime I run into a dead end or if I change my mind.


I'll probably get it within the next 24 hours.


And I'll be updating you with my progress and most likely relying on you for moral and tech support. :rolleyes:


So this is it. I've changed my mind. Linux now it is !


Hope this won't bother anyone by the way. Feel free to ignore this topic if that's so.



The (long-term) plan :

  1. Get the laptop.
  2. Install Linux on laptop.
  3. Set up a working platform covering my everyday needs.
  4. Learn to use Linux - enthusiast level.
  5. Get a Pyra.
  6. Learn to use Linux - power user level.
  7. Boot my desktop computer on Linux (probably with Windows VM for compatibilty/gaming reasons).
  8. Get rid of any issues coming in my way.
  9. Wait for everything I need to be useable on Linux, then ditch the VM. Never change to Windows again. Ever.
  10. Profit.



P.S. : I know the topic name sounds silly. Let's rename it to "My Little Linux : Open Source Is Magic". :D
 

rygD

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I don't know if you want feedback or not.


Debian is a good choice, imo.  I wish I had never given Kubuntu to family members to use, as they now prefer Ubuntu.  I think Mint falls into that same "safe and comfortable" area that prevents people from learning.  This is odd to me since they (Ubuntu) have a massive community with people doing all sorts of stuff.


I recommend trying some other distros (Slackware, Gentoo, Arch, maybe Fedora) fairly early on to get a better idea of what is out there and see if you would prefer one of those for daily use.  Give a BSD and other *nix a shot while you are at it.  PC-BSD is probably somewhat user friendly.  I eventually want to try one of the projects derived from Solaris.


If you need access to the CLI you can open a terminal emulator window thingy (try right clicking the desktop).  I have been using drop down terminals for over a decade, and love them.  Yakuake for KDE, and I think the standard terminal in recent versions of Xfce can be set up to drop down.  There are also Guake and Tilda.  Probably some others.  You may be able to make them translucent so that you can keep them up and look at the documents or browser you are using behind it.


Since you are planning on using VMs anyway maybe you should have some dedicated learning ones so you don't nuke your main OS too often.  Depending on the specs of the machine and the requirements for your games a Windows VM may not work out well.  Dual booting may be a better option if you are looking at some of the needy games.  Be careful with that option, as you might find yourself sticking to Windows for everything.  Another option is to give up on your Windows-only games for now.  If you just jump right in you may find yourself picking up on things quicker, and you could be back to playing some of those games again pretty quickly.


I don't know your age.  Here some of the high schools are using things like Ubuntu for some of their computers.  One of the early college ones for people looking at a medical career use it, which is somewhat interesting to me (probably comes down to saving money).


#8 on your list may not be achievable.  That is part of what makes learning things fun, plus the deeper you get into things the more stuff you find to fix.  I am reminded of Woz saying he thought of a way to further reduce the chip count in the Apple II (or IIplus/IIe???) in recent years...decades after they stopped making them.
 
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gabriel

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Good Luck.


You have a long path in front of you. On it you are going to come to a lot of points at which you are going to have to decide whether to look into a particular topic in more depth or pass over it (at least temporarily) for the sake of reaching some objective in a timely way. I would recommend passing over things as often as possible, especially early on. If you attempt to deal with the details the first time around you will become mired. Plan to come back to things - and keep a good record of what you do and what you learn so that coming back to things will be as easy as possible.
 

PowerGod

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An advice, list all the issues you find, and give them a "rating", so to know what you'll really need to fix ASAP and what can wait.


The "reinstall everything" to solve problems should be used only as the final last hope, it is really better to find out how to correct the thing, even if it could be very difficult at the beginning, but 99% of the time, even if everything seems not working anymore, with just a terminal you can make the system rise again.


Maybe you can also find useful this thread , but you will not have all the issues I had, your PC is way more recent that what I used.
 
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Bosbeetle

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I tried to do the same albeit with a different order


1. Get Pandora


2. Learn linux on pandora


3. Get old laptop


4. Install linux on old laptop


5. Be able to use linux at about the same level as windows


I am more or less at step 5 however linux requiers me to google more, on the other hand I can get more done more easily in linux.


By the time the pyra is in, i know a bit more about linux than at pandora times, since the pyra will be debian based I chose debian on the laptop as well, workes like a charm.
 
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levi

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I recommend trying some other distros (Slackware, Gentoo, Arch, maybe Fedora) fairly early on to get a better idea of what is out there and see if you would prefer one of those for daily use.


For a beginner, I'd countenance against using Arch to learn Linux.  I'd used Linux for about five years when I first installed Arch, and the install process was still a learning experience for me, so I'd imagine it'd be pretty much a brick wall for anyone not coming from BSD/Linux already.


I found partitioning confusing when I first installed Ubuntu, but I'm not sure if that was my unfamliarity with the way x86 discs are partitioned, or more to do with Ubuntu trying to hide complexities, and not meeting my expectations.  Certainly when I switched to Debian a couple of years later, I found that installer much simpler to use.  Since then I'd also installed Arch and Fedora, and Fedora seemed no more esoteric.  Arch probably took a couple of days to install the first time, compared to well under an hour for everything else.
 

Yoyobuae

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One thing about Linux and specially command line: You will find solutions to problems far more easily than with Windows.


If you do a command and get a completely esoteric error message, then copy that esoteric message into google and almost for sure you'll find something helpful.


That's the beauty of the command line: everything is text. It's far easier to copy&paste necessary commands to do something or error messages that some command spits out when it is all text, so people are far more likely to post questions/answers about command line things than about GUI interfaces (ugh, taking screenshots of GUI screens or worst typing descriptions in text about which GUI elements to click).


Another thing is that nearly everything is somehow configurable by editing a configuration text file (remember what I said about text? ^_^ ). If you can imagine it, there's probably a configuration file for it. Problem is finding where those files are and understanding how to edit them to do what you want. That's where documentation becomes handy.


Commands and also configuration files usually have some kind of documentation/reference:


man man
info sed
cat --help


Try the above commands to see what I mean. The first one shows the manual page (or man page) of the man command itself. Second one shows the documentation for sed command (which is in info format). The last one shows the description of the arguments for cat command. These also work on other commands (man works on some config files too):


man xorg.conf
info nano
ps --help






Compiling. Very rarely is there need to compile stuff, usually there's some package which has what you need. But in the cases where there isn't any package, remember that programmers are extremely lazy and like to automate everything. ^_^ So what seems like a complex task can be matter of just executing a few commands. Worst that could happen is that compilation fails with some error, so you search for that error in google to try and find a solution, or if that fails then in some cases you can ask for help in a forum, mailing list or IRC (just make sure you ask in the right place ;) ).
 

canseco

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Antergos or Manjaro are better for new users than pure Arch, unless you really want to know how it works from scracth, but it seems OP has decided on Linux Mint.


As far as i know, Mint or any other distro, has closed drivers for NVIDIA on the package manager, it's not 1998 anymore, ;)


About Roland UA-55, some developer started to work on the kernel module driver 2 years ago, and it seems to work on AVLinux distro at least, but it's not on the Alsa drivers list.


http://www.alsa-project.org/main/index.php/Matrix:Vendor-Roland_Edirol


Maybe after you get used to GNU/Linux, you could try KXStudio or AVLinux multimedia centered distros.
 

Klumpen

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I learned enough of what I need by using SuperSaxxon and later Mint.


I'm still unable to compile the port of Blake Stone for my desktop though and after several tries had to simply give up, since nobody wanted to send me the result of their compiling and nobody knew why it didn't work on my system although I installed a lot of libraries just trying to compile this one port in order to simply be able to play it with the resolution enhancements.


And for some reason, the current versions of ePSXe and pcsx-reloaded are not in any repo as it seems, rendering all my eBoots useless.


The big downside of Linux is, that many people actually want it to be complicated, because they think that the moment it becomes too easy, someones takes all the fun of fiddling out of it while simply not all people have the time and capacity of all this fiddling, that's why I'm happy that there's at least Linux Mint as a n00b-alternative.


I know that it sounds bollocks, but that's the impression I got in many places.
 
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Red Ring Rico

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I first started using GNU/Linux in 2002/2003.  At the time I started with Mandrake 8.  After about a year I switched to Gentoo and have been using it ever since.  My recommendation would be to go with something like Arch Linux.  It's a harder road to travel, but I believe you will gain more from it.  Debian is great for starting out, I haven't encountered any major problems with it and I last installed it on a laptop with nVIDIA Optimus about a year ago.  I've never needed to exit X to install the nVIDIA drivers (proprietary, I know, I'm a bad person) only to use the driver once installed, which usually involves logging out then in again.
 

Kev2442

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Thank you all for your kindness and quick answers.


I'm posting this on the very laptop I'll use - currently on Win7. Slow but steady.


Single core isn't good for Windows anymore... but I'll keep it as a dual boot for test purposes, as it's in my other plans for this computer.


I'm talking about VM, but only on my gaming/working rig. It has been built for this very purpose :

  • Intel Core i5 4590 (4-core, 3.3GHz, with Intel VM technologies),
  • good ol' GeForce 970 for gaming, gonna be dedicated to Windows when it runs so that it doesn't have to be shared,
  • 16GBs of DDR3,
  • dual monitors.

I've seen videos of such configurations, they can be made to run a Windows VM at about 98% of a dual-boot performance.


Impressive what you can do nowadays.


So for the distro : I've been giving it some thought for months, and I think I'll jump in with Debian.


Linux Mint may be too user-friendly to really get a portable knowledge of Linux, and Slackware/Arch/Gentoo might not fit for the everyday use for now (pretty scary for the newcomer).


Plus, Debian has one of the largest repos, and will be the basis of PyraOS. Win-win for me.


I think Debian would be one the best choices for Linux introduction, for a "Windows power-user" as I'd boast to be. :)


If you think of a better distro, do tell me. But I'm looking for something like Windows : ready from the start, only needs a bit of config and some software.


I've got a bit of programming and command-line experience to help me in my quest. I've been using DOS as a kid way more than I used Win95...


And I'm a Wikipedia freak, so learning is in my natural habits.


As you asked, I'm 20. A round number to start being a true geek, how fitting is that ?


What I meant by formatting is that I won't use this laptop for personal storage, so I'm not afraid of nuking it to try a new OS or restart from scratch.


A case of a disposable computer in some kind.


What has been the problem with command line was that I had no help ATM, but now I've got my desktop ready so I can Lilo (because "screw Google") on the go.


And I didn't expect such an issue to happen this early. I reckon it also was because I wanted the latest drivers; the card was still pretty new in early April.


I now have to get back to other tasks, and making a backup of the disk before erasing everything. I'll start in the end of the evening.


Thank you all, live long and prosper. ;)
 
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Elw3

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Hehe i started with knopix too, the 2004ish disk that was. 


My first pc which came with windows xp refused to boot after only 2 weeks of usage. Thus i switched to linux. 
 

Kev2442

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Oh, I had this issue too. It was a USB controller which caused Windows XP to refuse to boot, the PC restarted again and again.


Memories memories...


I remember I liked to fiddle with my XP, in 2005 I guess. At the time, all the hype for me was custom themes on XP.


There was a great theme with an installer, which replaced all necessary DLLs and files in System32, like explorer.exe to get the new icons and stuff.


One day, I wanted to get rid of it, so I ran the uninstaller. It asked me the Windows XP installation disc to get the .dll files back.


At the moment, I had no idea I needed not the setup CD, but the Service Pack 1 disc !


Never seen an OS that bugged again. It even had the Windows Classic theme forced, but blank, without the Start menu ! :lol:


Of course my brother and I had to format and install again. Good times...


I used to ask him for help whenever I ran into an issue. I remember one day, he told me "démerde-toi", aka "sort it out yourself".


And I can't thank him enough for sending me packing.
 

Silent-Hunter

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I too would recommend Gentoo. If you follow the installation manual it's rather hard to mess up, and you learn a lot in the process.
 

Grench

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Lots of good methods and suggestions.  You'll find that everyone has a different scoop on what version to use on which hardware.


My recommendation:


1.  Acquire a 3-6 year old Thinkpad notebook computer.  ebay always has a lot to choose from.  Note:  I said Thinkpad, NOT just any Lenovo unit, but an actual Thinkpad as Linux support is MUCH better on the Thinkpad line.  Check online to see what the reports are from other people who have tried Linux on that model BEFORE you buy it.  If you intend to game at all, make sure it has discrete Nvidia graphics in it.


2.  Linux Mint is your friend.  Despite being built on Ubuntu as a source, it does great things.  It takes the good things from Ubuntu and removes the bad, resulting in a VERY good Linux OS that installs cleanly on most hardware.  It's easy to install, use and has a bit more relaxed security model when compared to Debian.
 

levi

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A word of warning against using Fedora or Debian and probably others with NVidia graphics cards (although Arch seems to have a workaround).  Every kernel update and your graphics will break, and you'll have to patch the new kernel (run the NVidia installer).
 

Elw3

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Why the fuck do end users even want to upgrade kernels? 


Linux requires zero maintenance work, it is just that some people just want the pain.


Because hey yea, bigger number is always better. (note the sarcasm)
 

levi

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I'm not aware of a remote hole in the linux kernel in the past ten years or so (although it's always possible I've forgotten), though there was a local hole reported last year I remember.  If you don't have multiple users on your computer, you could live with an old unpatched kernel for quite a long time, but remaining secure is not the only reason to update stuff.


Linux works by people patching stuff they've never had a problem with.  Someone has to try out stuff to find the incompatibilities, and the more people using the most different computers the better.
 

rygD

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For a beginner, I'd countenance against using Arch to learn Linux.  I'd used Linux for about five years when I first installed Arch, and the install process was still a learning experience for me, so I'd imagine it'd be pretty much a brick wall for anyone not coming from BSD/Linux already.
It may depend on the person.  I am not saying that Arch should be what Kev2442 uses for everything (we all have to make that decision ourselves, and I don't use Arch myself), however it should be considered when checking out various distros, especially if using VMs (not sure if it being virtualised will make it more difficult to instll and understand what you are doing). I wish I had started out with something that threw me in at the deep end instead of relying on the installers to do everything for me and relying on the GUI for everything.  I couldn't fix simple problems.  This was all despite the fact that my first experiences using Linux in school were all using the CLI.  It may be "harder" but the skills are more useful.  If your goal is to develop skills it is better to start out the right way rather than pointing and clicking (this really gets in the way of actually learning how to do things, and delayed me for a few years...if I had just a bit more knowledge I could have easily overcome issues that were a huge hassle for me).  I still think having a Debian install for stability while working through the others on VMs to see what is the same and what is different is extremely valuable.

I first started using GNU/Linux in 2002/2003.  At the time I started with Mandrake 8.  After about a year I switched to Gentoo and have been using it ever since.  My recommendation would be to go with something like Arch Linux.  It's a harder road to travel, but I believe you will gain more from it.
I did a lot of distro hopping for years but stayed away from the big scary hard ones.  About 4 years ago I decided I wanted to try out pure Gentoo (I had used Sabayon for a while in the past and wanted to try "the real thing").  When I started taking classes I resorted to Kubuntu because I didn't want to deal with things related to my OS instead of working on assignments.  Eventually I started considering Slackware (after years of dismissing it as a silly Subgenius distro that probably wasn't good for real work) and Arch (mostly because it had been mentioned here a few times).  I went with Slackware when I got a new computer for my classes since it seemed quicker to get installed (was super simple, and after a few tips and a bit of reading I think I will be more picky about what I install in the future), and I was already a week or two into the semester.  I did need to do a lot of reading at first, but everything is pretty simple and straight forward, with plenty of things out there to make life easier.  I really love it.  I still plan on giving Gentoo a shot when I have time to play around.  Maybe next year.

I've got a bit of programming and command-line experience to help me in my quest. I've been using DOS as a kid way more than I used Win95...
It seems to me that this helps.  I had an instructor that also felt this sort of background helped with Linux.

1.  Acquire a 3-6 year old Thinkpad notebook computer.  ebay always has a lot to choose from.  Note:  I said Thinkpad, NOT just any Lenovo unit, but an actual Thinkpad as Linux support is MUCH better on the Thinkpad line.  Check online to see what the reports are from other people who have tried Linux on that model BEFORE you buy it.  If you intend to game at all, make sure it has discrete Nvidia graphics in it.
Really good call here if you have the money.  Also check out things like thinkwiki.org if you go this route.
 

Kev2442

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I'm not planning on buying a laptop at all. The Pyra will completely fill my use case left by my desktop.


Linux is the main purpose I accepted the laptop for. I do not intend on gaming (besides some emulators) and running VMs on it - these two uses will be for my desktop, which is further down the road).


Thanks for the suggestion anyway.


I'm not totally against Slackware or Arch at all. I may try Gentoo instead of Debian.


I just thought it would be more convenient since Pyra will be running it. A bit less of a learning curve when I'll get one.


Linux Mint was the plan for my main computer earlier this year. But as this laptop isn't gonna be a workstation, I think I may try my luck at less user-friendly distros.


I'm looking for a distro which hasn't a too steep learning curve, but I'm not looking for something a little dumbed-down. Sorry Ubuntu, but I kinda think of you this way, just like Windows. Probably a learning curve similar to Win95/WinXP from everyday user to power user.


The thing is that I much most of the insides of my computer, and the same goes for Windows, but I'm feeling that Linux is the missing step between the two. I'd like to cross the gap.


As an example, I often run cmd, regedit, services.msc or ipconfig when I run into an issue. And I've learned at school to setup DNS or mail servers on Windows Server 2003 Edition. This might get you an idea of my ease when running Windows. I'd like to get to that level on Linux, and probably even further. I'm feeling like a brick wall when it comes to learning Windows. As if they tried to keep us unaware of what they're doing with our computers.


So : I'm willing to learn, I mostly have no idea of how Linux works, but I know by heart how Windows and computers work in general. I'm probably looking for a slow-and-steady learning curve, but starting from an average level. I'd rather learn Linux than only one distro. But I'd like to use the terminal progressively as long as I don't know most commands. I'm still learning how Linux works, I know DEs, the main distros, and some other stuff but not much more as I haven't run Linux for a period exceeding a day or two (before giving up and reinstalling Win7...). That should help, I guess.  ^_^


EDIT : Oh, and I might partition my disk for multiple distros, if that could help me learning. Like a triple-boot or something.
 
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