Linux. . .any good?

Hi everyone. I am going to purchase a new computer soon, and I need your help. I don’t have a lot of money to throw around, and I noticed that Linux Red Hat (6.2, I think) cost about a third of Windows 2000. It seems like a great deal. Is it? How does it rate in areas such as compatibility, availability of software, and ease of use?

It’s cheap. It has a learning curve. It is powerful. There isn’t as much software, and most of it isnt’ as brain dead easy to install as it is under windows.

however, you can find most of the software you might need, most of it (if not all) is free. And if you get ticked at a piece of software for not having a function, you can, in some cases,get the source code and put it in there yourself.

If you could afford it, I’d dual boot for awhile before making up my mind. So you’re not just tossed in the deep end, metaphorically speaking. :slight_smile:

Dual boot? The store had Linux for windows. Something like that, or can I install Linux and choose to run Linux or Windows at startup? Pardon my ignorance, I don’t have much experience with other OS’s. I have a few more questions: Does a Linux system use DOS? If so, how compatible is it with DOS-based programs?

whoo boy. You’ve got a lot to learn.

I would seriously suggest reading some about Linux before going and trying to install it out of the blue. Try for some background information.

To answer your questions, yes you can install it alongside another OS (such as Windows) and choose which to run when you boot.

Linux is not DOS based, and not compatible with DOS programs. There are things like WINE (which stands for WINE Is Not an Emulator) which allow you to run some Windows programs under linux, and VMware, which allows you to emulate a windows machine under linux.

Seriously, from what I can gather by the two postings in this thread, you could really benefit from reading about Linux before trying to use it. It’s well worth the effort to use, but can be very frustrating if you are not prepared.

`Linux for Windows’ probably ran on UMSDOS, which is a filesystem that sits on top of FAT, so you don’t have to repartition. Every directory has a file that contains permissions and other information for the files in that directory. Then it probably uses Loadlin to boot Linux. So, yeah, you can choose which OS to run at bootup, or even start Linux after booting Windows.

But I’d take TheNerd’s idea and do a little reading first…

A little more detail. Linux is like a complete replacement for DOS/Windows. It doesn’t use them at all. You can have both on your machine on seperate partitions on your HD and choose between them at boot. As xekul says, there are ways to run Linux without reparitioning your drive, but you’ll lose some speed and reliability doing it this way.

You’ll certainly want to learn a few Unix (Linux is a Unix-like OS) style commands if you decide to install. Other that that though, if you’re willing to learn and read the instructions, there’s no reason you can’t go ahead. There’re loads of websites and discussion forums on Linux, and they’re usually willing to help newbies with problems.

The good news is that you can pick up Linux very cheaply at if you don’t need official support or the paper manual (there’re often manuals on the CDs).

I would recommend Linux Mandrake as your first distro. The installation is dead easy (boot from CD and answer obvious questions) and it’s RedHat compatible, so most RedHat packages work without any hassle.

Good luck!

Based on your posts, I would guess that Linux will not be an easy install for you, or easy to use. It’s great for some functions, but you will have a tough time getting started without some help.

I see there is already a link to, also Red Hat in particular offers support, but not free IIRC. Linux also has fewer apps available, but runs nicely on less hardware (less memory, CPU power, etc.) Since you mention price, technically the source code is free, just some companies (Red Hat for example) bundle this with their own add on and change a mimimal anout for the CD.

If you are getting into computers for the first time (or not cery experienced) get a Mac or PC with Win 98 or ME - all a breeze to use.

Good Luck.


I just set my second Linux machine over the weekend to do some file serving, email serving, web serving stuff.

If you aren’t going to be writing programs, I wouldn’t bother with Linux if I were you. If you are going to be writing programs, I wouldn’t bother with Windows.

If you plan to write programs and also want to buy professional software (games, financial tools, etc.) I would recommend a dual-boot PC with 2 hard drives - one for each OS.

If you aren’t that familiar with OS’s, I would think long and hard about whether Linux is right for you - get some books or surf some websites to see if you really want to go into Linux. At the minimum, do a dual-boot machine because I guarantee you that you won’t be able to set up your internet connection correctly without visiting the web and getting some help. Of course, to visit the web, you’ll need an internet connection - for that, you’ll want Windows.


I’ve got a HD I’m gonna use, and I’ve already got Win98, so my question is: is Linux worth the money if I’ve already got Win98? Also, if I do buy it, do you reccommend dual-booting to learn Linux? Thanks.

I’d say that if you’re not a geek (and I mean that only in the best sense of the word, since I am a geek myself), stick with Windoze. Linux is very powerful, but not particularly intuitive. I have been debating whether to turn my Windoze box into a dual boot with Linux for a while. I’ve been using various Unix variants since 1985, but so far I’ve decided it’s not worth it to me to have a dual-boot at home. I can play sys-admin on my Sun Ultra 10 at work. If I go to the Dark Side and become a manager (and they take my Ultra 10 away :frowning: ), I’ll probably install Linux at home to help keep a technical edge.

If your only interest in installing Linux instead of Windoze is price, I’d skip it; you’ll probably get pretty frustrated with it. OTOH, if your want to pick up some of the technical aspects of Linux, go for it.

Hope this helps.

porcupine, just curious, in what ways have you found Linux more powerful?

I’ve been working with Linux (mostly Red Hat) for the last few years, and I don’t see a whole lot of benefits, other than the fact that it will run faster on less hardware. I have not found much use for multiple CPUs up until the latest release (6.2xxx) and I’m not sure how well multi-threading is handled in Linux since I’m not a developer. But from what I’ve seen, the file management, system management, performance tuning, and other borign everyday stuff is easier on NT and Win2k. Believe me, I am well aware of the problems with Win also (hardware hog, crash n burn, etc.) it just seems that since it’s been in the corporate world for a while, the tools to manage the system have become quite good in Win. I’m actually looking for the advantages of Linux to be a better geek myself. Any thoughts?

(BTW, since you’re using the Ultra, and probably Solaris, get a real OS like HP/UX!! :D)

Well for me, #1 is stability. Linux falls a little behind Windows in user-level multimedia, but not too much (most high-end video and audio processing is done on Unix. Example? Titanic. Almost all the CG was done in Linux). Way behind Windows for games. In fact, for my money, nobody touches Windows on multimedia (Except Apple) and gaming (except NOBODY).

For real work, like network servers, programming, etc, Unix variants can’t be beat. The NT Server at my job needs to be rebooted about every 2 weeks for preventative measures. My desktop win98 & win95 machines need to be rebooted about every 3 days and every week, respectively. My Linux machine, which is acting as a fileserver, domain login server, Internet gateway & router, as well as standard workstation stuff gets rebooted when I add new hardware (like a new drive or network card) or when the power goes out at the house. I average less than one reboot per month, and I’ve gone as long as 3 months uptime.

Networking is a really strong point of Unix because you can load, unload, change, recompile, or do pretty much anything else to it on the fly without a reboot. Everything is controlled by text configuration files that are normally well commented and easy to understand, even for newbies. After all, networking was basically invented on Unix. Linux in particular can communicate with any network protocol, read (and usually write) any disk format, and can interoperate with pretty much any system.

As far as ease of use, Unix is catching up to MS and Apple quickly. Everything is interchangable and modular. Interfaces are kept separate from operations. Don’t like your current window manager or command interface? Get a new one, modify the one you have, or write your own. It’s that simple.

Because of its stability, Unix is a great platform for emulating other platforms, or even running virtual copies of them (vmware).

Basically Unix gives you more control over everything, ranging from editing configurations to giving you the source code. NT and Windows take that control out of your hands. It all depends on the user. A sharp Unix user can do more on Unix than a smart MS user can do on an MS system, And an inexperienced Unix user can cause more damage than an equivalent MS user on an MS system.

And the advantage Linux has over the other Unix distros is that a) it’s free (both senses of the word) and b) it’s becoming a standard, so there’s more software available for it than for, say, OpenBSD. But other systems are adding binary compatibility