Linux, what's the point?

I’m planning on partitioning my hard drive so that I can run both Windows 98 and Linux. So I had a couple of questions. First off, I’ve heard that I can download it for free from the net. I’ve seen some FTP’s for it, but is it easier/safer to just go out and buy it? I’m not all into droping $150 for it when I can get it for free, but if it makes things easier, then it might be worth it. Also, has anyone ever heard of conflicts due to having 2 OS’s. I’m not about to lose all my stuff because I messed up a line of code. And finally, can someone tell me the differences between Linux and Unix, and if you run either of these, do you like them, more than windows? Any thoughts or tips would be great. Thanks.

Unless you have access to a very fast connection (T1 at work, or DSL at home), it’s probably just easier to buy a CD rather than attempt to download a 650MB image. $150 sounds very steep. For that price, you’re likely getting quite a few CD’s (the main operating system distribution plus tons of apps, all of which you can download anyway) as well as several manuals. If you’re just going to try out Linux, don’t spend so much money. There are plenty of online service sites that will ship you a copy of your favorite flavor of Linux for essentially the price of the media + shipping (my copy of RedHat 6 cost me $10).

As long as you have two separate partitions, one for Windows and one for Linux, you shouldn’t encounter any problems. Be sure to install Windows 98 before you install Linux. When you install Linux, a piece of code (LILO) will be installed along with it; this loader will allow you to choose between booting into Windows or Linux. If you install Linux first, Windows 98 may blow away LILO in the process of installing itself.

Differences between Linux and Unix… well, I’m not a comptuer science whiz, but as I understand it, the differences are architectural; i.e. if you tell Linux to perform a function, it will take different steps than if you tell a Unix OS to perform the same function. However, from an enduser perspective, I’ve used both Linux and SunOS as workstation OS’s, and I haven’t experienced any major differences that prevented me from getting work done. This was the whole point of Linux; to make something that felt very Unix-like but that was engineered from the ground up.

I like Windows more, simply because it’s what I’m used to. I’m sure if the first operating system I ever touched had been Linux or some form of Unix, I’d feel differently. One thing I do like about Linux, though; In my experience, it takes far fewer computing resources (processor power, memory, etc…) to get a task done in Linux than it does to complete an equivalent task completed in Windows. But this is getting more into an IMHO sort of topic than a GQ one.

Agree with the above post. Don’t spend $150 on a Linux distro. If you’re new to Linux or Unix in general, get Red Hat. It’s easy to setup and has the l;argest support base if something goes wrong.

Just a short note on Linux/Unix vs. Windows.

Windows is almost entirely graphical and interactive, which makes it a royal pain to do anything without sitting there waving a mouse. Yes, you can do macros and Visual Basic in some programs, but it’s still clunky if you want to move stuff between apps.

Unix-like systems run mostly from a command line with the GUI shell as a separate module, so both the command-line and graphical modes are conveniently available. They also usually ship with simple and powerful scripting tools. (No, the same tool isn’t both simple and powerful, but still …)

And of course there’s the open-standards vs. proprietary religious war. Windows is entirely under the Microsoft’s control, while Linux is freely available and modifiable.

Dont jump in with out a net. If you don’t have friends that “know” linux/unix, it can be a very steep learning curve and very VERY time consuming and frustrating. It kicked my ass mainly becuase of the frustrating time consuming part of it. Is there a reason your doing this? To learn it for a better job or just for kicks or what? It will be a chalenge. My $.02.
aka punkndrublicnofx

You can get an image of the RedHat FTP site or another mirror for under $10. Been running linux since 0.99pl13 in 1993.

I run RedHat. It is pretty easy to install files, but I still haven’t found an easy way to upgrade the system. If I ever have to upgrade from the ground up, I’m considering Debian or another guy.

As the others have said, it will take some time to learn. You will be in for many many hours of frustration (especially if you are going to partition your hard drive) if you don’t have someone knowledgable with you or spend $50 on a good book about it.

Linux’s big limitation is that there is relatively few commercial software packages written for it. This may or may not be a problem for you. In my case for example, among other things, I need a good fortran developers studio, and a good scientific graphics package. I do not have time to spend weeks surfing the net collecting all the bits and pieces of open source stuff in linux and then configuring them to work together as a nice package. Hopefully this will be change over time.

Linux is outstanding for networking solutions. We have a dual processor 1Ghz pc running linux at my office. I access it at home through a simple telnet session and it works great.

to get back to the OP,

I had linux and windows on different partitions for a while. It worked fine, no conflicts. Windows will not even be aware Linux exists. Linux will be aware of windows, but it won’t be bothered by it, in fact you can even access data from the windows partition and run some of the programs through various emulators in linux.

From a users perspective, there will not be much difference between unix and linux.

A tip, if you already have windows installed and lots of data you don’t want to lose, Partition Magic is a nice program that will partition your hard drive while retaining all the existing data. But, read all information about it first before you use it!

The major resource you’re going to want to acquaint yourself with is the list of HOWTOs here and here. Those should get you through the dual-boot setup; it can vary greatly in difficulty but is generally not too hard.

The difference between Linux and Unix is basically academic. Unix is a trademark of the Open Group, so, legally speaking, Linux is not Unix[sup]TM[/sup]. But there isn’t really any (modern) operating system you can point at and say “this is the One True Unix.” (at least not if you don’t want to be flamed into the ground). From a practical standpoint, Linux is no more or less Unix than *BSD, Solaris, AIX, IRIX, OSF/Digital Unix/Tru64/whatever etc.

*pweetman said *

**A tip, if you already have windows installed and lots of data you don’t want to lose, Partition Magic is a nice program that will partition your hard drive while retaining all the existing data. But, read all information about it first before you use it! **

I personally know next to nothing about linux, but my boyfriend loves messing around with it and so I gave him permission to install it on my computer -gives him two computers to mess around in and I like the googly-eyes on the taskbar in Gnome…but thats not my point.

The point is that Partition Magic isnt that necessary to obtain to repartition your hard drive. I don’t know how difficult it was, or how much knowledge/experience you may need to accomplish this, but he used a program called FIPS 2.0 that he downloaded, and it divvied up my computer without losing anything or causing any problems whatsoever. has cheap Linux cd’s, including RedHat. Probably run $6-$10 shipped. I’ve used them with no complaints, and the CD’s you get are the same as the ones in the RedHat box.

Wow, thanks for all the help. Unfortunatly I think I’m getting way in over my head. I’m a college student majoring in MIS and I wanted to be familiar with Linux and some other OS before I had to venture out into the real world. Thanks again for all the help.

From some hacker’s sites that I visit from time to time, Linux, because of its nuts-and-bolts nature, is currently the hacker’s choice. The claim that they can be more creative with ‘tweaking’ their own machine and other remote machine than ‘script kiddies’ making viruses out of VB programs.

Quoth Caldazar:

Example: Moving files. Let’s say that you have a 200 MB file somewhere on your hard drive, and you want to move it to some other directory. Windows would move each and every one of those bits from one place on your hard drive to another. Unix, however, would leave the data itself exactly where it is, and just change which directory listed it as contents: Much quicker. This system also allows you to have the same file living in two different directories at once, or with two different names, which can be very convenient.