Some Qs about Linux

I started way back with CP/M, then DOS, finally (reluctantly), every version of Windows from 1.0 to XP. Hated them all, and I know very well I should move to Lunux. Have the usual concerns about pulling in my word, 123 and database files and not having the use of a load of neat little utilities (which MS should have provided but never did) that make life easier.

I just finished going through a pretty good tutorial online and have a feeling for what can be done. I’d probably download the .iso files and burn CDs to get it up and running. Have a few questions:

  1. Rather than format with Linux my main HDD where resides WinXP, could I load and run it from my slave HDD, also having two partitions now?

  2. If so, could I still set up dual boot, keeping Win on the master drive and Linux on the slave?

  3. Obviously there are a lot of good programs available, but can they suck in my old word, spreadsheet and database files, and save them as Linux files? I assume they can find old pic files.

  4. Many of the utility files (that open up more RAM, give the CPU temperature, put a time and date on the screen, save passwords and addresses to insert when needed, etc) that reside on the system tray: don’t suppose any of them could be used, could they? Perhaps they are not needed, but I like 'em.

Have never loaded Linux for the same reason never went to Mac: just seems like far too much trouble to transfer all the data I have saved and to learn a new OS. Probably be glad I did, but…

Any opinions and answers to the questions?

  1. Yes. You can have the linux install create a boot menu that will let you boot from either disk.

  2. Yes.

  3. Look up and mysql.

  4. More ram: No, linux reserves that function for itself.
    CPU Temperature: I don’t know. These usually come from the motherboard
    manufacturer. If they provide a linux version (unlikely) then you’re golden.
    Time and date: There is a clock utility that puts a clock in an X-window, but
    GNOME and KDE (the two leading Linux desktops) both put the time in the
    lower right-hand corner like Windows does.
    Save passwords and addresses: I don’t know what you mean here.

I think that might have a lot of the options you are looking for including a system temperature monitor. It is available for Debian, Mandrake, SuSe, RedHat, Slackware, Free/Net/Open BSD. I don’t know much about it though… I just know my husband has it on his system and I just looked at it to get the name :smiley:

  1. Probably not any that were compiled to run on Windows. However, most of the major window managers/desktop evironments have a metric ton of similar applets you can happily run on your system tray/taskbar.

I’ve got a rather bare XFCE install on Ubuntu - I choose not to run any taskbars/panels/system trays. However, if I wanted to, I could run a battery monitor, CPU monitor, clipboard manager, clock, disk space checker, keyboard layout switcher, mail account monitor, disk mounter, network monitor, clock and calendar/planner, virtual desktop manager, screenshot applet, load monitor, volume control, weather monitor, ‘show desktop’ button, and a mini command line. And that’s just what came by default.

You’ll probably run KDE or GNOME on your first installation, not XFCE. They come with even more.

Oh, and…

  1. Word and Excel won’t be a problem for OpenOffice, as long as you haven’t done any totally off-the-wall formatting that’s absolutely critical to maintain.

Access and Visio are more tricky. I’m not aware of any utilities that’ll read an Access database or a Visio diagram directly, though there are plently of programs that replicate the functionality, and more likely in a standards-based file format.

For access, if you can in some way create an SQL text dump of the schema and data, it’s relatively trivial to then import it in to one of the myriad databases on Linux. For Visio, you’re probably stuck with exporting the diagram to a raster image.

Dia can make good diagrams, but I don’t think it can read Visio files.

I use CrossOver and run Visio on it. I suspect OpenOffice supports more old MS Office formats than MS Office does.

Database compatibility is another issue. Access uses a proprietary format, and only runs on Windows. (I don’t know if CrossOver supports it.) I would export your database to a more generic format, such as an Excel files. Research MySQL or another such database product, and see if it can import the format that you wish to Export to.

The previous posters have given good answers, but all the good advice in the world is a poor substitute for personal experience. I recommend that you burn a Live CD and test these things out for yourself - if only to allay your concerns before going through the install process. KNOPPIX ( was a pretty good Debian based Live CD (actually DVD now, though they still support a trimmed down CD version). Many also swear by MEPIS, though I’ve never used it myself.

Keep in mind that Linux has trouble writing to any NTFS partition. Development continues, but you could end up with damaged sectors from failed attempts to write. Utilities exist to read various Linux filesystems, and reading data you have saved under Linux while in Windows is possible - though writing to EXT2/3 and ReiserFS is a bit more difficult (and the future of ReiserFS is uncertain at this point, resulting from the recent…unpleasantness). Personally, I have set aside a rather generous FAT partition specifically for easy read/write access from both Linux and Windows. Unless you plan on exceeding the file size restrictions (4gig I think) it works wonderfully.

You will probably also run into problems if you use Macros. VBA is proprietary, and I think OpenOffice uses BASIC for Macros.

Reading what I just wrote, I realize it sounds a bit dismal. I don’t mean to put you off Linux - quite the opposite, in fact (always glad to entice another to the fold) - just go into it with your eyes open and realistic expectations.

Thanks, Tom and all the others for a lot of good info. I went to an Open Office forum and got a lot more info. The consensus there was that might have trouble importing my Lotus 123 spreadsheets and Approach databases, but it can be done.

All in all, it’s worth a try, especially knowing can install Linux on my slave HDD. Playing with this should keep me out of trouble for a while!

I would recommend downloading the liveCD of Ubuntu (scarcely do we have a Linux thread where I don’t say this) - it’s a really user friendly distribution - ideal for someone with a Windows background, and the installation of software (probably the biggest problem for newcomers to Linux) is handled very well with Synaptic package manager (arguably better than software installers for Windows). If you like the live CD version, you can just click the ‘install’ icon and off you go. The installer should detect your existing Windows partition and preserve it (although if it’s NTFS format, and it needs resizing downwards to make space for the linux file system, this can cause problems - usually aleviated by first defragging in Windows, to make sure everything is at the start of the partition).