* Prices may differ from that shown
I've tried the later versions 10.10, 11.04, 11.10 and 12.04, and this version remains my favourite. Along with ubuntu tweak and a bunch of other useful repositories, there's a wide range of available software. Since ubuntu is a free opensource linux distribution, there's nothing stopping users from making changes to the operating system. This is good news for some of us, who prefer to make a few changes for the system to be more as we want it to be, rather than buying a very expensive operating system, which you're merely given a licence to use, and it maybe illegal to make changes to the operating system. Linux is different, since its not based on the wishes of greedy enterprises exploiting their customers, and in a way forcing customers to adjust around a pre-set design. Linux is more freedom to its users. It doesn't mean the expensive operating systems aren't good, they are in fact professionally well built systems by well trained developers, but they could do with letting customers make some changes. Not everyone would find it easy to manually install software, so the repository alternative is a more practical approach for the common user. Its very easy to add more software repositories to the sources file, either by editing it directly, or through the software sources gui or the terminal. Its makes it a lot easier if you have ubuntu tweak installed, which gives you more access to change several operating system settings through one simple application. With the click of a few buttons you can install as many pieces of software as you like, they'll install automatically once you select the checkboxes. This feature is much faster than installing software on a windows computer, unless the windows software is set to silent install, or you use an installation/update manager such as freeapps. Windows Emulator (wine) is a small tool for running windows software on linux, and works well with Google Sketchup, Notepad++, MS Paint, Orbit Downloader, MS Office and several other software packages. I don't know if it works with Adobe Photoshop, but I know some people have had problems trying to get Photoshop working with wine. I sometimes use Winetricks for installing software, which will run with wine. Winetricks makes installation easier for some very common software packages, but may not always be useful for the uncommon software. Apple Safari can be installed through winetricks, which I've tried and installed. It installs successfully, but doesn't work properly. I have used several other linux operating systems, and I can't say that ubuntu was my favourite for all its features, but overall I like it due to its ease of use and how simple it is to customise. I'd say the security can do with a little more improvement, and we may well see some improvement in future updates of version 12.04 LTS. I only like the LTS versions of ubuntu, which I think are in Windows terms equivalent to final releases. I found wine not to work so well in 10.10, 11.04 and 11.10, and had several other problems, including one with my firewall, which kept shutting down automatically. I find the ubuntu irc community is very helpful with any technical difficulties, and many had recommended me to go back to version 10.04 when I had the executable bit error, firewall shutting down and a problem with dhclient. If you want ubuntu, I'd say stick to the LTS releases. Its an excellent operating system, but the normal releases aren't so much like the complete operating system when compared to LTS. To sum up: Ubuntu is a free operating system, easy to use, no restrictions on user customisation, many free software repositories available. I recommend only the LTS releases, since they tend to give you very little software faults.
I was just reading the other review, well, not reading more of just skimming through. I was hoping to find a penguin shaped CD, so when I googled it came up with the review. But back to it. A really quick look at debian and ubuntu. First I'll go with debian as it is what ubuntu is based off of. Now dont let that fact scare you on its own, its really not a bad thing, or even hard to understand, just slightly confusing to new people at first. Debian is really good for servers. It has a more technical aspect to it, but it makes up for it in ease of upgrade. It also allows you to easly install new packages (programs) and update your system. The bad side, its a little harder then most distrobutions for installing, as sometimes more technical knowledge is needed, and while if linux was dominating the market this wouldnt be an issue, you just ask your neighbors kids, its not. Its the equivilent of hardware not being recognized in windows, but easier to fix then the crap that you have to go through for windows. Next is ubuntu, I specificu use xubuntu, and kubuntu. I know what your thinking, cause im good. Whats with the extra starting letters? Welp, the X and the K the X stand for diffrent display options, X for XFCE and K for KDE, otherwise it uses Gnome, this is like the diffrence between what a mac looks like booted and a windows system after its booted up. the major diffrence is how hard it is to change things, or how easy it is to use it. I'ld suggest first time users try xubunu for older systems, I like it and i think that xubuntu is easier to use then ubuntu, but thats me! Thats the excelent nature of linux, YOU can choose what YOU want, or you can decide to not really care. That above all else is why i LOVE linux, and why i have such a problem with windows. Not to mention linux tends to be more secure. Sombody on a website compared the updates of a linux distro to windows, and their point was that linux has had more holes. But its more likley that they are just fixed faster, my dads computer was just hacked not 6 or 8 months ago because of a security hole, my server on the otherhand on that same network which is also always on wasnt. my server, is open to email, web and ssh traffic, not to windows backdoors. that is why i generally use windows on my laptop too, although not all the time.
Linux is great, but, the desktop doesn't run all those nice windows programs we need in business, however all is not lost. Servers are expensive, they need lots of expensive hardware and software NOT. Linux is powerfull and performs well on standard PC hardware. For a server you don't need to run the graphical interface so the performance is even better. The user interface is different, the commands are different, but there is an excellent solution that enables even the dumbest user access to this powerfull and excelent value operating system. WebMin, this is a web interface to the server, now you can add users, create file shares and do everything else through a web page from your windoze box, mac or any other system with a web browser. There are some things that the average user may have difficulty undertanding, firewalling rules, name servers etc. So best to find someone to set it up and support you when you need special things doing. (If you run WebMin, have fixed IP internet connection and a firewall then everything can be done remotely) If all you do is to email and run MS office then Linux can work well as a desktop too, the latest releases include everything you need, including word and excel compatible alternatives. Some windows applications can be run on Linux using Wine, but don't count on it.
So. Linux, eh? Wot do I write about dat? I hope to give you just a basic introduction and some weblinks to kickstart your interest in the Linux OS. Firstly kids - it's an Operating System. I'm going to use the abbreviation "OS". Makes things simple. Operating Systems are the programs that run on your computer that let you run other programs - such as Mac OS, Linux and Windows. But - not all OS'es are created equal. No no no no no. Some OS'es are better than others. And, the OS which is most popular, as with pretty much everything isn't the best one. But - I'm here to tell you about Linux. Which is one of the better OS'es available to install on your PC. WHAT IS LINUX? Linux is a free operating system. Yep, totally free. It costs nothing (if you download it or copy it off a mate) or very little (if you buy a CD - usually around £15) to get a copy. You can legally distribute copies for free - lend them, copy them, read out the source code through a megaphone, print them out and stick them all over every public surface available. Yep - it's not free as in "free lunch", as you usually have to pay money - connect charges, or CD replication fees, to get hold of it - but it is free as in "freedom" - you can change anything. For a full description, see GNU's description of "freedom" here: http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html The Linux project is maintained by a group of people out on the internet, who modify the source code and distribute their changes for free. It is a wonder in combined intelligence - if someone makes a mistake or suggests something, there is usually another person who will make it better. Plus, it saves a lot of programmer time. Two developers aren't reprogramming the same code - same programmer A is working on project A which is competing with project B. Instead of writing the code twice, t hey can share functions and snippets of code between projects. Say I need a currency calculator for my open source project - a web-based set of mathematical tools - I can log on to a site like Sourceforge and see if someone else has written a function that will do that for me. Saves time, saves mistakes and furthers the software. But, Linux is just the 'core' of the operating system - analogous to the engine of a car. Yeah, you can have an engine on it's own, but it's not always too much fun driving a car that just has an engine - you need to add the rest of the car. The chassis, the seats, the controls. That is where the GNU project comes in. When you combine the fruits of the GNU project and the Linux kernel, you create a winning combination. The other creations under the GNU licence include a lot of the software that you can run under Linux. To paraphrase the GNU Mission Statement, the whole GNU and Linux project is brining programmers together as comrades rather than competitors. This must be good - people forming together to build a better product, that the corporates failed to do. DISTRIBUTIONS There is no such thing as Linux. You can't go to a shop and buy "Linux". You have to get a distribution - a set of programs fitted together to form a working system. Each different distribution serves a slightly different group of users. For example, Red Hat ( http://www.redhat.com ) is a popular 'all-rounder', wheras an OS like Lycoris ( http://www.lycoris.com ) serves users who do not have so much experience ('newbies'). Mandrake is another popular choice ( http://www.mandrake.com ) To see a pretty definitive list of some of the choices that face you when choosing a distro, go to http://www.distrowatch.com Also, for other platforms, other distributions exist. Such as Yellow Dog and LinuxPPC for people running PPC (ie. Macs) computers. W HAT DO I NEED TO RUN LINUX? A few things are required. One is a computer and a distribution. Those are the only 'material' things you need. The things you really need is a bit of computer knowledge - the amount required is dependent on the distribution, information (I'd reccomend that you buy a boxed copy of Linux - it'll include a manual and CD), and preferably some contacts (perhaps a Linux user group?). WHY THOUGH, WHY? The GNU/Linux operating system has numerous advantages over a Windows system. The main one is reliability. Computers don't "just crash" for no reason, in the same way that cars don't "just break down" for no reason. There is usually a problem with the hardware or software that is causing the crash. And more often than not it's the software. And that software happens to be Microsoft Windows. It is multi-user. And proper multi-user at that. Unlike Windows. Yep, whether it be hundreds and thousands of users in an office, or just "mum", "dad" and "littletimmy", your Linux box can support many different people. GO FOR IT! Apart from games, everything on GNU/Linux is better. Really. It'll make life absolutely lovely. RELATED LINKS http://www.bbcity.co.uk/modules.php?op=modload&name=Web_Links&file=index&req=v iewlink&cid=9 I have included a lot of the links that I would keep in this article on this page.
Making rapid usability improvements - Advantages: faster than windows on same hardware, very low cost, good security and stability - Disadvantages: needs good technical skills, user interface not up to current standards, device support can be patchy
The first problem when it comes to Linux is the name. Should it be pronounced "lie-nux" or "lee-nux"? (A: Officially, it's whatever you prefer.) Should it really be referred to by its "full" name of "GNU/Linux"? (A: Yes, but practically no-one bothers, so I'll follow suit.) And should a system running, say, the Mandrake distribution of Linux, be referred to as being a "Mandrake Linux" system or a "Linux Mandrake" one? (A: Oh, for heaven's sake man, who cares? Get on with the damn op, will you?) Now, the first thing to say about Linux is that, whatever its diehard supporters (and there are plenty) may say, it's not a viable replacement to Windows (or Macs, etc, but I only really know about PCs) for most of us. There are two major reasons for this. The first is that, because of Microsoft's behemoth-like status in the PC world, the really large makers of add-on hardware tend to develop first and foremost for the Billy Gates Band. Although Linux does support an impressive range of graphics cards, soundcards, printers, modems and so on, there tends to be a bit of a lag between the card being launched and a Linux driver being available. USB peripherals are a good example - they've been around for quite some while now, but it's only in the latest distributions that Linux has really supported them. Oh, yes. Modems. Better get this one out of the way first - fireproof overalls on, everyone. If you're a Windows user with an ordinary dialup connection, then you're going to connect to the internet by means of a modem... or so you think. In fact, there's a very good chance that what you're using is a thing calling itself a "winmodem". This is a cunning piece of deception by the manufacturers - "aha," you think, "a modem designed for Windows - just right". In fact, though, these things are no more than a few basic circuit s - the real work is done in software by the operating system itself, which is to say Windows. And only Windows - with a very few exceptions, they won't work in Linux. At all. And woe betide anyone who asks on the Linux newsgroups about winmodem support - if you're answered by "THEY. ARE. *NOT*. MODEMS!!!!!", you're getting off pretty lightly. Anyhow, on to the second reason for not using Linux exclusively. Five letters - games. Go to your local branch of GAME and see how many boxes mention Linux support - you'll be looking for a while. There *are* good games available for Linux - Quake and Railroad Tycoon II for example - but the range is tiny, because the mass consumer market the big publishers require these days (a bad thing in itself, IMO) just doesn't exist. Actually, some games will run by using a Windows simulator by the name of WINE (Wine Is Not an Emulator - see my retro-computing op for the difference between emulators and simulators), but it needs some quite advanced fiddling about. Of course, the purists will be horrified that you want to keep a hold of Windows, for fear of something worse, and they'll say so. In fact, one of the least attractive things about the otherwise generally very supportive Linux community is the rabid intolerance a significant minority show towards the idea that Windows can do *anything* well. Lots of people, for example, use the tremendously childish nickname "Windoze", which even Linux's official "Advocacy HOWTO" document discourages as achieving nothing. But stick to your guns - dual-OS systems are a good thing, all right? And here we come to the factor that - understandably - makes a lot of people nervous about installing Linux, especially if they don't have a spare PC for testing purposes. To install Linux on a machine that already has Windows on it, you're almost certainly going to have to get down and dirty with the hard disk - an d if you get it wrong, you can indeed wipe out your entire Windows partition. Make a backup of everything important - don't just think "that would be a good idea"; actually *do* it, in case you have to reinstall Windows (which is actually very easy in most cases - if you can handle installing Linux, it's a cinch). Fortunately, the makers of the main distros (short for distributions - Linux-speak for customised Linuxes) have realised this, and all the main players now provide a graphical installation process, which tells you as you go exactly what you're doing, and - hopefully - gives you a chance to back off if something looks like it's going horribly pear-shaped. Caution is still needed, though, as when all is said and done Linux users are assumed to be at least vaguely competent at setting things up themselves. So, what sort of system do you need to run Linux? Well, it must be said that the old days of "isn't Linux great? It can run on a 386!" are pretty much over if you want to move at above slothlike pace. To run a modern distro (RedHat 7, Mandrake 8 etc), you'll feel very cramped in anything less than 64MB RAM and a 1 gig hard disk, and for comfort you should double those figures. Linux allows you a great deal of say in how you set up its filesystem, though, so it is possible to install only those bits you need for a slimmer system (now this would be useful for Windows!). Installation itself is, as I intimated earlier, far easier these days than it used to be - largely a case of multiple-choice boxes and messages which effectively say "you do have a GeForce graphics card, don't you?". If you do have to choose which packages to install, it's a good idea to leave all the automatically-chosen ones in unless you're very short on disk spaces, as otherwise you may find that a program you want to use is missing vital support files (this is called "dependency"), and y ou'll have to install the missing bits manually, which is a chore. Other than this, you might well be offered a choice between the "big two" window managers (GUIs) - Gnome and KDE. I recommend KDE as I find it easier to use and there'd more info around about it, but it is a bit of a resource hog - don't even think about it on a PC with under 64MB of RAM. A really important thing to remember about Linux is its multi-user setup. This matters even if you're the only person who ever uses it - you should still create an account over and above the built-in "root" account. Yes, I know everyone skims over the instructions, thinking "oh, it's just an extra bit of work", but this really does matter. And for why? Simple - if you are logged in as "root", you can do more or less anything... and, depending on how your system is set up, this can even include deleting your *Windows* files (yes, all of them). If you're logged in as a normal user, then Linux's security features stop you from doing anything quite so apocalyptic. Of course, some functions (compiling software from source code, for example) do require you to be root, but it's a good idea to go in, do what you have to do, and get out as fast as you can. What? Compiling from source code? Yes indeed. This is far more common in Linux than it is in Windows, and for a very good reason. Linux will run on just about any halfway modern PC, Apple Macs, Ataris, Acorns, Suns... the list goes on. That means that the assumptions Windows software programmers can make about the form of hardware the program will be run on are not necessarily valid. So the best way is to provide source code in a language such as C, and allow utilities on the end user's computer to interpret these in a suitable way for the machine in question. It's all a little bit fiddly at first, but before too long you should find it all coming together. Anyway, th ere you are looking at (let's assume) the KDE desktop, which is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike Windows, and thinking "huh?" - what do you do now? Well, somewhere in the various menus (under "Terminals", perhaps), there should be an option called "Xterm". Open this up, and you'll see something that looks quite similar to a DOS prompt. Type ls (and RETURN, obviously) - there you'll see a directory listing. If you type ls -l you'll get a long (ie detailed) listing. A lot of it will be gibberish, but never mind, as we can easily get help by using ls --help (note the *two* hyphens). The "--help" flag is similar to DOS's "/?" one, in that it gives a brief summary of the options available with that command. For more detail we need to type man ls (man is short for manual), which gives a very long (hundreds of lines) and - for most of us - overly detailed rundown of what ls is, what it does, why it does it, how to stop it doing it, who made it do it, and how to report to someone that it doesn't do it anyway. Now, let's say you've read some of this, and decided that you use "ls --l" far more than just plain old "ls". Wouldn't it be helpful if there was an "lsl" command that could save you a bit of typing? Ta-da! There is! Or rather, there can be, thanks to the wonderful world of aliases. Type alias lsl='ls --l' Now, type lsl and you'll see that your prayers have been answered. (Incidentally, if you type alias on its own, you'll get a list of the current aliases, which is very handy - some distros have a few built in.) A few other handy commands are "cd" (similar, but not identical to, the DOS command", "df" (shows disk usage), "free" (ditto for memory), "exit" (shuts d own the terminal window) and "mount" (to make various devices - disks etc - available to Linux or otherwise). There are far more than this, and a good guide is a must. One last point - there's plenty of software available. The excellent office suite OpenOffice.org (son of StarOffice) is available free, as is Corel's Wordperfect 8. There's the excellent GIMP image processor (think Paint Shop Pro). And there's the Mozilla browser - no Internet Explorer, of course! So then, let's say you've decided to take the plunge and have a go at Linux. Where are you going to get it from? There are three easy ways: 1) Download it. Yes, Linux is free, thanks to the wonders of the GNU General Public License[sic], which says in effect that you can do anything you like with a program released under it... except make it or its derivatives proprietory. The obvious problem, though, is that the thing is absolutely enormous these days - most distros are over a gigabyte - so unless you have broadband it's not really worth the bother. 2) Buy it. I know I said it was free, but that is, to use the accepted definition, as in "free speech" rather than "free beer". That GNU licence even allows you to sell the damn thing - but why should anyone want to buy it? Simple. Firstly, there's the protection of a "big name" like Red Hat - the *trademark* as opposed to the programs themselves can't be copied (actually, "Linux" is trademarked by its Norwegian inventor, Linux Torvalds), so you know it's the real thing. And second, the boxed versions will include proper manuals and perhaps a dedicated support phoneline. Doing things this way will cost you around £50 - still far cheaper than a full version of Windows. 3) Get it off a magazine coverdisc. This is by far the best way if you're not obsessed by having a bleeding-edge version. There are two mainstream Linux magazines - Linu x Format and Linux Magazine - and they often carry cut-down versions (in terms of toys, not functionality) on their CDs, and full ones on their DVDs. You'll need a CD burner and appropriate software (eg Nero) though, as in general the distros are supplied in the form of about three ISO images, the first of which forms the bootable CD for installation purposes. So, after 2000 words of this, how shall we sum things up? I think like this: Linux is not (yet?) a replacement for Windows for most people, but as one half of a dual-boot PC it's a very powerful and flexible alternative which can give you a lot of options. Certainly, my PC is now set up to run Linux primarily, and Windows occupies perhaps a quarter of my computing time, most of that for games. It's big, it's clever, it's fun and it's free. Go to it.
Well blow me down with a feather! I'm typing this little missive on a copy of Sun Microsystems' "StarOffice" running on a Linux box that I'm logged on to through a Window on my Windows/ME machine. How cool is that on the geek scale of 10 to freezing? This is seriously clever stuff. Got a spare PC lying around? Wanna have a laugh with something new? You need Linux, that's what you need mate. Over the past couple of weeks I've been playing around with Linux in order to gauge for myself whether or not it has the mettle to be a serious competitor to Windows. I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that the answer is "probably" (yes, folks - I've been on the "Assertiveness part I" course, but I just can't decide whether to go on part II or not!). Personally, I think Linux is the bee's knees, however I am also acutely aware that it won't be everyone's cup of tea. Soooo... the sixty-four million dollar question is, "Who's it for?" If we can answer that then we've probably cracked it. Initially, I thought that Linux would be a place where Geeks and saddo's (like me) could while away their solitary hours without unduly damaging the more tender parts of their anatomy. In one sense, I suppose it is. However, what I was unprepared for is the serious attention being shown at the high-end by companies like IBM and Sun. Linux will now happily run on everything from your laptop all the way up to the big IBM system /390 behemoths. Until very recently, the mighty 390's (if you have to ask the price of a 390 - you can't afford it) only ran IBM's own flagship operating systems, MVS/ESA and TPF. So what's going on? Well, one or two folk are pretty pissed off with old Bill and his crew up in Seattle and Linux is a way in which everyone can signal their collective displeasure. I hope, for his sake, that he's listening. Let's ge t one thing straight right from the outset; Linux is a true Multi-User Operating System. Got that? Good. Windows (whatever number it is fitted with) is nothing of the bloody sort, despite what the kiddies in Seattle may want you to think. Err - right. So... what's the difference? In order to explain, I feel a short trip down memory lane coming on... ("Oh nooooooooo, the old bastard's gonna start reminiscing again!") OK, hold on tight and off we go.... Firstly, a lot of the stuff that your average computer program does over and over again is pretty much the same stuff that every other program does over and over again. Reading and writing files, acquiring and releasing storage (memory), communicating with some form of operator and so on; same shit, different day. It turns out that only about 20% of the actual code in a computer program is "main mission" (solving the problem it was built for) the other 80% is all about messing with the environment in order to let the program run. Bummer, huh? They've known about this for a while. Back in the late fifties, a few fairly smart boys and girls and in particular one Gene Amdahl (you don't HAVE to have a funny name to be in the computer business but it sure helps) had the idea of providing a little bit of extra help to the poor old programmer. The best analogy I can come up with for these early attempts is that of a knowledgeable human librarian. When you go into a library you probably don't know how the books are catalogued and organized so it can be quite hard work to find things. The Librarian, on the other hand, knows where everything is and can retrieve any particular item on your behalf without you having to know how the library works. You just have to (politely) ask! Essentially, this is what an Operating System does. It is the program's "guide" inside the computer. A program might require some additiona l storage while it is running. Instead of attempting to identify and acquire it by itself, it simply asks the Operating System for it. In fact there are a whole host of things that can be semi-automated in this way and they make programming a whole lot easier. There are a load of other issues to do with something called 'abstraction' that are also made easier by the OS but for now just be aware that the idea of an operating system is a dead good one. In fact it's so good that it probably ranks up alongside things like Swiss Army knives and sliced bread in the league table of 'good ideas'. The first "true" operating system is generally regarded to have been IBM's OS/360 which was released in 1963 with the launch of the System /360 range of mainframe computers, forerunners of today's System /390 and designed by, you guessed it - Gene Amdahl. OS/360 was a kind of benevolent despot. It would help you do all sorts of things in your program but it would also stop you from doing really dumb things. Another dead clever thing that OS/360 could do was run lots of programs at once. It could look after them all, manage their various requests to acquire and release resources and was able to shut them down when it looked as though they were about to run amok or do some sort of damage (something which happens surprisingly often in a big multi-user computer). However, the /360 was for big corporate organizations with deep pockets. 'What about the little feller?', I hear you cry. Fear not little feller - help was coming from Ma Bell... In the late sixties, a few of the boys and girls over at Murray Hills (no, not where Sonic the bloody hedgehog lives - the REAL Murray hills in New Jersey, home of AT&T Bell Labs, - Geek Central to you and me mate) were messing about with the new "mini-computers" from GE and DEC. They too wanted an operating system for their little computers. Unfortunately, in 1969 t he only good software that they could get their paws on was Abbey Road (and that was only available on vinyl or 8-track). Three pissed off guys, Dennis Ritchie, Ken Thompson and Brian Kernighan decided to "put on a show of their own" and promptly set off to write a tight "time sharing" operating system for these new mini technologies. The first computers to run the new infant operating system were the little GE (later Honeywell) 635 and the DEC PDP-7. By modern standards these little machines had about as much CPU power as your watch! Nevertheless, the first versions of the new system supported not one but two users. Within a few years, they would be supporting hundreds and later thousands. In an ironic pun aimed at an earlier failed operating system called MULTICS, Brian Kernighan coined the name UNIX for the new baby. In 1973 Dennis Ritchie finished building the "C" programming language and shortly after that the UNIX kernel itself was re-written in C (before this time it had been written in assembly language). Without going into the why's and wherefore's, the C re-write made UNIX potentially very portable between different computers. In 1975 AT&T decided to make UNIX Release 6 freely available to the US Universities. This single act cemented the future of UNIX and its many derivatives. The Universities eagerly set to producing their own variants of the system most of which survive to this day in one form or another. There were, for many years, three main UNIX derivatives known as; BSD (Berkeley Systems Division) - IBM's AIX is a BSD derivative, SCO (Santa Cruz Operation) - optimized for very small systems including the early Intel 8086 and 286 CPU's and SVR4 (System 5, Release 4) - derivatives include Sun's 'Solaris', HP's 'UX', and NCR's 'MP/RAS'). From its humble beginnings, UNIX has risen to challenge even the big flagship IBM operating systems for the high-end computing platform business. Companies like SUN, HP and NCR market UNIX based computers which are every bit as powerful as the big IBM mainframes with which they compete. The Windows system from Microsoft, whatever its merits, was never designed to be multi-user. The idea was that it would have one keyboard, one mouse, one screen one disk and one user at any one time. It was, after all, for PERSONAL computers. The thing is, that today's personal computers are way more powerful than any machines Ken Thompson or Dennis Ritchie ever got their hands on. Maybe we could use that power better if we adopted something like UNIX instead of Windows..... In 1991 a young fellow at the University of Helsinki decided to try to port a version of MINIX (a mini UNIX filesystem) onto his 386 PC. His name was Linus Torvalds and he must have been either very bored or very stupid to want to do such a thing. Rather surprisingly the damned thing worked and he christened it LINUX. Linus then set about, more or less, re-writing a new version of UNIX. For this reason Linux is often referred to as a UNIX "Clone" rather than a derivative since it is not based on any other UNIX but instead, is a complete re-write. In many ways, this makes it better and faster than its forebears. One decision that Linus made from the outset was that Linux would be "open source" software. In other words it was to be distributed free of charge to anyone who wanted it. This is still the case today. This to my mind, more than anything else, is the thing that will damage Microsoft. I notice that to upgrade to the latest version of windows (at time of writing) costs over 100 GBP. That's a lot of money for something which doesn't appear to do very much on its own. I bought the latest version of Redhat (7.2) for twenty-nine quid! All in all, the current version of Redhat installs better and easier than Windows to my mind and once it's up and going it just seems to run. Up to press I have not been able to make it fall over once. As to the assertion that you have to have a deep understanding of UNIX command line syntax in order to use it, I can only say that I have attempted to avoid using the command line at all. I haven't quite gotten away with it, but only because I needed to use it to stop and start SAMBA, the Linux/Windows file sharing component. In order to get file-sharing working properly I had to read up on SAMBA. However, aside from one jittery bit (to do with windows passwords), I had it up and working in a few hours. As to the rest of the system, everything can be accomplished in X-Windows, the GUI front-end for Linux. I actually prefer StarOffice (also called OpenOffice, depending upon who you buy it from) to Microsoft Office. It seems to execute more quickly in the Linux Environment. Linux itself is just the 'kernel' or operating system. The product is the kernel plus all sorts of other stuff which all together make up a 'release'. You can buy Linux releases from many different companies however, by far and away the most popular, is the one from 'RedHat'. The Windows equivalent of RedHat Linux would be Windows plus a shed load of utilities and smart stuff together with the Office Suite of products. All in all, you get a lot of software for your money. Moreover, because Linux is a true multi-user OS you can have lots of users on your Linux system at any one time. So what? I hear you cry. Well it's all to do with future shock and the upgrade cycle my boy... Now, sit up and pay attention because there's a dead good bit coming any minute now.. Ready?... Here goes... I am willing to bet that you are reading this little missive of mine on the latest hot-poop-scoop of a PC. It probably has a 1Ghz+ CPU and a graphics card that can flip triangles fast enough to worry some body who is really really good at flipping triangles. Fact of the matter is that 99% of the time, it's doing bugger all. It's just sat there running some sort of smartarse graphic 'nobody's here' type screensaver. What a waste. What's worse is that you just upgraded to it last year and traded in a Pentium II to get it. Except you didn't trade the Pentium II in did you? Because it was worth precisely three eighths of bugger all, so you chucked it in the cupboard and forgot about it. Am I right? The truth is that your Windows PC is single user and always will be. One user at a time. However, if you were to run a Linux image on your old Pentium, you could use it as a file server, or a firewall or a print server or a dedicated Word Processor, all accessible directly from your spiffy new Windows-go-faster-stripe-version-with-furry-dice PC, and continue to get your money's worth out of the old kit! How cool is that? Even better - if you have several PC's in your household, they can all be logged on to and using the Linux Box simultaneously! Linux is much more efficient than Windows so it can serve several users at once even from a relatively titchy PC. That's why a multi-user OS is important and that's why Bill Gates is shitting himself. Because if you continue to get value out of what you've got then you won't buy as much new stuff and before you know it Bill's overall worth will have dropped to less than three times the GNP of The People's Republic of China! What will he do then, the poor bastard? Dr Michael Tracey, a leading light at The Harvard Business School and all round 'good egg', contends that new breakthrough technologies go through three phases; they start out as a joke, then they become a threat, then they become obvious. If Linux is already obvious to me then how many other people is it obvious to? What is really sweet to the IT fraternity is that B ill was always an interloper. He never made a dime from any original thought, either from himself or from his organisation. One day I'll do a big reminisce on the whole Microsoft thing, but not today. Today, I'll just have fun playing with my little Redhat........ He he he!
Some of you may think "what's the difference between the two os?" Well there are big difference between the two os but the biggest is surely the support of the os. On windows you can play games,watch video,listen to music,because all your hardware is fully supported and if you buy a new video accelerator , music card or another hardware; windows simply ask you to put on the right driver because is plug and play , linux is very different, is much stable but you must search for hours the whole net to find the right drivers and many times your hardware will not even be supported. Windows has a plug in for all, linux no, for example, if you want to play a shockwave game Windows has the right plug in, linux no, shockwave is not supported at the moment. Windows is easy to use and understand even for a beginner, linux no, the 90% of the commands must be used from the terminal with administrator option otherwise you can't do nearly anything, the program are very difficult to install and the procedure is very boring. Linux is useful if you have the correct hardware and if you want to run a server because is much stable and will give less problems,windows has many bugs and sometimes may crash if used for too much time. The biggest difference however is the price: windows cost you a lot of money if you want to buy it,linux cost no money at all if you download it from internet, but even in this case the difference is not so much because windows is many time included or pre installed when you buy a new pc . If you were thinking about switching os,I think is better for you to reconsider, maybe you can use a double partition linux-windows and have less problems, but switching from windows to linux is not so easy, windows is full point and click,linux even in kde or gnome (interface similar to windows) must for the 90% of the case use the internal terminal and start the program in a command line At the moment linux is improving very much and can run even some windows software (I personally think that if someone with a athlon or intel processor want to use windows software can simply install windows), maybe in the future linux will fight against windows software even for home system market,but at the moment for home use I think windows is the only choice.
Let me start with a home truth: Linux just isn't suited to the desktop. It's unfortunate that it's being marketed this way, because the applications just aren't there, or aren't mature enough, to compete with the monster offerings from Microsoft et al. That said, Linux is an extremely capable operating system, and undoubtedly the most stable on the Intel platform. Linux does *real* work: from systems infrastructure to multi-day multi-gigabyte compute jobs, you can rely on it as much as you can rely on any Unix implementation to get the job done with the minimum amount of fuss. The fact that it's Unix and essentially free means that one can augment an existing Unix infrastructure with cheap Linux boxes and use one's existing skill set to install and run them, taking advantage of the fastest CPUs on the market. There's very little that needs to be learned if you already know another Unix. This review might read as though it has no point, but what I'm trying to do is reply to those people who say "oh, Linux: no apps, no games, hard to use, Windows is better". The fact of the matter is that Linux just isn't ready for the desktop in any current distribution. Maybe it never will be. But as a high-availability, solid Intel computing platform, you can't beat it.
The following opinion is a pedantic one, aimed at educating new Linux users as to the origins of the Linux operating system kernel. Linux, as written by Linus Torvalds and contributed to by a host of others all over the world, is an operating system 'kernel'. A kernel is more or less the heart of an operating system, managing such things as processes, memory allocation etc. The operating system we refer to when we use the name Linux is actually (probably) the 'GNU Operating System'. GNU stands for 'GNU's Not Unix', and is a project to create a complete UNIX-like operating system started by Mr. Richard Stallman. This system is released as 'Free Software', which means that you can get the source code with it, modify it, copy it and give it away/sell it (either in its original or modified form), provided you do not deny others the rights you have yourself. The GNU System has it's own operating system kernel - HURD, which unfortunately is not quite ready for general use (to my current knowledge). In the absence of HURD, the GNU Project used the Linux kernel to complete the operating system. This means that we now have an entire UNIX-like operating system made up of Free Software to use for whatever purpose we choose (within the limits of the GNU General Public License - GPL, under which most Free Software is licensed). This is why you may sometimes see the system referred to as 'GNU/Linux' instead of just 'Linux', I think this is a good idea as it gives the GNU Project the recognition I believe it deserves. This is not meant to offend Linus Torvalds or the Linux community in any way, it is simply a personal opinion. I respect Mr. Stallman and what he is trying to do, and feel that four more characters (GNU/) in the name is not too much to ask, considering these guys have given us a free operating system. Thanks for listening. For more informati on on Free Software or the GNU Operating System, go to the Free Software Foundation at: http://www.fsf.org Disclaimer: These opinions are my own, and I am in no way connected with the GNU Project or the Free Software Foundation.
It is obvious that Linux has a powerful and productive use in the world of servers. A high percentage of servers running the Internet are based on a Linux system. Often, Linux outperforms Windows NT as a server OS, but the real question is <b>can it be so successful in the desktop market</b>, where drivers and quality software is essential? This is not a strait forward question. Many people will argue about this with different reasons, but my answer is that it could be as successful, but is not ready yet. The reason for this is simple: it is not user friendly in the department of the GUI. Those of you who know a little about Linux will know about running an X server. Throwing a bloated half-way interface over the powerful yet daunting command line is what peoples current idea of a solution to this problem, but it is not in reality the most sensible. Don't get me wrong, I am not one of those who sit at a keyboard all day and shy away from a graphical interface like woodlice from the light. It is necessary to have a graphical interface for all users, even the most advanced. What I do shy away from however is bloated interfaces. They may work, they may be easier to use than the command line, but one thing for sure is that they hide the true power of Linux and slow down my Linux experience (just though I would through in one of Microsoft's buzzwords of the moment) . What Linux really needs is a new GUI system, no longer tied down by the ancient X server, dating back over 15 years. It needs an interface that runs directly with the computer, not over an in-between. I do realize that this is a highly complex idea, and that there are advantages to the way it is at the moment, but why hide the power of Linux with a bloated method of producing a GUI. So, is Linux ready to be a big time operating system for desktops, with most desktop machines running Linux as their primary OS? My answer is no. The potential is there but it still needs a lot of work. If you disagree, then go write an opinion on it. If you have never tried Linux, then try it and form your own opinion. This is just the way I see it, and I am probably wrong on a number of points.
I first started to use Linux when it was 1993/1994 as part of the Yggdrasil distribution. It was using something like the 0.93 kernel (the actual operating system itself - the part that controls all the hardware and manages the software) and I forget the version of X-Windows supplied. At the time I had no clue as to what UNIX was really about. I had no experience, and no idea as to what I could expect. I was somewhat shocked to find it was mainly console based, but that X-Windows was an "add-on" that could turn the entire environment graphical. I remember using a 486DX-33 with just 4Mb of RAM and persauding my father to buy an additional 4Mb RAM to make X-Windows run a bit faster :) From these early days, I managed to start to learn all about the world of UNIX and X-Windows by myself and was well prepared when I went to university to handle the university systems that were running SunOS and Linux amongst others. In those days, Linux was still very much a developer/enthusiast OS and it wasn't really until it got more exposure and more people started playing with it that it's potential could be realiased. Throughout the years, I've used Linux mainly in a server environment, using it mainly for serving as a web server, DNS, email and news server. It wasn't until my second job that I got to use Linux as a desktop replacement for Windows. It had everything I needed - word processor, a decent telnet client to administrate our servers, the Netscape web browser and it was much speedier than Windows ever would be. Today I'm now nearly free of Microsoft Windows all together. I've got my BT Openworld ADSL connection running through Linux thanks to Linux's support of USB devices, and for Alcatel for developing a Linux driver for it's USB modem. With the advent of KDE and Ximian Gnome, and commercial businesses developing and converting exisitng applications from Windows to Lin ux, the future is looking very bright for Linux. So go on .. why not p-p-p-p-pick up Penguin :)
Linux is a great Operating System. By running it you will easily be able to learn how an Operating System actually works. Unlike windows you are not restricted in any way, you control everything you see, but just remember your actions may have bad effects, so tread carefully at first. :) A fear for many first time users is the partioning of their harddrives in order to get their system setup to initially install Linux. When I first ran Linux I ran a umsdos version. Which basically translates to a version of Linux that can run on a DOS/Windows partition. The filesystem is slightly slower than a normal Linux partition (Hardly Noticable imo) but it means you can simply have a directory on your harddrive ie. c:\linux then reboot to dos and load a batch file to load the linux kernel. A recent umsdos version of Linux is Slackzip, which can be found at just about every ftp server which distributes Linux. However, if you want to go for a full install go for Mandrake or Redhat if you are new to the Operating System. Mandrake has a Windows Installer so you can start the install from within windows. Go read and learn a little before you install, a bit of planning never hurt anyone. http://www.linuxnewbie.org is a great site for simple information, alternately go check out Linux Format from your local newsagents.
Linux. The chances are you've heard the name, a few of you may know a little more about it, but to the majority of users Linux is nothing more than myth. You've may have heard its better than Windows, more stable and reliable, but where do you get it from and what does it do? Just incase you don't have a clue; here’s a basic guide to what Linux is. What is Linux? -------------- Linux is an alternative to Microsoft Windows. This means when you turn on your PC you won't see the Windows screen, instead Linux will load. I know this may be a shock to some of you because the sad truth is that not many people realise that Windows is simply one thing your PC can run. Windows has achieved such a saturation of the market that the majority of users think of Windows as an integral part of their PC, not just one of a number of options. The situation is getting worse; I just wonder how many users do not realise that there are alternatives to Internet Explorer. So what is Linux? Well in its simplest form Linux is a simple text based environment, very similar to DOS. If you don't know what *DOS* is, click the Start Menu, Programs then MS DOS Prompt (Oh, and by the way if your stuck type exit to return to Windows). If this puts you off Linux is not for you but the chances are most users who consider using Linux will be pretty familiar with DOS. Of course Windows was (and some say still is) heavily based on DOS and just like Microsoft developed Windows for the DOS environment, people have developed graphical environments for Linux. **NOTE** DOS stands for Disk Operating System, the text based environment, which was the predecessor of the Microsoft Windows range. Even today elements of DOS survive in Windows, although the next version of Windows (dubbed XP) should finally do away with all remnants of DOS. ********* This leads me on to the first major differences between Lin ux and Windows. While Microsoft charge you for Windows, Linux is free. Linux has what is known as a GPL (General Public License) which means it is free for everyone. To understand why we need to know a little of the history of Linux. History ------- Linux was written by a Norwegian Linus Torvalds, at the University of Helsinki in Finland. Although he started work in 1991 the first full release of Linux (version 1) was released in 1994. The latest version of the Linux kernel is 2.4 and was released in January of this year. Linux was released under the GNU General Public License, which means that basically everything is free. The source code to any software under the GNU General Public License must be made available, so the opportunity for tweaking and writing programs are great. Linus Torvalds chose the penguin as the Linux mascot, as he thought it embodied what his project stood for (although what a penguin stands for I do not know). Just incase you wondered, Linux is pronounced LIH-NUCKS. Others call it LIN-ICKS but I prefer the original pronunciation. The Differences --------------- So how does Linux differ from Windows? Well the fact that it is free means a lot is different. Microsoft make Windows, they design it, produce it and sell it. Linux comes in MANY different versions from different companies. They are all based around the same core but come with different programs and may be designed for different uses. Linux is very versatile and it can be used for any computing task known to man. It has similarities to UNIX so can be used on servers and main frame computers, it can be used on a stand alone workstation and can be configured to work as a firewall, and just about anything else you can think of. Each version of Linux uses the same basic kernel. Chances are you've used DOS before, so how does the basic Linux command environment compare? < br><br>It follows roughly the same structure and uses some of the same commands, although there is enough difference to make it tricky to begin with. Whereas DOS is based on drives (the hard drive is traditionally called C:, the floppy A:, CD-ROM D: etc), the whole Linux system is based around the root, denoted as /. This can be thought of as a little like the C: drive, but rather than changing to a different drive for your CD's they are mounted on to the root. Drives are mounted to /mnt/nameofdrive. In addition to this things like modems are also mounted in to the root system, modems are located at /dev/modem. Command wise Linux is quite similar to DOS and after a while the file system begins to make sense. But for the average Windows user the average Linux system is very different. Firstly you have to log on to use Linux, every system must have a root user who has control over every detail. However every good Linux users know that they can wreck their Linux system when logged in as root, so for day-to-day usage it is much better to use another user. Depending on which distribution of Linux you have, after start-up you may see a command prompt or a graphical user interface (GUI) like KDE or GNOME. These are not a native part of Linux like the GUI is in Windows. These are add on programs made by third party developers that run on a common X11 Windowing system. KDE is in the lead at the moment, but GNOME is quite good too. Both try to mimic Windows, which personally I don't think is a good thing. People using Linux have moved away from Windows, so a slightly different GUI wouldn't be a problem. Both KDE and GNOME work like Windows, but they have novel features that Windows lacks. For example, you have multiple desktops. When one becomes cluttered you can start a new desktop, or keep certain things in each. Because the majority of Linux programs are distributed free the majority of Linux distributions come with two CD's packed with loads and loads of programs, from games to programming tools. I can't possibly describe the whole of Linux here; all I can say is try it. For details of how to try to Linux with ease, see the Linux4Windows section later on. Should I Use Linux? ------------------- First of all a few words of warning. Linux is complex, when you are used to the ease of use of Windows starting using Linux is a nightmare. A background in DOS helps but even this won't prepare you for the challenge that is Linux. I used DOS based PC's for years before I got Windows so I thought Linux wouldn't be too hard, needless to say I was wrong! For this reason I have to say that if you are an inexperienced PC user then Linux isn't for you. It has come a long way in recent years and is now an option for the majority, but if you're the type of person who buys your PC from PC World and can't tell a file from a folder then I'm afraid Linux is not for you (no offence intended, we all have to start somewhere and trust me, it isn't worth the hassle!). A lot of the die-hard Linux fans are also members of the anti Microsoft club. This could be down to a number of reasons which include: - Windows is slow and unstable. While you may think that your current PC runs Windows slowly because it is old it also has something to do with the way Windows is written. Every PC will be faster using Linux than Windows. Linux is also much more stable than Windows, i.e. put simply Linux crashes a LOT less. - Microsoft’s domination. Lets face it, Microsoft rule the computer world. And the way they have gone about this isn't exactly what everyone would call moral. Anti trust court cases and everything else haven't made Microsoft a lot of friends. - Commercialism. Bill Gates is very (too?) rich. And yet he charges us £80 for a Win ME upgrade which is basically Win 98 SE with a few add ons, most of which are downloadable for free. Surprisingly I do not agree with these people. Microsoft have done a lot for the PC industry. Their easy to use software has brought computing to the masses and that has to be a good thing. Linux is improving in terms of ease of use all the time, but it still lags a long way behind Windows. Infact if you are not happy with partitioning your hard drive and even formatting before you install then Linux may not be for you. A few of the latest versions of Linux attempt and succeed in making it very easy to install Linux, the only problem is that most people (me included) are left lost when we first get there. Basically you have to think of a few things before you take the plunge. - Why Do I Want To Use Linux? The may be because you're a member of the anti Microsoft crowd, because you want to have a change, because you have to or just for sheer sake of it. A lot of my friends are learning Linux as they plan to study Computer Science at University and a lot of that is Linux based. Personally I was just curious, a little sick of the way Windows crashed when put under any strain. Is there really a reason for wanting to install Linux? Or are you just doing it for the sake of it? If you are then decide if it will be worth it. I thought it was and although a lot of frustration I don't regret it. - What if things go wrong? What if you accidentally type the wrong thing, have a disaster of just get stuck. The only solution may be to FDISK the hard drive followed by a full format and reinstall of Windows. Can you do this? If not, then you're taking a big risk. Can't decide if you want to use Linux? Then fear not, there is a system called Win4Linux which allows easy installation of Linux on to your Win4Linux --------- Re-partioning your hard drive, formatting etc. is a big undertaking. The people who make the Linux distribut ions are aware of this so created a way of making Linux install on a normal Windows (FAT/FAT32) partition. It creates a Linux directory (or folder for the newbies) on the hard drive and creates an image file there on which it installs Linux. To be fair to Linux this needs to be about 2Gb so it ends up being one big file! There are speed implications in doing this and when you have run a normal version of Linux of its own partition you can notice the slowdown. It is, however, a good way to try Linux for the beginner. It should be noted that only certain distributions of Linux have this win4linux option. Mandrake does, as does Red Hat and Corel (I think) but check the website first if this is what you want to use. So How Do I Try Linux? ---------------------- It should be noted that there is not one boxed copy of Linux that you can go out and buy. For a start there are around a dozen major distributions of Linux, made by people like Corel, Mandrake, Red Hat and Slackware. The distributions are all pretty similar but can differ in the way they install. The best installer can rival Windows, while the worst is very, very bad. Some distributions are better suited to different tasks and certain duties, but most of the major distributions are suitable for a normal home PC. There are two main ways to get hold of a copy of Linux. 1. Buy It --------- SHOCK HORROR!!! Personally I hate to pay for anything, let alone something I can get for free. But Linux is sold in shops and there are advantages to paying for it. First of all you get a lot of help, in the form of written manuals. These can be of a real help when you're PC won't work!! There are also tutorial CD's, telephone support etc. They are cheap too, weighing in at around £30-£60 but to be honest, I would rather download my version for free. 2. Download it! ---------------- Due to the public license that Linux is released un der, it can be gotten for free. To do this you will need two things, firstly a modem (and some unmetered net access) and secondly a CD-Writer. The majority of the companies who make distributions of Linux make them available for download from the website. Sometimes this is just a basic version, and often the retail package has some extra features. But to be honest, you won't miss these extras. The standard downloadable package comes in two CD images, usual in the ISO format. These weigh in at about 600Mb each and you do need both of them. This works out at 1.2Gb. Doing the sums, assuming an average transfer 4.5 K/s (which you should get on a fast server). In one minute that makes 60 x 4.5 = 270 K Therefore in one hour 270 x 60 = 16200K or 16.2 MB That means that a 600Mb file will take 600 / 16.2 = 37 hours Now you may say that is too much to download on a 56K modem, but there is one thing on your side.....Get Right. This is a great download manager that will resume partial downloads, but it also can be set to automatically reconnect when disconnected and turn off the computer when finished. What I did was to leave the computer on overnight, and make it turn itself off in the morning. If I started at 11pm at night, and downloaded constantly until 7am that is 8 hours per day. This means that the whole two CD images can be downloaded in about 10 days. Of course, if you don't have a CD-Writer it is pointless, and you better have unmetered net access or the phone bill will be BIG. I haven't had experience of every single distribution, but I have used a few. Here is what I recommend. Corel Linux ----------- For the true newbie, Corel Linux is as close to 'easy' Linux as you can get. Or at least the installation program is. The problem is that Linux is not an easy operating system, and I have heard of a massive number of people who have installed Corel Linux and then been stuck as to what to do next. Still, a good starting place. www.linux.corel.com (A breeze at only 360Mb) Mandrake Linux -------------- My current choice of distribution, Mandrake in my opinion is a great compromise between ease of use and function. It is an option for either the advanced user or the beginner. Installation can be as complex or easy as you like depending on how much you know, and it really is easy to use. www.mandrake.org (2 CD ISO's) Red Hat Linux ------------- The Linux used by professionals, and Universities. A lot if my friends are learning this to prepare for University, and after having tried it I can say that is good. I just prefer Mandrake. www.redhat.com (2 CD ISO's) There we go, a monster guide to Linux. Hope you like it, and I hope if nothing else you realise there is a viable alternative to Windows.