From years ago I've heard of the advantages of using the Linux operating system and so I finally determined to make an all out effort to learn it. In 2003 I downloaded and experimented with several Linux distributions. All my previous attempts ended in discouragement. The Linux distributions I tried to install did not find all the devices on my machine, and I did not know how to configure it to install the necessary device drivers. I realized that if I, a person considered to be a power user in Windows and MS-DOS couldn't figure out how to install and use a Linux system, the common user who still has troubles with Windows certainly wouldn't be able to learn it either. So I determined to find a Linux distribution that I considered simple enough for the average person to install.
Finally in February 2005 I found the distribution that I like best and works for me -- Fedora Core 3 Clicking the hyperlink will take you to the download site.
If you can install Windows on your own, you can install Fedora Core 3 Linux. In fact, I would say it is even easier and more user friendly than a Windows XP installation. For one thing, Linux will give you your choice of a default language to use. That means if you are not a native English speaker and you would prefer to use the language of your mother tongue, that language is available in Fedora Core to use. Not so with Windows. You would have to buy that particular language version of Windows.
Fedora Core will also give you your choice of a keyboard layout. It was no problem for me to install an English setup using a Japanese keyboard layout. Not so with Windows. Windows will balk at you if you try to change to a Japanese keyboard using an English version of Windows and tell you you are making a mistake even though you know what you're doing, ha!
I am soooo pleased with Fedora Core 3 Linux! And Fedora Core 4 will be even better than 3 and have the newest version of OpenOffice. I read that Ubuntu is even better and more popular than Fedora Core, but because it doesn't yet support Asian character input, I will have to wait till it does before I try it.
I have become quite concerned over certain issues about Windows, namely virus attacks, registry cleaning, security questions, web bugs, trojans, and general maintenance. The average Windows user seems to be woefully ignorant of most of these problems. When something bad happens, they don't know how to fix it.
Though I enjoy helping my friends and associates fix their various Windows problems, it has been very discouraging to see them have the same problems over and over again. Their kids get on the computer and install junk games, malware, pick up web bugs and spyware. The user's computer gets slower and slower and eventually comes to a grinding halt. I heard that Linux is much stronger and wanted to prove it to myself and take up the challenge to see if I could actually use it to the point that I can live without Windows.
Here is a good comment about Linux from www.softwaredomain.co.uk/Linux/linux.html
"It is also worth noting that the linux operating system, once setup is unlikely to need any user intervention or changes for a long time to come unlike some commercial operating systems that continuously distract the user from their task."
Isn't that a good enough reason to at least try it?
Check out this page to see a list of Windows applications and their equivalent applications available in Linux.
Here is a good page about that: http://www.netproject.com/wn/17aug00.html There are not many viruses written for Linux, and even if a user downloaded one by email, because the user is by default logged in to a limited account, the virus cannot modify system settings. Only a "super user" can make system changes or add more software by logging in as "root". Even a computer administrator would normally log himself in as a limited user in Linux and only log in as root to make changes. Though Microsoft encourages people to do the same in Windows XP or 2000, very few people actually do that. And because some Windows software will run properly only if run in an account with Administrator privileges, most users would prefer to be always logged in as the Administrator. They can therefore with administrator privileges damage the system by their own hand! Not so with Linux. There is no common user application that cannot be run with normal user privileges.
Gnome is the default desktop interface for Fedora Core and Redhat, whereas KDE is the default for Mandrake Linux. Both have their good points. I have both installed. You can switch back and forth by logging off and on to another desktop. And there are even others. I prefer Gnome to KDE so far as it seems easier to learn and solid as a rock. I had problems using KDE. KDE's built in browser, Konqueror, is not as good as Firefox and doesn't interpret CSS code correctly.
Some people seem to think that working in Linux is typing commands from the command line prompt as in the good old DOS days. This does not have to be so. You can work completely in the graphic interface of Gnome or KDE. There are only a few things like basic changes to the system that need to be done from the command line.
Windows XP has a command prompt too but most people don't use it. In Linux using a command line can be more powerful and even faster than clicking several times to run the program you want to run! Moreover you can put "switches" or "arguments" after the command to do certain things that the application is programed to do. Some Windows applications can do that too but most people don't know / care about it.
You can run handy little utilities from Terminal that cannot be run any other way.For example, in Terminal enter the command:
Most Windows applications are installed in their own folders which are not necessarily included in the PATH. This means that from the command prompt the only things you know you can run for sure are Windows system applications. In Linux however all applications are installed in set directories that are included in the PATH. This means that if I type the command of my favorite HTML editor "quanta" at the command prompt, it will run! In Windows sometimes the menus were slow to respond to my mouse clicks.
No matter what distribution of Linux you use, you should understand some basic things before attempting to install it on your PC. The main thing you need to understand is that Linux needs to make its own partitions and format them its own way. This can be done automatically if you have some free space on your hard disk. By "free space" I am talking about un-partitioned space, in other words, space that is not formatted and not even yet a partition. If no free space exists, the Linux installer will ask if you want to delete all existing partitions. You should only say yes if you are installing on a hard disk that has data you do not want to keep!! All data and your previous operating system will be erased forever if you let Linux delete any existing partitions!
If you have Partition Magic and know how to use it, you can create some free un-partitioned space by re-sizing your existing partitions. If you have Windows XP on your first partition and want to have a dual boot system, you could resize the Windows XP partition to make at least 10 Gigbytes free after the Windows XP partition. It is important that you do not make free space before the Windows XP partition or Windows XP will not be able to boot afterwards.
If you have two physical hard disks on your desktop PC, I would recommend you install Linux on the second one. You can therefore backup any data on the second HDD to the first one and don't have to worry about making a mistake of losing data when installing Linux. Just make sure that you have Linux create the partitions on the correct hard disk drive!
Some folks refer to WINE as a Windows emulator, but the initials of WINE stand for, "Wine Is Not (an) Emulator!" What that means I have no idea.
The basic idea behind using WINE is to be able to use Windows applications that are not yet available to use in Linux. Some Windows apps will work - but they will be buggy. I've had only limited success in using TextAloud MP3 - sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I have successfully used Irfanview with graphics (before I found out about Gthumb), but even that was a bit buggy. It would not delete files and would tack an extra .jpeg extension on the files even though they already had an .jpg extension. So I only recommend tinkering with WINE to try to use applications that are not yet available in Linux. Though I liked HTML-KIT in Windows, Bluefish or Quanta does the job just as well, and is in some ways even better for me!
I'm not a newbee to computer as I started out from 1987 using MS DOS, but I still am a relative newbee to Linux at this time. However thanks to all the documentation available on the Internet, I think I am making progress. It is worth it knowing that I will have a stable running PC free of worries of viruses and other assorted problems that plague Windows machines! Here are some things I learned in setting up my system:
If you are a beginning in using Linux, before you read the tips below, you might want to read the official and unofficial Fedora Core FAQs!
Lessons from April 14-16, How to make audio CDs from MP3 files / how to add MP3 support to K3b:
A young man I live with asked me to burn an audio CD for him from MP3 files he downloaded from the Internet. I thought, "No problem for K3b! If Nero can do it, K3b can too!" But I was disappointed to see a message from K3b when I dragged and dropped an MP3 file on it that the format is not recognized! The MP3 plugin for K3b in Fedora is not added by default. I tried to install the plug-in but couldn't figure out how. So I searched the Net for an alternative CD burner and found one for Gnome called "GnomeBaker"! Because I prefer Gnome to KDE I thought to give it a go. GnomeBaker does recognize MP3. However, I still couldn't make an audio CD from MP3 with it. GnomeBaker is still apparently buggy.
Finally 3 days later I found a line on a Fedora forum that gave me a clue what to do: Use Yum! It was so easy! Just do this:1. Open Terminal
That's all it takes! Yum added the MP3 plugin automatically to K3b and K3b recognized it. I tried to do it manually before based on instructions from another web site but with no success.
April 13, 2005, Enabling Japanese input in an English localeI struggled off and on hours and hours over a period of weeks to figure out how to type in Japanese in the English locale. Linux in an English locale correctly displayed Japanese characters, but to type in Japanese I would have to log out and then log back in using the Japanese language locale. I searched and searched the Internet for a tutorial how to input Japanese characters while still in an English locale. Only finally today for the first time I found the answer from the Fedora Core web site http://fedora.redhat.com/projects/i18n/iiimf-faq.html - the first place I should have looked but it was the last....duh!
Once you are back in your normal English language log in, open an editor and then press the shift key and tap space to enable Japanese input mode. Works great! Now I can finish typing all my Japanese emails from within the English log in.
March 30, 2005, Downloading an entire web site with "wget"I missed my Theophilos Bible software that I used to use in Windows and looked around for something for Linux to take its place. I could at first only find on-line HTML Bible sites and wondered if I could download a whole site to my hard disk with all the files linked properly. So I did a search on the Internet and found the wget command could do the job. I opened a terminal window and entered: wget
March 23, 2005, Installing new updates automatically with "Yum"I learned about "yum" the automatic updater program. What can be easier to update your software? It's much better than what Windows offers for sure!
Lesson on March 21, 2005, Subject: Installing NTFS file support in the Linux Kernel
I wanted to be able to access files from my 40 gig USB portable HDD in Linux, but because Fedora and hence Redhat doesn't have support for NTFS (for legal reasons it is rumored), Linux recognized the USB drive when I plugged it in, but it could not read any of the files.
I knew other distributions like Mandrake does have NTFS file support, and that it was possible to add it to a Fedora/Redhat Linux kernel also. I found the answer how to do it on the Internet: NTFS RPMs for Fedora and Redhat
If you want NTFS support in Fedora, go to that page and download the correct RPM for your system. Read and follow the instructions carefully and may God be with you. That page and links from it has everything you need and will tell you everything you need to know!
Lesson on March 15, 2005, Subject: Making my SCSI scanner to work
From the command line I entered:
Lesson on March 11, 2005, Subject: Installing the Java plugin for Firefox:
I just spent at least a couple hours trying to figure out how to install the Java plugin for Firefox! The Flashplayer installation was easy and installed automatically from the Internet, but the Java plugin can only be installed manually. Here is what I finally did. I hope it will save you time and not have to bungle around like I did! Just follow the directions below. After every command at the command prompt, hit enter. You don't have to write all all the long commands but just copy and paste them into the terminal window. Exit all Firefox windows before starting this procedure.
Later I learned that the ln -s command is used to create a "symbolic link". In Windows terminology this is known as a "shortcut". What I was doing was creating a link from the libjavaplugin_oji.so file located in /usr/java/jre1.5.0_01/plugin/i386/ns7 to the mozila plugin directory located in my Home folder. In my case the full path to the Mozilla directory is: /home/jamesjpn/.mozilla/plugins So if you are having problems following the above instructions, make sure you are typing the command from the correct mozilla plugin folder and that you are using the correct path to libjavaplugin_oji.so file in your system. You can know for sure by using the File Browser.
Also today I discovered why I was getting an error message when logging into Gnome. It kept telling me it couldn't find my Internet host and therefore may not work correctly. So I put in my yahoo.com provider host name in the Hostname under the DNS tab of the Network settings, and that seemed to satisfy Gnome!
I was using KDE before but always seemed to run into problems with it. KDE seems more powerful and user friendly in some ways, but it also seemed unstable at times. I like Gnome more than ever now and appreciate the cool applets, like the weather applet for example.
I like to use my second hard drive as a backup for the home directory and for large files like ISO images downloaded from the Internet. This is because my second HDD is 80 Gigabtyes in size, whereas my Linux system drive is only 33 gigs. Why did I make my smaller drive the Linux drive? It is because it is a fast 10,000 RPM Western Digital and the other larger one is slower at 7200.
I've been working with computer from 1987 or the time of MS-DOS. Learning DOS and computer in general was a challenge for me as I had to grasp a whlie new set of concepts like "file", "directory", "save" etc. The first version of MS-DOS I ever used was 2.11. Eventually after a few years I got to to the point I knew DOS commands inside and out and could even make complex batch files using the "for in do" command. I was able to do everything I really needed to do in computer. And then Windows 3.1 came along....
The first thing I noticed about Windows 3.1 was that certain tasks took a bit longer. Programs crashed, the system crashed at times. The only good thing to be said about it was that using a graphic interface to tie all the software together was more user friendly.
Then Windows 95 hit the market. Windows 95 was supposed to be a substantial improvement over Windows 3.1 using 32 bit applications. But unless you had enough memory and good hardware to support it, it ran even slower than Windows 3.1 So of course the common solution to the problem was to upgrade one's hardware. At the time this was an expensive option for me.
I did eventually upgrade and continued to upgrade and upgrade to keep up with all the new versions of Windows that came along. And I learned a lot about Windows and how to maintain it. I soon learned that every Windows system I ever used would run slower and slower over time. The Windows Registry needed to be cleaned at least once a month, the file system needed to be defragmented, temporary files need to be purged, the system needed to be scanned for web bugs, trojans. I really wanted to be free from doing all these constant maintenance tasks which became almost an oppession with me! This was my main reason for dropping Windows in favor of Linux. The only time I really need to use a Windows system is to do a certain report on the 25th of each month using software will only run in Windows. I have a laptop PC for that.
Copyright 2005 by James Arendt
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