I have spent the last few days setting up after a bad crash. second
one this year, dammit. I'm getting pretty good at cleaning the crap
out of XP. there's a lot of stuff in there that really needs to be
shitcanned before the OS runs well, IMO.
A little off the topic, but I got a chuckle today. Went in to
Staples to get some CD mailers and saw a Soundblaster card on
their clearance table. I didn't really need one, but picked it
up and was reading the system requirements. To paraphrase:
133mhz for W95/98
200mhz for ME
300mhz for XP
Before long, it'll take a whole gigahertz just to keep Windows
The store clerk started laughing too when I told him what I was
Linux has progressed in leaps and bounds in the last year or so. Desktops
like KDE and Gnome have as many features as the windows desktop or more.
You have openoffice and Koffice as well as other office type apps to choose
from. You can open, edit and save pdf's just fine. Programs like dia and
kivio are decent drawing programs, Gimp is a very nice photo type editor.
I have tried out a couple CAD programs so far.
Linux gives you choice, with windoes your limited to the little differences
between the 9x and NT based systems. Mac your stuck with their os and
hardware. Linux you can use different distributions, you can use different
hardware, you can have different desktops. Choose your flavor, your color.
Windows and MAC you can have any color you want as long as its black :) i.e
you have to do it their way.
Linux now is no more difficult to install that windows and there is plenty
of documentation on the internet, not just the copies of the support pages
Try it. Linux is very easy to install. What is difficult is making
changes afterward... What you will find is that no one will give you
100% of the answer you need and no man page will have 100% of the
answer. You will spend hours researching the most simple answers, such
as 'Why did my USB mouse work after installation but not after a
reboot?' Linux is still a geek OS, it is for people who want their OS to
be their hobby.
Download Knoppix and burn it to a CD. That should give you a good idea
if you want to go further with Linux.
Linux is not faster than XP. Linux is not less bloated than XP, if
anything it can be worse. Most distros install everything including the
kitchen sink, but that's not necessarily bad because it gives you lots
of doodads to play with.
In addition, RedHat is going subscription enterprise only at the end of
this month, but are recommending Fedora for folks who are as cheap as I
am. Currently running RH9 with Ximian Desktop 2, but soon will have to
decide on Fedora or Suse (Novell). Since Novell also owns Ximain, Suse
may be it.
As always, the biggest hurdle in any change is "change".
"A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always
depend on the support of Paul." - George Bernard Shaw
I've worked with Linux in development environments and found it to be a good
alternative. Installation, however, can still be pretty tricky, and I think
you will have trouble finding something that can work with Access.
MS Access will probably be a problem. Codeweavers'
<http://www.codeweavers.com/ Crossover Office lets you run some Windows
programs, such as Word and Excel, in Linux. There is an Autocad clone
called Intellicad which may be possible to run in Linux using the WINE
Windows emulator. Two of the Intellicad distributors (Bricsnet and
Progesoft) are currently beta-testing Linux versions. There are a number of
Linux CAD programs, most of them pretty rudimentary. See Phrostie's
Cad-Tastrafy site for more information on these:
Linux can be tricky to set up on a laptop. There's a site called "Linux on
Laptops," or something like that, with information on various models of
The suggestion to try Knoppix is a good one. Knoppix needs no
installation--it runs directly from CD. It's pretty good at automatically
detecting your hardware and setting itself up appropriately.
Knoppix is the way to go for this situation. Get the CD, try running
it for a while - then if you like the way Linux works, you can format
your disk & make a permanent Linux install.
Knoppix runs directly from the CD and does not affect your Windows
install at all. It's very good at detecting hardware & configuring
itself correctly (at least on desktops - a laptop might be a bit of
a concern since they sometimes have wierd custom hardware).
(being Linux, there are of course alternatives - there's a Mandrake
-on-a-disk now, and 4 or 5 others. I've used Knoppix, tho, and
can vouch for it's ease of setup).
If you're going to make the switch to Open source, try NetBSD
http://www.netbsd.org . Very small foot print, effecient, much more secure
by default than Linux and much steeper learning curve. There's no fancy GUI
to help you through the install--real primative, like foresaking power tools
and using only hand tools. I made the leap to BSD a few years ago when many
Linux distros started getting "hoggy". My home NetBSD firewall runs on a 486
with 32 megs of ram and a 512meg hard drive. I think it has about 18 months
uptime by now.
Either Linux or BSD will have LOTS of free software for you to try. You'll
have to figure out what you need.
On the other hand, and please don't take this as a flame, if you can't
perfromance tune XP and make it run really well on a P4, you may not be the
right type for Linux or BSD.
Also of interest, the new Mac OS X is based on FreeBSD. Unforunately, based
on my experience with my wifes Mac G4, it is the biggest RAM hog I have ever
seen. My wifes G4 boots up using 300 megs with no applications launched!
Despite the ineffecencies, OS X is a decent operating system, and it's good
to see Apple scrap the junk they were selling in favor of (finally) a decent
FYI and FWIW, I manage 11 technicians/engimeers and we administer about 350
servers for several differnet clients. 70% Windows NT/2K, some Novell, the
rest are UNIX with a few Linux and about 20 BSD boxes. In truth, I'd rather
be woodworking for a living.
My opinions. Take what you want and leave the rest.
Seems a lot of computer guys think the same thing. My problem is after
working in IT for years its starting to creep into my home hobbies. I was
telling a cow-orker earlier this week that the whole time I was replumbing
my kitchen I kept thinking of ways to run dual redundant water lines with
clustered valves to ensure maximum uptime of the kitchen sink :)
I am in a similar situation and have made the decision to switch to
Linux in the near future. I have Mandrake 9.1 installed on one
computer & am trying to set up a network. I think I will make the
final switch when Mandrake 10.0 comes out very soon.
My understanding is that Linux also usually has a heavy footprint, at
least the current distributions. Geeks, please correct me if I'm
wrong. Although you can also get distros that run off a CD
I've tried Open Office (OO) on my Windows system. I like it. No
problem transferring files in Excel, but some glitches in formatting
with MSWord. I also like the GNUmeric spreadsheet. Unless you're doing
graphic design professionally, I understand the GIMP works as well as
photoshop. I tried it. The many windows totally confused me at first,
but I figured it out with the help of some other wreckers. See the
thread on: "Converting bitmap line drawing to reasonable size GIF"
You've get a plethora of programs to do the email/newsgroup/web
I think the only problem is CAD (not an issue for me, I don't use it
professionally - I just need it for woodworking and today I used it to
help Marilyn figure out how many curtains she could get out of a piece
of material), but you might look into using crossover office or some
Yes for Word, Excel, Powerpoint. OO has no problem accessing Access
databases, but the front-end stuff does not work.
You main problem will be deciding which of the too many options you
like best, so you can go on other newsgroups and Slashdot and flame
anyone who doesn't share your preferences.
Replace "nonet" with "yukonomics" for real email address
Tom Watson wrote:
I'd like to mention that you can install /both/ systems on your
machine. That allows you to revert to familiar tools when you're
short on time and don't know how (yet) to get the job done in a
Dealing with network compatability issues may depend most on the
proficiency and cooperation of the network administrator.
There are Linux user groups available that can help if/when you
have difficulties. I tap into the CIALUG (Central Iowa Linux
Users Group). A number of these guys are sysadmin types and are
really helpful. There's probably a LUG in your area that might
help with installation. The CIALUG hosts what they call
"Installfests" to which wannabe Linux users can take their computers.
Morris has a good suggestion above. I only wanted to point out that
both Linux & Windows can have large or small footprints. It's all in
what you decide to install with the OS. The default Fedora install is
quite large, but it can be pared down, as Windows can be.
As for viruses, etc, Windows leads the pack, however *nix machines are
most often are targets of attacks (according to zdnet, fwiw), in terms
For any OS, be it Mac, *nix, Windows, etc, you'd be foolish to not run
some antivirus program and,(especially if you have broadband), either
a hardware and/or software firewall.
Knoppix, as mentioned earlier, is good as well. My suggestion would
be try running Linux for a week without running Windows, if you have
say a second computer. This will force you to learn how to configure
display settings, network settings, program installation, etc.
p.s. I love your work Tom - great stuff.
Real answer? Remember the days of 4DOS and such, and open-source shareware
written by every Tom's Harry to be "as good as?" Linux seems to be in about
that stage right now. Anticipate the unexpected in interoperability.
I still have my GeoWorks disks somewhere. Liked it better'n 3.1, but, alas,
I was one of the few.
I left my DesqView software in Vista when I moved a couple years
ago. It was something I hadn't needed since Win 3.0. Fond memories
of multitasking and dual monitors before Vinders, eh? That was
back when a "huge" 20MB harddrive cost $300 and memory was only
$100 a meg.
It's spring and time to pay UncleSam his due (hah), put a new drive in
the old computer, and make a LAMP box out of it. I have Mandrake 9 on
disc waiting to go...
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