Pondering Linux

Note: I am posting this both on my personal El Guru and Firefox Extension Guru’s Blogs to get as much feedback as I can on this.

As some my long time Firefox Blog readers may recall I had experimented a bit back in 2007 with Linux Ubuntu. Never really got a chance to do much with it as about six-months after I had installed Ubuntu I had to replace the computer. Given everything I do online, I could not be without a computer for a few days. Because of this I could not go my usual route and have one custom built for me. So the same day I ended purchasing an HP Pavilion off-the-shelf which came installed with Windows Vista. For an off-the-shelf machine this HP is not too bad, except for the Windows Vista part. I know my way around Vista and it does what I need it to do, just so slowly. Heck to even shut-down takes about 2-3 minutes and a restart takes another 3 minutes or so. I really need to do a clean install of Windows Vista again, but if I am going to go through all that trouble I may just as well switch over to Linux.

I recently took a look at what I running and discovered about 95% of the applications I use could run on Linux. A couple exceptions would be Quicken, WinAmp and WeatherBug. WinAmp would not be that big of a deal as I really liked Amarok over WinAmp. Checking on WeatherBug’s site they have a beta available for Debian Linux distribution (Debian, Ubuntu, LinuxMint, etc), so that could work (beta software doesn’t bother me). Quicken is going to be an issue, but I suppose if I do go the dual-boot route I can boot into Windows for that (or find an Open Source equivalent or may be use Wine).

The big applications that I am always using are Firefox, Chrome (it handles Flash based games much better than Firefox) and Thunderbird. Firefox shouldn’t be too difficult to re-setup other then getting my extensions reinstalled (time to do some house keeping anyways) and importing my bookmarks (easy to do since I have to that about once a week at work). Last time I did Thunderbird, I had set it up so that it used my Windows profile. I won’t need to do that this time around as all four of email accounts I use in Thunderbird are setup IMAP so it should remain synced no matter which was I access my email. The only thing I will need to import is my contacts which should not be difficult. Chrome all I need to do with that is just install it (I am not even running any of the extensions).

For my web development work I use an old Open-Source application called NVU. Sadly this is not the most stable program in the world but it gets the job done. There is/was a Linux equivalent called KompoZer I would be interested in finding an Open Source HTML/WYSIWYG Editor. For FTP Client I use FileZilla and I know that is available for Linux.

Now, my two main concerns are installing Linux and some of the hardware I am using. I’ll address the hardware first as this relates to my install concerns. I am using a 24″ Acer Monitor set at a resolution of 1920×1080 in Windows. Back when I had Ubuntu with my 19″ running at 1440×900 I had quite the challenge being able to get Ubuntu to support that high of a resolution. Further I have a Western Digital My Book external USB hard drive. That shouldn’t be too difficult to get mounted within Linux. I use the drive primarily for back-up of my data.

When I ran Ubuntu in 2007 on my Windows XP machine I had installed on partition on a separate (from the drive with Windows XP) internal drive. This time around I don’t have this luxury, without going out and buying another (SATA) drive and trying to install it within this cramped case (hence the reason I bought the external). I have heard it is possible to re-partition the hard drive which Windows is installed on without damaging Windows. I have plenty of space (169 GB available) so should be plenty of room for Linux on the same drive.

So here are my concerns and questions in regards to trying do a dual-boot install of Linux:

  • Is it possible to have Linux and Windows both on the same drive but on different partitions without messing up my Windows Vista install? I should add I do have the recovery disks for my system so if something does go wrong I can reinstall Vista.
    • I might even consider wiping and installing Linux on another machine. As long I can get Linux to mount my external drive I should be able to access all my data from either machine. I just would need to invest in a KVM switch so I don’t have to keep disconnecting/reconnecting peripherals when I need to switch machines.
  • What would be a good distribution to use that would handle my hardware requirements relativity painlessly? About a year ago I do recall downloading and even burning to a CD an ISO for Mint, but never did anything with it.
    • If I go with the clean install on another machine method, I would imagine this would be an easier way to install Linux.

So any feedback, advise, suggestions, success./horror stories, etc would be appreciated. This is something I am looking to be doing in the next month or so.

9 Comments on Pondering Linux

  1. Well, just download the latest Ubuntu ISO and run it in Live CD mode. You will easily find out if it supports your hardware.

  2. Ubuntu is looking very good.

    Next time, i’ll give it a spin via WUBI.
    This way, if i don’t like it, i just un-install it.

  3. I will just note that you CAN use WinAmp, as long as you stick with the basic skin (and maybe change a couple of settings) under Codeweavers Crossover (which costs money) or under WINE (which is free). Seems to work fine and most plugins work (I especially like the SqrSoft Advanced Crossfading plugin; that alone is what makes me stick with WinAmp). Although, I will note that there is a native Linux program called Audacious that looks a lot like WinAmp and even supports plugins, though unfortunately not WinAmp plugins, so you might try that as well.

    By the way, if you think shutdown and startup times are bad under Vista, don’t ever even think of getting a Mac! My Mac Mini typically takes between 5-10 minutes to shut down and 3-5 minutes to boot up. I’ve had my Mac for a couple years now and I guarantee you it will be the last Mac I ever buy; I really hate it! My newest machine has Ubuntu Linux and works SO much better.

  4. The installer for Ubuntu will, according to the documentation on their site, create a partition and the dual-boot stuff needed. (Windows should be installed first) Just run the ‘Live CD’ as Stefan suggested.

    Of course, backup backup and backup again before you start. 😉

  5. Captain Canuck | June 10, 2010 at 2:58 PM |

    Open Source HTML/WYSIWYG Editor: Firebug and its extensions, Stylish

    Concerned bullet number one: yes you can, Ubuntu’s graphical installation shows a visualization of your partitions.

    Before installing, test the Linux distribution by leaving its CD in your drive so you can boot into it. Im using an Acer desktop (not monitor, but monitors are pretty universally cross-compatible), with a WD internal harddrive.

    For me, I don’t have hardware issues with other Linux distributions besides Ubuntu except when it comes to my wireless adaptor. Its driver is Windows only and to emulate it I must use ndiswrapper, which is only available for Debian derivatives.

    If ndiswrapper wasn’t an issue, I would be happy using any Linux distribution as I please with my current hardware.

  6. If you want to use Quicken , there is now a web based version which saves you having to use windows at all. If you do need it for some old legacy apps, I would recommend using some virtualization software, so you can run the two operating systems together. Virtualbox is free and one of the best and works perfectly with Ubuntu, as I use it for work everyday to test other operating systems.

  7. Ubuntu is a very good distro. I think you love it, as another person’s said you can download a iso and run it as a “live-cd”, so you can test before you install it.
    God luck, don’t forget to write on this blog what you think about it if you install it.

  8. ubuntu has great

  9. Take a look at this site.

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