Linux distro

And I’m now making the move to Linux on my home PC, on a 2nd HD. Installed PCLinuxOS 2007 over the weekend, after playing with a few “Live” Linux distros, reading reviews and looking at various options. Not as confusing as I was afraid it would be. Now I’ve got to start migrating over from XP. Will definitely keep XP going, at least for a while.

Their install instructions definitely left a little to be desired (not completely step-by-step clear), especially inasfar as getting the HD partitioned - they explained that well enough, but not the use of the interface to do so. It took me about three times before I got the correct process down so that it would take and go to the next step.

I changed the BIOS boot order so that it goes to the 2nd HD first, so as to boot to Linux. The Linux interface (prior to login screen) gives the option of which HD you want to access, and lists the Windows drive. If I choose that, it will boot to Windows, which I think is pretty cool. Is that the “dual-boot” for those more in the know…? Also, in the Linux OS, it recognizes all HDs and can view the contents (even the Windows system files); however, when in Windows, it doesn’t even acknowledge that the 2nd HD (with Linux) is there. Tsk, tsk…

I have learned that most of what I want to do, I can do in Linux (I already used Firefox, Thunderbird, and OpenOffice anyway). However, I’m not sure about security apps. I realize that Linux is not as prone to viruses and whatnot, but I don’t assume that means I’m immune! I’m probably thinking from a Windows perspective, but there don’t seem to be a lot of options that are user-friendly. There are options, and lots of them, but most seem to be along the lines of editing a config file, which I really don’t want to do; I really just want a nice GUI with power and control, like CFP, etc. And then of course there’s the issue of what may be available for my distro (which I haven’t looked at too thoroughly yet)…

Any thoughts from those Linux junkies here?


Use a GUI for the firewall, like Firestarter, then use only the user account, never root. Here’s a few pointers from Alphalutra1:

The interface you see to switch OS is the bootloader. I think there are a few choices, but each distribution comes with it’s own.

Windows can’t see the GNU/Linux partition because it doesn’t support those file systems (ext2, ext3, etc.)

Probably PCLinuxOS has that thing that allows it to mount NTFS, i don’t remember what it is (but i think it’s still beta like; i’m new to this also)

Thanks for the link, Pedro. I probably need to get involved at PCLOS’ forum, so I can learn more.

I know when creating the partitions, I had to select a “type” for each one; their drop-down menu of options had four or five columns of probably 10 per column, including the swap, ext3, NTFS, variants on many, and a lot I have no clue about!

It’s going to be an interesting journey, no doubt. I told my dad, when I went shopping for XP many years ago, I saw a RedHat distro commercial boxed release that compared itself very favorably to Windows. It cost $60 compared to the Upgrade version of XP Pro’s $190. Obviously I didn’t go with it… I didn’t know what it was, and couldn’t believe that it would cost so little, if it was actually so good; also wasn’t about software, and didn’t have $$ to go buying more… Ah, we live and learn. :slight_smile: Then again, what’s out now is probably more refined than it was 7 years ago (or whenever it was; I don’t really remember).

After I get it figured out on my machine, I need to find one that will work on my wife’s, and get her to switch over from 98SE (which is getting more and more unstable every stinkin’ day!), so that one will have to be very Windows-like (as far as the environment) so she doesn’t have to re-learn. I may need to go with a more commercial version like Xandros, Linspire, or something. Unfortunately, I know I can’t do Linspire, as it requires an 800MHz machine, which we don’t have.


Ubuntu is highly regarded also. Good info, forum, repository, etc. It’s based on Debian (which has huge repositories).
With Ubuntu, i know you have good info to set up Beryl for instance (those great effects you see in Youtube “Vista beat this” etc. ), or Compiz. You know, great windows effects, 3d Cube to switch desktop views. If you care for it, that is :slight_smile:

I need to update my ubuntu installation, as it’s a year or so old now. Originally I requested a free CD, but I’ll have to wait until I get DSL to download the latest build…

PCLOS was originally Mandriva-based but has really become recognized as more of its own distro in recent times (what I’ve read, not my opinion). It seems pretty well put-together, has KDE rather than Gnome or XCFE. Not that any of that makes any real difference, but I’ve read that the general consensus is KDE is more like Windows.

Toggie, you sure don’t wanna download that on a dial-up connect! Whew! Close to 700MB? You’d still be there in a year, if your connection was reliable enough to hold together that long… :wink: You could probably get a new release CD for a few bucks from one of the sites providing those… or is that a few pounds? Anyway, you know what I mean, I’m sure. :slight_smile:

I’ve seen some of those 3D effects, Pedro. Man o man! If I could figure out Gimp, I might be able to do some of those myself! Comicfan2000 highly recommended Gimp, and I tried it, and was subsequently confused; it seemed very complex, and part of the reason I don’t try things like Linux! My brain is too full as it is; if I knew that much stuff, I might have to use it more… :wink:


LM, you should be proud of your first step into the Linux world :slight_smile:

I wish I could do the same. What I dislike most about Windows is all the built in programs. I want it to be completely naked and clean! Thus, Linux (don’t know which version, perhaps Ubuntu) seems to be heaven. But today, the threshold is a bit to high for me. As you bring up; all the security stuff is a large thing. Fortunately there are many forums on the web to get help. So, hopefully I’ll join the sect one day! :wink:

Agree with you concering GIMP, it’s not too easy. Perhaps it’s just a matter of experience though. I’m lucky to have Photoshop CS2!

Tnx, LA ~

Of course, when you consider that the Linux distro installed two browsers, five image viewers/editors, two or three word processors, multiple text editors, and who knows what all else, you might be getting more than Windows packs in! Of course, that’s not “part” of the distro, as it would be with Windows; it’s just what they package together to give that “freedom of choice” that the GPL/GNU is all about.

However, if you’re looking for “naked and clean” there are lots of minimalist distros that can even run entirely off of a 128MB USB drive. There’s a distro called “Puppy” that can do this, although it’s still packed with tons of apps, but some others that I know are not. I didn’t pay too much attention to those, as I didn’t want “minimal;” I wanted user-friendly, windows-like, so as to decrease (or at least limit) my brain expansion! ;D

As for security, many come with a firewall gui such as firestarter or guarddog (or both; I think SAM Linux may have both, I don’t remember for sure, but I know at least one distro does), and there are AV’s like F-Prot, Clamwin that are bound to have gui’s. Many people say you don’t need AV, but I would disagree - it’s not as likely to get infected, but it is possible, as Linux is not immune… One of the commercial releases, Xandros, has a security center (read = GUI) with firewall, AV, and I think rootkit detection, possibly some other stuff like file modification as well. The big key there, as I understand it, is not logging in as the “root” but always as a “user.” With strong passwords (add file encryption modules for even greater protection), you’ve got a good thing going. If you install from a user account, but need root privileges (at least in PCLOS) it will ask for the root password; far better than Windows (which basically forces the user to have Admin privileges or be functionally emasculated…).


Thanks for your tips LM. Of course you’re right about preinstalled software in Linux, for a couple of seconds I forgot that some distros come with all the stuff you mention. But at least, I guess there aren’t any programs (or traces of them) in Linux which are impossible to get rid of… like Windows’ IE, WMP, Movie Maker, Net Meeting and so on. Like you I also use e.g. already, and generally I really like those small open source enthusiast programs (well, “small” does not refer to OpenOffice!). :slight_smile:

A little portable Linux on a USB stick; seems really interesting to try - I have to check “Puppy” out! What maybe stops me most of all to install Linux is the thing about partitions. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but Linux requires FAT32, doesn’t it? What about accessing files on NTFS? As a store all documents and media files on NTFS, they have to be easily accessible from Linux.

Security. Yes, I read in a thread some days ago that it depends a bit on how you log in - one should do it as a “user”. Still it feels - for me - unsecure, as long as I don’t have a clue how it all works, on Linux. The key, of course, is knowledge. Until knowledge is gained, I suppose it’s a good idea to try the system, with an unplugged network cable… to be sure. Now, I don’t know how Win XP works either, but it is kind of enough to have Comodo’s software and just a clue of what the system is doing!


Hey LA.

Linux actually supports a wide array of file systems, some of which are now pretty old and have been superseded. It also supports a number of Network file systems as well.

For the most part EXT2/3 are used in most systems. This file system is a lot closer to NTFS than FAT. It also supports a wide array of features that NTFS does not.

NTFS partitions are easily supported under Linux, they can simply be mounted as an additional drive.

If you interested, here are a couple of links:

Have fun :slight_smile:

Thanks a lot Toggie, this brings me a little closer to a try out of Linux :smiley:



I gotta tell you, I was surprised at the number of “types” of formats that Linux supports, including FAT, FAT32, NTFS, etc. As Toggie mentioned, the Linux “root” or core must be installed on an EXT3-formatted partition, which it took care of for me.

As I mentioned to Pedro earlier, from Linux I can see and access everything on all other drives - all files and file types (extensions). Obviously I have not tried to run any of the executables :smiley: but I have opened image files, transferred some TBird data over, and whatnot. I don’t think that should be a problem for you.

Oh, and I installed FireStarter, the firewall GUI. Interesting, using the package manager (synaptic). Find the package, mark it for inclusion, save the settings, and off it goes. I kinda liked it. :slight_smile:


Hey, that’s fantastic :slight_smile:

So, luckily someone was wrong on the forum where I read that Linux prefers FAT32 and have problems to handle NTFS. I also remember that one has to fix something in order to play Windows Media files. Don’t remember how MP3 is handled. But I guess there are “plugins” (or whatever it is called in the Linux world) for everything

As with Windows, there are a number of Media Players available, most of which handle all media types. You can even run Media Players written for Windows, using a variety of methods. I use Foobar running under WINE on my Linux box.

I just read today that (at least) for PCLOS, to have full read/write control over NTFS disks from within Linux you need to get a file called NTFS-3g (or maybe NTFS-config) and then you can do whatever you want with them…

As far as WMP files, as Toggie said, there are ways to do just about everything. Some distros even offer proprietary software/drivres (I presume for a fee, as they would be paying royalties themselves) to do more Windows-related things. At any rate, there are interfaces/applications to run Windows apps on Linux - Wine, CrossOver (I think that’s the name; may use Wine) that allow the use of “common” Win apps. From what I’ve seen so far, I wouldn’t think they’d really be necessary unless you’re using Quicken/Quickbooks, or possibly Outlook (for Exchange - Evolution is supposed to do what Outlook does, but I don’t know if it works with Exchange). I think Amarok (?) is the standard Media Player for Linux, and is supposed to be very good.


My two cents …

Just a few weeks back I stepped into the Linux world and I’m using me kids, neice and nephew as GP’s. As you may have guessed it already I’m really an infant compared to many computer geeks I would say. However I’m more adept than an average user and if I don’t understand something I go out looking for information on fora (plural for forums).

My experience with Ubuntu has been good and I don’t have any kind of security application running. I decided not to download it because of the many raves I have read about how secure linux (and unix) is/are. I guess time will tell me.

I have also downloaded the other cousin Kubuntu and another distribution Freespire (and tried the LiveCD method). Both these have the look and feel of windows. In the very near future I’m going to uninstall Ubuntu and install Kubuntu. Presently the test system me kids have is a dual boot that I plan on making it completely linux in the near future.

Have fun with linux

Slackware was hard at first to get working (Which kernel for which hardware…). But after the first few times of editing system files I got very used to it.

So far my most difficult thing is figuring out how to find stuff; mostly because of how Linux “files” it. For instance, the FW GUI, FireStarter. I think of that as an application, but it’s not “filed” in Applications; it’s about three levels deep in “System.” I haven’t quite figured out the search feature, either. You don’t seem to have the option to search the whole dang drive; only by each file system, such as: /(root), /usr, etc. I read somewhere that there’s a verbose search agent, where you can actually “tell” it what to search for, in more or less plain language, so you can use complex search terms. Unfortunately, I don’t remember what that was so that I could perhaps find and use it…

I did find the management/configuration console, though. Wow! Wouldn’t it be nice if Windows gave you that much information and configurability?!


My impression from what you write is: in Linux it is difficult to get control over the system; the kind of control you quite easily have in Windows (at least XP, I know nothing about Vista). However, in Linux you can actually really get total control if you know how to do it, which could be considered as impossible in XP… I think of Linux as a 1980’s Porsche 911 - difficult to handle but when you know how to do it, you can drive miraculously fast. XP is any modern normal car; you can easily reach its limits and use its potential, but that’s it! No more fun!

Ah, the use of automotive imagery… gotta love it. :wink: I’d change that a bit, as Linux isn’t difficult, IMO, just different. It’s a different beastie; coming from Windows, it just takes some getting used to.

The difference is perhaps more akin to the comparison of a Ford Taurus with a Porsche 911Turbo (yes, I’ve driven both). The Taurus you just get in and go, and for the most part it works (if you take decent care of it). The Porsche you have to learn how to drop off the clutch to keep from killing it when you take off; even if you can drive a standard vs automatic, the Porsche (and other true sports cars) are a different beast - if you “ease” off the clutch it’ll die, so you have to drive like you mean it. It’s not hard, it’s just different; and once you figure it out, Look out world! ;D

You’re pretty much there, tho - you can’t really get the level of control in Windows that you can in Linux. My impression is that MS tries to hide it, or make it mysterious or something. Linux says, Hey, here it is, this is what it’s doing, and you can change it! I think they’re making a lot of effort in general to create a more user-friendly environment (to attract non-geek users) by the use of GUIs and whatnot, to make it less intimidating. I’ll try to grab some screenshots to post to so you can see more (it’s got a built-in Capture device, kind of like FastStone or something).