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#1 OFFLINE   RichardKR

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 07:45 PM

Well, it's finally time to download a Linux version and use my laptop to drive myself nuts.
I went through this 2 years ago and even though it was geeky fun, it was not very successful.

I'm going to update my Win7 image on an external HD.  I intend to use the whole drive for Linux.
I've got a 500GB drive so I guess I could dual boot, but that adds complexity.

How should I petition my drive so updates don't effect my data OR my software settings?
What needs to be backed up so if the system later bombs I can re-install Linux and recover my software, settings, and data?

I'm looking at Mint or Ubuntu.  Which one?  Or is there an easier one available?  PCLinuxOS get 64bit yet?
What flavor of desktop?

Does any version install from a USB stick?  Or is this a dumb idea?

I'd really like to SSD my laptop.  How does Linux feel about SSD's?

Any recommended sites for "Step my step" Linux for Dummies?

Thanks folks for being there so I can even ask these questions and get intelligent answers.

#2 OFFLINE   securitybreach

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 07:51 PM

As far as partitions, I would suggest around 40gb for /, 2x ram size for /swap and the rest for /home.

Distro question: LinuxMint Cinnamon should be fine

USB question: USB installs are fine but you can use a dvd as well

SSD question: SSDs are fine as long as you set them up correctly: http://community.lin...torial/view/293
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#3 OFFLINE   jimg

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 08:26 PM

Since you are coming from Windows, download YUMI to make your USB key.  You can easily set up multiple Linux distros on one USB stick and test or install any of them.  You can also have a Windows installer along with Linux on the same USB stick.

Mint Cinnamon is very nice.  If you want something that looks more like Windows 7, take a look at Zorin core.

There are quite a few interesting Linux reviews on http://www.dedoimedo.com/

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#4 OFFLINE   amenditman

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 08:39 PM

Mint is a great starter, you might never move on (they have a bunch of flavors to try if the first isn't exactly right).
Really easy, good documentation, helpful forums. Stay away from Ubuntu (all the reasons I like Mint are reasons to not use Ubuntu).
Another alternative is Mepis, also a Debian based distro (like Mint/Ubuntu), rolling release unlike Mint/Ubuntu) with great docs, forums, and easy to use.

My only complaint about Mint was that you had to re-install rather than upgrade to get the next version (might not still be true).
That is the difference between what is called a rolling release ( no re-install ever) vs. a point release (re-install to get newer version).

Why not put the Linux on the external, just use the boot menu to start it vs. the internal then you don't have to mess with your currently installed Windows 7.
Not even the bootloader, install Linux's bootloader to the external disk.

Partitioning for data and config consistency
/  (root)  at least 30 - 40 GB  (you will probably never run out of space)
swap   up to double your ram ( but none if you are on an SSD and don't need hybernation feature)
/home at least 30 GB for all your installed software and config files
/data   all the rest  (you put all your files here, so they are untouched by application updates, distro re-installs, etc.) these are just your files

The /data partition is something one of the folks at the Kubuntu forums recommended to me when I was a brand new, baby, linux explorer and it has served me well over the years.

Desktop Environment
I am a KDE user because that is what works best for me, my thought processes, workflow. You will need to try a few and see what makes sense to you. "We all different, but we all fruit!"
There are minimal systems, some of which are very pretty, work oriented ones, touchy/clicky ones. Must be 50 or more  to choose from.

The newer Linuxes are screaming fast on SSD's and know all about them. That being said, the link securitybreach put in his reply is good, here's a great one from the best Linux docs there are,
ArchLinux Solid State Drives page has a section all about tuning linux for use on ssd. Lists pretty much everything you need to think about to optimize performance and longevity of yours in any linux distro.
I have done a bunch of installs on SSD over the last 3 years, so if you have questions after reading those links, just ask.

This site is your best bet for a "Linux for Dummies" site. We have all been there, done that.

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#5 OFFLINE   saturnian

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 11:28 PM

I, too, like to use a "/data" partition that's separate from /home. As for the / and /home partitions, I use much smaller ones than what's been mentioned above -- most of the time, 10 GB and 5 GB, respectively. So, all that depends on the individual user, I guess, but the point is that you really don't need all that much space for those two partitions, especially if you have a separate "/data" partition.

Some people will say to stay away from Ubuntu and go with Mint, but I'm not one of those people. Of the two, I prefer Ubuntu, but I'd say check them both out and decide for yourself.

I probably wouldn't recommend Mepis at this time, as much as I love that distro, because they're still working on a new release and the previous release is quite old -- among other things, you might have issues with keeping the web browser up-to-date, for example.

PCLinuxOS does have 64-bit now; some KDE options, for example, here: http://www.pclinuxos.com/?page_id=180

I think that openSUSE is another distro worth considering. One really nice thing about openSUSE and Ubuntu, tons of great documentation out there for those two distros. For those two distros, it seems like I've rarely had to ask any questions at their forums, I just do a web search and/or search their forums or documentation.

No comments yet about what to back up. I'm lazy and usually only back my data up, but I've restored systems from copies of / and /home, so I'd back all of that up; others might have more to say on that subject.

These days, I tend to prefer installing from flash drives, although I still do it sometimes from a DVD (or from a CD, if the image actually fits). Mainly just to add to my collection of Linux disks, though.

Desktop flavor: I hate to even get into that debate. I can't even think of one I don't like! There are people who prefer this one or that one, and everybody's got good reasons why they prefer a certain one. For me, once I get used to how everything works, one's as good as the other, pretty much. Terminal, file editor, file browser, web browser, I'm good to go.

Finally: This is a great place to come for help, if you need any help.

#6 OFFLINE   securitybreach

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 11:32 PM

Well I only mentioned Cinnamon as I was under the impression that he was asking which version of LinuxMint to install.
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#7 OFFLINE   saturnian

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 11:38 PM

Funny thing about distro choice, I recently installed CrunchBang (comes with Openbox) for the first time, and I thought it was one of the easiest Linux installations I've ever done. Very nice post-installations scripts, too. Not a distro that people will typically recommend to someone "new" to Linux, but, you know, every user is different. I mean, some new users, I think, would actually be better off going with Debian Stable to get started. i know that a lot of people will completely disagree with me on that, but again, every user is different. That's why I don't like to recommend distros, really, and prefer to suggest checking out live sessions of various distros. I figure people got brains, might as well use them, make up their own minds.

#8 OFFLINE   securitybreach

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 11:40 PM

Debian stable is a great rock-solid distro!! Of course you will not have the latest and greatest packages but Debian will run forever without any issues.
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#9 OFFLINE   LilBambi

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Posted 02 September 2013 - 09:57 AM

Yes, Debian is rock solid!

I too, often use a data partition. Although, not always. I especially do use a data partition if I add a secondary hard drive.

Edited by LilBambi, 02 September 2013 - 01:07 PM.

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#10 OFFLINE   RichardKR

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Posted 02 September 2013 - 10:33 AM

Great advice folks, thanks.  I've got to download a few and play with the live DVD/CD's.  I really appreciate the advice.

#11 OFFLINE   amenditman

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Posted 02 September 2013 - 11:28 AM

View PostLilBambi, on 02 September 2013 - 09:57 AM, said:

Yes, Debian is rock solid!

I too often use a data partition. Although not always especially if I add a secondary hard drive usually.
Wouldn't the second hard drive be a separate partition also? Unless your using LVM of course!

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#12 OFFLINE   burninbush

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Posted 02 September 2013 - 12:54 PM

View PostRichardKR, on 01 September 2013 - 07:45 PM, said:

Well, it's finally time to download a Linux version and use my laptop to drive myself nuts.
I went through this 2 years ago and even though it was geeky fun, it was not very successful.

I'm going to update my Win7 image on an external HD.  I intend to use the whole drive for Linux.
I've got a 500GB drive so I guess I could dual boot, but that adds complexity.

How should I petition my drive so updates don't effect my data OR my software settings?
What needs to be backed up so if the system later bombs I can re-install Linux and recover my software, settings, and data?

I'm looking at Mint or Ubuntu.  Which one?  Or is there an easier one available?  PCLinuxOS get 64bit yet?
What flavor of desktop?

Does any version install from a USB stick?  Or is this a dumb idea?

I'd really like to SSD my laptop.  How does Linux feel about SSD's?

Any recommended sites for "Step my step" Linux for Dummies?

Thanks folks for being there so I can even ask these questions and get intelligent answers.


PCLinuxOS does indeed now have a 64b install in addition to 32b.  Both are very fine livecds, also easy to install, and they already come with a bunch of stuff that you'll probably want.  I would not fool with a usbstick just for the install -- you'll only do that once, and having the livecd onhand may save your bacon at some later time.

Re partitioning, I have never needed more than 20 gb for a / partition in ten years of linux use.  If I were you I'd leave the internal disk alone with win7 and put linux on the external drive.   It is also very easy [using grub4dos] to create a dual boot setup that does not require touching the Win7 MBR, that can also be easily removed later by just deleting a couple files.

Re backup and restores, it's trivially easy to image a linux partition, especially if you intend to restore it back to the same partition it originally came from (which is the usual case.)   Just keep the image file on the other disk, so it'll not be affected by issues on the primary disk or partition.  (and this is a situation in which you'll be glad you kept that livecd)  A restore from a linux image goes as fast as your disks can pass the data -- maybe 10 minutes tops.

Re SSD disks -- if you worry about wear on one, then I wouldn't put a linux distro on it because linux distros do a lot of background moving-around of files -- housekeeping -- watch your disk light when doing nothing at all to see this happening.  Not sure how much of an issue that really is today.  

I'll mention again my personal hobby horse:  if you do decide to repartition your internal disk, then consider making a small first partition which will be dedicated to booting only, with the intention that you will never overwrite it with anything else later.  2gb is plenty for that purpose.  Having it setup that way means you'll never have to face the most common complaint about linux, how to get it to boot after some new install overwrites the boot code that you used to get to your other installs.  Install grub to it [or grub4dos] and and then for any later install you'll only have to do a simple text edit (to menu.lst) to boot the new install.  Also works fine to boot windows or any iso or other image files.  

You might also want to consider making your first linux a 'frugal' install of a distro like Porteus -- they are nearly bulletproof since the files that comprise the system are in a few compressed files that are never opened for writing.  You can literally just pull the power plug and walk away, or press the reset -- it won't hurt the Porteus install.  I'm running a Porteus right now that is setup to not store any changes [having built it up to my satisfaction months ago, just an appliance now] -- and short of hardware failures it can't be damaged.

#13 OFFLINE   LilBambi

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Posted 02 September 2013 - 01:08 PM

View Postamenditman, on 02 September 2013 - 11:28 AM, said:

Wouldn't the second hard drive be a separate partition also? Unless your using LVM of course!

Yes, it would be a separate partition(s), but could also be used instead for another Linux install. ;)
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#14 OFFLINE   LilBambi

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Posted 02 September 2013 - 01:12 PM

I always give / enough rope to hang itself (20-40gb*), but the majority will go to /home.

* I have actually run out of space on a 20GB / partition. I have a tendency to install just about everything including all GUIs/Desktop environments, as well as adding many other installations that are above and beyond the norm on the system. Because I never know quite what i will be doing with a given install, I would prefer to be a bit over on / than to cut it too close ... if I have the space to spare ... than paint myself in a corner.
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#15 OFFLINE   Peachy

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Posted 02 September 2013 - 03:07 PM

If you have a UEFI system I'd install that format (most distros can install MBR or UEFI from the same install medium). I've found mutli-booting Linux from a UEFI system has become much easier, unless of course you started with a Windows 8 system with Secure Boot enabled. That's another whole kettle of fish to deal with.

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#16 OFFLINE   securitybreach

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Posted 02 September 2013 - 04:50 PM

View Postburninbush, on 02 September 2013 - 12:54 PM, said:

Re partitioning, I have never needed more than 20 gb for a / partition in ten years of linux use.
I would personally suggest at least 30gb as it very easy to fill. I have used 18gb and I do not even have gnome or kde installed:
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View Postburninbush, on 02 September 2013 - 12:54 PM, said:

Having it setup that way means you'll never have to face the most common complaint about linux, how to get it to boot after some new install overwrites the boot code that you used to get to your other installs.

Well normally you have the choice as to where and if you want the bootloader installed to. I have never used a separate /boot partition in 10 years but some people prefer them.
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#17 OFFLINE   saturnian

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Posted 02 September 2013 - 05:44 PM

View Postburninbush, on 02 September 2013 - 12:54 PM, said:

Re partitioning, I have never needed more than 20 gb for a / partition in ten years of linux use.

View PostLilBambi, on 02 September 2013 - 01:12 PM, said:

I always give / enough rope to hang itself (20-40gb*), but the majority will go to /home.

* I have actually run out of space on a 20GB / partition. I have a tendency to install just about everything including all GUIs/Desktop environments, as well as adding many other installations that are above and beyond the norm on the system. Because I never know quite what i will be doing with a given install, I would prefer to be a bit over on / than to cut it too close ... if I have the space to spare ... than paint myself in a corner.

View Postsecuritybreach, on 02 September 2013 - 04:50 PM, said:

I would personally suggest at least 30gb as it very easy to fill. I have used 18gb and I do not even have gnome or kde installed

At the other end of the spectrum, here's my / size and usage in Bridge Linux (running Xfce); anywhere from about 4G to 7G is normal usage for me:
$ df -h
Filesystem Size Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/sda13 9.5G 3.9G 5.2G 43% /

In the past, I used to go with 7 GB for the / partition! But that was before KDE4, etc.

While I normally go with 10 GB these days, one exception is for Sabayon:
$ df -h
Filesystem Size Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/sda11 24G 6.5G 17G 29% /mnt/sda11

Still only 6.5G used at the moment, but Sabayon's / partition tends to get used up easily. For Sabayon system requirements, they say:

Quote

20 GB of free space, that is bare minimum DVD Install. 30+ GB is highly recommended

Edited by saturnian, 02 September 2013 - 05:53 PM.


#18 OFFLINE   securitybreach

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Posted 02 September 2013 - 06:45 PM

Well I  guess I make mine so big since I have 6.5 terabytes of space to work with hence why my /home is 800gb. :hysterical:
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#19 OFFLINE   saturnian

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Posted 02 September 2013 - 07:41 PM

View Postsecuritybreach, on 02 September 2013 - 06:45 PM, said:

Well I  guess I make mine so big since I have 6.5 terabytes of space to work with, hence why my /home is 800gb. :hysterical:

Wow!!!

And, 70% used, according to your earlier post! 527G used on that /home partition -- I don't even own a hard drive that big!!!

#20 OFFLINE   securitybreach

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Posted 02 September 2013 - 07:48 PM

View Postsaturnian, on 02 September 2013 - 07:41 PM, said:

Wow!!!

And, 70% used, according to your earlier post! 527G used on that /home partition -- I don't even own a hard drive that big!!!

Oops, I didnt mean to open your post.
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#21 OFFLINE   RichardKR

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 12:28 PM

"Since you are coming from Windows, download YUMI to make your USB key.  You can easily set up multiple Linux distros on one USB stick and test or install any of them.  You can also have a Windows installer along with Linux on the same USB stick."

Wow! Thanks jimg - What a great program.  I have a 16gb stick and I'm stacking Linux distros like cord wood. :shifty:  Great for moving back and forth between distributions.  Downloading some more now to load on the stick.  So far, no distribution has allowed me to use the mouse scroll switch for back and forward.  Logitech m505 wireless.  Basic functions work, but with no "Back" or "Forward", how do you surf??  I'll work on these one at a time when I decide to actually install a distro.

Thanks again to all.

Edited by RichardKR, 04 September 2013 - 12:29 PM.


#22 OFFLINE   amenditman

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 01:22 PM

View PostRichardKR, on 04 September 2013 - 12:28 PM, said:

So far, no distribution has allowed me to use the mouse scroll switch for back and forward.  Logitech m505 wireless.  Basic functions work, but with no "Back" or "Forward", how do you surf??
I have a Logitech m505 and a bunch of other Logitech mice/trackballs/keyboards and have never had a problem with them being fully supported in any Linux distro.

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#23 OFFLINE   RichardKR

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 01:31 PM

View Postamenditman, on 04 September 2013 - 01:22 PM, said:

I have a Logitech m505 and a bunch of other Logitech mice/trackballs/keyboards and have never had a problem with them being fully supported in any Linux distro.

Can you use the Scroll tilt for "Back" and "Forward" in your browser?  The left/right click and scrolling work fine.

#24 OFFLINE   securitybreach

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 01:31 PM

Plus you can easily change shortcuts in kde, gnome, xfce, etc.
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#25 OFFLINE   amenditman

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 02:03 PM

View PostRichardKR, on 04 September 2013 - 01:31 PM, said:

Can you use the Scroll tilt for "Back" and "Forward" in your browser?  The left/right click and scrolling work fine.
My main workstation, running ArchLinux,  I use the Logitech Cordless Optical Trackman and all buttons work natively without configuration. There are left click, right click, and ball of course. The extra buttons are forward and backward navigation in the browser/filemanager/etc., scroll wheel, press scroll wheel to select autoscroll, up and down scroll buttons, and a scroll lock button. This one does not have a scroll wheel side-to-side action.

My other desktop, running Mepis, I use the Logitech M570 Wireless Trackball Mouse, it has less functions but they all work without configuration.

My laptop, running ArchLinux, and my wife's computer, running Debian testing, we use the Logitech M505 Wireless Mouse and, again, no configuration for all buttons to function.

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