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raymac46

The Best Way

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raymac46

What do you think the best way is for a new user to get into Linux? Here are a few ways I've tried over the years.

  • Dual Boot - I have done this a few times but I'm not a big fan. It's getting easier with the newer installers but you still end up with GRUB and if you are not careful you can end up borking your Windows system. An experienced user can recover but it might be tough for a new user.
  • Virtual Machine - I have found this to be the best way to run Linux on a Windows system, but not all distros work seamlessly in VirtualBox. It also takes time to get experienced with VMs.
  • Second Hard Drive - to be honest I haven't gone this way. I'd be interested if anyone could share their experience.
  • USB stick - this looks like a great way to try things out, especially if the distro supports persistence. Also great for fixing problems.
  • CD or DVD - yes I have used this recently to partition a hard drive on an old machine, but it's not really a good solution any more. It's S-L-O-W and many machines don't even have an optical drive these days - even old ones.
  • Dedicated Machine - this is how I got into Linux myself and I still find it the most painless way. If you can get an old laptop or desktop that runs an obsolete version of Windows you'll be in business.

What do you think?

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Hedon James

The best way, IMO, is to switch the user over to cross-platform software on their windows machine, to the extent possible.  This allows them to acclimate to that software before the switch.  Most folks are attached to their software, not the OS it runs on.  Once they've accepted the software, the OS is usually a non-event.  At that point, go dedicated machine.

 

In those cases where ONE "must have" program is blocking the migration (often accounting software...looking at YOU Quicken....or old legacy software still running despite no longer being available), then a Windows VM running on Linux is the way to go. 

 

This is the best way, IMO, for the majority of user scenarios; although individual cases certainly may indicate that dual-boot, live media, or VMs are better solutions in certain instances.  I consider 2nd HD a dual-boot solution.

 

Running Linux in a VM on windows host seems counter-productive to me.  The VM may be robust & secure, but the base host is still suspect.  The equivalent of installing a bank vault door on your house for supreme security, but you live in a glass house...so you've gained very little or nothing.  JMO...

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raymac46

Well given the fact that I intend to have at least one version of Windows (for games mainly) I want to have a Linux install on that machine. Sometimes you just want to be far from the madding crowd, if you catch my drift.

I agree that using FOSS software on any platform as much as possible is a great idea.

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V.T. Eric Layton
41 minutes ago, raymac46 said:

What do you think the best way is for a new user to get into Linux?

 

If the person is techy enough, then install it (virtual or on the rails). If not, then the best way is just to install it on the rails for them on their machines, wiping all hints and detritus of MS Windows in the process. ALL of the folks I've converted to Linux over the years are still using it with no troubles at all. They didn't have to "learn" Linux because most computer users are not technical to start with. They just want to surf the net, check emails, blab on FaceBook, etc. All that's required for that is a browser. Firefox in Linux looks just like any other browser in MS Windows. Easy-peasy.

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zlim
Posted (edited)

I tell new users to grab some 8GB or larger USB sticks and I walk them through a live stick creation. Most new users are naive and think that linux is like Windows. They say I want to install linux but haven't a clue that there are hundreds of different distros. They aren't prepared for a learning curve.

Personally, I know nothing about virtual machines and I suspect a lot that want to try linux don't either. They just want a working computer.

If all else fails, simply boot a live USB stick and use it to surf safely then go back to using the old computer with the old printer - off the internet.

 

I want them to see if the hardware, we are talking in some cases here, old computers that they don't want to throw out and want to use for something, likes the distros they try. Since it can be frustrating trying to get on the internet because they don't know what to look for and the majority of programs seem foreign,  it is good that it isn't installed and they can go back to "comfortable" Windows when the frustration builds.

 

After they've settled on a distro that is comfortable for them and everything appears to work on the computer, then they decide if they prefer dual boot or nuke Windows and install linux by itself.

Edited by zlim
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Hedon James
4 minutes ago, V.T. Eric Layton said:

 

If the person is techy enough, then install it (virtual or on the rails). If not, then the best way is just to install it on the rails for them on their machines, wiping all hints and detritus of MS Windows in the process. ALL of the folks I've converted to Linux over the years are still using it with no troubles at all. They didn't have to "learn" Linux because most computer users are not technical to start with. They just want to surf the net, check emails, blab on FaceBook, etc. All that's required for that is a browser. Firefox in Linux looks just like any other browser in MS Windows. Easy-peasy.

 

This is what I have seen also.  If a user has Firefox/Chrome to browse the internet; Thunderbird for e-mail (and I'm seeing more folks just check their e-mail via webmail); and LibreOffice for documents/spreadsheets, then MOST folks are satisfied.  And generally speaking, it's easy to get them to download and try Thunderbird and LO when they learn it won't cost anything to try them out....no tricky "free trial", but "free forever."  And once they see that the "free" software really is as good as the software they paid for (and MS continues nagging them to "upgrade"), most folks are quite happy with it.  A few wonder "if it's so good, why is it free?  you get what you pay for!"  I usually ask them "Have you heard of MS Office?"  and of course they reply "yes".  I ask them "HOW did you FIRST hear of MS Office?"  Various answers usually lead to the conclusion that they saw an internet ad (marketing), or got a free trial that eventually required payment (another form of marketing).  MS spends big $$$ to encourage folks to buy their products.  I then ask "Before I told you, have you ever heard of Thunderbird or LibreOffice?"  Most answer "no", although a few answer "yes".  But when asked if they've EVER seen an advertisement for Thunderbird or LO, everyone admits they haven't.  And there's the answer....MS Office costs $$$ to pay for marketing; LO is free because they don't pay for marketing.  They're counting on you to "pay it forward" to the next guy who isn't aware; that's the LO marketing plan.  So unless you're buying the "marketing", you do NOT "get what you pay for".  THEN they understand!  Thunderbird is even easier.  Even folks who don't use Firefox have heard of Firefox.  When they learn that Thunderbird is developed by Mozilla, same developer of Firefox, they're fine with that.

 

Many of my family & friends who aren't willing to make the switch from Windows to Linux have readily made the switch to Thunderbird & LO.  And continue to use it...

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raymac46

It's hard to overestimate the hold that Windows has on the general public. Most of the folks I have converted over to Linux were either ones who didn't have a computer at all, or wanted to keep an older machine as a second unit after they bought a cheap Windows laptop.

One lady I set up an old computer with Linux for, then got an off-lease newer PC from her brother. She immediately wanted to use Windows in spite of the fact she had never used anything but Linux before and knew nothing of the security issues or how to stay safe. I tried to make sure she had at least Windows Defender running.

Then you have people like my late nemesis Lillian who assume they will get hacked every five minutes, yet insist on running Windows with Norton Security and nothing else will do.

All of these people would be far better off running Linux, but they swallow the Kool-Aid.

Look, I run Windows myself and with proper care and caution it's fine. But these folks don't know how to play it safe.

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securitybreach

Well nowadays, I find the easiest way is just to tell them to download LinuxMint or Fedora and burn it to a usb stick and play around. If they like it, I can walk them through backing up their data and installing the distro. That's usually the last thing I have to help them with.

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Hedon James
8 minutes ago, securitybreach said:

Well nowadays, I find the easiest way is just to tell them to download LinuxMint or Fedora and burn it to a usb stick and play around. If they like it, I can walk them through backing up their data and installing the distro. That's usually the last thing I have to help them with.

 

That's probably the best way to handle it.  If THEY install it, they're invested and less likely to want to revert.  When you do it for them, and they don't like it, they have no qualms asking to switch back.  I should probably adopt the attitude "if you can't install it, you probably shouldn't be using it."  I'll gladly help anyone, but I won't do it for them anymore.  And if they get it installed, with or without assistance, they'll probably be okay after that.

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securitybreach

Well if you can click "Next", you can install Linux nowadays.

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jimg
Posted (edited)

120GB SSDs are fairly cheap these days.  The local Microcenter had them for $15 a week or so ago.  I would get one of these and put into a $10 USB enclosure.  Then create the USB thumb drive and install to the portable SSD as a regular installation.  This will let you run updates and have the latest software and avoid the slowness of a USB stick.

Edited by jimg
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saturnian

I picked up a notebook that came with Linux preinstalled (Linspire), and I also had a couple of Knoppix CDs to play around with.

 

I kept Windows at home, on another computer. At the time I was still using Windows a lot for work. I did dual-boot Windows and Linux for awhile, but that might not be such a great way for someone to get started, although it does teach you a lot.

 

I don't know if there really is a best way. I don't think any one approach is best for every user.

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goretsky

Hello,

 

I would go with VM or dedicated machine, as I feel that makes it easier to switch between operating systems--you might want to look up something on the system you are more familiar with and then go ahead and try it on the Linux VM or computer, while it's up on the other monitor or system.  That can make it a lot easier to follow along with things like video tutorials.

 

Regards,

 

Aryeh Goretsky

 

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raymac46
Posted (edited)

Back when I got started, I went with a second machine because I had it sitting there. Linux was a solution to a problem. I did not want to invest in a Windows upgrade on an old machine. At the time I didn't realize where the journey would ultimately take me and what I would learn. The approach with a USB stick or a second drive would be the way I would go today if it was just a matter of getting started with Linux. That said, it's always been great to have a Linux machine or two around. A second PC is very clean and simple.

Edited by raymac46
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sunrat

Multi-boot for me. Nothing better than OS running on bare metal and I rarely wish to run 2 OS at one time. Don't even have VM software installed any more. One system - Win 10 and 3 Linux (4 soon, new project pending), other machine - Win 7 and 3 Linux.

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jolphil

Many years ago I purchased a Hard Drive Rack and a couple of extra HD'S. This was back in the IDE days, later updated to SATA drives and finally to Solid State drives.This enabled a Dummy like me to learn how to install,configure, and yes how to bork each of those. But through all of that,I still use Linux, mostly Mint. Each Bork was a learning expierience and I still check the newer distros and either keep one or two or just move on. Yes, I still keep a drive with Window for special programs that are not yet on linux. Today there are many more programs/packages I prefer and are not on Windows,  some Windows programs can be used with Wine.  What is the downside of this approach? Well, as I see it, more cost for the drives and rack.Also reliance on one computer , If it goes down, I lose many operating systems. I can help that situation by back up's so that important data is not lost.Worst of all is the wrath of my Wife for the clutter in the computer room. The pros as I see is to just have fun doing what I love.  I have transitioned my neighbor and my Daughter to Linux Mint and neither missed Windows for a moment. Linux has come a long way, and in my opinion,the world is a better place.    Stay Safe

jolphil

PS: I have begun to transition my wife by installing some Linux programs on her Windows 10 system but not telling her it's Linux. ie: Mozilla Thunderbird,Firefox,Libre Office etc.as Hedon mentioned.😄

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Hedon James
2 hours ago, jolphil said:

PS: I have begun to transition my wife by installing some Linux programs on her Windows 10 system but not telling her it's Linux. ie: Mozilla Thunderbird,Firefox,Libre Office etc.as Hedon mentioned.😄

 

You're acting in her best interests...I'll vouch for you!  😜

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securitybreach

Nice Jolphil

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abarbarian

Dual booting can be a tad complicated to set up or at least it used to be. I found a way around this in the past.

 

Take a pc with Windows installed. Unhook the Windows drive. Plug in a empty drive and format to ext4 or some linux format. Install a linux distro. Hook up the Windows drive again.

The Windows drive will not see the linux drive at all so no danger of it interfering with the linux set up. The linux drive will see the Windows drive but is sensible enough not to interfere with it.

Set your bios to run which erver drive contains your most used os. Use the F2/8/12 keys to boot into the other os when needed.

 

A friend has installed a caddy into a dvd slot in his case that allows him to swap out drives. So he has Windows and Mint on separate drives and simply swaps them around when needed. He has a third drive that he uses to experiment with other linux distros.

 

For total beginners a Live USB is probably the easiest way to try out linux. If their pc has 4 GB of ram setting the Live Distro to run from ram makes for a very acceptable experience, takes a little longer to load is all. A Live Distro with persistence is the best of all.

 

The suggestions of getting Windows users used to programs like FF, Claibre, Libre Office etc are the most helpful.

 

😎

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sunrat

I never had much trouble with dual (or multi) booting once I was brave enough to try it. Main problems were;

- installing GRUB when you didn't want it installed

- reformatting swap meaning having to edit other distros' fstab with the new UUID

- not picking up Windows which was fixed by running update-grub after booting Linux

None of these were hard to remedy post-install. Easy peasy otherwise.

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saturnian
17 hours ago, goretsky said:

I would go with VM or dedicated machine, as I feel that makes it easier to switch between operating systems--you might want to look up something on the system you are more familiar with and then go ahead and try it on the Linux VM or computer, while it's up on the other monitor or system.  That can make it a lot easier to follow along with things like video tutorials.

 

 

Very good point.

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securitybreach

Yeah but most people do not know even know how a VM works. I was thinking about this from a non-technical standpoint. Booting into a live environment is a good way to test things as a non-technical user.

 

If we were talking about people who were already computer savvy, then I would agree, a VM would be easiest route to take for testing purposes.

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abarbarian
9 hours ago, sunrat said:

reformatting swap meaning having to edit other distros' fstab with the new UUID

 

You may know what that means but a newcomer to linux would struggle to comprehend that statment let alone have any clue as to how to find the information needed to sol

ve the puzzle.

 

9 hours ago, sunrat said:

not picking up Windows which was fixed by running update-grub after booting Linux

 

In the early days that would have been a real challenge for a newcomer.

 

Ubuntu doesn't recognize FAT32 partition

 

🤓

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raymac46

When I started with Linux there were really only two practical ways for a beginner to get familiar with it:

  • Run it off a CD as a live distro. Some distros like Puppy Linux allowed a persistent file on the HDD.
  • Install on the rails, either on its own or alongside Windows.

I wasn't patient enough for the CD and I was afraid of cocking up my Windows install so a dedicated machine was the only answer. I doubt I'd be a Linux user today without that old Dell Dimension 4100 that ran Windows Me originally. It was a great Linux machine that saved me picking the right hardware, aside from wifi.

I did get around to dual booting on a Windows machine after I practiced a lot in Linux and knew what I was doing. But my wife uses computers too and I would never drive her crazy with my experimentation. She just wants things to work right, all the time.

Call me linear but one machine, one O/S is my mantra. Aside from VMs of course!

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V.T. Eric Layton

Heh! Well, my viewpoint on virtual still stands:

 

Virtual computing is like virtual sex; it may work to a point, but it's not nearly as satisfying.

 

I prefer my installations to actually be INSTALLED. ;)

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securitybreach

That depends on the specs of the virtual machine. I have some VMs that are more powerful than most desktops.

 

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V.T. Eric Layton

Not worried about power and usefulness. Just prefer the Real Thing.

 

Coca-Cola_Its_The_Real_Thing.jpg

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saturnian
On 4/23/2020 at 1:09 AM, goretsky said:

I would go with VM or dedicated machine

 

22 hours ago, securitybreach said:

Yeah but most people do not know even know how a VM works. I was thinking about this from a non-technical standpoint. Booting into a live environment is a good way to test things as a non-technical user.

 

I thought that "or" was the key word in goretsky's comment. Not a fan of VMs, myself, but I agree about live sessions.

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securitybreach

Well I wasn't directly replying to him but so the various suggestions of using a VM.

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V.T. Eric Layton
1 hour ago, securitybreach said:

Well I wasn't directly replying to him...

 

No, you were directly applying to me... the Scot's VM hater. ;)

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