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VP959
24th Sep 2013, 19:14
Not sure if this should be here on in the computer/internet section, but I have a feeling there may be more IT gurus here.

First, here's my personal perspective, rationale and requirement behind me seeking advice here:

I've been getting increasingly narked with Microsoft (and to a minor extent recently with Apple) with regard to having the everyday functionality of some gadgets compromised in attempts by these companies to force me to spend more money with them.

For example, we have two machines running Windows XP and two running Windows 7, both on the same home network. One of the XP machines (an old laptop) is used as a backup machine, with a USB connected hard drive as the repository for the files. The other XP machine automatically backs up its files to this hard drive, but I cannot get either of the Windows 7 machines to do the same as it seems that Windows 7 cannot natively see PCs that are running XP on the same network (although it can sometimes be forced to see them by typing in the name of the XP machine).

I would like to explore the possibility of moving away from Microsoft (or Apple) control, as most of the time these home PCs are used for web surfing, email, word processing and spreadsheet use, all tasks that I think can be handled with a machine running Linux.

The exceptions are a few programmes that I occasionally use that seemingly only run under Windows. I've read up a bit about Linux, and understand that there is a Windows emulator that might possibly be usable, but failing that I think I might like to retain Windows as an option.

So, the question is, where would be the best place to go to get beginners advice on trying out Linux, with the emphasis on beginner. Last time I looked at Linux it involved typing sequences of arcane commands to get it to work, and I gave up trying to understand how to get it working. I believe things may have moved on since then If possible, I'd like to try Linux without risking messing up a Windows installation, as neither of the two Windows 7 machines came with any discs to restore things.

Sorry if this is in the wrong place, mods, please feel free to move it if you think it really should be elsewhere.

MG23
24th Sep 2013, 19:22
Download a Linux LiveCD, boot from it, and you can give it a go without installing to disk. Check the hardware works, then, if you want to install to the hard drive, the install process is usually as simple as clicking a button and answering a few questions.

Mint with the MATE desktop is pretty similar to the XP interface. The only issue with Mint is that they don't support upgrading from one release to another, you have to actually reinstall the new OS version when support expires.

We have Mint, Ubuntu and CentOS running on the various Linux machines and home and only have to boot the Windows PC for games and video editing.

As for places to go, each distribution usually has its own web forum where you can get help. They've diverged enough these days that advice on one may not help you on another.

VP959
24th Sep 2013, 19:31
Thanks for that.

Is this Mint: Main Page - Linux Mint (http://www.linuxmint.com/) ?

If so, then it looks (from a quick glance) as if it may be fairly well documented (which is a big plus), I'll download the tutorials and see if I can work out how to install it alongside Windows 7.

rgbrock1
24th Sep 2013, 19:32
VP:

I not only work with mainframes professionally but I am also responsible for all-things-Linux here in the hospital. I've been working with Linux for many years now. (Prior to that it was Unix but that's a different story!)

As a beginner with Linux, a newbie!, I would certainly suggest trying out a distro (a distro or distribution is a "flavor" of Linux depending on who distributes it. The Linux kernel, the heart of the operating system if you will, remains basically the same across all distros) like Linux Mint or Ubuntu Linux. Linux Mint, for example, is code-based on Ubuntu so you might want to give the latter a try.

I've also found the Ubuntu user community very helpful in general and especially toward those starting out. You can download Ubuntu from The world's most popular free OS | Ubuntu (http://www.ubuntu.com) and then look for the desktop version.

Ubuntu will even let you set it up as a dual-boot. What this means, and you don't have to do anything to have it set up like this as Ubuntu does it for you, is that you can then choose to boot between Ubuntu or Windows. In other words, you can keep both operating systems on your PC, or laptop, and select which one to boot when booting.

If you PM me with your email address (don't worry, I won't sell it to the highest bidder!) I will send you a "Beginner's Guide to Ubuntu" which is a very nice document to use in getting to know Ubuntu Linux.

There are many variations of Linux out there. i've used most of them. But I've always found Ubuntu to be the easiest for the casual user to learn. But the choice of which Linux distro to choose remains yours.

rgbrock1
24th Sep 2013, 19:33
VP wrote:

I'll download the tutorials and see if I can work out how to install it alongside Windows 7.

You don't have to. Linux Mint will do it for you. Automagically!

MG23
24th Sep 2013, 19:43
Thanks for that.

Is this Mint: Main Page - Linux Mint (http://www.linuxmint.com/) ?

Pretty sure that's the right URL.

MG23
24th Sep 2013, 19:46
Linux Mint, for example, is code-based on Ubuntu so you might want to give the latter a try.

The main reason people have been abandoning Ubuntu for Mint is that they don't like the tablet-like Unity desktop on Ubuntu. It wasn't bad on a small netbook screen, but I found it horrible on my laptop.

There are other options like XFCE and KDE, but MATE is the most Windows-like and Ubuntu don't include it in their repositories.

MG23
24th Sep 2013, 19:48
The other issue to be aware of is that both Ubuntu and Mint have long term support releases that are supported for several years, and development releases which are only supported for something like six or nine months. So you're better off installing a long term support release if you don't want to upgrade every few months.

rgbrock1
24th Sep 2013, 19:49
MG:

I agree. The Unity desktop, in my not so humble opinion, was a step back. And Linux Mint stepped up to the plate, especially with their Cinnamon desktop environment or, even better, MATE.

So I'll second your suggestion to VP and recommend Mint 15 Olivia, yes. Which I really should have suggested anyway, considering I'm writing this post from a Linux Mint 15-powered PC running at home. (From my Linux Mint 15-powered PC running at work!!!) It's just that I've been accustomed to saying Ubuntu whenever I hear beginner.

VP959
24th Sep 2013, 20:05
This is absolute gold dust, gentlemen, I am very grateful indeed!

It looks very much as if I can do as Henry wished and rid myself of the turbulent priest that is Microsoft.

Oh! Joy of Joys!

Dushan
24th Sep 2013, 20:17
Or you can just go all Apple and never have to worry about backups, upgrades, and things technical.

It just works….









Hat, coat, MacBook, iPad, iPhone, door...

rgbrock1
24th Sep 2013, 20:20
VP:

If you decide to go the Linux Mint route, whole-heartedly endorsed by yours truly!, you might find the Linux Mint user guide of use:

The Linux Mint User Guide - Linux Mint Community (http://community.linuxmint.com/tutorial/view/20)

VP959
24th Sep 2013, 20:30
By complete coincidence I'm partway through reading that very set of guidance, it looks very good so far and a far cry from the last time I looked at Linux (which was several years ago, when everything seemed a bit like DOS, with a command line to get everything set up.

rgbrock1
24th Sep 2013, 20:35
VP:

You'll still have access to the "command line" (shell) with Linux but it's not really necessary unless you like tinkering with it like I do! :ok:

OFSO
24th Sep 2013, 21:17
Obviously you can get Linux/Mint as a free download, but there's also a pack of CD's with instructions on sale at the Worlds Longest River.

Having pee'd about with several varieties of WIN over the past years (not to mention having achieved orgasmic success with Andy-Pandy on the tablet), my opinion is that every succeeding version of Windows buggers up the previously good and workable one, and hence my next self-build PC will be running Linux Mint, sine dubio.

No doubt as a humble scholar I shall be coming over to sit at your feet, rg, when that happens.

VP959
24th Sep 2013, 21:48
Obviously you can get Linux/Mint as a free download, but there's also a pack of CD's with instructions on sale at the Worlds Longest River.

Having pee'd about with several varieties of WIN over the past years (not to mention having achieved orgasmic success with Andy-Pandy on the tablet), my opinion is that every succeeding version of Windows buggers up the previously good and workable one, and hence my next self-build PC will be running Linux Mint, sine dubio.

No doubt as a humble scholar I shall be coming over to sit at your feet, rg, when that happens.

Might be quicker getting the CDs, as even with my supposedly fast broadband connection it's still telling me there's 37 minutes to go on the download.

I wholeheartedly agree about Windows, with the exception that I;ve managed to run XP (and Office 2003) for several years without a hitch. In fact if it wasn't for my PC self-destructing I'd still be running XP, but the only replacement I could buy came with the pretty grim Windows 7.

If I can get Linux Mint running I might be sorely tempted to look at getting a tablet. That waterproof Sony Xperia looks pretty good, but as I've heard mixed stories about the user friendliness of Android I really need to go and have a play with one in a store to see what it's really like.

MG23
24th Sep 2013, 23:01
Or you can just go all Apple and never have to worry about backups, upgrades, and things technical.

I thought about that when I bought my laptop, but the closest Apple equivalent was $2500, vs $1000 for the one with Windows (which I wiped when I installed Linux).

MG23
24th Sep 2013, 23:04
I am unaware of a converter which will take my Outlook .pst file and convert it to Thunderbird.

I did that years ago. I have a feeling the trick was to run Thunderbird on Windows, import the Outlook mail there, and then copy the Thunderbird mail file over to Linux?

Dushan
24th Sep 2013, 23:07
I thought about that when I bought my laptop, but the closest Apple equivalent was $2500, vs $1000 for the one with Windows (which I wiped when I installed Linux).

There are options...

I bought my 3 year old, used, Mac a year ago for $475. It has been working flawlessly and faster than any PC I had. The 2TB TimeCapsule/router was another $275, new from Apple. Together they just keep,on working. A few times I needed to retrieve a file that I accidentally deleted I just tapped into the TimeMachine and pointed to it, in the past. Very slick. The TimeCapsule will also act as your disk storage for the network and is expandable.

unclenelli
25th Sep 2013, 02:05
You could get yourself a Raspberry Pi for $35 which could do all the backup for you. (Or you can get everything except an HDMI screen for £70 - Composite-vid also works)

However, you should be aware that native Linux does not support NTFS - it can read, but not write.

You should research which flavour of Linux you decide on...!

Or format your big HDD to FAT32.

alisoncc
25th Sep 2013, 04:40
Run a couple of Linux CentOS 6.4 boxes. Solid, stable, no drama, just do what they are paid to do. Not that they cost anything. One is an Apache, PHP, MySQL webserver and the other a Postfix, Dovecot, Squirrel mail server and development machine. Couldn't be happier with their performance.

OFSO
25th Sep 2013, 06:42
the user friendliness of Android

This isn't an Android thread, but I have to say the version on my tablet couldn't be improved upon and I am completely satisfied. So much so that the wife will probably get one for Christmas.

I am also a very satisfied XP user, BTW. They should have left well alone .

VP959
25th Sep 2013, 09:12
Cheper option
You could get yourself a Raspberry Pi for $35 which could do all the backup for you. (Or you can get everything except an HDMI screen for £70 - Composite-vid also works)

However, you should be aware that native Linux does not support NTFS - it can read, but not write.

You should research which flavour of Linux you decide on...!

Or format your big HDD to FAT32.

The problem with the home network seems to be within Windows 7, though. I've spent hours trying to get to the bottom of it, but it seems as if there is some setting buried within the 2 Windows 7 machines that stops them from "seeing" any computer or device on the home network that isn't running Windows 7. For example, if both Windows 7 machines are turned on, then looking at the home network on either of them will show both machines. The machines running XP are always "invisible", and the Windows 7 machines can never "see" them

If I type the name of one of the XP machines into the address bar, preceded by two slashes, then magically the XP machine with that name will become visible. If I use the "search" function to try and find one of the XP machines then Windows 7 won't find it.

All machines are on the same network, with the same network name, sharing is enabled on all of them, passwords are disabled on all of them, all of the things I've read on the internet have been tried, yet the XP machines remain invisible to the Windows 7 machines.

If I were to switch to a Linux machine I suspect that Windows 7 may not see that either, as I believe this "blindness" is something specific to Windows 7.

I can work around it by manually telling the Windows 7 machine to backup to the hard disk connected to the XP machine, after I've manually connected to it using the "slash, slash, machine name" routine, but cannot, it seems, automate this, as when I try it gives a message saying that the XP machine cannot be found.

VP959
25th Sep 2013, 09:15
the user friendliness of Android

This isn't an Android thread, but I have to say the version on my tablet couldn't be improved upon and I am completely satisfied. So much so that the wife will probably get one for Christmas.

I am also a very satisfied XP user, BTW. They should have left well alone .

Thanks, that's encouraging. I had feared that an Android tablet might be very much second-best to the iPad, from some of the reviews I've read.

I wholeheartedly support your view of XP, it was probably the best version of Windows I've ever used. A day doesn't go by when Windows 7 doesn't frustrate me in some way, not least the very large number of updates that seem to come out, often resulting in having to shut down and re start right in the middle of something.

dubbleyew eight
25th Sep 2013, 09:22
there is something about that xp machines are not compatible with the newer expanded ip addressing used on the internet. sorta like the old 16 bit vs 32 bit applications problem. maybe therein lies your problem.

I ditched windows8 on my Toshiba satellite laptop and installed linux mint.
i dont use it on the net.
so far have had very few problems with the installation.
there is a pdf viewer version for mint.
the libre open office has had no problems with any of my xp files.

microsoft have lost the plot. :mad:

izod tester
25th Sep 2013, 09:50
I would support the earlier respondents who suggest that you try Linux Mint. However, since you have some applications on XP which you want to continue to use then that is perfectly possible by installing Virtualbox on Mint and then installing XP and its essential applications to run as a virtual PC on top of Mint. I did that to run Autoroute for which I couldn't find a suitable Linux alternative.

If you want, you could install Virtual box on your Win 7 machine and try various flavours of Linux as virtual machines before you decide which to install as your main OS.

However, explicit and clear instructions on how to view XP shares from Win 7 are available on TechNet Forums at: How to make Windows 7 work with older Windows versions for networking and file sharing. (http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/windows/en-US/033c418b-1096-4df7-bfad-fd3d431f3cd5/how-to-make-windows-7-work-with-older-windows-versions-for-networking-and-file-sharing)

VP959
25th Sep 2013, 10:12
I would support the earlier respondents who suggest that you try Linux Mint. However, since you have some applications on XP which you want to continue to use then that is perfectly possible by installing Virtualbox on Mint and then installing XP and its essential applications to run as a virtual PC on top of Mint. I did that to run Autoroute for which I couldn't find a suitable Linux alternative.

If you want, you could install Virtual box on your Win 7 machine and try various flavours of Linux as virtual machines before you decide which to install as your main OS.

However, explicit and clear instructions on how to view XP shares from Win 7 are available on TechNet Forums at: How to make Windows 7 work with older Windows versions for networking and file sharing.

Thanks, I'm currently part-way through putting Mint on to a new partition on one of the Windows 7 machines so that I can set it up to "dual boot" (I hope!).

I have tried the advice from that link you gave before, and have just double checked the settings it suggests again, but it still seems that the Windows 7 machines cannot see the XP machines on the network (unless I specifically type in the machine name). it isn't specifically a file sharing problem (although one of the very annoying things about Windows 7 is the way it seems to make file sharing very tedious to set up), more a case of the XP machines not appearing when I look at the network from a Windows 7 machine (although they are there, and can be accessed manually).

seacue
25th Sep 2013, 12:00
You have to be careful if entering the Apple/Mac world. Do NOT buy an older Mac based on the Power PC processor. Power PC-based hardware and its version of OS X was built through some time in 2005. Apple abandoned ALL support for that hardware and its software in 2011. It isn't only MS which abandons older products.

topsl
25th Sep 2013, 18:59
I have been using home computers for over 30 years and have experience of MAC OSX, most versions of Windows and several Linux distros. I am the founder of two usergroups - one for MS and MAC users and the other for Linux users. If you wish to try out Linux I recommend a live USB rather than a CD as it will enable you to update, add applications and create documents etc. Indeed, some roving journalists favour this over carrying a laptop. When I hear people criticise Ubuntu because of Unity, why not install another desktop, or several. I use Cinnamon in Ubuntu as my preferred but have other desktop options installed too. Using WINE - Wine Is Not an Emulator - I run several Windows applications, including Office and Outlook. My desktop has four drives. I have XP installed on one HD, W8 on a SSD and Ubuntu on another SSD. The fourth drive stores my data files and ALL operating systems are configured to use them. Therefore, if I work on a document in one OS and then boot to another, the updated document is ready to use. Incidentally, I converted my Macbook Pro to run Macbuntu - Ubuntu with a MAC desktop - as I do not like the restrive practices of Apple. Having tested and used several Linux distros, I have settled on Ubuntu. In addition, I have a 64GB USB3 stick with a full installation of Ubuntu - not the live version - and XP installed on a virtual drive using Virtualbox. This effectively gives me a bootable USB stick with XP. No OS other than a Linux distro gives me this flexibility. Come on in and give it a try, after all it is FREE both as in BEER and as in SPEECH. Mike - member Free Software Foundation

VP959
25th Sep 2013, 21:26
I'll just close this thread by saying that I'm typing this on my previously very dire, Windows 7 corrupted, Asus Zenbook, which is now simply flying along, now that it's running Linux Mint.

Not only was Mint an absolute doddle to install (far, far quicker and easier than installing Windows), but I'm amazed at the way everything works straight out of the box, even down to having all the Office apps installed by default, along with a whole bunch of very easy to use apps for handling graphics, video, etc.

I really, really, wish I'd done this a year ago, rather than struggle to try and get Windows 7 to work properly. I can even see all the other machines on the network, no pratting about trying to sort out arcane sharing protocols or trying to find buried answers as to why Windows 7 can't natively see XP machines on the same network, Mint just works straight out of the box.

I can't say how impressed I am with this. As a complete Linux beginner I've installed this and the only thing I've had to type in to get everything to work perfectly is the WPA password for the wireless network. Mint even recognised the rather odd Elantech touchpad on this Ultrabook and allowed me to set the touchpad options easily, something that Windows 7 really struggled with.

If anyone here is as fed up with Microsoft as I've become over the past year or so, then I very strongly recommend trying Linux Mint. If I can get it working without any significant problems, then frankly anyone can.

Loose rivets
25th Sep 2013, 23:34
I'm certainly going to try Mint. I'm endetted to Ubuntu and indeed this forum, for getting blond lady's jpgs off her bust laptop, and would now like to rid my Sony VGN NR498E of its Vista first boot option.

Win 7 works reasonably well, but I have never got the drivers to work - not even with Milo's input on the deal. So, I have to go Win X to alter things the F keys can no longer access. Worst of all right now, I have to reboot to Vista to get my card readers to work.

Is it likely I'll get Mint drivers for this aging machine? If yes, ridding it of Vista would be a no-brainer. (I retained Vista in the first place to support a Luddite pal.)

I would like to boot from a USB stick. It was waaaaaay faster when getting into Blondie's HP. I noticed on that, the touch pad worked, but the side-bar area did not. (Two finger touch, did.)

rh200
26th Sep 2013, 01:27
I think most things have been covered here, but I'll add my one cents worth.

These days theres enough flavors of Linux around you don't need to do the command line stuff for most of what you do and installation is easy.

Recommendation; get a few different live distro's on CD to try out and to see which one you like most.

I use Ubuntu, though I hate the unity interface, but it is the best for dumb installs.

As for needing Windoze, the best is to duel boot or use a virtuel machine. The virtuel machines these days (virtual box) work exceptionally well. So I use this now for Windoze programs I need, though I still have legacy Windoze on another partition.

If you want to duel boot, its best to have the Windoze already installed, and let the Linux installer work it out and set up the grub boot loader.

There are various annoying things with Linux, and sometimes when faults occur, you have to wait a fair while for a fix, but for general stuff its good.

seacue
26th Sep 2013, 01:51
For some unknown reason, I can't see page 2 of this thread. I try, but it always reverts to page 1.

Edited to say that moving from a Windoze PC to this Mint Machine, all is revealed.

rgbrock1
26th Sep 2013, 14:14
Basil wrote:

There is nothing for Linux quite like MS Outlook and, although I can now do without all the PA to the MD bells and whistles, I am unaware of a converter which will take my Outlook .pst file and convert it to Thunderbird.

Thunderbird won't do this. However, the email app called 'Evolution' does it quite well.

dubbleyew eight
26th Sep 2013, 14:18
seacue when the prooone software determines a new page needed it will create the frame. until there is a post on that frame you'll get the mystery next page illusion.

txdmy1
27th Sep 2013, 16:03
ucs.cam.ac.uk/support/unix-support