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Thought about giving desktop Linux a try?.. #149614 12/14/20 09:07 PM
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Az4x4 Offline OP
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Could be that you’ve thought about giving desktop Linux a try. You’ve heard that Linux is highly stable and offers lots of top quality free software, so you’re tempted to give it a shot. It’s free, you know that much, so you get on the net and do a search for Linux - and you’re shocked to find there isn’t just one “Linux”, there are many!..

Feeling kinda ‘out of your depth’, yet wanting to make a smart choice, you have no idea where to start. This is where a lot potentially new Linux users simply give up and retreat to their 'comfort zone'. Coming from Windows or Mac the ‘freedom of choice’ that Linux offers seems too confusing for many, and that’s not hard to understand.

Years ago I was in the same boat. Except for my son gifting me with a set of installation disks for Ubuntu 5.10, released in October, 2005, I might never have begun the transition that moved me from Windows to Linux.

Modern cutting edge Linux for the desktop is available to download and use for free. Its various editions are known as ‘distros’, short for ‘distributions’. It’s easy to find yourself confused with so many choices, but a great site to help sort this out is Distrowatch.com. Check it out and see if you agree!

The “best distro” for you is the one you decide fits your needs. If you don’t have someone to lean on while making this decision, like I had with my son and the Ubuntu installation disks he gave me in 2005, let me suggest you start by reading a bit on Distrowatch. The top 5 distros listed there are the ideal place to begin. If experience means anything, among the top 5 Distrowatch listings - MX Linux, Manjaro, Linux Mint, Pop!_OS, and Ubuntu - the first I would recommend to a new user would be Linux Mint, with MX Linux an equal optional choice.

You won’t go wrong with either of these two. Mint is particularly suited to new users, providing a familiar easy to use desktop interface that includes everything you’ll typically need to get right to work from the instant it’s initially booted up. They’re both available as live USBs that allow testing the OS before installing it. All it costs is the time to download the image file, ‘burn’ it to a USB stick, and try it on your PC without changing a thing! ..Really, it’s fun to discover what Linux on your desktop is all about, especially on bitterly cold winter days when riding isn't all that much fun and Covid limits what we can safely do.

Stick with these top 5 distros to begin with, starting with the two I’ve suggested. Once you have your bearings and you’ve got a good idea what Linux offers on your PC, you’ll be on your way to discovering the amazing world of possibilities that Linux provides - a journey well worth taking, especially these days!..


The voyage of discovery that truly matters is not in seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes.
Re: Thought about giving desktop Linux a try?.. [Re: Az4x4] #149616 12/15/20 06:56 PM
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Muniac Offline
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I'm on Mint 20 Ulyana as I type. Running it on a Dell Insprion 1501 PC which I'd guess is almost 20 years old now. Dell made good hardware back in the day. I D/L the O/S and burn a DVD to do the load. Good idea to match the checksum to make sure the file is OK. I've never had issues with these not matching. The challenge is finding the correct version that's compatible with the target hardware and GPU. As noted, you can do a test drive first without risk of changing anything on the system. This is a good way to see if the O/S will boot before installing it. I've had successful test drives and failed installs so make sure you have all your data backed up. I've always used the MATE desktop.

You may need to get into your BIOS setup menu and change the boot sequence. If it's set to boot from the HD (most common) it won't see the USB or optical drive. Newer PCs with secure boot may cause issues. I've not tinkered with any of these so I can't offer any advice.

Mint is quite different from Windows in many details. The GUIs are conceptually the same, however. If you're doing primarily browser based computing, there isn't much of a learning curve. If you're jumping from Photoshop to GIMP and/or Illustrator to InkScape there's a BIG learning curve. As for Linux, it's a viable alternative to Windows providing the software you need to run is offered for a Linux platform. Some developers support only Windows and MAC. Anyone out there that's switching over would be good to hear from.


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Re: Thought about giving desktop Linux a try?.. [Re: Muniac] #149617 12/15/20 09:45 PM
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Az4x4 Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Muniac
..I'm on Mint 20 Ulyana as I type. Running it on a Dell Insprion 1501 PC which I'd guess is almost 20 years old now.... I've always used the MATE desktop..

You may need to get into your BIOS setup menu and change the boot sequence. If it's set to boot from the HD (most common) it won't see the USB or optical drive. Newer PCs with secure boot may cause issues...

Scott has enjoyed excellent results running Linux Mint 20 on his 20 year old Dell Inspiron 1510's. Just goes to show that older well made hardware provides an excellent platform for Linux, with newer, faster, more capable PC's a step up from there! ..In addition I'm in full agreement on the MATE desktop option that Linux Mint offers. It's by far 'the best' in my book..

As for 'secure boot' issues, a newer PC's 'system setup' utility will have an option you can select to disable 'secure boot', reverting to 'legacy boot' instead. With 'legacy boot' switched on you'll be able to set the machine's boot order with either the DVD or the USB you've burned your Mint 20 image to in first place. Then, when you boot the machine with Mint's boot media in place, the 'Live' version of Mint will appear on your display and you'll be able to test drive it without installing anything, or install Mint along side of or in place of your current OS, your choice.

As a brief explanation, newer PCs come with what is known as the 'Unified Extensible Firmware Interface' (UEFI), a software interface between a computer's operating system and its firmware. UEFI replaced the legacy 'Basic Input/Output System' (BIOS) firmware interface that was originally present in all IBM PC compatible personal computers. Almost all UEFI firmware provides support for legacy BIOS services, which is why you have the option of switching from UEFI 'secure boot' to BIOS 'legacy boot' when you access your PCs 'system setup' utility.

Originally Posted by Muniac
..Mint is quite different from Windows in many details. The GUIs are conceptually the same, however. If you're doing primarily browser based computing, there isn't much of a learning curve. If you're jumping from Photoshop to GIMP and/or Illustrator to InkScape there's a BIG learning curve...

True enough. Keep in mind that no matter the platform you run GIMP or InkScape on, be it Linux, Windows or Mac, going from a Photoshop or Illustrator background there will always be a learning curve to deal with. Going from any high end program you may be familiar to a similar but different program entails a 'learning curve'.

Originally Posted by Muniac
..As for Linux, it's a viable alternative to Windows providing the software you need to run is offered for a Linux platform.....

For the most part the typical PC user will find that Linux Mint, right out of the box, provides virtually everything needed for most anything they will do with their computer. Beyond that, as more specialized software tasks are called for, the majority of these will have the software selection necessary to accomplish them available in Mint's 'Software Manager', a marvel of organization and efficiency, both for installing and uninstalling software as necessary.

As to the Windows vs Linux software question, going back for a moment to the Photoshop-Illustrator issue, ..I run Photoshop v7.1, Illustrator CC v2014, and Acrobat Pro 6.0, along with the latest versions of GIMP and InkScape on my Mint 20 desktop. The versions of Photoshop, Illustrator, and Acrobat Pro that I run in the latest version of WINE as though they were native to Linux, together with the capabilities that GIMP and InkScape provide, make for an unbeatable graphics software combination on my Mint desktop.

My youngest son, who works in computer graphics for a living on a Windows PC, calls on me occasionally to help solve graphics conversion issues that CorelDRAW and Photoshop on his Windows PC can't seem to untangle. Invariably the combination of Windows and Linux graphic programs I run in Mint bridge the gap offering format conversion solutions his system lacks while bringing seemingly dead end projects back to life. So, although long retired from graphics work, I find myself still 'on call', and helping Kris with graphic format conversion problems that his Windows PC can't seem to solve on its own is a lot of fun!..

All that to say, the newest version of WINE, with its ever more comprehensive and capable "compatibility overlay', allowing Windows software to run directly on the Linux desktop, bridges the gap in ways that leave me doubting there is any actual ultimate limit to what Linux Mint is now and increasingly will be capable of!

If you have time available, plus the threat of Covid combined with bitter winter cold has you indoors more than normal, and you're at least 'mildly curious' as to what you might expect if you did give Linux Mint a try, ..go for it! There's nothing to lose and much to be gained, so check it out for yourself!

Last edited by Az4x4; 12/17/20 04:46 PM.

The voyage of discovery that truly matters is not in seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes.
Re: Thought about giving desktop Linux a try?.. [Re: Az4x4] #149624 12/17/20 03:48 PM
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My FireFox 84 browser was just hacked! I've never seen this happen either on Linux. It was referencing Windows so this was a browser specific hack. I had to delete FF and reinstall it to clear the problem. This happened when I was doing a google search for information on Ali Alexander. Very strange, indeed.


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Re: Thought about giving desktop Linux a try?.. [Re: Muniac] #149625 12/17/20 04:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Muniac
My FireFox 84 browser was just hacked! I've never seen this happen either on Linux. It was referencing Windows so this was a browser specific hack. I had to delete FF and reinstall it to clear the problem. This happened when I was doing a google search for information on Ali Alexander. Very strange, indeed.

That is weird, to say the least, but far from unknown. I've seen the same thing a time or two using Google Chrome. As you know, Firefox always updates from within the browser, never from some other website. Scammers will try to get users to open and/or download from websites they've compromised, thereby infecting their computer if they're using Windows. Linux powered PCs may display the issue within their web browser, like Firefox did with you, but their operating system architecture is impervious to this stuff, so the infection doesn't spread like it does in Windows. A major reason to be running Linux on your PC when browsing the net!..


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Re: Thought about giving desktop Linux a try?.. [Re: Az4x4] #149632 12/17/20 11:33 PM
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Yea I've never seen this happen. I'm on FF 84.0 which is current. No problems with my O/S. The message clearly threatened Windows with a phone number to call and other BS designed to trap a user. So the hack confined itself to the browser. I lost control of my pointer and had to do a cold shut down. Very strange indeed. Within the browser it allows a lot of programming control via scripting languages and who knows what else.

The unsettling part about this was that I was just doing a routine google search. Conservative political content which we all know is being censored by big tech. It would be really bad if in addition to censorship, a virus was spread for those searching certain content. I can't prove this but something like this has never happened before in searching the internet for the past 15 years. Just a coincidence this happened during mass censorship? I wonder.

No doubt a Linux O/S is a much safer platform for deflecting invasive software. I have one Windows 10 system in the shop. It isn't connected to the internet! I have a development application for HMIs I'm working with that is only available for Windows. No choices there that are practical. All my internet based computing is done via Linux and either FF or Chrome.

I go back to when the internet was cloistered in academia. Then it went commercial. It ain't the same place it once was when it made it's debut. As for this hacking, I'd imaging FF will get on this pretty quickly. That is unless they are part of a larger scam. I know Mozilla is no friend of Google. As for updates, I go through the Linux update manager. Stay safe out there.


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Re: Thought about giving desktop Linux a try?.. [Re: Muniac] #149634 12/18/20 04:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Muniac
..Yea I've never seen this happen. I'm on FF 84.0 which is current. No problems with my O/S. The message clearly threatened Windows with a phone number to call and other BS designed to trap a user. So the hack confined itself to the browser. I lost control of my pointer and had to do a cold shut down. Very strange indeed. Within the browser it allows a lot of programming control via scripting languages and who knows what else.....

Exactly what I've experienced at least twice the past year or better. These scams are targeted at Windows users, and while they're little more than an annoyance to those of us running Linux, I wondered at the time and still do how many unknowing Windows users end up on the short end of the stick, their PCs infected in ways they have no idea how to deal with.

Originally Posted by Muniac
..The unsettling part about this was that I was just doing a routine google search. Conservative political content which we all know is being censored by big tech. It would be really bad if in addition to censorship, a virus was spread for those searching certain content. I can't prove this but something like this has never happened before in searching the internet for the past 15 years. Just a coincidence this happened during mass censorship? I wonder...

Wondering about such things is normal. As you suggest it 'looks suspicious' that a search for conservative viewpoints leads to a 'trap' designed to snare Windows users in a way they'll be hard pressed to recover from.

Originally Posted by Muniac
..No doubt a Linux O/S is a much safer platform for deflecting invasive software. I have one Windows 10 system in the shop. It isn't connected to the internet! I have a development application for HMIs I'm working with that is only available for Windows. No choices there that are practical. All my internet based computing is done via Linux and either FF or Chrome...

Which is why you're still 'good to go' and not crying in your beer over a useless infected PC..

Originally Posted by Muniac
..I go back to when the internet was cloistered in academia. Then it went commercial. It ain't the same place it once was when it made it's debut. As for this hacking, I'd imaging FF will get on this pretty quickly. That is unless they are part of a larger scam. I know Mozilla is no friend of Google. As for updates, I go through the Linux update manager. Stay safe out there..

Mozilla isn't part of this scam, of that I'm rather sure. Any browser you might have been using would have responded like Firefox did. When I ran into this I was on Chrome, and it came up with the same message you saw, a threat to 'Windows users', a phone number to call (or possible a website to visit, it's been awhile and that detail escapes me), and all sort of fictitious 'official warnings' designed to force compliance - along with the inability to escape the web page without shutting down completely - which in Linux is easy enough to do, but unknowing people running Windows could easily be victimized by this scam..

In fact, come to think about it, some years back a good friend of mine stumbled into a similar web based scam with his Windows machine. Not knowing what to do he 'paid' a steep 'ransom' for some kind of 'password key' that unlocked his machine. I had tried to get him to use Linux for a long time, but he was adamant he wouldn't run into something he couldn't handle -- until the day came that he did, but then it was too late..

Last edited by Az4x4; 12/18/20 04:37 AM.

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Re: Thought about giving desktop Linux a try?.. [Re: Az4x4] #149639 12/19/20 12:02 AM
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George - Thanks for your input. As for cyber attacks, I have much greater concerns for the government and our infrastructure. My viral bout with a browser is small change and easily dealt with. We've got some interesting times on the horizon to put it mildly. Take care and enjoy the weekend.


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Re: Thought about giving desktop Linux a try?.. [Re: Muniac] #149640 12/19/20 04:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Muniac
...As for cyber attacks, I have much greater concerns for the government and our infrastructure. My viral bout with a browser is small change and easily dealt with. We've got some interesting times on the horizon to put it mildly. Take care and enjoy the weekend..

Interesting times ahead, for sure. Hope for the best, prep for the worst, anticipate a reality that lands somewhere between those two extremes. The nation has been in more dangerously turbulent situations before and came through them stronger than ever. Do we have what it takes to come through the present times intact?

Not sure we've previously experienced the sort of wholesale upheaval on every front as we have now. In decades not long past the 'social media' phenomena of today, dictating truth, acceptable beliefs and politically correct attitudes to the masses, was completely unknown. What our nation and its people once commonly held as true and right, infusing our country with backbone, muscle and fortitude, now elicits howls of ridicule and scorn.

The ideals our country was founded upon are being cast aside today as worthless relics of a bygone era. Idiots with an internet connection and a social media account spew their corrosive bile far and wide, glorifying the destruction of our political processes, praising the subjection of working people to 'stay at home' measures whose end is to decimate our economy and make heros out of terrorists, all the while supporting those who cheat and steal their way to what passes for 'power' these days - a military to call upon, police forces to do their bidding, and printing presses turning out trillions in fiat money to pay their unpayable bills.


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Re: Thought about giving desktop Linux a try?.. [Re: Az4x4] #149641 12/20/20 12:12 AM
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George - Well said, thanks for posting. Either you see where this is heading or you don't. Our nation is very divided now more than I've ever seen in my lifetime. I don't see that changing much either which is troubling. We used to live in a constitutional republic. But that only works if we follow our constitution. Many see this document as a hindrance to their cause instead of a charter to keep our nation free, limit government and protect our rights at citizens. Our first and second amendments are under siege as I write. And it won't stop there if we lose these. The next couple of months are going to be interesting.


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