Goodbye MacBook Pro Experience, hello Linux Experience!

Goodbye MacBook Pro Experience, hello Linux Experience!

Summary: My MacBook Pro Experience series of posts that I've run over the past six weeks or so have, in my mind been a total success. One of the things that made it a success in my mind is the amount of feedback I have received. Buried within that feedback were numerous requests that I do the same thing, but this time for Linux. Sounds like a good idea to me, so let's get the ball rolling!

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TOPICS: Open Source
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My MacBook Pro Experience series of posts that I've run over the past six weeks or so have, in my mind been a total success.  One of the things that made it a success in my mind is the amount of feedback I have received.  Buried within that feedback were numerous requests that I do the same thing, but this time for Linux.  Sounds like a good idea to me, so let's get the ball rolling!

What I liked about the MacBook Experience was that it was a group effort.  Your posts and comments added as much, if not more, than I did and the whole series will serve as a good resource for anyone who wants to know a little more about Mac hardware and software.  I had numerous emails from readers who said that they had found the posts and the associated comments very interesting and useful in helping them come to the decision to give the Mac platform a try.

So, let's do the same thing for Linux!  The whole series is open and fluid in my head at present and I'd welcome some feedback from those in the Linux community and these interested in knowing more about Linux.  However, the idea is the same - looking at the ups and downs of making the switch from Windows to Linux.  I'm also interested in covering how well Linux integrates into a Windows ecosystem.  Oh, and on top of that, a serious list of links would also be great that can be updated on a regular basis throughout the experience.  Since I won't be working on borrowed hardware for this series of posts, there's less rush to get everything covered as quickly.

Here's my plan.  To work through developing a one desktop and one notebook system running on Linux.  The best place to start (I think) is to narrow down the distro or distros that are worth looking at.

So, I open the floor to you!  Let's see if we can create a great resource for anyone thinking about making the switch to Linux!

Topic: Open Source

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  • I would reccomend trying a paid Linux ...

    ... such as Suse Enterprise and a free one such as Fedora to compare and contrast both models.
    ShadeTree
    • Correction

      recommend not reccomend
      ShadeTree
    • I wouldn't recommend RH or Fedora

      because those are clearly designed for the server and/or workstation, not a regular desktop or notebook. SuSE Enterprise (SLED, not SLES) would be a good choice for a "paid Linux". For a "free Linux" I'd go either OpenSuSE or Ubuntu.

      But because OpenSuSE and SLED would be kind of similar, perhaps a good mix would be SLED and Ubuntu. That way you get a taste of both RPM-based distros and Debian-based distros.
      Michael Kelly
      • Like it or not ....

        ... Redhat is one of the top providers of Linux.
        ShadeTree
        • ...for servers and workstations

          not for everyday user desktops or notebooks. They even admit so themselves.
          Michael Kelly
    • I would stay away from RedHat...

      For "professional" desktop distributions - SLED or OpenSuSE 10.2

      For "free" - Ubuntu (gnome) or Kubuntu (KDE)

      For windows users the KDE is closer to the normal "look and feel" and SuSE's YaST is very similar to Window's Control Panel.


      For a server, RH, SuSE or Ubuntu with WebMin installed should do most of what need.
      bportlock
  • Looking forward to this.

    Your posts on the Macbook were informative and balanced. I am looking forward to
    the Linux posts. as far as Distros to try I would suggest Ubuntu. But openSUSE may
    work better for integrating with your Windows environs.
    Zoraster
  • Now you are speaking my language .

    First it was with the Mac OS and Hardware and now you choose to dabble with LINUX . Two distros come to mind , Mandriva Linux 2007 because of its ease of use to install and run , and the support you get from www.mandrivalinux.com . The second distro would have to be Debian . Why ? Well it's easy to install and run , secondly because Debian has the largest repository in the world of all the distributions . Both I have running on a PC and a Mac .
    Intellihence
    • Debian is okay, but...

      the packages in Debian aren't up to date, given that the current stable release(Sarge) was released over a year and a half ago. However, Debian may be a good conservative choice if he doesn't really need bleeding edge stuff. I would recommend Ubuntu for that, since that is what I use and Adrian did try to get it running under Virtual PC before.
      Tony Agudo
      • oh, almost forgot...

        plus Ubuntu is an installable Live CD, so Adrian should be able to get a good idea of how his hardware would be compatible with Ubuntu before commiting to the switch.
        Tony Agudo
      • "packages in Debian aren't up to date"?

        Debian Testing (Etch) is updated daily, and the latest build can be downloaded weekly, making it the most up-to-date system available, free of charge. Whats more, once installed, it can be set to automatically update and/or patch daily so it remains the most up-to-date system possible. It also updates any of the myriad of packages that are installed along with the kernel, at the same time with the same process.
        As mentioned elsewhere, practically anything that Windows does can be done with Linux, except some Windows games, and many of them can be played with emulators.
        As for drivers, most popular hardware is supported, and drivers are installed with the system, with almost no input from the user.
        Of course Linux isn't perfect, but it's improving so rapidly I believe it is at least equal to or even surpasses Windows, and is certainly light years ahead of Vista, if you consider Vista's activation garbage, DRM corruption, and onerous EULA restrictions, not to even mention the price. To anyone who is poor or doesn't have money to throw away, it's the price, man, the price.
        Ole Man
  • Linux

    Read the attached link as a starting point http://www-128.ibm.com/developerworks/linux/library/l-roadmap.html. There is a large learning curve from ms$, but the end experience is well worth it.
    digger97
  • Fair and Balanced

    Suggestions for the 'Linux Experience' review:

    Laptop:
    Consider going with a Lenovo ThinkPad T60p which is Novell SUSE certified and probably the most 'compatible' you'll be well within the bell curve.

    Desktop:
    I would suggest [url=http://www.dell.com/content/products/features.aspx/nseries?c=us&cs=04&l=en&s=bsd&redirect=1]Dell's nSeries?[/url]--they've been at it for a while--again I'd recommend Novell SUSE

    Thanks Adrian!
    D T Schmitz
    • GUI

      As you know, with Linux, you have a 'choice' as to which GUI to run on top of the kernel.

      By default, Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop's default GUI is GNOME.

      You find as a newcomer the GNOME interface relatively easy to use and in the GNOME control panel are settings for tweaking the Xgl 3D special effects.

      There currently isn't a control center Wizard per se in KDE that accomplishes same but there's plenty of on-line guidance on how to enable Xgl (www.opensuse.org). It's not hard to enable Xgl with KDE.

      Depending on which 3D graphics card you select for your Desktop machine, will dictate the availability of open source or proprietary drivers.

      I am partial to the nVidia graphics cards (vs ATI).

      I personally like KDE more than GNOME and you'll find as you cultivate an understanding of the salient issues that KDE simply is more flexible at the cost of being slightly more complex and memory-consumptive. Windows XP users will tend to like KDE.

      With gobs of memory, typically 2Gigs, this is not such a big issue but on older machines where many Linux distros thrive with under 512MB of RAM installed you need to factor that in as a consideration.

      However, I should think your test machines will be using the most current up to date technology.

      Try to drive down the middle of the pike Adrian.
      Looking forward to your review.
      D T Schmitz
    • Cherry picking the hardware would not be ...

      ... fair and balanced. To deliberately look for hardware that works well with Linux does not give a true picture of the average user switching to linux. I recommend he use what ever hardware he has available and let the chips fall where they may. That is the way it would be for the average user.
      ShadeTree
      • Adrian can reach is own conclusions

        IBM ThinkPad and Dell nSeries are fairly mainstream.

        Picking something representative of what a larger sampling of the Linux population uses for Laptop and Desktop should be given major consideration.

        No cherry picker required. These are right on the ground.

        I might add the Apple is hardware-optimized--everyone knows that.

        So let's try to be objective about this--keep the playing field level.

        Adrian will collect feedback and go from there.
        D T Schmitz
        • The IBM ThinkPad is not a mainstream ...

          ... laptop. It is not even in the top 5. If Adrian wants to test going from Windows to Linux as he did with going from Windows to OSX he needs to mimic that experience. When people are changing to Linux they tyoically are reloading an old machine they already have. The fact that Apple tightly controls the hardware and the OS is irrelevent in this contect. That was a seperate test.

          The scenario here is not about which OS is best. It is about what a user goes through changing from Windows to Linux. Since when has the playing field ever been level? I would pose that Linux and OSX to a lesser degree will always be at a disadvantage when it comes to a Windows user evaluating them. The incumbent always has an advantage. It is a hurdle both OSs have to overcome to gain converts.

          The interesting thing here is how hard the Linux side is already lobbying to structure the evaluation in their favor. What are they afraid of? If Linux is the mature OS many suggest then the hardware shouldn't matter. It doesn't with Windows.
          ShadeTree
          • Give us your list of Linux-Certified Laptops

            The scenario IS about O/Ses.
            Windows Vista, Apple OSX, Linux.

            Vista 'capable'
            Apple 'certified' (implied because they only sell their hardware)
            Linux 'certified'

            Certification weighs in if you want to have a 'fair' comparison of Operating Systems--his name for the article: 'Linux Experience'--not 'Linux running on any dang hardware experience'.

            Good Lord. [i]"Even a caveman would understand!"[/i]

            I am sorry I can't get into a debate--have to go to the [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H02iwWCrXew]airport![/url]

            Catch u later! :)
            D T Schmitz
          • it isnt a question of what hardware...

            So much as supported hardware. Windows doesnt always have very good support for certain hardware.

            Plus this is a user experience, most Window/MAC users do not upgrade their systems, they buy preinstalled new ones.

            NOTE: the use of the word "most" that doesnt mean "all"
            mrlinux
          • Since it is all but impossible to get a machine ...

            ... preinstalled with Linux, the majority of people running Linux installed it. Adrian can compare the ease of installing linux to the ease of installing Windows by wiping the drive.
            ShadeTree