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I'm not a geek [message #7627] Sat, 16 March 2013 00:22 Go to next message
Anne  is currently offline Anne
Messages: 355
Registered: April 2012
Senior Member
I'm not stupid, but I'm not a geek. I wouldn't even begin to know where to start to learn about computers. I use commercial (as Tuck said you pay them to screw you without lube where you never want to be screwed) software. I've heard of Linux but have been afraid to try it on a machine that I have that is currently working no matter how badly. So: Where to start? Remember I'm ignorant so I want to know things you probably learned with your mother's milk...

What has brought this up is webmail services that are thinly disguised spyware programs. I admit that I have a g(iveusyour data)mail address and had to laugh at Microscrew and their advert against giggle. After all it isn't like Microscrew respects your privacy when you use their coldmail or deadmail service. Indeed they to mine your mail for data to direct adverts to you.

The worst thing though in my mind is that these two giants is that they have made common cause with the current junta.
Re: I'm not a geek [message #7638] Sat, 16 March 2013 08:52 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sir Lee  is currently offline Sir Lee
Messages: 440
Registered: October 2003
Location: São Paulo, Brazil
Senior Member
Hmm. OK. Let's start small.

First, Linux by itself won't solve your concerns regarding e-mail privacy. For that, you have to change your mail provider -- which likely will involve changing your e-mail address too. The thing is, free mail providers will always have some catch. Most often they will push lots of ads to you in *some* way.

With that out of the way... there are a number of Linux distributions that take a lot of the pain out of the process of setting up a new machine, particularly if you want to keep Windows working until you are comfortable in the new environment. Ubuntu targets mostly end-users (as opposed to servers and geeks) and therefore has a number of newbie-friendly features, so it's probably as good a place as any to start. It has a number of "try out" modes, such as running from a CD/DVD/flash drive, and even a installer that runs as a Windows application.

Some caveats:
- Setting up your (existing, working) Windows machine always entails SOME risk, even for experienced Linux jocks. For a newbie, the risk of losing data is NOT insignificant. I really, really advise you to backup ALL your data before attempting it. Particularly if you don't have a more experienced friend to help you along. Always consider the "worst case scenario" of needing to reformat the entire disk. That means having the means at hand to reinstall your Windoze setup, your apps and restoring your data. Do NOT depend on the "Recovery" partition that came preinstalled on your computer to work afterwards; DO generate the "recovery disks" before proceeding.

The best thing, if you (a) have a desktop machine; (b) have an extra hard disk lying around and (c) is willing to fiddle with hardware, would be to unplug the original hard disk so you can't damage its contents, then play with Linux on the second hard disk.

- If you have a new computer preloaded with Windows 8, there might be quite a few extra hoops to jump through. Windows 8 uses a new "secure boot" mode that makes it harder to install a different OS; you have to figure out how to change BIOS settings and stuff, which are sorta hidden in those machines.

[Updated on: Sat, 16 March 2013 08:53]


Don't call me Shirley. You will surely make me surly.
Re: I'm not a geek [message #7639] Sat, 16 March 2013 09:48 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Anne  is currently offline Anne
Messages: 355
Registered: April 2012
Senior Member
So since I just happen to have a HD with a copy of Win XP hanging around I can pop the case off from an old tower I have and put it in there and start experimenting with unbuntu if I can get a compact disk or dvd that has a copy that is bootable? Cool. Now the issue will be getting a bootable unbuntu disk. Changing mail providers should not be impossible as I am able to buy my own internet service rather than use a public computer. One reason I was using yablu mail, deadmail, and g(iveusyourdata)mail was that I couldn't afford to buy internet service. That however has changed.
Re: I'm not a geek [message #7641] Sat, 16 March 2013 18:54 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sir Lee  is currently offline Sir Lee
Messages: 440
Registered: October 2003
Location: São Paulo, Brazil
Senior Member
Anne wrote on Sat, 16 March 2013 10:48

So since I just happen to have a HD with a copy of Win XP hanging around I can pop the case off from an old tower I have and put it in there and start experimenting with unbuntu if I can get a compact disk or dvd that has a copy that is bootable? Cool. Now the issue will be getting a bootable unbuntu disk. Changing mail providers should not be impossible as I am able to buy my own internet service rather than use a public computer. One reason I was using yablu mail, deadmail, and g(iveusyourdata)mail was that I couldn't afford to buy internet service. That however has changed.


Actually, if you are going to set up a separate computer for Linux, it would be even better to use a clean HD, with no Windows at all. If you don't mind losing that copy of XP on that HD, let the Linux installer erase the entire disk.

As for getting a bootable copy of Ubuntu (or nearly any other Linux or *BSD distribution, for that matter), it's easy as long as you have a working CD/DVD burner in your current machine. Just go to the distro's webside and download an ISO image appropriate for your needs -- for older machines you might want a 32 bits (x86) build, while for a newer machine with lots of RAM a x64 build would be better, for instance.
Anyway, just download the image and burn it to a disk. That's the simplest way to do it.

There are also ways to convert those ISO images into bootable flash drives. That's useful if you don't have a working burner, or if the computer where you are going to install it does not have an optical drive (like a netbook, or some new ultrabooks), or even if you plan on testing a lot of different distros to find out which you like and don't want to end up with a collection of coasters. Installing from a flash drive tends to be faster, too -- although that might be offset by the time you take preparing the drive. Also, some older computers won't boot from USB.


Don't call me Shirley. You will surely make me surly.
Re: I'm not a geek [message #7642] Sat, 16 March 2013 22:44 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Anne  is currently offline Anne
Messages: 355
Registered: April 2012
Senior Member
Hmmm... That poses different but workable ideas. I know where at least one other junk computer of about the same vintage is. I will see if I can acquire it... If someone will kill the disk... Then I'd have a whole machine to play with If I can find room for it!
Re: I'm not a geek [message #7646] Sun, 17 March 2013 01:50 Go to previous messageGo to next message
mkemp  is currently offline mkemp
Messages: 421
Registered: April 2006
Senior Member
If you're running more than one computer, look around for a KVM (keyboard, video, mouse) switch. That'll allow you to control multiple machines with one set of space-hogging peripherals.

If you can afford it I'd suggest that you get a 4-port unit to allow for later expansion. Just don't forget the cables. Something like this: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Linksys-PS2KVM4-ProConnect-4-Port-Compact-VGA-PS 2-KVM-Switch-With-4-6-Cables-/330889175624?pt=US_KVM_Switches_KVM_Cables &hash=item4d0a882248

Warning: you've gotta be 'dialed' in when you boot up or the machine won't see the keyboard or mouse (every desktop I know about works this way) but laptops won't detect the keyboard or mouse if you switch away and come back to it.
Re: I'm not a geek [message #7679] Mon, 18 March 2013 10:06 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Anne  is currently offline Anne
Messages: 355
Registered: April 2012
Senior Member
Ok, I use a USB mouse and keyboard. So this switch could make it possible to control two computers with them? and share my monitor since I'm not quite ready to buy a second monitor...?
Re: I'm not a geek [message #7680] Mon, 18 March 2013 11:27 Go to previous messageGo to next message
mkemp  is currently offline mkemp
Messages: 421
Registered: April 2006
Senior Member
Yes. You'd need the cables, though; USB cables are readily available, and VGA cables are only slightly less so.
Re: I'm not a geek [message #7682] Mon, 18 March 2013 21:05 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sir Lee  is currently offline Sir Lee
Messages: 440
Registered: October 2003
Location: São Paulo, Brazil
Senior Member
Note that many KVM switches (like the one linked above) are geared toward PS/2 keyboards and mice. You probably will want an USB KVM switch.

Most KVM switches use old-fashioned analog VGA connectors. That's the main reason I have shied away from many bargains I found... although I *could* use VGA in my current monitor/board setup, I don't *want* to.

Oh... some of the better KVM switches switch more stuff, such as speakers. Which may be useful in some cases.


Don't call me Shirley. You will surely make me surly.
Re: I'm not a geek [message #7683] Tue, 19 March 2013 01:44 Go to previous messageGo to next message
mkemp  is currently offline mkemp
Messages: 421
Registered: April 2006
Senior Member
"Old-fashioned analog VGA connectors?" What do you use instead - DVI?
Re: I'm not a geek [message #7694] Tue, 19 March 2013 17:21 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Ellen Hayes  is currently offline Ellen Hayes
Messages: 684
Registered: September 2002
Senior Member
Anne wrote on Sat, 16 March 2013 13:48

Now the issue will be getting a bootable unbuntu disk.

Unlike The Rest Of Them, Linux is usually freely downloadable. 'Usually' as in most flavors (or "distributions"). I know Ubuntu is, and so is my preferred Debian (Ubuntu's slower older and more reliable cousin). If you don't have major DSL, go find someone who does, and get them to download and burn you a DVD or so.

Best option, bar none, is to get a second computer, like has been mentioned. That way, when you bugger one (or it buggers itself), you can look up the problem on Internet via the other one. This has saved my ass about several dozen times. And, this applies to any operating system.

You can also do it using another hard drive. I don't know if modern Windows will vomit and suicide if it finds a new drive plugged in that it can't talk to; if it doesn't, then just install Linux (Ubuntu, Debian) on that new hard drive, and install GRUB (GRand Unified Bootloader), which will find and recognize Windows. I keep doing this on my parents' computers. And I dual booted for years.

I thirdivate (I just made that up; I'm so bad) the KVM switch. Even if you can only switch monitors (and thus need two keyboards and two mice) it's a great savings help.

One of the good things, in my opinion, about Linux, is that it readily responds to learning on your part. They don't deliberately hide things, nor do they deliberately change things just to have a new version. So any learning you develop will be, for the most part, applicable for years to come.


Ellen
Re: I'm not a geek [message #7696] Wed, 20 March 2013 00:26 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Sir Lee  is currently offline Sir Lee
Messages: 440
Registered: October 2003
Location: São Paulo, Brazil
Senior Member
Yeah, I currently use DVI. Newer monitors have been coming with HDMI and/or DisplayPort connectors, which are also good. VGA IS old-fashioned -- it's *twenty-six years old*, which is about the same as a geologic era in computer time.


Don't call me Shirley. You will surely make me surly.
Re: I'm not a geek [message #7697] Wed, 20 March 2013 00:47 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Anne  is currently offline Anne
Messages: 355
Registered: April 2012
Senior Member
Actually if I can afford to and if I can figure a way to stay away from microscrew OS then I would like to upgrade to an HDMI set. Maybe even two. My Lappy doesn't like to run more than 30-40 minutes before things go weird on it... I think it overheats. Anyway that is by the way in order to say that I miss running two monitors for m writing.
Re: I'm not a geek [message #7713] Fri, 22 March 2013 04:39 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Brooke  is currently offline Brooke
Messages: 695
Registered: August 2004
Location: Portland, OR
Senior Member
Anne wrote on Tue, 19 March 2013 21:47

Actually if I can afford to and if I can figure a way to stay away from microscrew OS then I would like to upgrade to an HDMI set. Maybe even two. My Lappy doesn't like to run more than 30-40 minutes before things go weird on it... I think it overheats. Anyway that is by the way in order to say that I miss running two monitors for m writing.


The cooling pads for lsaptops are life-savers. Unfortunately, I couldn't use one with the docking station for my old Toshiba and it died horribly during a heat wave one summer a few years back.

I've loved dual monitors since I first had a dual monitor setup on my souped up XT clone back around 1985. 10 MHz V20 (so I could run a lot of 286 software), 2 meg of EMS RAM, plus (when I didn't need both monitors) backfiled extended RAM to get me 700 and some k of main RAM. But having the Hercules+ and VGA was great. Run the program on one monitor and the debugger on the other.

I've done it with the more modern boxes as well. Have KVM and switched the main monitor with the second monitor hooked to a second video connector on the card.

Right now when I can spare the cash, I'll get a used LCD with both DVI and HDMI from Stuff and then I can hook it to the DVI connector on this box. And the HDMI on the media server gizmo (if I get it fixed or replaced)

Re: I'm not a geek [message #7728] Sat, 23 March 2013 00:55 Go to previous message
Sir Lee  is currently offline Sir Lee
Messages: 440
Registered: October 2003
Location: São Paulo, Brazil
Senior Member
Lots of laptops get their fans/air ducts clogged. Sometimes it's just a matter of blowing the dust with some compressed air, but often enough you have to partially disassemble the machine, clean the air passages by hand and check if the fan is actually turning. I keep telling people not to work with the computers on soft surfaces like beds and sofas, but do they listen to me? Noooo...

Anyway, I mentioned Ubuntu a few days ago, but another distro which has been gaining a lot of traction in the end-user front is Linux Mint. I'm trying it and I like it -- more of a conventional desktop look (as opposed to the minimalistic interfaces of Ubuntu Unity and Gnome 3)


Don't call me Shirley. You will surely make me surly.
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