You Can Switch to Linux!



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I've wanted to start using Linux for much longer than I care to remember, something (including learning curves) always seemed to get into the way. I'll be 80 before the end of the year, and plan on being an Ubuntu Linux user before that birthday. But, there are a few problems.

1. I'm running an older Dell Optiplex GX-1 with an Intel Pentium III running at 548 MHz, and 256 MB RAM.
2. My hard drive has 12.6 GB, 11.6 GB used, 997MB free.

It might be possible to remove all photos and a lot of unused or little used files to free up about half of the drive's capacity.

3. I have just bought and installed a Maxtor 3200 160 GB USB hard drive that the computer recognizes as having 149 GB with 69.5 MB used (overhead, I suppose, as I have no files installed) and reporting 148 GB available. The computer calls this a local disk listed as NTFS

The computer will boot from disk. And, I have had an Ubuntu 7.04 live disk running on it with no problems seen.

I do need Windows on it because my wife uses it in conjunction with her work; it's currently running XP-PRO with sp-2 installed.

My question is, with what I have available, how can I install Ubuntu (I will have live disk Ubuntu 8.04 before installing) to be most effective? I would like to favor Linux over Win XP-PRO space-wise and (I think) need to double boot (favoring XP-PRO because of the wife). If necessary, I could also use up to two 1GB USB travel drives if that would make it easier to install and/or use.

Can anyone offer suggestions?



I finally did it. I made the switch at work. After about 3 weeks I'm finally comfortable with the gnome gui and starting to understand the terminal. I'm an MCSE and a long long time windows user. So it makes it that much tougher to switch. Like Will did though, I decided I have to give it a chance. I'm going to use it exclusively here at work for at least a year. I wouldn't be a geek if I didn't But, I'll tell you what (and this is with an open mind) as of right now, the only benefits over XP are:

1. It's free
2. Not as much worry about viruses and spyware.

Graphically its similar or a little tougher than XP.
Setting up the OS is easy and getting on the web with standard hardware is a snap. I'm doing this on a 1ghz PIII with 512 MB of ram and a geforce mx440 pci video card. All the hardware was installed correctly and I'm using the "Extra" Effects settings with 2 desktops. I also installed Kubuntu desktop and sometimes use the KDE desktop just for kicks. But doing anything outside the box is a P.I.T.A. (Like getting flash to work in opera)
Sure it gets easier with time, but it isn't easy, and it certainly takes some time.

To sum it up: It hasn't rocked my computer world, but it doesn't suck either. I'm not going to uninstall it here, but I'm not going to make my wife use it at home.

*Men are not against you; they are merely for themselves"



I recently had a computer in my office fail. While it was undergoing repair, my partner demanded a computer to use while his was out. I found an old Gateway (PIII 450 mHz) loaded with Win98. However, when I fired up this old warrior, the hard drive did not join the party. Uh-oh. I pulled an extra hard drive from another unused computer (guess what MY closet looks like) and put it in the Gateway. That left me short just one little thing- an operating system. Considered buying a version of Windows for just long enough to laugh out loud at the cost. Then I thought about the articles I had read about Linux. Hmmmmmm.

I did some research and ended up on the Ubuntu site. After downloading the most recent LTS version, I burned it to a CD. Then I was introduced to the ISO concept (after the CD wouldn't load no matter what I did). OK, more reading, download and install ISO recorder and burn ISO on CD. Set computer to boot from CD (yes, I almost missed that). Insert disk and close CD.............

It LOADED! After about 20 minutes of quite verbose and sometimes hilarious comments about failures during the loading process (none of which stopped the process, by the way), I was deposited at a quite reasonable screen. Everthing worked, albeit a bit slowly- this was running off the Live CD. I played with the computer for a couple of hours to make sure it worked. It did, except I could never get a Microsoft USB wireless G adapter to work (an apparently quite common problem). Open Office did exactly what it was supposed to do.

Excellent. Turn everything off, and take the computer to the office.

At the office. Power up and everything still works great (notice that I still haven't stopped running the Live CD). I notice, at that point, the install option. Hadn't I just done that? Apparently not. Chose the option, and off we went. Once installed, the computer was MUCH faster. Indeed almost as fast as some much more up-to-date machines in my office. Then the fun started. I plugged in the Ethernet cable for the office LAN. I waited for some screen to pop-up and tell me I was connected. Well, it didn't, and by the way I wasn't. More reading (get used to this) and configuring. This was really not that hard, and if I had ever done anything with networks before it would have taken about ten minutes instead of one and one half hours. Did it ultimately work? It absolutely did! Did I learn a whole hell of a lot about my office network? I sure did :).

Overall impressions of the experience:
I liked Ubuntu. It was easy. My partner, a noted Windowsphile, just started using the machine and didn't complain.

There were two issues I couldn't beat- I could never get the two printers to do anything more than basic functionality. The printers did excellent work from Open Office Text and spreadsheet. They would, however, never print pictures very well at all.



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Wifi isn't so easy, especially if you are running a laptop. I recommend checking the Ubuntu forums for a simple howto to get wifi working with a Broadcom Wifi card.



I had Unbuntu installed and compiz-fusion running in less than 2 hours. This was the 3rd time I had installed linux but my first dual boot setup. I love unbuntu and if I could play my games on it I wouldnt own any microshaft os'es.



I loved this article and want to see more Penguin material in the future. I think it would be awesome if Max PC would dedicate just 2 or 3 pages toward the back each month.

May I share an idea?

I think you have a market here waiting to be dominated by your company. All the decent Linux magazines out there (Linux Format and Linux Pro being the 2 best IMO)are way too expensive! They cost about $150 to $200 US dollars per year. Ironic huh? The gospel is free and open source but the education is $$$! lol They do not offer cheaper subscriptions without DVDs stuck to them.

I think MAX PC could either do a print edition with or without DVDs more cheaply (I know I would pay $30-40 per year without DVDs) and grab the US market. It is waiting for you.

Here is an even better idea...
Why not do a completely downloadable .PDF version on a monthly basis. Maybe charge $10 per year for existing MAX subscribers and $15 per year for non-subscribers.

Please, PLEASE consider this. Thanks and keep up the great work. I keep renewing every year.



In Maximum PC, it says something to the effect of after you install the OS, just click on the network icon and you'll be online. Yeah, right! What if you have a broadcom wireless card? Try finding THE correct way to install an NDIS Wrapper or better yet, try finding THE correct wrapper. Then, since you have nothing better to do, sit around and type line after line after line of command line commands. Come on Ubuntu, can't you do better than that? Please try!



one small (?) issue that wasn't discussed - what about MB chipset drivers/utilities? I'm preparing to install Ubuntu on an Intel D848PF board (its essentially an 865 chipset without dual-channel memory) but do I use the original driver CD? or do I need Linux-specific drivers? and where does one get those? (they ain't on the Intel website!)


Travis Penner

I'm finding some things in this article a little glitchy. First it was the ubuntu website, then it was partitioning the new hard drive I bought to do this.

Now I've got Linux installed but I can't seem to boot to it. So I'm cruising the net to try and figure this out and make it all work with my Windows Media Center Edition and Linux as a dual boot.

I don't think it's as easy as this article makes it look. :(




I really appreciate the coverage of Linux. I trust Maximum PC as my leading source for both hardware and software. I can't say I'm thrilled with Vista so far, so experimenting with Linux makes sense. Ubuntu installed easily and does the basics as well or better than Vista. Neither Ubuntu or Vista yet supports all my old printers and other peripherals and probably never will, but if enough people have Linux, future products will have to come with a Linux driver and software, just as most do for both Windows and Mac now. Not sure if for my personal computer I'd end up in the Linux camp, but it certainly makes increasing sense for my corporate computers running Google Apps or the like.



1. what a drag--none of my live linux cd's will work with intel g965 chipset.

2. linux will get nowhere without offering a product that NORMAL people can use from a united front effort--whether free or commercially available. NEVER,NEVER,NEVER



I bought the June 2007 edition of MaximumPC, and I really like your mag (this is the first I bought). This article about getting started with linux, mainly focused on Ubuntu, it´s fine.
But I also wanted to let the people know that
not always popular = the best (or easiest)
Ubuntu is good, but for Out of the box experience I recommend you to please try some of this distros if you feel frustrated with Ubuntu:
1- PCLinux
2- Sabayon Linux
3- Fedora7
4- Sam Linux
5- Mint Linux

With all those distros you have out of the box support(without needing to download codecs)for: Original DVD, mp3, mpeg, avi, flash, microsoft office compatible formats (.doc, .ppt), etc.. + Beryl/Compiz Cube desktop 3D.

Linux, expect the best O.S. for 2010, above Windows and Mac.



There's a similar guide here which may be of use to some people ...

Installing Kubuntu and Beryl on a Windows PC


r t imai

Oh, yeah, I did see the FOUR lines related to setting up the network connection. Is that IT? Am I being paranoid here when I worry about losing connectivity in Linux?


r t imai

Warner: Thanks for mentioning that KUbuntu is Windows-like as Ubuntu is Mac-like. Funny how primary information like this isn't so obvious. And it took a print article like the recent "You Can Switch..." to get me more serious about investigating Linux.

LINUX NEWBIE CONCERN: Can anyone point me to connection setup resources to check before installing? What worries me is that configuring the internet connection in Ubuntu installation is not directly addressed in any article I've seen. Why? Is it so tranparent that it doesn't need to be mentioned?

I want to ensure that I'll be able to connect after installing Linux, and search for more information, and have email and newsgroup access.

I plan to choose the dual-boot option: 933MHz, 512MB RAM, CD-RW, 20.3 free space on 38.1GB NTFS.



ur installation for restricted driver is totally wrong in ubuntu 7 series just go to the system then administration then restriced drivers and install it more simple
and for the beryl u forget to mention that people with restricted drivers can't use it
and if u don't use restricted drivers the perforance will decrease
and another important message
i have always been maximum pc fan and u guys kick ass



As above



I followed the steps outlined in the June issue and booted my first try of Ubuntu in about one and a half hours!!

I installed the Nvidia drivers, configured Beryl (that's some cool s**t!!!) and I'm off and runnin'!!

The hardest part was explaining the boot manager to my wife and why I need to have two operating systems in the first place.

Thanks for the well thought out and informative article.

Basil Ronzitti



What you should be doing (from Feisty onwards) is going to the the System, then Administration menu and clicking "Restricted Drivers Manager".

The Window that comes up should list hardware that requires restricted (proprietary) drivers. Against the Nvidia entry there is a check box under the "Enabled" column heading. All you have to do is click the check box and it does the rest for you. I think it even asks you if you want to restart the computer, so that you can start using the new drivers.
I don't know about ATI drivers, but I would expect it works the same way.
This way users aren't bombarded with dependencies, terminals or commands to enable the drivers. It is all done for you!


I followed the instructions given in the article, even checked the Ubuntu website and nothing that I do will allow me to play a DVD. I installed gxine like the Ubuntu site stated and it still won't work. I installed the Gstreamer apps recommended in this article and now everytime I try and play a DVD gxine will crash, mplayer will crash and ogle will die. So if there is anyone on this planet who has ever gotten DVD's to play under Linux I would love to talk to you. Seriously...any help would be greatly appreciated.



Try Sabayon Linux DVD, you wont have that problem, it runs Out of the box original DVDs, mp3, mpeg, avi, etc...

Ubuntu is good, but for Out of the box experience I recommend you to please try some of these distros if you feel frustrated with Ubuntu:
1- PCLinux
2- Sabayon Linux
3- Sam Linux
4- Mint Linux
5- Fedora 7

Linux, expect the best O.S. for 2010, above Windows and Mac



Be sure to check this site:
The distros encyclopedia web site



Hi there,

The restricted software page on the Ubuntu page helps.
First install a few necessary packages with the following command.
sudo apt-get install libdvdread3 libxine1-ffmpeg
You'll need to add the medibuntu repostiory (link on the webpage) afterwards and then install libdvdcss2 with following command.
sudo apt-get install libdvdcss2
I would recommend using the Mplayer video player to watch the DVDs, as some of others will still complain about not being able to open the DVD, even with these pieces of software.
If you have a wide screen laptop you'll need to manually sort out the aspect ratio in Mplayer (hopefully a bug that will be fixed in future versions). Type the following command into a terminal.
nano ~/.mplayer/config
Now add monitoraspect="16:10" to the bottom of the file and exit nano (saving obviously).
Done! Oh one more thing, make sure you don't live in the US!!! (because of that DMCA legislation, god forbid you could watch your own DVDs)


As others have mentioned, this article was good, but was very silly to not mention VMware. VMware has been in the virtualization business for a long time, likely longer than the others you've mentioned. Regardless, to mention a $50 product instead of a free product is crazy. This is at least the third time Maximum PC has dissed VMware in favor of other, more expensive products. I think there was a letter written about it a while ago and the argument was that you were reviewing "workstation" class products and didn't feel VMware Server belonged in that category. But come on, if you've used VMware Workstation and you've used VMware Server, it is pretty obvious they are the same code base. Server just lacks all the nice snapshot features, well until Workstation 6 came out anyway. I'm not saying you had to review it against the other workstation products, but at least mention it!

Also, why mention Beryl in a beginners' guide to Linux when Compiz is now installed out-of-the-box with Ubuntu Feisty? All you have to do is check the "enable 3D graphics" box under the Admin or Preferences menu (I can't remember which off the top of my head and I'm at work now) and you get much of the same.

Finally, screw setting OpenOffice up to default to the Microsoft Office formats. We'll never be able to end the Microsoft Office monopoly with actions like that. Windows users can just go download OpenOffice for Windows if they want to open our docs or Microsoft can make themselves compatible with OpenOffice. They did take a step forward with their OpenXML format, but still, they should've just used the OpenDocument format already in use.



There is a much easier way to install nVidia or ATI display drivers. A program called Envy ( ). It's a fully automated system that takes care of everything for the user. Heck, it even fixed my resolution issue (I have a widescreen monitor and it only displayed a max. resolution of 1280 x 1024). The only thing is that you should print off the instructions, because when you update your kernel

Also, flash 9 isn't natively supported by Ubuntu 7.04, and it can be really annoying when FireFox constantly reloads the page because it can't load flash. is perfect steps for installing flash. FYI though, in order to copy the 2 flash files to the plugins folder for Mozilla and Mozilla-Firefox it has to be done through the terminal as root, but once it's all done, flash works great!!
-= I don't want to be dead, I want to be alive! Or... a cowboy! =-


Awesome article! As a Linux newbie I was amazed how easy it was to get Ubuntu up and running! I stumbled a bit during the re-partitioning but after re-reading that portion of the article I found my mistake and the install was perfect! I would like to tell Mr Gates what he can do with his crapfest xp os. I wasted more time doing virus scans and downloading software to prevent malware and all that other crap. Now I'm just plain productive! The Ubuntu community is very cool and understanding of newbs! They like to help!! Go for it!1 Install Ubuntu and you will love how easy Linux really is!!Thanks again, Maddee.



OK Now that the article is available on the web site. How does one download it and obtain it on my computer. I have looked through the article page by page, and see that this can be done, but no link to allow one to do it.



After trying and failing to get ATI drivers and Beryl successfully installed in several different ways via several different tutorials, I finally found instructions that work for my Presario V2000 with its Radeon Xpress 200M.

It's in Spanish, but a trip to BabelFish can help you sort out the hard parts. My windows wobble and my workspaces spin now. YAY!



I have a question about Beryl. I put the correct line into the repository list, and then went to type in the second part in the terminal and I get this:

huy@huy-desktop:~$ wget -O- | sudo apt-key add -
=> `-'
Resolving,,, ...
Connecting to||:80... connected.
HTTP request sent, awaiting response... 200 OK
Length: 2,415 (2.4K) [application/x-troff-me]

100%[====================================>] 2,415 --.--K/s

15:12:06 (79.26 MB/s) - `-' saved [2415/2415]

I'm not sure if this is what is supposed to come up but when I go to reload in synaptic, this error appears:

W: GPG error: feisty Release: The following signatures couldn't be verified because the public key is not available: NO_PUBKEY 3FF0DB166A7476EA

What am I doing wrong?

p.s. Sorry I couldn't use the page breaks? I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong there either :(



I was also fumbling around with the instructions installing Beryl then after some research on the wiki-beryl page I found an awesome method that worked perfect. Check out this link on the wiki-beryl site.

And then just follow the "The 123 NoFile Automatic Installation Method"

You will have Beryl running in less than 5 minutes.



Hi SilverDragon:

Forget all that you read in the magazine. Just follow the instructions at the wiki beryl site for your particular video card. I ran the copy/paste script for nVidia and in 5 minutes Beryl was running just fine. No need to add repositories for this one.

GL, heartdoc



Pierce Presley
chewing on the ragged edge of reality






Could you please post a PDF version of this (or better yet, ODT/DOC)?





A PDF document would be great!



Google something called wubi. It will let you set up a dual boot system in record time.. it even goes and gets Ubuntu for you.



It's not really a serious problem.I can say that because I had the same problem with the Feisty live cd and even had to go the long way of installing Dapper,upgrading to Edgy and then onto Feisty and still had the same error message. I folloewd the cue that said if I wanted to view the error whatever and just kept on untill I got to the page to configure X. All I did there was hit enter almost all the way. And when I rebooted,everything was back to normal.Let me state here for the record that I don't know anything about computers.You can also do "ALT + F2" to get a "Terminal" and enter this command "sudo dpkg -reconfigure xserver-xorg" You can do a detailed search to get the correct command if I'm wrong. Best of luck.



Ubuntu and the associated distros Kubuntu (KDE) and Xubuntu (XFCE) are certainly getting some great reviews...and Dell is planning to pre-install it on machines sold in the U.S. in the coming month.

But it isn't by any means "perfect" and I have noticed some flakey things trying to install the Ubuntu "family" of distros on some machines with certain hardware.

The nice thing about GNU/Linux is having some real choice! There are dozens of distros to choose from and "" is a great site to learn about them all. A different distro might not be as "flakey" setting up on your machine as another distro.

I once tried installing Ubuntu on an old PII 450 MHz. machine and couldn't get it to boot. I popped in "Simply Mepis 6.5" and even through based on Ubuntu, it worked perfectly.

Around the same time that Ubuntu "Feisty Fawn" came out, Mandriva brought out their 2007 "spring " edition. It's certainly worth a look.

If you don't want to muck around installing proprietary codecs, you might want to look at "Linux Mint".

Red Hat's community project "Fedora Core" should have Version 7 out some time in the next month...and from what I've read it's looking like it'll be a very nice distro.

If you really feel like you might need alot of "hand holding", you might want to look at Linspire or Xandros. They aren't "free as in free beer", but really simple to setup and install as a newbie. If you're networking your new Linux box with a Windows box, to give credit where credit is due...Xandros is drop dead easy to configure.

I used to pick up just about every issue of "Maximum PC" on the newstand...but must admit as I got more interested in Linux, I became less interested in Maximum PC...and other "mainstream" computer magazines...because I found them too "Windows-oriented". But if Maximum PC is starting to pay more attention to Linux geeks like me...then I guess I'll start paying more attention to Maximum PC again.



Maximum PC Has ALWAYS paid attention to Geeks like you (and me)they even had a short lived spinoff that I miss greatly... Maximum Linux... Maximum PC is for the most part NOT Windows oriented... they are PC oriented, and follow what is asked of them for the most part... they tend to not hold back much on the punches to MS (especially the Jabs!)the key, it is this... when enough people bring up, and promise to keep them in business by buying issues and subscriptions then we will have a great Linux mag again... til then... we do with what we have...


--in a world without fences and walls who needs Windows and Gates?--


Travis Penner

I totally agree with Brian. It would be great to get more linux coverage. What I've seen so far of Ubuntu is great. I've even overcome some of the wrinkles. Except getting it to work with my ATI Radeon 1650XT, everything else looks fantastic. Until I understand Linux better though, I won't be making a full switch from Microsoft, but I still want to learn!




Install 'ntfs-config' for full read and write access.

Add the this line to 3rd party software repos:
deb feisty-commercial main
Then, install 'vmware-server'. It will ask for a serial key which you can get for free when you register at
Beryl 3rd party repo is not needed since they are already in 'universe' repo.
The grass is brown in linux. lol

Neon Samurai

And cudose for posting it under an open license. I'll be compressing it to PDF and passing it on to friends.

One point braught up by other's also though; no mention of VMware Server though so what gives? Cedega, Crossover and Parallels (for a fee) are all mentioned but VMware (at no cost and freedom too use) is missing. I've not build a single OS system in years previous to VMware and haven't build a system with less than six OS (two native, rest VM) since. Not mentioning it in the "when linux apps don't cut it" (page 52) is like walking past the free porche to look at the retail toyota out back.



The easiest way to install the video drivers is a program from an Italian guy:

No sudo or other things noobs in Linux may get nervous about.

--- in a world without fences and walls who needs Windows and Gates? ---



Rather than Parallels, you can also use VMware Server which is free. I haven't used Parallels so I can't comment on performance/feature comparisons between the two, but VMware has served me well.



I am amazed at this OS, people I switch to it love it, and I thankfully am put out of a support job.

It just keeps running and running.

Folks coming from Windows may want to check out Kubuntu, which is Ubuntu but with the KDE desktop instead of the Gnome desktop.

Ubuntu uses the Gnome desktop which is more similar to OSX and Kubuntu uses the KDE desktop which is more similar to Windows.

They use the same base so all Ubuntu packages work for Kubuntu as well.

Three applications I recommend, best installed in this order use "add/remove programs" to install "gdebi" - use gdebi to install the downloaded "Automatix" .deb package - use Automatix to install "Virtualbox" and dozens of other applications not in the default repositories (GoogleEarth, Picassa, DVD playback many others)

1) Gdebi, does a better job of resolving dependencies for *downloaded* .deb packages ( after install it will show up in the right click "open with" menu on a .deb package

3) Automatix, should be included by default, gives a GUI for installing dozens of most requested applications not in the official repositories

3) Virtualbox, a GPL (Free) alternative to parallels and VMWare runs on Linux, Windows and OSX (can be installed with Automatix)

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