Hello I need some help and direction.

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Hello I need some help and direction.

Postby count_zero99uk » Mon Mar 12, 2012 3:55 pm

Hi there,

With the release of the Raspberry Pi and the fact that its going to be using Linux of some flavour. I have never used Linux, I think that I have allways been a little scared of it

But I have a strong intention to get hold off one of these Pi's and to help get my newphew, who's 10, involved in comuters and computing beyond the control pad of his console.

As there are some big waiting lists to get a Pi i thought my first job would be to get to grips with linux and find out what kind of things I can do on it, and why it is used by some people in prefferance to Windows.

Ok, so my plan is this I have a Dell Laptop that i dont use, as it came with vista and only 1gb of memory and has never run very well. So Im happy to wipe it clean and install Linux on it. However I have no idea how to go about this or what flavour of Linux to use. I believe the Pi is using the Debian one so it may be prudent to use the same one.

I guess my first project will be just to get the Laptop working in a stable way with Linux. If someone could point me to some kind of guide which goes through this step by step. I assume that i will need to make a list of all the hardwear that the laptop has in it.

My second project will be getting to grips with Python, which is the language of choice for the Pi but thats something for another forum.

Once I am comfortable with all of this ill need to find some project for my nephew and I to do, so if anyone can think of any sites or books that are pitched to this level then that would be great.

Thanks in advance as allways for your help in this
Brian Moran.
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Postby lok1950 » Mon Mar 12, 2012 4:18 pm

Your distro of choice need not be Debian after all there are several that are based on it including Ubuntu and Mint which have no problem installing on that laptop.Python is used all over in Linux and is usually installed by default all you would need is an IDE for Python of which their are again lots for free Eric,Dr Python and the one that is built in to Python Idle.So just pop one of the cover discs into the CD tray and try a live session if you like the interface install it.

Enjoy the Choice :)
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Postby towy71 » Mon Mar 12, 2012 6:37 pm

I recommend trying Linux Mint12 as it sort of follows the recognisable desktop paradigm and is based on Debian**

**OK the Ubuntu version ;-) :roll:
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Postby guy » Mon Mar 12, 2012 8:20 pm

I use debian on my desktop PCs and I have to say it is nice and stable compared to some other more leading-edge stuff. Its fancy toys are always a year or so behind the times (compared to say Ubuntu or Mint), but for the Raspberry Pi I don't expect that would matter.

Red Hat Fedora is also available for both desktop PC and Raspberry Pi, and is a respectable distro with a different lineage from debian/ubuntu/mint.
In fact as I write, http://www.raspberrypi.org/ says it is the preferred distro.
(If it's fallen off the home page by the time you get there, it can be found at http://www.raspberrypi.org/archives/805 )

If one fails on your laptop, you can always try the other.
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Postby Dutch_Master » Mon Mar 12, 2012 10:31 pm

As long standing Debian user I have, admittedly with heavy heart, to advise you not to install Debian (yet! ;)). The Pi uses Fedora as distro of choice for development, so I'd say install that and go from there.

The key issue in learning Linux is to realise that Linux is not Win-OS! It's entirely different in (design) philosophy, the way it executes programs, stores data and a whole lot more, but in the end, it's the users experience on his/her chair with keyboard, mouse and screen that matters and in that Linux works very much like Win-OS. Once you've installed Fedora, you'll notice your dreadful Vi$ta lappy is actually a very powerful tool, snappy in response and capable of much more than M$ would ever give you :)

PS: notice there are 2 different package managing systems in Linux: apt and rpm. Debian uses the first, Fedora the latter. You can't mix (well, not for beginners anyway) but there is a 3rd way: making a program from the source code. Also not recommended for new users... Do note that unlike the Win-OS world, doing your homework before asking questions is considered obvious (and it's good manners too)... ;) As you're diving into the Pi, start at their forum (unless it's more Linux-y, you'd be most welcome here :D)
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Postby jonrob » Tue Mar 13, 2012 10:13 am

Hey - sounds like a fun project, for you and your nephew :-)

Getting started with Linux is easier than you might expect. The first thing you'll need to do is get a copy of whatever version (we call them 'distributions') of Linux you want to run. Don't think too hard about this, there's really not so much between them these days. Best to start off with Ubuntu, Linux Mint or Fedora, I would think.

How do you get a copy? Visit their websites, where you'll be able to download an 'iso' image. It will be quite big, in the region of 700Mb, so you'll need a decent internet connection. Once it's downloaded, you'll need to burn it to a CD. On Windows, a program like http://isorecorder.alexfeinman.com/isorecorder.htm will do the trick. Note that you can't just burn the iso image like you would a picture or audio file, it's a special kind of file that must be burned properly.

If you don't have a fast connection, try and pick up a copy of Linux Format - we always have several distributions on our cover discs.

Once you've got a disc, pop it in the disc drive of the computer you want to install Linux on, and then start it up. When the Dell logo appears, you'll need to press a key to tell it to start from the CD rather than the hard drive. It varies from computer to computer, but usually it's F2, F12 or Del. One of them should cause a menu to be displayed, from which you can select the CD drive.

After that, sit back and wait for it to start. What you'll be running is a 'live CD' - it will let you try out the entire operating system without even installing it. It will run a bit slower than a real installation, but it's more than fast enough to explore and check everything works properly.

If you decide you like it, have a look around for an 'Install to hard drive' option or analogous, and you'll find that installation is quite simple and fast. After that, reboot, taking out the disc, and then your computer will start up in Linux with a whole new world for you to explore.

If you have any problems (some bits of hardware can be tricky to get working, particularly the advanced abilities of graphics cards, and WiFi) drop by here and ask for more help and I'm sure someone will be able to help.

Good luck on your new adventure :-)
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Postby count_zero99uk » Tue Mar 13, 2012 11:10 am

Thanks for the advice :)

I must say im feeling more comfortable about this entire thing now.

Quick question. Ive seen a lot of people refering to this "live environment" from the cd. Is that just a look and play type thing or can you actualy work within it and save files?

And another thing, if i decide that i like Linux Mint or whatever (thought the feedback im getting is saying that mint is very good for begginers) do i need to format the dell first, or will the install take care of all that?

I think ill also pick up a copy of your mag, are the article for the complete begginer in it?

Thanks alot :)
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Postby Dutch_Master » Tue Mar 13, 2012 11:37 am

You can save files to USB, or even the harddrive, provided you've mounted it, when running a Live-CD :)
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Postby nelz » Tue Mar 13, 2012 12:04 pm

The installer will take care or partitioning and formatting your disk.
"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." (Albert Einstein)
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Postby count_zero99uk » Tue Mar 13, 2012 8:10 pm

Right,

Thanks for all the advice and comments, i really apreciate it.

Looks like my steps from here are as follows.

- Wait for this months and last months Linux Format to arrive :)
- While waiting look round the differnt Linux types, see which is nice.
- Install linux
- Come back posting my success or screaming about my laptop being on fire / taking over the world.

Cheers again
Brian.
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Postby towy71 » Tue Mar 13, 2012 8:16 pm

count_zero99uk wrote:... screaming about my laptop being on fire / taking over the world.
probably the latter ;-)
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Postby guy » Tue Mar 13, 2012 9:33 pm

Dutch_Master wrote:You can save files to USB, or even the harddrive, provided you've mounted it, when running a Live-CD :)

Yes, a live session should enable you to access straightforward media. You may find this works flawlessly, but if not you may need to learn about "mounting" it.

Unlike Windows, Linux must mount any filesystem (such as found on your media: mantra #2, on Linux everything is a file*) before it can read or write.

Many modern distros will do this automatically, possibly when you first click on the drive, others may offer a menu option that you have to select first.

Even more confusing, if you remove a media thing without unmounting it first, you may well find that nothing ever got written to it: Linux may have been configured to just save up all your changes for one big write at the end (bit like a transactional database if you know about such things). mantra #3, never pull the stick or press the plastic eject button if there is an onscreen option: use that first.

And don't rely on the unmounting procedure to exactly mirror the mounting - you may have to click a different reverse sequence.

I have had some cussed installs in my time that needed a fair bit of trial-and-error to suss out, even knowing about all that. However, as I said, this issue is not as common as it used to be.

Other than that, it's a piece of cake, grin.

*You have already been given mantra #1, Linux is not Windows
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Postby Nuke » Wed Mar 14, 2012 10:38 am

guy wrote:Unlike Windows, Linux must mount any filesystem
...
Many modern distros will do this automatically, possibly when you first click on the drive, others may offer a menu option that you have to select first.

Even more confusing, if you remove a media thing without unmounting it first, you may well find that nothing ever got written to it


Actually, Windows mounts file systems too. It is just that it does it automatically, whether you like it or not, at boot time. Unless it is a non-Windows file system in which case it has been known to moan that "your file system is corrupted".

Linux has three basic options for any disk or partition of a disk : (i) Mounted automatically at boot; (ii) Allow the user to mount it explicitly if and when he needs it; (iii) Make it out of bounds so only the Superuser can mount it. For example I have an archive partition which I do not usually mount.

Option (i) may the the default for some modern Linux distros, but for as long as I have used Linux the user can arrange things how he likes [by editing the /etc/fstab file, but not for the novice]. As is usually the case, Linux has more options for doing things than Windows.

You do need to unmount a removable file system explicitly in Windows too (at least in XP which is the last version I used), such as when removing a USB stick. That is the icon is at the bottom right of the screen. Fixed disks are unmounted at the Windows shutdown, as in Linux.
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Postby count_zero99uk » Wed Mar 14, 2012 3:47 pm

Ok,

Ive made a live stick with "Linux Mint 12 "Lisa" - DVD (32-bit)" on its booted up fine and has found the laptops bluetooth and wireless but states that the firmware is missing on the wireless.

There is this icon on wich states "Restricted drivers available"

Is this something to do with the live stick, or something else?

Either way, some help would be great.

In the mean time going to try a different flavour - Fedora 16 this time.

Thanks
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Postby count_zero99uk » Wed Mar 14, 2012 4:02 pm

Got the same thing with Fedora 16.

Firmwear missing.

Any help would be great - its a Dell Vostro 1015 laptop with the celeron chip and 1gb ram.

Thanks
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