Your first Linux experience

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Your first Linux experience

Postby ggsinclair » Fri Mar 31, 2006 1:14 pm


I have seen a couple of forum users recently giving up using Linux after a few weeks because they dont know how to use it properly yet. I think that this is a shame. So I thought that I would share my first Linux experience to show that even a computer Neanderthal like myself can succeed with Linux.

I started off by being given a penguin case badge - and I wondered what the hell it was for. When I found out it was for an alternative to Microsoft I thought that I would give it a try (this was three or four years ago).

Had a look on Ebay and got myself Suse 7.2 Professional.

When it arraived I was very impressed when it contained 7 (I think) CD's and a DVD. Being used to MS one disc distro I was quite taken aback!

I tried to install said system and my God the stress levels went through the roof. All went fairly well until it tried to start X. I didnt know what X was. And before folk say "Did you try the internet" I couldnt because I only had a version of Linux that didnt work on my drive. After trying various made up commands (./please work) I gave up and reinstalled Windows.

Not to be deterred I got straight back onto Ebay and looked for something with a bigger number than 7.2 - I got Mandrake 9.2. A revelation. It installed first time and the only real problems I encountered were that it really didnt like my Winmodem and USB Lexmark printer. Much time was sent playing with CUPS to get the printer working until I eventually gave up and "borrowed" my father in laws HP printer. Modem problem was solved by buying a serial modem and latteraly an ethernet router. It is a bit of an annoyance that I have to sometimes change hardware to something that is compatible, but I can live with that!

Even after all of my initial rantings and stress relating to Suse 7.2 I am currently using Suse 10.0 and swear by it.

Anyone else care to share their stories?


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RE: Your first Linux experience

Postby kev0r » Fri Mar 31, 2006 2:10 pm

-A year ago I asked some linux guru's what the best distro was to begin with.
-Installed Ubuntu Warty Warthhog

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Postby shifty_ben » Fri Mar 31, 2006 2:11 pm

I started out on Mandrake 6, (or Linux-Mandrake as it was called then) seem to remember the release was called venus or something lik that. Anyway back to the point, i was at High school at the time and someone I knew had been ranting about how Windows was crappy and unstable and that Linux was the way to go, having got past the initial Linux whats that? He burnt me a copy of a knoppix disk so i could have a look at it. At the time I was using an old PC that my mums work had given us when they upgraded (The motherboard was 16bit so I could only address up to 4Gb hard drive space :shock: obviously at the time that wasn't a huge issue) The box ran DOS happily, and Win 3.11 just as happily. At one point I got Win 95 on there and it was very sluggish, so understandably I thought if Linux is so great and feature packed theres not much hope of it running is there? Whacked the knoppix CD in, and as you'd expect it took a while to load, but when it did :D I was impressed. However the speed of loading from the CD was highly misleading, and it seemed really slow, but then i had a look in games on the KDE menu and developed an addiction to LinCity!
After that I bought Mandrake 6 and set up a multi-boot, I only ever used it Linux to play Lin-city at first, rebooting into windows for everything else. But then I got around to trying some of the applications and bugger me they ran faster than on Windows!
Certain things I wanted wouldn't run on Linux (I was really into games at that point) but gradually I eased over, fiddling more and more in Linux. By the time I was thinking about getting Mandrake 7 I had recompiled and installed a new kernel just to see if I could.
Since then I've left Mandrake behind, but Ive still got a soft spot for it, I recently got my girlfriend using Mandriva 2006 (Thanks LXF coverdisk :D ) and she is loving it, there are a few teething problems, but she's being far more sensible than i ever was, and when she asks me for help she writes the commands down in a notebook, and makes me explain what they do.
Her main issue is what i believe to be a bug in Harddrake, but we will soon sort that, Ive run into several hardware compatability issues over the years but they are often easily sorted with a bit of work.
Just goes to show, Linux brings a steep learning curve for the uninitiated, but you soon pick it up as long as you set out with the intention of learning something new.
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Postby MartyBartfast » Fri Mar 31, 2006 2:29 pm

Well my background is in IT, but I've always done "proper" computers, VMS & a bit of Unix, and not Wintel boxes.I had Windows95 on my PC, which had been upgraded piecemeal so was more or less home built. When I upgraded to Win98 it ran like a dog with no legs and kept hanging so I decided to have a go with Linux. I partitioned the disk into about 8 partitions and I bought a bundle from some outfit (CheapLinux IIRC) which had several distros, which I attempted to install all together into different partitions to see how I liked each one, with the following results:

Slackware - wouldn't install
Suse - Installed but couldn't figure out my graphics so couldn't start X
Debian & Redhat - both installed & started X but I couldn't get it to the resolution I wanted.
Mandrake - installed perfectly, everythign worked, the window resolution was what I wanted.

I did persist witht he other distros to varying degrees but by that time I had got used to Mandrake and stuck with it. This was all about 5 years ago I think. Within about 2 weeks I was using the Win98 boot only for doing my digital camera stuff, and it's been Mand[ake|iva] ever since, I've tried others but somehow I prefer Mandriva so I've stuck with it.
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Postby donoreo » Fri Mar 31, 2006 2:44 pm

Mine was with Corel Linux version 1.0 in 2000 on an old 486. It was horrendously slow as it did not have enough memory. I later went the RedHat route and then tried many others (stuck with Slackware for a while) and am running Gentoo now. Is it wrong that I am an RHCT not using RedHat other than CentOS on my webserver? :)
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Postby shifty_ben » Fri Mar 31, 2006 2:47 pm

Not when you are using something as beautifully crafted as Gentoo :D what more could anyone want?
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Postby Nobber » Fri Mar 31, 2006 3:14 pm

My first Linux experience was in 1996 with Debian at university, where the PCs were set up to dual-boot with Windows 3.1. Since I was already familiar with Unix, I felt right at home using Debian.

However, it wasn't until 1999 that I tried to install Debian (version 2.0, imported from CheepBytes by Linux Emporium back when it was being run off a website) on my own PC, and after spending a couple of days trying to configure X and grappling with the arcane dselect, I came to realise that Debian is all well and good if you can get someone else to install it for you beforehand! :D

Soon after that I tried Red Hat 5.1 and was amazed when the installer configured X for me without any intervention. These days, of course, we expect nothing less.

(Epilogue: When I returned to the computer room at university for a brief visit a couple of years later, I was dismayed to see that the Debian/Win3.1 dual-boot boxes had become NT4-only boxes, supposedly because the computer department wanted to stick with what incoming undergrads already knew. :cry: )
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Postby Hello » Fri Mar 31, 2006 6:01 pm

I am still starting out with suse and still do use Windows quite a bit at the moment as I am not totally there yet.
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Postby wyliecoyoteuk » Fri Mar 31, 2006 8:42 pm

My first was mandrke 4, total failure most of the way, got Caldera opendesktop 2.1(i think]
then suse 7.1 pro as a birthday present(sad, I know)
then mandrake 8-10, now use suse 10 on everything in sight, at home and work., RH9 on one works server because our database ppl (IBM and CBS) won't support anything else
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Postby Nigel » Fri Mar 31, 2006 9:42 pm

My first Linux was a very old version of Slackware... I gave it a try because I worked mostly from home and was tired of trekking into London to use the Sparc-10 whenever I needed to debug UNIX shell scripts for clients. I also tried Solaris 7 on PC around the same time - Solaris hung together better, but was slooow on the machine I was using.
Slackware was a lot more like the traditional Unix systems I was using than a modern Linux distro, and getting X to work was quite a challenge. I remember being terribly pleased when I finally managed to connect to my Slackware box from a Windows PC running an X-terminal emulator - the graphics card on the Slack box would only do 256 colours but this way I got 16-bit !

But I really got into Linux when I discovered LXF at about issue 3 (and promptly back-ordered the previous ones !), especially a few issues later when SuSE was on the cover disk.
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Re: Your first Linux experience

Postby CJLL » Fri Mar 31, 2006 11:21 pm

ggsinclair wrote:Hello!

Had a look on Ebay and got myself Suse 7.2 Professional.

When it arraived I was very impressed when it contained 7 (I think) CD's and a DVD. Being used to MS one disc distro I was quite taken aback!

You bought a distro off e-bay? Here I've got a bridge you can buy Image, one careful owner, might be a little bit left on the finance to settle.


First Linux I used was SUSE 5.1 on the Pcplus Cover disk when they (pcplus) introduced Linux to the mass market.

Took me quite a while to learn how to do anything with it. In fact took me a while to learn how to shut the thing down instead of switching the PC off and having to reinstall from scratch because the file system was ****ed. :roll:
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Postby spottedcat » Sat Apr 01, 2006 9:23 am

One year ago, if you’d asked me what Linux was, I might have known it was a type of Unix. I would have thought of something running on industrial-sized servers, something far too complex and baroque for an ordinary home PC. And I would have had a mental image of people typing arcane gobbledegook into something much more scary than an MSDOS prompt. (At least, I was right on that score. :wink: ) And as far as delving into the hardware was concerned, I hadn’t done anything more ambitious than upgrade the memory in my bottom-of-the-range Celeron-driven desktop. I’d had to ask the nice man in PC World to sell me the right card – I didn’t have a clue. Fortunately, he was a nice man – it worked.

Fast forward a year and now I’m using Linux for 99% of my computing needs. I’m running SuSE 10.0 on my self-built AMD machine and on my laptop. I’ve fitted a hdd removable caddy thingy to my Celeron machine and I use this to explore other distros, including a working installation of Gentoo. (Actually, this is limping quite a bit. I’m getting an error message at the boot-up dialogue and the X-server crashes, but, hey, this is from a middle-aged guy whose only previous experience of ‘real’ computing was to teach himself the essentials of BASIC and machine-coding on a Sinclair Spectrum in the 80s, and who could just about get by at the MSDOS prompt before the days of Windows.)

How did this all come about? Last June, or thereabouts, three things happened within a week or so. Someone mentioned that they used Linux on their desktop PC. (It has a GUI? Gosh.) I saw a screenshot in a mag somewhere. (Yes, it does have a GUI, and it looks good.) Then PCW magazine included the ISO of a DVD for the live version of SuSE 9.x. (Um, what’s an ISO?) I tried to burn a DVD from this with my laptop. (What??!! Windows doesn’t support DVD burning natively? They cannot be serious.) I wasted a day finding and downloading free DVD burning software for Windows from which I produced two DVD-coasters each containing one large .iso file. :oops: This is when I discovered that my laptop came with ‘free’ DVD-burning software. Two more .iso-containing coasters followed (thank goodness for K3b) until finally I had a bootable SuSE DVD. I booted, I saw, I was impressed. EPIPHANY!

The book “Linux for Dummies” (and a couple of others) took me gently through the world of partitioning and dual-booting and gave me experience of some legacy versions of different distros. Then I struck out on my own, and discovered LXF and this forum along the way. And here I am.

Two things. Firstly, a word of appreciation to all on this forum. It’s always a great pleasure to read the threads and to participate. There’s a genuine friendliness and willingness to help here – and a lot of humour. So different from some of the forums out there. (Perhaps because it’s British – cue drum roll, strains of ‘God save the Queen’, etc :wink: ) Secondly – Linux has given me a lot. All the usual things – something interesting, freedom from malware, freedom from contributing to either Bill Gates’ or Steve Jobs’ pension funds, excellent software, etc, etc – but it has also given me a freedom not often mentioned in the FOSS world. Linux stimulated me to gain the technical knowledge to build my own computer and to improve my shop-bought one. When I need to replace/upgrade I can do it myself. I am no longer dependent on the ‘advice’ given by the salesperson in PC World or Comet or wherever – people who usually know the square root of nothing at all about anything, who understand even less, and who care not at all.
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Postby dgold » Sat Apr 01, 2006 9:52 am

Hmmm - first Linux experience...

Back in the mid-90's I needed to do some cataloguing, which would then be outputted as a book and possibly as an on-line listing. There simply was nothing avaiable within my resources to accomplish this in the Win/Mac world.

Someone pointed me towards LaTeX, available primarily in the UNIX world, and at a distribution of a Finnish hobbyist UNIX called Linux. I acquired a copy of Slackware '96 and all the necessary files to use LaTeX. I accomplished the cataloguing and successfully outputted ps, pdf and html versions of my data, all this in a fraction of the time I had been budgeted.

That's not to say that everything was a bed of roses, without UNIX experience I'd imagine I would have given up very early on. What I dd find was the wonderful community surrounding Linux, and the levels of cooperation which existed between people. The resources available had a very good Signal/Noise ratio and it was easy to get information once you knoew where to go.

Sadly, things have gotten better and worse today. Instalations are unimaginably easy to install, despite the incessant whining one finds in 'forums'. Having had to install Windows XP on a number of boxes recently, I'd confidently say that any of the top5 Linux distros are easier to install and better at autmatically recognising the vast majority of hardware out there. There are now legions of non-UNIX types using Linux, which is fantastic for the reputation of the OS as a whole.

Unfortunately, that popularity has eroded the community, factionalising it horribly. The result of the factions is that the sense of mucking in to help with problems is to a great extent gone, apart from the actual coders/developers. The same questions are asked over and over again, with no effort made to discover the answer. Inability to answer questions is often met with downright hostility, and the feeping L33t speakers continue their inexorable rise.

<puffs on pipe>

Anyway - 2c.

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Postby M-Saunders » Sat Apr 01, 2006 9:59 am

Red Hat 5.1 on 'PC Direct' mag coverdisc, 1998. Then started buying PC Format, then got involved with Linux Answers, and the rest is history :-)

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Postby Hello » Sat Apr 01, 2006 12:14 pm

The mags seem to be doing a lot to move people over. I suppose seeing in big bold letters a free thing thats like Windows gets you intrested
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