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Thread: How to Get Started with the GNU/Linux Operating System

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    Statement How to Get Started with the GNU/Linux Operating System

    This one's specifically for Dumpster Diver.







    Source: LifeHacker


    What operating system do you use? For some, that question may as well be posed in Latin or Sanskrit. For others, it’s an invitation to have a heated debate about the benefits of GUI vs. command line, modern day UI vs. old school metaphor, the pros/cons of Windows 10, LAMP vs. IIS … the list goes on and on. For most, however, the answer will be a variation on Windows or Mac.

    But anyone that has used Windows (in any of its incarnations) long enough knows, at some point, frustration will rule the day, and you’ll be working along and, seemingly out of nowhere, Windows will decide to apply updates and restart, putting your work at risk while you go through the lengthy process of applying updates and rebooting. Or what about the inevitable virus or malware? You spend precious dollars on antivirus software or, worst case scenario, you have to send the machine to your local PC repair to get the virus removed. All the while, work is not being done. While Apple’s macOS products suffer less from the vulnerabilities found in the Windows platform, they also come with a fairly hefty price tag.

    There is, however, another alternative to both that doesn’t cost any money to download and install, and is far more immune to viruses and malware. That operating system is Linux. What is Linux? Let’s take a look.



    So what exactly is it?

    Linux came about in the mid-1990s, when then-student Linus Torvalds was tasked with creating a disk driver so he could read the Minix file system. (Minix is a POSIX-compliant, UNIX-like operating system that saw its first release in 1987.) That project eventually gave birth to what would come to be known as the Linux kernel. The kernel of an operating system is an essential core that provides basic services for all aspects of the operating system. In the case of Linux, the kernel is a monolithic, UNIX-like system which also happens to be the largest open source project in the world. In the most basic terms one could say, “Linux is a free alternative to Microsoft Windows and macOS.”



    Linux is a ‘can do’ platform

    For those that are concerned about getting their work done with Linux, let’s take into consideration how the average user works with a computer and how Linux can meet those needs. For the average user, a computer is a means to:

    • Interact on social media
    • Read email
    • Listen to music
    • Watch Youtube or Netflix
    • Occasionally write something

    Five years ago, each of those tasks would have been handled via a different application. Now, not so much. Modern computing tasks are most often relegated to a browser. Facebook, Google Docs, Netflix, Outlook 365… they’re all used within the likes of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Internet Explorer. Each one of those browsers does a good job of enabling the user to do their thing. It’s only on very rare occasions that a user will land on a site that will only work with one of the above browsers.

    So considering that the average user spends most of their time within a browser, the underlying platform has become less and less relevant. However, with that in mind, wouldn’t it make sense to use a platform that doesn’t suffer from the usual distractions, vulnerabilities, and weaknesses that plague the likes of Windows? That’s where Linux shines. And with Linux being open source, users are not only able to use the platform for free, they can also alter and re-distribute the operating system as their own distribution.



    Linux lets you customize and share

    There are basically two different types of software: Proprietary and open source. With proprietary software, the code used to create the application (or operating system) is not available for public usage or viewing. Open source, on the other hand, makes the code used to create the software freely available. While the average user might not be concerned with the option to make alterations to their OS, this functionality of Linux helps to explain why this operating system doesn’t cost you anything. Linux is an open source platform, meaning that the code is available for anyone to download, change, and even redistribute. Because of this, you could download the source code for the various elements that make up a Linux distribution, change them, and create your very own distribution.

    And as for that distribution, this is very often a point of confusion with new users. As mentioned above, Linux is really just the kernel of the operating system. In order to actually use it, there are layers that must be added to make it functional. The layers include things like:

    • Device drivers
    • Shell
    • Compiler
    • Applications
    • Commands
    • Utilities
    • Daemons

    Developers will sometimes adapt those layers, to achieve a different functionality, or swap out one system for another. In the end, the developers create a unique version of Linux, called a distribution. Popular Linux distributions include:


    There are (quite literally) thousands of Linux distributions available. To see a listing of which distributions of Linux are popular, take a look at Distrowatch.



    Getting to know a different kind of desktop

    One of the biggest variations you will find between the different Linux distributions is the desktop environment. Most users know what both Windows and Mac desktops look like. You might be surprised to find there are some Linux desktops that look and behave in a very familiar fashion. Others, however, offer a rather unique look and feel. Take, for instance, the GNOME desktop (pictured below). This very modern user interface does a great job of ensuring desktop elements are rarely (if ever) in the way, so that interaction with applications takes focus. It’s a minimal desktop that delivers maximum efficiency.




    The GNOME desktop as seen on openSUSE, showing the activities window.


    But what exactly is the desktop? In very basic terms, the desktop is comprised of pieces like the Apple menu, applications menu, menu bar, status menu, notification center, clickable icons, and some form of panel (or dock). With this combination of elements, the desktop makes it very easy for the user to interact with their computer. Every desktop contains a mixture of these parts. Linux is no exception. With the aforementioned GNOME, you have the GNOME Dash (which is like the application menu), the top bar (which is like the Apple menu bar), a notification center, and can even (through the use of extensions) add a customizable dock. Without a desktop environment, you would be relegated to the command line; trust me, you don’t want that.

    The most popular Linux desktop environments are:


    There are a number of other desktop options, but the above tend to be considered not only the more popular, but user friendly and reliable. When looking into desktops, you’ll want to consider your needs. For example, the KDE desktop does a great job of functioning like Windows 7. Cinnamon and Mate are similar, but less modern looking. Xfce is a very lightweight desktop, so if you have slower hardware, it makes for a great solution. And again, GNOME is a minimalist dream, with very little getting in your way of working.

    The desktop environment is also where you an interact with applications … which brings us to our most important issue.



    Are the application options any better?

    This is one area that has been, in the past, a point of contention for Linux. If you ask any dyed in the wool Windows fan/user, they will tell you, just like with macOS, you cannot run Windows applications on Linux. But that’s not necessarily true. Thanks to a compatibility layer, called Wine (which used to stand for Wine Is Not an Emulator), many windows applications can be run on Linux. This is not a perfect system, and it’s not for everyone. But it does enable users to run many Windows applications on Linux.

    Even without native Windows applications, Linux still has you covered with the likes of:

    • LibreOffice — a full-blown office suite (think MS Office)
    • Firefox/Chromium/Chrome — fully functional web browsers (think Safari or Internet Explorer)
    • The GIMP — a powerful image editing tool (think Photoshop)
    • Audacity — a user-friendly audio recording tool
    • Evolution — a groupware suite (think Outlook)

    Linux has tens of thousands of free applications, ready to install. Even better, most modern distributions include their own app stores (such as GNOME Software or the Elementary OS AppCenter) that make installing software incredibly easy. Nearly all modern Linux distribution’s app stores can be found within the desktop menu. Once you’ve opened your app store, look for applications like LibreOffice (which is probably installed by default), The GIMP (a powerful image editing tool), Audacity (a user-friendly audio recorder that’s great for recording podcasts), Thunderbird (email client), VLC (multimedia player), or Evolution (groupware suite), to name just a few.



    Is Linux for me, and how do I start?

    Linux is ready to open up a world of free (and open) software that is reliable, secure, and easy to use. Is it perfect? No. If you happen to depend upon a proprietary piece of software, you might find that Linux (even with the help of Wine) cannot install that application you need. The big question on your mind might be, “How do I find out if Linux will work for me?” Believe it or not, Linux has that covered as well. Most flavors of Linux are distributed as “Live Distributions.”

    What that means is you can download the distribution ISO image, burn that image onto either a CD/DVD or USB flash drive, insert the media into your computer (either in the CD/DVD drive or USB port) and boot from that media. Instead of installing the operating system, the Live Distributions run directly from RAM, so they don’t make any changes to your hard drive. Use Linux in that way and you’ll know, pretty quickly, if it’s an operating system that can fulfill your needs. Unlike the early years, you don’t have to be a computer geek to get up to speed on most of the readily available Linux distributions. To find out more about Linux distributions, head over to Distrowatch, where you can download and read about nearly every available Linux distribution on the planet.


    Source: LifeHacker





    As someone who has himself been exclusively using GNU/Linux for almost 18 years now, I must add a few comments to the above article.

    First of all, the author is not correct on account of how Linux came to be. I have already expounded on the history of GNU/Linux in episode XIX of the Voices of the Forums video conferences (formerly known as TOTcasts). But I'll reiterate the story here-below.

    Free & Open Source Software has already been around for quite a long time, but up until the early 1980s, this was mainly in the form of individual software applications, not yet as a complete operating system.

    At that point in time, there was a guy working in the artificial intelligence labs of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) named Richard M. Stallman, or just "RMS" for friends. Stallman was frustrated over the fact that he could not share the code he himself had written with his friends, because all of that code was the so-called "intellectual property" of his employer, MIT. This is why he devised the idea of creating an entire operating system as Free & Open Source Software, the accent in his case laying with the "free as in freedom" aspect.

    Stallman realized that if he were to create such an operating system, it would have to be a general purpose operating system that everyone could use, and so he chose a UNIX-family architecture, as UNIX was a time-proven robust, secure, scalable, flexible and portable platform. However, there was going to be one big difference: the new operating system was going to beget a very advanced microkernel design — I'll get back to this in a minute.

    And so, in 1983, Richard Stallman announced that he was going to create a completely free (as in freedom) UNIX-like operating system, called GNU — a recursive acronym for "Gnu is Not Unix", which additionally, when pronounced by native English speakers and thus with a muted initial "G", sounds very much like "new".

    By 1984, Stallman had created the Free Software Foundation, and most of the GNU system had been written, which had been possible because GNU is a UNIX-like system — it fully mimics UNIX's behavior — and UNIX is a highly modular architecture with interchangeable components. However, due to Stallman's choice for a microkernel system, writing the kernel itself proved far more difficult than anticipated.

    The kernel is the highest-privilege part of any operating system. It runs in the processor's highest-privilege ring, and it communicates directly with the hardware. Many different types of kernel exist, but the three best known designs are the microkernel, the monolithic kernel and the hybrid kernel.

    In a monolithic kernel, all of the low-level system code — including all the hardware drivers — runs with the same privileges, and in the same memory address space, called kernelspace. This makes a monolithic kernel very fast, but it also introduces potential stability issues, because if one component of that very elaborate code base contains a serious enough bug, then it can hang the entire machine.

    A microkernel solves this problem by having everything that doesn't strictly have to be inside the kernel run in the lowest-privilege ring of the processor instead, which means that it also runs in multiple separate and isolated memory address spaces, which all together are commonly referred to as userspace. As such, if one of those userspace components has a serious enough bug in it which could crash that component, then it won't take the entire kernel (and thus the entire machine) down with it, and then a supervisor process can automatically restart the crashed code if needed.

    At first glance, that would seem like a very good design, but the problem is that this entails an enormous complexity on account of the communication between the actual kernel and its userspace components, and even more importantly, between the individual userspace components themselves, because they run completely isolated from one another, and the only way they would be able to communicate with one another would be through some sort of inter-process message bus.

    Now, the GNU developers wanted to use the Mach microkernel as the basis for the native GNU kernel — called HURD — but Mach contained copyrighted code and patents, and so the GNU developers had to work around that. As a result, and with the added complexity of a microkernel design, the HURD never really got off the ground in terms of development. (A preliminary version of it does exist for testing purposes, but it's not usable for production machines just yet.)

    Although frustrated over the slow progress of its development, Stallman considered the slow development of the HURD less of a problem, because the rest of the GNU system was ready, and was praised by many IT professionals over its code quality and usability. Given the modular nature of a UNIX-family operating system, all of GNU's userland could in essence be used on top of the kernel of another UNIX operating system without too many problems.

    Then, in 1991, a Finnish computer sciences student (from a Swedish-speaking minority) at the University of Helsinki named Linus Benedict Torvalds was using the Minix operating system on his own Hewlett Packard Vectra computer, which had a 32-bit Intel i80386 microprocessor in it. Minix was a slim microkernel-based UNIX-like operating system written by Andrew Tanenbaum for educational purposes.

    However, in those days, Minix was still a 16-bit operating system, written for the Intel i8086 processor, and while the i80386 could run that code, it would have to do so by emulating an i8086, which meant that one could not access any more than 640 KiB of main memory, and that the processor would also not offer any provisions in hardware for managing code privilege separation and memory protection.

    Linus Torvalds was frustrated with this limitation, and he wanted to explore the true power of his 32-bit i80386 processor. However, and again in those days, the Minix license did not permit anyone to modify the code. And that is how Linus eventually decided to start writing his own 32-bit kernel. And as the GNU userland code was freely available and their license permitted modification of the code, he began porting small parts of GNU to his own kernel — which he initially called Freax (for "Free UNIX"), but the administrator of the server upon which Linus was storing his source code files found that such an off-putting name that he changed the name of the directory — that which Microsoft and Apple users call "a folder" — to "Linux".

    Somewhere in August 1991, Linus Torvalds announced his kernel in the comp.os.minix newsgroup on Usenet, and he was offering up the code for free, so long as it wasn't going to be used commercially by anyone. In the same vein, he also asked whether anyone would be interested in helping him out, and the GNU developers, who were also monitoring that newsgroup, immediately started working together with Linus into porting the whole of GNU to the Linux kernel. Unlike the HURD, Linux is a monolithic kernel, not a microkernel, but due to Linus maintaining very strict coding standards, it quickly proved of very high quality.

    Shortly after that, Linus attended a symposium where Richard Stallman gave a lecture about Free Software and the GNU General Public License, and that's when Linus Torvalds decided to license Linux under the GPL. And that, then, made the GNU developers — Stallman included — decide to put the HURD on the back burner. After all, the Free Software Foundation's objective was to offer a complete operating system that was licensed under the GPL — and that would thus be "free as in freedom" — and with the Linux kernel being GPL-licensed and working together with the GNU userland in the GNU/Linux operating system, that objective had now been attained.



    Another aspect of the article I wanted to touch upon is that the author seems to favor GNOME as his graphical user interface of choice. Most GNU/Linux distributions nowadays come with only one main graphical user interface installed by default, but one can easily install several others alongside of that, and then each user — UNIX operating systems are multiuser — can choose the user interface of their preference at login time. In fact, that is how it always used to be, until Canonical started the practice of offering only one user interface on its Ubuntu installation media.

    The author also mentions KDE, but that nomenclature is already outdated now. The name KDE now stands for the collective of software developers behind the project, and as of version 4 onward, the desktop environment is now called Plasma. Plasma is currently in its 5th generation already, albeit that many feel that the development is going too fast for the project to truly mature and stabilize.

    I also disagree with the author's claim that KDE/Plasma "does a good job of mimicking Windows 7", because one can make Plasma look like whatever one wants. As the matter of fact, I am still using Plasma 4 here on my own system — because of the stability/maturity issues with Plasma 5 cited above — and I have applied a whole set of customizations, which make my desktop actually look more like that of an Apple MacIntosh than like Microsoft Windows. In fact, the only thing it has in common with Microsoft Windows is that it has a task bar sitting at the bottom of the screen, but even that is something I can change, and I could easily replace that with an Apple-like dock if I wanted to — but I don't.


    Below are a number of screenshots of my own Plasma 4 environment, running on top of the PCLinuxOS distribution.





    The KNode Usenet newsreader.





    The Dolphin file manager, with the embedded terminal emulator. The thumbnails on the folders are created automatically, depending on what's inside.





    KVIrc, an Internet Relay Chat client, connected to irc.freenode.net.




    Knights, a graphical chess client. One can connect to a chess server in order to play against a human opponent — which is what I'm doing here — or one can also play against the computer, and with different chess engines in the background to choose from.





    Kdenlive, a non-linear video editing suite.





    Switching between open applications by way of the Alt+Tab key combination.





    My 12 virtual desktops in a carousel-like view — one of the ways by which one can switch between them.



    For anyone interested in GNU/Linux, further information can be found at the following links...

    = DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR =

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    Super Moderator United States Dreamtimer's Avatar
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    Thanks Aragorn and Dumpy.

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    Thanks Aragorn, nice write up and resource. Once I empty all the boxes, I hope to install this on one of the MS DOS machines and tinker with GNU.

    Also, thanks for the personal note "waking me up" to your thread. I need all the clues I can get.
    Last edited by Dumpster Diver, 20th October 2017 at 13:30.
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    Just an FYI for anyone interested, some windows machines can run MacOS. It’s called hackintosh and requires some technical know how. The list of supported hackintosh hardware has grown exponentially the past few years as well as the ease of the installation process.

    I worked in IT several moons ago & started with Windows then moved to Linux then switched to Macs when I realized MacOS was Unix based. The quality of apple hardware went down the drain when they switched to intel processors so there’s really no point in buying apple computers when you can buy an intel machine for cheap & install MacOS.

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    Quote Originally posted by Mahakasyapa View Post
    Just an FYI for anyone interested, some windows machines can run MacOS. It’s called hackintosh and requires some technical know how. The list of supported hackintosh hardware has grown exponentially the past few years as well as the ease of the installation process.

    I worked in IT several moons ago & started with Windows then moved to Linux then switched to Macs when I realized MacOS was Unix based. The quality of apple hardware went down the drain when they switched to intel processors so there’s really no point in buying apple computers when you can buy an intel machine for cheap & install MacOS.
    Yes, but...

    • macOS may be a true UNIX in the trademarked sense, but so is GNU/Linux. At least two (RedHat-derived) GNU/Linux distributions have already been officially certified to carry the UNIX™ trademark. The reason why most other distributions don't bother is twofold: the validation procedure is very expensive — especially for commercially distributed operating systems — and Linux is itself a registered trademark (®), which by now already carries a lot more weight among IT professionals than the UNIX™ trademark does. By the way, more than 70% of the servers on the internet run GNU/Linux, as do 498 of the world's fastest 500 supercomputers, the other two in that list running another UNIX variant.

    • Of all UNIX systems in existence, macOS (and by consequence the Hackintosh system) is the least UNIX-like. Its filesystem is case-retentive but not case-sensitive, and its graphical user interface is proprietary and doesn't have networking support. You can run standardized X11 applications on a Mac or a Hackintosh, but you would then be running these applications by way of an external X11 server such as X.Org, and those applications would thus also not be integrated with the Apple-specific user interface.

    • macOS (and by consequence the Hackintosh system) is for most part proprietary software. That means that you don't know what's going on under the hood, and it is a known fact that the system contains at least one backdoor — for allowing Apple to push updates onto your system without your consent. (The same applies to Microsoft Windows, by the way, but that one has even more than just one backdoor.)

    • macOS is legally restricted to running on an official Apple Macintosh only. The Hackintosh is illegal, so why would you want to go with something illegal when you can have something which is perfectly legal, which comes with a plethora of useful (and legal) software — much of which is already installed together with the operating system from the start — and which also respects all internationally agreed-upon standards and protocols, while at the same time its source code is also open?
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    Quote Originally posted by Aragorn View Post
    Yes, but...

    • macOS may be a true UNIX in the trademarked sense, but so is GNU/Linux. At least two (RedHat-derived) GNU/Linux distributions have already been officially certified to carry the UNIX™ trademark. The reason why most other distributions don't bother is twofold: the validation procedure is very expensive — especially for commercially distributed operating systems — and Linux is itself a registered trademark (®), which by now already carries a lot more weight among IT professionals than the UNIX™ trademark does. By the way, more than 70% of the servers on the internet run GNU/Linux, as do 498 of the world's fastest 500 supercomputers, the other two in that list running another UNIX variant.

    • Of all UNIX systems in existence, macOS (and by consequence the Hackintosh system) is the least UNIX-like. Its filesystem is case-retentive but not case-sensitive, and its graphical user interface is proprietary and doesn't have networking support. You can run standardized X11 applications on a Mac or a Hackintosh, but you would then be running these applications by way of an external X11 server such as X.Org, and those applications would thus also not be integrated with the Apple-specific user interface.

    • macOS (and by consequence the Hackintosh system) is for most part proprietary software. That means that you don't know what's going on under the hood, and it is a known fact that the system contains at least one backdoor — for allowing Apple to push updates onto your system without your consent. (The same applies to Microsoft Windows, by the way, but that one has even more than just one backdoor.)

    • macOS is legally restricted to running on an official Apple Macintosh only. The Hackintosh is illegal, so why would you want to go with something illegal when you can have something which is perfectly legal, which comes with a plethora of useful (and legal) software — much of which is already installed together with the operating system from the start — and which also respects all internationally agreed-upon standards and protocols, while at the same time its source code is also open?
    Keeping two healthy Macs running is paramount and with the legal issues involved, I'll not tamper with them. So I'll then take some old MS DOS machines and make them like GNU.
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    Quote Originally posted by Dumpster Diver View Post
    Keeping two healthy Macs running is paramount and with the legal issues involved, I'll not tamper with them. So I'll then take some old MS DOS machines and make them like GNU.
    Do however keep in mind that GNU/Linux is at a bare minimum a 32-bit operating system, and in the event of most distributions available today, a 64-bit operating system. In fact, 32-bit is being phased out, and there are only a few distributions anymore that support it — Slackware being one of them, but I don't think you'd want to mess with that as a newbie.

    For the 32-bit variants — provided you can still find any — you'd need at least an i686-compatible microprocessor, i.e. an Intel Pentium II/III/4 or an AMD Athlon XP. The 64-bit variants will work on any modern x86-64 processor — e.g. Intel Core 2 or AMD Athlon64, or later.

    MS-DOS usually only came installed on anything up to a Pentium MMX, which is an i586 microprocessor. Even if you still find a 32-bit distribution, they generally won't work on such an old processor anymore due to the requirement of modern software for multimedia extensions and memory management extensions which the i586 didn't have yet.

    Also, you should keep into account that the machine needs to have about 4 GiB of RAM if you want to work comfortably, and you'd also want a swap partition of at least twice the size of that if you plan on hibernating the machine — i.e. suspend-to-disk.
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    Lightbulb

    Another very informative and very hands-on article, this time with regard to installing Ubuntu. For those interested, please do note that you'll need recent enough hardware — as in "something manufactured in this decade".


    Additional note: I've had to correct a few errors in the article below. For instance, at the start of the article, the author mentions that he's going to install Ubuntu 17.04 — and he does indeed provide the link to the 17.04 release — but farther down the article, it becomes clear that he's actually talking about the newer 17.10 release. I have therefore amended the article to point to the correct release.








    Source: LifeHacker


    The Linux operating system has evolved from a niche audience to widespread popularity since its creation in the mid 1990s, and with good reason. Once upon a time, that installation process was a challenge, even for those who had plenty of experience with such tasks. The modern day Linux, however, has come a very long way. To that end, the installation of most Linux distributions is about as easy as installing an application. If you can install Microsoft Office or Adobe Photoshop, you can install Linux.

    Here, we’ll walk you through the process of installing Ubuntu Linux 17.10, which is widely considered one of the most user-friendly distributions. (A distribution is a variation of Linux, and there are hundreds and hundreds to choose from.)

    Ubuntu also enjoys some of the best hardware recognition available—so, chances are, it will have no problem recognizing your hardware (network/sound cards, displays, printers, etc.). Another reason to opt for Ubuntu is that it’s simply very easy to use—such that nearly anyone (with any experience level) can immediately get up to speed. Below, we’ll walk you through how to download and get set up on Ubuntu:



    Download the ISO Image File

    The first step in installing a new linux distribution is downloading the necessary ISO image. This image is a special kind of file that can then be used to create a bootable CD/DVD or USB drive—one that will allow you to install the operating system to your computer. Each Linux distribution offers its own ISO file, so you have to make sure to download the ISO file for your distribution of choice and then “burn” the file onto either a CD/DVD or USB drive. In order to do this, we need an application that can convert the ISO file into a bootable system (that will be placed on the USB drive), and the best tool for the job is called UNetbootin. UNetbootin is a user-friendly, self-contained executable tool that can convert your ISO file and create a bootable USB drive. Since most laptops and desktops are sold without CD/DVD drives, this is the most logical tool for the job.

    Assuming you are using Windows to create the bootable media, all you have to do is download the self-contained UNetbootin executable and double-click on the downloaded file. Unetbootin will run (without the need to install anything), ready to create a bootable USB drive.

    For this process, the first step is to jump right in and download the ISO image of Ubuntu 17.10. While that is downloading, insert your USB drive into the machine and then download UNetbootin on your Windows machine. Running UNetbootin is only a matter of double-clicking the downloaded file to start the application. Once the UNetbootin window is open, click on the Diskimage button and then click the … button to open up your file manager. Navigate to where you’ve saved the Ubuntu image, select the image, and click Open.




    In the Type drop-down, select USB Drive and then make sure the correct USB drive is selected in the Drive drop-down.

    Once you have the above options taken care of, click OK to write the Ubuntu image to the flash drive. This will take some time (depending upon your hardware, between 2-5 minutes). When the process completes, close out UNetbootin and safely remove the USB drive.



    Installing Ubuntu

    Plug the flash drive into the machine (i.e. your computer, if that’s what you’re working with) that will house Ubuntu and boot the machine. Most modern computers default to booting directly to the hard drive and do not automatically present a boot menu. If your computer doesn’t present you the means to select a boot device, you might have to gain access to the boot menu in order to instruct the machine to boot from the USB drive. For example, on my System76 Leopard Extreme, I have to press and hold down the F8 button as soon as I turn on the machine. That will give me access to the boot menu, where I can select the flash drive as the primary boot location. If your computer doesn’t present you with a boot menu, you’ll need to either consult the computer documentation or do a Google search for "Computer Make/Model boot menu", where "Make/Model" is the actual make and model of your computer.

    Once you’ve managed to get your machine to boot from the USB drive, you will be greeted by the boot screen, which will automatically launch the Welcome screen.




    You have two options:

    • Try Ubuntu—this will boot into the live instance of Ubuntu, where you can test it out, without making any changes to your hard drive. From this live desktop, you can also start the actual installation process if the trial convinces you that you’d like to use Ubuntu longer term.

    • Install Ubuntu—this will go straight to the installation process.

    If you opt to go the "Try Ubuntu" route, you will get a good idea of how Ubuntu will run on your desktop (as well as the lay of the land with the GNOME Desktop Environment—the User Interface that allows you to interact with the computer). Either way, when you begin the installation process, the steps are the same.

    If you do opt to go the "Try Ubuntu" route, and don’t like what you see, simply shut down your computer, remove the flash drive, and restart. Your computer will automatically boot from the hard drive and you’ll be back to where you were before you took Ubuntu out for a spin.

    The installation process will walk you through a few windows. The first asks if you want to download updates while installing Ubuntu and if you want to install third-party software. Check both of these options and click Continue.




    The next window requires you to select the installation type. You have a few different options:

    • Erase disk and install Ubuntu—this will erase everything on your disk and install Ubuntu as the only operating system. If you already have an operating system installed, it will also give you the option of installing Ubuntu alongside the current OS (called “Dual booting”).

    • Encrypt the the new Ubuntu installation for security—for anyone who is paranoid about security, this is a good option.

    • Use LVM with the new Ubuntu installation—this option allows you to take snapshots (for backup purposes) and more easily resize partitions (should the need arise).

    For new users, I highly recommend Erase disk and install Ubuntu. It’s the least complicated route to installing Linux on your computer. If you have Windows on your system, you can install Ubuntu alongside Windows, for a dual boot configuration—that way, you can switch between Linux and Windows by rebooting and selecting which operating system to boot. You should also note that erasing the disk and installing Ubuntu will delete all of the data on your computer. If you have files that need to be saved, you should first boot into Windows, back up all of your files to an external drive, and then (once Linux has been installed), you can move the data onto the newly installed operating system.




    In my example, I do not have a previously installed operating system, so I will select Erase disk and install Ubuntu. You will then be prompted to click Continue so the changes can be written to the disk.

    The next window requires you to set your location (for time zone purposes). Type your state and city or click on the map to select your location.




    Once you’ve set your locale, click Continue to move on to the next step, which requires you to select your keyboard layout. You can have the installer auto-detect your keyboard, or you can select from the list. If necessary, click on the "Type here to test your keyboard" area and start typing. If your keyboard is correct, click Continue.




    In the next window, you must create a user. Type your full name, a name for the computer, a username (which will be auto-generated after you type your full name—you can use that or type whatever you like), and type/verify a user password.




    In this same screen, you can also select to automatically login, require a password to login, and/or encrypt your user’s home folder. If you are particularly concerned about security, I’d recommend encrypting the home directory.

    At this point the installation will continue and complete with no more interaction. When the process finishes, it will prompt you to reboot the machine.




    Once the machine boots into Ubuntu Linux, you can login with your username/password you created during the installation and start enjoying your new desktop operating system.


    Source: LifeHacker
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  17. #9
    Senior Member United States Dumpster Diver's Avatar
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    ...I think Argon is trying to turn me into an GNU freak AND getting me to buy a big, expensive PC to experiment on.

    BTW, I now know where Argon comes from. It is the default spell checker word if you get if the spelling a little off. Since I can't spell...

    But anyway, thanks for the info. I may just have to do this come the new year.
    "Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the object of your anger to die” ~ Anon
    "When you come to a fork in the road, take it." ~Yogi Berra
    "You can observe a lot by just watching." ~Yogi Berra
    “When I die, I want to die like my grandfather who died peacefully in his sleep. Not screaming like all the passengers in his car.” ~Will Rogers
    "If life gives you melons...you might be dyslexic" ~ Aixelsyd Dnarber

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    Last year I put AVLinux 64-bit on an oldish HP 6710b laptop I'd given a dual-core cpu, and took it away for a month's houseminding, with interface, keyboard, guitar, mic etc, determined to learn how to use Linux and hoping to capture some impro's.

    I got it all set up, midi/audio connections through Jack, got sound, but as soon as I started to record, the damn thing would max out the cpu...the frustration and disappointment was horrible. I'm OK, pretty good even, at troubleshooting audio/midi issues on XP/W7, but was floundering on AVLinux.

    Apparently I'm too stupid to understand how to navigate/administer Linux, especially the console stuff; despite having started off with DOS...perhaps M$Window$ has rotted my brain.

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  21. #11
    Administrator Aragorn's Avatar
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    Even though Dumpster Diver has (per his own request) been retired from The One Truth for quite some time now, I thought I'd revisit this thread because there have been some changes at my end, with more to come in the foreseeable future, given that the computer I'm typing this from is starting to die. It is after all a refurbished machine, and it wasn't exactly in a spectacular state when I bought it two years ago. In fact, its hardware is less powerful than that of the machine it replaced, even though I presume that it's of the same vintage.

    But so anyway, a few weeks ago, I was having severe problems with my computer and I lost all of my customizations and settings, which then ultimately led to my decision to install the latest PCLinuxOS with KDE Plasma 5, even though I wrote the following about the Plasma 5 desktop environment higher up the thread...:

    Quote Originally posted by Aragorn View Post
    [...] Plasma is currently in its 5th generation already, albeit that many feel that the development is going too fast for the project to truly mature and stabilize.

    [...] As the matter of fact, I am still using Plasma 4 here on my own system — because of the stability/maturity issues with Plasma 5 cited above [...]

    "Out of the box" — as they say — Plasma 5 doesn't look anything like what you're going to see in my screenshots farther down below; the first screenshot is from the Wikipedia page. The default theme in Plasma 5 is called Breeze, and it is based upon the Material Design style developed by Google. That means that in the Breeze theme, everything looks pretty flat, and you have to rely on compositing effects like drop-shadows in order to still be able to tell the difference between multiple overlapping windows.

    On top of that, most GNU/Linux distributions tend to want to cater to newbies coming over from the world of Microsoft Windows, and therefore they generally also tend to adopt the desktop metaphor popularized by that platform, with a single (and fairly tall) task bar sitting at the bottom of the screen, which has the equivalent of the MS-Windows "Start" menu on the left, and a system tray and a clock on the right.

    The Wikipedia image below shows you what Plasma 5 looks like "out of the box".






    As you can see, it all looks pretty flat and bland. And you'd be surprised how many people actually love this look.

    Now, I've never been one to blindly accept what somebody else thinks I (should) want or need, and so I immediately set out to customize my desktop environment again, just as I had done in my Plasma 4 installation — see the screenshots at the bottom of my first post on this thread.

    However, in order to get the look I wanted, not only did I have to play with the panels and the various applets, but I also had to install a special theme engine called Kvantum — it's included in the PCLinuxOS repositories, but not all distributions carry the package — and then install my favorite Kvantum theme on top of that, called KvBaghiraAquaMetal. It's a theme developed by someone in the GNU/Linux community, and you can freely download it from the KDE Store — a somewhat misleading name, as it's not a commercial site.

    The KvBaghiraAquaMetal theme only applies to the look & feel of what's visible inside the application window. In and of itself, it does not cover what we commonly call "the window decoration" — i.e. the window title bar and (if visible) the window surrounds. However, the developer of the KvBaghiraAquaMetal theme was also kind enough to create a matching window decoration, so you can easily fetch and install that by way of the window decoration section in the Plasma 5 "System Settings" screen.

    And of course, in Plasma 5 (and even in Plasma 4 before it), you can put the individual window title bar buttons on the left or on the right. The developer of this particular window decoration did not include support for all of the title bar buttons supported by KDE, but he did include support in his theme for three of the extra buttons, which you will not normally encounter on an actual Macintosh — those are the buttons I've put on the right side of the title bar as visible in the screenshots below.

    Then there is also such a thing as the desktop theme, which is distinct from the application theme. The desktop theme is the look & feel of the panels and of widgets you might put on the desktop itself. PCLinuxOS comes with a number of desktop themes you can choose from, but once again, you can download new themes from within the pertinent section of the "System Settings" screen.

    The desktop theme I'm using is called "Leap/Tumbleweed", because it was obviously created by someone using the OpenSUSE GNU/Linux distribution, and "Leap" and "Tumbleweed" are the names of the two branches of that distribution. The "Leap/Tumbleweed" theme is essentially based off of the default Breeze desktop theme, but it's a little more transparent, has a much thicker and nicer drop-shadow behind the panels, and a golden overlay when you hover the mouse over the task bar buttons. It's very nice.

    My intent was not to make people think I'm using a Macintosh — if I wanted that, then I would have bought a Mac — but to simply customize my desktop according to my personal sense of aesthetics and ergonomics, and perhaps also subconsciously to make it look less like Microsoft Windows, because that's what most newbies always tend to compare GNU/Linux to, even though they are two very, very different operating systems. And I do happen to love the aesthetics that macOS Leopard and Snow Leopard had.

    But so anyway, here are the screenshots. The first two still have the same wallpaper as I had in my Plasma 4, as well as the Air desktop theme I was initially using, but the latter three have a newer wallpaper and the "Leap/Tumbleweed" desktop theme.





    Falkon web browser (formerly known as Qupzilla)





    JuK music player





    Dolphin file manager with integrated terminal emulator





    KVIrc IRC client, connected to irc.freenode.net





    Konsole terminal emulator
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  23. #12
    Administrator Aragorn's Avatar
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    Even though I'm not sure whether anyone would still be interested in either this thread or the subject, I thought I'd post a little update, given that I have recently acquired a fairly well priced new computer as a replacement for the dying refurbished machine I had been using since late 2016, and that I am now also running a different GNU/Linux distribution.

    The distribution I'm using now is called Manjaro. It is a non-commercial distribution based upon Arch Linux, and like Arch, it uses a rolling-release upgrade model, as opposed to a versioned-release model.

    With versioned releases ─ as for instance is the case for Microsoft Windows ─ you cannot simply upgrade from one version to the next version without a complete reinstallation of the operating system, even though the operating system vendor may release updated versions of certain software packages within the system during the lifetime of that particular version. In a rolling release on the other hand, the line between installing simple updates and upgrading to the newest version of the entire system is blurred. When you install all the updates, you are automatically on par with the very latest release.

    Now, Arch Linux itself comes in three branches, and it is advised to keep them separate, i.e. a "stable" branch, a "testing" branch, and an "unstable" branch. The same is true for Manjaro, but Arch's "stable" branch corresponds to Manjaro's "unstable" branch, which means that after Arch has already declared the software as stable, the Manjaro developers still scrutinize and test the new software before it is being pushed onto the users as an update or upgrade. The "testing" branch is then where extensive testing will be conducted, and where the developers may apply patches to the software to further stabilize it. So once it hits the "stable" repositories, the software has been thoroughly tested and was found not to cause any conflicts. That doesn't mean that there never will be any problems, but any problems that occur will then very quickly be dealt with by both the developers and the community ─ Manjaro has its own forum, and a significant (and helpful) member base.

    Another main difference between Arch and Manjaro is that Arch is a distribution aimed at the experienced user. Package management ─ read: installing, updating and/or removing software ─ is all done via a command line tool named pacman (short for "package manager"). Manjaro has all of the same tools, but the Manjaro developers have also written two separate graphical front-ends to pacman ─ one called Pamac, written with the GTK graphical widget kit (for the GNOME, Xfce and LXDE desktop environments), and one called Octopi, written with the qt graphical widget kit (for the KDE Plasma and Deepin desktop environments).

    Manjaro uses its own dedicated package repositories from which you can download and install pre-built software, but it also unofficially supports the Arch User Repository, where lots of software can be found as source code, along with scripts that help you download and compile the software into readily installable packages. I have actually already made use of this functionality for three software packages so far. Compiling large software titles ─ e.g. Mozilla Firefox ─ is quite heavy on your computer's resources, but at least the compiling, linking and building is partly automated, and thus easier on the user. Still, that in itself is not something one would wish onto a complete novice, so the advice is always to stick with the readily installable packages in the repository if possible.

    As a distribution ─ and given its relationship to Arch ─ Manjaro is very clean, very fast, and very well put together. To be honest, I've been exclusively running GNU/Linux for over 20 years now, and I had never seen a distribution this well built and this clean of clutter before. And given how long I've been using GNU/Linux and how many distributions I've tested, that says a lot!

    Ever since I first started using GNU/Linux, I've been a big fan of the KDE desktop environment ─ currently called Plasma ─ and so that is also what I'm using in Manjaro. And of course, as always, I apply my own customizing and theming. The theme I've chosen is a Kvantum theme ─ see my previous post ─ called KvGlow Mojave Dark, and it is based upon the look of the "dark mode" in macOS 10.14 Mojave. The wallpaper I'm using is that of the actual macOS Mojave in "dark mode" ─ a night-time view of the Mojave desert. Screenshots below...



































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    Senior Member NotAPretender's Avatar
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    No doubt it is a good OS.
    “If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.”

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  27. #14
    Super Moderator United States Dreamtimer's Avatar
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    As a distribution ─ and given its relationship to Arch ─ Manjaro is very clean, very fast, and very well put together. To be honest, I've been exclusively running GNU/Linux for over 20 years now, and I had never seen a distribution this well built and this clean of clutter before. And given how long I've been using GNU/Linux and how many distributions I've tested, that says a lot!
    It does indeed. My friend Pat is the only one I can talk to about Linux. He's the only one who understands. My friend George is just too emotionally attached to Microsoft and his old standby reason was always games.

    He never would talk about the security issues. Except of course whenever he found out about something wrong with Macs.

    Must be a side-taking thing.

    Personally, I was much more interested in security and a system which wouldn't crash than gaming.

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  29. #15
    Administrator Aragorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Aragorn View Post
    As a distribution ─ and given its relationship to Arch ─ Manjaro is very clean, very fast, and very well put together. To be honest, I've been exclusively running GNU/Linux for over 20 years now, and I had never seen a distribution this well built and this clean of clutter before. And given how long I've been using GNU/Linux and how many distributions I've tested, that says a lot!
    Well, my words weren't cold yet, and there was a major update this morning ─ 147 updated packages, including two new kernels and an updated release of LibreOffice. The process of downloading the packages, installing them and updating the boot loader configuration to boot the new kernel was over in only ten minutes or so. I then rebooted, and the system came up without any problems at all. It also only takes a few seconds to boot ─ about 4 to 5 seconds from the boot loader menu to the login screen, and about 2 seconds from the login screen to a fully operational desktop environment.

    QED.
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