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Noob to Linux want to give it a go!

AB80

Standard Member
I have an old computer knocking around that currently runs Windows XP.

Having read about Linux I feel like giving it a go and have a few questions that I was hoping you guys could answer.:lease:

Please bear in mind that I am not overly knowledgeable about operating systems, i.e. a noob.

1. I want to ditch Windows on this system and only use Linux, do I need to do any prep for this, e.g. formatting the hard drive?

2. What would be the best distro to install, assume Ubuntu but your advise would be welcome?

3. Am I right in thinking that I don’t need any anti-virus/anti-spyware software?

I know I must sound a bit stupid but I’m keen to learn!
 

RRB

Established Member
I have an old computer knocking around that currently runs Windows XP.

Having read about Linux I feel like giving it a go and have a few questions that I was hoping you guys could answer.:lease:

Please bear in mind that I am not overly knowledgeable about operating systems, i.e. a noob.

1. I want to ditch Windows on this system and only use Linux, do I need to do any prep for this, e.g. formatting the hard drive?

2. What would be the best distro to install, assume Ubuntu but your advise would be welcome?

3. Am I right in thinking that I don’t need any anti-virus/anti-spyware software?

I know I must sound a bit stupid but I’m keen to learn!

1. no prep required, the install will do all the formatting etc.

2. Ubuntu is generally a good beginner distro so give it a try, it also has a large user community if you have issues.

3. Realistically no you dont really need anti-virus software etc.

And you dont sound stupid at all, everyone starts somewhere, linux experts (which i am not) were not born with the knowledge so ask away mate and hopefully people can help where possible.
 

AB80

Standard Member
RRB, thanks for the kind words of encouragement!:)

So I take it I just need to download Ubuntu(pretty much decided to try this first) from the website, burn it to disk and then boot the computer with the disk in?

Assuming this is how its done, do I also need to tell the computer to boot from CD on startup?

Finally, will there be any tricky bits with the install or is it just a case of letting it get on with it?
 

RRB

Established Member
RRB, thanks for the kind words of encouragement!:)

So I take it I just need to download Ubuntu(pretty much decided to try this first) from the website, burn it to disk and then boot the computer with the disk in?

Assuming this is how its done, do I also need to tell the computer to boot from CD on startup?

Finally, will there be any tricky bits with the install or is it just a case of letting it get on with it?

https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Installation
Check that link mate for install instructions is your best bet. But yea i think with Ubuntu the cd boots to a live version of the operating system so you can actually play about with it before you decide to install. If you do decide to install i think there is an icon on the desktop you click to actually install. Im not 100% thats fully how it works as i dont use Ubuntu.

As for telling your pc to boot from disk it depends how you got boot order set in your bios.
 

AB80

Standard Member
RRB, thanks for the link it looks excellent!

Re booting from CD. I wasnt sure if I would need to change the BIOS to do this (never been in the BIOS before).

I will probably read the link and then give Ubuntu a go and let you know how I get on!

Thanks again.
 

y2k

Prominent Member
Ubuntu is good but if you dont like it give pclinuxos 2007 a go its just like ubuntu but looks a lot better, more like windows and is easier to set up wifi if you plan on using it. http://www.pclinuxos.com/
 

1saintly

Established Member
Ubuntu is good but if you dont like it give pclinuxos 2007 a go its just like ubuntu but looks a lot better, more like windows and is easier to set up wifi if you plan on using it. http://www.pclinuxos.com/

Just following on from advice from y2k, once you have cracked the burning and booting from cd, just do what i ended up doing. Thats try several versions of linux http://distrowatch.com/ will give you a list of different versions, its on the right hand side, under 'page hit ranking list'

And dont worry just because its at top of list doesnt realy mean its best for you or your hardware! Each and everyone to there own when it comes to linux, thats the great thing about it, so much choice! just stick with it, it will be worth it in the end!
 

scotty38

Established Member
Ubuntu is good but if you dont like it give pclinuxos 2007 a go its just like ubuntu but looks a lot better, more like windows and is easier to set up wifi if you plan on using it. http://www.pclinuxos.com/

Don't want to be picky but Ubuntu is Debian based whereas, I believe, PCLinuxOS is Mandrake based so I'm guessing there will be differences in terms of installed packages and particularly the method by which packages and the OS are updated. Also PClinuxOS is KDE oriented whereas Ubuntu is Gnome so I'm guessing this is where you think one looks better than the other?

Edit: I forgot to add the point of my post...

If you want Ubuntu but with the look and feel of PCLinuxOS then Kubuntu may be the distro for you. Essentially Ubuntu with KDE.
 

RRB

Established Member
Just to further add for the OP, most linux distros now come as live CDs so can boot into the linux environment without actually installing and play around to see if you like it, can save a lot of time and hassle.

I actually had a try of Ubuntu new version today live cd and its just personal preference but i hate it, im not knocking because it has brought a lot more attention to linux and it is good for the novice user. Have to admit though im a Gentoo fanboy. Suppose its just what you are used too. Gentoo really isnt for the total novice user but actually when you get a Gentoo system up and running its one of the easiest distros to maintain and the beauty is you dont have to bother about new distro versions coming out every 6 months, you just do a sync with the Gentoo repository and then to an update world and you have the latest version of Gentoo. There are guys out there who installed their Gentoo 4 years ago and never done another version install, all they do is an update world, its a really neat feature. I know the likes of Ubuntu can update the to the latest distro but they do recommend you do fresh installs with new releases
 

AB80

Standard Member
Hi guys,

Excellent replys all round, very helpful, thanks!

Just one question based on scotty38's reply. What do these mean: Debian, Mandrake, KDE & Gnome? I've seen these banded around but never read an explanation?

Again thanks to all!
 

Old_Biker_John

Established Member
Just one question based on scotty38's reply. What do these mean: Debian, Mandrake, KDE & Gnome? I've seen these banded around but never read an explanation?

Hi AB80,

'Debian' and 'Mandrake' are different distributions (versions) of Linux. Have a look at the Distrowatch website that 1saintly mentioned earlier.

'KDE' and 'Gnome' are different methods for displaying 'desktop' appearances and providing menus and buttons for the user to select and interact with programs.

Most of the distributions that I have looked at, in the few months that I have been checking out Linux, offer a choice of 'KDE' or 'Gnome' desktops when you boot up their LiveCDs or install them. 'Xfce' is another common offering which is more lightweight, using fewer system resources to provide the interface between user and operating system.

Experienced users could tell you more, but I hope this info. helps a bit.:)

John.
 

AB80

Standard Member
Hi all,

Old Biker John: Thanks for the simple explanation, it certainly helps.

I have now created a live CD(actually DVD) from the instructions on the Ubuntu website, however, I am having trouble booting it on my computer.

I have changed the BIOS so that it will only boot from my DVD rom drive but keep getting the message 'select proper boot device or insert boot media' - or words to this affect!

I'm going to have another look on the Ubuntu website to see if there is any further advise.
 

y2k

Prominent Member
I have now created a live CD(actually DVD) from the instructions on the Ubuntu website, however, I am having trouble booting it on my computer.
I have never tried making a live dvd but it has always worked for me when making a live cd, if you have a blank cd try and use that to see if it works.
 

Old_Biker_John

Established Member
I have changed the BIOS so that it will only boot from my DVD rom drive but keep getting the message 'select proper boot device or insert boot media' - or words to this affect!

I'm going to have another look on the Ubuntu website to see if there is any further advise.

Hi AB80,

Can you try a Windows XP CD to see if your PC starts up alright from that?

If it does, then the LiveDVD may have an error in it.

If your PC still won't boot off the Windows CD there may be another BIOS setting to alter.

What make of PC is this and do you know what motherboard and other system hardware components it has?

That information would help for forum members to advise you of how to overcome the problem.:)

John.
 

AB80

Standard Member
Cheers y2k I will try getting a blank CD and giving that a go.

However, I may have found something else which may be affecting the boot.

The computer has both a CD RW drive and a DVD ROM drive. Have been looking on the Ubuntu website and it advises that some computers will only boot from one cd/dvd drive, see the link below(hope it works):

http://help.ubuntu.com/community/BootFromCD

This may make sense as from memory the DVD ROM drive is in the slave position according to the BIOS.

Apart from this I can think of only one further complication - the last time I tried I dont think the CD RW drive worked!!
 

AB80

Standard Member
Old Biker John, thanks for the tip. I tried booting XP from the DVD drive and got right through to the setup with no issues.

As such I think there may be a problem with the burn to create the live CD. I know there was no problem with the download as I carried out the MD5 sums and checked them against the Hashes on the website.

Therefore, I will get some more blank disks and try burning at a lower speed and see if that helps. Would i be better burning to CD rather than DVD?

If this still doesn't help I'll try and post full system specs.

Codehead, thanks for the info and link. I going to save that piece of info for future reference!

Cheers to all again!
 

Codehead

Distinguished Member
I had a problem with the Fedora DVD, odd messages at boot, etc. A second burn of the same image did the trick. Hope it works for you.
 

Old_Biker_John

Established Member
Hi AB80,

Glad your DVD ROM drive worked after all.:)

I will get some more blank disks and try burning at a lower speed and see if that helps. Would i be better burning to CD rather than DVD?

Lower speeds usually improve the quality of data '.iso' image burns.

By the way, I looked at the Ubuntu site and all the images seemed to be for CD's rather than DVD's. Also, the 'ISO Recorder' image burning software that they recommend is said to record DVD's only in Vista. Aren't you using Windows XP?

An image up to 700MB in size is usually intended for a burn to CD.

You mentioned in an earlier post that your CD R/W might not be working properly, so you might have to spend about £15 more to replace it if your next attempt is unsuccessful.

Let's hope that all goes well.:)

If this still doesn't help I'll try and post full system specs.

There are several freeware utilities that can list your system spec for you. Just ask if you need to know where to find them for download.

Good luck with burning and booting your Ubuntu CD.:)

John.
 

AB80

Standard Member
Hi guys, thanks for the replies.

Latest developments as follows!!

I have got hold of a CDRW disk and tried burning to that. P.S using my wifes Vista laptop to download and burn as XP on the old machine seems to be slightly corrupted and also dont trust the CDRW drive.

I burned an image (using InfraRecorder to do this, as per the Ubuntu website) this time on the CDRW disk and selected as low a write speed as possible. Once finished I put it in the computer and booted up.

This time it went straight through to the first Ubuntu screen (the one that gives the options 'try Ubuntu without installing', 'Install Ubuntu, 'Check CD for defects' etc.) and I selected English. Thought, great everything seems to be going well until I try and select one of the options whereby the computer pauses for a few seconds and then I get a 'I/O error' message stating somthing very similar to 'Error reading boot disk' and giving a Reboot button to click. This seems to happen whichever option I try and choose.

Do you think that the image hasnt burned properly again, or could it be some BIOS setting or something?

I'm determined not to give up! I can post my system specs later if you think that might help.

Also I think I might get a new CDRW drive anyway, for when i finally get Ubuntu working, as they seem to be reasonably cheap. Any suggestions?

Hope this all makes sense, if you need any clarification then let me know.

Thanks to all again, this is really helpful stuff.
 

Old_Biker_John

Established Member
I burned an image (using InfraRecorder to do this, as per the Ubuntu website) this time on the CDRW disk and selected as low a write speed as possible. Once finished I put it in the computer and booted up.

This time it went straight through to the first Ubuntu screen (the one that gives the options 'try Ubuntu without installing', 'Install Ubuntu, 'Check CD for defects' etc.) and I selected English. Thought, great everything seems to be going well until I try and select one of the options whereby the computer pauses for a few seconds and then I get a 'I/O error' message stating somthing very similar to 'Error reading boot disk' and giving a Reboot button to click. This seems to happen whichever option I try and choose.

Do you think that the image hasnt burned properly again, or could it be some BIOS setting or something?

Hi AB80,

It sounds as if you have managed to burn your image OK.:)

The error message that you mention could be because the Ubuntu installer has difficulty identifying which drive to read in your machine to start up the operating system.

Installation to your hard drive will not take place unless you choose the 'Install' option.

Start by pressing 'F3' to choose your 'UK' 'keymap'. (The default is 'US')

Some modern graphics cards can confuse the linux installers, so continue by pressing 'F4' ('Modes') and choosing the 'Safe graphics mode' option.

Then add the extra boot-up info. as explained below: -

The introductory screen, that you make your choices from, uses the 'F6' ('Other Options') key for choosing extra boot options. When you press the 'F6' key you will see a line of text across your screen. (this is the boot-up instructions for the installer)

You should also see a cursor at the end of the line of text. (If you can't, press the left arrow key and you will see the cursor move through the line of text). Anything that you type on your keyboard at this stage should be added to the on-screen text at the position of your cursor.

Move to the right-hand end of the text and type 'irqpoll' and press the 'Enter' key. The Ubuntu installer will try to install again and may identify your hardware better with this extra instruction.

If that still fails, you can try using the same technique to add 'all-generic-ide' as well as 'irqpoll' which again tries to increase the chances of the installer identifying your hardware correctly.

Try to note any error messages that you see on screen (a digital camera helps here), but hopefully you will see some progress.:)

If you like the look of the Ubuntu 'LiveCD', you can choose to install it on your system.

Best to do some serious thinking at that stage.

First question to ask is "Have I got any important data on this machine that I don't want to lose?"

If the answer to that question is "Yes", you need to do some backing up before anything is changed to prepare for installation.

There are a few other considerations before installation is started, but you can ask again about those if and when you decide to do it. After all, you can browse the internet, create and delete documents or spreadsheets, etc. from the 'LiveCD'.

Enjoy your 'LiveCD':D

John.
 

AB80

Standard Member
Old Biker John,

Yet again you have been extremely helpful, thankyou! However, after trying all your suggestion I am still getting the same error message:

I/O error

Error reading boot CD.

When I first read your post I thought this is it! Unfortunately the computer had other ideas!

Nevermind, I will soldier on! Perhaps I should try disconnecting the CDRW drive completely and put the DVD ROM as master?
 

Old_Biker_John

Established Member
When I first read your post I thought this is it! Unfortunately the computer had other ideas!

Nevermind, I will soldier on! Perhaps I should try disconnecting the CDRW drive completely and put the DVD ROM as master?


Hello again AB80,:)

I'm sorry to see that you still can't boot your Linux LiveCD.:(

I am trialling Ubuntu 8.04 and have found one or two bugs in it. One of these is quite major, as it prevents you from viewing shared folders on Windows machines on your network.

The older Ubuntu 7.10 version doesn't have that problem. You can try it from here if you want to.

As you are having some problems with the attempt to run the Ubuntu 8.04 LiveDVD, why not try another Linux distribution to see if their installers are any better at detecting your hardware, before altering your hardware setup?:)

Here are a few that I have recently tried that work for me 'out of the box' with no extra parameters needed when booting up on my systems (specs. in my sig below).:D

Puppy Linux 4.0 is a very friendly distribution - Lightweight but capable with a good range of basic applications. Finds all my hardware OK. Prompts you to choose your keyboard layout and preferred screen resolution during the boot-up and has a simple GUI to set up your internet connection for browsing. You can save your setup for future LiveCD sessions. Available here .


The next 2 friendly distributions are based on 'Slackware' (which I personally find a bit too difficult for beginners like me).

1. Zenwalk 5.0.1 - Lightweight Xfce desktop and lightweight applications. Available here.

2. Bluewhite64 12.1 (64 bit only) - very comprehensive distribution using KDE desktop. It detects all my hardware and boots up with correct screen resolution when I accept the offered 'auto config of xorg' during boot up. It even connects me to my network so that I can start browsing immediately. Available here.


Dreamlinux 3.2 is another distribution that recognised all my hardware without and problem. The LiveCD gives a useful range of applications and the desktop (Gnome) is quite impressive. Available here.

If you install Dreamlinux, you can upgrade it to version 3.3, but you need to feel comfortable with entering the specified instructions at a terminal window to do this.

I hope that you are soon able to find a distribution that suits your hardware.

Keep trying!:thumbsup:

John.
 

AB80

Standard Member
Hi Old Biker John,

Thanks for continuing to support!

I'm beginning to think of trying a different distro as Ubuntu seems to not like my setup, could just be 8.04 as you said.

I did have a look on the Ubuntu support forums and found a thread whereby people seem to be having the same problem as me. Users seem to have found a variety of different ways of solving the problem from updating their drive firmware, burning from different programs through to downloading a different ISO image. I'll post a link to the thread below for your info:

http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=192689&highlight=I%2FO+error

However, I think the easiest option for me is to try a different disto, as you suggested. I'll look at the ones you suggested and go from there.

Thanks again.
 

Old_Biker_John

Established Member
Hi AB80,

I forgot to say that you can sometimes boot up more reliably from CD-R and DVD-R media rather than from the re-writeable variety.

Keep trying.:)

John.
 

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