As a longtime user of DOS, Windows, and a little Macintosh (but not
UNIX systems), I have found myself interested in looking into learning
a new operating system, one that i'd actually have to use a manual to
learn! I've been reading about Linux and other UNIX systems (largely a
matter of finding "For Dummies" books in Barnes and Noble), and find
it quite intruiging - and i've got an old Windows 98 computer
relegated to playing MS-DOS games that my new XP system doesn't
swallow. I am considering giving the old computer a dual-boot with
Linux or one of the other open-source UNIX systems. Anyway, i have a
1. Which distributions of Linux or another free UNIX (preferably free
as in beer, downloadable ones) are relatively simple to install, offer
a non-destructive repartitioning program (don't want to re-install
tons of programs, and the old system lacks a back-up device), and work
well with generic/strange/brand-X hardware that, to borrow Microsoft
terminology, not exactly 110% DirectX compatible?
1a. I've heard of distributions that take up 4 megabytes of RAM and a
floppy disk, and i've heard of distributions that take up 128
megabytes of RAM and 5 gigabytes of space. I think something in the
middle would be best, as the machine has 56 megs of RAM and i'd like
to make the Linux partition 4-5 gigabytes in size with room on the
disk left over for other programs, data files, and free space.
1b. I've read that vi and ed, the old UNIX editors, are very difficult
to use. As someone who has grown soft under Windows, i'm not enamored
at using a line editor or a command-line-based text editor. I've heard
emacs, pico, and joe were better in this regard. Are any of these in
Linux distributions? Also, as a casual programmer who is past "hello,
world!" but isn't quite up to professional standards, are there any
good full-screen Java or C++ tools out there (command lines are great
for file managment and quickly loading commands, but i'd rather have a
full-screen compiler like Turbo's old Pascal and C++ compilers)?
2. I'm planning on downloading the system from the new computer to the
CD writer and send stuff to the old computer's CD-ROM that way - is
this a good idea?
3. Anything available that will allow MS-DOS games (notably, Football
Pro (like too much to give up and not enough to buy a new, similar
game!), the original Simcity (the classic simulator), and others) work
on a Linux system?
4. Any top-of-the-line free as in both speech and beer tools and
programs highly recommended? This computer isn't going to be online
(which i've heard is supposed to be a UNIX strength!), as cable modem
bills for one computer are high enough and i don't think Comcast makes
Linux drivers for the high-speed modem. However, are there any good
Powerpoint substitutes, games, or other good tools out there, perhaps
5. Any recommended online guides or manuals?