COLA FAQ 6 of 7 23-Nov-2002

COLA FAQ 6 of 7 23-Nov-2002

Post by Kenneth Down » Sun, 24 Nov 2002 09:26:45

#  Recent Changes:
#  21-Sep-2002:  reworded outline material 6.0 as suggested by
#                Marcello Romani
#  28-Aug-2002:  New, running win and linux together
#  24-Aug-2002:  Renamed this section, "Common Newbie Questions"
#                this required some general changes to split into
#                win-specific and more generic material
#  24-Aug-2002: Best distro for newbie
#  24-Aug-2002: Cut/Copy-n-paste is funy, what's up?


                           TABLE OF CONTENTS - PART 6

          6.0   Part 6, Common Newbie Questions

      General Questions

      What is the Best Distribution For Newcomer?

      Questions Common to Former Microsoft Windows Users

      Is Linux a Replacement for Microsoft Windows?
      Cut-n-Paste Does Not Seem To Work, What Gives?
      What if I Still Need to Run Windows?
     Undeveloped and Proposed Material


      Copyright (c)  2002.  This document is copyright by the individuals
      named in the credits, section

      Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document
      under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1
      or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation.
      A copy of the license can be viewed at:


          ============================================================  General Questions  What is the Best Distribution For a Newcomer?

    This is of course a matter of opinion.  General opinion as of August
    of 2002 is that SuSE or Mandrake vie as being the best distribution
    for newcomers.  More detail:

    -> Mandrake is highly praised as being easy to install and for having
       latest-and-greatest hardware support.  Their newsgroup,
       alt.os.linux.mandrake, is said to be very newbie-friendly.

    -> SuSE 8.0 is also highly praised.  It was described by COLA's Ian
       Potter as "comprehensive to the point of being excessive."
       SuSE is described as the kind of system you would put on mom's
       computer or the neighbor's box.

    -> Red Hat is not usually promoted per se as being "great" for newbies,
       but it is not uncommon for posters to state that they started with
       it and had no problems.

    -> Debian is mentioned for its excellent package management, but
       newcomers are warned it is not necessarily for those who have no
       prior unix experience.

    When this question comes up, after the answers above have been hashed
    out, somebody always says, "And when you've gotten you're feet wet,
    you'll be ready for gentoo..."  Gentoo is a source-based distribution
    that makes no attempt to be friendly to the newcomer, but is incredibly
    friendly to one who has gained some comfort with what Linux is all about.
    Gentoo currently enjoys status as the power-user's distro of choice, the
    sort-of ultimate sandbox for those who have learned their way around and
    want it all.  Questions Common to Former Microsoft Windows Users  Is Linux a Replacement For Microsoft Windows?

    You will often hear it said on COLA and elsewhere, usually with strong
    emphasis, "Linux is not a replacement for Windows!"  However, if you
    are using Microsoft Windows now, and are considering using Linux
    instead, does that not make it a replacement?  So which is it?

    The answers is a definite YES and NO.

    First, both Microsoft Windows and Linux are operating systems.  Since
    only once operating system can control a computer, then yes, if you
    remove Microsoft Windows and put on Linux, then you have of course
    replaced Windows, it is gone and you have Linux instead.

    However, Linux is not a replacement for Windows in that it has a
    completely different design and design philosophy, a completely different
    payment and licensing policy (it's free), different hardware
    requirements, and different applications.  So Linux is not a replacement
    for Windows because it offers a completely different, and we feel,
    superior, experience. Cut-n-Paste Does Not Seem To Work, What Gives?

    The operations Cut/Paste and Copy/Paste in the X Window System are
    simple, flexible, and powerful.  They are also *almost* exactly the
    same as Microsoft Windows, but they are not completely identical.
    The following notes assume you are using Gnome or KDE:

    -> CTRL-X is cut, CTRL-C is copy, and CTRL-V is paste.  Standard
       right-click context menus are also available.

    -> If you highlight any text in an X app, you can paste it into
       another X app without copying it first.

    -> You can have multiple entries on the clipboard of any type.  Any
       app capable of handling the format can receive something via paste.

    More technically, the X Window System allows for something called the
    PRIMARY selection, which in KDE and Gnome automatically holds any
    highlighted text.  This is what makes paste-without-copy possible.
    There is also the basic multiple clipboard functionality described
    above.   What if I Still Need Microsoft Windows in Some Situations?

    Depending on the situation, there are any number of ways that Linux
    and Microsoft Windows can work together.

    -> The Network.  Linux can provide file and and print sharing services
       to Windows clients, and can attach to file and print shares
       provided by Windows Server.  See

    -> The Workstation.  If you must run Microsoft Windows on a workstation,
       and you will not need both Linux and Win at the same time, dual-
       booting is always an option.  In a workgroup situation, there is
       something called X-terminals (no room for complete explanation here,
       ask on COLA) that allows you to dual-boot a PC into Win or Linux
       w/o actually installing Linux onto the machine!

    -> The Workstation (again).  If you must run Microsoft Windows on
       workstation, and you will need Linux and Win simultaneously, you
       can purchase vmWare ( for $300.00 USD and run
       Windows as an application inside of Linux.  There is a free
       version of the same kind of product at, but it
       gets barely any mention on COLA, while vmware is discussed more

    -> Terminal Services.  If you need to connect to a Terminal Services
       server from a Linux machine, check out, quite
       possibly one of the simplest and easiest apps in the world to
       use (in the opinion of this FAQ maintainer...)

    -> Just One Program!  If you need only one or two crucial programs,
       you may be able to run them under the Wine project,,
       which is an ongoing effort to allow Windows programs to run
       directly under Linux.  The Wine project is ongoing and makes no
       pretense towards being complete or comprehensive at this time, but
       it is amazing what they have accomplished considering the target
       system is owned by one of the most ruthless competitors the world
       has ever seen.  Undeveloped Material for switch from MS Windows.

   1.0    So Where Do I Start?

      1.1  Answer for the non-techie: find a friend who can install
           Linux, go to a LUG.  Get a book!

      1.2  Answer for the techie:  start with dual boot or spare machine,
           move up to "solo" with linux.  The advantages of immersion,
           choosing a distribution.  Get a book!  Some people do well by
           having a goal, such as setting up a web server or email server,
           or learning a new programming language.

      1.3  Answer for the techie who does free (or coffe and doughnuts)
           support for family and friends:  same as 1.2 with additional

   2.0    Where Should I Expect Trouble?

      2.1  Choice can be confusing if you do not expect it
      2.2  Link to ldp, DOS users HOW-TO
      2.3  Tighter security can be disorienting to one who is used to
           always logging in as "administrator"
      2.4  You will want to learn a text editor
      2.5  Your partitioning tricks will not work, and will not translate,
           you will need to learn unix partitioning.  Hints for doing it
           the first time so you don't screw yourself.
      2.6  The absence of wizards can be disorienting until you are
           enlightened by text config files
      2.7  Learn the FHS (put in link).
      2.8  There are things that are not as "polished" as your Windows
           experience may lead you to expect, and so take a little more
           work the first time, but after that they *work*, so you don't
           have to revisit them.
      2.9  Some newcomers from Windows report that they have to actually
           write things down when they do them, because they work so well
           for so long that they forget what they did or how they did it.

   3.0    There are some times I cannot do w/o Windows, what are my options?

      3.1  For the net:  samba
      3.2  For your ws:  dual-boot, vmware, wine, floppy-based X-terminal
      3.3  For internet services, email, web, scrap Win altogether, go for
           "clean" linux solution.
      3.4  If you have to have exchange, there is: ??? What's the name of
           that package?  Evolution?
      3.5  For terminal services, rdesktop

   4.0    OK, I'm sold, but the rest of the world uses Windows, can I send
          out my resume as a Word document?

          Answer would be various, abiword, koffice, etc.

   5.0    I've been reading COLA and other places.  I'm an MCSE but not a
          programmer, what good is it to recompile a kernel when I cannot

     5.1  Compiling does not imply coding, and w/many distros everything
          is pre-compiled
     5.2  Who says you can't program?  Have you ever tried?  Start out
          with shell-scripting.
     5.3  advantages of a small kernel, custom configured by YOU YOU YOU!

   6.0    OK, I'm NOT sold.  I've read this entire section and it seems I
          have to change my entire life, but I already can use my machine,
          run down those advantages again:


          Interoperability, and so on and so on.

          burning cd-roms while printing out some complex documents, surfing
          the net, chatting and encoding some wav files to mp3.  All at the
          same time, and without that feeling that "I may do something
          wrong" one always has in Microsoft Windows.

   7.0    Where no Windows User has gone before...

     7.1  Sourcecode, sourcecode, sourcecode
     7.2  X-Terminals, Remote X, all that
     7.3  Rethinking LAN vs. timeshare
     7.4  floppy-based firewalls
     7.5  True compsci knowledge instead of product training
     7.6  Commune with the authors.  Linus drops by COLA from time-to-time,
          send an email directly to the author of a package.

Linux: the more you learn, the more you love