Linux Made Easy

by Kevin Bedell

This new MSBlaster worm attacking Windows XP and 2003 operating systems is so bad that even the Department of Homeland Security has issued advisories against it.


Instead of applying a patch for this problem -- only to have to apply another patch as soon as the next vulnerability is exploited -- why not just move to Linux?


Recent innovations in the Linux community have made this easier than ever. Ease of use is better, installation is easier, hardware support is better, and there are more and better applications available. If you've ever considered making the switch, now is the time.


Here are a few really easy Linux versions you can install yourself without too much worry. In many cases, these installations are now actually easier than installing Microsoft Windows.


  • Mandrake Linux. Mandrake was one of the original 'easy to use and install' versions of Linux. I recently installed it on a Toshiba laptop and can say it's definitely continuing to get better and better. Their new MandrakeClub provides access to even more applications as well as a community of other Mandrake users to help you if you need it. I recommend the Mandrake Linux PowerPack Edition 9.1.


  • Lindows OS. Lindows is determined to become the 'America On-Line' of Linux versions. They are consumer friendly and have made their applications very easy to install and use. Another real advantage for Lindows is the 'Click-N-Run Technology' they use for installing new applications and upgrading. I recommend Lindows OS 4.0.


  • Xandros Desktop. The Xandros claim to fame is Windows compatibility and ease of switching from Windows. Xandros cost $99, but comes with 'CodeWeavers CrossOver Office' which allows you to literally run Microsoft Office and other windows applications right on your Linux machine. Xandros is getting rave reviews from their customers. I recommend the Xandros Desktop Deluxe Edition.


And you won't have to worry about going out and buying new software for Linux either. All these versions come with a full-featured office suite that can read and write MS Office files (OpenOffice), a full-featured money management application (GNUCash), media and entertainment applications and most of the software that an average user needs.


Stop worrying about patching -- get Linux instead.





8 Comments

anonymous2
2003-08-13 07:33:09
really that easy?
Are you going to provide support for all the computer illiterates who switch to Linux based on articles like this which work on fear that know nothing about their systems?


They'll be coming to ask about how to get their cable modem or winmodem hooked up (but not here of course, as they'll not be able to get online...), getting AOL 7 (or whichever version) to work, playing the games they had, etc.
Their ISP most likely won't offer support either, there're just too many distributions around each of which works just so slightly different to make it practical. "go ask in a newsgroup" will be a much heard response, a newsgroup they can't get to because they can't get online (and they would likely not get a useful response anyway, probably being told to RTFM pages for some package they need to install without being told how to get that package installed in the first place).


Linux is nice for the techies among us, but not for the average user.
"Linux on the desktop" has been heard shouted for many years as coming "this year", and it's not a bit closer than 5 years ago when I first dabbled with it (dabbled, because until recently I couldn't get a machine working stablely enough to be of much use, mainly hardware that wasn't recognised and even the machine I now have running Linux needed new hardware because there was no way to get it all working together due to broken support for some of the devices in different kernels).
It took me 2 weeks of research (lucky for me I have a machine running Windows as well so I could get online to do it and download the stuff I needed) to find the solution, which lay in a different network card with a different driver and a new version of the kernel.
I severely doubt my mother would have been able to do that...

kbedell
2003-08-13 07:40:27
really that easy?
I believe your experience was much more common 12 months ago. These are the reasons I recommended these particular distributions - I've either installed them myself or spoke to people that have and they really are much better.


anonymous2
2003-08-13 10:27:25
really that easy?
You wrote:


>lucky for me I have a machine running Windows as well so I could get online to do it and download the stuff I needed.
=======


Funny, I had the opposite experience this week. A friend of mine had misplaced his driver disks for his Ethernet card and so couldn't get online when Windows decided it was time for a routine OS reinstall.


Using Mandrake 9.0 disks I legally gave him (after having legally downloaded them) he was online in no time and ultimately decided not to bother reinstalling Windows.


phenyx
2003-08-13 12:44:00
I wish it were quite that easy
I've been a Linux user for years - but a week ago I bought a new Dell Inspiron 600m, and it still runs the XP install that it came with out of the box.


Why?


Hardware, plain and simple. Particularly wireless hardware. The Intel Pro Wireless 2100 mini-PCI chipset that it shipped with doesn't have a Linux driver available. My Linksys WPC54G 802.11g Cardbus adapter doesn't have a Linux driver available. My only option would be to use my SMC2635W 802.11b cardbus card, which has a binary-only driver from the fine people at admtek, which doesn't have near the range of the internal Mini-PCI or the fast bitrates of the 54G card.


Both the unsupported cards are rumored (the Intel chipset) or promoted (the Broadcom 54G chipset) as having Linux drivers available internally or to select customers, but as yet unreleased to the public. It therefore can't be a matter of time or cost - what's keeping them from releasing binary drivers, at least?


Beyond the scope of this post is Linksys's probable GPL violations in the firmware of the WRT54G.


How do we, as the Linux user community, convince the Big Corporations that there's a demand? I've spoken to reps from Linksys on the phone and they've told me flat out that they don't have any plans to release Linux support for the 54G, now or ever, without citing any kind of backing reasoning.

anonymous2
2003-08-20 08:50:26
I wish it were quite that easy
Hello, I sent an email to Intel asking them about the release of a linux driver for their centrino wireless card and here is wath they said:


Hello Dear Customer,


Thank you for contacting Intel(R) Technical Support.


Intel(R) Centrino(TM) Mobile Technology driver development being scoped.
Expect needed drivers first half 2004, if not sooner.


Sincerely,

Carlos B.
Intel(R) Technical Support


Intel is a registered trademark of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries
In the United States and other countries.

*Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.



->I was looking for linux drivers and I saw an article were you said you were developing linux drivers for the centrino wireless card. But I didn't find any one at your page and I saw it was not supported under linux.
->
->##ERIGNORE##
->Product Category: Centrino
->
->E-mail address: thassler@dcc.uchile.cl
->
->Product name: Wireless 2100 (centrino wireless card)
->
->Problem description: I was looking for linux drivers and I saw an article were you said you were developing linux drivers for the centrino wireless card. But I didn't find any one at your page and I saw it was not supported under linux.
->
->Customer Type: End-user


I hope it to be true.

jwenting
2003-08-22 01:20:14
really that easy?
Maybe, yet it was a 4 year old computer with a 5 year old network card and a 3 months old Linux distribution.


I can understand that hardware support isn't instant like with Windows (after all, the userbase is small enough that it may not be worth the effort to delay release of the hardware until a driver is ready for all OSs that could conceivably be used with it), but this was old hardware.
And weirdest of all of course was that support for some of that hardware worked in an older version but not the latest making me wonder about regression testing.


As this was a kernel issue, I doubt it would have worked for you either (in fact, I tried to install Mandrake on the machine before installing Debian and it wouldn't even boot the installer).

anonymous2
2003-09-26 09:15:22
really that easy?
Linux is much more than a bit closer that it was 5 years ago. Just going from Mandrake 8.1 to 9.1 was leaping light years ahead from an ease of installation standpoint. When I installed Mandrake 8.1, installation was not the absolute horror I had heard about from other Windows users, but it still asked me what version of XFree86 I wanted to use. At the time I didn't know, nor would any other linux newbie know, what XFree86 was. I also had to lie to it and say that my ATI Rage Mobility wasn't really an ATI Rage mobility, but a Lynx video card because of driver issues. With 9.1, both of those issues are gone, and installation is an absolute breeze. I also upgraded my NIC and it recognized it automatically.


Is it perfect, hardly, but I'll take stability and no more patches over an easy install and a lifetime of crashes and the !@#$ing screen door that is Windows security.

duah
2005-08-26 06:31:15
I wish it were quite that easy
I got same new Inspiron 600m,dual booted with Xandros SurfSide Linux ,no problems that Xandros support didnt solve.


How did your wireless hardware get resolved,must admit have not used that function yet.