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Starting with linux on a new hard drive

     
5:41 pm on Sep 18, 2018 (gmt 0)

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A Windows 10 laptop has packed up, and it appears to be the hard drive.
I plan to replace the hard drive but would likd to go linux right away.

Assuming I've replaced the drive, how should I start the process?
5:52 pm on Sept 18, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Which Linux do you want to try ?
Your answer will dictate the next steps..
6:21 pm on Sept 18, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I just went through these steps yesterday to convert a Windows box to Linux. You can download an ISO of the Linux flavor of your choice to a Windows computer and load it to a USB stick with Win32DiskImager. Use that USB stick to boot your laptop and follow the steps in the install process.

Linux images on USB sticks and SD cards created with Win32DiskImager are bootable. Many other tools are able to load ISO's to USB sticks, but they often fail to boot.
7:14 pm on Sept 18, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Ubuntu has instructions on how to create a bootable USB on Windows: [tutorials.ubuntu.com...]

Have you any requirements that would dictate a particular Linux distribution? You might want to consider using the same (or similar) to what you have on servers, or a geeky distro learn about Linux, or .........
7:51 pm on Sept 18, 2018 (gmt 0)

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If you are coming from windows ( whatever ) Mint ( with mate ) is probably the one you'll feel most comfortable with ..since mint also now comes with support for flatpack built in , you'll also have the choice between installing software from the repository or via flatpack ..To simplify the initial install choose the version which has all media codecs etc included..
1:15 am on Sept 19, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Most distros as part of the install process will offer to format the drive. If there's nothing on the drive of import then you can often just go with the defaults and allow it to format the disk and install the distro. It will erase anything there, format the drive and partition it for you. Things get more involved if you want to dual/multi boot. Then you need to look into managing the partitions.
11:09 am on Sept 19, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Its worth checking what the default partitioning scheme is. I like to put /home on a separate partition so user data survives a reinstall even if you reformat the other partition. On the other hand you lose some flexibility and some data (e.g. databases) are still stored on the / partition. On the other hand the default will be a reasonable one so if you do not want to bother that is fine too.

To explain above for Windows people, rather than assigning letters to partitions and drives (.e.g C:, D:, etc) linux shows then as someone in one file system, with / at the top (the drive or partition that contains whatever does not have its own), then you might have /home (inside which there are user directories) on another partition, etc. Some people put /var (which contains logs etc.) on its own partition, etc.
12:13 pm on Sept 19, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Thanks, all helpful.
Which Linux do you want to try ?

I don't know. I tried a couple of versions a few years back and one was horrible, caused crashes. The other seemed stable.

Recommendations for beginners?

I have yet to find time to take the laptop apart and to buy a new hard drive to install. At that point i'll be wanting to run right away.
12:25 pm on Sept 19, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Recommendations for beginners?

see my post above..
4:32 pm on Sept 19, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I would say Ubuntu is the safe bet for a beginner, preferably an LTS version. Mint is an easier install because it includes more (codecs etc.) but upgrading to a new version is harder. On the other hand Mint has very helpful forums in my experience (a few years ago).

Ubuntu tells you a new version is available when you do a normal update and asks whether you want upgrade to the new version. As long as you have enough space on the / partition it runs smoothly. The exception is if you have customised system config files (in which case it just pops up a dialog window asking you whether to keep your customised config, or reset to the latest config for that file). Most users do not customise these files so they never see this.

That said, any of the friendlier distros should be fine - just do not start with Arch... If you are unsure create a couple of live USBs (usually the install USB will run as a live USB) and try them out.
9:16 pm on Sept 19, 2018 (gmt 0)

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They say a beginner should always start with Ubuntu or Mint. They have the best online support.

Ubuntu 18 is a total mess in my opinion. It is awkward and fiddly to use - some basic tasks were not easy to accomplish, such as opening menus in Firefox or Chrome for example. There was worse too. None of those issues are in older versions.

Hence, I suggest that you try Mint or an older version of Ubuntu. Ubuntu 16 is supported until 2021 by which time you will have learnt all the things you need and could migrate to something completely different.

I wouldn't recommend Red Star Linux.
4:42 am on Sept 20, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Personally I'm not a Ubuntu fan, but I know people love it. I'd lean towards Mint for a beginner distro. I really liked LMDE (Mint Debian Edition) which is Mint based on Debian rather than Ubuntu. However, probably best to start with the standard Mint LTE version in Cinnamon or Mate. The support for that is better and there are more users.

I wouldn't recommend Gentoo.
1:00 pm on Sept 20, 2018 (gmt 0)

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My daughter currently uses Ubuntu 18.04 with no problems.

My wife and I both use XFCE on ubuntu 18.04. XFCE is a bit minimal (not as minimal as some desktops) and feels old fashioned but is lightweight and customiseable - if you install the Xubuntu version of Ubuntu it will be preinstalled instead of the standard Gnome desktop.
11:17 am on Sept 21, 2018 (gmt 0)

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My daughter currently uses Ubuntu 18.04 with no problems.


Maybe they have fixed some of the problems since I tried it. Have they fixed the Firefox and Chrome menu issue? This was where the only way to get to the menus was to press the Alt key. You could not open the main menus with the mouse.
3:43 pm on Sept 24, 2018 (gmt 0)

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If you are moving from Windows right to Linux I would recommend Kubuntu. Anyone who has used to using windows will have very little issue with it. You can set up the lower bar to behave exactly like windows. A little icon represents what would be the "Start" button next to that place a "view desktop" widget than a file explorer widget. Then the taskbar will display open applications allowing you to toggle between them in much the same way a Windows user would.

Mack.
6:14 pm on Sept 24, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Thank you for all the great suggestions.
Last week I ordered a new hard drive and I'm waiting for delivery. I understand it's on its way.
6:45 pm on Sept 24, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Remember, you can try most Linux OSs by booting them from a flash drive. This will let you test drive each to check for any possible compatibility issues. Don't use this to gauge performance, they a tend to be fairly sluggish when running from a flash drive.

Mack.
5:00 am on Sept 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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From my experiences (not necessarily the most important tidbits)

Ubuntu and many of its variants (Lubuntu does) allow you to run from boot media. You can then see how well your video chipset is supported...or not - welcome to the default (poss. restrictive) generic driver. Slow response yes, but it gives a quick check compared to the time used to do a full HD install to see if you've strayed too far into geekiness.

The major variations are the default windows manager in use and the amount of initially included/available applications (types of licenses, 3rd party apps, commercial add-ons or drivers).

Some distros have both server and desktop editions available with a windowing desktop manager. Having the identical to very similar experience might be helpful.
12:50 pm on Dec 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@PCInk, late reply, but the problems seem fixed.
7:30 am on Dec 29, 2018 (gmt 0)

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.. and an even later reply here ---

Switching over from Windows to a Linux distro upon after using Windows for a number of years can be quite an experience for some --

... and to reiterate, if you're coming from Windows, Linux Mint 19.1 (Cinnamon) would be your best bet - less of a learning curve.
If you're coming over from Mac, then running with Elementary OS Juno 5.0 might be your best bet, and again, less of a learning curve.
Both are Debian builds off the back end of Ubuntu -- (they are both a lot lighter than Ubuntu as well -- Ubuntu has gotten quite heavy over the past few years)

If for some reason you really really like your new Linux build for all of it's simplicity, lighting fast speeds and all of those other great Linux what-nots, but you still have a bit of a rough go getting your mind wrapped totally around GIMP or LibreOffice and things of that nature, just let me know -- I've been running Photoshop, Microsoft Office, and Dreamweaver on a few of these boxes here for years in WINE on Linux -- (I don't use these much any more, but I still help new Linux users set these up if they want to have them).
 

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