What On Earth is Linux?

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What On Earth is Linux?

Postby Jino » Sat Dec 31, 2005 10:21 pm

I've always heard about how much better it is then Microsoft. ( Right? ) But, what's so good about it, and what is it?
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Postby andrewas » Sat Dec 31, 2005 11:01 pm

What it is, is an alternative Operating System. Instead of running Windows, you can have Linux. There are advantages to this - Linux is more efficient in some ways, and the Linux community finds some of MS methods and ideas abhorrent. You wont find a Linux distro which needs to contact a home server for authentication. Nor will you find file formats which can only be opened in a specific software. Well, not many. Linux thrives on open source, and open formats.

There are also disadvantages. Linux makes the assumption that at least one user knows what they are doing, and it can be difficult to reconfigure the system. Theres less standardisation, under windows every application has the same basic layout, Linux apps have a lot more freedom. Also, there are fewer games available on Linux.

However, you can set up a system to dual boot, and have both Windows and Linux on the same system, though not running at the same time. That way you can learn Linux and still have Windows to fall back on for things you dont know how to do yet, or for games you simply cannot run on Linux. Since its free, theres nothing to lose by setting up a dual boot, but do read up on it first.
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Postby martin » Sun Jan 01, 2006 9:17 pm

Image

What more can I say?
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Postby Jino » Sun Jan 01, 2006 10:04 pm

I notice the penguin. >.>

Although it still seems somewhat pointless since I look towards efficency then customization. =|

And ease of configeration...
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Postby FinnG » Sun Jan 01, 2006 10:59 pm

Linux is more efficient isn't it?
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Postby andrewas » Mon Jan 02, 2006 1:05 am

Google will turn up many articles on this, and most of them say Linux is more efficient, more secure, more customisable. And recent versions are getting easier to set up and configure.

As I said, the thing to do here is to set up your system to dual boot so you can experiment with Linux. And, before you do that, google for information on it. Which distro's are friendliest, which ones are more powerful, which ones have the best communities to help you.
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Postby shinygerbil » Mon Jan 02, 2006 3:50 am

I use Kubuntu (www.kubuntu.org); it's pretty easy to set up, and it has everything I need.

My Windows partition is actually pretty useless - my (totally legit :O ) Windows CD-Key doesn't work so I need to activate it by phoning Microsoft. Grr. But the partition has 30Gb of music on it, which I have no way of backing up.

But there's nothing I need Windows for, so it doesn't bother me really. I'd say try it out; dual-boot, play with it, get used to it, see what you think :)
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Postby xander » Mon Jan 02, 2006 4:01 am

It really depends upon what you are looking for. At the moment, there are basically two major competitors to Windows -- Mac OS and the *NIXes (Linux, BSD, etc. -- Unix-like operating systems).

Windows is a great platform for gaming. Most of the major games that are made are for Windows, and there is little support for Mac or Linux. In fact, most commercial software is made for Windows, with Linux or Mac versions made as an afterthought only. On the other hand, Windows has some security problems, and one cannot be faulted for feeling that Microsoft's business practices are a bit... heavy handed.

Linux is wonderfully custumizable, but taking full advantage of that generally requires comfort with using a command line (i.e. typing in commands rather than pointing and clicking). Though, as was stated above, it is getting easier and easier to use and configure Linux (my mother, who is scared to death by computers, has a $400 Linux box that she uses for email and internet access -- she really has no idea how to do anything else with it, but it gets the job done for her, I guess). On the other hand, Linux is less prone to crashing, and, because of its premission system and ideology of sandboxes, is much more secure. There are almost no viruses or other forms of malware that affect Linux (or similar operating systems, such as BSD, which was designed with security in mind). Also, most Windows programs can be run under Linux using Windows emulators. Generally, you will lose a little bit of speed, but probably not enough to notice.

And, of course, there is the Mac OS. The Mac OS presents a very easy to use interface (like Windows), but also has many of the Unix-like tools embedded, so if you want the custumization of Linux, it is there for you. The Mac OS has a similar premission system to the Linux systems, thus is also generally more secure than Windows -- I only know of one or two viruses for the Mac OS. On the other hand, you can't really run Mac OS on anything but Apple hardware, which tends to cost 10-20% more than similar generic hardware, and there are many fewer games for the Mac OS. Running games through emulation, while possible, requires (generally) a commercial emulator, and will be much slower (as the games cannot take advantage of the hardware in the way that Windows games on an Intel box running Linux can).

So, if you want a system that plays games, Windows would probably be your first choice, with Linux running a close second. Mac OS is good for ease of use and security, while Linux is good for security, and can manage games through emulation. Each of the OSes has plusses and minuses, and it really depends upon what you are looking for.

As has been suggested, it might be a good idea to install Linux on your computer, and dual boot Linux/Windows. This means that when you turn your computer on, you have the option of running the Windows OS, or Linux. It is a good way to experiment with Linux without being entirely tied to it.

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Postby shinygerbil » Mon Jan 02, 2006 4:24 am

^^Well said. I wouldn't say Linux was a close second on the games front - it's slightly more distant than that. There are lots of open-source (and therefore free) games for Linux, but the quality is often not quite as good as you would expect from a commercial game.

Linux is probably the most customisable - take a look at my desktop:

Image

with a menu that appears when you move your mouse over to the side:

Image

The problem being, it's not always straightforward to do things. It's quite a steep learning curve, but worth it in my opinion :)
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Postby Stewsburntmonkey » Mon Jan 02, 2006 5:39 am

You do have to be careful when you say a non-Windows OS is secure though. A barebones well configured Unix or Linux system is very secure, but if you start adding functionality like that of Windows then they become very insecure very quickly. However this is much less of a problem than it is on Windows. So few people run non-Windows OSs that few people bother writing worms or viruses for anything but Windows. After all if you are going to write a virus you generally want it to hit the most computer's possible. With most Linux and Unix versions you can also fix many security holes yourself if you know what you are doing by literally re-writing the OS. You are therefore not reliant on some big company to fix problems with the OS which can be nice (although this can also lead to conflicts between patches writen by different people).

The current Mac OS (OSX) is built on top of a version of Unix called Free BSD and is for most purposes a nice GUI for what is basically a Unix system. :)
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Postby xander » Mon Jan 02, 2006 5:47 am

shinygerbil wrote:^^Well said. I wouldn't say Linux was a close second on the games front - it's slightly more distant than that...


My understanding is that most (not all) games that run under Windows can be run using Wine or Cedega without too much trouble. While Linux itself does not have nearly as many games as Windows, you can still play most Windows games through emulation. This is why I stated that Linux is a close second. On the other hand, most large commercial releases are not really available for Mac (or if they are are, it is several months later). Thus, if you are running Linux on an x86 machine, you have more games (by a large margin) than a Mac user would have.

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Postby Stewsburntmonkey » Mon Jan 02, 2006 5:59 am

Of course you could also run Windows games on a Mac using something like virtual PC. However the performance running through emulation is generally too poor for it to be practical in most modern games. :)
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Postby xander » Mon Jan 02, 2006 6:28 am

Stewsburntmonkey wrote:Of course you could also run Windows games on a Mac using something like virtual PC. However the performance running through emulation is generally too poor for it to be practical in most modern games. :)


xander, in reference to the Mac OS wrote:Running games through emulation, while possible, requires (generally) a commercial emulator, and will be much slower (as the games cannot take advantage of the hardware in the way that Windows games on an Intel box running Linux can).


As I said, it would be very slow on the Mac, because the Mac cannot take advantage of the hardware in the same ways that Linux running on an x86 processor can (primarily because the game would still be running on the same processor that it was compiled for). Thus, emulated games running on Linux running on an x86 will be (in theory) much faster than emulated games running through Virtual PC on Mac OS X.

So, it would seem that we are in general agreement :)

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Postby andrewas » Mon Jan 02, 2006 2:16 pm

xander wrote:
shinygerbil wrote:^^Well said. I wouldn't say Linux was a close second on the games front - it's slightly more distant than that...


My understanding is that most (not all) games that run under Windows can be run using Wine or Cedega without too much trouble.


Under WINE, you dont get access to hardware acceleration, IIRC. Under Cedega, you can get almost all games to work. Except you can't, because copy protections generaly screw with the system at a level which dosent actualy exist within the emulation.

Of course, you can remove copy protections easily enough if you know where to look.
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Postby shinygerbil » Mon Jan 02, 2006 3:14 pm

My brief forays into Cedega and Wine have not inspired me. No luck running anything - o' course, my craptop is probably at least partly to blame :)

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