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Linux on the desktop?
Linux on the desktop?
#1
So... Ads in WordPad.

This is the last straw as far as my father is concerned (never mind that they've been putting ads in Windows for a few years now) - he just asked me what he'd need to run Linux on a desktop or laptop. He's willing to buy a new or gently-used machine to experiment with it.

When it comes to Linux, I can advise him on setting it up on a mainframe... but he isn't about to buy one of those to play with. What is the current state of the rat for end-user Linux - especially for the "don't make me compile apps; I just want to download, install, and use it" demographic? Is there still a performance difference between distros? Does anything not ship with a GUI nowadays? What hardware specs do you need for a decent and usable install?
--
Rob Kelk

"Governments have no right to question the loyalty of those who oppose them. Adversaries remain citizens of the same state, common subjects of the same sovereign, servants of the same law."
- Michael Ignatieff, addressing Stanford University in 2012


"The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge'."
- Isaac Asimov


"Don't let anyone think for you; most people can barely think for themselves."
-
Rare Earth, ending credits
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RE: Linux on the desktop?
#2
1ghz dual-core w/4gb ram is actually decently usable with L-/Xubuntu, but I'd recommend double that at the minimum, and 16gb for futureproofing. 2gb feels cramped but will still work, though not much of anything will have enough ram in WINE and you can only manage a few browser tabs at once. Debian or any flavor of Ubuntu are pretty much a matter of "put it in, it installs" these days, and are faster about it than Windows, though if you want to keep dual-boot ability you'll need to use the disk partition manager from inside Windows first to shrink the existing volume and make space for a Linux partition. You can actually run just about any flavor from a USB stick though, to play around without messing with your 'doze installation at all.

E: Other distros are certainly viable, but I don't have any experience with them so I can't comment. Debian is a bit behind the tech curve as distros go because it sticks to only the most stable and tested versions of things, Ubuntu is a little more adventurous, and I forget what the cutting edge rolling distro is, but even that is still very good by reputation.
--
‎noli esse culus
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RE: Linux on the desktop?
#3
... Shite. reading this just made me realise I am in a similar, yet different position to Rob.

I have a relative who needs to get used to using a Nintento Switch for... umm... twitch gaming (her company claims it is a team building exercise)


so... ummm Help?
Hear that thunder rolling till it seems to rock the sky?
Thats' every ship in Grayson's Navy taking up the cry!
NO QUARTER!

No Quarter by Echo's Children
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RE: Linux on the desktop?
#4
(01-23-2020, 03:59 AM)classicdrogn Wrote: 1ghz dual-core w/4gb ram is actually decently usable with L-/Xubuntu, but I'd recommend double that at the minimum, and 16gb for futureproofing. 2
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Note that what you described is about the specs of a Raspberry Pi 4 -- the 4GB model. But at $55 even the maxed out model is pretty cheap. Still, because it's an ARM chip, you might end up on Raspbian which is nice enough, but stripped down in odd ways. (Like, it doesn't come with vim installed.)

I'm not sure I'd recommend the Pi for non-enthusiasts, though. For a simpler desktop experience, I'd choose one of the Ubuntu variants, or the closely related Linux Mint. But since I do most of my work on Apple products, I'm not a distro connoisseur.
"Kitto daijoubu da yo." - Sakura Kinomoto
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RE: Linux on the desktop?
#5
Specifically, I'd recommend either waiting until April's Ubuntu release if you're going to use it, which will be a Long Terms Service version that gets continuing patches for issues that show up for... eight years, I think? 12.04 is just now being end-of-life'd anyway, while 18.04 is the currently available LTS since they're released every other year. Most of the variant flavors of Ubuntu drop almost simultaneously as well since the code base is by definition open. "End of life" isn't the death knell it might be considered for 'doze either (especially 'Doze8+ with their active MS-push system management schemes) though there are usually solid enough improvements to want to upgrade before it happens, and not much if any breakages from doing so.

As for the Raspberry Pi, I've seen a couple of uPotatoes do a "one week with a raspberry pi" video where they try using one exclusively, the general feeling was that it's doable if you're not a hard core video or graphics user but feels a little restrictive. I'm used to making do with under-powered old machines (hence why I could quickly give a low-spec answer) but frequently lament that there's not enough computer inside my computer, so again, I'd say try to get something that would be a decent machine for your purposes by current (or maybe a year or two ago, depending on how much of a price difference it makes) standards and enjoy being able to continue to use it into the future, with priority on RAM over number or speed of CPU cores as such.

Star Ranger, what is there to even configure with a Switch? Just memory card size, isn't it? I don't have one (and numb-thumb has severely impacted my physical ability to spend long periods gaming anyway) so I probably couldn't help in any case.
--
‎noli esse culus
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RE: Linux on the desktop?
#6
My father has a couple of Pis, but I don't know whether they're 4s. He isn't afraid to experiment with software... but I don't know how much time he has to devote to this.
--
Rob Kelk

"Governments have no right to question the loyalty of those who oppose them. Adversaries remain citizens of the same state, common subjects of the same sovereign, servants of the same law."
- Michael Ignatieff, addressing Stanford University in 2012


"The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge'."
- Isaac Asimov


"Don't let anyone think for you; most people can barely think for themselves."
-
Rare Earth, ending credits
Reply
RE: Linux on the desktop?
#7
If he wants an almost hassle-free experience I recommend Linux-Mint and either dual-booting with Windows for those apps he can’t live without or a virtual machine running a windows guest.

For something more advanced I would recommend Manjaro which is a variant of Arch-Linux. It uses rolling upgrades so you just install once but sometimes it can be a pain to fix when something regresses.
****************************************************************
“When you choose an action, you choose the consequences of that action. When you desire a consequence you had damned well better take the action that would create it.”
― Lois McMaster Bujold, Memory
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RE: Linux on the desktop?
#8
Rolling upgrades? Thanks for the warning; we'll avoid that distro.
--
Rob Kelk

"Governments have no right to question the loyalty of those who oppose them. Adversaries remain citizens of the same state, common subjects of the same sovereign, servants of the same law."
- Michael Ignatieff, addressing Stanford University in 2012


"The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge'."
- Isaac Asimov


"Don't let anyone think for you; most people can barely think for themselves."
-
Rare Earth, ending credits
Reply
RE: Linux on the desktop?
#9
Oh, just wait until you experience Linux style system updates! It asks you if you want to do it. It runs in the background when you say yes. It rarely requires a restart to just keep working happily. When you do need to restart, it's just as fast as usual, none of this waiting half an hour while "windoze is preparing updates," rebooting to find another hour of "installing updates" awaits, and rebooting again. That alone is worth the switch as far as I'm concerned. If not for locking up due to trying to do too many RAM intensive things at once and having to hard-reset I wouldn't have needed to reboot since October.
--
‎noli esse culus
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