Any Linux boffins out there?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Chat' started by Bass Trumpet, Jul 25, 2006.

  1. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    Hi folks,

    I am considering switching to Linux for managing my files, word processing, spreadsheets etc. The version I have ordered looks like it has all of this and more so it looks fairly tasty. Could somebody help me out with a few queries?

    It it possible for a linux programme to read files on MS Word/Excel, or do I need a file converter?

    Is it possible to get a 'Virtual Windows' thingy (like you can on a Mac) so I can still run Sibelius and stay with AOL on t'internet?

    What are the drawbacks?

    I would really appreciate some help on this subject, but please keep it simple, as I'm not very bright :confused: :confused:
  2. winterman

    winterman Member

    Most standard flavours of Linux come with OpenOffice installed which is roughly 97% MS Office compatible on the Word/Excel front. Access and PowerPoint are less well supported but the apps are out there.

    Which distribution of Linux have you "ordered"? It can make a bit of a difference but not much. I use OpenSuse 10.1 and Ubuntu 6.06LTS, both very good and both free! and

    Again, usually built in, is a program called Wine which is designed to run Windows applications without needing to install windows, not all programs work but most of the older ones and ones which don't use funky windows specific features will. It will run Internet Explorer and Sibelius (with a bit of faffing around) surprising how many websites/webservices still require IE.

    A better alternative to Wine is it's bigger brother known as CrossOver Office (but that does cost money $39.95 - $69.95) and it has much better support for various applications (the only part of Sibelius 4 it didn't like was the MIDI interface, but that may have been my setup). for windows gaming try Cedega from

    With all Linux distros be prepared for a lot of tinkering under the bonnet (they are getting there but many applications and bits will take some setting up).

    Drawbacks are that it will take some getting used to, some hardware jsut isn't supported and if it is takes a lot of tinkering to get working, some industry standard software just won't work in emultation and isn't available for Linux. get used to typing commands in to get stuff done.

    Plus sides, it's cheaper (always good), it's so much faster, more stable (if you dont tinker too much). There are thousands of alternative apps available to replace the windows ones you relied so much on!

    Have fun and if I can help morethen feel free to PM me
  3. alks

    alks Member

    Whcih is currently the 'the top' or favourite version of linux? The one that is regarded as the daddy?

    Investigated linux a few years ago and had red hat 9.... since then there seams to be 1000's of versions for every conceivable application...even a version for your XBOX!, Live cd versions as well as traditional harddrive versions. Too many to get your head around.

    Was thinking of Red hat Fedora 5, but suse and ubantu look good also as well as mandrake etc..... I now have 2 spare pc's that i could use for linux.

    With so many distributions you really want to get used to the one that the majority of users use. So whats the most popular.?

  4. steve_r

    steve_r Member

    I would say go for Debian.

    I find it by far the easiest to manage updates on which is something you will have to do a lot. The network installer is really good too.

    Open Office is in this release as in most others.

    As for running all those windows things with WINE I dont know I suspect it could be fraught with problems. I suspect the biggest problem you will have is getting your soundcard to work with a windows application but I have never tried.

    Do you have a reason to do this (ie you dont have a windows licence?) If you just want to use linux for certain things you can make your PC dual boot so you can use either for the most appropriate thing - thats what I do and dependant upon whether you have a FAT32 or NTFS disk you can mount your C drive from both.

    If there are certain apps you want to make work in WINE find a forum for them and ask if anyone has done it before you give yourself a nervous breakdown.

  5. Jan H

    Jan H Moderator Staff Member

  6. squirrel

    squirrel Member

    Yes, you can run the free versions of VMWare on Linux, and they're more like Virtual Windows than WINE, in that they isolate the applications into a virtual machine, rather than interpreting the windows system calls into native linux ones.
    So you could install VMWare Server on your Linux box, create a new virtual machine, and install windows on that, to run Sib, and <cough> AOL <spit> on :)
  7. johnmartin

    johnmartin Active Member

    Are the free versions fully featured?

    We use VMWare at work on a couple of ESX servers and I've always found it to be a very good product but a tad expensive on the licensing side.
  8. squirrel

    squirrel Member

    It depends what you mean by fully featured, there's no VMotion for instance, but most features are there - you even get 2 cpu SMP for the VMs (if you have a multi CPU machine to run it on).
    Have a read of the FAQ
  9. steve_r

    steve_r Member

    But VmWare is not 'virtual windows' which was in the original post it runs real windows which you need a licence for.

    Was the original question about trying to run a machine without windows installed at all?

  10. squirrel

    squirrel Member

    Thats not my understanding of how "virtual windows" on a Mac works

    The OP isn't clear about it, but it sounds like they currently have a windows licence on the PC which could be transferred to a virtual machine.
  11. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    Many thanks for all the advice so far. My intention is to run a Windows-free machine, mostly because I'm a little apprehensive that my copy of XP is, shall we say, not one that Bill Gates knows about, on a hand-built machine. I originally bought a DVD copy of Suse 9.3, but you guys have made it clear that I need the more recent version with all the add-ons.

    I'll probably spend some time over the weekend changing over, then let you all know how I got on. At the moment, the little person in my Avatar is sreaming for a cuddle.....
  12. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    There are so many anti-AOL people out there. Sorry to go against the flow, but I've never had any problems with it!
  13. squirrel

    squirrel Member

    It's horses for courses, it's very rare that you'd find an IT professional using AOL, but then we're supposed to know what we're doing without any hand-holding. If it works for you, then fine. I just can't stand all the **** that it loads on your PC, or the fact that it's expensive, or the fact that they restrict your internet access. "AOL, it's like the internet" was the byword at work....
    <rant over> ;)
  14. squirrel

    squirrel Member

    Right, that makes a little more sense then now. Crossover Office is probably your only route for getting Sibelius working well enough.
    I wish you good luck (and thats not sarcasm), I know linux fairly well, and I still don't think it's quite ready to use regularly as a desktop OS. Games are one thing that would be an issue (although I don't play computer games anything like as much as I used to), and Sibelius would be another thing I would miss. I've tried to find an open source alternative to it, and the only one I've found so far makes my linux box reboot as soon as I fire it up :rolleyes: OpenOffice is find for most wordprocessing and spreadsheet work, evolution is great for email, firefox browser is just like the windows one, and there are open source equivalents of most windows applications, which are generally ok, but usually not quite as slick.
    Do you have any way of getting on the internet while your rebuilding? A laptop you can borrow from someone perhaps? I'd suggest it, because until you've finished the install and network configuration, you won't be able to look for or ask for help.
  15. steve_r

    steve_r Member

    I would suggest getting a network installer for whichever distro you choose.
    (basically a basic system on an ISO CD that runs and drags all the software from the
    internet for you. If you are on broadband with no limits go to the site of the distro you choose,
    save the .iso file ,blow it to CD then let it boot - you dont need to pay for anything.

    If you install from CDs you will still find that you have to drag nearly as much across as updates
    as Linux packages change very quickly.

    Good luck (for the same reasons as above). I use linux a heck of a lot as a development platform and I love it but I still wouldn't want to use it exclusively.

    Have you got an old PC you can try this on before you break yours? Linux will run on machines you
    wouldnt dream of putting XP on.

    Once you start you can't go back without having an XP disk to install from again unless you take out your current disk and install on a different one. Also remember you WILL lose everything on the disk if you use the same one, so save everything you want to keep (the disk formats are different)

    Alternatively if you can get hold of a copy of something like partition magic I would still suggest going for dual booting until you are sure thats what you want to do in the long term. If you do this you can reduce the size of your windows partions without losing data (if you have enough space) and then create new partitions for Linux to run from. Linux then installs a booter of its own which lets you choose windows or linux on power up. Even if you do this still back up everything first

    Good luck

  16. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    I think that might be going down the route of partitioning my hard drive for now and running Winows and Linux, then when I feel confident enough, I might ditch Windows. I assume you mean Norton's 'Partiton Magic'? Someone's selling it on ebay for about £17.00, so that sounds about right.

    Many thanks again for all the useful advice. I'm usually the first to offer advice when it comes to playing/instruments etc., but my knowledge is fairly basic when it comes to getting the best out of computers!
  17. johnmartin

    johnmartin Active Member

    Anyway Duncan, now you've got your Linux questions answered the more important thing I want to know is did you get that baby settled again? :)
  18. squirrel

    squirrel Member

  19. steve_r

    steve_r Member

    good luck

    take your time, read everything at least twice and make sure everything is backed up before you start

    The advice to get yourself alternative internet access so you can search for help was a good tip.

  20. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    Peter's napping at the moment, listening to Classic FM, but it won't be long before the screaming starts again. His Mum is out shopping today, so I'm left holding the baby, quite literally! Speaking to other parents, I think we are quite lucky really, as he is sleeping most of the night with only one pit-stop, and has been since week two.

    I'll make sure everything is backed up in triplicate before I start fiddling. Luckily, it's all on my laptop, so if the worse happens I've still got a computer!

Share This Page