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Dear All,
I have read so many positive reports about Linux,that I have decided to join the converted!
Please forgive my naivety but I have dived right in at the deep end.Allow me to explain.
I have an old computer running Win 95 with M.S.Office 2002.
I noticed that my computer was freezing more and more often,so I finally came to the conclusion that the machine needed a complete makeover.
I have today formatted the hard-drive and wiped the whole thing clean.
In my rush to escape Microsoft, I did not stop to think what came next!!!
So far,I have reloaded the floppy disk containing the CD-Rom software typed a:>CDSETUP and clicked return.I now have a black screen with the C:> prompt
I would be very grateful if any of you good people could advise me of the next step.
Fortunately,I have a laptop running Win XP with broadband internet connection.Therefore,If I have to download anything to allow me to continue with my Linux quest it shouldn't be a problem.
I look forward to hearing from you and escaping the clutches of 'uncle Bill'.
Many Thanks,
Let me be the first to welcome you to linux!

In helping you decide on a distribution of linux it would help if you post the specific hardware of your PC i.e. CPU class, RAM, total hard drive space etc. Can your PC boot from the CDROM drive? Does your laptop have a built in CD burner? Once you download the files you will need to create an installation CD.
Thanks for your prompt reply,I will try and answer as many of your questions as I can.
Please forgive me if I can't answer them all,I'm not particularly computer savvy!!!
When I boot,The screen briefly shows the following information.
CPU: Intel Celeron TM-MMX 266 MHZ
Memory Test: 65536 OK
With regard to whether the computer can boot from the CD-ROM Drive,I have loaded a floppy disk with the CD-ROM's details on and now I have a C:.> when I turn the machine on. Whereas, I had A:> after formatting.
My Laptop does contain a CD burner.
I hope this information helps you advise me further.
Many Thanks,
Your computer should be able to boot from the CDROM drive. You did not mention the size of the hard drive. You will need at least 2 GB for a min install and at least 5 GB for everything if going with a major distribution.

Redhat i.e Fedora ( you can only run Fedora core 1), Mandrake and SuSE are probably the best distributions for the newbie. Your at the min amount for RAM, 64MB is the min and 128MB is recommended.

Mandrake is not the fastest and the default windows i.e KDE is a memory hog but it is the easiest to install. Slackware would be a good choice with your system specs but it is not for the newbie.

I was going to suggest a live CD i.e. a linux system that runs entirely from RAM and CD but you really do not have enough RAM.

To burn an ISO file in windows XP.

If you want to look at the selection of linux distributions, here is one website:
OK, I'll get bombed for this but that machine and you might be happier with Win98SE (upgraded). Hold on! Yes, you could run Linux and use a faster window manager (GUI) but then you'd be missing Linux latest. More will be broken. Nothings perfect. Also, if this machine will be a server or you love the command line then go for it.

The point is, there's no substitute for newer hardware. It may even be cheaper in the long run. Not the latest greatest cutting edge hardware; mind you. Just something current. You budget will determine where you stop.

What linux does (for one thing) is let you spend that hard earned cash on hardware instead of registrations, activations, office suites, and other apps you choose.

So, back to the old machine. Sell it or put win98 on it as a "clean" install. Sounds like you already did the cleaning.

Win98 disadvantages:

...darn thing requires a clean install about every year as that is GENERALY the best and fastest way to solve the problem. Sometimes it's the only way. Alas, you must go through the updates (long downloads) and reinstallation of your used apps. If you don't have the programs that you want, you might have to search garage sales for bargains. Like MS works for $1 or something.

Although some say tame Win ME I dont recomend it. Just update 98.

Win98 (unfortunate) advantages:

Even though it's long in the tooth and MS threatens leave it behind like 95, ALOT of people are still using it. Alot!

It runs just about everything hardware and software. This is why I'd rather Linux be dominate, so it can. Linux is almost there but still need even more ease of use. We need a better base distro for the desktop that is fully open. This WILL NOT dumb it down. It will start a wave and take over, giving us the prefered open OS.

If you are into games you might prefer 98 for compatibility.

Win 2000 :

If you don't need so much the games then 2000 is the pre XP without activation. You will gain some stability but lose some compatability. It will slow down over time though as that's it's disadvantage. Thus reinstalling again would later be best.

Win XP :

It games OK and is becoming popular (used) inspite of it self. I'd rather spend the money on new hardware. Even preinstalled YOU ARE PAYING EXTRA. It has had many, many problems and guess what? It basically needs reinstalling too. The problem is it's difficult to RE-update it (long downloads) without getting a virus as you do.

Funny how all MS products send you looking for the next install, isn't it?

In fairness, it may be better to reinstall Linux too, but not for these reasons. Just to try a new distro; for example.


The problem now with Linux being so new is back ports (conflicting dependancies) and major time consumming slow downs when adding "other" apps to a distrobution. What this means is, if you get what you need in a large distro like Knoppix then you're set. It may be a good strategie to stick with tamed newer app sets like Knoppix untill a new Knoppix comes out. Save you work (/home) and reinstall. After all, it's 20 minutes!

I expect package management will improve when we standardise on a major (not the only) distrobution with an easy to install AND use base. Perhaps Debain will step up with more current stable version. In any case, individual choices will NOT be harmed. Experts will start with the base as well (optionaly) and create there personal desktop around it. Done by "expert" install options and/or add their own packages.

I recomend Knoppix 3.4 or better. MUCH trial and error has gone into this choice. Try it.

How can I say this without writing a book........

In about 20 minutes (after preping and knowing about partitioning and the right install script) you can have a "stablized" Debian current "unstable-Sid" hard drive install. Many, many, MANY things will have been done for you. Just take the time to read how to do the hard drive install first.

Of course after getting your box to boot from the CD, just run the Knoppix CD LIVE. It's a little slower but you can actually use it like this. This is it's designed function. Read it's directions.

HINT: There is a bootable floppy you can make that will alow older machines to then boot from the CD, thus running Knoppix live. Alas, older machines will be slower than 98. So, unless you want to customise it (not using KDE) and you have the time, don't do it.

So, Debian is the real deal (with apt-get, open etc...) but unless you run a server, their stable tier is too old. Point being, the latest greatest Linux software isn't quite all it can be YET. Thus the problem. Now, it's getting there FAST but it doesn't quite supplant windows compleatly for MOST people (YET). It may certianly fill the bill for you (I hope). It depends on what you need! Debian's newest stuff is broke. They leave it to Knoppix and others attempt to tame the newer stuff.

Xandros is the most user friendly new user experience (and based on Debain as well) . BUT, their trial download is LIMITED. I'm all for profit and the advances these type distrobutions give us but tring to profit from the smaller cream off the OS market ultimatley slows linux open source accpetance. although, it's YOUR right! Knoppix is free and paid for by sharing though. That is the best way IMHO.

What to do?

Sell or use the old hardware for "other" purposes.

Obtain new hardware (as little as $300 bucks w/o monitor) and keep an eye on avoiding things like win modems and win printers.

Run Knoppix until a new Knoppix comes out. If you want to dual boot say win98, install win98 first. Again it depends on your needs.

lastly remember. Go ahead and pay the $3 to get the newest Knoppix CD and avoid downloading/burning altogether.

Computers! Can't live with them; can't live without them.

I pray we all have computers that work for us instead of against us. Open source is the future.
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