[clug] A New Users perspective on Linux

Ian Bardsley ifb777 at bigpond.net.au
Wed Apr 13 07:50:42 GMT 2005

As a new subsciber to CLUG I thought I would share the following.

I'm sure that all the IT pro's will read and think "Dumb B*&%$d.  But 
anyone interested in an alternative to Windows may benefit.

I had a brief look at Linux a couple of years ago with a copy of 
Mandrake 9.? given to me by a Linux convert.  Not a happy experience, 
frustrating and time consuming to set up and very fragile once working.  
I abandoned the project and returned to Windows to await developments.

Had another look about 12 months ago with Fedora, SuSe, Debian and 
Mandrake 10.0.  The former 3 not good but Mandrake better but still 
fragile and given to doing odd things (albeit stimulated by my ham 
fisted methods i'm sure).  I never made my scanner work, my TV card 
caused the computer to crash whenever I changed channels with all TV 
programmes tried and most attempts to burn CD's caused the computer to 
lock up resulting in a re-boot.  However the improvements between my 
first and second look at Linux lent me to believe that some pretty rapid 
progress was being made in the GPL community with this alternative to 
Bill Gates' retirement fund and I dumped the project again making a 
mental note to have another look in about a year.  A couple of weeks ago 
I stumbled across a distro of Mandake 10.1 on the cover of a computer 
mag and undertook a third look.  With the same computer setup as last 
year except a different printer. What a difference!!!

The installation took about a third of the time that it takes to install 
Windows XP,  the installation  procedure recognised all of my hardware  
and in  around 25 minutes I was  able to use my PC for net access, 
email, word processing, photo editing and  spreadsheeting.  I was even 
able to have the TV playing in a window whilst I worked on a letter (no 
crashes).  I was impressed!  Scanning was a problem which took about an 
hour to solve with the help of a Net artical.

So impressed was I that I decided to attempt to replicate every piece of 
Windows software that I use with free open source applications and if I 
could, I would move to the Linux platform.

The Mandrake cds provided all of the common applications but I needed 
Desktop Publishing, 2D CAD, a working DVD player and a sound sequencer 
and editor.  The PC also had to be able to recognise the memory card in 
my Camera so that I could access the pictures on it.  All of these needs 
were met from the net with pretty good functionality and the only 
application that gave any grief at all was the sound sequencing which 
was solved with "Rosegarden and Qsynth" and a well written tutorial on 
the Net.

_I now need to research the best approach to Anti-Virus, Anti-Spywear 
and a secure Firewall so any suggestions or feed back would be very 

To conclude.  Is Linux a viable alternative to Windows for the non IT 
industry user....Yes.... although not quite yet for those with no PC 

If there are other newcomers to Linux out there who may have experienced 
problems, I hope this mail gives them encouragement to persist and learn.

Best regards

Ian Bardsley

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