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Old 2007-04-06, 14:01   Link #141
Ledgem
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Northeast USA
Age: 29
Converting someone else to Linux

I believe SeijiSensei and Vexx mentioned that their families are on Linux (was Red Hat (enterprise?) the distribution of choice?) so I wanted some advice. I decided to switch my girlfriend's laptop (with her consent) over to Linux. I was originally planning to put Kubuntu Feisty Fawn on there (so this won't happen for a few more weeks). I'd put on VMWare with a virtual install of Windows, so that she could access her old programs and the Windows enviromment if she really needed them. Additionally, I'd keep her current Windows install on a small partition. That way, if Linux ever failed or became unusable, she'd still be able to access her files and use her computer. My girlfriend isn't that computer savvy, but I've apparently inspired her to become more technically-minded, and she's getting better at using Google to solve issues on her own. So, I'm pretty sure that once she had the basics of Linux down, she'd be able to solve the little problems that could arise. The problem is that I'm not yet good enough with Linux to be able to solve any large issues that could arise for her.

So what I'd like to know is, is Ubuntu/Kubuntu a good selection for a scenario like this? Also, I've noticed that updates are released quite frequently for almost all aspects of the Linux system - should I tell her to update infrequently? (Put another way, how often do updates break things?)

FYI her system usage is mostly just for word processing, powerpoints, email, and internet. I know Linux can do that and she wouldn't have to worry so much about security, so I think it'd be a good match for her. I plan to create a LiveCD of the selected distribution in order to verify hardware (wireless) compatibility.
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Old 2007-04-06, 20:58   Link #142
Jinto
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Depends on her laptop, if it is something exotic, I'ld not try to install Linux. Chances are high, you won't be able to get everything running (laptops with all the onboard WiFi, Lan, graphics, blah blubb need often special treatment - in order to get everything running).
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Old 2007-04-06, 21:08   Link #143
Epyon9283
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I installed Kubuntu on my Mother's laptop when Windows refused to work correctly (even after a fresh install). I had to manually configure the PCMCIA 802.11B wireless card the thing was using. Other than that stuff seemed to work. She hated it though.
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Old 2007-04-06, 21:45   Link #144
SeijiSensei
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I use Fedora for a desktop OS since I've been RedHat person for over a dozen years now and am familiar with where everything in RH-flavored systems is located. On servers I used CentOS, which is a free respin of RH Enterprise. CentOS takes the RedHat source RPMs, strips out the proprietary RedHat items like graphics and such, and recompiles them. Essentially it is RHEL without the RH proprietary stuff and, of course, without support from RedHat.

I've installed Fedora on a couple of relatively new laptops; my experience with wifi is described above. I've had success with Intel wifi and with a Linksys PCI card that presented a standard ethernet interface to the computer. (It looked like a "Tulip" card which was the most common 100baseT adapter around.) I know that Broadcom wifi's are problematic and usually require installing ndiswrapper, a hack which lets you use Windows drivers under Linux. The current Intel 3945 is a bit of a pain to install; PM me if you want details. The Intel 2200 series wifi was actually a bit easier once you downloaded the proprietary firmware from Intel.

Video is usually less problematic if you have a computer with Intel 845 or 945 graphics, or with a standard nVidia or ATI card. nVidia's Linux support is generally better than ATI's. For Fedora, the proprietary drivers are available from repositories like Livna or atrpms.net which offer proprietary binaries in RPM format. Support for Intel video comes with Fedora, but it didn't install the correct stuff during installation. Again, I'd be glad to post my xorg.conf file that uses the "i810" driver for Intel video. You'll also want to install either the 845resolution or 915resolution hack which enables support for widescreen video modes on Intel cards.

The proprietary stuff like codecs and the like I get from Livna. They also have builds of mplayer, xine, etc., that include support for proprietary formats like CSS, mp3, etc.

I've had mixed success with Ubuntu and OpenSuSE. I've heard good things about Xandros and Mepis, and it looks like Mandriva (formerly Mandrake) may be back on track as well. I haven't used any of these distros personally in the past few years though.

I don't like the fact that Fedora and Ubuntu are GNOME-based distros out of the box. I'm quite happy with KDE and wish it were more commonly the default desktop. I noticed that on the Fedora torrent page there is a beta of Fedora 7 that defaults to the KDE interface.
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Old 2007-04-07, 04:45   Link #145
Vexx
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I've been using Ubuntu (which happens to work pretty well on Thinkpads).
The Gnome/KDE decision for a desktop environment really depends on how much choice or consistency you want.

My wife uses Thunderbird, Firefox, and OpenOffice. She likes to play some of the puzzle games that come with Linux. So she's mostly a basic level user. The main problems she runs into (particularly when she's doing her knitting research) are crippled websites written by someone in Frontpage or some goober tool.

She also visits some of the "mainstream garbage news sites" (like ABC.com) who apparently also assume the whole world uses RealPlayer or Internet Explorer and sometimes we have to dink around when she finds yet another site which behaves poorly (travel sites, etc).

If you have an HP or Gateway laptop, you're more likely to run into problems (on the average).
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Old 2007-04-07, 06:29   Link #146
SeijiSensei
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vexx View Post
She also visits some of the "mainstream garbage news sites" (like ABC.com) who apparently also assume the whole world uses RealPlayer or Internet Explorer and sometimes we have to dink around when she finds yet another site which behaves poorly (travel sites, etc).
The mplayer plugin for Firefox really works quite well for these problems. I rip out any of the other media plugins in /usr/lib/firefox or /usr/lib/mozilla, like totem (yucch), and just use the mplayer one. For instance, I could watch the streamed out-of-market NCAA basketball tournament games which were designed for Windows Media Player in the embedded window. Clicking the control to switch to full screen worked on some machines but not others. However, I discovered that I could hand the stream URL to mplayer itself and suddenly I was watching the games in widescreen!

Of course, for any of these things to work you'll need to install mplayer and all the proprietary codecs. While I just get these from Livna, they are also available at the mplayer site. The player code is at the top of that page; the codecs are further down in the "Binary Codecs" section.
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Old 2007-04-08, 01:16   Link #147
Ledgem
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My girlfriend's laptop is an HP (not a brand I trust for laptops - I recommend Toshiba or, if you have the money, Fujitsu). I think Windows acts up the most I've ever seen on her computer. What I also dislike about it is that the volume controls and the on/off switch for the wireless are buttons, so there's no physical control mechanism. It makes for a great combination, coupled with unstable controller software. I'm not sure how Linux would make use of those; thank goodness for LiveCDs.

I'm glad you mentioned how to get Windows Media to work; my girlfriend does occasionally watch clips on CNN. When I tried to access a clip under my openSUSE install, it wouldn't work, claiming I needed Windows Media Player. We use Opera, though; do you know if the mplayer method works there as well?
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Old 2007-04-08, 07:09   Link #148
SeijiSensei
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Join Date: Nov 2006
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From the FAQ on the mplayer-plugin site:

How do I make mplayerplug-in work in Opera?(Not recommended)
Make sure that you have gecko-sdk 1.6 newer versions will not work properly with Opera
Download the source code then do these following commands in the source code directory:

./configure --enable-x [--with-gecko-sdk={path} ]
make
cp mplayerplug-in.so /usr/lib/opera/plugins
ln -s /usr/lib/mozilla/libxpcom.so /usr/lib

I'm assuming they mean to compile the plugin's source code with these switches, not Opera's. (I don't think the source for Opera is available, is it?) The gecko-sdk is available from mozilla.org. Sounds a bit dicey given that it only works with one, older, version of the SDK ("software development kit").

As I said, one trick is to copy the stream URL (something like mms://), then open mplayer and open the URL from there. Not so nice as using a plugin, though.
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Old 2007-04-08, 15:58   Link #149
Vexx
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ah, yeah I should have mentioned that the mplayer plug-in took care of most of the "major website" goober idiocy. Thanks.

And yeah.. if you can get linux to work on many HP laptops, you're quite accomplished
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Old 2007-04-08, 19:39   Link #150
tritoch
 
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
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Any idea how to get admin back in linux? I deleted my account name in linux and I lost admin privileges. that was the only sign in with a system admin account >,>
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Old 2007-04-08, 19:54   Link #151
Ledgem
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tritoch View Post
Any idea how to get admin back in linux? I deleted my account name in linux and I lost admin privileges. that was the only sign in with a system admin account >,>
When you're at the login screen, type "root" as the user and your root password to login. The root account is never selectable from a list, but it should always be there... I don't think root can delete itself. From there, recreate your account(s).
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Old 2007-04-09, 08:38   Link #152
SeijiSensei
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But what do you do when you don't have the root password? If you're using grub as the boot manager, you can try this:

1) Reboot the computer. When the grub splash screen appears you should have a few seconds to act before the computer automatically starts the default kernel. Interrupt the boot sequence (usually a keystroke), then select the kernel image you're using, and hit "e" to edit the image.

2) Place the cursor over the "kernel" command line, hit "e" to edit it. Move the editing cursor to the end of the kernel line and add "init=/bin/sh" (with a leading space, of course). This tells the kernel not to start the default /sbin/init process and just open a shell instead.

3) After a few seconds, the computer will drop you into a shell with the root prompt ("#") visible.

4) Now you're ready to change root's password. First you have to make the root partition on the drive writable, since by default it's set to read-only when you short-circuit the boot procedure. Type the command
Code:
mount -n -o remount,rw /
to remount the root partition as read-write. Note that there's no space after the comma in the options ("-o") list. The "-n" switch tells the system not to try to write the file /etc/mtab which usually contains the mount information. You can't write this file since the partition is marked read-only.

5) Now issue the "passwd" command at the prompt. Since you are the root user at this point, you'll be changing root's password. You'll be prompted to enter the password twice.

6) At this point I usually "cd /; umount -a" to unmount all the mounted partitions, then reboot. You should now be able to log in as root during the normal boot-up sequence. Once you're logged in you can use the system's user management tools to recreate your account. If you prefer, you can recreate the account before rebooting by typing the following commands after step (5):

Code:
adduser username
passwd username
Your home directory should already exist from before; if not, a new one will be created with the default configuration files like .bashrc.

If any of these commands return an "unknown" error you need to make sure you have all the required directories in your path. Enter the command

Code:
export PATH=$PATH:/sbin:/usr/sbin
to add the supervisor directories to your path. Also if /usr is mounted on a separate partition from the root, you'll need to execute a "mount /usr" command before doing any of this. If that doesn't work, you'll need to include the partition name as in "mount /dev/hda2 /usr".
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Old 2007-04-09, 20:53   Link #153
Vexx
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Location: On the whole, I'd rather be in Kyoto ...
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There's also the problem that some distributions disable the root account on installation (you sudo everything). So seijisensei's post is a useful work-around.
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Old 2007-04-10, 04:04   Link #154
Syaoran
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Is there a chance fglrx will support the AIGLX extension any time soon in the future -_-

I had to drop Beryl because XGL gives a lot of trouble with VMWare >_<
Or should I try r300_dri drivers from "ati" or try "radeon" and get beryl running through AIGLX? Performance wise it will not be that great.
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Old 2007-04-10, 09:48   Link #155
SeijiSensei
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Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: MusAni wrap party with donuts!
Age: 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vexx View Post
There's also the problem that some distributions disable the root account on installation (you sudo everything). So seijisensei's post is a useful work-around.
I was pretty sure that was true of Ubuntu from what I'd read, but having not really used it, I didn't want to distribute potential misinformation. (We have a government here that does enough of that already, thank you.)
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Old 2007-04-10, 10:18   Link #156
Dhomochevsky
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Join Date: May 2004
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Age: 33
Somehow related to the root-login thing:

After I logged in with my non-root account (Suse 10.1) is there any way I can gain root access to my desktop (GUI)? (except from logging out and come back as root account)
Example for why I need this:
- I have deleted something in a folder that "Im not the owner of" (dont ask me how XD). Now its in my trash folder, but I cant empty the trash by right-clicking it, because I dont have the rights to write/delete data in that said folder. Now I could probably open a terminal there, but what would be the command to empty trash? I doubt there even is one, its a GUI thing after all... oO

I also have some other examples. Those could all be done in someway by tricky terminal commands (I never heard of) I guess, but it all comes down to this:
In some cases I want to be able to use the right-click GUI-menu commands on places only root is allowed to write in.

Edit: Forgot to mention I use Gnome
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Old 2007-04-10, 10:29   Link #157
SeijiSensei
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Join Date: Nov 2006
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Code:
$ locate name_of_file_here
$ su
Password: Enter root's password
# rm -f /full/path/to/name_of_file_here
# exit
$
You can always open a terminal, type "su" and enter root's password to gain root access. If the "locate" command does not work, open a terminal, become root, and run "updatedb". Somewhere there should be a setting to make the system run this command on a regular basis. I don't use SuSE so I can't help much, but perhaps there's an entry in /etc/cron.daily for slocate.

In KDE, I have a "switch user" option in the main menu. This enables you to start another X session as a different user. I've found it doesn't work on all machines apparently due to some limitations in video cards. It does work flawlessly on this machine with an nVidia card, however. I don't know if this option is available in GNOME since I avoid using it whenever possible.
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Old 2007-04-10, 10:51   Link #158
Dhomochevsky
temporary safeguard
 
 
Join Date: May 2004
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I dont see any option to have more than one session running on my machine at a time here. I cant believe they did not include this in Gnome though. Isnt mutiple sessions/users what this os is all about? oO
That would really come in handy... so you suggest I switch over to KDE? (I based my initial choice of GUI only on the fact that you cant right click a folder and chose "open terminal here" in KDE... )
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Old 2007-04-10, 11:04   Link #159
SeijiSensei
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A quick Google search suggests this is a KDE feature.

As for opening a terminal, in KDE I right-click on the desktop and choose "Konsole." (Nearly everything begins with K in KDE. I find it annoying myself, but the other features of the environment compensate.) Once the shell window opens type "cd /directory" and you're there. Not all that much harder than what you describe except you have to type the directory's name.
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Old 2007-04-10, 11:12   Link #160
Dhomochevsky
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Actually later (after I installed Gnome) I realized that you can do that "open Terminal here" thing in KDE too:
Its a menu-point under "extras" (I think) in the top bar of a folder window. Thats almost as easy as in Gnome, but it was too late for me at that moment.


On the general thread topic:
I suggest you always have an image of your last working state of installation stored somewhere.
If you are a newbie like me and love to experiment with the os a lot, you can mess up linux in o so many ways... ^^
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