Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Linux installed alongside Windows.

A lot of people want an alternative operating system to Windows and many are turning to Linux. Which unlike Mac it is open source and free. But is it really better than Windows? And more important,should you give up Windows and replace it with Linux? While it is possible to replace Windows completely with Linux there is another option.

And that is to keep Windows and install Linux alongside of it. I have tried several Linux operating systems on my laptop, a Netbook. And installing Linux alongside Windows is the best and safer option as then it is installed either with a Windows installer or mounted on a removable CD drive or CD Rom.

Then if you do not like it you can then uninstall it the same way you would in the programs menu on Windows. Linux can also be installed alongside Windows booted from a live CD inserted into the CD drive.But if like me you only have a Netbook this is not an option,unless you plug a CD drive into one of the usb sockets,where you plug your mouse in. I have tried out several Linux operating systems on my Netbook and these were installed using a program called Virtual Clone Drive. Which I downloaded from the Internet and it installs a removable CD drive on you computer. There are other programs like this but Virtual Clone Drive is the best one to use. I then downloaded the ISO file from the website of the Linux operating system I wanted to use.For example from Ubuntu or Linux Mint website,and then mounted the ISO file on the clone drive.

The operating systems I tried were Ubuntu,Kubuntu,Xubuntu,Linux Mint,and Jolicloud. Ubuntu,kubuntu and Xubuntu comes with Wubi installer,which is a Windows installer. But for some reason it would not install it this way on my computer. So I mounted the ISO files on the clone drive to install instead but the only system that did install without mounting on a clone drive was Jolicloud,which has it's own Windows installer. Here is a review of all of the Linux operating systems I tried, installed alongside Windows 7.

UBUNTU- Installation method-ISO file downloaded from the Internet and mounted on virtual clone drive.

First of all I could not connect wirelessly to the Internet as it could not find my Wifi drivers and would not install them. So I had to stay on wired broadband which was not in the least convenient. And it was not user friendly at all as the start menu was not clearly visible,you had to click in the corner. So I uninstalled this right away.

KUBUNTU-installed by mounting on ISO file on clone drive.

This was not any better and I could not even find the star menu or connect to wireless broadband. So another uninstall for this one.

XUBUNTU-installed by mounting ISO file on clone drive.

This was not any better than Kubuntu either and I had all of the same problems as with Ubuntu.

JOLICLOUD-installed downloaded as a Windows program is, with a Windows installer.

This was the only operating system that found my wireless network and connected me right away. But the rest was not so encouraging as I found this system very slow and did not like the black desktop theme. Which was ugly and I could not change. Also what is different about Linux from Windows is that on Linux you have to have a password to log on every time you start your computer.

Although I was able to avoid this by enabling automatic log in. But you have to enter your password every time you install software from the package manager or make changes to your computer on Linux. Where as on Windows you do not have to have a password if you do not want one. So on Windows you don't have to enter a password every time your computer starts or when you make changes to your computer. But not on Linux. And there was no way to disable or remove the password feature like there is on Windows and that is one thing that put me off of Linux. Also on Linux if you want to install software you have to do it through the package manager list. Although you can download it from the Internet unless it is included in the packages,you have to extract the files yourself. Which is not the same as extracting a zip file on Windows and some times you have to install using commands in the Terminal. Which the average computer user will find complicated.

So basically if the web browser or software you want is not in the packages,you can not have it. A lot of the web browsers on Jolicloud were broken and did not work and also I could not even find the software I wanted in the package manager. And most of the software apps. was just shortcuts to websites in a web browser. So this was another system I did not want to keep.

LINUX MINT 9 KDE-installed by mounting ISO file on clone drive.

Linux Mint is designed for Windows users who are changing to Linux and so it's start menu and settings are set out the same way that windows is. With a task bar or panel at the bottom of the screen and start menu on the left with listings of settings. In fact Linux Mint looks like Windows at first glance. And although I had to start off on wired broadband it found my wireless drivers and installed them for me. So I was able to connect wirelessly when I re started my computer and a lot of the software was working unlike on Jolicloud. Also I was able to find the items I wanted in the search bar of package manager. I was also able to repair and update broken packages in recovery mode. The blue desktop theme,which could not be changed except for the log on screen was attractive.

The operating system however was not so attractive, as after I logged in again it would not let me install additional software. As I got a message saying "you are starting without administer privileges you cannot make changes." Which was ridicules as I had entered my password and when I checked my account,I was the administer. Also the built in microphone on my web cam did not work on KDE,and there was no way or settings to fix this. So although I could play videos and hear them,I could not record any with sound. Which is no good to me as I need the microphone to do voice chat on Google Talk. And also I found this system slow compared to Linux Mint 9.But I found that I could out items of software onto my desktop as shortcut icons,like on Windows. I would have kept this system if it had not been for these problems.

LINUX MINT 9,GNOME-installed by mounting ISO file on clone drive.

This was the only system that I was able to use with the least problems. To start with I had to plug into wired broadband but like Linux Mint KDE it found my drivers and installed them. So from then on I was able to use Linux Mint wirlessly. Also I was able to find my user account on Linux Mint and change it to administer. On KDE there was no such setting. And I was able to change the desktop theme to one of my choice but not the log on screen. But I was quite happy with the green theme it had. Linux Mint 9 and all it's other editions have the task bar and start menu set out the same way as in Windows. It was easy for me to navigate most of the settings. And like KDE I found I could put items of software from the start menu onto my desktop as shortcut icons. And on this system the built in microphone worked. But compared to Windows there are still limitations. Linux Mint is all right for browsing and writing your blog posts but you cannot customize it the way you can with Windows. And a lot of software is only compatible with Windows not Linux.

CONCLUSION. Out of all the brands of Linux I tried,Linux Mint 9 was the only one I could use.But Linux Mint 9 KDE came close. But having said that I could browse the web and watch videos with it but I could only do basic things. But that is not enough for me, as I like to choose which software and web browsers to install. And a lot that I wanted was not compatible or was not in the packages and could not be installed. And then there is the settings,for a start, I hated having to enter a password every time I did some thing on my own computer, and I could not change this. On Windows you do not have to have a password if you do not want one and also it is easy to install software. You just download it from the Internet and most software is compatible with Windows. And on Windows you control how your computer runs not the operating system. But on Linux that is not the case. And also you cannot just download the software you want like you can on Windows.There are some web browsers on Linux that can be downloaded from the Internet but most can only be installed through the package manager.On Linux you do not control the operating system,it controls your computer. But on Windows you have full control of how it runs. I have never had a password on my Windows account as I am the only one that uses my computer. So I don't have to enter any passwords at all when my computer starts or when I change the settings. And I can install whatever web browsers and software I want to.

But on Linux you cannot customize it to run the way you want it to like on Windows, and it is much slower than Windows in my opinion. Also Linux takes up a lot of space on your hard drive,remember, it is another operating system. It is safe to install it alongside Windows, as if you do not like it,you can uninstall it in programs menu. But if you are thinking of replacing your Windows with Linux as your only operating system. My advice is don't. Stay with Windows. You are better off.
Links-Virtual Clone Drive download link.
Linux Mint download link.

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