Loading Linux onto a computer.

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Loading Linux onto a computer.

Postby legoracer18 » Wed Feb 25, 2009 6:58 am

If I load Linux onto a computer and reformat the hard drive in the process, do I need all of the driver CDs and stuff?
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Postby netizen » Wed Feb 25, 2009 8:02 pm

Short Answer:
No. Linux and Windows drivers are not compatible with each other. So no, you don't need the driver CDs to load linux on to a computer. Linux comes with all the drivers built-in. However, if you plan to install windows again afterwords you will need the drivers for windows because windows cannot access the internet without them and hence, cannot get the drivers.

Long Answer:
Yes, and no. Linux is part of a group of software called 'free software'. 'Free' meaning free as in FREEDOM not free as in BEER. What free software means is that the end user has the freedom to modify and change the software to make it do what he/she wants it to do, instead of having to be 'enslaved' or 'stuck' with whatever the author decided to do with it.
So, all of the drivers that come with linux out of the box must be 'free' drivers. They must have the source code available to them. However, hardware makers such as Nvidia, ATI, Intel etc that are responsible for writing the drivers for windows REFUSE to release the source code to their drivers so they can never be 'free' software. So what developer for linux have done is written their OWN drivers without the help of the manufactures by a reverse engineering process. This is incredibly difficult and as a result, the 'free' drivers written by linux developer don't always work properly or use every feature or preform the best when compared to the windows drivers for that hardware.

Some companies like Nvidia and ATI have offered 'linux drivers' which are drivers that WORK for linux but they are not 'free' drivers. So when you install linux off of the CD these drivers are usually not packaged with it so you have to go to the nvidia and/or ATI website to find the drivers and download them to get the full functionality out of your video card.

If you have a nvidia or an ATI card in your machine, I would suggest that after you install linux, to do a google search for "Ubuntu Nvidia howto" or the like and find a guide for installing the latest nvidia drivers. Assuming you are using Ubuntu which I highly recommend you use.

Google is your friend when it comes to getting linux to run properly.
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Postby legoracer18 » Thu Feb 26, 2009 12:43 am

That answers my question perfectly.

Here is the situation that I am in. I am trying to fix a laptop for one of my friends. What happens when you turn it on and try and run windows normally it will get to the page that says that windows is loading and then the computer will restart. Loading windows in safe mode will get stuck at gagp30kx.sys and then the computer will restart again. I have tried all of the different ways that are listed on this website forum Here. It will even restart while i am in the repair counsel feature of Windows. She does not have the driver CDs or otherwise i would have just reformatted the hard drive and re-installed windows.

The question I have now is would loading Linux be a good idea for this situation? She does not know a lot about computers.
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Postby netizen » Thu Feb 26, 2009 8:13 am

Short Answer:
Yes I would suggest it. No reason not to give it a try if you have to reinstall windows anyway.

I would argue that for someone who doesn't know anything about computers to begin with, Linux is just as easy or even easier to use than Windows. Its people who are used to windows who complain the most about Linux being hard to use.

Once installed(the hardish part), she will be perfectly fine running on ubuntu as long as she knows that she is running on Linux and not windows. Because things made *for* windows don't work on Linux. In the long answer I'll explain the issues with this.

Long Answer again:
This is a double edged sword. Yes, loading linux on to her computer would make her computer usable again. However, this means that she now has to use software made for linux and not windows. So that means no Microsoft Word, no internet explorer, etc etc. It means that any software she buys from a store will not work, it means that any help line she calls will not help her, in fact people she calls will tell her lies like "The internet isn't compatible with Linux." She will be basically be relying on you to help her if ever there arises a problem with her computer.

There are also a few things that simply cannot be done(in a reliable way) in linux which is related to the fact that people who make software only make versions for windows. Windows games wont work, Photoshop wont work. etc etc.

That being said, there are a lot of upsides to loading linux on her machine. It will break down less often, it will likely make her computer faster, she will never have to pay for software again because while software in the stores will not run on her machine (like Microsoft Office) there are free open source alternatives. (like Open Office). She will have access to free online support through the vast online linux community instead of having to call a number and perhaps pay for it.

Then again, all this 'new' free software basically has to be 'relearned' which bothers some people alot.

Here is a list of common software that runs on windows and its open source alternatives. You can try most of them on windows since most of them have windows versions too.

Windows -> Linux
Microsoft Office -> Open Office
AOL, MSN, Yahoo, GTalk(instant messengers) -> Pidgin(handles all instant messengers)
ITunes -> RhythmBox, Amarok*(personal favorite)
Photoshop -> The Gimp
Internet Explorer -> Firefox
Windows Media Player -> Totem, VLC*(personal favorite), MPlayer
Kazaa, WinMX, Limewire(old fashioned file sharing)-> EMule
BitTorrent, uTorrent(cool way to file share)-> Azureus
Microsoft Outlook -> Thunderbird*(personal favorite), Evolution

One of the cool things about Ubuntu, that some other versions of Linux and Windows don't have is the ability to search for software in a central database and have all of your updates managed through it. If you click on 'Add/Remove' under applications you will find a searchable database with 1000's of software titles to choose from. The best part is when you use the search it will search the descriptions of the software so you can find the software you want without knowing the name of it.

Bottom line: If you have to reinstall windows anyway, giving Linux a try costs nothing and she may end up liking it so go for it.

This is how I would suggest you do it:
1) goto www.ubuntu.com and download the latest version of ubuntu(8.10 atm)
2) burn the image to a CD(don't just drag the file over you need to use imgburn or nero to burn the CD image on, ask if you don't know how)
3) install ubuntu by reading the instructions on the screen
4) Connect her computer to a high speed internet connection like DSL or Cable by connecting a network cord into the back, if she needs to use wireless set that up later.
5) Up on the top there will be 3 drop down menus, select System->Administration->Update Manager
6) Tell the update manager to download all of the updates after its finished it should ask you to reboot, do so.
7) Now click on System->Administration->Hardware Drivers(This will attempt to install 'non-free' drivers like ATI and nvidia drivers. This part is rather new and I don't know how well it will work.)

Now you should be good to go. If you have any problems let me know.
Last edited by netizen on Thu Feb 26, 2009 8:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby netizen » Thu Feb 26, 2009 8:18 am

Second option:
You can use Linux to fix Windows(ironically)

You can get what is called a 'Live CD' for linux that boots an entire operating system on the CD drive and lets you modify the windows parition from the CD. If you know what to do you could tink around with the windows file system (like replacing that troubled driver file) and fix the issue.

Another option is you can download all of the drivers for her laptop while the computer is on the Live CD and either move them to the windows parition after you reinstall windows OR move them to a USB stick(this could be done from another PC as well)

good luck
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Postby legoracer18 » Thu Feb 26, 2009 9:28 pm

Thanks this helped tons.

Edit:
What would be the best way to get the wireless to work?
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Postby netizen » Fri Feb 27, 2009 6:10 am

The best way to get the wireless working is to look for help on google with a search like "Ubuntu Wireless Dell f150" or whatever the laptop brand and model number is, that should help you find a guide for setting it up.
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Postby tor528 » Fri Feb 27, 2009 8:19 pm

Based on the symptoms during Windows boot, it sounds like you might have a hardware problem. If Ubuntu runs stable, sweet man. If not, I'd try testing memory using memtest86, which is an available option at the initial boot screen on the Ubuntu CD.

Also, if wireless doesn't work out-of-the-box when running from LiveCD, I wouldn't even recommend installing Ubuntu unless you feel like spending hours on Google with the probability of not being able to ever figure it out. It usually isn't even worth trying unless you find a simple step-by-step solution for your exact make and model of wireless card, written for the current version of Ubuntu.

If you really need to run Ubuntu but wireless won't work, you're best off getting a PCMCIA wireless card that is known to be play well with Linux. Best bet is Intel. List here: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/WifiD ... sSupported
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Postby legoracer18 » Sat Feb 28, 2009 2:43 am

Thanks, the wireless is working. My guess as to what happened was that the button that turns the wireless card on and off was off. And Ubuntu is running fine.
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