Author Topic: Stuck on Win98 - How can I get out?  (Read 1980 times)

JusLearnin

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Stuck on Win98 - How can I get out?
« on: 11 January 2002, 03:49 »
Ok, I have really enjoyed reading all these conversations about OS's, and I totally agree with VoidMan on the long term threat that M$ poses to the industry. I am one of those experienced "users" who really is not that familiar with the architecture of the machine and how the operating systems work. I understand what a driver is, and the difference between software and hardware. But I am probably a typical middle age guy who uses M$ because my company does, and because my customers do. I use Word, Excel and Powerpoint (Office97) and also Adobe Pagemaker.

Is is possible to install a different OS and still use these programs? Or are their replacements that can be used and will "File Save As" so my customers can read what I am sening them.

I hear great things about Linux, but can I make it work for me and still use my Office programs?

I have made strides lately. When my Compaq crashed, I had a local guy rebuild it with a Pentium 3, new motherboard, 40 gb drive, CDRW, good sound and video cards and drivers. My kids a gamer and the system works great for him too. But, I would like to decrease my reliance on M$ products.

What can I do??????

voidmain

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« Reply #1 on: 11 January 2002, 04:13 »
I tell you what I would do if I were you.  You have a nice shiney new 40GB hard drive and I'll bet you still have a lot of free space right?  I would dual boot your machine for a while so you can try out Linux and not lose any of your Windows stuff, and you can choose which OS to boot into when you start your machine.  This will let you determine for yourself if you want to take the leap of faith.

The easiest way to do this is to find someone with a copy of Partition Magic (there are also free utilities that can do this but unless you are experienced and can recover from a problem I would not suggest this). With Partition Magic you can shrink your C: partition on your hard drive down so you can make some free space at the end of your disk for Linux. I would create at least 5GB of free space and leave a 35GB C: drive.

Assuming you have the ability to boot from CD (change your BIOS settings to boot from CD first) stick in the latest copy of your favorite Linux install CD (I'm partial to RedHat but most say Mandrake is better for newbies, SuSE is also good).  Follow the onscreen instructions, likely taking the defaults for most everything.  Just make sure you don't install over your C: partition.  Read though the install docs on the web site of whatever distro you want to install if it would make you feel better.

If you are really nervous, back up your critical data first. I have installed Linux hundreds of times on many different configurations and have never lost a Windows partition if I was setting up a dual boot but that's just me.  The worst that has ever happened is having to do an "FDISK /MBR" from a DOS boot floppy to restore the boot sector to wipe out LILO (boot loader) when uninstalling a Linux installation (this is something you would have to do anytime you remove Linux from a dual boot setup).

As far as Office compatibility.  There are a few office packages that claim to be compatible with MS Office apps although I find none of them are perfect.  Most Linux distros come with KDE windowing environment that includes an office package called KOffice.  It will read Word, Excel, Powerpoint files to a point.  StarOffice 6.0 from Sun (a free download) is also pretty good and similar results as KOffice.  There's Abiword and more.  There are also commercial Linux Office apps that are also file compatible (Applixware is a good one).

Good luck and let me know if you need any more pointers.  It would be best if you browsed the distro web sites first though.  Hopefully you have a high speed internet connection and a CD burner, then you can download the CD images and create the installation CDs.  If not you can buy them in the store or have a friend download and make the CDs for you.

[ January 10, 2002: Message edited by: VoidMain ]

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voidmain

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Stuck on Win98 - How can I get out?
« Reply #2 on: 11 January 2002, 13:38 »
And here is a good article on why it would be a good thing to become less dependent on Word/Excel/etc:

 linuxtoday.com/news_story.php3?ltsn=2002-01-11-002-20-OP

[ January 11, 2002: Message edited by: VoidMain ]

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gump420

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Stuck on Win98 - How can I get out?
« Reply #3 on: 11 January 2002, 21:30 »
If you're looking for an alternative to Windows, you could consider a Macintosh. This may not be the most attractive solution, though, since you'd have to buy a new computer; on the other hand, it'd probably be quite a bit easier to learn Mac OS X than to learn Linux. There is also more commercial software for Mac OS than there is for Linux, and there's probably similar amounts of free softare for both since OS X is UNIX based.

Anyway, I'm a big Mac fan, as you may have noticed if you've read any of my posts, so I had to add my $0.02 worth on the issue! (-;

P.S. There is a project called Lindows in the works that is intended for people in exactly your position; it will ideally be able to run all Windows software alongside Linux apps seamlessly. In any case, you might want to look into that, since it might be just what you want.

[ January 11, 2002: Message edited by: gump420 ]

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voidmain

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Stuck on Win98 - How can I get out?
« Reply #4 on: 12 January 2002, 02:14 »
Gump, have you tried Lindows? I have not so I didn't make a comment on it but would be interested to hear your review if you have.  I'm pretty impressed with the Ximian work for Linux.  You should give it a try, especially Evolution.  Their "Red Carpet" installer makes life about as simple as it can get. It is a very easy graphical installer that will download, resolve any dependency issues, and install apps automatically, and if you are running RedHat/Mandrake/SuSE (and I think a couple others) it can download and apply any distro specific security and recommended updates, again resolving dependencies seemlessly.  It has to be the easiest installer I have seen yet on any platform.

And for those who work in a Microsoft shop with Exchange server, Evolution is an Outlook clone (I like it better than Outlook).  They even have an MS Exchange connector for Exchange 2000 so Evolution can utilize not only the Exchange mailboxes/folders but the user/distribution lists, the calendars, the task lists, and more. Just some more thoughts...

See: http://www.ximian.com/

NOTE: The Exchange connectors for Exchange 5.5 and Exchange 2k are not available yet but should be any time now.  In the mean time you can still access Exchange mailbox/folders through the IMAP service and the Address lists through the LDAP service on Exchange.  I want to test out the connector as soon as it's released and I'll post a review.

[ January 11, 2002: Message edited by: VoidMain ]

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JusLearnin

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« Reply #5 on: 16 January 2002, 03:08 »
Hey Voidman, I like your style. I have read quite a bit of the dialog on OS's and I really appreciate your taking the time to answer my questions.

I also have another hard drive - 10gb - left over from my Compaq system. It's installed and just sitting there, so instead of partitioning I will work on getting Linix on the 10 gb drive and then I can choose a boot frive when I start up.

Once again, thanks for the info.

JusLearnin

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Stuck on Win98 - How can I get out?
« Reply #6 on: 16 January 2002, 03:10 »
Hey Voidman, I like your style. I have read quite a bit of the dialog on OS's and I really appreciate your taking the time to answer my questions.

I also have another hard drive - 10gb - left over from my Compaq system. It's installed and just sitting there, so instead of partitioning I will work on getting Linix on the 10 gb drive and then I can choose a boot drive when I start up.

Once again, thanks for the info.

voidmain

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Stuck on Win98 - How can I get out?
« Reply #7 on: 16 January 2002, 05:39 »
quote:
Originally posted by JusLearnin:

I also have another hard drive - 10gb - left over from my Compaq system. It's installed and just sitting there, so instead of partitioning I will work on getting Linix on the 10 gb drive and then I can choose a boot drive when I start up.



Yes you can do this easily.  I assume you already have both hard drives installed and they are IDE drives. If so, do you have both drives on the same IDE channel (both on the same cable), and the Windows drive is the "master" and the second drive "slave"?

When you go to install Linux your first IDE hard drive would show up as "hda" and your second IDE hard drive would show up as "hdb".  Your C: drive would show up as "hda1" (which is the first partition on the first IDE drive).  You would install Linux on "hdb".

I usually do a "custom" install rather than a "Server" or "Workstation" install (or whatever the other options are).  For a desktop installation I usually set up 3 partitions, in your case "hdb1" of around 50MB (first partition on second IDE drive) and set the filesystem type to type "linux native" and the mount point to "/boot". This is where your boot loader, kernel and initial RAM disk image will reside. I set up a second partition for swap "hdb2" and set it at around 256-512MB depending on how much RAM you have, set the filesystem type to "linux swap". Then I create the 3rd partition "hdb3" to use up the remaining space for the main Linux filesystem, set it to type "linux native" and mount point should be "/".

You will likely also want to be able to have access to your Windows files when booted into Linux so you will want to add "hda1" to the mount table and have it mount under "/c", just make sure you only format "hdb*" partitions and not "hda*".  I don't believe this would happen very easily accidentally.

The other thing is the boot loader (menu when you boot your computer which allows you to select the OS).  Most distros use LILO for this, RedHat 7.2 is now using a boot loader called GRUB which I believe I like better. Either way no matter which distro you are installing it should set this up automatically, you will likely be asked which OS you want to boot by default and may have the option to enter the delay time before it boots the default OS automatically.  It will ask you where you want to install the loader.  It should default to "hda" which is the master boot record on the first IDE drive.  This is where you would indeed want to install it.

The main thing in a Custom setup is deciding which packages to install (you have plenty of space so you could just select "Everything").

Final thought, if you decide after some time that you want to remove Linux and that Hard Drive. Remember that you installed the boot loader to "hda" or the boot sector of the first IDE drive and the actual boot loader code resides on the second hard drive.  If you remove the second drive without restoring the boot sector on the first drive you will not be able to boot Windows. So you have to restore that boot sector with the original one so it will boot Windows as it did before installing the menu boot loader.  The easiest way to do this is by creating a Windows Emergency disk and copying FDISK.EXE to that disk (or any bootable DOS diskette with a copy of FDISK.EXE).  Boot from that disk and type "FDISK /MBR".  That's it, you should be back to where you were before installing Linux.  "/MBR" is an undocumented parameter to FDISK for restoring the "Master Boot Record" from the second copy on the drive.

I highly suggest you browse through the install docs of whatever distro you are installing first though. It really is easy to install most distros today as long as you know the lingo.

Hopefully this will help (and isn't too much information).

[ January 15, 2002: Message edited by: VoidMain ]

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voidmain

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Stuck on Win98 - How can I get out?
« Reply #8 on: 16 January 2002, 07:13 »
Actually, if you are using LILO for your boot loader I don't remember for sure if the partition scheme I gave you above will work.  I think it will work with GRUB though but I don't have a two drive system here at home to test it on, and I don't have the energy at the moment to stick a second drive in one of them.  

I believe in the past when I added a second drive for Linux I still had to create the "/boot" partition on the first drive.  So if you have partition magic, I would shrink the C: drive by about 50MB and create the "/boot" partition there during installation. If you don't have Partition Magic there should be a utility included on your Linux CD called "FIPS" that can split Windows partitions without losing data.  It's not quite as easy to use as Partition Magic.  

Again, hopefully I am wrong about this and it really is not a big deal (if you have Partition Magic).  If you don't want to create a small partition on your first drive you might try the install anyway. It should tell you if it will work or not.  And worse case have your boot disk with FDISK.EXE on it so you can restore the MBR as I describe in the previous post in case it doesn't work.

Maybe someone else in here knows for sure.  There is plenty of info out on the Net for LILO, less info for GRUB.  If I find the definitive answer I will let you know.  Heck it is probably in the distro's installation guide.

According to this RedHat 7.2 doc you should be able to install everything on the second drive without a boot partition on the first drive.  But like I said, RedHat 7.2 now uses GRUB which is a little more flexible of a boot loader/menu:

http://www.redhat.com/docs/manuals/linux/RHL-7.2-Manual/install-guide/ch-dualboot.html

At any rate, I would not skip the "Create Boot Disk" step in the installation. The boot disk will definately work.  I've probably raised a lot more fuss over the boot menu than is necessary but it could be a potential issue. There are also ways to make the Windows boot menu boot Linux as a last resort (it's more of a hassle to set up).

At any rate, just go for it, you shouldn't have a problem.

[ January 15, 2002: Message edited by: VoidMain ]

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gump420

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« Reply #9 on: 18 January 2002, 01:40 »
VoidMain, the reason I didn't go into detail on Lindows is that it's still in development; I realize I probably should've mentioned this in my post. Sorry 'bout that. (-;

Anyway, I don't have a machine of my own at the moment (had my motherboard go out on me), but I have one of the new iMacs on order. Ximian probably hasn't been ported to Darwin/Mac OS X yet, but I'll look into it anyway. Package management (or the lack thereof) is one of my few major gripes about OS X, and the only thing I've tried so far (Fink) is kind of a pain in the ass to use (heck, it's annoying to even get set up correctly).

Hopefully Apple will be able to get over their NIH syndrom soon (Not-Invented-Here), because the NeXT installer that OS X ships with is extremely limited.

P.S. I just realized that's an aweful lot of Mac-talk for the Windows section of the forum; however, it seems this topic is mostly about Linux anyways. Perhaps a relocation would be in order?
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voidmain

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« Reply #10 on: 18 January 2002, 02:26 »
quote:
Originally posted by gump420:
VoidMain, the reason I didn't go into detail on Lindows is that it's still in development; I realize I probably should've mentioned this in my post. Sorry 'bout that. (-;



The other thing about "Lindows" is it's owned by the founder of MP3.com. I seriously question his motives and doubt that I would use the OS, however I would certainly take a look at it.  Especially if it will run Windows apps as good as VMWare/Win will do but for less money.  It surely will run them better than Wine. The Wine project should just wrap it up as far as I'm concerned, I think it's a piece of crap.

 
quote:

Ximian probably hasn't been ported to Darwin/Mac OS X yet, but I'll look into it anyway. Package management (or the lack thereof) is one of my few major gripes about OS X, and the only thing I've tried so far (Fink) is kind of a pain in the ass to use (heck, it's annoying to even get set up correctly).



You are probably right. I had a little taste of Darwin on the Mac (a friends).  It's not as easy to obtain/compile/run open source apps as a lot of people would lead you to believe.  And I would agree with you on the Package Management thing.  For the longest time there was no package management on Linux systems (in fact on most *NIXs).  This was one of the few advantages I ever saw to Windows as bad as Windows package management was.  But now most *NIX systems have package management of some form and almost all of them are better than Win* package management, but you have to know how to use them, which really is not difficult at all once you get the hang of it.  OSX would surely want to either create their own package management or adopt one of the existing ones (RPM, Debian, pkgadd, etc). I'm sure they will very soon.

 
quote:

P.S. I just realized that's an aweful lot of Mac-talk for the Windows section of the forum; however, it seems this topic is mostly about Linux anyways. Perhaps a relocation would be in order?



I'm a follower, not a leader (except when it comes to *NIX). (:
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