Noob looking for advice re video and wifi

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Noob looking for advice re video and wifi

Postby Longstreet on Sun Jun 14, 2009 11:12 pm

I had a Dell Latitude that I had planned to put Linux on, probably Ubuntu. My Dell died on my a few days ago, and a friend is giving me her old laptop that has XP on it. I would still like to try Linux, and was thinking of dual-booting. I've read the "'Beginners Guide to Using and Installing Mint" as well as Fred's "Considerations Before You Install", (both of them excellent reads) but I still have a couple of questions.

As I mentioned, I had been thinking of Ubuntu, but after doing some reading had about decided to try Mint instead. My questions:

1. I've read on this forum that dual-booting Mint with XP is as simple as loading the disk, hitting Install and following the prompts. Is it really just that simple? I anticipate using Linux for most everything, but would like to keep XP around as a "safety net" (as holey as the net my be! :lol: ).

2. If I dual-boot, keep XP until I get tired of it and decide to dump it and go straight Mint, how hard is it to "clean out" XP?

3. I've read that since Mint is based on Ubuntu, the programs from Ubuntu will work on Mint. Since one of my concerns is the availability of software, that would be a pretty good thing, I think. Is it correct that Ubuntu apps will work on Mint?

4. I have read quite a bit on the Ubuntu forums about difficulty with video and wifi. That concerned me, since 2 of my priorities are the ability to watch DVD's and hook up via wifi. I had read that Mint was easier in those respects than Ubuntu and so had started leaning towards Mint. However, looking at this forum I see as many posts asking for advice on wifi issues as I did on the Ubuntu board. Is it going to be difficult getting things set up to hook up to a wifi net? And how difficult is it going to be to get a good media player up and running so I can watch DVD's?

As for the rest, I'm pretty sure I'll be okay. I'm already using OpenOffice and Firefox. I'll be looking for a good photo editor, and some sort of Bible reader/study, but from what I see those things shouldn't be a problem. I don't do a lot of graphics-intensive gaming, so I'm not too worried about that either.

Okay, that was 4 questions.

Thanks for any advice you can give me.


Oh, and one more barely related question. What's the deal with the screenshots of the big floating cube I see on some Linux sights. It looks like the four sides are different windows or tabs or something. It's pretty, but is it something done to show off, or does it have a function?
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Re: Noob looking for advice re video and wifi

Postby trident on Mon Jun 15, 2009 5:53 am

1. The Guided method to resize your current partition and then install Mint on a new one should do exactly that, just by following the prompts as you say. Although it's advisable to back up your files from XP in case something does go wrong.

2. This would be a bit harder. A Live CD like Parted Magic should in theory allow you to do this, but I have had nothing but problems using this.

3. Mint uses the same base, and the same Ubuntu repositories (plus some Mint extras), so yes, we get all the Ubuntu software which is definitely a good thing! The way I see it, Mint has all the advantages of Ubuntu and then some.

4. As far as I have seen, DVD playback works fine on Mint whereas Ubuntu doesn't come with the necessary packages. The preinstalled MPlayer or Totem should allow you to do this, although I choose VLC (annoyingly the version in Jaunty/Gloria has a bug whereby the video and controls appear in separate windows). SMPlayer is good too.

Hope this helps! I was in the same situation whereby I was already using FOSS for pretty much everything, and don't bother with games (that's what the Wii and DS are for!). GIMP is a good photo editor but requires some learning which I haven't yet managed to do myself! As for the cube, it is one of the flashy Compiz effects for switching between virtual desktops, and really is just for showing off/eye candy.
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Re: Noob looking for advice re video and wifi

Postby Longstreet on Mon Jun 15, 2009 1:46 pm

That's all good news to me! I'm ready to pull the trigger, I think.

Did you have any problems with your wifi setup?
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Re: Noob looking for advice re video and wifi

Postby trident on Mon Jun 15, 2009 4:53 pm

Longstreet wrote:That's all good news to me! I'm ready to pull the trigger, I think.

Did you have any problems with your wifi setup?


Yes on two of my three Mintified computers. My Acer laptop with Atheros wireless worked great out of the box and found the networks right away. The two desktops, with PCI Wifi cards both had different problems... with a TNET card I need to use ndiswrapper first or the computer won't even boot into Linux (luckily Mint makes this really easy with its "Windows Wireless Drivers" GUI, something sadly missing in other distributions), and with the other card, using a Broadcom chipset, I had to hook the computer up to wired internet and then use the Hardware Drivers tool to install fwcutter which got the card working perfectly. With any luck your laptop will be using an Atheros chipset as these seem to have good drivers out of the box with Mint, but if not it will probably work eventually using one of the two tools mentioned.
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Re: Noob looking for advice re video and wifi

Postby RedWagon on Mon Jun 15, 2009 4:53 pm

and really is just for showing off/eye candy.

Now hold on just one sec... I love the compiz cube and use it every day. Each side is a different desktop, so you can run a ton of stuff without cluttering your screen. At home I use four desktops, at work I use 7 sides, and usually have stuff on all of them. It's not very handy with a three button mouse, but if you have extra buttons on the side you can use to activate it, all it takes a flick of the wrist to change desktops. It also helps on netbooks, which helps alleviate the screen space issues.
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Re: Noob looking for advice re video and wifi

Postby trident on Tue Jun 16, 2009 5:12 am

RedWagon wrote:
and really is just for showing off/eye candy.

Now hold on just one sec... I love the compiz cube and use it every day. Each side is a different desktop, so you can run a ton of stuff without cluttering your screen. At home I use four desktops, at work I use 7 sides, and usually have stuff on all of them. It's not very handy with a three button mouse, but if you have extra buttons on the side you can use to activate it, all it takes a flick of the wrist to change desktops. It also helps on netbooks, which helps alleviate the screen space issues.


Good point, although I would still class that as largely eye candy. Not that I'm bitter that I can't run it because of the rubbish ATI drivers :wink:
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