Want to try linux

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Want to try linux

Post by girlfrommars »

Hi, total newbie here. I have a Dell Inspiron 1721 which has given me nothing but problems since I got it. I "ran" vista for years but kept crashing. It now has a "cheeky" version of Windows 7 which seems more stable but I don't believe it has been installed correctly as the resolution is off and the trackpad does not work correctly.

I am ready to throw the laptop away but thought I'd like to try linux as a last ditch attempt but had issues with installations because of the RAID I believe

I'd prefer to install Mint as it looks nice but what sort of things do I need before I start? Do I need to wipe windows 7 and go back to vista? Do I need a list of drivers or something? How do I know which version of Mint is most suitable for me? I mostly want it for internet and media streaming to PS3.

Thanks in advance.
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Re: Want to try linux

Post by TBABill »

Since it's not a newer laptop I'd suggest Mint 13. It comes with the longest support (it's an LTS version - Long Term Support). It would also contain some older drivers than the newer kernels may have available since as newer kernels are released they are updated to carry newer drivers, which creates a need to sometimes drop older drivers.

If you don't care about that install of Windows and want to let Mint get rid of it, just choose to let Mint have the whole disk when you install. That's easiest and it will wipe everything for you and set up the drive for Linux.

I would recommend you run a Live USB or Live DVD and see how it works with your hardware before installing. You may need a proprietary wireless driver because Dell often uses Broadcom devices, but they do sometimes also use Intel so you may be fine there too. Either way, it can most likely be worked with. If you get online via wired connection you can always ask for help with wireless or if it works out of the box you're good to go.

Make sure to check sound, video, resolution, wireless and other hardware during the live session to give you an idea how they'll work when installed.
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Re: Want to try linux

Post by anandrkris »

I am a recent Windows 7 convert and [url=http://www.linuxbsdos.com/2011/06/11/dual-boot-linux-mint-11-and-windows-7/]this[/url] tutorial helped me in installation. I initially installed Linux Mint 13 KDE and now also have Cinammon desktop environment (DE) on top of it.
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Re: Want to try linux

Post by I2k4 »

I'd suggest you experiment a bit with Persistent Live USB. "Persistent" allows you to install and remove and save settings between boots, getting a really good feel for what it can do, without committing to it. You pull out the thumb drive and boot Windows when you want it.

You can run any kind of Mint or most other major Linux distributions and find out how well they run with your hardware. These "distros" are quirky as to what they work with and don't, and very different in the software that comes preinstalled with the operating system. Testing on a thumb drive does not waste your time on a bad installation or risk your hard drive. Of course the performance is not as snappy as from a fast hard drive, but it's pretty good. Once you find something you like that runs well, then you can install permanently.

This is the software I use to install from Windows - there are others:


You download the ".ISO" for the distribution and the Pendrive installer is very intuitive. Even formats the USB thumb drive for you and let you choose the amount of Persistence. I suggest an 8GB USB drive with half Persistence and the rest left for the Linux. It works fine on 4GB but I'd limit Persistence to 1GB on that. I like the preinstalled software on Mint so don't have to add too much.

(I'm personally sticking with this approach until next year when support for Windows XP runs out, then will decide on a Linux version for permanent installation.)
TRUST BUT VERIFY any advice from anybody, including me. Mint/Ubuntu user since 10.04 LTS. LM20 64 bit XFCE (Dell 1520). Dual booting LM20 XFCE / Win7 (Lenovo desktop and Acer netbook).
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Re: Want to try linux

Post by MtnDewManiac »

Installing linux is a good thing. But if you wish to dual-boot...

Since it's a Dell, you could probably get them to send you installation discs for the originally-installed OS (Vista, I guess). They sent me a set of discs for free, I just had to fill out a form at their website - and that was for a desktop I found in a dumpster that's so old that it came with XP, lol, and I got the discs earlier this year (LONG out of warranty). You might find that a clean install of Vista, combined with a degree of common sense and use of suitable anti-virus/anti-malware apps will solve your crashing problem; Vista is actually a lot better than many people assume (or at least not as bad as they assume) and, IIRC, a large part of it is in Windows 7 (although it's called "Windows 7," the version number is actually 6.1, to reflect that, in the same way that XP and 2000 both had 5.x version numbers).

Again, installing linux is a good thing. But Dell makes it easy - and free - to get actual Windows OS media, or at least they did in the past and, apparently, still do if your Dell is an older one (not sure if the policy still applies as far as much newer models are concerned). They'll also send you the drivers you need for the components (that were originally) in your computer. Additionally, if they ever supported Windows 7 on it (either as an upgrade available to the user for a fee or by preinstalling it in more recent versions of that particular model), you can probably download versions of those drivers for that OS as well (if they were ever available, of course).

I did receive an email telling me to keep the discs they were sending me in a safe place because they weren't going to send me another set since the computer had been out of warranty coverage for six or seven years :lol: . I thought that was kind of neat - some manufacturers won't send you installation discs for free even if your computer is still under warranty.

I just wanted to make you aware that you probably have some options available that you wouldn't if it was a "Joe's Computer Builders" brand computer. And, as much as I dislike the thought of booting into a Microsoft OS, there are still some apps that only have a version for those OS and Wine is still not exactly perfect (and I'm not sure just how compatible ReactOS - the open source OS intended to be binary compatible with application software and device drivers made for Microsoft Windows NT versions 5.x and up (Windows 2000 and its successors) - actually is at this point). So it might not be a bad idea to have the option in case it is one day needed.

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Re: Want to try linux

Post by hedgefordpete »

go for it, you will be surprised how much it will enlighten your day. regards, pete.
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Re: Want to try linux

Post by athanxrollo »

Is Cinnamon also an option for this???
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Re: Want to try linux

Post by Filthy »

My advice would be to do a dual boot at first. It also sounds like you may have some drivers not installed that need to be on Windows. I would recommend Mint 13 or 14 for you, you're in luck with streaming to PS3 as a Media Server because it is available for Linux [url]http://sourceforge.net/projects/ps3mediaserver/[/url].
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