Switching from Windows 7, what computer to buy?

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UnsophisticatedUser
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Switching from Windows 7, what computer to buy?

Post by UnsophisticatedUser » Thu Aug 22, 2013 3:38 pm

Hopefully you good people can help me. Here is my situation:

Normally I buy Windows computers and I buy the good versions (95, 98, XP, 7), skipping the bad versions (ME, Vista, 8). However I find that I am in sudden need of a computer and it seems silly to buy Windows 7, especially since I think that Microsoft has insanely decided to exit the desktop market in order to compete in the crowded tablet market.

I don't have many requirements for this computer. Basically I need to be able to use the internet and edit documents in standard formats (docx, etc...). So it seems that Firefox and LibreOffice should fit the bill. However I have another requirement that is huge:

In the distant past I was an computer enthusiast and programmer. Now I am interested in raising my children and home improvement. I have no time or desire to engage in any sort of troubleshooting. Anything that doesn't simply work is junk from my point of view. I will not install drivers. I will not compile source code. I will not update anything. When I plug a usb device in it needs to work. This includes my external hard drive that is formatted to work with windows 7, so the file system or whatever needs to be compatible.

I am looking at the Mintbox Basic or maybe Pro on this site http://fit-pc.com/web/purchasing/order-mintbox/ plus the accessory kit.

Am I right that Mint and Mintbox can support two monitors? If so what should I get? I want two of the same monitor. I see that there are two plugs on the back that look the same, I'm thinking that these are dual HDMI or something? I really don't know anything about this stuff other than what I've found on google in the last hour or two.

If Mintbox isn't the right choice for me, then what should I get? I want the operating system pre-installed.

I don't want to spend too much, which is one of the reasons that I am considering Linux. I don't want to pay for Windows and Office yet again.

Also I really, really, really don't want to use PayPal. I suppose that I would be willing to use it if there is no alternative. I would be willing to pay maybe 10-20% more to be able to use another payment method.

Maybe I should just get a Windows 7 computer? Be honest with me. It doesn't do the Linux community any good if I get this computer and hate it.
Last edited by UnsophisticatedUser on Thu Aug 22, 2013 4:26 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Thinking about switching from Windows 7, what to buy?

Post by cortman » Thu Aug 22, 2013 4:09 pm

Mint (which is free) will run on almost any Windows 7 computer with no trouble. I think your best bet is to buy a computer with Windows 7 and install Mint alongside- if for some freaky reason it turn out not to play nicely with that computer's hardware, you can always fall back on Windows.
Good luck!
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Re: Switching from Windows 7, what computer to buy?

Post by UnsophisticatedUser » Thu Aug 22, 2013 6:20 pm

Thank you for your reply. I'm curious about your reasoning. Is Linux just not ready for regular users yet?
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Re: Switching from Windows 7, what computer to buy?

Post by Aging Technogeek » Thu Aug 22, 2013 6:38 pm

It is not a matter of Linux not being ready for "regular users". It is more that some hardware does not play well with Linux.

There are many Linux distros that are as easy to learn as Windows (easier, actually). Mint is one of the best, but there are many others, such as PCLinuxOS, Mandriva, ZorinOS, and Ubuntu (to name a few of the most popular). For a more comprehensive list, check Distrowatch ([url]http://distrowatch.com/[/url])

Also, most major computers work well with Linux. For a compatibility guide, check here [url]http://community.linuxmint.com/hardware/welcome[/url]. To check a specific piece of hardware, fill in all relevant blocks. If you are looking for a Linux compatible laptop or complete desktop system, select the correct hardware and the brand you are interested in and click search.
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Re: Switching from Windows 7, what computer to buy?

Post by UnsophisticatedUser » Thu Aug 22, 2013 7:59 pm

Thanks for the reply.

By hardware are you talking about the actual computer or peripherals? If I get a Linux computer I am going to buy something with the OS pre-installed, such as the Mintbox. Presumably the manufacturer will make sure that the hardware works. I do not plan on upgrading the hardware.

Thanks for the link to the compatibility guide. When I looked "USB external hard drive" from Sony I didn't find anything. I have this hard drive: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008KSJQW2/ref=oh_details_o08_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 can I expect it to work and without having to reformat it?

What about monitors? Do they always work so long as you have the right type of port to connect?
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Re: Switching from Windows 7, what computer to buy?

Post by wayne128 » Thu Aug 22, 2013 9:22 pm

UnsophisticatedUser wrote: Normally I buy Windows computers and I buy the good versions (95, 98, XP, 7), skipping the bad versions (ME, Vista, 8).

Basically I need to be able to use the internet and edit documents in standard formats (docx, etc...).
So it seems that Firefox and LibreOffice should fit the bill. However I have another requirement that is huge:

Now I am interested in raising my children and home improvement.
I have no time or desire to engage in any sort of troubleshooting.
Anything that doesn't simply work is junk from my point of view
.
I will not install drivers. I will not compile source code. I will not update anything.
When I plug a usb device in it needs to work.
This includes my external hard drive that is formatted to work with windows 7, so the file system or whatever needs to be compatible.



Maybe I should just get a Windows 7 computer? Be honest with me. It doesn't do the Linux community any good if I get this computer and hate it.
Yes, you should just buy a Win7 computer.

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Re: Switching from Windows 7, what computer to buy?

Post by cortman » Thu Aug 22, 2013 10:19 pm

UnsophisticatedUser wrote:Thanks for the reply.

By hardware are you talking about the actual computer or peripherals? If I get a Linux computer I am going to buy something with the OS pre-installed, such as the Mintbox. Presumably the manufacturer will make sure that the hardware works. I do not plan on upgrading the hardware.

Thanks for the link to the compatibility guide. When I looked "USB external hard drive" from Sony I didn't find anything. I have this hard drive: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008KSJQW2/ref=oh_details_o08_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 can I expect it to work and without having to reformat it?

What about monitors? Do they always work so long as you have the right type of port to connect?
I know of no reputable manufacturers who preinstall Mint for you. I do know that Mint has about the best hardware compatibility of any GNU/Linux distro out there.
And yes, Windows filesystems work fine with Mint- not to install the OS on, but for file storage you'll never know the difference.
Predominantly the only trouble spots that consistently pop up are graphics card compatibility and sound. I would recommend you buy a Windows computer and create a bootable DVD or flash drive of Mint, boot from it to the sample desktop, and if everything works satisfactorily, install it. Otherwise, stick with Windows, as you don't seem willing to do any work to try to help it function. I'm not saying that's bad, just that that's your outlook.
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Re: Switching from Windows 7, what computer to buy?

Post by Spearmint2 » Thu Aug 22, 2013 10:44 pm

You can check on Ebay and Amazon for Linux preloaded computers.

http://www.ubuntu.com/certification/desktop/

http://www.ubuntu.com/certification/catalog/
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Re: Switching from Windows 7, what computer to buy?

Post by UnsophisticatedUser » Thu Aug 22, 2013 11:07 pm

I found several companies that will pre-install mint. I'm thinking of getting a computer called the Mintbox Basic. It would cost $379, which about what I am planning to spend.

http://www.xenstreet.com/2013/06/linux-mintbox-a-mini-linux-desktop/

From the linked article:
Don’t have time to configure Linux onto your old Windows PC? Still struggling with device drivers and module compilations? Are you seeking an affordable, small and ready to use computer but not sure what is great for your browsing and email needs? Well Linux Mint might have an answer for you in the form of a mini computer, called MintBox.
It comes configured and usable, once peripherals are connected. So the fact that I am not interested in tinkering with my system should not be a concern with regards to the actual computer hardware. My concern was more about peripherals, specifically external hard drives and the like. Since you said that Mint can use the windows filesystem that concern of mine is pretty much resolved with regards to hardware. I may have also exaggerated my unwillingness to install drivers and the like. For example I don't mind installing a printer driver. What I do mind is having to install a USB driver or some nonsense like that.

What about software? How does Firefox on Mint compare to Firefox on Windows? I have heard that there might be problems with Amazon Instant Video. That wouldn't be a deal-breaker as I'll still have a Windows 7 computer for gaming/movies. Does Mint handle Youtube? What about things like gmail and google maps?

My two concerns with sticking with windows are:

Cheap windows computers often come loaded with junk. Unistalling it all is a hassle. Nice windows computers come with a much cleaner install, but they cost more than I am willing to spend on this computer.

Windows is dying due to mismanagement. The year of the Linux Desktop is coming. Not so much because Linux is getting better, but because Windows is committing suicide. I'm eventually going to have to switch to Linux. The question is whether I do so in 2013 or 2020.

A couple of people have mentioned getting a windows computer and installing mint on it. I like that it is a risk-reduction strategy, but if I am going to go that route I may as well stick with windows.

So it seems that many people are suggesting that I get a Windows computer, and I thank you for your honesty. However I'm not convinced that I should do that. The Mintbox is very appealing. I like the portability and the fact that Mint will be supported much longer than Windows 7 will be.
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Re: Switching from Windows 7, what computer to buy?

Post by UnsophisticatedUser » Thu Aug 22, 2013 11:18 pm

Thanks Spearmint, that's what I am looking for.

I like shopping on Amazon and I found this:

http://www.amazon.com/fit-PC3-fit-PC3-D2x2-T56N-WB-H320-XLM-FM4U-CompuLab-Pro-Linux/dp/B0088XENK4/ref=sr_1_3?s=pc&ie=UTF8&qid=1377227420&sr=1-3&keywords=mintbox

It is a little more expensive than the Mintbox, but I don't mind paying a premium to avoid PayPal. It a bit higher-end so that is nice.

So if I get this computer, which comes with Mint installed and correctly configured, what are the major obstacles that I am likely to face?
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Re: Switching from Windows 7, what computer to buy?

Post by Spearmint2 » Thu Aug 22, 2013 11:26 pm

So if I get this computer, which comes with Mint installed and correctly configured, what are the major obstacles that I am likely to face?
probably configuring printers. HP seems to be the most favored. Brother seems to be the most maligned.

CompuLab and Mint have some sort of agreement worked out on those.

http://www.linuxmint.com/store.php
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Re: Switching from Windows 7, what computer to buy?

Post by cortman » Fri Aug 23, 2013 1:51 pm

UnsophisticatedUser wrote:Thanks Spearmint, that's what I am looking for.

I like shopping on Amazon and I found this:

http://www.amazon.com/fit-PC3-fit-PC3-D2x2-T56N-WB-H320-XLM-FM4U-CompuLab-Pro-Linux/dp/B0088XENK4/ref=sr_1_3?s=pc&ie=UTF8&qid=1377227420&sr=1-3&keywords=mintbox

It is a little more expensive than the Mintbox, but I don't mind paying a premium to avoid PayPal. It a bit higher-end so that is nice.

So if I get this computer, which comes with Mint installed and correctly configured, what are the major obstacles that I am likely to face?
That's pretty low powered but if you like the looks of it it's your decision.
Obstacles? If it's preinstalled you should face zero obstacles, other than perhaps getting used to a slightly different interface than Windows.
USB drivers work OOTB on 99.999999% of all computers. In fact, I don't know if I've ever seen anyone have trouble with them.
Hard drives/flash drives are never incompatible.
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Re: Switching from Windows 7, what computer to buy?

Post by colinmasters » Sat Aug 24, 2013 3:16 am

If I can give my opinion as a linux user of nearly a week I would advise
you to get a win 7 machine and install virtualbox and download a few linux
distros and instal to virtual box to see which works for you

Then get a 16gb usb flashdrive and use a program called yumi multiboot to
copy\install the iso files to the flashdrive and boot from that to play around
with your hardware.

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Re: Switching from Windows 7, what computer to buy?

Post by MtnDewManiac » Sat Aug 24, 2013 10:20 am

UnsophisticatedUser wrote:I have no time or desire to engage in any sort of troubleshooting.
No troubleshooting whatsoever? Ever? Maybe you should cultivate a friend (or at least a reasonably bright twelve-year old) who is willing to perform the occasional amount of "accepted minimum" troubleshooting if/when you need it.
UnsophisticatedUser wrote:Anything that doesn't simply work is junk from my point of view.
I can understand that attitude, but, respectfully, in the real world, that's a wee bit harsh, lol.
UnsophisticatedUser wrote: I will not install drivers. I will not compile source code. I will not update anything.
Even the best systems occasionally require updating :roll: . For best results, anyway. You shouldn't have to compile anything. But you should run update via Update Manager. You may, at some unspecified future date, wish to install a new graphics driver (if, for example, a new "series" is released? IDK).
UnsophisticatedUser wrote:I don't want to spend too much
Often, one is faced with the choice in life of dong (at least some of) the work themselves, or paying someone else to deal with it. Wishing to not do any work and to not spend much... might be somewhat optimistic on your part :lol: . Like the person who buys a new vehicle and refuses to perform any maintenance - or even change a flat tire - you might end up either pestering a friend to do it or helping to finance someone's next vacation. Note that this is not linux- (or even computer-) specific; it's just life.
UnsophisticatedUser wrote:I don't want to pay for Windows and Office yet again.
If what you have now are not OEM versions, you should be able to install them on your new computer (legally, you would have to then stop using them on your old one). Even if they are OEM, there may be workarounds that will allow you to use them, along with their product keys, on a new computer. Although both of those ideas requires some work on your part, so...
UnsophisticatedUser wrote:Maybe I should just get a Windows 7 computer? Be honest with me.
Honestly? I do not wish to be perceived as being rude (I'm not trying to be), but if you wish to simply sit at the table and be served a perfect meal (so to speak), I'd recommend you call one of those "rent to own" outfits and have them deliver a computer. It'll have a Microsoft OS installed. Sooner or later, you'll reach the point where some troubleshooting/work will be required, but, hey, it's just a rental; call them to come get it and bring you another one. Keep in mind the fact that those places generally charge a premium of at least 300%. And the choices are, of course, limited to whatever they feel like offering. But you retain the option of discontinuing your rental on one and trying again (and again). Or, alternatively, you could always search eBay for a Commodore 64. The OS is hard-coded, there are no drivers to install... and many applications are (were) available on handy cartridges that one only needed to plug in before powering up the computer. And, realistically, the one I owned back in the early/mid '80s was the only computer that I never had to do ANY troubleshooting on. Or you could try a Mac :roll: .
UnsophisticatedUser wrote:Windows is dying due to mismanagement.
Microsoft Windows OS, in some form or another, will always be around - because there will always, I fear, be at least some people in the world who refuse to do any of the work themselves.

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Re: Switching from Windows 7, what computer to buy?

Post by linbig » Sat Aug 24, 2013 11:53 am

Why buy another computer ? If you have one already just try a live cd/dvd and see how you get on . Plug things in when running the cd/dvd (i.e. printer/scanner,camera, usb hdd etc) LM wiil 99% of the time recognise it and if it doesn't there are people here that will help you around your problem.
I have never had ANY trouble with LM at all in any pc from an ancient p3 laptop ,which I still have , to the one I am using now my "modern " Core2 Duo Dell.
Be brave, have a go , I did after the total mess that was Vista and I have never wanted to take a step backwards.
The "step backwards " is a quote from my brother who said " but they still use the terminal "! Yeh how much quicker is that than click...click...click..etc.
Nowadays I go out of my way to promote Linux, even to the IT dept at work , but all I got was "thats ok for servers !" No harm in trying !

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Re: Switching from Windows 7, what computer to buy?

Post by AlbertP » Sat Aug 24, 2013 11:59 am

If you really want a new computer, try to find one with Intel HD graphics (unless you need a more expensive graphics card for gaming). Intel hardware will work right away on Linux, then you do not have to install graphics drivers on an operating system which you don't know very well yet. Graphics drivers sometimes cause problems.

MintBox will also work fine, because all necessary drivers are pre-installed on it.
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Re: Switching from Windows 7, what computer to buy?

Post by TlfT » Sat Aug 24, 2013 7:18 pm

I am no linux master, by a long shot, but I have been researching the heck out of hardware.
For what you (the OP) want and need out a computer, why not look at a chromebook? About $200-$250 and if you already run an external HDD than you are ahead of the game. Those mintboxes seem WAY overpriced!!

[url]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=34-257-164[/url]

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Re: Switching from Windows 7, what computer to buy?

Post by UnsophisticatedUser » Mon Sep 02, 2013 10:43 pm

Thank you everyone.

I decided to go with ComputLab's fit-PC3 Pro Linux. It is a little weak but that was something that I was prepared for.

So far I like Linux Mint. There are some things that annoy me but there are some other things that I like. I assume that as time goes on I will fix the annoyances and discover new things to like. Right now my user experience is almost as good as Windows 7 and I expect that it will soon surpass it as I play around with it more.

I also bought a new keyboard and monitor. The keyboard is mechanical, my first mechanical in a long time. I had no idea how much I missed having a real keyboard. I highly recommend making the switch.
Using Linux Mint 15 with Cinnamon.

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Re: Switching from Windows 7, what computer to buy?

Post by Spearmint2 » Mon Sep 02, 2013 11:07 pm

I also bought a new keyboard and monitor. The keyboard is mechanical, my first mechanical in a long time. I had no idea how much I missed having a real keyboard. I highly recommend making the switch.
I've considered a clicky clacky keyboard, but my wife is very opposed to the idea, especially if I'd be on it at 2am in morning. Hearing the keys snap however did leave a satisfying experience when computing.
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