This site is intended to give an overview of what linux looks like to a complete beginner, and what the first experiences in this new world could be like.
It came about as I was investigating buying my first PC, and investigating what the alternatives are as to what software you can run on it. So it's a diary of a first, tentative foray into the shiny, exciting, daunting (and occasionally bumpy) new world of free and open source software.
Following the introduction, the site works through each of the steps that I went through, namely Trying it out (running Knoppix on an existing desktop machine), choosing and purchasing the hardware (in this case a laptop), and then after running this live CD version on the new laptop for a while, going for a full Linux installation to make a dual-boot system. After that it's more about running Mandriva going on to programming with linux, and ends with some more info including links and handy tips, and a few downloads.
More recent events cover not just laptop use but also the purchase, assembly and installation of a new Shuttle barebone system using Debian linux, which is now the current system (now using Debian Squeeze). And as a mobile supplement there's also now an Acer netbook, also now happily running Debian Squeeze.
This is, needless to say, a work in progress. It will probably raise more questions than it answers, but I hope it's of some help to those considering this brave leap into the unknown!
The faithful Dell Inspiron 510m laptop which was running a dual-boot system with Mandriva, is now sadly deceased. It will be sorely missed. While it was with us, it had a variety of apps and tools including OpenOffice, Firefox, Gimp, Inkscape, Java, Java3d, C++, eclipse, scribus, perl, python, sed, tex and more. It used digikam for loading and organising photos, and downloaded GPS data from a Garmin etrex Vista using garble (and from an etrex Vista HCx using gpsbabel), used Inkscape for creating and manipulating vector and raster graphics, edited web stuff (including this site!), developed C++ and java, translated to and from German, and stitched photos together with hugin.
For browsing the internet it had
Mozilla Firefox, Thunderbird for email and gave FTP access with KBear the command line Filezilla Konqueror, downloaded files with BitTorrent KTorrent, played music with Amarok, and phoned for free with Skype. Not to mention of course the occasional game like Frozen Bubble, Planet Penguin Racer or Knetwalk.
And among the other gadgets it had a local subversion repository to provide version control for web stuff and code.
Unfortunately that laptop is now deceased, and in its place is a new desktop system based on a Shuttle barebone. It's now used for similar things to the laptop, but it's obviously less mobile, more powerful, and has a bigger screen with higher resolution. Also it's running Debian linux, not Mandriva, and using Gnome instead of KDE. So some of the tools are different, and some the same. At the moment it's got OpenOffice, Iceweasel, Gimp, Inkscape, Java, Java3d, eclipse, python, sed, octave, digikam, gpsbabel, Prune, hugin, Icedove, gftp, transmission, ekiga, Rhythmbox, Kile, Bluefish, Meld, Stellarium, K3b, Subversion, Google Earth, Skype, Cheese and of course frozen bubble. Plus also World of Goo!
Another addition to the family in 2011 is an Acer Aspire One netbook for doing stuff on the train or at the kitchen table or while lying on the sofa. It's now got Debian Squeeze, Gnome, and a subset of the above applications. Mainly it's being used for browsing, emailing and skyping (using the built-in camera of course), but eclipse is on there too now (together with subclipse and pydev) so I can use it for playing with java and python as well. Any stuff being worked on on the netbook is synced before and afterwards.
In 2013 the collection grew a little larger (but not much larger!) with the addition of a long-awaited Raspberry pi. Reports will follow as soon as I've been able to do something fun with it! Also both the barebone and the netbook need to be upgraded to Debian Wheezy sometime soon, now that Wheezy has been released as stable.