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The Collective
Thursday, October 9, 2008
By Dr. Steven Taylor

I am toying with setting up my Vista laptop to dual boot to Linux. Any recommendations out there as to which distribution I should use?

I have tried Knoppix Live CD version, as it didn’t require installing anything to the harddrive, and was immediately turned off by the limitation of display resolution to a 1024×768 max.

Any thoughts on this subject?

Update: Thanks to everyone who left a comment (and do feel free to keep adding them).

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Filed under: Computer Stuff | |

13 Comments »

  1. I’ve toyed a little with Ubuntu on a live CD on one of my notebooks.

    Comment by Sean Hackbarth — Thursday, October 9, 2008 @ 1:33 pm

  2. Without a doubt Ubuntu is the best way to go. Good Usergroup support and many folks (including myself) have had great success getting it running on laptops.

    Comment by Jeff Vreeland — Thursday, October 9, 2008 @ 1:42 pm

  3. Posting about religion now, eh? :>

    Comment by Jay — Thursday, October 9, 2008 @ 2:00 pm

  4. Since I’ve been using it exclusively for two years on both a tower PC and a laptop from Dell (Ubuntu preinstalled), I’ll add to the chorus of Ubuntu fans. There is a caveat: the next version (8.10) is due out this month. WAIT until its release before downloading the LiveCD and test-driving it.

    The current version (8.04) has some known issues and as I understand from the forums, they’ve been addressed in the next major release (which comes out every 6 months).

    The learning curve is a little steeper than for Windows if you want to do fancy stuff, but for the basic browse/Office and misc. multimedia, it’s easy and works very well.

    Comment by Len — Thursday, October 9, 2008 @ 2:05 pm

  5. I’m a fan of Fedora myself. Unfortunately the download is incredibly large. Ubuntu’s probably the best option for you.

    Comment by Max Lybbert — Thursday, October 9, 2008 @ 2:53 pm

  6. The machine I’m using right now dual boots Vista and Ubuntu.

    Ubuntu is the best choice for most applications.

    Comment by Captain D — Thursday, October 9, 2008 @ 3:28 pm

  7. I’ll echo the Ubuntu rec.-easy to add/upgrade software

    I also have used Xandros and like it.

    One sticking issue I often have is some hardware support. I started buying printers, etc..that explicitly are supported by Linux distros, but it can be a bear to get some of my older stuff to work.

    The lightweight, Xubuntu, is a good distro to use on old computers for basic tasks-it breathes life into a 128RAM machine.

    Comment by Ratoe — Thursday, October 9, 2008 @ 3:39 pm

  8. PS - If you go the Ubuntu route, check out the Wubi installer-it works like a charm if you want to keep Vista on the laptop and the whole partition thing makes you nervous!

    Comment by Ratoe — Thursday, October 9, 2008 @ 3:42 pm

  9. I personally have a few issues with how Ubuntu is run… but as a “newbie to Linux” distribution it’s probably the best choice.

    Comment by Chris Lawrence — Thursday, October 9, 2008 @ 3:58 pm

  10. The consensus here seems to be Ubuntu, but I would also suggest Mandriva as well. It’s based off of Red Hat, and I’ve found it to be great. Setup is really easy, and I haven’t ever really had any problems with it.

    Comment by Brett — Thursday, October 9, 2008 @ 4:17 pm

  11. Forgot to mention re: display resolution.

    I think the Ubuntu LiveCD is locked in at the industry standard res. for broadest compatibility. You can change the res. once it’s installed to the hard drive, but obviously you can’t install additional software/drivers/etc. to a read-only CDROM. It’s a minor drawback of the LiveCD, but since the thing is mainly intended as a test of whether the OS will run on your machine (and whether you like it), it’s a trade-off.

    If your machine has an Nvidia display adapter, it will say something about “restricted software,” which is just another way of saying “proprietary.” It’s nothing to be concerned about. Once you enable that driver after installation (assuming you have Nvidia), you get more functionality.

    Your school’s MIS department (or a helpful CompSci major wanting extra credit) might be able to help you out to some extent if need be. ;)

    Comment by Len — Thursday, October 9, 2008 @ 5:14 pm

  12. I would have to recommend Ubuntu. Ubuntu definitely makes using patent-encumbered codecs (think MP3, AAC, etc) and restricted drivers (like the nvidia video driver) easy, and it’s just generally easy for new users. Regardless of which distribution you use, the most important thing is your attitude. I have converted a few people over from Windows to Ubuntu, and the one thing that they all have in common is that they maintain a positive attitude. Like the saying goes, whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.

    Comment by Alex — Thursday, October 9, 2008 @ 9:51 pm

  13. yes. ubuntu is the way to go.

    nahhh…..just joking. you know i’m completely ignorant about these things.

    Comment by mbailey — Friday, October 10, 2008 @ 5:53 am

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