Anyone here use Linux?

posted
04-Jan-20, 12:24
edited about 37 minutes later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 2 weeks ago
I'm considering switching from Windows (can't stand the interface on more recent versions and the lack of user control over this and other basic things) to Linux. I've been casually considering it years but getting close to taking the plunge (forced by external factors such as Windows 10 now being the only Windows operating system available on new laptops). I wondered if anyone here uses Linux? If so, I have a few questions for you!

First of all, is it fairly easy to get used to it and easy to do simple things that you might do on Windows (browsing, Youtube, etc)? I am familiar with Libre Open Office Software and used this once when I didn't have Microsoft Office for a short time, so I already know I would be sorted for word processing, powerpoints, spreadsheets etc. Beyond that I guess I mainly use my laptop for: doing stats on SPSS and R, using a few bits of open/free software specific to my field (such as CLAN which is part of the CHILDES project - which I've just checked to see that it has a "Unix" version available to download - I am hoping this means it would be compatible with Linux), Skype, viewing photos, and, importantly, reading lots of PDFs (currently I use Adobe to do this). Would I be able to transition to Linux fairly easily and do these things with the same ease as in Windows?

A second question relates to installation. I will probably buy a new laptop soon with Windows 10 preinstalled. Do I need to look out for any particular specifications, or will I be able to download Linux on pretty much any modern run-of-the-mill laptop?

A final consideration - I'm considering Lenovo, Dell, or HP (and in that order) in case that is relevant to this question.

Thank you for reading this and I welcome any advice.
posted
04-Jan-20, 14:01
edited about 7 seconds later
Avatar for Jamie_Wizard
posted about 2 weeks ago
Hi Tudor,

Hope the following helps...

Quote From Tudor_Queen:
I'm considering switching from Windows (can't stand the interface on more recent versions and the lack of user control over this and other basic things) to Linux. I've been casually considering it years but getting close to taking the plunge (forced by external factors such as Windows 10 now being the only Windows operating system available on new laptops). I wondered if anyone here uses Linux? If so, I have a few questions for you!


I use Linux at my workplace workstation, my workstations and servers at home (alongside Windows and Mac OSX). It's a must for Computer Science, Computational Biology/Chemistry. The only issue I had at work, where we use Skype for Business, was that the Business version wasn't available for Linux/Ubuntu.

I personally use two laptops. My personal laptop is a Windows 10 Professional laptop with Linux Ubuntu Subsytem for windows installed - it can be installed as an option at any time. This allows me to use Linux Commands on my Windows laptop which has been exceptionally helpful duing my PhD. Though typicallly I'd log in remotely to a powerful cluster of machines in my spare computer room (at my mum's house) or the universities cluster. My present work laptop is Mac OS X. The main thing is it's light to carry and OS X has a Linux core, allowing me to also use Linux commands.


Quote From Tudor_Queen:
First of all, is it fairly easy to get used to it and easy to do simple things that you might do on Windows (browsing, Youtube, etc)? ....


I know of a few non-technical people who use Linux (Ubuntu) on their laptops without any problems and they seem quite happy with it. You're right, Libre Office is compatible, but in my experience I never enjoyed it as it corrupted my documents and formatting was often a bit off.
posted
04-Jan-20, 14:02
edited about 23 seconds later
Avatar for Jamie_Wizard
posted about 2 weeks ago
Quote From Tudor_Queen:
Beyond that I guess I mainly use my laptop for: doing stats on SPSS and R, using a few bits of open/free software specific to my field (such as CLAN which is part of the CHILDES project - which I've just checked to see that it has a "Unix" version available to download - I am hoping this means it would be compatible with Linux), Skype, viewing photos, and, importantly, reading lots of PDFs (currently I use Adobe to do this). Would I be able to transition to Linux fairly easily and do these things with the same ease as in Windows?


I'm not familiar with CLAN or CHILDES, but on quick inspection of their website, it appears their "UNIX" version (actually Unix is pretty dead, and Linux has taken over - so I guess they are referring to Linux) only supports command-line (i.e. you run the program by typing in commands) and doesn't have a visual interface. This should be straightforward for you to pick up.

Quote From Tudor_Queen:
A second question relates to installation. I will probably buy a new laptop soon with Windows 10 preinstalled. Do I need to look out for any particular specifications, or will I be able to download Linux on pretty much any modern run-of-the-mill laptop?


Linux will work on pretty much most machines and will do the best job of making use of resources optimally. However, a potential issue could be support for Graphics chipset (the graphics circuitry on the machine). Specifically, finding driver software to get the most out of some graphics cards could mean having to go to the effort of installing propriety drivers (instead of using existing ones). If the graphics chipset is common, then this is less likely to be an issue.
posted
04-Jan-20, 14:03
edited about 2 minutes later
Avatar for Jamie_Wizard
posted about 2 weeks ago
Quote From Tudor_Queen:
A final consideration - I'm considering Lenovo, Dell, or HP (and in that order) in case that is relevant to this question.


They should all work. When I ordered my Dell Worksation, I was able to choose to have it pre-installed with Ubuntu. Installation would never pose a problem for me (as I maintain Linux servers), but I was pleasantly surprised at this. So, perhaps you could order directly from Dell. Alternatively, you can download Ubuntu 18 - make sure you go for the LTS version (Long Term Support), which means it's supported for many years to come. That way you could pick up a cheaper laptop from Curry's/ PC World and then install it yourself, electing to wipe windows. In my experience, Dual boot, where Ubuntu offers to install alongside windows, is quite unreliable. If something goes wrong, you'll need a technical person to help fix it and may not be able to access your Windows installation even if it's present. So I'd avoid using that option, and install Ubuntu as the sole operating system.

Best wishes,
Jamie
posted
04-Jan-20, 14:12
edited about 1 second later
by Nead
Avatar for Nead
posted about 2 weeks ago
Hi Tudor Queen,
I used Linux on my laptop, mainly for computational biology and stats. I run it as a virtual machine. When I'm running codes (some can take 30 mins to run depending on data sizes) I browse the web, edit documents, read papers, etc. It quite straight forward and I personally find it grand to use. However, I know some of my friends hate it and will make sure they have other stuff to do when running programs on it. I run my VM on an HP laptop which has 8 GB RAM, 1TB HDD and has intel 1 core i3 processor ( this was bought for my PhD- and has lasted very well).
You should be able to transition easily. However, in saying that, if I was buying a new laptop I would personally stick with Windows, and only used Linux if software needed. In my new job they supplied me with a new laptop, I haven't bother with a virtual machine for Linux on it yet, and will more than likely just keep using my own laptop for that work.
In terms of laptop spec.. any should work.
posted
04-Jan-20, 16:28
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 2 weeks ago
TQ, I have used Linux (Ubuntu) for quite a while now and would never go back to Windows. It has a firewall built in to it that you can switch on and you don't generally need to worry about having anti-virus packages installed as Linux is considerably safer than Windows.

A word of caution though. Don't assume you can install Linux on any machine. I would check online for the specific make and model because some manufacturers have switches to prevent Linux installation. This may be less of an issue today but I would certainly look into this. Lenovo machines specifically ring a bell. A couple of links below.

The final word of caution. Linux is absolutely brilliant. It's faster and safer than Windows. However when it does go wrong it REALLY goes wrong. You might find yourself needing to open a terminal window and type in some commands. For those with no system administrator experience this can be a nightmare and online forums are full of arrogant and dismissive "read the fucking manual" types. You don't need to be an expert but this generally isn't an operating system that our parents generation will ever embrace as fully as Windows.

posted
04-Jan-20, 17:08
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 2 weeks ago
Thank you Jamie, Nead, and pm133 - this is exactly the sort of balanced info I was hoping for. It seems when I google, I find articles written by people who either simply love it or hate it, and there isn't enough specific information in such articles for me to begin to make an informed choice.

I am going to think about all of this. I must admit, I come away from reading this feeling a bit more cautious. It would be a bummer for me to install it, have issues, and not be able to get support if something went wrong (I don't have enough of that sort of expertise myself and I don't know anyone nearby who does).

I may return to my first idea - which was buy secondhand Windows 7 laptops as and when I need a new laptop until they eventually disappear... maybe by that time Linux will be more mainstream or Windows will have repented from Windows 10 and moved on to better things... And then there's the idea of getting a Mac... I haven't considered that till now but perhaps I should try one out and see if that's an option for me.

Thanks again everyone - and hope you are having a relaxing weekend.

Tudor
posted
04-Jan-20, 21:32
edited about 27 seconds later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 2 weeks ago
I used a MAC for my PhD but forgot that this could be a option.

A MAC would be a good way to go as a happy medium. You get all the security and flexibility of Linux with the stability and ease of use of Windows is you want it. Installing on a MAC is generally easier too without the need for sys admin skills. Performance-wise a MAC is exceptional for almost everything.

If I could afford it I would be using MACs with Linux PCs for servers.
posted
07-Jan-20, 08:27
by eng77
Avatar for eng77
posted about 2 weeks ago
I hope it is not too late but I highly recommend NOT to use Linux or Unix. I get fed up once with Windows and Microsoft and installed Linux on my laptop for a while. It is not that user friendly. A lot of things to care about. It is not meant to be a replacement for Windows.
One analogy to this. Some people do not like the way USA and west Europe lead the world and think Russia and China are the alternative. Are they? Microsoft Windows and office are bad but do not replace them with even worse (in terms of user friendly and ease of use at least) operating system and office.
posted
08-Jan-20, 19:07
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 1 week ago
Thanks Eng - I'm taking this all on board. The general picture seems to be that Linux has its advantages, but still isn't ready for more mainstream users like myself. Bah humbug!
posted
09-Jan-20, 13:38
edited about 3 minutes later
Avatar for Jamie_Wizard
posted about 1 week ago
Eng, that's the funniest operating system analogy I've heard, it made me laugh out loud!

Tudor, you're most welcome.

Nead, VMs (virtual machines) are a useful tool, especially when running them to provide compatibility for software or servers (although this is being superseded by the containerisation tools such as Docker and Singularity). They are, however, often quite slow when it comes to graphical user interfaces, also requiring a lot of RAM and CPU resources.

This is my cluster, now in my living room. They each run Ubuntu 16.04-LTS, have 6 cores (12 hyperthreaded cores), and 32GB RAM each. But the badass part is I managed to get it working with Infiniband and I'm getting ~8 Gbit/sec (8x faster bandwidth than Gigabit ethernet)...Computation is done with Openlava (Opensource IBM LSF) and Apache Spark (Hadoop platform).

I usually use it via my MacBook Air, my desk (on the left), or sometimes via my windows laptop.

[url=https://ibb.co/L0CFbbt]
[/img]
[url=https://ibb.co/vLMjMFP]
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posted
09-Jan-20, 13:44
edited about 17 seconds later
Avatar for Jamie_Wizard
posted about 1 week ago
So, to sum up. I absolutely love Linux (it's necessary for my research and computation work), but I hate it for Microsoft Office (it can be run using Wine) or LibreOffice. It's OK for Latex editing in Texmaker, but prefer Mac or Windows for that. It's alright for viewing PDFs, but again my mac/windows laptops are just nicer for this.
posted
09-Jan-20, 13:59
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 1 week ago
Computing aside Jamie_Wizard, you still have your Christmas tree up!!!! This is shocking!!!! We're practically mid January now!!!
posted
09-Jan-20, 14:05
Avatar for Jamie_Wizard
posted about 1 week ago
Quote From Tudor_Queen:
Computing aside Jamie_Wizard, you still have your Christmas tree up!!!! This is shocking!!!! We're practically mid January now!!!


Hahaha the photo was from the other day, but I didn't get a chance to actually post the reply!! That said, I was always told it was the 6th to get rid of the tree, and feel a bit weird for still having the tree. Just been too busy to take it down (having to pack everything away), lol
posted
09-Jan-20, 19:50
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 1 week ago
The tree looks very pretty! And I can't talk much, as I still have my Christmas lights up - I find them more relaxing in the evening than having a bright lamp on, so may keep them out! But yeh, packing away Christmas trees is no fun...

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