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Advice on switching OS [Windows --> UNIX? Linux?]





davidv
Hi,

I've been using Windows OS for a good 6 - 7 years however recently I was introduced to a new OS, UNIX. Right now, I don't have much knowledge on UNIX other than the UNIX terminal which I've been happily playing around using RE and of course using VIM as a text editor so I was wondering if you guys can give me some info on this.

I wanted to know:

1. How can I make the transition from Windows to UNIX without deleting anything
2. Because I still would like to use Windows and UNIX on the same machine I wanted to know how can I achieve this
3. Is UNIX free?
4. What's the deal with Linux and UNIX? Are they somewhat cousins? Is there a difference between the two?
5. Does Linux and UNIX have the exact terminal functionalities?
6. Is it possible to run both Windows and Linux or UNIX at the same time?
7. Are the following languages supported by Linux/UNIX?
- SQL (mySQL): Right now, I'm using the windows terminal, I don't know if this would work othewise
- C/C++
- PHP
- I'm going to assume JAVA/Python/CGI scripting/XHTML/CSS all work within Linux/UNIX OSs

Also, if you guys think I should know something please feel free to say so.

Thanks,
David
noobcake
I may not be entirely qualified to answer this, since I haven't actually ever used a Unix system before. I have used Unix-like operating systems though (Linux and Mac OS X, although not so much experience on the Mac).

Quote:
1. How can I make the transition from Windows to UNIX without deleting anything

You could use an Ubuntu LiveCD to boot up your computer. It has a partitioning tool that can safely partition your drives (and retain the data). I'm sure there are other options out there if you feel like looking. In case you're interested, the program I'm talking about is gparted, which is a graphical front-end for a program called parted. Anyway, after you've repartitioned your hard drive, it shouldn't be much of a problem to install the desired operating system on it. (Maybe there are Windows-based tools too, but I haven't really looked.)

Quote:
2. Because I still would like to use Windows and UNIX on the same machine I wanted to know how can I achieve this

It's easily doable. There are two ways to do this. The first is called a dual boot (or multi boot). This is where you have two operating systems (or more) installed on your computer, and you pick which OS you'd like to use when your computer boots up. (In some cases, you have to press a certain key to bring up the menu.) The other way is through a virtual machine. Basically, a virtual machine is an emulator, so you start up your default operating system, then you run the virtual machine under that OS, and run the second OS inside that virtual machine. The second option is slower, but less obtrusive, especially if you don't plan on staying long under the second OS, plus it has the benefit of you being able to access both OSes at the same time without having to reboot.

Quote:
3. Is UNIX free?

As far as I know, Unix is a standard, so you get to use the Unix name if you follow the standard. To answer the question, some Unix distributions (e.g. BSD) are open-sourced, I believe. Others are closed source (I'm sure this is true of the old ones at least, the ones from the 70s or something). The same is true for Unix-like projects too. Mac OS X is not free, while Linux is free, to name the big guys.

Quote:
4. What's the deal with Linux and UNIX? Are they somewhat cousins? Is there a difference between the two?

Linux deviates from some standards, so they just call themselves Unix-like. So yeah, they're somewhat cousins, but there are differences. I'm not exactly sure on the details.

Quote:
5. Does Linux and UNIX have the exact terminal functionalities?

I believe that depends on the shell you're using. If you use the same one, then yeah I guess. You can read more about it here.

Quote:
6. Is it possible to run both Windows and Linux or UNIX at the same time?

It depends on how you mean "at the same time". You can use a virtual machine as stated above. If you do, one of them will be, in a sense, just running in an emulator under the other operating system. If you dual boot, then no, you can't run both at the same time.

Quote:
7. Are the following languages supported by Linux/UNIX?
- SQL (mySQL): Right now, I'm using the windows terminal, I don't know if this would work othewise
- C/C++
- PHP
- I'm going to assume JAVA/Python/CGI scripting/XHTML/CSS all work within Linux/UNIX OSs

Yes, you just have to install the right program.
ProwerBot
Installing linux on side of windows is very easy and you can do that during the install of linux itself. If you need to run both at the same time, then you are going to need a virtual machine to emulate the linux distribution on top of windows, or run windows on top of your linux distribution. Either way, it's not a very efficient way of doing it because it will take up a lot of resources. Dual booting simply is the better way of running two operating systems.
ahnguye5
Everyone always mentions Ubuntu and rightfully so. I like it because of its broad hardware support due to its popularity. For a windows convert, there's nothing more frustrating than not having a software center to easily install applications or not being able to view your monitor in the in the higher resolution that it's supposed to be.
cybersa
Use Ubuntu.
During the installation it will ask you to either keep windows or not.
So you can make dual boot easily.
davidv
Thanks for the lengthy and very informative responses guys! I think having a VM to run both OS would probably be the best for me and based on how much I deviate from windows to linux, I'll consider dual booting in the future.

Can you guys recommend some good VM software (both free and commercial)? Also, another thing, If I use a VM, all the files I whilst on Linux won't be removed once I stop the VM?

Thanks.
ahnguye5
davidv wrote:
Thanks for the lengthy and very informative responses guys! I think having a VM to run both OS would probably be the best for me and based on how much I deviate from windows to linux, I'll consider dual booting in the future.

Can you guys recommend some good VM software (both free and commercial)? Also, another thing, If I use a VM, all the files I whilst on Linux won't be removed once I stop the VM?

Thanks.


There are quite a number of free virtualization software available with the most popular being Oracle's VirtualBox or VMware's Player. I find VirtualBox to be more feature-rich than Player. VMware Workstation is arguably the best commercial option.

When you create a VM in any of the programs mentioned above, a virtual hard disk is created for persistent data storage. Keep in mind that the VM's are not cross compatible; the file format for a VMware VM is .vmdk as opposed to .ovf or .ova. There are conversion tools available but they are not guaranteed to work all the time -- there's always some kind of issue.
davidv
Thanks for the responses guys. Turns out ubuntu follows somewhat of a 'try before you buy' notion. So that's what I did, that is... I tried the OS before I installed it. There was so much hype over linux at my university and to be honest, I think it's okay but that's only my first impression, I'm sure I'll love it more and more later on.

I had some initial problems installing linux via my flash drive so I had to install it after burning the iso. However, it was worth it. I really really love the terminal and being able to have 4 desktops is nice too. I do however have some additional questions I'd like to ask. I installed linux on my laptop and for some reason the scroll on my touchpad doesn't seem to work. I had a look over a whole lot of sites but I'm a linux noobie so I don't know my way around the system, can anyone help?

Also, one more thing. In Windows when you hover your mouse of an available network it shows the SSID, security-type and also a whole lot of other things. When I hover over it in linux I don't see anything. Is there a command in terminal that shows all surrounding wireless networks with broadcast info?

Thanks.
ahnguye5
davidv wrote:
Thanks for the responses guys. Turns out ubuntu follows somewhat of a 'try before you buy' notion. So that's what I did, that is... I tried the OS before I installed it. There was so much hype over linux at my university and to be honest, I think it's okay but that's only my first impression, I'm sure I'll love it more and more later on.

I had some initial problems installing linux via my flash drive so I had to install it after burning the iso. However, it was worth it. I really really love the terminal and being able to have 4 desktops is nice too. I do however have some additional questions I'd like to ask. I installed linux on my laptop and for some reason the scroll on my touchpad doesn't seem to work. I had a look over a whole lot of sites but I'm a linux noobie so I don't know my way around the system, can anyone help?

Also, one more thing. In Windows when you hover your mouse of an available network it shows the SSID, security-type and also a whole lot of other things. When I hover over it in linux I don't see anything. Is there a command in terminal that shows all surrounding wireless networks with broadcast info?

Thanks.


If you're majoring in computer science, you'll definitely like it more. There's a reason it's touted as the platform of choice for the academic -- more specifically, the programmer. I like the fact that the terminal supports multiple programming languages. In Windows, you'd have to install a different application for each language.

As for the info for the wireless networks, you'll probably find more info if you view the wireless tab in System > Preferences > Network Connections.
Fire Boar
ahnguye5 wrote:
For a windows convert, there's nothing more frustrating than not having a software center to easily install applications


Just to point out... Windows doesn't actually have one of these.

Anyway...

Yes, the Unix or GNU terminal is pretty fun. (GNU is the name of the software compilation that runs on top of the Linux kernel to provide basic operating system functionality - hence GNU/Linux. It's a recursive acronym for GNU's Not Unix.) I'm sure you'll find out more about it as you go. For your question about networks, try the ifconfig and (for wireless networks) iwconfig shell commands.

About your network interfaces, there are a few standard names. lo is the simplest and exists on every properly configured machine: it refers to the machine that you are on and gives you a localhost IP address (typically 127.0.0.1). eth0 is usually present, it's your first ethernet extension and usually means "the internet cable that's plugged in". Wireless cards vary a lot: you can have ath0, wlan0... or even another eth, like eth1. You should be able to identify which is which for your computer pretty easily through the ifconfig command.


You mentioned C++ earlier... if you're interested in C++, you'll definitely want to learn a bit about Makefiles if you don't already know about them. They're extremely useful: they allow you to compile everything that you changed since the last compile using just the make command. On Debian or its derivatives (Ubuntu is derived from Debian), you will find a build-essential package - this will give you all the tools you need for compiling C and C++ programs, including make. Of course, you may well be using an IDE for C and C++, in which case makefiles will probably be just these things that get dropped in by the IDE and seem to do something. It's still good to know how they work though.
ahnguye5
Fire Boar wrote:

Just to point out... Windows doesn't actually have one of these.

Anyway...


I am aware of that but do you expect someone coming from Windows to install applications using a package manager or from source? I don't think so.
LostOverThere
davidv wrote:
Thanks for the responses guys. Turns out ubuntu follows somewhat of a 'try before you buy' notion. So that's what I did, that is... I tried the OS before I installed it. There was so much hype over linux at my university and to be honest, I think it's okay but that's only my first impression, I'm sure I'll love it more and more later on.

In regards to Ubuntu, you may be interested in knowing Ubuntu 11.04 will be released in under a week, so you may be interested in getting that before getting too comfortable. It comes with a new interface, Unity. It is possible to upgrade to 11.04 via the Update Manager (found under System). I'd recommend doing this once 11.04 is released next Thursday.

Good luck with Linux!
Fire Boar
From what I gather, Ubuntu 11.04, in particular Unity, simply isn't ready yet. I'll sit around on my LTS release and wait for it to become stable before upgrading... or perhaps use KDE for a bit.
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