reply to post by TheLoony
In computing partitioning refers to your harddisk; each harddisk is divided into partitions and stores that list in its so-called partition table. For
instance if you have a C:\ and D:\ drive, those are two different partitions. Some computer brands like to deliver their computers with a small
recovery/rescue partition that does not show up as a drive in Windows, so in a way that would be a hidden partition. It would still show up on the
harddisk's partition table, though. If your Acer has such a partition, you should be able to use it - it would contain the same kind of stuff an XP
rescue CD would, I think.
Now onto Linux \o/ First my apologies for not even attempting to adequately explain what Linux is supposed to be. Linux itself is just a term for
any OS that uses the Linux kernel. All operating systems use a kernel (Windows' is named kernel32.dll) - the heart of the OS if you will. The linux
kernel is claimed to be very robust/stable. But since Linux' kernel is free, a lot of people have made their own operating system around it; all
those different versions are called distributions. Some of the most popular are for instance Ubuntu, RedHat, SuSE and Debian. Ubuntu has had an
explosive growth since it started a few years back as offspring of Debian; nowadays it has quite a huge community with an active forum and is
therefore a great place to start with Linux. Even when I need to look up something for Debian, I often end up on the Ubuntu forum because they have
way more people asking questions and giving answers. Because this has been going on for years and keeps growing, Ubuntu itself got easier and easier
to maintain and is imho getting very near 'mainstream' if such a word is applicable.
The pros/cons of Linux are often a point of debate, so I'll try to stick to personal experience. For me it's great not to have those MS Updates - to
me it's incredible that a computer can ask you to wait for it to shut down or boot - absolutely mindboggling. Apart from that, virus scanners and
anti-spy/adware software take up a lot of CPU and resources, while I run absolutely nothing on my Debian box. Ok, so that may not be a good advise
but the reason I don't run virus scanners is because like most Linux distro's, Debian/Ubuntu use software repositories where you download all your
programs from. It's not something like Tucows, instead it's completely integrated into the OS itself. All software is bundled in packages, and those
packages are located on the distributions' servers - all you need to do is tell your OS which package you want and it's downloaded & installed for
you. Personally I like to type in console, in that case I could install blender the 3d imaging software with: apt-get install blender. That's all -
installed and well. The software repositories contain pretty much everything you need - browsers (Firefox), imaging (GIMP, blender, inkscape), server
software (Apache/PHP/Exim/..), programming (C/Perl/python/you name it), office software (OpenOffice writer/calc(excel)/Impress(powerpoint)/..), sound
software (xmms/Audacity/rose/lmms) etc.
Since most linux distributions keep everything open-source, you can do anything to it - at the most fundamental level this means being able to code
and commit your own wishes to any part, but at a more user-friendly level, this means you can change anything from the background processes running to
the graphical shell you're using. Sometimes you may have a lot of choices for 1 type of software, and it's up to your flavor entirely. Hope this
isn't too confusing, but basically: freedom, as in free beer (serial numbers? do they kill :O!).
I'll try and do some cons too ;]: most importantly, less people know about it. So instead of asking a friend you might have to ask on a forum, and
that could take longer. If you run into problems, it would mean you have to dig in a new system, while you might be used to Windows for more than a
decade. Also, companies are relatively ignoring linux. A lot of games for Windows can run on linux through Wine (easy frontend: PlayOnLinux), but this
usually is slower than running a game natively (i.e. on the OS it was compiled for). Small hardware companies might ignore linux completely while
there aren't enough linux developers with their hardware to develop our own drivers. Bigger hardware companies might have such complicated drivers
and a negative attitude towards linux that we're not able to make our own driver. In this case, you can use the Windows driver through ndiswrapper,
but the same is true for Wine - it's slower than a native linux driver. However, companies seem to get more involved - ATI started to develop their
own linux video card driver installers about a year ago, for instance. Companies may allow users to publicize the linux drivers on their forum (Line6
for instance, iirc nVidia before they made their own).
Shortly put, Microsoft still completely dominates the market, so they have all the support and drivers instantly - in the Linux world, there's a lot
more of a struggle. When new hardware comes out, it depends on the developers (and their budget ;]) how long it takes to get it supported, even though
most older hardware and common chipsets are very well supported.
While all this might be more confusing than enlightening, I'd like to come back to the content of my first post - you can easily try Ubuntu (the most
user-friendly Linux available atm imho).
[..] burn a Ubuntu CD, reboot. Voila - linux without installation! Now you can try whether you
like it better than Vista or not. If you do, you can install it on your harddisk - although the system booted from CD is quite fully functional, so
it's entirely up to you.
If you don't have a CD writer, you can also put it on a USB key - and maybe there's even a tutorial for floppy disks ;]. If you like it and want to
install, it will create a new partition for you on the harddisk, next to the Windows partition(s) - to do that, it sizes the Windows partition down
enough to make room for itself. All of that should work out just fine, leaving you with a choice at each boot, to go either to Vista or to Ubuntu.
I'm running out of characters here so I guess this should be enough whoops, sorry. If you have any questions, I'll be happy to answer!
[edit on 14-6-2009 by scraze]