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Re: Information please!

16533406@bellsouth.net wrote:

I have always wanted to know if UNIX/LINUX is for me, and eventually replace my windows OS. I want, very much, to install it on my old system to give it a real feel/try...I have been told that DEBIAN has releases for "older" UNIX/LINUX OS's [as well as the Pentium machines]. What is it? My old system does not have a CD on it...can I still put a release on it? I can copy files to [3 1/2"] diskettes from my CD on my big system? Where can I get a "disk" [3 1/2"] version of the software? Thanks for helping me to get started!

Vic DeWindt
Atlanta, Georgia

Strictly speaking, "Linux" is the kernel only. Of course, a kernel by itself is not very useful.

On the other extreme end of the spectrum, you've got things like a Beowulf cluster, which can also be referred to as "Linux".

However, most people, when referring to "Linux", really mean a "GNU/Linux desktop machine, with pretty graphics and web browsers and email clients and etc etc etc". Such a "Linux" as this is not really suitable for old Pentium machines with 16 or 32 MB of RAM. If you mean that you want to set up a Linux workstation similar to your Windows computer, doing so on old hardware will leave a bad taste in your mouth. Old, resource-limited hardware may be more than adequate for a Linux-based print server or router or something similar, but it's not suitable for a GUI-based, bells-and-whistles workstation.

To install Debian without a CD or network connection, you can download 13 or so floppy images and copy those images to floppies using rawrite2.exe and then install a very basic Debian system using floppies. Again, it won't be a proper workstation, but it should give you minimal capabilities such as telnet (useless without a net connection) and vi (a text editor that has a learning curve that's not for the faint of heart). You can find the installation instructions for this at http://www.debian.org/releases/stable/i386/install (Sections 4.2 and 4.3 cover creating the floppies).

A _much_ better way of getting the feel of Linux is to burn a Knoppix CD (http://www.knoppix.org, then click on the "Knoppix" link in "Closed because of patents" section of your language choice). Then just set your Windows box's BIOS to boot from CD, pop in the CD and boot, and a few minutes later you're playing in a full-blown Linux world. (It'll run a little slow because it's running off the CD, and it may not work 100% with your hardware; Knoppix is great at hardware detection, but not 100%.) Then when you're ready to go back to Windows, just log out, which will shut down the machine, and when you reboot, you're back in Windows like nothing had ever happened.

Knoppix is totally free, and you're free to make copies and hand them out to your friends. It's a great way to get a taste of Linux.


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