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Re: Overwhelmed newbie

Fritz Brown wrote:

>Help!  I have recently begun an attempt to install Debian on a Sony laptop (Mobile AMD K6-2 550MHz, 64MB RAM), and am thoroughly overwhelmed with choices about which I know nothing!
The RAM is a little lean for some of the more popular GUI setups (KDE,
Gnome, etc), but should do fine for the lighter stuff (Icewm, Wmaker,
Fluxbox, etc). Unlike in the Windows XP world, where you typically only
have two "desktop environments" to choose from (XP, and Classic, which
are very similar to each other), Linux gives you a lot of choices for
desktop environments. KDE is probably most like what you're familiar
with, but as mentioned, you'd do better with a lighter choice on only 64
MB RAM. (The idea that you've heard that Linux takes less resources than
Windows is true in many situations, but for comparable GUI-enabled
workstations, the hardware requirements are fairly similar, except that
Win95/8 tends to do better on less RAM than does Linux, whereas Linux
does better than W2K/XP, but not by a lot. But again, in the server
environment, Linux blows Windows away.)

>I only need the ability to dial-up and network
Chances are _extremely_ good that you've got a so-called "win-modem".
This will cause you headaches, almost certainly. You'll be a whole lot
happier with an external serial modem (not USB), or with a NIC-based
("broadband"/ethernet) connection, which are pretty much universally
usable on any operating system, not just Windows. Many of the Linux
developers have managed to get many of the "win-modems" to work with
Linux, but many still don't.

>, surf the internet (I have Opera for Linux ready to install),
Once you have an Internet connection, you're good to go. Most
applications you want are available from the official Debian
repositories, and it's generally these versions you'll want to install,
especially as a newbie. Opera, however, not being "F"ree (although it is
"f"ree), is not available from the Debian repositories. Might I suggest

> and do some Office type stuff (I have OpenOffice for Linux ready to install, as well)
See above. To install OO.o from the official Debian repositories, you'd
type a command like "aptitude install openoffice.org". Although you have
the basic set of CDs, you may want to pull from the network, so that you
get more recent (bug-fixed) versions. If you go this route, you'll
probably also want to upgrade at least to Sarge (Woody, which you have,
is the old version), or even to Etch or Sid, for even newer software
(although these last two choices may introduce brokenness every so
often, because these versions are constantly being modified, as they're
playgrounds for the developers/beta testers, but most users find
Etch/Sid to be at quite usable, except during major transition periods,
like right after a new Debian release, when lots of new features start
showing up, introducing havoc). However, over dial-up, upgrading may
take all night (or a couple of nights), so if you're paying by the
minute/byte, this may not be the route you want to go.

> at this point.  But, when installing, I am faced with long lists of packages that I must choose whether to install.  Can anybody give me a good list of what to choose?  I am installing Debian 3.0 r4 i3.
It's been so long since I've installed Woody, I'm not sure what you're
looking at, so can't provide any guidance. Again, Debian 3.0 (Woody) is
old now; you might want to upgrade to 3.1 (Sarge).

>Please don't make me go back to Windows.... :(
Be aware you've got a very steep learning curve. It's your choice as to
whether you climb it, or slink back into Billy-Land. You may also have
to make some sacrifices (Quicken, many games, some bank sites, etc),
although these are less of an issue than they were just a couple of
years ago.


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