Small Debian Howto's

Making a Debian grub boot floppy and boot cdrom

Ripping to mp3 with KAudioCreator

Why Use Linux

There are many reasons but I will give you mine as they cover most user's reasons.
I have been using a well known proprietary operating system (OS) made by Microsoft (M$) for a number of years. I got really annoyed with the instability of the system. How many times each day do you see the blue screen and how often do you have re-install the whole system because things are pathetic? How much time is spent each week defraging the disk? I have been using Linux for 4 years and have yet to have a crash. I have never had to re-install the system. You don't have to defrag the disk with Linux.
How many viruses and worms do you receive each week? Has your system ever been taken down by one of them? Linux is not affected by these as they have been written for M$ products. There are Linux worms and viruses out there but they are very uncommon and the anti virus software is free. This aspect is one of the most important differences between they way the operating systems work unless you are running a M$ server like 200X. When in Linux you run as a user (or you should) and you have your own user accounts and systems that are password protected. As a user you are not able to change anything in the base operating system as everything is controlled by permissions. Only as root ( also known as the super-user) are you able to make major changes in the operating system. As a user of desktop M$ product anyone is able to change anything they like including someone who takes control of your system via the Internet.

Changing to Linux

Before running off and switching to Linux, there are a number of factors to consider. Firstly Linux is still very much an "advanced users" operating system requiring quite in-depth knowledge of hardware and file systems. My personal advice is to try one of the live versions and the one I recommend is Knoppix. Knoppix is a Debian based operating system that runs off the cdrom and while a bit slow, because of the cdrom speed, it will detect and use most existing hardware. Knoppix is a very useful tool to have anyway as it has many tools and allows one to complete many tasks on hard drives. It will give you a good idea of what Linux is like without having to install the OS. If you don't have a CD burner or are not sure how to create a CD using an iso image then you can buy a CD from Linuxiso, e-bay or directly from Knoppix. If you don't really want to go to all this trouble then I am prepared to supply a copy for UKP1.99 + postage and accept payment through PayPal. Just e-mail me and I will make the arrangements.

If you want to install Linux and try it for a while then you can do a hard drive install of Knoppix, but I don't recommend it as it gets very complicated for a beginner. My own recommendation is to try Ubuntu. Ubuntu does a very good installation job and is fairly easy to use and will install many of the the applications you would use on a daily basis. Ubuntu tends to be a bit slow as it does install so many applications. Most of distributions come with Open Office which is an open source office package and contains everything any of proprietary packages offer and will import and export files that are readable by other operating systems . In terms of using the Internet Linux wins hands down. It is definitely quicker.

Why is Debian the most popular Linux distribution?

Debian has some very unique features. Debian comes in 3 flavours, Stable (code name Etch), testing (Lenny) and unstable (Sid). The Debian testers only allow applications into stable if they have been thoroughly tested and are proved to be absolutely stable. The problem is that these applications can be quite old. Stable is ideal for running servers which are required to be absolutely stable. Most users run the testing. While Testing is not as stable as Stable the applications are more recent and are relatively stable . When a Debian system is installed only the very basics are installed and it is then up to the user to decide what they want installed after that. Debian uses a unique packaging system. Packages are included with many of the installation CD's but all are available from the world wide repositories. This allows easy download and installation of the packages. Stable has over 8000 packages available for all sorts of things. This is the real beauty of Linux. There is some application for almost anything you could imagine. The big thing to realise is that these applications work just as well as anything you have used with other OS'es but are just different and like anything else it takes time to learn to use them and get used to the way they work. People often forget how long it took them to learn to use their favourite applications in the first place.

Finally I can only say that the switch worked for me. I find Debian Linux superb. If you want to make the change remember that it does take a lot of work both to install and get to know the inner workings, like anything new. But the best of all it's FREE.

Linux Support

The support for new and experienced users is tremendous. Some of the really great help forums are;
for Debian Specific help;
It is also worth doing a search for a Linux User Group (LUG) near you. These groups have on-line forums and many other features. Most of them have monthly meets and they could even help you install a new system and configure it.

I hope you find the information useful and enjoy the site. If you have any suggestions or comments or would like to contact me then please e-mail me
Rob Oats
January 2008