Getting Linux. Linux can be hard to obtain. Last time I bought a boxxed edition was 2 years ago. $40 for mandrake 8.1 This time, with no upto date stuff in the shops, I got the download edition with a linux mag from england (Linux format) on 2 cds. $20 cost. The problem is lack of manuals. So, look around. The phone is a good bet for searching. Bookshops, magazine shops, Our local budget computer book shop now has UP TO DATE linux cds (Including knoppix) at reasonable prices and out of date computer books! Computer stores are also options. But beware! Most salespeople know nothing about linux. Get a recent edition not more than 6 months old. It is improving that rapidly! October 09 From reports that I read, suse, zandros and mandrake are the most popular desktop linux providors at the moment. If you want to try one without installing anything on your computer you could try freeduc or Knoppix. They boot from the cd rom and after about 4 minutes your computer starts. They configure EVERYTHING automatically (except a telephone modem). Yes, if you have a cable connection, you can go online from a cd without installing anything on your computer!!! I was in shock when I clicked on a mozilla icon and went on the net with freeduc first time. Both of them have openoffice on the cd too. Freeduc had a gnutella client that worked too.downloaded and played a bryan adams song but couldnt save it. Some new cd distros have the option (If you like what u see) to save the distro to harddrive on one of your partitions with 1 click. (I think they are still experimental at the time of writing) but I expect them to be a major force in linux early next year. I saved knoppix to one of my partitions but it was long winded and came out as a standard debian distro. I think there is a way to exactly copy the cd distro but I am not a programmer. (IT works quicker off the hard drive) I couldnt get freeduc to open or edit files on my computer but I could with knoppix! They might be the future of computing! Knoppix cost about 10 bux + post and packaging and contains a gig or so of programmes on one cd. It is the ideal way to see if your computer is linux compatible and you should have it for rescueing your files if windows blows a gaskit anyway! Yeah, I see the future. Your new opperating system comes with your breakfast cereal box! There are 60, 000 windows viruses at the time of writing as opposed to about 40 linux viruses (mostly confined to computer labs and just proof of concept programmes). It is really hard for linux to catch a virus (because system and user files are seperate) and if you boot straight off the cd, it must be incredibly hard! Just a note that linux mandrake 8.1 is no longer supported. (you cannot download any more security updates for it. I am now using mandrake 9.1 download edition that I bought as 2 cds with a magazine. (I couldnt find a boxed edition here in victoria) It is a great improvement. It can burn files onto a data cd as part of kde3, Lilo seems to be better now. Install was quicker and there are 2 video viewers that can see and play avi and quicktime files. Archiver supports zip so if you want to wall off windows from the net,and still use it, you can still download zipped files and expand them straight into a windows download folder. MY EARLIER LINUX HISTORY Mandrake 6.0 calderra, mandrake 8, 8.1 I first started using linux about 3 years ago. There was a lot of hipe about it being more stable than windows and windows was no fun. I got a magazine with a disk (mandrake 6), prodded and poked around for a few days and installed it. Nobody told me that lilo (the boot loader) didn't work with big hard drives and there followed a month of using linux (booting from a floppy). trying to get windows back. VERY frustrating. Linux was hard to use because, although the opperating system is tough and stays up, the applications were not stabile. Netscape was terrible and slow. It just vanished when it crashed too. I used the kde file browser to get round the web and after a while we got newsgroups up too. The gimp was a revelation It was hard in the rest of the os because of the terrible fonts! Next came caldearra edesktop 2.4 . In this one, the fonts were no better, but we were able to use net configure to browse the windows drives. It was neat to be able to read and write files in windows from linux! Saved some important files to linux as backup and gradually moved stuff over. However staroffice was not working. I had it on a cd but I never figured out how to install it. Installing software was a big problem. I cannot configure scripts! No chance! There is lots of software for linux BUT if it isn't there at the start, dont expect to be able to install it! we never used lilo and always booted from a floppy. Next up was mandrake 8 in may or june of 2001.(I am in the local linux user group and got it through them) This one installed really easy and we got the first view of konquerer (the kde web browser) Netscape was still poor and I tried quanta+ for editing html. It has some nice features but takes a bit of getting used to. As part of kde, it will probably become important. There are 2 main desktops in linux. KDE and gnome. Kde is the most advanced and most usable while gnome is cooler and stylish. Both desktops have got funding for a few years. I am told that they work quite differently under the hood. Open source people have some problems with kde and gnome is completely open sourse. (Open sourse is kind of like a religion for some people) and fanatics properly applied can achieve lots. I use kde I had a telephone connection at the time and learned to use a konquerer in desktop 1 and a konquerer in desktop 2 to surf the web. You read your page click on a link and click on the other desktop. There you click on another interesting link and click on desktop 1. (AAAAND its loaded!) Read it click on the next link, click on the other desktop AAnd its loaded!!!! You really apreciate this on a 56 k modem! Konquerer is quite a bit faster than windows browsers anyway but in using 2 or 3 desktops for surfing, it really shines on a phone connection! Couldnt get java or flash working in mandrake 8. Did manage to get opera and yahoo messanger downloaded and installed though. Opera did seem a tiny bit quicker but it could have been imagination. Next up was mandrake 8.1 with 3 cd.s. bought locally in a computer shop. I didnt have to partition for it of course because that was already done. It installed like a dream. Java didnt work on konquerer yet but it does work on netscape. As soon as i surfed to a java page, it downloaded and installed a plugin and I think it put in a flash plugin too. The newsgroup reader was better and konquerer was a little faster too. Staroffice 52 installed itself easily from one of the disks(but without java support). I mention java because I have 2 simple applets on my site and because it is cross platform and as such, linux should support it more. Some Linux people will disagree here and say that if it isnt open source, dont use it. I say that you can never defeat microsoft unless you give people an easy way to transfer their work from windows to linux. I hope the linux distrobutions take note and set their default netscape, mozilla, kde, etc to be the same as the windows default. I have just figured that the linux version of netscape composer behaves differently because the default is set differently to the windows version. I do not think I am super dumb but it took 3 months to realize that i could change that behavior. (Most windows users are not that patient). I am back on cable at the moment so I do not need to run 2 or 3 konquerer browsers. I still do use the 4 deskttops! I might have my newsgroups on one, konquerer on another, set to say yahoo as the homepage and netscape set to some other homepage. It is nice! A neat thing in linux is that it is easy to save your open windows when you close down. Then you can start at the same place when you return. There are some things to iron out. Easier installing of programs (It is definitely getting better and there is cross distrobution attempts to standardize programmes more!) Global cut and paste. I can cut and paste between most programmes but not between kde apps and netscape, mozilla or galleon, This is sometimes annoying. They do have access to each others bookmarks though. I can honestly say that if you get a second computer without an opperating system for sale and put mandrake 8.1 on it, you can have a reliable functioning unit with very little hassle. I have not covered cd burning, sound or blender in this review. I do not use them much. Blender is an animation programme that comes on the cd. It was mentioned on the screensavers (A tech on tv show) as a substitute for 3 thousand dollar animation programmes! Mandrake 8.1 cost me $41 canadian. Brian White