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e-flat minor 853

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I've been stuck using a Windows 8.1 box but that is end of life soon. I plan to install Linux on it. I've read some on various forums, including here, about various flavors of Linux. I'm thinking of Debian and Mint but am open to anything.

I've been using computers for a long time. My favorite OS was always OS/2 (which I still use.) I wrote in Basic, Fortran and APL decades ago. I'm not afraid of the command line, editing ini files, doing manual installations, using wildly different desktops, modifying settings, etc. etc. I detest Windows and Mac because of the training wheels and guard rails treatment of users, not to mention the spyware aspect.

In choosing which to install, it seems to me the most important thing is to make sure the hardware in my box is supported. Does that make sense?

I have this:
Acer Aspire TC-120
AMD A10-6700 (64-bit)

Chipset AMD A78

BIOS American Megatrends Inc. P11-A4, 04/26/16 | SMBIOS Version 2.8 | BIOS Mode UEFI
A 2020 BIOS update is available but I saw lots of users bricked their computers with this and Acer didn't help them at all.

Soon to be 32GB RAM

Soon to be a new SDD

Graphics AMD Radeon HD 8670D

Realtek RTL8168 Integrated Gigabit Ethernet Controller for PCI Express (w/SPI)

Qualcomm Atheros AR956x Wireless Network Adapter
IEEE 802.11b/g/n
This box isn't near the router, so it will need to communicate with the router via WiFi. As a last resort I could move it to another room and connect to the router via cable, but I don't really want to do that.

Analog Devices ADI 198x Integrated HD Audio

AMD USB 3.0 eXtensible Host Controller

Does anything look unusual, or will it be hard to find drivers in most Linux distributions?

Thanks
 


wizardfromoz

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G'day "Junior" (you are 13 days my junior :)) and welcome to linux.org, from DownUnder.

RAM is not an issue here, so any Linux will run on that baby. Mint and Debian are solid choices, Debian has a little more of a learning curve, but you may not worry about that.

SSD - size? And is it in addition to, or to replace, the 1 TB SATA HDD? I suggest the former if possible. Provides more options.

MORE ON DISTROS - Make DistroWatch your friend, and its Page Hit Popularity (tab near top far right) gives an idea of popular distros. Top 50 or so will have good support.

MX-19 (Debian-based), Linux Lite (Ubuntu-based), and Manjaro (Arch-based) are all worth a look. I run 70 Linux on this rig so have an opinion on lots of them.

TIMESHIFT - is a system restore application, better than Windows Restore, more flexible, and comes installed with Linux Mint, Linux Lite and some Manjaro.

Read the Spoiler below for some info - click to open, click to close


SOFTWARE ALTERNATIVES

If looking for substitutes for essential Windows software, make AlternativeTo your friend, just Google eg

alternative to MS Office

or other and it will be in first few entries, look for suggestions that include Linux.

LIVE CD/DVD/USB

@KGIII has mentioned testing for driver availability. Many of the drivers you may need are already written into and supported by, the Linux Kernel. If not, they can be added by various means.

Use the Live environment to check eg your printer/s, graphics, audio, wifi &c and anything that works live should translate after an install.

BURNING SOLUTIONS

You may choose to use Rufus from Windows, or else there are solutions you may later use in Linux, some of which are cross-platform, such as

Balena Etcher
Unetbootin
Ventoy

for burning the isos.

Any questions, fire away.

Cheers

Chris Turner
wizardfromoz
 

e-flat minor 853

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Thanks! I think this box only permits one hard drive. I haven't opened it up yet to look, and the info isn't in the manual. I have no interest in remaining with Windows, so I'm going to remove the Windows drive and replace it with a new drive. I understand the principle of having the system and swap on a different drive than data, but I'm sure this will be so much faster than Win 8.1 it won't bother me to have just one drive. I haven't come close to filling the 1TB drive but I'm getting a 2TB.

I've been using Stardock Systems Open Office through Libre Office for years. I already moved my data files to peripheral FAT32 drives. I'll refresh them when I'm about to make the transition, then copy the data back to the HD in the box.
 

Alexzee

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If you want to run Debian I recommend The Debian Administrators Handbook:


Here's the link to download Debian. I'm running Debian 10 Gnome and Debian 10 Mate. Both are incredibly stable!

 

Condobloke

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G'day e0flat minor 853 (?js bach?), Welcome to Linux .org

You are already in good hands with the two members above

Your internal hard drive....1TB......you can buy a relatively inexpensive crade/enclosure and mount it Externally (if you need the room, which is, i guess, unlikely at the moment.

I can tell you now. The increase in speed will at first frighten you.
 
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wizardfromoz

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I understand the principle of having the system and swap on a different drive than data, but I'm sure this will be so much faster than Win 8.1 it won't bother me to have just one drive.
Quite likely.

I was more thinking of Timeshift, which application's snapshots are best stored on a separate drive. Then if a drive fails, or a Distro is borked, you can easily restore it from where it is stored off drive.

The choices are of course yours, but if your budget and your skill set are up to it, I would be inclined to try Brian's @Condobloke 's suggestion.

Cheers

Wiz
 

e-flat minor 853

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Writing this from a successful hard disk install of Debian. It was substantially less trouble than I expected.

Downloaded the Debian Live Cinnamon ISO. Used win32diskimager as described here https://www.debian.org/CD/faq/index.en.html#write-usb to burn to a USB stick. Tried to boot from USB: Hardware issues; drivers missing. I decided I probably should use the one with non-free drivers.

Downloaded Debian Live Cinnamon ISO with non-free drivers. Found USB stick is no longer recognizable by computer. win32diskimager must have done something. I didn't want to keep ruining USB sticks.

Got some blank DVDs. Wrote Debian Live Cinnamon with non-free drivers ISO to DVD.

Booted from non-free Debian Live DVD. Booted properly to desktop; was able to establish wireless network connection; was able to see files on old Windows HD in computer (whose data had already been copied to external USB mass storage drives.)

Removed old Windows HD, installed new RAM, installed new 2TB internal SDD HD, booted successfully to desktop with Debian Live non-free ISO. There's only rack space for one drive in this machine, and I didn't want to fiddle with installing more. I have an external USB adapter to read IDE and SATA drives of all sizes. I planned to use it to connect a drive identical to the HD I just installed to use for Timeshift backup.

Read a bit about installing in The Debian Administrator's Handbook. Decided since I'm a new user, have a fairly large HDD, and nobody else will be using this desktop, to install everything into one partition with guided install. Looked at LVM information in manual too, and encryption information. Looked at APT information; manual suggested installer would go online and find updates to everything during install. I've used an OS/2 version of LVM so I understand the concepts; I don't think I need that functionality on a standalone desktop. I would like the disk and swap encrypted.

Went to desktop and clicked Install icon. I walked through it. I thought the manual implied I'd be offered a chance to encrypt, but I wasn't. I wasn't offered the chance to connect to the network and update. I did the install, and rebooted.

I configured the wireless network, and here I am.

So my questions:

*
Edit: I started reading the administrator's manual... and the only thing I still wonder about is encrypting.

To encrypt, do I need to go read the admin manual, or is this somewhere in the settings? Does disk encrypt only work with LVM?

Thanks.
 
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KGIII

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Encryption should have been done during the installation. You can do it after the installation, but it ain't pretty - or easy. And, no... You should be able to encrypt 'regular' partitions just fine.

The good news is that it's not all that hard to install and a few more installations will have you doing it much more easily. I pretty much always remind people to not get too attached to your first installation. You'll be installing it a few more times. Trust me...
 
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