• We had to restore from a backup today after a failed software update. Backup was from 0000 EDT and restored it at 0800 EDT so we lost about 8hrs. Today is 07/20/2024. More info here.


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Sep 19, 2018
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I have been wanting to make the switch for years, but honestly, I was one of those ignoramuses that believed Linux would fell more like MS-DOS than windows and it seemed overwhelming. I am by no means ignorant to computer usage in general and have built and fixed/troubleshooted a lot of computers over the years. That being said, I am very analytical and have spent about 6 months researching alternative options to the world of big brother. However, I am still apprehensive about how to begin. I think I have overthought this by miles.

To my question:

I want to run Linux as a stand alone OS while possibly running VM's and live boots to access Tor. I have a specific interest in the scientific and medical data available on the deep web. I am installing on a Desktop within the top 10% of standard commercial users. I do want to save files from windows first. I bought a new external hard drive to store my files on and save Linux installer to. I was thinking I would start with Ubuntu do to popularity, support available, and seeming ease of use. I am open to other suggestions for a first timer.

Question 1) Do I need to reformat the new drive to exFAT or in general first?

Question 2) Can I temporarily save my files on the same hard drive that I will be putting the installer on? (All of my hard drives and thumb disks are currently in another state, while I am visiting my son. I do not want to spend more money on something I have plenty of.)

Question 3) (I know I have found it before, but I want to do it now and am tired of thinking ATM. lol) Are there step by step Instructions for exactly what to download and how to go from basic install to completed product that is ready to do all of the other things I want to do?
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Hi Nick and welcome :)

Question 1) Do I need to reformat the new drive to exFAT or in general first?

What is the capacity of the drive, and is it powered or unpowered?

Windows 7, 8 or 10?

In your Windows, hit Windows + R to open the Run box, type in msinfo32 and Enter. You can give us a bit of the System summary from there, or a picture.


Chris Turner
Hi Chris. It is a 1 TB WD Passport unpowered with USB 2.0. I have better drives, but like I said I didn't want to wait until I get home to make the switch so I bought this locally yesterday. My son's mom is finishing up her PhD program and needed some help with him, so I brought my desktop with me.

I just rebuilt my computer after my other one drank a gallon of water and everything is still at stock speeds. This is what is in it-

x64 based Windows 10 Home
Asus Prime Z370-A
GTX 1080
1TB Samsung 970 EVO
2 x G. Skills Ripjaws V 16 GB (32 total)

I am interested in learning programming/coding. It is one of the reasons I am making the switch. I am retired military and have lots of flexibility and time, the school I choose will be paid for, and I plan to spend time figuring things out on my own with help from guides and forums. I also have a couple of old laptops I will likely use for anything I am trying out myself but they are not with me.
Hi Chris, Oops! Hi Nick!:D

Do you want to just backup your current files on this desktop? If so, you could create a NTFS partition, of the size needed to copy over those files to the external drive. Linux will read and write files to a NTFS partition, unlike windows not even seeing an ext4 Linux partition. Another option, if you want to protect your entire windows setup, would be to make a large enough partition on the external drive to clone your windows drive. Then, leave the remainder of the external drive for Linux. Matter of fact leave it unformatted and unallocated until Linux needs it.

This is just two options available.
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Hi Chris,

I think he meant Hi Nick, there ;)

Hi Nick.

Thanks for the info, could do with more, inclusing about the rig with the Asus MOBO.

In your Windows, hit Windows + R to open the Run box, type in msinfo32 and Enter. You can give us a bit of the System summary from there, or a picture.

See mine below



You can see that I have a Dell Inspiron 5770, further in the categories is information on my drives, you see I have UEFI as opposed to BIOS, &c.

Particularly of interest, before you go adding data to a 1TB external drive, is whether it is formatted to MSDOS/MBR or GPT.

If you go to Windows Disk Management, you can establish that, if you do not already know.

Have the external disk plugged in, and it is particularly the lower half of the pane that will reveal.



Right-clicking the square at left that says "Disk 0 (zero) Basic 1863.02 GB ..." provides a popup where I then choose Properties.



...so I have the GPT on my 2TB HDD.

The Disk 1, for me, there in Screenshot 1, is my 256 GB Solid State Drive, but for you it would be your external 1TB.

So if you could perform that operation for both your internal hard drive and the 1TB target drive, it will give us a clear picture on how to advise better.


And it's Friday here in OZ so



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