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    Linux - worth it and can it read Word docs?

    To all,
    I'm tempted to set up a partition on my Win 2K PC for Linux. I also have a Win 95 PC which isn't networked.
    Question 1 - is it "worth" it, particularly from stability?
    Question 2 - could I be in the Linux partition and read Word docs/ Excel sheets in the Windows partition?
    Question 3 - any books/websites/articles that helped with the setup? Any real undocumented gotcha's?

    Thanks.
    Mark

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    Re: Linux - worth it and can it read Word docs?

    <hr>Question 1 - is it "worth" it, particularly from stability?<hr>
    "Worth it" depends on how interested you are in learning Linux. It can be a frustrating experience, but then Windows can be also. If you are new to the world of Linux you will find that a lot of things that Windows does automagically for you are non-existent - programs that install and just plain work the first time out, for example. Linux requires more tweaking and low-level fooling around to get it to behave the way you want. The upshot: once you get it where you like it, it's extremely stable. Just be patient and prepared to learn.
    <hr>Question 2 - could I be in the Linux partition and read Word docs/ Excel sheets in the Windows partition?<hr>
    Yes, as long as the documents you want to access are not on an NTFS partition. It's best to have a common FAT32 partition to share documents with the Linux file system.
    <hr>Question 3 - any books/websites/articles that helped with the setup? Any real undocumented gotcha's?<hr>
    There are a lot of resources for Linux online; start with the website for the distro (distribution) you are using first. Lockergnome used to have a "Penguin Shell" newsletter but it has since dried up. However, they do have a forum dedicated to this, which has some good information. I hesitate to give you other specific recommendations because what works for one person might not for another...be warned, a lot of Linux information is very detailed and in-depth. Regardless of what the Linux fanatics say, it is still an enthusiast operating system and is not for the mainstream computer user.
    -Mark

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    Re: Linux - worth it and can it read Word docs?

    If I may suggest a specific linux distribution to you, try Mepis or Knoppix.

    Both of these distributions are bootable "Live CDs", meaning you do not need to have HD space to use them. They are fully functional when booting from the CD. Both also provide a HD installation process. The Mepis HD installation process is very easy to go through. The packaged software also has a 'Partition Magic' type GUI program, to help you partition your hard drive while in the Linux environment.

    If I recall correctly, Mepis can read and write to NTFS partitions, and Knoppix is NTFS Read-Only.

    Both of these distributions come with the OpenOffice.org suite. This package can open Word and Excel files nicely.
    Christopher Baldrey

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    Re: Linux - worth it and can it read Word docs?

    Actually, linux CAN read an NTFS partition now. Some of the distros have it built nto the kernel (ie Gentoo)

    I would suggest starting with Redhat. Its easy to install and its my personal fav. (This louinge is Redhat 8)
    Mike Wolfman
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    Re: Linux - worth it and can it read Word docs?

    Thanks for the clarification, Mike. A question: is it read-only, or read/write? I tend not to mix operating systems on one PC if I can help it, most of my file access is done via the network so it's not been a priority for me to seek out a distro that could deal with NTFS.
    -Mark

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    Re: Linux - worth it and can it read Word docs?

    Gentoo is RW. I do te same thing. I susally do not mix OS filesystems.
    Mike Wolfman
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    Re: Linux - worth it and can it read Word docs?

    Thank you for the very complete response. I keep hearing about Linux and wonder if it is something to explore. Sounds like a lof of time will be needed, at least at first. Low level tweaking, indeed. It's something I haven't done since the days of autoexec.bat and config.sys !!!

    Mark

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    Re: Linux - worth it and can it read Word docs?

    <hr>since the days of autoexec.bat and config.sys<hr>
    Get ready then...because that's how you unlock the power of Linux! Many Linux junkies eschew GUI managers and do everything from a command line...unlike Windows, everything can be done that way without resorting to icons and dialog boxes (although they make it easier).
    -Mark

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    Re: Linux - worth it and can it read Word docs?

    All my liunx servers (including this one) doesn't have any gui at all. Everything is command line.
    Mike Wolfman
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    Re: Linux - worth it and can it read Word docs?

    A friend asked me how he could get Windows to display every executable it loads at startup as it loads, like Linux does. I just had to shake my head. <img src=/S/smile.gif border=0 alt=smile width=15 height=15> That's a secret! <img src=/S/laugh.gif border=0 alt=laugh width=15 height=15>

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    Re: Linux - worth it and can it read Word docs?

    <img src=/S/evilgrin.gif border=0 alt=evilgrin width=15 height=15> He can put a shortcut to 'taskmgr.exe' in the Startup folder.
    -John ... I float in liquid gardens
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    Re: Linux - worth it and can it read Word docs?

    Startup EXE's? There's a free utility called StartupCop, from PC magazine if I remember, that does just that. Sometimes, however, you can't be sure of what app is calling the shots.
    In Linux, can you be certain of where all the startups are coming from, i.e., which application in precise terms is running the exe?

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    Re: Linux - worth it and can it read Word docs?

    Hi Mark,

    I know you asked about this awhile ago, but I recently installed Xandros (as a test) and was quite surprised with how easy it was to handle partitioning, which was previously tricky business. In addition, it mounted the C drive automatically, and it was a breeze to open or copy files from the Windows partition to the Linux partition. Xandros also comes with CrossOver office, so you can even run Word (and many other Windows programs) right on Linux. I can say from experience that Word runs better (especially VBA) on Linux (via CrossOver office) than it does on a Mac. Xandros is really shooting for the Windows-compatibilty crowd, and I was quite impressed.

    The downside is that you have to pay for it (though I think it includes some support, at least for awhile).

    If you're interested in just trying things out, I'd suggest Knoppix. They've got a distribution that runs from CD, without mucking with your hardrive. If you want to take the plunge, and do a dual-boot, but don't want to pay the premium for Xandros, Mandrake offers almost as easy of an install, and it's free (at least the basic distro). Mandrake also automatically mounts your Windows partition so you can very easily access your Windows files from within Linux.

    However, despite all the fancy gui installers and bells and whistles, linux is linux. While you'd be able to do the basics "out of the box" with any of the friendly distributions (Red Hat, Mandrake, Xandros, etc.), at some point, you'll need to pop the hood and change a spark plug or two. If you want a no-fluff guide, check out "Running Linux (4ed)" from (who else), O'Reilly.

    Cheers!

  14. #14
    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
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    Re: Linux - worth it and can it read Word docs?

    Andrew, does Linux read NTFS partitions, or only FAT/FAT32?

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    Re: Linux - worth it and can it read Word docs?

    NTFS support is now supported in most of the distributions if I recall correctly. That's read support anyways.

    A few distributions that I've tried support both read and write without much hassle at all.
    Christopher Baldrey

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