December 16, 2010

Basic (probably) newbie questions, lots of 'em

Hello all,

I did a couple of searches and couldn't find answers to these questions, but if I missed something - a definite possibility :) - please feel free to direct me.

I have never used Linux; I have one friend who does and I just sent him these same questions. But I thought it would be good to post them here too. Here is what I said to him (edited in spots for this forum):

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Long story short - my two-year-old laptop recently died. Replacing it with something I like has been a major hassle, so I'm starting to think that maybe Linux is the way to go. I have a few basic questions:

- How big of a hard drive would I need, generally?

- Is there any special processor and/or minimum processor speed I would need - Intel, AMD, older Macs (PowerPC, I think it's called), etc.?

- Will I be able to run the software I need with Linux? Mostly I use office productivity stuff - database, spreadsheet, and occasionally word processing - and Windows' Paint program and Irfanview for simple image manipulation (I make jewelry and occasionally use the images for that). I also need a web browser and preferably email; I'm currently using Firefox and Thunderbird.

- Will I be able to find a printer - an all-in-one, actually - that works with Linux? I don't think my current HP (a six-year-old PSC 1315) will manage it.

- Will a DVD drive work with Linux?

- What about the wireless card that comes with laptops now - the one that picks up public WIFI networks? Will those cards work with Linux?

- What about wireless internet? I'm getting ready to do some extensive traveling and wireless is really the only way I can think of to connect (satellite's too pricey). I'll contact the company I'm thinking of using and ask about their modems, but I thought I'd ask here for your experience with these.

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I know there are different versions of Linux available (is that what a "distro" is?), but I have no idea of the differences or if there is a preferred one for a particular machine. The computer I have now has an AMD Athlon processor running at 2.4 gHz, with 4 gigs of RAM and a 320 gig hard drive. It's brand new but is going back to the store very soon; it has some major problems that I won't go into here. So I'm pretty much open when it comes to what I should buy to run Linux. The only restriction I have is a new Mac, because I just can't afford them.

I hope this all makes sense, and as I said before, feel free to direct me if these questions have been answered somewhere else.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Meg

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