Convert Microsoft to LINUX: FAQ

Why should I buy a Linux recycled PC from you when I can get a new machine for the same price?

  1. First of all it is not the same price when you include the operating system and the software that goes with it. As detailed in the cost comparison chart, you are saving $1210 by getting a Linux machine.
  2. Secondly, with the added efficiency of Linux, a 700 Megahertz Pentium III will be as quick as the latest Celeron 2.6 Gigahertz chip.
  3. Thirdly, by buying a machine from me, you are rescuing a machine from the landfill.
  4. Fourthly, when you have Linux, you will find that you do not need to replace your hardware and software every two years just to keep up.
  5. Lastly, you will never get a virus again!

Ok, so who is now using Linux if it so great?

99 percent of the web hosting sites are using it. The only way you can get web hosting with up to a Gig of files on the web server, and 10 MySQL databases for $10 or $20 per month, is because it is done via Linux. This website is being hosted by a Linux Server. If you had to do this with only Microsoft Software it would cost at least $200 per month. Major health care providers in the developing world, use Linux servers for their entire health care network. It is also being used by major banks and Fortune 100 companies. Lastly, the University of Washington Library is converting all 800 of its workstations from Microsoft Software to Linux. The city government of Munich, Germany is converting 16,000 workstations to SuSE Linux.

How do I access files on the floppy or CD-ROM?

In Linux there is no a: or b: to represent the floppy or CD-ROM. Everything is a directory, so the floppy drive under SuSE Linux is called /media/floppy and under Mandrake Linux it would be /mnt/floppy. So if you are in Open Office, click file open, then type /media/floppy and you will see all your files on the floppy. If you are on the CD-ROM type /media/cdrom and you will see your files on the CD-ROM. If you are in Mandrake this would similarly be /mnt/floppy or /mnt/cdrom for the CD-ROM access. Note, if it is a DVD drive it would be /media/dvdfor SuSe or /mnt/dvd for Mandrake.

How do I burn CD's and RIP my CD audio files?

My favorite CD/DVD burner is k3b
It takes up a bit more room then Brasero, Xburn or the other standard burners, but it is worth it. Here is a nice help file to explain it. Note, it does not automatically install, but you can browse to it, when you open k3b

How do I setup secure email?

The best thing to use is Imap which normally uses port 143 for receiving mail and port 465 (SSL over SMTP) for sending mail. Note you will have one server for receiving mail and one for sending mail. They will both require authentication. These are typical settings that you will find in Evolution the email client that comes with Debian based Linuxes.You can pick default Imap under preferencs with these changes.

For Receiving Server
Make sure your host is using port 143 or pick another for receiving
Set us secure connection TLS encryption , Authentication type password

For Sending Server
Make sure your host is using port 465 or pick another if your ISP provider blocks it
You may find port 587 the message submission port works.
Set up secure connection SSL over SMTP, Authentication type Login
If this does not work, please consult your ISP and Email service provider. Another alternative is to use Squirrel Mail which on most systems defaults to Imap from the web browser.

Isn't there an icon I can just go directly to for the floppy or CD-ROM?

Yes, there actually is. Under Mandrake, the minute you insert a floppy or CD-ROM, you get icons for them, just click on them and then click on the file.

Under SuSE it is also there, go first please to My Computer icon and left click and you get an icon for your CD-ROM or floppy.

Is there an easy way to browse all my folders on the hard drive?

Yes there is! Simply, click on Konqueror . In the "go to" field at the top type a forward slash, "/" (no quotes), then hit Carriage Return. This gets you to the root top level directory of your hard drive. You will see all the folders displayed as icons. Click on the "home" folder. Underneath this folder you will see all the users. By default, I have installed only one user account for "/home/user1". This is your home directory where all your files and folders live. Note, unless you log on as the root user, there may be some folders you will not be allowed to go in. This is for your protection.

How do I install new printers and other hardware?

For Suse Linux:
To install your printer and other hardware go to "YAST" off the main Start menu under System | Configuration | YAST . It may also be already there in the section of "most used applications" listed at the top of the Start menu. Login with the root password (linux01) when prompted and click on hardware . Then click on printer or whatever the icon is for the hardware you are changing. A database will then be brought up and it will normally already have your printer selected. Just click on accept . If you do not see your printer selected, then you can choose it by selecting the appropiate manufacture and model. I have not found a printer yet, that was not in the list!
For Mandrake Linux:
Start at the lower left hand corner "Star" then select System | Configuration | Configure Your Computer . You will need to type in your root password of linux01 . Next, click on hardware and it should automatically find your printer. Next, click on the Printers icon. It should automatically say, " The following printer ... HP Deskjet 640C " was found. Click on Yes . It will say installing pacakages and ask you for CD 1. It will install the CUPS (Common Unix Printing Services) for you and the necessary print drivers. The printer will be automatically configured.

How do I configure the Sound?

In Mandrake go to the Star | Multimedia | Sound | Kmix. You should now see a Loudspeaker icon on your toolbar, click on it an adjust both the Output and the Input . You can also adjust the balance.

In Suse go to the Yast as you did to set up the printer in the preceeding section and click on the icon for Sound . After it is set up you will see a Speaker icon on the toolbar which you can click on to adjust the volume.

I forgot my login what is it?

user1 linux01 This is your normal user login.
root linux01 This is your administrator login, also known as super user.

Note, when you type your password you will not see characters echoed.
This is done for security so that somebody looking over your shoulder can not
see what your password is.

I am in Open Office and printing my document but it is starting in the middle of the page?

Well computers are smart, but not that smart. When you open any applicaiton, it defaults to the "default printer which is kprinter" in the Linux world. It is a dumb generic printer. Before you print go to File | Print and click on the dropdown box where it says kprinter and change it to HP Deskjet 695 or whatever is the printer you just installed. Also click on set as default printer so you will always use the proper printer. Note, if you have more than one printer, you need to select the right printer you want before you print the file.

How do I configure my background wallpaper on my desktop?

You place the mouse on the desktop and right click and select Configure. Then select Background . Here, you can select on the left any of the built in wallpapers, or click on the little picture icon, on the right and browse anywhere on your machine to your own picture file . Note, before you close this window, at the top, select All desktops or the number of the desktop you want, that is "1" or "2" . Note, KDE Windows Display Manger comes built in with two desktops. If you click on the "1" or "2" on your horizontal desktop toolbar, you will see the desktops change. I like to have two different backgrounds selected for each desktop so I know where I am at.

How do I make the Linux look and feel like a MAC or IMAC?

You place the mouse on the desktop and right click and select Configure. Then select Behavior | General . Where it says Menu Bar at Top of Screen select Current application's menu bar (Mac OS-style) . Click on OK and you are done. Note, you can already use all your MAC standard drag and drop tricks that you are familiar with. I use this and have to remind myself that it is not a MAC I am using!

How do I change the Linux Start Menu by the green eye (Suse) or the Star (Mandrake) on the lower left corner?

You place the mouse on the green eye or starand right click and select Menu Editor . Next you left click on the menu item, i.e. Internet . You then highlight the item you want to modify, say Dial Up and you are given the choice of delete, new item, cut or copy similar to what you familiar with on Microsoft Windows.

How do I pass documents back and forth to my Micrososft Office friends when using Open Office?

This is explained in the Open Office Help under "file associations for Microsoft Office" section. I will summarize it here. In Open Office click on "Tools | Options | Load/Save | General" You can then go through each file type and make it save in the Microsoft format. I.E. Click on "Text Document" then on "Always save as" select "Microsoft Word 2000/XP". Likewise for "Spreadsheet" select "Microsoft Excel 2000/XP". You can do this for every single document type and you will never have this problem again.

If you just want to change the format of one document, then open it. I.E. "Text.sxw" and then click on "save as" change "file type" to "Microsoft Word 2000/XP" doc. It will now be called Text.doc. You can delete the old Text.sxw because you do not need it anymore.

My machine will not even boot up, is there a safe mode equivalent in Linux?

Yes there is! It is called Failsafe. When your machine initially boots you will see a choice called Failsafe, hit the down arrow key till you are on it, and then hit the Carriage Return. You will get a "login:" prompt. Type your username user1 , then hit Carriage Return. Then type your password linux01 , then hit Carriage Return. At this point, you will want to follow the instructions in the second paragraph after this one called: "Wait a minute, ... "

What program do I use to set up my screen resolution, or configure my new or changed monitor
on my SuSE Linux Desktop?

You need to run a program called Sax2. If you are in the KDE desktop graphical interface go to System | Configuration | Sax2. Here you can configure your position, size, resolution, and pick the monitor you are using. You will have to login with the root password (linux01) to do this.

What program do I use to set up my screen resolution, or configure my new or changed monitor
on my Mandrake (Mandriva) Linux Desktop?

You need to run a program called drakconf. If you are in the KDE desktop graphical interface go to System | Configuration | Configure your computer to run it. If you are in text mode, log in as root by typing su then your password (linux01). Then type drakconf. You can use the tab and enter key to navigate the screens till you get to the monitor setup. Pick the appropiate monitor, resolution, and size.

Wait a minute, I can not even get into the KDE Graphical interface. It just says "login: ". Now what?

Relax, don't panic (even if you are on the Titanic). At the login prompt, type "root" ( no quotes). Hit Carriage Return, then type the root password "linux01" (no quotes). After it says "Have a lot of fun..." type "init 3" (no quotes). You will then see: "Runlevel 3 has been reached". Now type a Carriage Return, and then "sax2" (no quotes). You will then get a Sax2 Suggestion. Click on "Change Configuration". Make sure the Monitor, Graphics Card, etc. are correct. Note, when you do this, be sure to click on Geometry and make sure it is set up as 320 mm by 240 mm for the X and Y coordinates respectfully. This assumes you have a 17 inch monitor which measures 32 cm by 24 cm. If your monitor is a different size just measure it in cm and multiply by 10 to get it in mm. If the Geometry mistakenly gets set to 0 x 0 this can cause a segmentation fault in the module Sax2. It will also prevent you from using Yast. The minute you log in as root you will be dumped into text mode. Click on "Finalize" or "Finish" when you are done. Now you are back at the "login:" prompt. This time type "init 5" (no quotes). You should be able to do your normal KDE Graphical User Interface login.

My browser is real slow browsing or it gets a timeout.

If you install the Opera Browser by clicking here this should solve all your problems. The Opera Browser works a hundred times better and quicker than Mozilla and Konqueror.

Sometimes it takes Domain Name Servers a while to respond on the network. You can speed this up by opening a Console Terminal Shell Session by going to System | Terminal | Konsole off of the SuSE Main Linux start Menu.

On Mandrake go to the Administer your System | Use a Terminal Emulator, off of the main toolbar menu. This is known in the UNIX/Linux world as going to the "Shell". In Microsoft it was called the DOS prompt or Command prompt. I know it is not the prettiest place to be, but it gets problems solved very fast!

Type "ping" (no quotes) or whatever it is you are trying to connect to. Now, just close or minimize this Konsole window and go back to your Opera, Mozilla or Konqueror. Click on the Refresh button and you should be in quickly now.

How do I configure and use my mail?

The default email application is called kmail . If you look on the horizontal toolbar, you will see an icon for it in the shape of an envelope in Suse or a calendar with a pencil in Mandrake. Click on it, then go to Settings | Configure Mail. You only need to click on the identity and the network items in the vertical toolbar on the left. The other items (appearance, composer, security and misc) you can leave set at their defaults. Some things you will have to know are outlined in the table below. Note, these are madeup names, so doublecheck with Comcast, Qwest, Verizon, Microsoft Network, Seanet, or whoever your Internet Service/email providers are.

UsernamePasswordExplanation linuxisfun This is your normal full email login.

POP Mail ServerSMTP Mail ServerExplanation mail servers for ingoing and outgoing mail remember to doublecheck with your provider!

With the above information, you should be able to fill out all the necessary items under the identity and network icons.
Note, this is identical to what you filled out in Microsoft Outlook.

So is Linux really secure?

Yes, it absolutely is. Whenever you go on Ebay and pay by credit card using Paypal, in most cases you are using a Linux host. When you order your concert tickets or book your plane reservations, you are mostly on Linux hosts. If Linux was not secure, you would certainly have heard about it by now. The principal encryption algorithm in the Linux world is Secure Shell (ssh). It not only encrypts passwords but all data packets going on the network. When you install Linux on two machines in your home, it defaults to not allowing FTP or telnet connections. So the two machines can not see or talk to each other.

So how do you browse between two Linux machines on the Network or a Linux and an IMAC OS X machine?

This is accomplished by using secure FTP. This consists of first establishing a secure shell connection and then running FTP on top of that so all packets are encrypted. Here is how to do it:

  1. Make sure on each machine you are running the sshd (secure shell daemon). Typically you only need to login as root using the "Shell" mentioned earlier in the "My browser is real slow" discussion. Then type: "pstree root" (no quotes). You should see the process called sshd, listed alphabetically. If you do not see it, just type "sshd" (no quotes). Make sure you are logged in as root at the "Shell" Konsole. That is first type "su" (no quotes) followed by Carriage Return, then type "linux01" (no quotes), the root password. Note, the root is also called superuser or "su" in an abbreviated form.

  2. Next using the "Shell", type: ifconfig, you should see the IP address of your Linux or IMAC box. Typically it would be something like 192.168.0.x, where x is a number between 2 and 254. Note, it is in a section that begins with the prefix en0: or eth0:. On my IMAC it is "inet". Note, this changes every day depending on what the DHCP (Domain Host Control Protocol) server gives it.

  3. Finally, go to your Linux box and fire up the Konqueror. In the browse field type: "sftp://victor@" (no quotes). You will then be prompted for your password and you will have a GUI interface just like the one you are used to in Microsoft Windows. You can drag and copy folders as you like to your local Linux machine. Note, if you stuck with the default user accounts I installed for you, you would type "sftp://user1@" ( no quotes). The format is simply "sftp://" followed by the "username", the "AT sign", and then the "IP address".

  4. Troubleshooting your secure FTP connection can be done by typing almost the same thing inside the "Shell". Type:

    "sftp user1@" (no quotes)

    You should then get a prompt for your password, which should be "linux01" (no quotes). You should be able to type "ls" (no quotes) and see a list of directories on your Linux box. Type "exit". (no quotes) to close the secure ftp connection.

Can I still run Windows Applications in Linux?

Yes you can. There is a hidden directory called ".wine" under the "/home/user1" directory where a windows applicaiton can be installed. It contains the MS Windows type registry, the "Program Files" and the "documents" directories that you are familiar with. There is even a "notepad.exe" you can run. Here is how to do it:

  1. Click on the "Shell" icon to get to the Shell Terminal Session as described in "My browser is real slow.. " section above.

  2. Type "cd .wine" (no quotes). You are now in the top level Windows directory. If you type "wine notepad" (no quotes) you will see a copy of the notepad you are familiar with launched. This proves that wine is installed properly on your system.

  3. Let us assume that you have an application on the CD drive you wish to install, that is using a program called "setup.exe" in the top level directory of the CD. It would then live in a directory called "/media/cdrom/". To install it simply type:

    "wine /media/cdrom/setup.exe" (no quotes)

    You would then do all the normal things you do in the Microsoft world to install a Windows Application.

  4. Now for the final step, to create an icon on your Linux Desktop right click the mouse, then choose "Create New" | "File" | "Link to application". Call it the name of the applicaiton, i.e. "Turbo Tax" (assuming this was the application you installed). Click on "Application". In the "Command" field put "wine turbo" (no quotes). Note, this assumes the applicaiton is "turbo.exe", your Windows executeable may have another name.

That Open Office sounds great, but what about my nice VBA Macros I spent years writing in MS Word and MS Excel? Is there a way I can keep them? I want 100 percent MS Windows compatibility. "wine" is sometimes not quite good enough.

Yes there are two ways to do this. The first is to use the commercial product called Crossover Office. You would use "wine" mentioned previously and then install this product and a real copy of MS Office XP on top of it. So since, you are now running the real thing on Linux you have your VBA Macros. The goal of Crossover Office is to have most major Windows applications run just as good as they do in MS Windows on the Linux platform. Note, some Microsoft Applications are not supported, check with them to be sure.

The second way is to use the Citrix client for Unix or Java and connect to the Microsoft Windows Terminal Server running the Citrix Server program. Note, the Microsoft Office application is installed on the Citrix Server. This method is gauranteed to work for any application you have running on the Citrix Server. Click here to see a copy of the paper I presented in 2001 on Citrix at HP World. Note, you can read it in Open Office and of course Microsoft Office.

Can I just download software from the Internet and use it?

Be careful here!   When you download software it is often written for Microsoft Windows applications. Make sure it is written for Linux. Then you can use it easily. Typically it will be in the form of a package that ends with the extension ".rpm". So for example, there may be an application package called "appointment.rpm" that would work. An application that is called "appointment.exe" is probably written for the Microsoft Platform . To load your Linux software go to "YAST" off the main Start menu, login with the root password (linux01) when prompted and click on install software. Now browse to your desktop when asked and click on the application package "appointment.rpm". The package should install automatically in the appropiate menu folder and give you an icon to run it. If an applicaiton is a Java application, you can run it by simply, left mouse clicking, then going over to "open with" and pick "Konqueror" for application to open it with. If you do not see an icon for Konqueror, just type "Konqueror" (no quotes). If you still insist on downloading a Microsoft platform application, see the previous section to be sure the application will work.

As a reward for reading this far , here is a link to some Java games. I have not looked at them so I will leave you to try them.

Java Card and Board Games