best give the boot to "dual boot"
Dual-boot is fine, unless the system is used to access the Internet. The trouble with a dual-boot system is that, when Window$ is running, all partitions of all drives are susceptible to attack. I now am reinstalling Linux on a former dual-boot system of a friend (a school teacher), who appears to have been attacked through the browser while filling in an employment application on the web site of a local school district, the application having been written so as to be accessible only with Internet Explorer. The attack corrupted the Linux system, which resides on a separate drive. Needless to say, my friend no longer shall be running a dual-boot system; rather, he shall be using an old spare machine for those increasingly-rare instances in which a regression to Window$ is mandatory.
Originally Posted by united_by_truth
Over the past decade, the Internet has been transformed from a tranquil, benign academic campus to a turbulent, dangerous ghetto. The Internet Explorer exploits of the past two weeks appear to be the beginning of the end for Internet Explorer; hopefully, also for Window$. Window$ is a monolithic system which cannot be made secure, apart from a total redesign.
a firewall is limited in its ability to protect
A firewall is of relatively little benefit to the user, unless he has a full-time Internet connection (i.e., cable or DSL) with a static IP address. With dial-up and with most cable and DSL connections, the user is assigned a dynamic IP address (i.e., a different address with each log-on), and network address translation (NAT) may be involved; so that the typical user need not fear a direct attack by a hacker -- the type of attack against which a firewall protects.
Originally Posted by united_by_truth
The attack which is of immediate danger to the typical user is a virus or worm which piggy-packs upon email or a response to a browser request. The trouble is that no firewall can block the passage of malicious code which enters in response to a response to a browser request, or in an email attachment.
The function of a firewall is to prevent access through unauthorized ports (or "services"). But a response to any browser request is, by definition, authorized; as is email which a mail server downloads in response to a request from a mail client.
And virus scanners never are entirely up-to-date; the latest virus definitions supplied by Symantec or Mcafee may lag by several days the first attacks of a new virus. So you never can be sure that a Windows system has not been compromised.
Inasmuch as malicious hackers around the world are targeting Windows systems, the threat is clear and present. Because of the design of Windows, a Windows system which is in contact with the outside world simply cannot be made safe; sooner or later, it is going to be compromised. And if a Linux drive is in the same machine, it, too, is likely to be corrupted when Windows is compromised---unless you provide mechanical means of disconnecting the Linux drive while Windows is running.
So, if you have only one machine and must run dual-boot, make provision for routine data back-up and easy reinstallation of Linux; eventually you shall need it. Mandrake and other Linux systems typically allow you to record on floppy a list of installed packages. Keeping a detailed log of the original installion process takes time and effort, but such a log is VERY helpful when reinstallation becomes necessary.
Note also that so-called "internal firewalls" (such as ZoneAlarm) are Windows applications. As such, they may be defeated by malicious code which enters via the mail client or the browser. Once Windows itself is compromised, no Windows application is safe from compromise. Thus, an external firewall is much to be preferred.
getting started with Linux
Generally, it is best to choose a system on the basis of (1) compatibility with the application packages you intend to run and (2) support. Whatever your associates are running is the system you should be running, so that you can get help when you need it. Googling for the answer can get rather lonely. Check for a local Linux user group (LUG); LUGs often are affiliated with colleges and universities, or with the community computer club. And if you find one, adopt whichever distribution and desktop most of the members are running.
Originally Posted by united_by_truth
Installation is the real challenge, and the primary differentiating factor between the various distributions. Once a system is installed, there are few really significant differences between Mandrake, Fedora, Debian, SUSE. Typically, the choice of desktop (Gnome vs. KDE vs. ???) is of MUCH greater impact to the user than is the choice of distribution.
Some people love Knoppix. But with Knoppix, Slackware, and other non-mainstream distributions, you are way out in left field. Things get lonesome out in left field, particularly when something isn't working right and you can't find anyone who can solve the problem. The mainstream distributions are Mandrake, Fedora (the new consumer version of Red Hat), Debian, and SUSE. I run Debian, but I generally recommend Mandrake for the newbie.
The requirements of VMware are modest. Don't trust in hearsay; check out the VMware web site for yourself. As of last week, VMware does not yet support the 2.6 kernel. And, as of a year ago, VMware did not officially support Debian. Nevertheless, I purchased VMware and ran it under Debian, because at the time there was no good alternative.
There are numeous helpful Linux web sites. In books, just about anything published by O'Reilly is much better than almost anything published by anyone else.
Black says, "Libronix. It's so heavily dependant on IE that Linux would IMHO make it wasted money." But, after the IE exploits at the beginning of this month, consultants are advising everyone to uninstall IE and switch to Mozilla Firefox, Galeon, or Opera. IE now is running under WINE (at least, under CodeWeavers CrossOver Office), but there are some problems. Personally, I expect that Microsoft shall soon abandon IE and offer a substitute, thus forcing everyone to switch. So you'd best have a contingency plan regarding Libronix.
All things considered, as a Linux newbie who is isolated, you'll likely do best with Mandrake. It's too soon to know how well Fedora shall fare as a replacement for Red Hat. Forget Knoppix, unless you have a buddy who knows Knoppix and is willing to provide adequate support. To find Linux support on the web, Google for strings such as "linux help", "linux questions", "linux newbie", etc.
Investigate CodeWeavers CrossOver Office ("CX") for running Windows applications; you can get a trial download. I consider CX a better long-term solution than is VMware.
Finally, go ahead and take the plunge. Begin with a dual-boot system; you'll be no worse off than you are now. Download a set of Mandrake CD ISO images; burn the CDs; install Mandrake; and start using Mandrake for mail and browsing. In less than a month, you'll feel at home in the Linux environment. The only reasonable way to proceed is to get started, and then augment your knowledge bit by bit, as problems arise. If you wait until you are fully prepared to make the transition, you'll never switch.
Linspire (formerly Lindows)
I'm not a Linux user, but I am an insider with Linspire and I just noticed that version 4.5 now allows users to run WINE. It looks to me like Linspire is one of the easiest Linux OSs for the non-techie to use. Installation is a cinch and the environment is a highly developed/refine windows environment (hence the original name Lindows).
Hadn't heard it mentioned so I thought I'd at least bring it up. Any tried working with BW under Linspire?
Wine + BW6 on Gentoo: only limited success :(
I'm running Gentoo Linux with kernel 2.4.25, glibc 2.3.3, and have been using Crossover Office 1.3.5 for quite some time with sucess (running Quicken 99). I was even able to get BW4.0 running without a problem, but realized that the hand-me-down copy I got was unlicensed, so I bought BW6. Well, I haven't had as much success with BW6.0 -- whether with Crossover Office 1.3.5 or 3.0.1 (demo), I'm able to install DCOM/IE without a problem, and then install BW6 without a problem.
I'm even able to start up BW6 ok... but at some point during program execution, without any discernible pattern I've yet to discover, BW/wine will crash. :( Before the crash, I've gotten as far as browsing verses, seeing word tips appear, etc. -- yet at some point, wine crashes, and the limited backtrace offered in the debug log is not terribly illuminating (there's a page fault on read access to 0x0 in 32-bit code). Changing the "Windows" setting for bw600.exe hasn't improved things at all.
I don't suppose anyone here has seen (or resolved) similar symptoms?