Should I Install Linux?

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Do I have to install Linux on my home computer to take CP2228 (PHP)?


There are a number of ways in which you can approach the practical work in CP2228.

Use only university computers - log in to Linux and work on your files locally

  • Advantage - fast, no home computer required, no Internet connection at home required
  • Disadvantage - need to be on-campus to work on your practical

Use SFTP to copy work to and from the university server

  • Advantage - can work from home, secure
  • Disadvantage - can prove time consuming, maybe restricted by firewall

If you are interested, look at the following article - SFTP from home to university

Use a "live CD" or pendrive version of Linux

A live CD is a version that does not install onto your hard drive, but runs from the CD - in essence, your computer's hardware is temporarily borrowed by the Linux Operating System and your hard disk is not touched.

  • Advantage - don't need to install anything onto your computer
  • Disadvantage - your live CD will likely not have a web-server and the necessary languages installed, meaning that you will need an Internet access to "MI-LINUX" to be able to create and run PHP files
  • Disadvantage - as the whole operating system is running from a CD, it will run slower than it would if it were installed.

Install Linux on your computer

If you intend to install, you might like to look at the following article - Linux Distribution Choices for SCIT students

All linux installation CDs (and most live CDs have an install option) that allow you to install Linux on your computer - this is not a scary option to take, as unlike Windows, Linux respects any other operating systems you have installed on your computer, and have options in the install process to allow you to "shrink" the amount of space other operating systems (like MS Windows) uses on your hard disk, and install itself in a small amount of free space made by the shrinking process. This is actually the default installation option for most modern Linux distributions.

But do not Install any version of linux on a windows partition , if you do so you will need to perform a repair of Windows XP in order to use it.

  • Advantage - You can experience the full range of Linux software at the full performance of your computer.
  • Advantage - you gain experience in more than one operating system - Linux is rapidly becoming a very realistic alternative to Windows for all users / businesses / schools / etc - I believe that to only have experience of MS Windows is a disadvantage to the modern university graduate.
  • Disadvantage - having to appropriately backup all your important files on your computer just in case the installation fails and you need to re-install your other Operating Systems - but you should be doing this anyway

Install Linux into an existing Windows partition using Wubi and Ubuntu

Don't fancy creating all of the partitions that go with a Linux OS? No problem, Wubi (Windows-based Ubuntu Installer) requires no partioning, burning or messing around in the BIOS (although as Computing students it wouldnt hurt to be familiar with these techniques anyway!). Wubi is a graphical based installer that is executed from within Windows, just like any other application. The relevant Ubuntu files are then downloaded to your Windows partition and an entry is added to the Windows boot menu. You simply select whether to boot Windows or Linux when you switch on. To remove Ubuntu, simply boot into Windows and select "Add or Remove Programs" as you would to remove any other applications.

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  • Advantage - No formatting or partitioning required.
  • Advantage - Very safe and easy to use and almost idiot-proof!
  • Advantage - Linux runs with almost identical performance as if it were on a dedicated partition.
  • Advantage - Easy removal of Ubuntu through Windows "Add or Remove Programs" option.
  • Disadvantage - Hibernation is not supported.
  • Disadvantage - Wubi filesystem is more vulnerable to corruption after hard reboots (i.e power failures) than a normal filesystem.

Note - Wubi is for personal use, not for use on the University computers.

Install Linux on a removable pendrive

Believe it or not, Linux can be run from a removable pendrive, allowing you to carry around a powerful operating system in your pocket. See here for Installing Slax Linux onto a USB pendrive, courtesy of Andrew Fletcher (2nd year student).

  • Advantage - Your Windows drives remain untouched-less chance of damaging your existing setup.
  • Advantage - You can boot Linux from most machines, making it a portable OS.
  • Advantage - Better performance than running from a CD, aswell as better portability due to the durability of a pendrive against optical storage mediums.
  • Disadvantage - Your options are restricted by the capacity of your pendrive and larger pendrives can be expensive, however some Linux distributions are small enough to run from a 64MB pendrive. At least 256MB is recommended, however 1GB will provide space to install programs and save settings and files.
  • Disadvantage - Not all BIOS's allow USB booting, and stability is occasionally a problem. Ensure that your machine allows USB booting before attmepting either of the tutorials below. How to check for USB booting is explained inside the Slax tutorial.

If you feel confident with basic use of the command line, and have read and understood the Installing Slax Linux onto a USB pendrive tutorial, then why not try Installing any Live Linux distribution onto a USB pendrive?

For queries regarding pendrive booting, please contact Andrew directly.

I'd install Linux, but I would really like someone to help me do it

I (Matthew Green) am happy to help anyone who wants help installing Linux (preferably Ubuntu as it's the distribution I know best)

Windows running Linux

It is also possible to use "virtualisation techniques" in order to run linux in Windows as a virtual operating system - I (Matthew) don't advise you take this route, but if you want to, you can read this guide written by Gaurav Kathuria (2nd year student)