Experience Linux without leaving the safety of Windows. Joe Cassels guides you with the help of the innovative software andLinux
ost computers come with Windows preinstalled so unless youíre a real enthusiast youíre unlikely to wipe Windows and install Linux. It makes no sense to get rid of a perfectly functional operating system in favour of one with which youíre far less familiar. Yet the world of Linux tempts many Windows users, be it out of pure curiosity or because they resent the Hobsonís choice of being landed with the Microsoft option.
Some users opt to set up a dual-boot system which provides the choice to enter Windows or Linux at start up. A number of popular Linux distributions provide this option and they make it easy to partition the hard drive and resize the existing Windows one. But this does involve fundamental changes to your PC and when you do boot into Linux, you canít fall back on any Windows features without restarting your computer.
Another option is to install Linux within a virtual machine provided by VirtualBox (click here
). This enables you to run both operating systems side by side but they arenít seamlessly integrated. You also need to have enough system resources to run a virtual computer within Windows.
Linux and Windows together
andLinux provides the ability to run Linux applications side by side with your Windows ones. Itís the closest thing to integrating Linux and Windows into a single operating system, but there are elements of separation. You need to allocate some system RAM to andLinux; it needs a minimum of 192MB ring-fenced to operate. Data handled by Linux programs is stored in virtual drives. If you need to share it with Windows applications and vice versa you need to set up a file sharing between Windows and Linux. Despite these limitations, once you have andLinux up and running it works well and it enables you to benefit from the best Windows and Linux software.
The long walkthrough above demonstrates how to install and configure andLinux. Itís a little more complex than a standard Windows application and you have a few decisions to make. There are two ways to share files between Windows and andLinux. The first method is using COFS, where you can nominate a directory below which all data is shared. This is slightly easier to set up but affords less control over your shared data.
The other option is to use Samba, which uses Windows file sharing, so folders that you want to use with andLinux will need to be shared in Windows. To do this browse to the folder concerned and right-click it. Choose ShareÖ in Vista or Sharing and SecurityÖ in XP. Select Everyone > Co-owner in Vista.
In XP click to indicate that you understand the security risks etc, followed by Just enable file sharing. Click OK. Tick Share this folder on the network and give it a share name. You need to use this share name to provide access to andLinux when you install it. Also tick Allow network users to change my files so that andLinux can save to this folder.
Once you have andLinux installed and youíve rebooted, you can start the andLinux service. The set-up program provides several options on how to configure the service, but opting for manual control of an NT service is best. This means that you need to turn andLinux on to use it, but youíre not stuck with it starting automatically if it does run into problems. To turn it on, select Start andLinux from the andLinux group of the Start > All Programs menu. The step-by-step guide above demonstrates how to launch the preinstalled Linux programs.
Common errors that can occur at this stage are generally associated with andLinux not initialising properly; it can take some time to start or with the virtual network interface being blocked. andLinux is based on another project called Cooperative Linux which enables Windows and Linux to talk to one another via a virtual network interface.
Some software firewalls can prevent this taking place and you get an error noting that you cannot connect to 192.168.11.150:81. Error code 9 also indicates that the program has not been able to connect properly. Try disabling your firewall or using the Cooperative Linux console to see if andLinux has started properly and that you are logged in.
Linux differs from Windows in that it more readily uses command line operations. You donít have to be able to master the command line to use andLinux, but you may find it useful to use the console to check key information about your installation or to correct problems.
When you install andLinux it adds two shortcuts by default to the desktop. These are labelled andLinux Console (FLTK) and andLinux Console (NT). Double click the first of these to gain access to the Cooperative Linux console. If this is the first time youíve run andLinux and youíre having difficulty launching programs, if may be because andLinux hasnít booted completely or you need to log in.
If the console doesnít show andLinux login: or a prompt consisting of a username in square brackets followed by a hash, you may need to wait for it to complete booting. On slower systems the initial boot can take up to 20 minutes, so be patient.
If you have a login prompt, but canít launch programs, youíll need to log in. You donít have any users set up so just type root and press [Enter]. Logging in as root for an extended period in Linux is frowned upon because it enables you to make system changes. However this is no worse than what you can accomplish in most Windows sessions and logging in as root is simpler. You can now launch a program by typing its name at the prompt and pressing [Enter] or by using the K menu.
When you can use the preinstalled applications youíll probably want to install other Linux software. andLinux has access to all the Ubuntu repositories and uses the Synaptic package manager to install software. This is much easier than it sounds. See the step-by-step guide below to find out how to search for and install new software. There are a large number of programs available to you.
When you install the larger andLinux version you are basically running Windows and the KDE desktop at the same time. To manage your Windows settings you use Control Panel in the usual way, but if you want to tweak settings for your Linux applications, youíll need to use the KDE Control Center. Launch it by choosing Kcontrol from the K menu.
The Control Center enables you to tweak a number of settings including visual elements and themes. However your Windows theme will take precedence in setting the desktop background and external window furniture, like title bars and maximising or minimizing buttons. However, changes you make to other elements of your KDE windows will apply to all your Linux applications. So if you select Appearance & Themes > Theme Manager and change the theme to YellowOnBlue, only the internal parts of your Linux windows will turn garish. andLinux settings canít override your Windows ones.
andLinux isnít a low-tech option. You still need to take back-up precautions with your data before using it. However it does provide a natural stepping stone for interested Windows users to dip their toes in the Linux waters.