New to Linux, Toshiba C40D-A Laptop w/Windows 8

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by enjoithepanda, Mar 10, 2014.

  1. enjoithepanda

    enjoithepanda New Member

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    One week ago, I bought a new Toshiba C40D-A laptop to replace a 15+ year old desktop computer. My past computer was hampering my productivity, and I felt it was time to begin anew with a modern quad core platform that can handle far more complex tasks. I required a machine that could compute complex algorithms without having to take a lunch break every time I initiate a task. While many people are using tablets today, these are not practical for the connectivity, precision of item placement, and clicking on very small icons that only a mouse appears to offer. Where I haven't used a Macintosh computer in years, I felt it was most practical to stick to an operating system built on what I already knew.

    That was clearly a fatal mistake. This new computer, like all currently being sold locally, comes preloaded with Windows 8 but omits the familiar boot disk. I would soon find that was the least of my problems, and that the horrors had just begun. Microsoft incessantly made note to remind the myself to create a Microsoft Account, which apparently shares data with Microsoft servers (and who knows who else) in a similar manner to that of the Xbox 360. It keeps tabs on software and ancillary hardware being used, and is supposed to improve user support when issues are encountered. Unfortunately, I came to learn rather quickly that Microsoft's new live help platform is as useless as the preloaded text type had been for the past decade and a half.

    Crippling limitations, restrictions, deleted options, and the absence of a back button had started to manifest right from the moment the computer was turned on. When I am trying to do something, a random popup telling me the news or weather will appear and I cannot close it because there is no close button. There was no start button, and thus no familiar shortcut to settings, documents, and programs. This of course, was not before being repeatedly taken to the worst recurring touch screen-type GUI that I have ever been faced with. This "Metro" layout is not practical or efficient, nor is it going to be productive for my tasks. Once the 8.1 update had completed, my computer literally locked and will not allow me to turn it off or backstep; it will only allow the creation or entering of a Microsoft Account, this is nonsensical communism. The work that I do requires quick switching between open programs and viewing several smaller windows simultaneously. In other words, I have to be in control of the computer, not the other way around. It also requires that I open documents and other programs without hesitation. Everything is so deeply buried that I can't even find the option to turn the computer off.

    I primarily use my PC for running computer assisted drafting, modeling and engineering design software. The programs include LTSpice and Altium Designer. I also use it for extrapolating measurement data alongside Agilent/Hewlett Packard and Audio Precision hardware amongst a host of MSO and DSO equipment. I am familiar with Windows XP and its functions. Windows 98 and XP form the backbone of the engineering sector because it is what all the hardware and software was designed for. I can go almost anywhere and find a CAM machine running on DOS or Windows 95. The thing is, at some point I am going to need a 64Bit operating system for other uses, but it needs to be familiar. Time is a privilege that engineers and circuit specialists do not have, and learning these engineering programs can take years on their won. The sheer confusion brought on with Windows 8 is virtually inconceivable. It is marketed towards tablet users and consumers, not producers, who use a computer for an important functional task.

    I found this forum and am a****g for help with Linux/Ubuntu. The computer that I am on cannot run videos and is inconceivably slow, so video instructables are a no-go. Can Linux be configured to look, feel, and run software and hardware as well as Windows XP? I'm in my twenties, I am quite skilled with PCB layout and logic/circuit design, and trying to do a start up to produce some new electronic devices. Unfortunately, I am not experienced with other operating systems. In the past week, I have been able to accomplish nothing on Windows 8. Any help and guidance is appreciated.

    Last edited: Mar 10, 2014
  2. labrat

    labrat Active Member

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    I will skip the back story as it doesn't really tell anyone anything they need to know in order to help you...
    From searching the web it seems like the graphics are "AMD Radeon HD 8400" (AMD A6-5200 APU)

    You can confirm this by providing lspci output (open a terminal enter, "lspci", copy and past the output)...

    The proprietary fglrx (catalyst) driver in your distribution's repositories may support this device or you may need a newer driver.
    GNU/Linux is a learning curve. It's really up to you if you want to invest the time to change OS. If you rely on proprietary windows apps to get work done, then it may not be a good idea.
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2014
  3. arochester

    arochester Well-Known Member

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    There is an old addage: Linux is not Windows and Windows is not Linux.

    Linux can LOOK like Windows, but underneath it is Linux and will largely act like Linux. The distro that most resemble Windows is probably Zorin - http://zorin-os.com/.

    SOME Windows programs can run on Linux BUT NOT ALL. The most basic is called Wine. There is PlayOnLinux through to pay-for commercial apps like Cedega. You will need to do some research to find out what can and what can't run of Windows on Linux. A good place to look is - http://www.winehq.org/ There are also some excellent native Linux Apps, maybe not as sophisticated as Windows but good enough. Look at a site like http://alternativeto.net/ to find out what is available.

    At the end of the day, even if you deny it, you have spent time learning Windows XP. You probably can't just start using Linux without learning the basics.
  4. labrat

    labrat Active Member

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    Or to put it another way:

    1. Invest a lot of time and effort getting used to a new OS, new approach, new way of working, new apps and spending time reading and learning.

    2. Invest less time getting used to the shitastic metro UI and then just run the same apps you've always run...
  5. MikeyD

    MikeyD Active Member

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    As some others have mentioned, trying to "configure" Linux to look, feel, and act like Windows XP is the complete wrong way to go about it and will end up leading to frustration and wasted time.

    What Linux is, is a powerful, efficient, fast OS that you control (not the other way around as you mention) and it made for productivity (especially for engineers, software or otherwise.) I think you'd be a good fit for Linux, but as others have said it is a completely different OS, and will take a while to learn and much longer to master.

    I think some of the biggest frustrations new users have are trying to compare it to Windows or use it in way they traditionally used Windows.

    No Windows programs will run on Linux. Some offer Linux versions to download, (and there is Wine which is essentially a VM) but Linux can do nothing with the typical ".exe" executable Windows files (in fact, file extensions mean nothing in Linux I can rename a file "file.txt", "file", "file.DUH", "file.h.e.l.l.o." etc. and it will still function the same. This is just one tiny example of the many differences between these OSes).

    It also comes down to the programs you use on a daily basis and if there are Linux alternatives for these. You have more of an idea of this than any of us. Search the web for "Linux <program name>" or something similar.

    I think in the long run you'd benefit by switching to Linux, but if you really want to be productive and be able to troubleshoot issues (which will eventually come up) you need to be willing to devote the time and energy into learning a new system from the ground up, otherwise you may want to try Windows 7 which isn't quite as bad as 8.
  6. enjoithepanda

    enjoithepanda New Member

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    It provides insight into the relevent problems that I am having with this operating system. Without a background, there is no basis for context, nor continuity. I cannot gather the information that you mention because as I noted in my initial post, the laptop is locked and will not respond until it is connected to a Microsoft Account. At present, I am not permitted to even shut down the computer or view the desktop, and no commands or options are given other than to connect with them.

    The programs and hardware I use are not distributed by Microsoft, but are designed by other companies and provided by their respective publishers to function on operating systems such as Windows 98 and XP. They are quite labor intensive to use and require specific knowledge regarding proper use. The issue that I see is one that maybe Linux/Ubuntu can be configured to run them, but maybe not. I am uncertain if there is any clear answer, but that is what I am here to try and find. I have been interested in Linux for some time and have been reading on the subject for two years casually, but most of what I find is second hand and incomplete information from users who fail to update their progress.

    The inconsistencies across the internet present a problem of contrived viewpoints mixed with contradicting use of terminology. I am not really familiar with the apps and abbreviations used in the computer realm, so there tends to be more than a single search taking place at one time. The other computer that I am using to post with here is very slow. Some pages will not load on the web, and video instructions cannot load. This places a roadblock in my path towards a better computing system.
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2014
  7. MikeyD

    MikeyD Active Member

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    Unfortunately, the programs / hardware you use will not work on Linux unless there is a version by the manufacturer specifically designed for Linux.

    Its akin to trying to run a Windows program on a Mac.

    Wine probably won't help either if these programs are designed to utilize specific hardware. Your best bet is to ask the company specifically or check forums related to the software you're trying to use.
  8. Cyber-Berserker

    Cyber-Berserker Active Member

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    I wonder if your computer is really locked. Can you shut it off with the power button? When I bought my present computer, it too had Windows 8 :eek:. I searched high and low, but could not find a way to shut off the computer. I did not care, because my plan was to turn the computer on, insert my Debian installation disc and re-boot. (Mission accomplished.:D)
  9. Snipert

    Snipert New Member

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    As others have mentioned, Linux is not Windows. Programs built for Windows will not work on Linux. You have three options after this:
    1. Find a Linux built package of the programs you use from the developers (as a customer, you are paying their salary, they want to keep you around, so ask)
    2. Install wine and attempt to install and run the program from wine.
    I looked up Altium Designer and LTSpice, both have versions that have worked, but you have to realize you're running code designed for an entirely different operating system. It is more likely something will go wrong with every version (especially as programs become more locked down)
    3. Find another program that is native to linux.
    I realize this is not viable, but it is an option.

    The advantage to switching over is the stability once you set in. Run a basic Debian system and you'll effectively have unlimited updates without having to ever reinstall. Don't like the user interface? Install a new one and use that without ever affecting your files or program compatibility.

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