Bog Roll ::

It's Not Magic, It's Work!

14 Mar 2007

Is Linux Easy To Install?

A semi-technical friend asked earlier this week if Linux is easy to install? He is getting a new computer and is considering trying Linux out on the old one. For a living he "touches" Linux systems now and then via PuTTY and S-FTP but doesn't really use them much.

It made me think, "Is Linux easy to install?". I've not seen him to answer his question yet but here are my thoughts...

Anyone can use a computer if it's been set-up properly, but to install any operating system properly onto a random box takes some skill that most users do not have.

I've installed Windows 3.x, 95, 98, NT4, and 2K, Red Hat Linux 5.x, 6.x, and 7.x, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3, Debian GNU/Linux 3.0, 3.1 and 4.0 and IBM's AIX 5.3L. I've installed all of them at least once, some of them many times. I feel I am entitled to an opinion on at least these.

Of them I can with all honesty say that Windows took the longest in general with the endless rebooting, I've not tried XP or Vista, so I can't comment if it's better in these versions.

The older operating systems did have driver problems, Windows NT4 I remember being particularly unstable and temperamental if the hardware was not on it's very limited approved list. I gather from the press that Windows Vista also suffers from a very restricted selection of supported hardware.

For simplicity IBM's AIX was perhaps the least involved, you put the CD in press go and other than a few very basic questions it installs, that's not to say it's well configured but it is installed.

The old Debian 3.0 "Woody" installer was basic like AIX installer but was not as simple. The later Debian installer used in 3.1 and 4.0 is very easy to use and certainly much easier to use than Windows NT4 for example.

Red Hat has long had one of the slickest installers in the Linux community. The text version is quite nice and simple and the GUI version is visually quite attractive. It does require some thought, possible more than the current Debian installer but it is not impossibly complex.

All the Windows installers are quite similar, in that they start in text mode, offer a few options, reboot and then carry on in graphics mode. They are fairly straight forward but can be awkward to use if you don't want to do a vanilla install, or have exotic or new hardware. They are slow, much slower than any of the Linux installs - even when Linux installs off the Internet!

I suppose my answer is: If you can install Windows correctly (most people can not) then you should be able to install Linux - it's slightly easier. If you can configure Windows correctly (most people can't do that either) then you should be able to configure Linux too - that is much easier.