Thinking of moving from Windows to Linux, have some questions...

Hi,

I’ve been a windows user since windows 95, I’m currently running W7, 64bit Home Edition. But I have been growing tiered and bored of windows and am looking to expand my OS experience. And I hear that Linux is a faster OS compared to Windows, and the possibility of improving Blenders performance and an OS that is more customisable is very inciting.

I have a spare 250GB, so I’m thinking of installing Ubuntu on it. But I have some questions in regards to file compatibility between W7 and Linux, especially blend files.

First, let me explain my current setup.
I have a 120GB SSD(C: ) where W7 and Blender 2.65 are installed, second I have a 1TB data drive(E: ) where I keep all my blender related files. All my projects, materials, textures, ref photos and ect… are on this E: drive. Finally I have a 1.5TB internal backup drive(D: ) where my entire system is backup to every night.

So my questions are these, keeping in mind that Linux will run off my 250GB( D: ) drive and all my blend files are located on my E: drive:

  • Are there compatibility issues between blend files created in W7 and those in Linux?
  • Are there compatibility issues between W7 and Linux on other types of files like png, jpeg, mpeg-4, avi, .txt and ect?
  • Will I be able to access and work on my existing blend files on my E: drive from Ubuntu and also be able to save back to my E: drive?
  • I’ve grown rather accustomed to Excel and OneNote, do they work in a Linux environment or are there well know substitutes?

Nowadays Linux is a great desktop OS, offering anything you would need on a home PC. Of course, switching to it means losing some Windows-only software or switching to alternatives. That said, many great Windows apps work quite well on Linux through Wine.
I can personally confirm that Blender works faster under Linux than in Windows.

I have a spare 250GB, so I’m thinking of installing Ubuntu on it. But I have some questions in regards to file compatibility between W7 and Linux, especially blend files.

First, let me explain my current setup.
I have a 120GB SSD(C: ) where W7 and Blender 2.65 are installed, second I have a 1TB data drive(E: ) where I keep all my blender related files. All my projects, materials, textures, ref photos and ect… are on this E: drive. Finally I have a 1.5TB internal backup drive(D: ) where my entire system is backup to every night.

First and foremost, forget about drive letters (C:,D:, etc.). Linux does not use those.

So my questions are these, keeping in mind that Linux will run off my 250GB( D: ) drive and all my blend files are located on my E: drive:

You’ll lose that D: drive under Windows. It’ll be formatted to a different filesystem, which Windows does not recognize, and as such this drive will not show under Windows. Thus, any drives with letters after D: may require manually adjusting their letters if you want to keep paths in all your existing files working.

  • Are there compatibility issues between blend files created in W7 and those in Linux?
  • Are there compatibility issues between W7 and Linux on other types of files like png, jpeg, mpeg-4, avi, .txt and ect?
  • Will I be able to access and work on my existing blend files on my E: drive from Ubuntu and also be able to save back to my E: drive?
  • I’ve grown rather accustomed to Excel and OneNote, do they work in a Linux environment or are there well know substitutes?
  1. None, aside from file paths to textures, etc (see above why) saved into those files. Of course, it only matters for absolute paths, relative paths will work just fine.
  2. txt - may be some inconsistencies, because Linux and Windows use different end-of-line symbols. Notably, most modern text editors handle this correctly (well, standard Windows notepad doesn’t, but that’s not a good example). Any other media formats you listed are fine.
  3. Yes and yes. Linux supports both reading and writing NTFS file system. Only quirk is that this drive will not show up as “E:” under Linux, it’d probably be something like /media/data (at least on Ubuntu). This path is configurable.
  4. OpenOffice (or, should I say rather LibreOffice) is a very good replacement for Word, Excel and so on (even reads MS Office files). For extreme cases, I think that MS Office may work through Wine, but don’t quote me on that. Can’t say anything about OneNote - no idea what that is :slight_smile:

All in all, Linux is a very good and solid choice. I hope I didn’t frighten you with those little quirks. Good luck installing it!

Thank you so much for the informative responds. It’s much appreciated.

I hope I didn’t frighten you with those little quirks

Not at all, just the contrary. I think the thing I’m most excited about is opportunity of learning a new software.

You’ll lose that D: drive under Windows. It’ll be formatted to a different file system, which Windows does not recognize, and as such this drive will not show under Windows. Thus, any drives with letters after D: may require manually adjusting their letters if you want to keep paths in all your existing files working.

I could, before installing Ubuntu onto my 250GB drive, manually rename the drive in windows to a letter way down the alphabet to ensure I would never have a drive in windows with a letter after the drive used for Ubuntu.

Are there compatibility issues between blend files created in W7 and those in Linux?

external files such as textures should be pathed relatively rather than absolutely since the file system is organised a bit different in Linux.

Are there compatibility issues between W7 and Linux on other types of files like png, jpeg, mpeg-4, avi, .txt and ect?

Linux tends to do better on the image file format side than windows - you shouldn’t have any difficulties there. I think that blender is the same f for most video files except I think Windows had better Quicktime support at one point. Text files can be problematic on rare occasions though I don’t think blender specifically has any problems.

Will I be able to access and work on my existing blend files on my E: drive from Ubuntu and also be able to save back to my E: drive?
Yes. Linux reads and writes windows filesystems quite well. The inverse isn’t true. Ubuntu will place your drives in a folder called media so you will locate your files in /media/[Drive Label]/ rather than E:. Blender will save back the files.

I’ve grown rather accustomed to Excel and OneNote, do they work in a Linux environment or are there well know substitutes?

Some versions of excel will run using a windows to linux translator called Wine. You can see compatibility information for excell here http://www.winehq.org/search?cx=partner-pub-0971840239976722%3Aw9sqbcsxtyf&cof=FORID%3A10&ie=UTF-8&q=excel&siteurl=appdb.winehq.org%2F&ref=&ss=556j79314j5 . Your alternatives are LibreOffice which comes as part of the base install. OpenOffice.org and Calligra Office. I am not familiar with onenote - here is the alternativeto page for it though http://alternativeto.net/software/microsoft-onenote/?platform=linux

It’s not necessary to do it before installing Linux, you can always do it later if needed (i.e. if Windows decides to rename some other drive to D:, which I’m not even sure it will).

A few other basic notes. Culture stuff. Ubuntu basically has an App store. It’s a lot lot easier to install stuff from this than from random web sites - which is a bit different from the way things are done on windows. There are also things called ppa’s which let you install software via this software center that doesn’t come from canonical.

Blender is the exception to this and typically you download the latest version from blender.org and pop it in a folder in your home folder.

There is a ppa for Blender which periodically updates with svn snapshots.

Before installing Linux, physically disconnect all your other hard drives. The reason for this is to keep Linux from installing a boot record on any other drive besides the one you’re actually installing Linux on.

Make sure you connect your Linux system drive (the 250gb drive you mentioned) to the zeroth header of your SATA controller (or PATA/IDE if that’s what you have). This is to ensure that once you start putting other drives back in, your Linux system drive is still the first drive in the system. In later BIOSs, you can actually change the order drives are recognized, but this method is far easier/faster if you aren’t familiar with the nitty-gritty of hardware.

If your data drive and back-up drive are formatted NTFS, you won’t have to reformat them and there are ways to mount them under the drive letters (or variations thereof) they already bear.

The details of all these things are easily Google-able.

And now a few cautionary notes:

Getting your head around Linux as an OS will at first seem difficult, but it does get easier. It may seem a lot like Windows from a user POV, but there are differences that will confuse you until you get to understand them.

Keeping up with the latest software releases (Blender, the GIMP, etc.) will be a challenge, but help is always close at hand if you’re having trouble. The best advice to take is from someone who is using the same distribution of Linux and (especially) the same version of that distribution. Trying to apply fixes that work for Ubuntu on a Mint system won’t always work 100%. The same goes for applying fixes meant for (for instance) Ubuntu 12.xx on Ubuntu 11.xx. Also, make sure the person who’s advising you is using the same versions of other software tools (installers, etc. and especially the actual software you’re trying to fix/install).

Don’t expect everything to work first try. Persevere, study, ask, try again. That obscure sound card (video card, scanner, whatever) you have works for someone out there in Internet-land and, if you can track that person down, he or she will hopefully be very happy to help you get yours working, too.

Again, all this is but a Google away.

My advice is that you figure out how to set up a dual-boot system between your SSD and the 250gb drive so if you absolutely have to get some serious work done while you’re learning Linux, you still have the option of booting Windows.

And give yourself lots of time to learn Linux. It won’t happen overnight, despite your experience with other OS/GUIs. Each OS reflects the mindset of the person(s) behind the design and it’s that mindset you want to grasp. Once you have, everything else is easy-peezy, lemon-squeezy.

Whoah. While I agree completely with the rest of your post, this bit is way too excessive. Firstly, there is nothing wrong with Linux installing boot loader on another drive (which is, by the way, selectable during installation). Secondly, Linux boot loader (grub in case of Ubuntu) is perfectly capable of chainloading Windows, without the need to manually change boot order in BIOS.

lots of distros have a live disk (runs off the cd) just to get a taste, check hardware compatibility, I had a problem with my RAT mouse that had me stumped untill I found a post telling what file to edit
and finaly TRY TRY try to keep net access (another comp smart phone whatever) cos you will need that help sometimes!

Wow, thank you all for these amazing tips. I’m getting more excited by the minute :smiley:

Make sure you connect your Linux system drive (the 250gb drive you mentioned) to the zeroth header of your SATA controller…

For safeties sake I am planning to disconnect my other drives for the installation process. As for controlling booting afterwards, for now I was thinking of just going into my BIOS and use the boot priority to control which drive the system boots from.

I have a laptop, smart phone and a tablet so I’ll have plenty of ways to research and trouble shoot online when I get stuck on my PC.

Totally not my point.

When I first tried out Linux I went the Wubi Install route. It’ll install it in Windows, but still give you the menu on boot and let you boot fully into it and run it as if you’re dual booting. When you want to get rid of it you can simply go to add/remove software and uninstall it.

For me at least, it helped a lot getting my feet wet with how the filesystem and general Linux ecosystem works before dealing with partitions/drives and all that.

When I first tried out Linux I went the Wubi Install route. It’ll install it in Windows, but still give you the menu on boot and let you boot fully into it and run it as if you’re dual booting. When you want to get rid of it you can simply go to add/remove software and uninstall it.

For me at least, it helped a lot getting my feet wet with how the filesystem and general Linux ecosystem works before dealing with partitions/drives and all that.

I started to do some research on the installation and dual boot process when I came across http://www.ubuntu.com/download/help/install-ubuntu-with-windows

This seems like an easy way for me to install Ubuntu onto my 250gb drive, from windows and at the same time create a dual boot setup.

I have W8.

I run a linux drive too; I don’t have it set up as a dual boot system but completely separate. When I want to boot to linux, which I do for rendering, I use a sata power switch to turn off one hard drive and the other on; it reads my data folder just fine.

Incidentally, the sata power switch I use: http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=CA-343-LL

@Writer’s Block

Interesting, so you shut down your PC, shut power off on your W8 drive, turn power on you linux drive and boot your PC back up?

Sounds like the cleanest way to go. I hadn’t come across this method before.

Pretty much - if the wrong switches are on you can adjust them after switching on, as long as it’s going through the post boot process. I would be careful there though.:slight_smile:

It has the advantage of being on separate drives, making reinstalling either simple as obviously no boot partitions are changed; it also means if you want a third, fourth drive to boot from you can - great for problem finding.

Guys! At this rate you’re going to conclude that optimal approach is to have separate PC for Linux. Unplugging drives before installation, Wubi, SATA power switches… really? And all this for the sake of maybe possibly some day removing Windows or Linux drive to put it to separate machine or replace it or something?

Yeah, that’s Wubi. You just found a far better article than what I linked.

I’d go that route at first since it’ll give you a functional Ubuntu install up and running really quickly and easily. That way you can mess with it without any fear of breaking it because even if you do it’s an easy uninstall/reinstall anyway.