Re: Questions About Linux

On Friday 13 November 2009 17:38 in alt.os.linux, somebody identifying
as Tiziano wrote...

I know absolutely nothing about Linux...

I have this ten-year old PC which has two physical hard drives. Hard
drive C: has Windows XP Pro SP3 installed on it. Hard drive D: is now
completely empty (80 GB) and is NTFS formatted. The plan is to
install 2 or 3 flavors of Linux on hard drive D: (all at the same
time) -- just to see which one I like the best! (I think I would like
to try Ubuntu, openSUSE, Fedora)

Okay, first of all, "C:" and "D:" are DOS designations - which are still
used by FascistOS since it is based upon DOS. :p

Secondly, if you're going to install GNU/Linux distributions on the
second hard disk, then the NTFS filesystem will have to go. GNU/Linux
requires its own partitions and filesystems. See the thread about
transitioning from Wintendo to GNU/Linux in this newsgroup.

1) Is there a utility that will allow to choose which operating
system I want to use for the boot up? Such utility would have to work
under both Windows and Linux and be capable to either boot up from C:
or D:.

The GNU/Linux bootloaders LILO and GRUB can both boot different
GNU/Linux operating systems and Wintendo, and GRUB can boot other
UNIX-es as well.

That said, you can also use a third-party bootloader, which will
typically require a partition of its own, and there are even tricks for
using the Wintendo bootloader to load Linux, but this requires making a
copy of the Linux bootsector to a file, copying that file to the
Wintendo boot drive and modifying the Wintendo "boot.sys" file.

2) Is there a way to tell if a Linux distribution includes drivers
compatible with my PC hardware? It would be nice to know that kind of
information before installing a particular Linux distribution, so as
not to waste time. My PC is old and I doubt that I would be able to
find Linux drivers if they are not already included in the

If it's old, then it's probably all supported. However, you can look
for yourself via Google, and/or report on your hardware here so that
people might be able to shed some more light on this. But like I said,
it'll probably all be supported, unless it's something really awkward
that you have.

3) Why is it that everybody seems to think that there is no need to
run antivirus/.antispyware utilities with Linux?

Because there are no viruses for GNU/Linux in the wild. The only thing
that ever came close was a proof-of-concept virus developed in a lab to
show that an ELF executable could be infected with a virus, but the
mechanisms of a UNIX operating system are designed to keep the system

In Wintendo, "open" equals "execute", and a file is executable if its
name ends in ".exe", ".com", ".bat", ".cmd" - which is an OS/2 legacy -
and ".pif" - which is an application launcher that sets the environment
for real mode applications. In UNIX, a file is only executable if it
has an execute permission set for your user account in the filesystem
layer, which means that you must manually download the virus and give
it execute permission, and then start it manually as well. In addition
to that, an unprivileged user account has no write access to system
files, so the virus would have to be executed by the root user in order
to have access to system files.

If I go to a repository and download and install some utility, how do
I know that there is no embedded virus in it?

Because the trusted repositories all have checksums and cryptographic
keys which are checked upon downloading the software. And even if
there were a virus in it - in which case the checksums and signatures
wouldn't match anymore - then see above. ;-)

(registered GNU/Linux user #223157)

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