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Newbie-friendly, Windows-friendly Linux

What Unix or Linux operating system type is most compatible with Windows XP?

Which Unix or Linux is most friendly to those who are relatively inexperienced with computers, but want something better than Windows?

Is it possible have both operating systems on your computer?

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Let's start off by just saying neither Linux nor Unix is "compatible" with Windows, in the true sense of compatibility. They are all operating systems.

Now that we got that out of the way, there is much you can do in terms of interoperability. Both systems can share files, data and applications with one another. You can use Samba, to make Linux or Unix work as a fileserver for your XP client. You can also install PC-NFS on your PC and move data back and forth using NFS services.

I would say that Linux would be friendlier than Unix for you, and it will also be cheaper, not only in terms of the cost of the OS, but also the platform that it runs on (PCs). If you really want to try your hand at Unix, SUN is now giving away versions of Solaris.

Yes, you can use both Linux and Windows on your computer, even at the same time. Take a look at Cooperative Linux, which is the free open source way of running Linux on Windows natively. If you don't like free, look at vmware then, which is a commercial version of doing this.

You can also set up a dual partitioned computer, one which has Windows XP, and the other that has Linux. After you are finished partitioning your XP system, using something like Partition Magic, you would install Linux and then boot up whichever operating system you need. Mandrake has a reputation as being one of the most user-friendly Linux distros; it was actually the first Linux distro I used, though you might want to start with Red-Hat or SuSE, as there is a lot more resources available for these.

Good luck!

This was first published in August 2005

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