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Still suggesting a dual boot?

10 replies [Last post]
Gustavo's picture
Joined: 2006-09-11

I've been one of those who encourage people to setup a dual boot, but I think I've been wrong.

Out of all the people I've encouraged to setup a dual boot, none of them has gotten rid of Windows (most have even unistalled GNU/Linux). How many everyday computer users you know of that have made their first steps in GNU/Linux with a dual boot and then got rid of Windows? Isn't it enough to suggest them to try this system with a LiveCD?


Joined: 2006-03-28
The problem I see with a

The problem I see with a LiveCD is that your settings will be lost on reboot.
And if you adjust quite a lot and try out a few things, I don't think you want to do that again and again every time you start.
Of course a LiveCD is a great way to have a quick look into a new system, but I don't think it's good for learning a system.

Another reason for a dual-boot, especially in regards to the poll I had started on the other forum, is gaming, and of course application you really need.
I don't think anybody is willing to abandon a piece of software he payed a lot of money for, like Photoshop or something like that.
Since I started using Linux in '99 I always had a dual-boot. I think 99% of my time I spend in Linux, just when I want to play one of the Windows-based games, which I also payed some money for, I start Windows.

Of course it is tempting for a new-comer to just forget about Linux and go back to Windows when problems arise that he cannot solve quickly, but it can also be helpful to have another system at hand, like when you need information how to setup your Internet-connection so that you can access all the useful information from Linux.

libervisco's picture
Joined: 2006-05-04
I think dual boot plays a

I think dual boot plays a role, but when someone just keeps sticking to Windows and eventually uninstalls GNU/Linux I guess they just weren't convinced enough nor serious enough about GNU/Linux to keep it going. So I would say they simply need a bigger incentive. Something tells me this shouldn't be so hard to offer today though. GNU/Linux today with all the 3D desktop stuff, beautiful looks, improved usability and the buzz that's rising about it should be sufficiently attractive for anyone who cares even a bit about their OS.

a thing's picture
Joined: 2005-12-20
Dual boot is good.

I, and I think just about all, if not all, started GNU/Linux by dual booting. I deleted Windows about after three months.

If some problem arises in GNU/Linux that can't be fixed right away, and the PC is needed right away, a fallback is needed.

Also, if there are Internet connection issues, an OS with a working Internet connection will help a lot.

Gustavo's picture
Joined: 2006-09-11
I also started with dual

I also started with dual boot, but we are all persons who really feel the social need for a free computing environment, this is why we got rid of Windows in the end (at least the majority of us).

However, our target audience is made up of people who have never heard something about free software or perhaps have never cared about it. Once we've convinced them to setup the dual boot, what's next? What's going to make them finally leave Windows?

If after explaining what's wrong with privative software, we just managed to make them use both their previous privative system and the brand-new free environment, what's going to make them make the next step (leave windows)?

What about games? They're the worst reason to stick to windows, even also using GNU/Linux, from my viewpoint. I might understand that some people need a given privative software to work, just when a free software alternative is not available or it's available but is absolutely unusable.

We are fighting against privative software, not only against Windows. Operating systems are a critical piece in computers and in our society, games are not. We cannot accept privative games as an understandable reason to use Windows, by no means.

What about the money many people have spent on privative software? Freedom is far more important than money.

Finally, in my opinion:

  • LiveCDs: They're enough for people to get an idea on what is like to use GNU/Linux. They're not made for everyday use.
  • Dual boot: It's a double-edged sword. If people leave windows in the end, great; if they don't try to get used to GNU/Linux and keep windows, we have wasted our chance to make that person make the switch: It's very likely this person won't try to use GNU/Linux again.


dylunio's picture
Joined: 2005-12-20
The problem with just

The problem with just installing GNU/Linux and writing over Windows straight away for a new user is if things don't work 100% out of the box. People with things such as winmodems will have trouble getting them to work on GNU/Linux, and may need to seek support online. To do this their best bet would be to ask online. If they removed Windows on their only computer this option is unavailable, and may lead them to think GNU/Linux is broken, and then promptly install Windows again, and forget about GNU/Linux - in this situation we have 'lost'.

If they have the option to dual boot they can try and fix things themselves using online support etc. Then there is more chance that they will like GNU/Linux as they try it for longer, as they spend time trying to fix things, and once it's fixed they will feel happier in it.

One problem I see with live CDs is that if things do not work you can't hack them as a new user to make them work (install drives and whatnot). People may dismiss GNU/Linux out of hand if the LiveCD doesn't work.

Now I know much of the above logic requires GNU/Linux not to work out of the box, which isn't quite the right impression one would like to convay, as GNU/Linux does work out of the box in most cases.

This is a tricky question, as we don't want people to stay with Windows (or non-free software) on their hard drives, so there should be some kind of reasoning for people to wipe it - if they don't see a use for it e.g. some program which there is no free alternative - once they have happily setup GNU/Linux.

tbuitenh's picture
Joined: 2005-12-21
Having a second OS to fall

Having a second OS to fall back to in case of problems is good, but this might just as well be another free OS.

However as long as one has exotic hardware that one hasn't tried / hasn't got working on the free OS yet, it's good to still have the originally installed OS to check if problems are caused by software or by hardware.

Also there's the issue of free software which was originally developed for windows and of which there is no linux port yet or of which the linux port doesn't work well.

So these are the options one has, in order from best to worst:
- install two different free OSes (preferrably truly different ones, eg Linux and BSD)
- install one free OS
- dual boot with the originally installed proprietary OS if you have reason to believe you might need it some day
- keep the proprietary OS, but run only free software on top of it

Dual booting while linux doesn't support something you really need now, not in a possible future but NOW, that doesn't make much sense. Users in that situation are going to use windows most of the time, and it's best not to annoy them too much by telling them to use linux when they can't. The time to invite these to try linux is when linux supports what they need. If you try to convert them earlier, the result may be that they will resent linux and will refuse to try it again in the future when it does support what they need.
Of course this group is small and getting smaller every day Smiling .

I have a laptop with bluetooth and infrared hardware, which currently doesn't work under linux but which I may want to get to work one day when I buy a new phone. Also, the linux version of secondlife leaks memory like you wouldn't believe. So I'm dual booting with windows until it breaks, I don't consider it worth fixing when it will break. Actually I hate using it Sticking out tongue .

Gustavo's picture
Joined: 2006-09-11
Hi, dylunio and

Hi, dylunio and tbuitenh!

I've suggested this


I think we should add a fully free distro (like gnewsense) and clearly state that the rest of the promoted distros are not fully free in the mean time because they contain some software critical to run well with many pieces of hardware, thus, all of your current hardware might not work with the fully free distro (however, you might prefer to replace a piece of hardware rather than giving away your freedom... If for some reason you cannot replace the piece of hardware that doesn't work, then you should really install one of the non-fully-free distros).

and this


The way to work around this [hardware problems in GNU/Linux] is to encourage them to buy hardware supported with free drivers/firmware, IMO.
Because many people don't know/care about what the pieces of hardware are, we might create a one-page PDF explaining briefly the pieces of hardware they should not buy and those we suggest them to buy. They would have to print it out and bring it to the hardware store for the sales persons to read it and offer them a computer (or a given hardware) fully supported with free software.

in order to work around hardware problems.

This is a dilemma.

dylunio's picture
Joined: 2005-12-20
The former idea will work

The former idea will work in most cases as GNU/Linux distributions such as Ubuntu will get most hardware to work, even if it requires non-free stuff. However it doesn't close the gap where there are not even proprietary drivers for the hardware.

The later idea is very good, and I support it, yet it doesn't get around people which already have computers.

I understand that the former is trying to solve the problems of the later, yet there is still a gap.

This is indeed a dilema.

One idea would be to produce a live CD which people who are thinking of installing GNU/Linux could try which would test their hardware, and compair it against a database of what works, though this is getting a bit complicated.

a thing's picture
Joined: 2005-12-20
one positive, one neutral

A person that would forget about GNU/Linux in a dual boot, even after reading all of GGL, is probably a person that would corrupt GNU/Linux with completely unnecessary nonfree software. Dual booting is something to help a person who cares along, and won't really matter for the person in the previous sentence.

Therefore, I suggest suggesting dual booting.

ariadacapo's picture
Joined: 2006-07-13
I must say I agree. I have

I must say I agree. I have dual-booted Windows and Mandriva for about 8 months, and it has proved very useful and comforting.

I guess it is just something we have to accept, that people can fully roll-back to Windows after trying GNU/Linux. (my Dad even rolled back to IE after I installed Firefox for him).

This should not prevent us from encouraging the purchase of FS-compatible hardware. I'll look more into this soon.


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