Review: Test Driving Linux by David Brickner

Oh come on, Windows to Linux in 60 seconds? Isn’t that a little bit of stretch? Well, if you use the supplied CD that comes with this book, then chances are you too will be looking at Linux just about a minute! Wild!

“From Windows to Linux in 60 seconds” is the promise on the cover of Test Driving Linux by David Brickner, and it certainly keeps its promise. I popped the included Move CD into the drive, re-booted my computer, and in less than a minute, I was looking at a Linux KDE desktop.

Much like Knoppix and other Linux Live CDs, the Move CD lets you boot into Mandrakesoft’s Mandrakelinux 10.0 without disturbing the Windows-formatted contents of your hard drive. This benefit makes it possible to “test-drive” in the store a system configured for Windows, to see if it will work with Linux instead. The boot process actually looks for device drivers for your monitor, keyboard and mouse, printer, and so on, and then incorporates them into the Linux configuration. Network system settings are also moved, more-or-less seamlessly, into the Linux arena. With a memory key inserted, the configuration file is stored, and you skip over this process in subsequent boots from the CD.

Because the operating system is stored on a CD, your computer will run slower than you are used to—and the slower your CD-ROM drive, the more your patience will be tried. After using it satisfactorily on my main computer and two brand-new ones at Computer City, I even tried it on a creaky old PC with eight years under its AMD-chip belt—it worked, but I had time to make a sandwich in between window refreshes. [Read the rest]