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New to Linux: distro & dual booting

Hi all,

I’m about to switch from the Mac and give Linux a try for the first time ever (total noob here) on a new system (Ryzen 2600, 16Gb, AsRock B450 Mini-ITX) built for prosumer purposes (audiovisual production, web design, internet use and gaming).

After reading a few articles and watching some introductory videos I’ve still got tons of questions about Linux that I’d love to ask. But wait! don’t leave just yet! I’m mostly bothered by only a couple so hopefully you’ll indulge my ignorance on the subject and provide your take on the matter:

  1. I’m planning to dual boot Windows and Linux on the same NvMe 1Tb drive. Do I have to create another EFI partition specifically for Linux or can Linux use the EFI partition already created by the windows installer?
  2. Distros and DE: which distribution gets closer to a newbie-friendly non-bloated and lightweight system, but still has a consistent, functional, usable, and coherent DE UI? I was planning on installing PopOS but I’ve read that it uses around 2Gb of RAM (isn’t that a lot? is that only because of Gnome?), so I’m looking into other alternatives like Fedora, Elementary, Ubuntu Mate, Mint, or Solus. Any ideas? Bear in mind that I’m coming from a Mac and I have a background in design so there’re things that at this present moment I don’t think I could even consider (XFCE is one of them). Let me clarify that I’m not looking for a DE that resembles OSX, but one that’s or can be well designed, it’s modern and meets the aforementioned criteria if possible.

Ok, that’s it, hopefully that made sense. Thanks a ton for your feedback!

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Gnome does use quite a bit of ram. But if you have 16GB of ram, it doesn’t really have much of an impact on your ability to do things. Realistically, one would want the OS to use more RAM as things can be accessed faster since RAM is faster. If programs and the OS and things totaled to 15 Gigs of RAM, then you should be concerned and looking for lighter weight alternatives.

Mate has a global menu ability, as well as XFCE. And there are ton of very good themes for both DE’s. XFCE is just ugly by default. :laughing: Another cool thing about Mate, is that it has a HUD like Unity.

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Yeah, with 16gb of Ram, lightweight is kinda not really needed, and might actually harm performance, if it tried to save resources…
16MB, then you’re talkin Lightweight…

As for the partition, it would need a separate partition.

You might be better off getting a 250GB ssd, if there is a sale on or a HDD to run Linux on, rather than squash Windows?
But I have heard the one can shrink a windows partition,

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The lack of a graphics card got me concerned. You do understand Ryzen non-G(E) have no integrated graphics right?

About Pop!_OS: it’s very good, don’t know as a “prosumer” as you said, but should be quite doable.

For development purposes I’d prefer to stick to either Fedora or Debian.

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Just in general, dual booting windows and linux off of the same drive is not a great idea. It is possible, it’s just windows likes to overwrite the Linux boot loader, and it is not too hard to do the same on Linux.

You could still have all of your big files on the 1tb nvme drive by having a /homepartion on that drive, then getting a smaller ssd to boot from.

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If you dual boot, PLEASE do it with separate drives. get a second cheap SSD and Install Linux onto that. Or if linux is gonna be your main, put it on the nvme, and then put windows on the SSD you buy. I would go for something small like 250 GB or something.

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I still have to get familiarised with how much RAM usage is considered to be excessive and how much is acceptable, but by your replies I guess that by using 16Gb I shouldn’t be worried about performance or be nitpicky, thank you for your insights! Also, maybe “lightweight” wasn’t the best way to put it, I was trying to convey the idea of an optimized OS/DE that doesn’t waste memory in useless background applications or is badly optimized. Once I get Linux running I’ll be checking out different DEs and see which ones work best for my usage (I guess XCFE isn’t on that list for now :laughing:, probably it’s too much customization hassle).

Thanks for the suggestions. I had bought the NvMe to keep things minimal in a SFF system thinking that dual booting from the same drive wouldn’t be a problem, and also because it was cheaper than buying two SSDs (one being NvMe). Being 1Tb way more than enough for me, I kinda dislike the option of having to buy yet another thing just to boot Linux. I guess my only choice now is to dual boot until everything explodes and then switch completely to Linux. I’m still unsure about the extra EFI partition as in Ubuntu’s Community help page “Creating an EFI System Partition” (the forum doesn’t allow me to post links) says “It is strongly recommended to have only 1 ESP per disk.” (maybe things will explode sooner than anticipated).

haha yeah, thanks for the reminder though :wink: I didn’t list the graphics card because I still haven’t bought it and also because I thought it wasn’t too relevant for the conversation. On that note I’m waiting to see what AMD brings to the table with their RX 5500 lineup and I am aware of the Pop!_OS distro options depending on the GPU manufacturer.
I’ll probably be trying Pop!_OS as my first distribution as Goalkeeper and Trooper_Ish have quenched all my RAM usage doubts.

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I would reccomend using a live USB distro for a bit, see how you get on with simple things.
Any programs you install should be blown away each boot, and documents might be too (unless it has persistent storage, not sure with pop_os USB)

But it should give you a “feel” for how it reacts, with browsing and stuff.

Be prepared to google when you stumble.
Stuff breaks, but often there are either fixes, or replacements

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Never say never, my boi/gal/ah. Manjaro has the best XFCE implementation of all, it is simply amazing.

Debs XFCE has done wonders to my sandy bridge dell laptop with a whopping 4 gigs of RAM, I’ve got to render doom’s fire on chromium with under 1 gig (windows itself boost it up to 5 gigs with it, might be related to cache and shit… either that or the fact that I was serving myself there versus chrome opening the file directly on windoes)…

I don’t know your usage, but even with GNOME 8 gigs is plenty, maybe editing graphical stuff and all that would require more, IDK.

I guess you’ll distro-hop, that might be kinda bad. I’ve distro-hopped a lot and am trying to maintain the POMO mindset since I’ve found the two I like the most for web-development.

If you want to test different DE’s go with @Trooper_Ish 's recomendation: try live USB of the DE’s you’re considering.

KDE is sweet, GNOME is use-ready (best implementation in my book was Pop! Worse was Ubuntu[yeah, funny, right?]), XFCE takes some extra configuration, Cinnamon is kinda ugly out-of-the-box.

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Imho, if you’re coming from a mac, Gnome it is. Don’t listen to the “it’s bloated” stuff. That’s largely only relevant in really resource constraint systems. Yes, Gnome uses a bit more RAM than KDE or XFCE, but it really isn’t that bad. A lot of the misconceptions come from Gnome being not to fluent with their animations in the past, which gave it a sluggish feel. That’s gotten a LOT better in recent releases though.

Gnome is pretty close to mac in how it handles, is the most consistent of all the DE’s and is still decently customizable with themes and icons. If you are missing anything, look into extensions. Other than that, i haven’t found any DE that’s as stable and “just works” as Gnome. Anything i’d consider on par is a wm and requires some work to get looking nice.

For going into Linux, i’d still recommend Ubuntu or PopOS. They more geared towards “normal” users and software support is nearly unmatched.

For dual booting, just keep in mind to install Windows first. Partition your drive before installing Windows. Ubuntu and it’s spins (and most other distros) will recognize Windows on Installation and create an entry to boot it. Windows will nuke your option to boot Linux on the other hand. So yeah, one EFI Partition is fine. Linux Bootloaders are capable of booting Windows from there.

Please make sure you can do what you need in Linux. Audioproduction on Linux is… subpar.

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1,000% this.

Install dash to dock and move the dock to the bottom (or leave on the left, move right, whatever you do on MacOS) and the experience is nearly click for click.

apt/dnf => brew
Terminator => iTerm2
JetBrains => JetBrains
Cronopete => Time Machine
VMware Workstation => Parallels

Agreed.

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I dual boot windows and pop os on my xps 15. It has a 512gb nvme ssd. I haven’t had problems with windows overwriting my linux boot partition. However, if you install on a single drive and use pop os, you’ll have to manually setup the partitions. It was easy when I did it, but you could easily overwrite windows if you aren’t careful.

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While I cannot bring anything new to the desktop environment discussion, since I like both GNOME and KDE, but not being able to address certain elements individually in vanilla GNOME like I can in KDE or Ubuntu GNOME (at least up until Ubuntu Bionic Beaver, as that is when I switched to Antergos, rest in peace, an Arch-based distribution which is no longer alive) which can be addressed manually in /etc/locale.conf as well, I can still talk about my Windows 10+Linux dual-boot experience. Both on the same drive, and what I have heard around the internet in general.

Dual-booting was fine for me. I did not boot into Windows often (every three months basically), so it never got the chance to update/upgrade. Here is where we get into the words of caution that I have heard on the internet over time. Basically, regular security updates should pose no risk whatsoever. Feature updates (build upgrades) on the other hand might. Those come out every six months or so, so… My understanding is that they basically overwrite the EFI partition every single time they occur, so you would have to rescue your Linux installation using a LiveUSB every six months if you decide to go the single drive route.

 

As I am the kind of guy that tinkers with his system, I am not very good at providing general newcomer advice. I am, however, at least in person, decent at giving targeted newcomer advice, advice which only applies to a specific person, so I will be more help if any specific issues arise, or you are simply curious about things that are not the bare minimum for running Linux.

I hope that you enjoy using Linux and have a nice day!

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Unused ram is wasted ram. That said… I have Linux virtual machines with less than 1gb and some with like 8gb. You’ll be fine.

As for your dual boot adventures. You’ll only have 1 efi partition and the bootloader in it will allow you to choose windows or Linux. I really hate doing this but I won’t just sit here and echo others.

Grub can handle your windows and Linux booting needs.

Install Windows first then resize the partition with Linux and you shouldn’t have a problem.

Personally I’m of the mindset that dual booting is a waste of time unless you actually can’t afford to use another machine. I use windows and Linux but I don’t mix them on my systems.

The current AMD GPU situation would be enough for me to pull my hair out about buying AMD. You’ll want to use something with an updated kernel if you do buy AMD. I recommend fedora in that case.

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If you have a second system lying around grab 3 or 4 distro’s and jump right in and start messing with them. On older systems linux will fly where where Windows will just crush the life out it. IMHO

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Uhm do seperate drives. I really should come up with a standard distro agnostic advice reply format for these kinds of threads :joy:

Anyways lightweight isn’t needed with your specs and you can keep your boot partitions seperate on the same drive but you need to read up on how to do that if your insistent on going this route. If done wrong windows and Linux will overwrite one another’s bootloader’s :grin: … IN FACT if you want to do this just commit to using GRUB it allows booting both. Forget having two EFI bootloader’s because you only have a single efi part

As for distro. I wouldn’t worry about newbie friendly. All the big names basically are nowadays.

Solid choice would be Fedora believe it or not. It has wonderful documentation :wink: and entire step by step manual up to date to set it up.

Fedora gnome will do. If you have Nvidia and don’t wanna deal with the ecentricities of gnome and Wayland then opt for MATE it’s better than XFCE user experience wise.

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One, If you install both on one drive with one EFI partition, GRUB will just forward the request to the Windows bootloader. You can still select the Windows bootloader in the UEFI after installing Linux if you so choose.

Two, GNOME does not have any Wayland eccentricities (at least from my experience), KDE does.
To be fair, screen capturing does not work with OBS and SimpleScreenRecorder when running under Wayland, but GNOME does have its own screen capturing element of the desktop, so the OBS situation is not that dire. But yeah, stay away from KDE’s Wayland unless its X11 session is actually worse on your system, like it is on mine, or want to basically be a tester, which I kind of am, though that is already getting way off-track for this discussion.
Still, I would call that a limitation rather than an eccentricity.

Side note

I’m betting that somebody reading this thought to themselves “They should install Arch to get the best experience with the recent AMD GPUs.”, to which I say “As their username suggests, they’re new to this game, so the absolute most to ask of them would be to try Manjaro.”
Ukuu was once an option, but is now something you must pay for. At least it is a one-time payment.

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Good supplemental information to know. Linux is always evolving

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Thanks a ton everyone for your kind and illustrative replies.

Ok, I think I’ll begin my Linux journey through Pop!_OS or Fedora with Gnome. I’ll also keep @Trooper_Ish wise advice in mind should I find things aren’t working for me and test out other distributions via live USB as suggested. I don’t think there’ll be any issues though, so probably once I get familiarised with the OS and DE I’ll be using that method to check out other options.

This is exciting, I’m thrilled to begin learning about how Linux works.

Thanks for the advice, I thought that’d be the case. Nonetheless I’m intrigued to discover the extent to which Linux can handle different production tasks. Still, I do most of my work at the office so thankfully for now, it’s more curiosity than need which drives me to try and produce things within Linux.

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