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[Solved] Window 7 to Linux advice/sanity check take 2

I started a post: windows-7-refugee-needing-advice-sanity-check (I removed the hyperlink, too much noise)
But I was not really clear and it didn’t really ask the right question.

For this thread I will lay out what to do with my system and hopefully the community can let me know what I have missed.

Fall/Winter I will be building a new system, I am looking at:
AMD 3900x or 3950x for CPU
x570 Motherboard
AMD rx5700 GPU

a M.2 SSD for Linux (boot)
a SATA SSD for Data
a SATA SSD for VMs

So in my head its c: is where Linux lives d: is where my data lives and e: is where all my VMs live.

For Linux I am looking at Mint Cinnamon but Fedora is an option. Could I duel boot between the 2 distros? Would the SSD need to be partitioned?
If I make Windows VMs, can they live on the M.2 SSD with linux or should they be on their own SSD that is NTFS? I am wanting both a Win7 and a Win10 vm to use a common data drive. Can that be done? Am I asking for trouble?

I will game at times and I know there have been many improvements to gaming on Linux lately so hopefully I will not need to do a GPU pass-through (time will tell).

If I have a “Data” drive that windows VMs need access to, do I just leave them as NTFS and let the VMs do the IO or do I have the Linux host do all the IO? Pros/cons?

If I have a NAS and have the VMs map a drive into that NAS, is the NAS at risk?

I am so use to having Malwarebytes and an Anti-Vi runing on Windows, do I need thos on Linux?

Is there a “N00b start here” wiki/post that I can read on best practices for migration to linux?

Thanks all!

Of course. I can’t say I recommend it. Just seems annoying to have two operating systems. They could share a data drive/partition where you could put your media, documents, etc; but it still seems irritating. Double the updates, half the fun.

You do not have to have the two on the same drive, if that’s what you’re asking. If you want the two to live on the same drive, then they will need their own partitions.

I don’t know if you’re asking for trouble, but I’d ask “why?” Windows 7 is dead, and why have two Windows version on virtual machines anyway?

This is going to depend heavily on your willingness to just not play some games, because they don’t work. Because there are definitely games that do not work, and while it’s probably getting better, until Windows is unseated as the OS of games we’re not going to live in a world where Linux can play every new game (much less old ones - Windows 10 still can’t play Fallout 3 well because Bethesda can’t be bothered to patch a few bugs)

I hope not, because they don’t really exist for Linux. The closest thing is clamav, which is really a Windows anti-virus system in that it’s looking for Windows viruses (it’s for mail servers more than desktops).

Lookup ChrisTitusTech on YouTube. I think he does a good job of translating Linux for Windows users.

@ContourNut

Thanks, you have a good point “Double the updates, half the fun.” I guess the proper way is to use live distros until I settle on one.

Long story but for now Win 7 is still part of my life and might be for the next 5 years …

Thank you for the info and feed back … time for me to do more research.

I dual boot w7 and Ubuntu. W7 is on a separate drive. In Ubuntu I have virtual box with a w7 VM using a raw disk pointing to my windows install. So I can load the same windows install in either a VM under Linux or boot from bios.

@SudoSaibot

I was wondering if that was possible. Any good links that I could look into that more?

This looks pretty complete

https://greenash.net.au/thoughts/2016/02/running-a-real-windows-install-in-virtualbox-on-linux/

@SudoSaibot
Thank you for this. It is a option I had hoped for but never had found a way to do it.

Virtual machine protect the system from exploiting its holes? I rather haven’t heard of this option.
If W7 is exposed to a threat that exploits some error, it won’t matter whether vm or not. If you disconnect the W7 from the Internet and do not run any unreliable programs on it, it can work in VM if you need it.
From the security point of windows itself, it doesn’t really matter whether you run it in a virtual machine or directly on bare metal. The attack vector is still the same. imho

As for the use of W7 in 2020, it’s risky though possible. If you can afford it, you can pay for updates or risk using a system that no longer has new security patches. If the system is behind NAT / Firewall and no random packets reach it. If your online activity is very limited and well thought out. If you don’t run uncertain things.
Then theoretically you can use W7 but the risk level increases tremendously.
The main attack vector are websites and everything associated with them. The second is the services offered to the world and the ability to send a package directly to the machine. Even when visiting only known and theoretically secure websites, there is still a risk that someday some hostile element will appear that will expose your system.
The problem is usually that you can’t predict when and where an infection will occur. You will find out about it after the fact.
Think of it as a house where you have a front door. When you leave the house, you do not close the door locks, hoping that nothing bad will happen, that no one will come to your door and check whether it can be opened without any problems.
It’s the same with the unpatched operating system. By using the internet you rely on the hope that you will not come across hostile action that will want to check if your doors have all locks closed.
You must assess the level of risk yourself. And decide if it’s worth it. I will say NO! but everyone has the right to their opinion.
In addition, W7 will lose support of anti-virus programs and others over time. It will be similar to XP. Is using XP dangerous in 2019? Theoretically, if it’s connected to the internet, yes. But it’s okay if we only use it offline. I know places that still use windows 3.11 but here you don’t have internet, only offline production machines.

Since you are assembling a new PC and you are more familiar with Windows than Linux, the new PC + W10 and the old pc + linux to acquire new skills. If the old pc is not available then maybe some cheap x86 or even sbc in the style of Odroid XU4 / PI4 to familiarize with linux …

The solution with many bare metal systems is weak. The end result is that the time of using another system will be very limited. Either one bare metal system + virtual machines or two physically separate PCs. You can even go towards the main pc with one W10 system and the other with linux and many virtual machines. The prices of old monitors and graphic cards are low so … in this way you create a small cool working and learning / testing environment. No pressure or mess on the main machine / system. If something goes wrong, you turn to the main clean machine and relax without stress that you need to fix something to use the pc.

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If you want to switch to Linux but aren’t sure yet, here’s my recommendation:
Get a cheap 128G SSD. Those are a dime a dozen now and well enough storage for any Linux Distro.
Install WIndows 10 on your larger drive, but Linux on the small SSD and let your PC boot to Linux first. Dabble with it, make it more convenient to start Linux, but if you need it for anything, Windows 10 is right there.

That way, your Linux Install is decoupled from Windows, you can try all you want and wipe it clean without thinking about the Data. Treat your Windows Installation as a backup for when you need something done in a hurry.

Concerning Gaming, i agree with what’s bee said until now. It’s getting better, and if you go at it with the attitude “Let’s see which great games there are for Linux”, you’ll have a GREAT time. If you already have a lot of Games you like and want to play, but they aren’t ported to Linux (LoL, Overwatch, well, anything Blizzard, etc.), you are in for a rough ride.

As for Distros, i’d highly recommend Solus. I just installed it again yesterday and am really, really impressed by it. I have a Nvidia Setup and it was really smooth. No Problems on Install or Afterwards, Drivers Installation was easy and Solus + Budgie delivers a really Smooth Setup.
Fedora and any *buntu are great options too. Have had good luck with both. Just that Solus was so incredibly painless yesterday that i felt the need to point in it’s direction at least.

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@TimHolus and @domsch1988
Thank you both for your input/ideas/info.

So when I aggregate all the comments from my two threads I am starting to see that I didn’t have the right questions in my head and I have need to do more research.

I had hoped that I could set up Linux as a “firewall” to keep my window 7 vm safe. But it seems like I really didn’t ask myself “Why win 7?”. When Win 10 came on the scene I got sucked into a lot of FUD beleiving that it would become a “Subscription only” OS and that it was full of “telemetry” that you could not turn off. Also, you had no choice on when it upgrades plus I just dislike “live tiles”.

Why did I want linux? I want an alternative to Windows and I really want more control over my OS.

It seems like now Win 10 pro allows you to have a little control over when it updates. There seems to be scrips that help remove bloat and most of the “telemetry”. I will do more research but right now my plan is to have the new system still with a Linux host and a Win7 -> Win10 VM. I just know myself and if I do a duel boot I will just live in Windows and never learn Linux.

Thanks all for the help!

Dont use these. They are more of a headache than they are worth because most of them dont include any options to undo and I’ve had first hand experience with them fucking your system down the road. The better solution is shutup10. If you want to get into using windows 10 (and I recommend you do) then you will probably want open shell too. It replaces the windows 10 start menu with one more traditional to older versions, including a windows 7 like menu.

I’m not a fan of dual boot or VM personally. If you’re going to use windows, then use windows, and if you’re going to use linux… use linux. Thats solely my opinion so do as you wish.

On the topic of Mint or Fedora, I really prefer Fedora now after being a Mint user for some time. For me, Fedora is one of the best options for people who want to actually use their computer instead of working on setting things up so they can use it later… if that makes any sense. Mint is pretty good about getting out of your way so you can just do things too. If its your first time with linux I would suggest not paying too much attention to ‘distros’ and try out whatever desktop environment you think you prefer and just go with that.

Cinnamon is nice because of muscle memory. Its laid out a lot like windows and for people like me thats a solid bonus. Make no mistake though… Linux is NOT Windows

No matter how much it looks like it, it will never act like it. It seems obvious but you would be surprised how easy it is to forget this and expect something to work the same way it does in windows. You can make your DE look like windows but you can never make linux act like windows.

Feel free to ask me anything as my daily driver is Windows 10 so I know my way around it well enough.

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@Adubs
Thanks for let me know about shutup10, it does seem to do a lot of what I was looking for in a telemetry cleaner.

I do know this and I am sorry if I have presented myself in a way that you thought otherwise.

Its totally not that you made it seem like you thought that. Its that I have seen people time and time again complain that linux doesnt do X when they get into it.

I’m more or less just reiterating that linux does things different from windows across the board and you will have teething pains from this at first. If you keep the mindset that linux is going to be completely different then you wont get as frustrated when you come to a roadblock and have to do something a different way than what youre used to.

@Adubs
Valid point and yes I know there will be “teething pains” but thanks for the warning. :smiley:

Theoretically, no firewall will provide adequate protection for a vulnerable system. Yes, you can block unwanted traffic but this will not eliminate the main vector of threat which is websites.
A regular spi firewall is stupid and has extremely low iq. Think of it as a toll gate on the highway. You pay it will let you pass, you don’t pay it won’t let you pass. But do not check if the car is stolen, do not check if the driver is wanted by the police, do not check if you have drugs in the trunk. The same is true with a firewall, firewall either blocking or letting through but not doing a thorough packet analysis. To do this, you need Intrusion Detection Systems like suricata or snort. They, in cooperation with fw, carry out a deep packet analysis and try to compare to the rule base whether the transmission contains any known threats. But there are no miracles here. First of all, nowadays, when almost everything is encrypted without the use of a root certificate on the point, such analyzes will do nothing. In addition, IDS is based, as everything on a set of rules that at the time of the attack may not contain the correct rule. Even using IDS does not give 100% security, not even close.
There is no magic here … if the system contains a serious vulnerability and is subjected to hostile action, then no firewall or virtual machine will protect this system.
Think of it as inviting an unknown person to your home. You don’t know if this person will suddenly attack you when you turn your back. A potential attack vector has already occurred, while your task is to limit such a situation, do everything to ensure that an unknown person stays outside your home. Unfortunately, using a system that has unpatched holes is just like inviting an unknown person to your home and hoping that nothing bad will happen.

A little better solution than a regular firewall before the windows machine will be a good firewall + hips directly on the W7 itself, but this also does not work wonders. The web browser can always be run in the sandbox, but there is also a risk that something may escape.

This is the river theme … In short, the best rule is always to use the current software. Whether it’s an operating system or any other application. Later we have such situations that botnets of 10 million hosts are created because one of the reasons is that people do not update the software.

As I mentioned earlier, avoid a double system on bare metal. The end result will be that you’ll almost always use only one system. If you have funds or an old pc, add a second computer specifically for linux and learning. If for some reason this is not possible then virtual machine on the main pc.
If you prefer to stay with windows as your main system and treat Linux as a slow learning process, even a cheap single board computer will do. Yes, this solution will not be super efficient, but it will work well to familiarize yourself with the new system and develop new habits.

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It depends on the user. I run Linux and Windows on bare metal on the same hardware. I run them 50/50. I normally boot Linux for most stuff. When Friends call for some gaming, or i want to do some Audio Recording, i just reboot to Windows. Takes 5 Seconds for a full reboot and i’m ready to go.
For me, it’s much less painful than running VM’s, dealing with two GPU’s in a small case on mATX or VFIO and IOMMU Groups etc.

If you only want to leave Windows because you hate Microsoft, i agree with you. You’ll probably end up booting more to windows than anything else. But if you install Linux because you genuinely like it and feel it does certain things better, dual-booting can be a great option. Also, not everyone has the Space for dual Keyboards, Mice and Monitors for two systems. Not even talking about Powerconsumption…

I agree with this for several reasons:

  • its all too tempting to reboot into windows rather than figure out how to do whatever in linux. then you get sidetracked and end up just staying booted into windows anyway. thus prolonging the changeover indefinitely.
  • Its a waste of disk space and complicates your configuration.
  • if you only reboot into Windows occasionally chances are these days you’ll need to run through windows update every fucking time… also you now have TWO operating systems to maintain and keep up to date…

Back up your stuff, then take the plunge. I did the dual boot thing for a long time (over a decade) … these days things are much better and there isn’t much you can’t do.

Gaming? 2c… Replace steam with lutris and retroarch. Retrogames have better gameplay anyway. Some stuff runs on steam also.

Put on the big boy pants and rip off the band-aid in my opinion. The pain may be a little more intense, but you’ll give Linux a far better run and give yourself a much better chance of actually getting yourself OFF windows, rather than running back to it every time something gets mildly difficult.

Running scripts to de-malware windows 10 is basically stockholm syndrome…

edit:
if (as per above) multiplayer online gaming with Windows games is a thing, you may have to maintain a windows install or be selective about the games you play to some degree, but lutris/wine/steam can now cover “enough” new games IMHO to simply not justify maintaining a Windows install. YMMV.

It does feel great to be Windows free, at home.

100% this. As i stated already, if you are going at this with the intend to say “let’s see what i can do with gaming on Linux”, you’re gonna have a great time now.

I still think that dualbooting is the way to go. It gives you the option to figure out what works on Linux and what doesn’t. And let’s be real. Some stuff just doesn’t work. If you personally use those things, or if they are relevant to you is another discussion.

How much time you end up spending in either OS is probably not determined by dual-booting. If that makes you use Windows 90% of the time, you should probably just stay on Windows. Nothing wrong with that.

And yes, don’t run random powershell scripts to “de-bloat” Windows. They just break stuff all around.

True, but it is getting less and less. And if you’re running it in a home environment there really isn’t a HEAP you can’t do. Video editing? Done. Image editing? Done. General internet “stuff”? Faster than windows… linux tcp stack and browser behaviour really does seem a lot snappier.

And those things you can’t do? IMHO: Take the money you’d have to spend on a windows license and/or Windows software for all the other stuff you can now do with 100% free software, and buy a non-windows device (ipad, android tablet, game console, whatever) to do it.

I’m sorry, but that’s a narrow view of computing.
Assuming that eveything Linux can’t do can be done on an IPad is plain wrong.

Linux Users are avid to point out all the stuff that just works, or is better. Leaving out all the stuff that’s worse. Some points for me:

  1. Lutris is a great project, but a lot of installers fail, hang or produce non-working Games. If they work, any update to either your OS, wine, Lutris or the Game can break it. you need to constantly Babysit your Installations.
  2. Anything Audio is a mess. There isn’t any proper Recording setup, no decent or comercial Plugins, Randomly Pulse Audio will decide to pitch everything down two whole tones or refuse to play music and game-audio at the same time. Wait or reboot fixes it, most of the time.
  3. Multi-Display mixed DPI or mixed Refreshrate is just not working, most of the time. I run 3 screens on Nvidia. I can get them set up at login with a script. System Settings for 144Hz or alignment often don’t stick over reboots. After Sleep, All Diplays are rotated randomly or the whole X-Display is moved by 200 Pixels.

Those are just some points from the top of my head. Sure, if all you do is Browsing, Mailing, Playing supported Games and writing Code, you’ll have a great time. Just, acting like everything can just work is a little misleading. Linux still needs a lot of work from the user, and depending on what you want to do, it’s just not possible. And none of the above can be done on an IPad.
Oh, and don’t even think about configuring anything on your expensive mouse or keyboard. You’ll have to start buying Hardware based on the fact that you run Linux etc.