L. David Roper (email@example.com)
For reasons to switch from Windows to Lindows/Linux: Comparison of Linux and Windows
With the availability of the LindowsMobilePC notebook computer from http://www.idot.com at a low price and the support of Win4Lin (http://www.win4lin.com) for Lindows, one can set up a very slick Linux computer to carry around as one does genealogy in different locations. The version of Lindows on my iDOT notebook is 3.1.151.
I set up Lindows with 4 desktops named Int, Lin, SETI, W98. I enable the desktops pager on the panel (right-click on panel, choose Applet-Pager), so that one can easily switch between the desktops. (I keep SETI@home [http://setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu] running all the time, except when I am doing computing-intensive calculations, on the SETI desktop.) When doing Internet tasks I use the Int desktop. The Lin desktop is for managing Lindows and running Linux programs. The W98 desktop is for Win4Lin/Win98 for running genealogy programs for which there are no Linux versions.
Lindows, by means of Click-N-Run, has programs one needs to do tasks for most purposes. So I only consider the special needs for genealogy.
The main program that one needs is a genealogy program for storing, manipulating and reporting data. One wants a Graphical User Interface (GUI) program. The only one I know about for Linux is GRAMPS (http://gramps.sourceforge.net). I have a Lindows Hints, Tips and Tricks entry about how to install GRAMPS on Lindows. I have not used GRAMPS yet. At first glance it seems much slower than Personal Ancestral File (PAF) for entering data, since it does not have the extensive keyboard shortcuts that PAF has. I was able to load a small gedcom file into GRAMPS, but it froze about halfway through when I tried to load a gedcom file with over 200,000 names in it.
I wish that Personal Ancestral File (PAF), my favorite genealogy program, were available for Linux. Since PAF isn't available for Linux, I need Windows to use it. (Conversion of PAF to Linux would cause it to dominate genealogy on Linux.) You can download PAF 5.0 for Windows free.
I often use the DOS program City/County Finder II (http://www.coxsoftware.com/ccfinder.htm): "It will help you find the location of any stored city/town/community (populated place), county, or geographic location in the United States. It can also search for all cities in a given county, all counties in a given state, and do a proximity search listing all other cities within X miles (from 2 to 99) of a designated city or set of coordinates. Searches can be based on complete names, 'sounds like' names, or partial names." So I need Windows to use this program.
One can run Windows 98 ($95: http://simplest-shop.com/software/search/windows+98+used/page/2) in Lindows through the Win4Lin 4.0 program ($90/$100 download/delivery from http://www.netraverse.com). So, for about $200 you can add Windows 98 functionality to Lindows. Windows 98 on Win4Lin runs at about the same speed as it would on the native machine, but rebooting is much faster on Win4Lin.
Lin4Win is very easy to install. You must first have Lindows set up so that it can connect to the Internet. (I had to use static network settings to connect Lindows 3.1.151 to my peer-to-peer LAN on the ZyXEL Prestige 900 cable-network box.) Then run the win4lin-install program on the Win4Lin CD-ROM and choose to register and download all updates and the compatible Win4Lin kernel for your Lindows version. (If you do not have the Win4Lin license file, /var/win4lin/install/license.lic, from a previous install, you must choose to register Win4Lin every time you install Win4Lin or the install program will not recognize that you have the Win4Lin kernel replacement.) The Win4Lin kernel will then be the first (default) option on the boot screen, followed by the normal kernel. (If you want the original kernel to be the default boot option you can change the default boot by editing the /etc/lilo.conf file and then running the lilo command in a terminal session.) After Win4Lin is installed it will automatically take you to installation of Win98.
NeTraverse has excellent user support, at no charge to licensed users
The iDOT notebook has no internal floppy or CD-ROM, so you need to use an external one, say on a network or connected to one of its USB ports or its IEEE1394 port. (I had to use static network settings to connect Lindows 3.1.151 to my peer-to-peer LAN on the ZyXEL Prestige 900 cable-network box.)
Once Lindows is installed, the Lindows Start menu has a NeTraverse option where you can start Win4Lin or run setup for it. Or you can start it with the Run dialog (Start-Run or right-click on desktop) or in a terminal session with the command win & or fwin & for full-screen mode.
You can download a pdf Win4Lin manual.
I find it convenient to have MS Streets and Trips and MS World Atlas in Win4Lin/Win98 on the notebook to locate places when doing genealogy.
Use static IP with a different IP address number than Lindows has for connection to the LAN in W98. When done properly one can see computers on the LAN and the Lindows side of the machine.
Some difficulties I have not yet resolved:
If anyone knows the solutions to these difficulties, I would appreciate hearing about them.
I should mention that the iDOT Lindows notebook has in internal Ethernet and modem, but the modem does not yet work with Lindows 3.1.151 .
Everything said above about using the iDOT Lindows notebook as a genealogy machine also applies to any Lindows desktop machine. Also, it applies to any other special purpose for which one could use a notebook computer.