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A few questions from a switcher

OK, I want to switch to Unix (or maybe Linux), but have some (simple) questions...

Firstly I have a Epson photo Stylus 810, but don't know if finding printer drivers will be an issue. I done a search on the Epson website and when it gave the option to select an OS the closest was Linux with not even a mention of UNIX. When I done the search I only got a few PDF files anyway. No drivers. Is this a common problem and what can be done about it?

Second which is the most user-frindley varient (or flavour)? Which has the greatest compatibility? Does UNIX or Linux offer the larger range of avaliable software and how difficult is this to find?

Thirdly what software would you recommend (general use software for purposes such as word processing (I know there is OpenOffice, but are there any all-in-one packages like MS Office?) and databases) what browsers are compatible with it? Are there many viruses for LINUX or UNIX and do these depend on the flavour (or varient) I believe they use the same kernel, but does this mean that one shell can be prone to one virus, but it will not affect another?
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mark_667
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mark_667
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jlevieCommented:
Any of the recent releases of the mainstream (RedHat, Fedora, Mandrake, SuSE) Linuxen should be a good choice. And according to http://www.linuxprinting.org/show_printer.cgi?recnum=Epson-Stylus_Photo_810 your printer will work.

OpenOffice (furnished with any of those distributions) is pretty much a direct replacement for MS-Office, and then some. It includes a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation tool as well a fully featured drawing tool.

To the best of my knowledge there are no viruses in the wild that attack Linux or Unix systems. One reason for that is that it is much more difficult to write a virus that can do anything on a Linux/unix system. The basic security design of the OS & tools makes it almost impossible.
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gheistCommented:
Mandrake linux looks quite user-friendly.
For databases - PostgerSQL and MySQL (but nothing like access )
For browser - Mozilla/Netscape and some destop-builtin browsing facility - Konqueror or Galleon
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ahoffmannCommented:
> .. (but nothing like access )
http://www.sqlite.org/
but if you get used to the concepts of *NIX, you'd like the MySQL (or whatever databse) aproach much more ;-)

>  what browsers are compatible with it?
compatible with what?
with IE? none
with standards? most

other questions already answered

<off-topic>
jlevie, "The basic security design of the OS & tools makes it almost impossible"
agreed if we focus on "almost", but if someone insist on "impossible" we should switch to one of the security TAs ;-)
Anyway, AFAIK their exist no virii on Linux/UNIX, even the concepts are roughly 35 years old :-))
</off-topic>
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mark_667Author Commented:
I've Googled around a bit and found the general consencus that with a well known system like Mandrake you're more likely to find support if you have any issues and it's good for a beginner the screenshots I've seen also look very impressive. Glad to hear about the security, would you say it's comparable to a Mac in that respect? I have extensive experience of Mac and Windows OSs, but not LINUX or UNIX. Also I've read that Mandrake may not be compatible with the x86 chipset? Is this true as I am running an old Pentium2 is there anyway of knowing in advance if this will be a problem?
Thanks for the feedback so far.
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jlevieCommented:
> Glad to hear about the security, would you say it's comparable to a Mac in that respect?

Security is probably a bit better than an Mac running OS/X. The Mac folks had to maintain a backwards compatibility to the old look and feel. So even though there's a FreeBSD kernel "under the hood" some compromises have been made.

> Also I've read that Mandrake may not be compatible with the x86 chipset? Is this true as I am running an old Pentium2 is there anyway of knowing in advance if this will be a problem?

x86 refers to the CPU type and a Pentium II is a member of that family, so there shouldn't be any problems there if you have good hardware that's reasonabley "linux friendly". To have a good experience with Linux you'll want something like 128Mb or more memeory (256Mb would be nice and 512Mb even better).
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gheistCommented:
There might be some problems with less popular chipsets, but this is not of concern usually, and shows up when installer finds no disks etc (rarely seen on common computers)
Most i386 linuxes run on Intel 80386 processors and have some replacement parts for system to run much better on PentiumPro and better (which includes Pentium II) and some replacement parts for K6 and better.
Some require Pentium processor to run at all, again this is of no concern to you since you got better processor.
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mark_667Author Commented:
jlevie gave more detailed and useful answers and done more to answer my original set of questions and so has been awarded the points, thanks to all the respondents for their input.
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