Questions about use and setup for Lightburn GRBL version on Linux

I’m hoping to get some feedback here as a sounding board for my dilemmas…
I have been using Lightburn since early 2000 on a simple HP Win 10 Laptop with minimal specifications and not had any issues. Unfortunately, this laptop does not meet Win 11 upgrade requirements and since there is SO much telemetry being built into most commercial operating systems today, I’m strongly contemplating a move to Linux since we have 3 Win 10 machines that will go unsupported in about a year and a half. It’s not that we can’t or won’t buy newer computers, it’s that I’m not sure I want to stay on that platform and the ones we have do what we need them to do.
Here are my basic questions based on what I have read here and the idea that my only way of running Linux without sacrificing one of my Win10 installations is through a virtual machine. I’m not anxious to go straight to Linux for my Lightburn machine because so far, my VM experience with Linux Mint has been intimidating.
I understand that it may be possible to plead my case with Lightburn Support to get permission to use it in a VM to confirm that I am even capable of configuring it to operate. Once successful, I have no issue doing a complete reformat and install of Linux. Is using a VM a waste of time for a Linux Newbie that has fair technical but weak networking/comms/Linux ability?
I am just trying to prevent killing my Lightburn rig that works just fine, in an experiment to see if Linux and I can get along…
All advice would be greatly appreciated.
My laser is a Sainsmart Genmitsu Jinsoku LC-60A, 5.5W, diode, grbl controller.

Thanks in advance

I believe you can use current version of Lightburn in Windows for a long time, even after win10 ran out of Microsoft support.
There is a program to block access to internet temporary or permanently per program basis called Netlimiter.
For Linux maybe @berainlb or @jkwilborn can help.

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Most Linux distributions will offer a Live USB boot method which will allow you to live demo the distribution from USB flash drive without modifying anything on your primary drives. This has the benefit of running on native hardware rather than through a VM. You could experiment at your leisure before committing to a full installation.

If you’d like to experiment with multiple distributions I’d recommend looking at something called Ventoy which is a super useful utility that will allow you to store multiple different distribution ISOs onto the same USB drive where you can select which one to try at boot. This saves the step of having to flash every ISO to the drive and allows you to have multiple concurrently. Note that Live demos don’t allow for persistent storage.

Alternatively, there are methods of doing a full install to a USB flash drive or external drive which would allow you to have a permanent portable installation without affecting your existing Windows installation.

Lastly, most distributions will give you the option to install Linux alongside your current Windows installation. It does this by adjusting and resizing your disk partitions and by enabling a dual boot mechanism. The caveat is that while this is generally safe that the installer does make changes to your drive and in some cases can cause issues like an unbootable Windows system or generally increasing the complexity of your system. If you have backups and are otherwise savvy to resolve boot issues then this may not be a huge issue. I don’t want to overstate the possibility of this happening but just be aware that it’s a possibility. This is generally how most people first transitioning would go about it. Then later realizing they never boot into Windows, going back, or leaving Windows for certain applications not available in Linux.

As far as running LightBurn in a VM, I’d suggest just trying it. If you get an error about use in a VM then send a request to support@lightburnsoftware.com explaining what you’re trying to do.

Also, if you have an old computer that’s no longer in service that would be a good candidate to install Linux on to have a go. Linux installs typically do pretty well with older computers that don’t work well with W10 or W11.

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Small addition / another option that might be possible: you can install Win 11 on any PC if you just remove the configuration check. I’m running Win 11 on my laser laptop, which is a T420 ThinkPad from 2010 or so. It runs perfectly fine, I have no issues. The only drawback is that you don’t get any major version updates, but all the usual Windows updates and security patches work as always.
You can just use Rufus (Rufus - Create bootable USB drives the easy way) and download the Win 11 ISO and create a bootable USB stick that works on your old devices. That’s just a few minutes of preparation.
I used this method on many PCs already.

Of course, going for Linux is never a bad idea :slight_smile:

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In similar situations, I’ve removed the hard drive, plugged in a blank SSD, set up Linux, then, years later, scrubbed that hard drive before recycling it.

A new SSD leaves the original Windows installation absolutely untouched, doesn’t require screwing around with weird VM issues, and lets you iterate on the Linux installation as needed.

For me, LightBurn works perfectly in Manjaro Linux, with all the design files stored on a NFS “file server” conjured from a cheap Dell Optiplex in the basement.

The nice thing about Linux: all the networking stuff is built in and intended to work right out of the box. There’s nothing hidden or removed / degraded to justify selling you the “Pro” version; when something breaks, you have all the pieces and can put it back together again.

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I agree with the idea of ​​installing Linux, but first I suggest that you keep in mind that there are certain applications that may not exist for Linux, but you have very good and often better alternatives. LightBurn works perfectly, you won’t have any problems, and the operating system is much more stable. Due to your level of knowledge, I recommend Ubuntu 24.04, which is the extended support version.
Manjaro is a good and lighter option, but sometimes and only sometimes, you need to fix something because an update modified something you didn’t want.

I abandoned Windows completely almost 20 years ago, and have never regretted it.
Any questions you have, ask us

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Thank you all for your suggestions. I appreciate your input and the time you all took to give it.
I’ll digest the ideas you’ve all given. I’m leaning toward a new nvme drive with a fresh Linux install to allow me to save my existing drive as a fall back position.
Thanks again to you all.

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Two things to consider.

  1. In a VM, you may (or may not - depending on specific programs) have problems accessing things like USB ports - important if you are connecting via USB to your engraver, obviously.)
    Some things work, others need setup and tweaking of the VM to allow raw access to the USB.
  2. When you install (or run via the appimage file, depending on your distro) if you can’t connect to your engraver, make sure you’ve added the user that you are running under to the tty AND dialout groups, otherwise you won’t be able to connect. After adding your user to those two groups, it tells you to log out and back in to pick up the new group permissions, but in some cases you’ll need to reboot the system. After that, you should have no problems.
    (I’ve been running Linux as my primary OS for over 30 years, and have installed and supported Linux servers of various flavors for 25+ years. My only windows installation has been in a VM running under linux that I only use to update firmware on the occasional device here and there.)

Thank you, Brian. I decided to take the above advice to use another SSD, suggested by Ed Nisley. I decided to upgrade the size of my existing M2 nvme drive and cloned my original drive to the new drive, added a new partition for Linux, and set my laptop up for a dual boot system so that I could preserve my old system in case of future issues.
I am playing with Linux Mint now to get a feel for it and so far am not intimidated by it.
Am I going to need a special Linux driver like the CH341 driver for windows to get up and running?

I have been using GIMP and Inkscape as open source solutions but generally don’t need them often as most of my designs are done in Lightburn.
Thank you for reminding me to assess those needs though. I have already evaluated Open Office as well as Libre Office as suitable for any basic needs to replace my MS Office subscription so I’m reasonably comfortable with software options that fit our home’s needs. I see my thrust now as making sure I can use Linux and software options available, well enough to get my wife, who used to teach MS Office apps in adult education comfortable. It will be a challenge to wean her from MS unless I can make it easy for her. She does like the idea though, so I’m optimistic.
Thank you, once again. I appreciate it.

A driver is required but comes bundled with the distribution.

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Thank you. I’ve investigated those type of solutions and even considered them when I’m not wearing my tin foil hat LOL.
My motivation for exploring Linux now is due to MS corporation’s ever increasing telemetry and the hardware requirements thing that accompanied Win 11 (without a work around) was kind of a final straw for me.
I have no issues with new hardware and would love to stay with what my wife and I know but am not anxious to continue allowing Microsoft to decide when I buy new computers…
Thank you for the info.

In the Linux distribution, or the Lightburn Linux package?

The Linux distribution. It will ship with all generally available hardware including CH34x serial devices.

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