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Thread: Linux For New Users

  1. #1
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    If you're new to Linux familiarize yourself with all the different versions, aka "Distros", which you can find at Distrowatch,

    If you consider yourself the average, or below average computer user, looking for the simplest path to Linux, then you'll want one of the Top Five Distros on Distrowatch,

    You can't always get away from learning, even with the simplest of Linux distros there's still a learning curve. Sooner or later with any operating system you're going to run across problems, because software isn't perfect, and you'll need some knowledge.

    If you're not sure about your hardware, and the software support you need with the ease of use, again pick one of the top five distros listed on Distrowatch. They are the top picks simply because they support the widest range of hardware and software no matter what your needs are.

    If you don't read on, you're going to miss out on some cool stuff to help you make life easier in Linux!

    By the way, if you're afraid to install Linux to your hard drive, there are many distros out there offering Live CD/DVD versions, meaning you simply run the system from the CD/DVD with no need to install. This is a nice way to get your hands on without much intervention, simply pop the CD/DVD in, sit back and relax and away you go!

    To begin, I'm not here to tell you one is better then the other, because the truth is there are many great distros. Linux is about making choices for yourself, rather than someone else telling you which one is the best.

    In all Linux distros there are many different desktops out there to choose from, but Gnome, KDE, and Xfce are the most popular.




    New Edition(s) that started becoming popular:


    Next we have Window Managers. This means something that "Manages Windows". Gnome, KDE, and other desktops have their own, but these can be replaced by other managers to give a new look, feel, and functionality. Many window managers can also be run by themselves as a "Stand Alone" desktop.

    What does all this mean regarding desktops, and window managers? It's called productivity, the ways in which you want to handle your tasks. These choices will help you to bring out, find your best efficiency.

    Here is some Information on Wikipedia about X Window Managers:

    There are several window managers out there. These are only a few of the more popular ones.







    Window Maker:

    Xwinman is the most complete list of desktops, and window managers for Linux:

    Windows management in Linux has never looked better since OpenGL acceleration came along. This provides different ways and looks in managing these windows with new enhancements, and visual effects. Compiz provides Linux this new direction in window management.



    Here you can watch Videos of Compiz in action:

    Moving on to packages, distros all incorporate their own ways of managing them. Besides the basic functions of installs, updates, and removal, these programs also handle other tasks dealing with packages. Some of these programs are more varied then others depending on the developers intentions, flexibility, and the ease of use intended. These programs are called "Package Managers".

    These are a few of the common types of extensions you'll find with the different versions for package management, along with various spin offs from these.

    .deb (Debian GNU/Linux package manager):

    .rpm (originally Redhat Package Management):

    .tar (Tarball Files):

    .tar.gz (Tarball Files):

    .tgz (Tarball Files):

    Here are some popular package managers:




    Rpmdrake and URPMI:

    Synaptic Package Manager:



    Yumex (Yum Extender):


    Package management in each distro allows you flexibility to work with the packages to a degree, and some more then others. How flexible you want to be is up to you, the system you choose, and what your needs are. Just because a certain distro comes with it's own default manager doesn't mean you can't install another one to meet your needs better, but this isn't typically done. Some distros actually incorporate a few package managers to work with, or their default manager will run from either a GUI (Graphical User Interface), or a command terminal, where you can type commands, both allowing you different levels of flexibility by the choices you need.

    So what does all of this package management mean, and how is it really going to help? Simply put, it means, "Management", the way in which you'll be able to manage them. What you really have to ask yourself here is, what kind of management would you really like to have?

    Here's a look at the common command terminals:


    Gnome Terminal:


    Moving on to another subject, Linux like Windows during the start up, and shutdown goes through what are known as runlevels. Different functions of the startup, or shutdown processes are accessed, known in Windows as, Normal, Safe-mode and Command prompt, etc. In Linux these are known as the User Modes, different ways in which to access the system. Besides the different modes in Linux, Services, and Daemons also come into play in these runlevels, basically in the same way as Windows does. The advantage Linux runlevels have over Windows’ boot modes is that Linux runlevels can be changed on the fly.

    Here is some information on runlevels, services, and daemons:


    Linux Services, Devices, and Daemons:

    The runlevels most distros make use of are either the, "System V" init style, or the "BSD" init style, or a slight variation of them.

    Runlevel Init Information - Init Runlevels:

    What this runlevel system means to you is the flexibility to change the way in which a part of Linux behaves, and how you manage certain parts of it. No matter what you use Linux for, this is an important aspect of system administration, helping you to manage, and customize Linux to your needs.

    Runlevel information:

    Run levels on Wikipedia:

    Run levels on

    With everything that has been mentioned, basically what separates most Linux distros is package management, runlevel operations, and various tools for system management.

    Linux means not only choices, it's also about personal tastes, yes your own personal tastes, and that is another great quality of Linux, the ability to make it your own. That is why it's generally never wise to decide based on someone's own belief. After all we all have our own likes, and dislikes, and that is what makes Linux so attractive, customization to satisfy the needs of everyone.

    I touched on a few of the differences, but there are even more. There are many cool things each one has to offer, but when it gets right down to it, no matter what all the differences are, "Linux is Linux", and you just have to decide what works for you.

    Basically what you'll see as an inexperienced user until you get familiar with Linux is that hardware out the box is working in some distros and in others it's not working. This isn't correct then in assuming that one distro over the other is better because one works and the other doesn't, it's simply that the developers have configured things for you, something that can be done in any distro. This means some things have already been setup, and some have not. Distros that are not so setup are considered more hands on distros, designed for those that want to do it them self. In the end this means what one can do so can all the others, it's just a matter of what the goal of that distro was built for, new users, ease of use, or for more experienced users for a more hands on approach.

    Now if you're really saying here at this point in time that this is for you, and you consider yourself to be a power user, or quite an enthusiast, then the sky's the limit, but go slow, or you might frustrate yourself with some of the more hands on distros that require more user intervention, setting up, tuning, and tweaking.

    For the power user, or enthusiast that wants to jump right in then I'd suggest these distros listed below in this order, afterwards just use Distrowatch as a guide, meaning the farther they fall down the list, the less popular they become for many reasons.




    Linux is a Unix based operating system, and if want to start out using the purest form of this, then start out with Slackware.

    If you find yourself after trying any of these distros falling flat on your face in disgust, then don't worry, we've all been there. Go back to the "Top Five" picks, and get comfortable with one of them for awhile. Once you've gotten comfortable, and somewhat use to this new world, then try your luck again. Don't give up, because if you think Linux is your thing, then go for it, and have fun, but if the learning is going to be in frustration, then the journey is going to be even more painful. Just remember a good attitude learns more.

    Once you've made a go of it with Debian, Slackware, and Gentoo, then after Gentoo just have at. Go where you want to go next, and have fun, but remember go slow. Linux has a lot to offer, but there is also a lot to learn.

    For the hardcore that wants to learn it all, and do it all, and really take the leap off the deep end, this is the direction for you. Linux From Scratch (LFS),

    For those that would like to read a comparison of Linux, and Windows, Wikipedia provides some excellent information.

    Comparison of Windows and Linux:

    Here is a comparison of Windows programs with their equal counterparts for Linux to help you with your transition.

    Alternatives to Windows software:

    Equivalent Windows applications:

    Linux software equivalent to Windows software:

    Programs to help you run Windows applications and games in Linux.

    CodeWeavers CrossOver Linux:



    TransGaming (Cedega Games Database)


    Wine HQ:

    Here are a few Linux sites with a wealth of information to help point you on your new way.

    The Linux Foundation: (Where The Man Linus Works!)




    Linux Central:

    Linux Devices:


    Linux Online:

    Linux Pro Magazine:

    Linux Format:

    Linux For You:


    Linux HQ:

    Linux Journal Magazine:

    Linux on Laptops:

    Linux Magazine:

    Linux Planet:

    Linux for Playstation 2:

    Linux for Playstation 3:


    Linux Slashdot:

    Linux Today:

    Linux USB:

    Linux User and Developer:


    The Linux Documentation Project:

    Wii Linux:

    Xbox Linux:

    Down the road awhile, and after all the reading, and brain absorbing, you still find you need help, IRC (Internet Relay Chat) is one of the best ways to get live real time help.

    The best OpenSource server in the world is Freenode, On freenode's site is a list for the servers to join, but the most commonly used one in North America is,

    Xchat, is the tool of choice for IRC, and the most popular GUI (Graphical User Interface), IRC client that you can use. Most Linux distros either come with Xchat installed, or available to install.

    There are 320 distros listed on Distrowatch. The HOME page lists the Top 100 and this link
    , lists the other 220. So use Distrowatch as your guide, first starting at the top, and then going from there as I have outlined in this post.

    Here's what you've learned. You're going to pick a distro, it will have it's choice of desktops, window managers, package managers, runlevels, and other various tools, and overall a look, feel, and functionality that you'll either love, or hate. You'll find what you're comfortable with and that is what you're going to stick to. The key here is, YOU, what you find that suits your needs, no one else's. Through trial and error you'll find the best Linux distro, the one you like. Everyone will have their own idea of what's best, and you need to figure out yours, it's a personal choice.

    Learn what the name Linux really means. Linux is the kernel, not the complete system as some believe.

    Now go have fun!
    Last edited by DasFox; 08-07-2010 at 05:22 AM.

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  3. Software & Hardware   -   #2
    zapjb's Avatar Computer Abuser BT Rep: +3
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    Quote Originally Posted by DasFox View Post
    ....If you consider yourself the average, or below average computer user, looking for the simplest path to Linux, then you'll want one of the Top Five Distros on Distrowatch,
    Lots of good info, thanks.

    Btw the Top 5 Distros (last 6 months) are:

    1) PCLinuxOS
    2) Ubuntu
    3) OpenSUSE
    4) Fedora
    5) Mint

  4. Software & Hardware   -   #3
    colombianino's Avatar Poster BT Rep: +3
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    Jan 2008
    sailing the p2p shoals...
    i got here from w*ffles, that's some big help. though i plan on just windows for now...
    There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.
    Albert Einstein

  5. Software & Hardware   -   #4
    BANNED BT Rep: +18BT Rep +18BT Rep +18BT Rep +18
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    I am quite surprised that only a few people has thanked for such great info, thanks dude, i was planning on using linux, i think those will help me a lot

  6. Software & Hardware   -   #5
    Awesome man

    thats a real noob-quest-post-killer

  7. Software & Hardware   -   #6
    MODERATION BT Rep: +20BT Rep +20BT Rep +20BT Rep +20
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    Not From Brighton
    just what I was looking for.
    I was running Ubuntu for a few years now but I still find it hard to use... Cheers lad

  8. Software & Hardware   -   #7
    VinX's Avatar ▄ █ ▄ █ ▄ █ ▄ BT Rep: +5
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    Dec 2008
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    well imo i used KDE and ubuntu .. havent tried out opensuse , redhat (teh well knows linux s/w) so i think i might try the other two ....

  9. Software & Hardware   -   #8
    Nice link collection, DasFox. Found a few new ones. Thank you.

  10. Software & Hardware   -   #9
    Nice post.... a real guide to people in need!!

  11. Software & Hardware   -   #10
    darkstate01's Avatar Poster
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    Oct 2007
    Maybe 5 yrs ago I thought i would delve into Linux (suse 9.3) And I really enjoyed my time running it, I used it purely because i was addicted to IRC, I setup my own IRC network (darkstateirc), I stuck UnrealIRCD and services and all the security programs on to protect the box, started getting 100's then thousands of users on there, Then the fun began. My first problem was asking a simple question on the forum like, My services have gone down with this error or that error, The answer from the forum was read the FAQ or search for the answer(which i did before asking the question) When one of the guys/girls on the forum actually got around to answering the question the answer was quick and abrupt "If you don't know how to use the program then you shouldn't be using it" .
    Welcome to the world of the elitist linux user, with that as my answer I switched off the linux box and closed shop on my IRC network and never went back.
    So, recently i thought i would go back and see if things in the world of linux were any better, If there was better help,better OS's(distro's), and overall more reliable sites, that in the good old days of the elitist would just plain shoot down and not help anyone who wanted to learn.
    so I started with debian, wrong OS to start with, Just to flacky and unstable with piss poor driver support for my hardware, anyway,Seeing the potential ubuntu had i thought i would try another version, mint,same again very unstable drivers for my soundcard that just came up with error after error (m-audio 2496). I would get it working after many hours of trying ,then reboot and it would say its been removed, this is caused through the OSS driver which is available to run it.
    So my last attempt was last week using kubuntu, which i have to say is the most stable version out of the 3,again with the errors for my soundcard so this time around i used the onboard soundcard and this worked fine but the onboard soundcard was acting up by unplugging itself then taking over the default soundcard(onboard), which is odd as i didn't even have a driver installed for it(m-audio 2496), and as you can guess this was crap because i then had no sound and had no knowledge of how to make my onboard soundcard be the default.
    In windows this is the easiest to fix, In linux you had better have a lot of time and a lot of patience to solve easy tasks like this.
    I've currently got it stable and running on a 8 GB usb stick using something called persistance mode which means i can make changes on the usb OS and they will keep for the next boot.
    For someone who wants to kick the habbit of windows and jump ship to linux, it really needs to get rid of the elitist dickheads on some of the forums, and it really needs to do a lot more homework on the drivers whether they are 10days old or 10years old, as they are missing out on a big chunk of potential linux users like me and everyone reading this fine post by DasFox.
    Well done on the time and effort put into this and I do hope i haven't put anyone off linux as it can be a real pleasure to use at times, but when things go wrong, you better have a lot of time on your hands to try and fix it as google will become burned into you eyes as you will spend a lot of time asking it questions. This is just my story of linux and I thought i would share it with you lot.
    Last edited by darkstate01; 04-09-2010 at 11:35 PM.
    PAIN is just WEAKNESS leaving the body

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