Linux 101

Dennis Faas's picture

Linux is on the rise and we can all thank Microsoft for it!

People around the world are tired of Microsoft's heavy handedness in their marketing ploys and in foisting off a lousy Operating System commonly known as Windows. After years of putting up with high pricing, program bloat, and the constant need to Update and Upgrade because of coding errors and insufficient operation, people are turning to Linux in greater numbers.

Are you one of them?

This article is offered to help you decide which Linux will be right for you and to give you a few resources so you can make an educated decision.

At first glance, the process is daunting because you have over 1,000 different versions of Linux to choose from, but I think I can help by trimming that list down to just a handful.

First of all, what is Linux?

Linux is the name of a UNIX-like operating system for the PC user. Versions of Linux have been developed for several PC 'architectures' like Intel x86, Intel x86-64, and PPC, to name a few. As a result, you should have no problems finding a Linux distribution that will run on your system.

Linux Distributions

Linux distributions (affectionately known as "distros") consist of a kernel and several dozen applications.

The difference between distros is the combination of applications that are furnished. The kernel is, basically, the same. The applications include office productivity, games, utilities, and a few other categories. Some distros are great for the office, others for general home use, others for servers, and still others for software development. You can even install a personalized version where you choose which applications you want from long lists of applications. Fun!

The first thing to do is find out what distro to start out. You can get a dandy idea by using the Linux Chooser. The site has a good listing of distros that fall into the 'better-known' category. They cover a wide range of user experience from First timers to Experts. Go to the web site and take the quiz. Answer the questions and you will wind up with a name of a distro or two, or three! Decide on one of them and either download it or buy it from a computer store or on-line.

Migrating from Windows to Linux

If you are a first time Linux user, I highly recommend you look at Ubuntu. You can order copies of both a Live CD and an Install CD free of charge (free shipping, too). If you have friends who are interested in Linux as well, order extra copies for them (still free).

While you are waiting for the order to arrive, it is time to read up on Linux and get a bit of learning out of the way. It will make the start up a lot easier for you. The Windows to Ubuntu Guide is an interesting read that details the shift from Windows to Ubuntu Linux. You may find it informative and helpful.

Internet Connections and Linux

Before the actual installation of Linux on your system you are going to need a network connection that is always on (such as Cable or DSL Internet). Many of the distros will download applications directly to your machine, so having a connection is vital. A dial-up connection will work, but it will take a lot of time to complete the download. There are distros that do not require it, but they are usually for the more experienced user.

Linux Help on the Web

There are dozens of other sites on the web that offer free How-To tutorials on Linux installation and operation. For those that want a desk reference at hand, get a copy of the following books from your local bookseller. "Linux in a Nutshell" and "Running Linux" from O'Reilly Publishing. The first is a desk reference for the commands used in Linux and the other is a 'necessary read' to familiarize you with the inner workings of Linux.

More to Come

This is the first of many articles dealing with the installation, use, and administration of Linux on a Home PC so keep an eye out for them.

Have Fun!

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