Linux is cool: 5 ways to get used to Linux ~ Musing on technology, computer and internet

Linux is cool: 5 ways to get used to Linux

April 2, 2008

Linux has become an alternative operating system that people could use for daily jobs. Linux has undoubtedly transformed into a solid platform which gives great challenges to existing players in the operating system market. Todays, Linux are available for various environment, ranging from desktop up to enterprises needs. Linux is no more a new toy, however I still found a lot of people who told me how they are difficult to adapt with Linux and reluctant to use Linux for serious tasks..

Linux is cool
Photo by keepthebyte

Although Linux existence is more than a decade and such tremendous improvements has been made to adapt user friendliness of existing operating systems, people are still thinking Linux is hard to learn and use.

Simply put; they thinks reading email in Linux is only with Pine or Mutt; and things are done with command line.

Answering to these, here is 5 ways you could practice to get used to Linux.

  1. Know your needs. Yes, before moving further, it starts here. Knowing your needs on the operating system is the key point how you will get comfortable working with it in the future. What is your need ?, server solution or desktop solution ? . How much is your budget. Linux is released under GPL, it's open source software, yes it's free; which means 'free at no cost'. Please refer to theWhat does Free mean' for further information. If you have tight budget, Linux is maybe a candidate of your operating system choice. Know your application needs. What application you'll need for your tasks ?. As for Linux there are many applications available,both for server and desktop and if you are only familiar with the Windows applications, you can find much more equivalents or replacements of Windows applications in Linux. Very often we would relate the satisfaction with the money we spent for it, thus knowing your needs before jumping into a decision will help you a lot.
  2. Choose the right distro. Unlike windows, there are hundreds of Linux distribution out there. These because Linux is open source, everyone could modify and create their own Linux distribution. Each of them offering features which are different to another. Some of them offering easy package management,while the other boasts their user friendliness, complete packages, etc. Those distros are developed based on the major distros such as Redhat, Debian, SuSE, and Slackware. There are distro that are built for desktop, for software development, for firewall, for a multihomed server, for a mail server, for an Internet cafe server and etc. Thus, check carefully what features those distro have offered. It may be help you if you make a kind of comparison list which will help you on deciding the distro based on the comparison score results.
  3. Work with it. If you already made a choice and install it, make your self get used with it by work with it as much as you can, if you give up too early when you feel not comfortable working with the new environment offered by Linux, that wouldn't help. Put aside those thought to switch back to your previous OS. Do your tasks entirely with this new operating system, yes all of them. This will make you get used to it. It will make you get connected and feel the flow of the Linux operating system and your mind silently accept and put away those difficulties you previously felt. In my case, in my early day to know Linux, I never looked back to my Windows machine. At the extreme way, I formatted my Windows machine to get rid of needs to look back ( that was in Win98 era ). I don't suggest you to follow what I've done, but frankly speaking, forcing your self to work with it in every occasion, will make your self comfortable with it, because you get connected to it. For comparison, when the early days of Pentium just arrived, I thought the x486 was extremely fast compared to x386, but once I saw Pentium performance, I felt x486 is really slow. Can you catch the point ?. Obviously, I was falling into Linux world because I need way to utilize those used CPUs (mostly Intel x386 and x486) that dumped in store -- into somethings useful, and projects I've done, was a phone answering machine that I built from an x386 CPU and a Rockwell modem, utilizing Getty and a small Python script to play recorded voice files and a mail gateway for a friend SOHO that was only have a dial-up internet connection, utilizing Qmail and Diald. That's how I get used with Linux, by doing all my tasks and resolving my problems in Linux.
  4. Involve in the Linux User Group or Linux community in your area. There is nothing more exciting than to meet people that has the same interest with you. Meeting people in a club such as Linux User Club (LUG), will give you a chance to discuss various problems and find the solutions. In most cases, in a Linux User Group meeting, they will discuss about new distro, demo install , exchanging experiences and a tutorial sessions. LUG is the perfect place where you could find a solution for your Linux operating system problem, as most of Linux geeks are members of these LUG. Experienced users as those geeks could become your last resort to ask, beside befriending to some geeks in your area might be bring a new thrill on your Linux experience. Go find nearest LUG in your area and join a meetup.
  5. RTFM .Read the F*cking Manual, this is the jargon in the Linux Community you might often found on forum discussion or FAQs. Linux distro are complemented with Linux manual in them. Read the manual carefully, read the HOWTO provided, and all of them are also localized, so they are available in many languages. All manuals are accessible through command line and any other enhanced document format. They are also available on internet which you could freely access. In early Linux days, where internet connection are sparsely found, the manual has become a first aid before jumping into the Internet. These days, you can easily throw your problem into Google and in a blink all helps needed are in front of you. You are also could jump into a forum discussion, and there are a lot of people who are willing to help you. But before you ask questions, be sure to RTFM first and read the same threads with the same topic with your problem, as there are also a lot of people who are won't waste their time explaining the same topic from all over again.

To complement the above ways, here I list various links that provides resource on Linux operating system.

  1. OSS Watch on Choosing a Linux Distribution. This site gives guideline on selecting Linux Distro, in addition, this site has lots of resources about open source software.
  2. Linux Planet. Tech news site that covers Linux-thingy.
  3. The Linux Documentation Project. The official Linux documentaion project that covers HOWTOs, Guides, manual pages and Linux FAQs.
  4. Howtoforge. This site provides user-frienldy Linux tutorials which covers almost every topic in Linux world.
  5. Learn Linux with a remote private Linux Machine with root access. Learn Linux by controlling your own remote Linux Machine with a root access.
  6. Linux Alternative Project and Equivalents software for Linux.
  7. Linux Questions, a Linux forums where Linux newbies can ask questions and Linux expert can offer advice.
Feeling cool ? get the Tux and lets get ready to RTFM !!

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