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5 Things New Linux Converts Should Know

Sat, Jun 12, 2010

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If you’ve recently converted to Linux from Windows, or if you’re just giving Linux a shot, there are a few things you need to know right off the bat about how Linux works and where the major differences are when compared to Windows. Some of the fundamental components are different between the two operating systems, and the way things are done can be drastically different; you need to learn these differences to be able to use Linux effectively, and to avoid trying to force Windows metaphors onto a Linux system that doesn’t accept them.

Here is a list of five tips that beginner Linux users should know:

  1. Drives don’t have letters, they have mountpoints
  2. The first thing that usually trips up people who come from Windows to Linux is that filesystems aren’t assigned letters the way they are in Windows. Instead, there is a single root filesystem whose path is “/”. If you must use the Windows analogy to help you conceptualize it, you can think of this as the C:\ drive; it’s the top of the filesystem.

    Screenshot-Disk Usage Analyzer

    The Disk Analyzer Shows your Filesystem Usage and Layout


    Linux mounts new drives in folders inside the root filesystem. You’ll notice that if you plug in a USB key, it will be mounted to a path like “/media/partition-name”. This makes more sense because in Linux, there is a single filesystem layout, starting at root (“/” or “slash”) and everything is located beneath it; for example, user files go in /home (“slash home”). If you want to keep your user files on a separate disk or partition, you don’t have an E: drive; instead you simply mount your separate disk as /home.

  3. There is no registry
  4. Linux doesn’t use a single database of configuration options, the way Windows does with its registry. Instead, there are many individual configuration files, typically in a simple text format (but increasingly in XML), that can be edited by hand using a text editor if need-be. You’ll find the system-wide configuration files in the /etc directory; your user-specific configuration files will typically be located in hidden directories in your home folder.

    This is better than Windows because it means that there is no single point of failure for system configuration. If one configuration file becomes corrupt, only that function breaks and everything else works fine. It also makes it easy to backup configuration files — it’s the same as copying all other files — and to troubleshoot problems: often if you ask for help on the internet, the first thing people will ask for is a copy of your configuration files.

  5. Software comes from the repos, not CDs or websites
  6. In the Windows world, if you need to find a program to perform a task you’ll typically have to Google for it and install it using its own installer. Or, you can go to the store and browse the CDs in the software aisle. You wind up hoping that it uninstalls correctly later, and that you don’t pick up viruses from some unknown program you found on an obscure website. Popular Linux distributions, by contrast, have done away with this “hunt and peck” style of software installation, and replaced it with the concept of “software repositories.” These are centralized locations where any maintained software package is kept, and it allows you (by way of the operating system) to maintain tighter control over what exactly is present on your system by giving you a single place to manage all the programs on your machine.

    Screenshot-Add-Remove Software

    Add/Remove Programs in Fedora


    When you want to install a program, you simply fire up the add/remove programs utility, search for the program you need, and install it. The package manager will figure out all the requirements and do the work for you — and the same goes for when you want to uninstall the program, too. This keeps your computer clean of unnecessary programs, and helps to make sure you don’t wind up installing some program that is going to steal all your personal data.

  7. Don’t login as root
  8. It’s common practice for Windows users to login as the system administrator all the time. This is one of the major reasons why Windows computers are so easily infected with viruses and malware; you are always playing God, and any program can do anything it wants. In Linux, the administrator is called “root”, and you should use root access only when you absolutely need it. Modern distributions and interfaces will prompt you for the root password when it’s required, such as when you try to install programs or modify system settings. Aside from this, you should always log in as a regular user. You’ll find that you don’t need to be an administrator user all the time, and that your system survives much longer because of it!

  9. Help is available — and it’s free!
  10. Changing to Linux can be fun and educational — but it can also be frustrating when you find something that doesn’t work quite right, or when you can’t figure out how to do something you need to get done. One of the best parts about switching to Linux is that there are plenty of people who have done it before, and who were once in the same place you are now, and they are more than happy to help you out. Don’t hesistate to ask for help — see my article on eight ways to get help with linux for tips on where to ask and how to get your questions answered.

    What do you think?

    What were some of the biggest challenges you had when switching to Linux? What are some things you know now that you wish you’d known then? Put your words of wisdom in the comments below!

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41 Responses to “5 Things New Linux Converts Should Know”

  1. Andrew says:

    Here’s hoping that lots of new Linux users find your helpful guide!

    To point #5, I’m continually amazed how other users will take time out of their day to help me with some little problem or a concept I’m not entirely clear on.

    The Linux community is every bit as fantastic as the software, IMHO…

  2. phil shapiro says:

    Sometimes a Linux program will install, but you won’t see it listed in any of your menus — or as an icon on your desktop. In that case you need to start the program by typing the name of the program in the Terminal.

    Also, if you have a relatively recent computer (from 2006 onwards), try switching on Visual Effects/Extra from the Preferences/Appearance. Every window on your screen can now shake like jelly if you grab it by the title bar and move it. This always makes me giggle when I see it.

  3. Borg Bucolic says:

    1st: Don’t be surprised that you are spending a lot less time on your computer and with much less interaction with the operating system. You will see way fewer warning boxes and you won’t be fiddling with registry cleaning, anti virus software, and firewalls. You won’t be spending your time scouring the web for better replacement programs for the ones you got with your system.

    2nd: As Windows user, you will be used to a mono-desktop environment. You will have developed habits of computer usage because of it. It will take adopting a new mindset to use and the usefulness of multiple desktops.

    3rd: Linux will seem like it has a steep learning curve. That is a common complaint that isn’t true. Remember, you have used Windows for a long time and have learned its quirks and work-a-rounds over a long time. Also, Windows it pretty common and there are many people nearby to ask for advise and help. Linux is less common and you are likely to know fewer people using it that can help you. Seeking out new experts can be a pain, but you did it with your first experience with Windows. This will be no different.

    • Steve says:

      OK… I use linux, and I *must* disagree with most of these points.

      I found that I have spent FAR more time on linux mucking about with the operating system than on Windows. It is not ‘fiddling with the registry’ that costs time on Windows, it is the fact that there are lots and lots of good free games and lots of ways to screw around.

      As an easy example, I had a problem with my ethernet not being recognized by linux (specifically Pinguy Eee), and spent nearly 2 weeks trying to fix it, find drivers, and figure out why THAT version of linux wouldn’t work with my equipment, when the version it was based on (ubuntu) did.

      Yes, the community was friendly, but most of the suggestions were completely useless… and the same can be said for Windows users on Windows boards. Eventually, when a new version was released, updating it did the trick.

      As for linux’s steep learning curve? Yeah… it exists.

      I have trained people on both systems that were completely computer illiterate…

      Problems on modern Windows systems are extremely few and far between, and running the system is a breeze. For those who I teach Windows, I spend most of the time teaching them applications. Most of them ‘get it’ very quickly, and have relatively few problems understanding the system. My biggest challenge was in convincing them to give up on the blue ‘e’ and go with the rolled up burning fox when it came time to get on the internet.

      As for linux? Much of the software out there requires at least one of the following: 1) finding a repository, 2) compiling it from source, 3) missing dependencies, 4) out-of-date versions in repository 5) modified versions in the repository which require you to uninstall, then re-install from another source for any helpful troubleshooting (virtualbox springs to mind), 6) lack of documentation or multiple variants/forks which are close enough to look the same, yet different enough to not work the same.

      .

      Again, I *use* Linux on a daily basis, and I do prefer it to a Windows desktop.

      I find it disingenuous, however, when the linux fan base continues to deride Windows as ‘unstable’ or claims they spent all their time messing with the registry… did you ever think that might be *why* your windows was unstable? When I was a full time windows user, I believe that twice I found any reason to muck about with the registry, and one of those times was to modify sections of the OS that were not meant to be mucked with (changing the start button)… the other was attempting to correct my mistake.

      Of the linux distributions that I found the most stable and most friendly for new users, Pinguy has to rank tops. It has not only added all of the main software componants that most people will find usable, but has also patched many of the annoying bugs that are left even in ubuntu’s supposedly ‘stable’ LTS releases.

      To be honest, I understand that Linux *is* a far more flexible system than Windows, this is why I prefer it.

      The linux community, however, must begin to admit that this flexibility comes at real costs. These costs include a dependency on command line for anything beyond the absolute basics, which increases the learning curve. They include not having the same setup as anyone else, which adds difficulty when trying to troubleshoot (even with community support). They include a confusing plethora of distributions, the practical differences between which serve to confuse anyone willing to give linux a try. Finally, this flexibility gives rise to BUGS (too many to list)… Server editions of linux receive all the attention for bug squashing, leaving things like the full-screen flash bug in ubuntu completely unhandled for long periods of time.

      Finally, if we are to be honest, Windows has come a very long way. There are versions to fit most platforms, from ‘old laptop’ to ‘high end desktop’. They have increased their dedication to open standards (in later IE’s, their abandonment of Silverlight in favor of HTML5, their work to assist in translating .Net into Mono, etc).

      Honestly, of the ‘evil corporations’ that are fighting open source, Apple is *far* worse. Look at the way they have handled the community surrounding jailbreaking the iPhone, look at the way they claimed that any modification to their OS was a violation of Copyright.. heck, it took a strong community push (and a massive uptake of jailbreaking) simply for them to allow you a background on your iPhone… and now they are trying to force developers to only develop apps for their systems ON their systems, and in their languages ONLY (cross-platform hell).

      Generally, I believe that from ‘free and open’ to closed and proprietary follows a descending gradient, with Linux at the top, and Apple at the bottom. Windows has become a fairly balanced middle ground between these two, which is probably a large (and little recognized) reason for their dominance in the market.

      I think much time and breath is wasted fighting the wrong battles; this would be far better served by patching the holes in Linux, and spending more time on usability than on eye candy.

      When ‘even grandma can use it’ becomes true, Linux will probably be far closer to taking over Windows than simply Windows bashing will allow.

  4. Rich_C says:

    Great list! Personally I would have reversed the order of the points, assuming that point #1 would be the most important.

  5. Excellent article. And more should be made of OpenSource as a viable business Model. Take Canonical as an example, there were only four or five staff when they rebuilt the Linux model they way they wanted it and, of course, gave the product and the source code away free.

    In addition, with the help of the community, they update the product every six months. And, do they still have four or five staff? Absolutely not. At the last count, a few months ago, I learned they had grown to well over 200 staff! Proof that you can give away the product and the intellectual rights, and still make a lot of money.

    It’s the way to go.

  6. Marko says:

    Just a few tiny little quibbles (from a longtime Fedora user).

    @#1: About this:

    “This makes more sense because in Linux, there is a single filesystem layout, starting at root (“/” or “slash”) and everything is located beneath it;”

    Well, it makes more sense to us who are used to Linux, but certainly not to someone from the windows world. And while you did give use cases where the linux filesystem layout was superior, there are some use cases that are easier (though maybe not better) to achieve on windows (e.g having “Program Files” on two partitions (eg C: and D:), one for applications, one for games).

    @#2 About this:

    “Linux doesn’t use a single database of configuration options, the way Windows does with its registry.”

    Anyone who’s ever had to change unusual preferences in the GNOME desktop environement has brushed up against that monster called gconf. Fortunately, it doesn’t worm it’s way into the guts of the OS like the windows registry. I’d just caution any linux users wanting to throw stones; a section of our house has big glass windows…

    Aside from these two quibbles, and a more detailed discussion about package managers vs installer files, I found this article to be informative, and an excellent piece for linux newbies to read. Keep up the good work!!!

    • Will says:

      Gconf is just front end for editing XML config files, have a look in ~/.gconf Lots and lots of XML config files, all editable in any text editor. If GConf craps, the settings can all still be changed. This differs from windows in that there is not one large registry hive that can easily end up in an unworkable state. I’ve yet to find a setting in GConf that puts my system in this state. Even if that were to happen it could be easily rectified in the terminal with Vim.

      No glass house here.

  7. waldo says:

    Good list and an excellent idea to create it!

    I think that your 3rd item needs some elaboration for Windows users. You slid the term “package manager” in there with no previous explanation of the concept of a software package, and why it has to be “managed”. To a Windows user, a software package is that box at Best Buy that contains MS Office or Norton AV!

    It would also help to elaborate a little more on exactly what a repository is, and who maintains it. The new Linux user really needs to get their head around the whole system of Linux software distribution, as it is so very different from Windows or Mac. It is the key to making sense of everything else.

  8. Jonathan DePrizio says:

    Marko and Waldo make some great points. I’ve edited the text a little to try to clarify what a software repository is, and why it makes sense to use one.
    I disagree with Marko when he gives an example of keeping Program Files on a separate partition in Windows. Something similar to this can be accomplished using the Linux filesystem layout by making /usr a separate partition. Granted, this does miss /lib, for example, but it should hit the vast majority of program files.

    He’s also 100% correct about gconf, which I intentionally left out of this article because it’s something that someone new to Linux probably won’t brush up against.

  9. Pat says:

    @ Jonathan, Making /usr a separate partition still won’t keep your applications separate from your games. Moreover, when installing programs from the package manager, you really have no control of the location that programs are installed.

    @ Marko, the bigger difference is that unlike Windows, a program isn’t self contained within a directory in /usr, but is strewn across /usr/bin /usr/share /usr/lib /usr/include. (Of course not all Windows programs are contained in one directory either.)

  10. Aravind says:

    I too wrote an Article on Ubuntu after shifting from Windows.
    Check out http://aravindmiriyala.blogspot.com/

    Software comes from the repos, not CDs or websites

    This is the part that I think needs improvement in Linux. What about People not having Internet Connection? Though Alternatives like Keryx are available, they are not yet popular.

  11. Kristian Wannebo says:

    You ask for Linux beginners’ difficulties.:

    In my case it was learning to find things in the file system,
    and then to find my way around it.

    There is little, or hard to find, information on that,
    at least for a beginner not ready for the more advanced texts.

    I think that beginning to understand the file system is necessary
    to understanding an OS.

    When I stumbled on the find command things got a bit easier.

    Also, it can be hard to find out by what name an installed program
    should be called from the command line.

  12. Karl O. Pinc says:

    Point 3, “Software comes from the repos, not CDs or websites” is key, and all too often overlooked.

    A new Linux user should _not_ install software unless it comes directly from the Linux distributor. To do otherwise invites headaches down the road because it’s very likely that any software that’s “manually” installed will not remain compatible with the rest of the system as software fixes and upgrades are installed over time. Follow this rule and your Linux machine will avoid bit-rot and won’t require the traditional wipe-and-reinstall-every-few-years that most Microsoft machines seem to need.

    This means that software which comes on a CD with, say, a printer, should _not_ be used. Even if it says on the box that Linux is supported. Hardware that is supported by Linux is supported by the Linux community, not by the hardware vendors. This is a good thing. Hardware vendors have a nasty habit of dropping support when, say, a new version of the operating system is released. With Linux on the other hand your hardware is supported forever, by the same people who bring you all your other Linux software so it’s sure* to work.

    (* For some value of “sure”. ;-)

    Of course an expert Linux user can install software from anywhere, or write their own. Normal Linux users should rely on their Linux supplier for all their software.

  13. Karl O. Pinc says:

    @Marco

    Why would you want to “e.g having “Program Files” on two partitions (eg C: and D:), one for applications, one for games”? What problem are you trying to solve?
    If you’re trying to see, for instance, what games are installed then you learn to use your package manager to search for all the installed games.

    A whole lot of “problems” can be solved by learning to use the package manager. It will tell you such things as “what files does this package install” — the answer to which also includes the files that contain the documentation for the package, “what package does this file belong to”, “what other packages are needed to run this package”, “what other installed packages need this package to run”, “what version of this package am I running”, “how much space does this package use”, “what packages need security updates”, “what packages are installed”, “what packages work with files of type ‘X’”, “what packages allow me to do ‘Y’” and so forth. The exact details will vary depending on the package manager used by your Linux distributor.

  14. waldo says:

    Your rewording does help the idea of a repository. I still think “software package” needs to be defined, as that term is not common in the Windows world.

    One little misspelling needs correction. Again in item 3, you take us to “. . . the CDs in the software isle”. Now, I would find such a shopping venture quite delightful, particularly as I envision that isle with palms swaying in cool breezes, warm sands, and perhaps a refreshing Margarita served by a tawny sea nymph. However, I think I need to get back to reality, and browse the software aisle of Walmart or Best Buy. :-)

  15. Chris Denbow says:

    Ubuntu n00b here. Long time Windows user, all-time open source supporter. Ubuntu 10.04 is pushing me closer to converting 100%. A few exceptions: MS Office and Adobe Photoshop/Lightroom. I’m a pro photog and yes, there are OS alternatives but they cannot compare. Not yet.

    Thanks for this article and the insightful community comments. I just added your site to my RSS reader.

  16. bill gates says:

    You forgot the ABSOLUTE mostest reason NOT to have a registry.

    Its a non-indexed, convoluted,non-relational,non-backed up, un-organized, easily permission-crippled and hackable proprietary and extremely SLOW database with no discernable “features”.

    The original intent of the registry was to get around the 64k limit of INI files? 64k limit? Your’e kidding, right? Nope. MS Couldnt handle files that big.

    Windows 3.0 used Text files for program configs.

    Now where did I hear that idea before…ahh it was…

  17. Russ Ashworth says:

    I have been using Linux for about 10yrs starting with RH,then Mandrake, Mandreva and now Ubuntu. I wouldn’t go back to Windows because it is too high maintenance.

    Linux just seems to work though I don’t seem to do much with it because I don’t know how. Articles like this would be great except that when I follow through with what is written a lot of the times it doesn’t work.

    Take this article. Item 1 shows a Disc Analyzer. It looks like a really cool program. Item 3 explains how to get the really cool Linux programs from the repositories. So I open up the Ubuntu Software Centre and enter “Disc Analyzer” in the search and I get .. Nothing. I open Synaptic Package Manager and get the same result. It happens time and time again.

    It isn’t like Ubuntu is some obscure distro. If you can find it and install it you often don’t know where it went. I installed Qsampler and it put it in “Other” instead of “Sound and Video”. Mandrake used to give a list of all the files installed so you could find the config files etc.

    I wish I was a computer wizz, but I seem to do so little that I keep forgetting how it works. About the only thing that I can do is using a PuppyLinux CD to get the Data files off my wifes Windows M/C after it has crashed.

  18. Russ — I googled “linux graphical disk analyzer” and Baobab showed up in the results. So I hit alt-F2 to bring up the run dialog, and typed in “baobab” and it brought up that very disk analyzer.

  19. Russ Ashworth says:

    Zorklat DeOrc — You have just proved that Item 5 is correct, Help is available and it is free. :) Thank you for that.

    However, you did not use the tools mentioned in the article. The screen shot in item 1 shows Disk Analyzer underneath and Disk Usage Analyzer in the Title bar at the top. Baobab isn’t mentioned. Putting Disc into Synaptic Package Manager produces a lot of results but not the analyzer but Disk produces a lot more. I used disc.

    I do have Disk Analyzer on my system and it is in Applications>Accessories, not System tool like I would have expected.

    I didn’t know about the run dialog, where is that hidden? Why does that not pop up when the file browser asks what Application I want use to run a file?

    Thanks for the information. I hope I remember it for the next time I need it.

    • Nick says:

      “Disk usage analyzer” is included by default in Ubuntu 10.04 is it located under applications -> accessories -> Disk usage analyzer.

  20. Tony de Sa says:

    I started with Ubuntu 8.10 and then gradually progressed through 9.04, 9.10 and now 10.04. The first problem I encountered with the installation of 8.10 (you could say I am an advanced user of Windows and I decided to do the installation myself after a friend persuaded me to try Ubuntu and gave me a live CD) was that no body told me that I had to create a swap area or decided on a mount point or that I had to use a particular file system e.g ext 3. Since I had decided to install it manually as I wished to control the hard disk partitions my self and not let the computer choose the largest free contiguous disk space, and I was determined to do the installation by my self, my installation kept returning to a particular point in the installation steps. I bumbled my way through by trial and error and a little bit of Googling and some friendly advice and I finally managed. I am now proficient in Ubuntu installation and I now give talks with a Oo.org presentation on how to install Ubuntu. In my neighbourhood, I have helped a College to convert their computer lab from Windows to Ubuntu!

  21. Micheal Og says:

    As a fairly recent convert to Linix, I found your article most helpful.
    From browsing I am amazed at the amount of help available.
    As we say in Irish: “Ag comh oibru le cheile!” (Working together for mutial benefit!)

  22. Brian Vaughan says:

    Understanding package management and centralized repositories — and how much easier this makes installation — is probably the single most important thing for people migrating from Windows to learn. When I set up a Windows system recently, I was reminded how irritating it is to have to visit several different Web sites to download separate installation packages, when the equivalent applications are installed by default in most Linux distributions anyway.

    One thing to help with understanding the filesystem: pathnames resemble familiar Web URIs, for the simple reason that Web URIs are based upon Unix/Linux pathnames.

    Finally, with modern GUIs, you won’t need to use the command line if you don’t want to. However, it’s to your benefit to learn the basics of working at the command line.

  23. Carl says:

    I have been dabbling in Linux for two years and just installed it on a desktop about 6 months ago. Ubuntu I like it. I have had very few problems. I have been playing with live cd/dvd’s and found that Mint Linux is a nice distro and Knoppix. I also like Fedora, but Fedora being a springboard for Red Hat apps and changing the distro every 3 to 4 months turns me off. I have learned everything from the internet and books. It would be great if there was a class here that I could take to learn secrets and scripting. As well as some basic programming in the different languages.

  24. Don Schueler says:

    Also know there are a set of things that will likely never run on Linux (not counting under Wine or Virtual Box). The biggies that make Linux fall short for me(making MAC OSX my daily work machine) is that a few KEY apps don’t run natively there…they are: Gotomeeting.com, Netflix/Silverlight, Slingbox. OK, the last two are for fun, I admit it…but when I travel on business I use them. Thank God at least Hulu Desktop is here…

  25. Don Schueler says:

    h…and iTunes.

  26. Doug says:

    Enough of this rubbish.
    “Help is available — and it’s free!”
    And it’s not for Windows? There are thousands of forums, websites, IRC chat rooms dedicated for Microsoft Windows too.

    “Don’t login as root”
    With windows 7 (and vista), accessing administrative rights requires an admin status, which is automatically blocked by the User Account Control.

    “Software comes from the repos, not CDs or websites”
    Not really a selling point. There are some softwares in the repo that are outdated or don’t offer the same features as one would find manually installing it from the software’s website.

  27. Edzell says:

    Re. your #4 – Don’t login as root:

    “It’s common practice for Windows users to login as the system administrator all the time.”

    As a fairly new user I find this issue very confusing, and so far never clearly explained.

    First off it seems to me that administrator and root are very much not the same thing; do not have the same permissions or abilities – yet the words are thrown around as if they were interchangeable. Also there can be several administrators but only one root, no?

    Why is it that sometimes after I install or create something as administrator, I later find that it is owned by root and I have no permissions to edit/copy etc.?

    Yes, I’ve painfully found out how to change ownerships but why don’t I own my creations to begin with? I’ve also discovered that as administrator I can create a password that will let me “become” root, but the warnings against doing this are so strident that I haven’t done it.

    I commend you for the articles you write and I think adding an explanation of these points would be of even greater value to newcomers (as well as some not-so-new.)

    As for the discussion here, about not finding “disk analyzer” in the synaptic list: It’s a type of problem that’s all too common, and not just in Linux/ubuntu. It seems that programmers aren’t too interested in maintaining consistent and unambiguous terminology. Is it Nautilus, File Manager, File Viewer or what? Is it Disk Manager or Gnome-disk manager? If I’m looking for a file manager why should I have to discover that I need something called Nautilus? And so on. To those familiar with the system these are inconsequential but to the rest of us, and especially newbies, they can make something that should be very simple into a frustrating time-waster.

    The package manager – or is it Synaptic? – is quite magnificent but finding whether there’s an app to do what you want, and what its name might be, can be daunting – detracts seriously from the standalone usefulness of the facility.

    And why on earth would you have to use Google to find the name of a piece of Ubuntu software that’s in your package manager, maybe already on your system?

    Sorry if this is a bit rant-ish. I’m not giving up on Ubuntu but get frustrated when it seems that user friendliness lags far behind its declared philosophy. Linux Mint does tackle some of these issues though.

    And I do thank you for your time & effort here. Several of your articles have been very helpful to me.

    Thanks for your patience.

    This is one of the major reasons why Windows computers are so easily infected with viruses and malware; you are always playing God, and any program can do anything it wants. In Linux, the administrator is called “root”, and you should use root access only when you absolutely need it. Modern distributions and interfaces will prompt you for the root password when it’s required, such as when you try to install programs or modify system settings. Aside from this, you should always log in as a regular user. You’ll find that you don’t need to be an administrator user all the time, and that your system survives much longer because of it!

  28. Edzell says:

    Apologies for not deleting the previously posted comments below my own “contribution.”

    That was accidental but i don’t know if I can edit.

    Moderator: if you can delete the superfluous stuff as well as this, please do so.

  29. alfred says:

    In the early ’00s I experimented with the idea of using linux as my primary OS. At the time, doing so was such a pain in the butt, I just stuck with the copy of win2k I was using previously. At some point I switched to an OEM distribution of winXP but then my old computer fried and I was stuck with a cheap laptop with windoze 7. From the get-go I hated that OS and after a while it needed a full system reinstall. Because my computer was a cheap-o wal wart job it didn’t come with a windows disk so I figured: “What the hell, let’s try linux again. Worst case is that I have to buy a Windows disk (which I would have to do anyway). I went with debian, a distribution that I knew and was floored by how well it worked. With a little tweaking and a little know-how (readily available online) I’ve turned my buggy POS laptop into a usable computer. Thank you to all who have contributed!

  30. JoeBeck says:

    File names in Linux are case sensitive unlike windoze. myfile.txt and Myfile.txt and MyFile.txt are three seperate files.

  31. scribbler says:

    One more thing to add to this list: If you choose to use Linux, you WILL be met with opposition. There is nothing wrong nor non-user-friendly about Linux, but you will be mocked, hardware companies will refuse to support your system, some businesss sites and professional tech support will be openly hostile toward you, and you’ll be put on the defensive for your decision in your household for a while. But if you believe it’s a good direction for you, don’t let yourself be bullied into conforming just to appease everyone else. It’s your data on the line, not theirs.

    Oh sure. You can find Windows help for free, but it usually comes to the tune of “Reboot your computer.” or “Reinstall the OS.” And as for the paid support… …if Microsoft really wanted to support its software, they would start writing it better!

    And yes, there are “administrator permissions” in Win7, but whereas Win7′s fights you and halts productivity, Linux’s are better implimented. Face it. Linux has had years of experience being a multi-user system and they’re better at it.

    There’s nothing less user-friendly, safe or easy about Linux that isn’t there in Windows. People get angry at Linux and its users because their egos take a hit when they realize that they’ve been living in a bubble and don’t really know as much about computers as they thought.

    I thought I was “all that” as well because I knew my way around Microsoft Office, Visual Studio and the registry, but when my OEM Windows partition bit the dust and I had to rescue five years worth of work and memories from my hard drive, I realized that I had only scratched the tip of the iceberg. My only Windows option was to suck it up, reformat with the restore disk and lose my data, but instead, I swallowed my pride and learned how to boot Linux from my CD-ROM drive. After it was all over, I discovered Ubuntu and Debian and learned more about computers in the first week than I ever did using Windows. Since then, I’ve had to re-learn things and break old habits, but Linux has saved me a lot of time, trouble and heartache over the past year I’ve used it.

    On that note, what OS computer repairmen typically use to crack passwords, back up data, remove viruses and format hard drives in Windows systems? Yep. Ironic isn’t it?

    It’s just like owning a car. Sure, you can let the “system” and the mechanics handle all the hard stuff, but if you want your car to last for a long time, you’d better be prepared to put some work into it. No matter what the hype and IT professionals say, computers are no different

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    [...] 5 Things New Linux Converts Should Know If you’ve recently converted to Linux from Windows, or if you’re just giving Linux a shot, there are a few things you need to know right off the bat about how Linux works and where the major differences are when compared to Windows. Read more… [...]

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