We can say that Vista is just out of the box (or maybe not, there's even a how-to about opening the Vista box), but anyways, many people now want an alternative to Windows. This alternative is called Linux. Some others went to Mac and its Leopard. Enthusiasts choose BSD or some other flavor of Open-source OS. I chose Linux. I dunno why. I haven't tried BSD yet. (Selven keeps convincing me. I gotta submit one of these days and give it a try). I am therefore writing this post for people who want to move from Windows to Linux. It covers what they should expect, and what is expected out of them.

1) Linux is NOT windows! AGAIN!

It can't be stressed enough, but still new users keep making the mistake of comparing Linux to Windows. Come'on folks. We are speaking of two different worlds here. One is like Pokemon, cute and fluffy, while the other is like 300, harsh and cold. Windows is about pointing and clicking. Linux is about typing. In Windows, you are usually accustomed to having a GUI for nearly every task you can think of. Linux doesn't offer a GUI everytime. For some tasks, you will need to get dirty and use command line. And no. It's not weird. It's not ugly. While new users love the GUI, a Linux power-user will vouch for the CLI. I use both, using the GUI where I can, and if it's not available, I use CLI.

When you first move to Linux, don't complain that you have to type commands, and that commands were used in prehistoric ages of computing. That's plain bad attitude, and I had that attitude too when I begun. Now, I'm a bit more comfortable in Linux, I stopped complaining and saw the numerous advantages of CLI. One simple example? Using a SINGLE line of command, you can backup your whole Linux system. With another command, you can remove EVERY file that is on the Linux file-system. What's those commands? I leave it for you to learn.

Stop complaining and accept the differences. Only then you will be able to progress in the Linux world.

2) Choose an appropriate Distro

Linux comes in many many many many flavors, each with its own spices and ingredients. The trick is to go Distro-shopping until you find one that suits you. How do you do that? Try going over to Distrowatch, and try out the Top #10 distros, and pick one that you like. A good place to start is Ubuntu which is often thought as the most user-friendly distro, or maybe PCLinuxOS that recently stole the crown of Ubuntu in Distrowatch. You could also try one of the mini-distros like Damn-Small-Linux or Puppy Linux just to test. After you find one that you like on Live CD, give it an install and try using it to its full potential. Be careful of how you install though, you could wreck an existing install (maybe Windows), but it's kind of rare. My recommended distros: Ubuntu or its variants (Xubuntu/Kubuntu), Sabayon Linux (if you want eye-candy), PCLinuxOS (if you want a near-complete system out-of-the-box) and Puppy Linux (if you want a portable Linux install). I am currently using Linux Mint, and here I reviewed it.

3) In simple terms, "Google is your friend"

And how true this is! While using Linux, you will encounter several issues. Your devices may not be recognized. You want to change a setting, but don't know how to do it. You want to install something, but can't figure it out. Had it been Windows, you could have phoned Tech Support. This is not the case with most Linux distros. Only a little minority of them offer live tech-support, and the rest leave you on your own. So how do you get help?

Here comes the tagline "Google is your friend". Use it! Google your problem and I am sure you will find solution. Google something like "install open office linux" and see the number of results you get. If Google doesn't point you to anything, try going over to your Distro's forum and ask there. Ubuntu forums is like a vault full of help and tips! If that doesn't work, get an IRC client and connect to their channel and seek help. If that still doesn't help, consult your friends who have working knowledge in Linux. Still no help? Try the "man" -manual-command in Console/Terminal. If all those fail, I dunno what you are trying to do. Maybe have Linux make coffee for you and do your laundry?

And when you do receive help, be polite and thank the helpers. If you can't get help, don't go on a ranting spree, and complain about lack of help and whatever. Always remember that Linux is free software. Most of the time, people do not get paid to develop it. They do it out of their own time, for pleasure or otherwise. By ranting, you are not doing justice to these people's efforts. Instead, be grateful for what you have, and try to help them create what is not already available. How? Donate, code or even beta-test software. Maybe you could provide information? But don't just complain. And if you still can't resist, then maybe Linux is not for you. Use Windows where you can get all the support you need. See pt.5

4) Not everything works under Linux

Upon your first boot, your Wireless connection might not work. You may have weird screen-resolution problems with your blazing new graphics card. Your webcam will almost certainly not work. These are common driver issues, issues which you do not have on Windows. This is a major outcry coming from new users: "My device XYZ refuses to work in Linux. Linux sux! *rant* *rant*!!"

Get this right now. Manufacturers provide drivers for Windows. Not all manufacturers provide drivers for Linux. So, if your device works, be grateful and thank the volunteer(s) that wrote that driver. Almost surely, that volunteer did not get any remuneration for his/her software, while manufacturers pay their developers to write drivers.

If one of your hardware doesn't work, either make do without it, or try looking online for a solution. Maybe somebody got a guide or solution for you. If nothing is available, don't complain. Make do without your hardware, or mail the manufacturer asking for Linux drivers. Or code your own, if you got coding skills. You can also pray that the next version of your distro supports the hardware. Most do after a version change-over.

What you can do? Try posting in your distro's forum. Describe the hardware, what the issue is, and what you want. Provide as much detail as possible. It might help a developer develop a driver one day, who knows.. :P

5) Use Windows

Weird point... Right. If after giving Linux a genuine chance and attempted to use it to the best of your efforts, you still cannot use it, then go back to Windows. Or try other distros. Maybe you will get lucky with other flavours? Try BSD or other variants. If nothing works, Windows is here.

Nobody forces you to use Linux. You chose to move to a new OS, a free OS (cost and copyright). You have nothing to lose, right? If you get something for free, you cannot complain that it doesn't work, or that it has flaws. You got it for free, you either use it or scrap it. Depends on you. But please, don't criticize it uselessly.

Well, this was my thoughts on moving to Linux. Maybe it will help new users make a choice. Maybe it will get buried somewhere in the vastness of the Internet, never to be read. But anyways, if you have read it, then I thank you! As always, comments appreciated. :)


  1. morinn said...

    I use linux every time windows is taking its sweet time to open and every time i wanna be alone. It's true linux and windows are 2 worlds apart, comparing is futile. I've been seriously considering switching to linux for good, maybe by May I'll do it, after backing up everything and getting more used to it. I'm often stuck with those command lines, luckily Jevin helped me out and I managed to retrieve images stored in windows. I dunno how that worked. (noob here).

    And great thing you mentioned here, about Google being our ally.

    And finally, I'm really satisfied with Linux. A free OS in today's world that truly works but just requires some collaboration on behalf of the user is too good to be true! It's really stupid and unjustified to complain about it.  

  2. carrotmadman6 said...

    Nice guide...

    But i'm stuck with my XP. (Too lazy to move, i guess).


    What i'd really want to install is not Linux but OS X! :P  

  3. InF said...

    For me, I'm stuck to Windows for some reasons:

    - I can't get my games to run reliably under Wine

    - I miss some of my most useful applications. Media Player Classic?? :P

    - I still need a windows-based IDE to run my codes in UoM Labs..

    And some other reasons.. If not for those, I'd have shifted already.. :(  

  4. $€|v3n said...

    hehe nice post, btw, i see that jevin's been convincing some people..hahahaha

    at carrotmadman6 ... well... if you want to install OSX, then you maybe want to know that... well OSX has infact FreeBSD inside :p

    bow to the almighty bsd [almost satanic grin].

    anyways, use what you feel at ease with, that's what's count.  


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