While the most popular Operating System remains Microsoft Windows, Linux is still a great alternative to the traditional O/S. Linux distributions are free, which adds to their appeal. Additionally they use interfaces that are not much dissimilar from Windows Vista. The downside of using Linux is that it has a few additional features that may seem odd to the first time user. The time taken to master Linux will vary, but with dedication anyone can learn to use this efficient and extremely affordable O/S.
Required Tools and Materials
- Working Computer
- Linux O/S
It is possible to install Linux as a dual boot or as the main O/S on your computer and then using Virtual Box to run any other operating system. You may decide to use Linux solely, if you do, don’t worry you will still be able to do everything you would using Windows.
- You can test out Linux using a Live CD. This will allow you to open different distributions of the Linux O/S on your computer without having to install either on your drive. This is a great way to familiarize yourself with Linux without feeling obligated to use it permanently.
- You will need to try out different applications and features that it offers. Take a look at the word processor, applications to burn a CD/DVD, photo editing software among other things. Make a note of any difficulties you encounter throughout.
- The two main distributions of Linux that you will likely use are Kubuntu (KDE) or Ubuntu (Gnome). You may run into a few errors or bugs depending on the version you try. Try to get the most recent or research forums to see which perhaps the most stable version is.
- You may install the actual program as a dual boot. This allows you to use both Windows and Linux. Before installing a dual boot back up all your files.
- Learn to install programs via the add/remove software. Using this program is very easy and will look similar on the Gnome or KDE interfaces. Once you open the add/remove program you will see a list of available software or you may enter a software name in the search bar. Once it is found you may select it from the list and then select apply changes and the installer will automatically download the software for use. To unistall follow the same procedure. Select a program that is installed, you will be asked if you would like to remove the program, select okay and then apply changes to remove the program.
- Using the Terminal. The terminal is perhaps the most feared aspect of a Linux based system however, it is actually very easy to use once you get beyond the dos-like interface. Essentially using the terminal requires simply that you learn a few commands. You can find these commands at official Linux websites and other forums. For example if you would like to install a program, using the terminal is the easiest/quickest way to accomplish this. First enter the terminal. Type sudo apt-get install “program name”. It will then prompt you to enter your password. If it is correct it will either move straight through installation or for larger programs it will return a Y/N message to confirm installation/ Select Y to continue N to stop the process. Besides using it to add programs you may use it to make regular checks of your overall system, update programs and change configurations. Once you learn the commands that are necessary to use the terminal you will find you may opt to use it for installations and updates more often than the add/remove program.
- Get acquainted with the file system. You will no longer see the C: used in windows to indicate the main storage device instead the “home” directory is used as the basis for all files stored within Linux.
- Finally make use of the Linux Forums where you may learn useful tips and report any bugs that you encounter while using the system.
Tips and Warnings
While most programs are free on Linux there are some programs that will require you to make a small payment. These are produced by independent developers and will not be found in the repository for regular installation. These will typically be downloaded as .tar.gz files and will have to be unpacked before installed in the terminal.