Linux may seem scary at first, but it’s not as difficult as you might think. Here’s a guide to getting started in Linux.
In general, we often think of Linux as an alternative to Windows, and it is, but don’t think it’s for programmers and engineers. These days, if you can use Windows at any level, it’s possible to get into Linux and learn a little. If you don’t know Linux and want to get acquainted, here’s everything you need to know.
What is Linux?
We have an entire article dedicated to discussing Linux, but here’s the short version. Although Linux is often referred to as an operating system like Windows, Android, and iOS, it is not the whole story. Linux is the kernel, which is basically the thing that does all the things behind the scenes in the operating system. Although the kernel is important, it is not the entire OS, and in fact, some popular OSes such as Android are based on Linux, although it may not be obvious at first glance.
Therefore, what Linux is for most people is a family of operating systems that use the Linux kernel and then differ in things like UI, drivers, and other things that are more visible to the user and affect the user experience directly. Linux operating systems are known as distros, or distributions, and range from unique to distro-based.
Distros like Debian and Fedora are what you might call primitive or primitive because they take the Linux kernel and do the work of creating an OS from the ground up. Ubuntu, however, is a distro that uses Debian as a base and then modifies some features and adds some features, meaning it is a derivative of the distro. There are also distros based on Ubuntu (Linux Mint, for example), which means that there are operating systems that are removed from the parent distro and Mint.
Hardware requirements and how to install Linux
Hardware requirements for Linux operating systems vary from distro to distro, but in general, most distros recommend the following:
- A 64-bit CPU with two cores
- 4GB of system RAM
- 25GB of storage
- DVD or USB drive containing the OS installation
You don’t need a high-end computer to run Linux, and any PC from the last decade should be able to run it, and even older mobile devices should be capable too. These system versions are only re-releases of the most popular distros, you can find older versions with minimal requirements or lightweight distros that will run on 32-bit processors and 2GB of memory.
As for installation methods, each distro is different, but in most cases, you’ll need an installation device like a DVD or USB stick, which you can create with a program like balenaEtcher. It’s the same with Windows and any other OS you can think of, so Linux is no exception in this regard, and most distros will have straightforward installation methods.
There are two other things to keep in mind. One of them is the Linux file system, which is very different from Windows, so you can’t just flash a Windows-based drive into a Linux PC and expect it to work. You also have to worry about drivers, which are things that help communicate between the OS and devices like graphics cards. Driver support can be limited to non-existent, so you should check your components and see if they are suitable for Linux.
Desktop experience on Linux
Because every Linux distro is different, there is no single “Linux desktop”. However, two popular distros, Ubuntu and Fedora, use the so-called GNOME desktop UI, and if you’ve used Windows or macOS you’ll like GNOME. You get a workbench with the start menu (or programs menu, in this case), and your OS usually has a storefront, too. It’s still Linux, so you have to deal with the fact that you only have Linux software (for the most part), but unless you’re looking for a niche, what you can find on Windows will be available on Linux. Some distros use a different UI, so if you’ve never used Linux before, I recommend starting with something that uses GNOME.
Managing files across distros is the same not only between them but also Windows and MacOS. Contains files, folders, documents, etc.; he is not a complete stranger. The UI of a file manager or search app can vary between distros, but is usually self-explanatory. By the way, external storage devices use a global file system (which is based on NTFS) than internal storage, which means that you will not have to reformat your external SSDs, HDDs, or SD cards to transfer files from a Windows PC to a. Linux PC or vice versa.
However, even for friendly distros like Ubuntu, there is one thing that you will have to use at least once on Linux: the terminal (also known as console or konsole). The landing page is where you enter words to do things, which can be esoteric. In some cases, it may not be possible to connect to the terminal for something you want to install or configure. Some OSes make little use of terminals, while others rely heavily on them.
Fortunately, you don’t have to learn how to speak Linux to use the terminal; instead, you’re expected to just copy and paste things you see online rather than come up with rules yourself, and only if you need them. You will benefit greatly from learning a few commands and getting a basic idea of what the correct commands should look like, but you don’t need to be an expert to use the terminal properly.
Getting software on Linux
On Linux, there are usually three ways to install an application: via an executable file with an installation wizard, via the app store, or via the terminal. This may sound similar to Windows or MacOS, but the feasibility of these installation methods depends on your distro. Not all installation wizards are designed to work on all distros, not every distro has an installation store, and in the end you can rely on installing programs via the terminal.
Of course, your options are between the app store or manual installation via the terminal. If you want to avoid the terminal, you should get Ubuntu or one of the Ubuntu-based OSes, such as Mint or Pop! Os. Fedora is also an option and has its own store. If you need to rely on the terminal because the program is not on the store or your distro does not have a store, then you should learn a little about installing Linux through the terminal, even once. you get used to it, it’s not hard.
One thing that Linux is good at is making non-Linux programs run on Linux. Wine is one program that Linux users turn to for Windows applications to run on Linux, and it has been reliable since its release many years ago. For games, Valve’s Proton software has seen great success on Steam Deck and Linux as a whole, and it works amazingly well even for games that are notoriously slow. Wine has a separate download while Proton comes with Steam when you install it.
With each release, Linux gets one step closer to being for everyone
Today, Linux is not suitable for everyone. The software ecosystem can be confusing for many because the dependency on the terminal can be off-putting, and it’s difficult to switch from Windows or macOS. That being said, Linux is more widely used by more people than ever before, and that’s true with every change to every distro. You can also find good laptops that run Linux distros like Ubuntu out of the box.
And that’s how it is on PC. Android users are using Linux on their phones, and many servers are running Linux instead of Windows. The PC is the last place where Linux is not a popular choice these days, but it won’t be like that forever. In any case, today, it is not very difficult to learn how to use, like, and do well on Linux.