Radu Cotescu's professional blog

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Linux Tutorials for Windows Users

newtux_100x100Recently I was struck by the idea of creating some Linux tutorials for the new user that comes from a proprietary world, like Windows. I won’t say Mac OS because I don’t think that anyone with a Mac will renounce to use Tiger or Leopard for Linux because as you should all know that Mac OS X is Unix. But I am probably wrong, because I am sure that exceptions exist.

Anyway, I want to start showing people that Linux isn’t necessarily an operating system only for the advanced users and that it can be configured relatively easy for people who don’t like terminals very much. Of course, the terminal has its important role (Linux isn’t the same without that green on black [the way I like it] window where you can feel like a h4X0r) and I am pretty sure that there might be cases when one must issue a command or two using the mistical terminal screen, but I am confident that I can make this look easy and simple.

The Windows users out there will start to say “Hey, why would I want to use an OS that from time to time requires me to know complicated commands for them to be run in terminals? I can use Windows where everything is done with clicks.”. Well, for the most part you are true. But how much can you customize the way that Windows feels and responds to your inputs? How much hassle must you endure using clicks after clicks when you just want to program a certain task to be run at a certain time or repeatedly at a certain time? How long must you wait for the nowadays hard disks when you must defragment your partitions?

The next question will be “But I can’t play games on Linux and I need games for relaxing…”. Well, that’s a tricky one. There are a lot of games made for Linux. Yes, they aren’t as famous as the ones on Windows, I give you that. But they are pretty decent when it comes to graphics and engines. And some of the famous games for Windows either have their ported version for Linux (most Blizzard games for what I know - I am not really a gamer, never was) or they can be run under Wine (not the drink, but a free emulation engine for system calls) or Cedega (a branch of Wine, that costs). Anyway, in my opinion games should be run on consoles (like Wii, PlayStation or Xbox) where specialized hardware does those things and nothing is more great then enjoying your favorite game, whicever that is, on a big LCD/plasma display with surround sound. That might be more expensive, but think at the sensation and of course at the fact that you can watch TV broadcast or movies too and therefore you wouldn’t buy yourself those appliances only for gaming.

I am not trying to propose Linux as the ultimate OS. There is no such thing. But what I want to say here is that Linux is better than Windows on most aspects and I will point here a few for the sake of not starting a flame war without solid arguments:

  • there aren’t as many viruses for Linux as there are for Windows (part of this because it’s not as spread as Windows and the most part of it because the way Linux is built is more secure than its Redmond competitor);

  • there is almost no thing as disk defragmenation under Linux’s file formats (ext2, ext3, ext4);

  • it runs faster than Windows on the same hardware;

  • being open source, it’s very easy to modify things in your OS;

  • every configuration aspect is usually handled by a single file for every program/application with the extension .conf;

  • it’s more stable than Windows;

  • it has a great community out there that can help you troubleshoot your problems if you have one;

  • there are a lot of variants (we call them distributions) to choose from and most of them (98% let’s say) are free as in free beer;

  • it’s used by almost any serious company on their servers because Linux is fast, robust, secure, easy to configure, very customizable and has a great TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) price.

For the sake of conversation I will point you some disadvantages too:

  • sometimes your different exotic (extremly new or rare) hardware equipments might not work the way they should;

  • using multiple monitors can be a hassle sometimes if you want eye-candy too (but this thing is starting to get fixed);

  • some of the very important software packages, mostly DTP software (like Photoshop, Illustrator, Corel etc.) do not have ports to Linux but there are open source alternatives (Gimp, Inkscape, Scribus etc.).

There might be a whole lot more advantages or disadvantages, as I haven’t compiled an exhaustive list here. But try just to compare the advantages with the disadvantages and see if Linux isn’t a real alternative for Windows just for the price and then for the beauty of its architecture.

As I stated in the first paragraph, I want to start a series of tutorials for Linux, mainly Ubuntu, because this is the distro that I like best, that will help you start using Linux without the fear that you will break something and that will teach you how easy and nice it is to use Linux as your single operating system.

The first one in the series will be How to install Ubuntu Desktop Edition, because the process of having Ubuntu as the only operating system on your PC is basically the same as using it in dual boot mode, so I do not see the necessity in writing two similar tutorials. But I am free to suggestions from you, my readers, if you want to find out something particular about Linux. I am planning in writing two tutorials per week, because one would be too less and more than two will take me more time than I really have.

So, whatever you want to find out about Linux, and Ubuntu in particular, please write it out in this post’s comments and please try to find subjects that are worthy of a tutorial, not of a one phrase answer.

Until the first tutorial, that I think it will appear on the 24th of June, I wish you all the best!


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