19 Jul 2012

A Beginner´s Guide To Linux - The Basics You Should Know

Linux is an operating system that basically acts as a platform for your computer to run on. Despite Linux having advanced capabilities than other operating systems, Linux is not as widely used as its peers Windows, Mac OS X and Android. However, IT geeks and technicians are becoming increasingly frustrated with the shortcomings of the industry leader and are turning to Linux to improve the personal computer systems.

A variation of Linux is used by many companies in the technology industry and most super computers are run on a variation of Linux. One of the key selling points for Linux is that is it designed with security in mind and has encrypted codes as standard, therefore reducing the threat of virus attacks.

Share Linux software with friends

Larger software companies like Apple and Windows are turning to downloads for users to upgrade their machines. Long gone are the days of chipping in with your mates to buy the latest version of Windows or some other software and each of you loading it on to your PCs.

Linux on the other hand is programmed by a worldwide community of software developers and is not owned by an individual or company, therefore they don´t charge ridiculous prices and allow you to share it between friends. In actual fact, Linux software is low-cost, if not free as it is designed to offer powerful computing solutions to school and charities in developing countries.

If you know how, it also gives you the freedom to modify it and use it for a specific purpose of your choosing.

How does Linux work?

Linux is a risk-free way of adapting your computer without having to modifying the current contents of your computer. If you want to give it a try to see if it works for you there is no harm in doing so as a trial run before reverting back to your existing operating system. However, you should still backup your data just in case things go wrong.

Linux works pretty much the same way as any other operating system, but as with anything new takes a little practice and perseverance to become familiar with the layout and the mechanics. Have a play around and use the tutorials to become more familiar with the software.

The first thing you want to do is launch the System Settings from the user menu, so you can give Linux a look and a feel that you like. You will find options that you are familiar with such as background wallpaper and keyboard layout.

Installing Linux

Once you have had a play around with Linux and decided that you would like to use it instead of your existing operating system install it on to your hard drive. If you didn´t back your files up for the trial run do so before you install Linux as you are making changes to your computer´s hard drive.
There are three ways to install Linux:
  1. A live CD available from shops or postal order. Ubuntu is the preferred option
  2. A free download known as Virtual PC 2007 which you can access through Windows
  3. Install Ubuntu using the Wubi installer which is also available for download
 All three versions are unbelievably straight forward and all you have to do is follow the online instructions then reboot your PC and select the Linux operating system from the boot menu.

Accessing your old files

Once Linux is installed you can access your old files from your previous operating system by launching Activities and selecting the filing cabinet on the dashboard. This will launch the file manager Nautilus in which you will find an entry title xxx GB Filesystem. Double click and your files will appear in the open window. You can then put your file in the corresponding Linux partition and you are good to go.

So that completes our beginners guide. Linux implementation is really more straightforward than you think and if you don't like it, the effects can be reversed (provided you keep a back-up).
Image Source: Wikipedia and transitmapsetc.


  1. A little awkwardly written, and there are statements in regards to running the Live CD and installing the OS that can be misleading.

  2. Why are you recommending VirtualPC 2007, which has no support for Linux guests at all, instead of solutions that work much better, like VMware Player and Virtualbox?
    Why is Ubuntu the preferred option?
    Why do you call this a beginners guide when it doesn't even cover such basic things like choosing the right distribution or partitioning?

  3. Your first line is erroneous and the error keeps being compounded the more into this article you go...Linux is a kernel and not an operating system. Even Gnu/Linux is a bare=bones operating system without the many enhancements typically added by distributions.

  4. I'm not a nerd, but I've used Linux for over 15 years, for general home use and managing my retirement fund etc. As an experienced - but not hugely technical - user, I prefer Debian sid, installed as Siduction and maintained with the smxi script. I've explored various desktop environments and have always preferred KDE, which is by far the most comprehensive and configurable desktop environment I've ever seen. Without KDE, I'd be looking very hard at downgrading to Mountain Lion on a Mac.

  5. With almost 25 years of Unix-based system use and management I cannot agree more with all the negative comments here. The title and the article are deceiving and full of approximations and mistakes. It should be erased from this blog.

    1. Create your own blog and erase it from there.

      Don't tell me what I should do, and I will not tell you where you should go!

  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. If one would want to LEARN linux,especially a beginner, ubuntu is NOT the choice.

    LFS (linux from scratch)
    Debian Sid

    Are great examples to get your hands wet.

    I am also one of "those" that think ubuntu=linux is a joke. It is the very last attempt to install a distro and wouldn't let my best friend use it.

    1. I agree about LEARN. But this is strange to recommend to START with LFS.

      Have you been doing break-dance and rock'n'roll at the age of one? Or maybe you first learnt to walk?

  8. Good stuff DarkDark!

    The GNU/Linux crowd really are a friendly bunch, aren't they...

    I started with Mandrake 7.2. I can't, in all honesty, think of a bad way to get started with Linux.

    1. Bad way to start is to read comments to this post. They show all the negativity one can get when he makes a single rookie step and asks the question in the wrong community. 8-)

      BTW, DarkDuck is a better spelling

    2. Apologies, DarkDuck.

      Don't worry about them. You (& me) are doin' alright! ;)

      Something I like to remind new users, that are contemplating Linux, is to join, and use, a relevant forum. I still remember the feeling of isolation and unknown when I started out (quite scary & exciting too).

    3. The objections to the article from most were not in regard to the choice to recommend Ubuntu or that he is advocating open source as an alternative to proprietary OSs, but rather the glaring mistakes in the article. For example, Linux was NOT designed with security in mind. It simply inherited the security features of Unix by implementing the POSIX specification.

      It also seems that English is not your first language, so I can overlook most of the grammatical errors, but in the paragraph where you start talking about Linux is a risk free way to try out a new operating system, you are obviously (at least to someone who knows Linux well) talking about either using Wubi or a live CD distro, but you don't spell that out until much later, and even then you don't talk about the advantages and disadvantages of the different approaches you suggest are available, so how would the new user know to look for it.

      I applaud your efforts to show people alternatives to Windows or MacOS, but this article doesn't accomplish that goal and a novice user would end up leaving here with more confusion than knowledge and some of that "knowledge" would be incorrect.

  9. Forget the negative comments since people here did not seem to realise that this is only a post to promote the use GNU/Linux. Could somebody explain to me why is so wrong to advice for Ubuntu? If you don't like it, don't use it and write a blog post of your distribution of choice and why a beginner should start with that. The least that can be asked is to respect other people's work.

  10. Author, keep up the good work. As is life too many crabs in the bucket attempt to pull the others down.

  11. If I may, as a relatively new Linux user, this article does have a lot of valid points. When I read it, I didn't read it from an uber linux nerd perspective like the majority of the negative posters are. I read it from a new user perspective. Linux is a very intimidating operating system. Yes, I refered to linux as an operating system. You talk to any new user out there and that is what it is refered to. It's not Ubuntu, Mint, Zorin, Cent, it's Linux. then when you go into the many flavors of Linux (Ubuntu, Mint, Zorin, Cent, ect.) thats when you really see their eyes glaze over. What I got from this article is the basics, a general understanding of what Linux is without all the deep dive uber nerd stuff. Now, if the author had presented it in a way the uber linux nerds would have approved of, then any new user thinking about switching would have ran far away. If you want Linux to become more popular and accepted by the mass public then get off your uber nerd horse and instead, offer some positive input and help those new users to accept Linux and embrace it.

    1. Thanks for the support!
      Unfortunately, many Linux users forgot the time when they saw their new operating system for the first time. They think that they were born with Linux knowledge.
      My blog is for the people like you, who do their first steps in Linux and want to know more about different versions of it.

  12. From linux.org: "Linux is an operating system that evolved from a kernel created by Linus Torvalds when he was a student at the University of Helsinki. "

    Lighten up, Linux "geniuses." One of the biggest things keeping "mere mortals" from using Linux is the huge barrier of Linux users being too "smart" to help newcomers. I'm reminded of this classic UserFriendly cartoon...

    "If everyone's using it, I won't be cool anymore."

  13. People may explore Linux Tutorial for beginner

    This is having 4 sub chapter and good coverage for beginner.