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\/\/\/\/\/\/ 06-07-2009 01:55 PM

Computer major seeking information on immersion in Linux - raised on Windows
 
If this is a redundant newbie question, I ask you to please point me to an equivalent thread. I read the advice, and I did a search, I just don't have enough time to weed through too much text, as I read way too slow. I am sorry for that. It is in my interest to just ask in terms of opportunity cost. If it is in your interest to ignore me, then I accept that.

Okay? :)

First - I have been a Windows user from 9.x onward. I know a lot, but am not a Windows professional (I don't touch the core of the OS - registry, logs, drivers).
Second - I am familiar with command lines, and have used Cygwin in school, if you could say that I actually used it. I am not skilled with the commands in Linux (but could figure it out from "help"/"-?").
Third - I am a computer major, and addict.
Fourth - I may need to know how to use Linux as one of the requirements for a job.

I know that there are different interface modes for Linux (although I don't know if this varies by distro). I am curious if a GUI version is any harder to use for an experienced user of Windows (in terms of clicking, typing, organizing files, running programs - the basics). From my general impression, it sounds like Linux (distributions) is/are more hands on, requiring you to "get your hands dirty" to make your box to run how you want it to. With Windows, I just use a *.msi, and everything installs easily. I don't know if it is the same kind of behavior. Maybe binaries are required instead? I have no clue.

Anyway, the basic question that I have is that if I were dropped into a world where only Linux existed, would I be able to use it without too much of a "learning curve"? Does my computer background help at all?

Right now I am barely past the stage of ignorance. I understand this, please be nice. Thank you.

WWW (\/\/\/\/\/\/)


Edit: it seems like the tags didn't work as I hoped - not experienced with that

Tags: Newbie, First Post, Windows Vs Linux, Windows versus Linux, Transition, Transfer of Skill, Basics, GUI Basics

noctilucent 06-07-2009 02:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by \/\/\/\/\/\/ (Post 3566126)
Anyway, the basic question that I have is that if I were dropped into a world where only Linux existed, would I be able to use it without too much of a "learning curve"?

Tricky. If by tomorrow morning "somehow" nothing but Linux existed in terms of operating systems, but "Linux" [and all the tools that are usually present for this OS + related documentation] was as it is "now" - then your answer, IMO is: probably not. Now, it also depends on your understanding of "use it". Could you use it to move a file from one place to another without too much of a "learning curve"? Most likely. Would you be able to "use it" to produce a few thousand lines program which uses the network and actually does something useful? I doubt it.

Quote:

Originally Posted by \/\/\/\/\/\/ (Post 3566126)
Does my computer background help at all?

Probably. But possibly not as much as a passion / attraction to this OS would.

Quote:

Originally Posted by \/\/\/\/\/\/ (Post 3566126)
Right now I am barely past the stage of ignorance.

Don't panic. Nobody was born with knowledge of the Linux OS + 'related' tools [I'm guessing most of the people here were bourn before Linux itself - which adds to the probability].

GlennsPref 06-07-2009 03:17 PM

Hi, welcome to LQ!

IMO you will be fine. There are a few major changes you'd have to get used to, but once you do, you may not go back to M$windows.

Check out Jerry Peek's doc on becoming a "Linux Wizard", that will give you some insight.

Well written (.pdf's available) and right up your alley,
Quote:

Third - I am a computer major, and addict.
As far as using programs, firefox is still firefox, kate, gedit and kwrite are text editors, open office is a productivity suite, etc, etc. kmplayer for media, amorok for songs (mp3, etc.)

There are ide's for writing code, many to choose from.

dive in, see how you like it. And it won't cost you an arm and a leg to find out.

The shell terminals are a lot friendlier with GNU/Linux too. Like auto-completion, history, and search history too.

Cheers, Glenn

choogendyk 06-07-2009 03:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by \/\/\/\/\/\/ (Post 3566126)
Anyway, the basic question that I have is that if I were dropped into a world where only Linux existed, would I be able to use it without too much of a "learning curve"? Does my computer background help at all?

WWW

There will be a learning curve, but it's free, and your interest will drive you forward. Dive in. If you want a relatively easy start, grab ubuntu (http://www.ubuntu.com/) and install it as a dual boot on your computer. Then spend as much time in it as possible.

Your computer background will both help and hinder. If you were in a program that focused entirely on Windows, that's sad and unfortunate. It sounds like a business related program. It will give you biases and preconceptions that you will have to overcome. But, dive in. The internet is loaded with information and resources.

ANO1453 06-07-2009 04:15 PM

If you just want to do the regular stuff, it will be easy. If you choose your distro well, most things will function out of the box and are easy to configure. I had little command-line experience and still managed to compile a module for my wireless, just followed the instructions.

Most thing work the same in Linux and Windows - if you click a file, it will open, if you right click a file you'll more options. There are even binaries that you can install by double-clicking, just how you did with *.msi.

Learning curve? Little. You will only have a (slight) learning curve if you want to use the functionalities that Windows doesn't offer.

For program-developers, Linux has plenty of tools.

If you want, try out a few distros. Take a look through screenshots and websites of Linux Distributions, download LiveCDs (you can try a Linux without making changes to your computer) from those more appealing, and make your choice. I learnt Linux in no time, and you'll adapt quicker than you'd expect.

And you can always count on LinuxQuestions for help.

salasi 06-07-2009 04:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by \/\/\/\/\/\/ (Post 3566126)

First - I have been a Windows user from 9.x onward. I know a lot, but am not a Windows professional (I don't touch the core of the OS - registry, logs, drivers).

It would have been easier if you were saying that you had experience of several operating systems, as you would not be entering into this with a, even if unconcious, 'if it doesn't work like windows, its not as good' mindset.

I know that you didn't say anything that indicated that, but I did say unconcious.
Quote:

Second - I am familiar with command lines, and have used Cygwin in school, if you could say that I actually used it. I am not skilled with the commands in Linux (but could figure it out from "help"/"-?").
You probably want 'man', although help will be of some, err, help.

Quote:

I know that there are different interface modes for Linux (although I don't know if this varies by distro).
I think you mean the GUIs; there is a choice of guis, some of them light, some of them full featured and some out-and-out wacky. A bit like a version of windows coming out with two modes of the UI, one new and one compatible with the previous windows release, but more so. Much more so.

Quote:

I am curious if a GUI version is any harder to use for an experienced user of Windows (in terms of clicking, typing, organizing files, running programs - the basics).
Certainly a bit different; some things are easier, some are just different.

Quote:

From my general impression, it sounds like Linux (distributions) is/are more hands on, requiring you to "get your hands dirty" to make your box to run how you want it to.
They can be more 'hands on', even 'much more hands on', but they don't have to be. Mostly they presume a bit more background knowledge, at least to the extent of presuming a knowledge of the terminology, but there is a range of solutions from easy distros all the way up to'every bit as hard as you would ever like' distros that offer you the ultimate in control.

Quote:

With Windows, I just use a *.msi, and everything installs easily. I don't know if it is the same kind of behavior. Maybe binaries are required instead? I have no clue.
I have no idea what an msi file is, but if you use a distro like Ubuntu, you'll find it easier and it actually works. OTOH, if you try tomake it work like windows, you'll struggle.

Quote:

Anyway, the basic question that I have is that if I were dropped into a world where only Linux existed, would I be able to use it without too much of a "learning curve"?
There is a learning curve. How much is too much?

slashmonkey 06-07-2009 06:07 PM

don't even bother. Linux nowadays is more trouble than it's worth. IT used to be good but has apparently gone way downhill and you will spend countless hours banging your head against the wall just trying to get it to work on modern hardware. I doubt many people will be using it on their PC's in the future. the only place where it is truly useful is on web servers, but even that may change if hardware compatibility keeps slipping.

GlennsPref 06-07-2009 07:02 PM

Welcome to LQ,
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by slashmonkey (Post 3566279)
don't even bother. Linux nowadays is more trouble than it's worth. IT used to be good but has apparently gone way downhill and you will spend countless hours banging your head against the wall just trying to get it to work on modern hardware. I doubt many people will be using it on their PC's in the future. the only place where it is truly useful is on web servers, but even that may change if hardware compatibility keeps slipping.

That's absolute rubbish!

cheers Glenn

\/\/\/\/\/\/ 06-07-2009 08:12 PM

Thank you all. :)
I am not sure how much knowledge of the Linux OS, related tools, and documentation I would be expected to know. There is nothing stated in the job description that indicates degree of experience. The job does also require use of MS Windows, and IE, but not to any degree.

I understand now that I can anticipate having some interface issues that I wouldn't think of, because a there is a slightly different way to it. I have used Mac's a little, and found myself a bit clumsy, but still functional. My switch to Linux sounds like it would be somewhat similar. I might shoot myself in the foot because I am trying to intuit what to do based off of a MS Windows system.

I am not that far along with programming I would say, so writing a few thousand lines, even to create a complex calculator, is still beyond me. Not to say that I couldn't do it, but rather taking much more time than a working professional needs.

I was at DigiPen Institute of Technology for 3 years, but left because of mental health problems. I only really had 2 years of programming. I am returning to the programming realm at my current school, after having a break to learn world languages instead. I don't have a business background, just business minded professors teaching me about project management.

In terms of environment at DigiPen, we were all in MS Windows. It wasn't our focus to look at the OS. The one class that even addressed operating systems was considered a joke of a class, and most people didn't take anything away from it. Outside of that, one professor did require us to learn the bash shell, and we used Cygwin to emulate his homework test environment. I also had a glimpse inside of VI and EMACS, but only because of another professor that didn't know what he was teaching (i.e. lied about his credentials - he was fired for being incompetent). Anyway, as I said, the school isn't about looking at OS's. They concentrate on graphics and simulations. There may be more taught now, as they are branching their degree offerings a little.

GlennsPref, that "Linux Wizard" page is amazing.

In terms of using programs that serve a similar or same purpose, I am reassured. I figure that I would be able to function at the same level as someone who barely knows MS Windows as their sole OS.

There is a lot to learn, of course. I already have identified things that are missing in MS Windows that I usually just work around in terms of quick text editing. I look forward to trying those out.


salasi, in my own defense :)
1. I don't look down on other OS's. I was raised primarily with DOS and MS Windows. I know that there are better alternatives, but I have been comfortable with MS Windows despite its problems. If it doesn't work like MS Windows, I assume it is a good thing. I hear variety is the spice of life.
2. Okay, 'man'. :) hehe I didn't know that. Thank you for pointing it out.
3. I was thinking that with there might only be a CLI in some distros. Also, I figured that a command line might be available in the GUI (but without opening anything). I didn't know what I was talking about fully, but I understand now in terms of GUI differences between distros.


The learning curve would be too much if I was to be fired for not learning Linux fast enough.

*.msi is the file extension for installation packages in MS Windows.


As a note, I have put MS Windows in for each case of "Windows" as I know that it isn't the only windowed environment. I don't know if that is a touchy issue or not.

Thank you all again!

GlennsPref 06-07-2009 10:14 PM

That's cool!

Just start, use a live cdrom, or flash-drive to have a look around without touching your current setup.

When you figure out what apps you want/need, then choose a distro that appeals to you and your hardware.

Yes, many of us describe M$win with the dollar sign somewhere, but no big issue. Like window$.

You can have a shell terminal open on the desktop, any one of them or all of them, up to 16, I've seen, depending on your system specs.

Konsole, from kde is the one I use most, and bash (Bourne Again Shell) is pretty standard on most distributions, but some prefer zsh (like me).

If you were to start with LFS (Linux From Scratch) you'd be in cli mode for a while, but that is for hardcore types. Most distros come with a gui, standard.

good luck to you, and keep in touch. ;-)

regards Glenn

salasi 06-08-2009 05:24 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by \/\/\/\/\/\/ (Post 3566332)

salasi, in my own defense :)
1. I don't look down on other OS's. I was raised primarily with DOS and MS Windows. I know that there are better alternatives, but I have been comfortable with MS Windows despite its problems. If it doesn't work like MS Windows, I assume it is a good thing. I hear variety is the spice of life.
2. Okay, 'man'. :) hehe I didn't know that. Thank you for pointing it out.
3. I was thinking that with there might only be a CLI in some distros. Also, I figured that a command line might be available in the GUI (but without opening anything). I didn't know what I was talking about fully, but I understand now in terms of GUI differences between distros.

I didn't really mean 'look down on', but what you see in a number of threads is 'I've tried to do this job in exactly the same way as I would with windows, I've followed steps 1, 2, ....n exactly as I would with windows and now I can't make the remaining step(s) work. Sometimes that goes on to ask 'What have I done wrong?' and sometimes its 'Why is this OS such a load of rubbish...Why can't they just understand I want a low cost version of windows'. Note that one of those two attitudes is clearly going to lead to failure and the other has only caused a waste of time and bandwidth.

This is worth avoiding, and, if nothing else, I'd like you to not get to that point.
(Hint 1: use the package manager;
Hint 2: text config files make your life massively easier).

Quote:

If it doesn't work like MS Windows, I assume it is a good thing.
err, but that's a very good starting point...you'll find in some cases, you'll feel 'why on earth don't they have an easy wizard interface...' and in other cases 'why doesn't windows work this way, its so much easier...' and its easy to get hung up on just one or the other. In reality, you have to see the balance. (Oh, and it is still true that a lot of Linux (actually, its not really Linux at all, but the miscellaneous bits and pieces on top of Linux, but that's a different issue) 'assumes' that the person doing the configuration at least has a solid understanding of the basics wheras some other systems do a 'better' job of being configurable by people who have less knowledge...you may see this as a job that still needs fixing, but it is the case that if you know what you are doing, keeping Linux running can be pretty easy.)

"CLI only" there are few CLI-only distros (things like specialist 'net appliance' distros); there are many CLI-only installations. So, installing a GUI is often something you choose to do, or not, but it is rarely the case that the distro forces you to omit the GUI. Often, for a server, GUI-less is a very valuable option.

In general, GUIs do have a terminal-like application (personally, I prefer using konsole, the kde console tool, to using gui-less bash, but that's probably just me); even if there wasn't such a thing, you could still use the command line by opening up a separate terminal in parallel.


Quote:

The learning curve would be too much if I was to be fired for not learning Linux fast enough.
Yes, I can definitely see that as a point, but it does nothing to help me understand how fast you learn generally and what kind of timescale is likely to be acceptable. Maybe that's not easy and maybe its not very helpful.

Quote:

As a note, I have put MS Windows in for each case of "Windows" as I know that it isn't the only windowed environment. I don't know if that is a touchy issue or not.
There are many synonyms used for that particular OS, mostly unflattering. I tend to try to avoid them, as discussion of exactly how insulting one should be to some product that I have no intention of adopting is just an irrelevance to me. YMMV.

\/\/\/\/\/\/ 06-11-2009 02:38 AM

Well, because I read slowly, my learning curve is shifted. I agree though that I didn't really say how well I learn, and how long I would have to prove myself to the business.

For now, I have enough knowledge to get off the ground. Thank you! :)

GlennsPref 06-11-2009 04:21 AM

Slow readers, like us, tend to be most accurate,

let's hope they appreciate not having to do things more than once.

Cheers, and best wishes, Glenn

govert 06-12-2009 02:18 AM

My current take on linux vs. windows?

It's generally somewhat harder to do the easy stuff in linux.
But it's generally SOOO much easier to do the hard stuff.

(Disclaimer: This is a general statement. Exceptions exist. Both ways.)

oh, one more thing: It's free.

johnsfine 06-12-2009 07:00 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by \/\/\/\/\/\/ (Post 3566126)
I have been a Windows user from 9.x onward. I know a lot, but am not a Windows professional (I don't touch the core of the OS - registry, logs, drivers).

Quote:

I am a computer major, and addict.
That's a strange approach to Windows. It is hard to imagine how a long time serious user of Windows functions without tweaking the registry. The registry is ugly, disorganized and I think scary. Almost no one really knows what they are doing when manually editing it. But Windows can be very hard to use well if you don't.

Quote:

I know that there are different interface modes for Linux (although I don't know if this varies by distro).
There are significant differences by which "desktop" you use. The default desktop certainly varies by distribution and it is often tricky for a beginner to use a desktop other than the distribution's default (not always. Sometimes that is very easy). The choice of desktop is largely independent of the choice of distribution, but it still is easier if you select a desktop and then pick a distribution for which that is the default.

Distributions also vary a lot in how much can be done by GUI (vs. command line).

Quote:

I am curious if a GUI version is any harder to use for an experienced user of Windows (in terms of clicking, typing, organizing files, running programs - the basics).
Windows has a very tight integration between the desktop and the local file browser. Linux doesn't (at least any desktop I've used enough to understand). I think that tight integration is a good design and makes the system easier to use. That is one of several reasons any Linux desktop will feel weak and feature poor to an experienced Windows user. I think KDE is by far the best and strongest Linux desktop, but it is still very weak compared to Windows.

Quote:

From my general impression, it sounds like Linux (distributions) is/are more hands on, requiring you to "get your hands dirty" to make your box to run how you want it to.
I don't think so. It depends how you will use the system, but a lot of Linux distributions (including Mepis 8.0, which I use) install not only much more easily than Windows but much more completely. The system defaults all work very well for most users and you don't need to tweak much.

Quote:

With Windows, I just use a *.msi, and everything installs easily. I don't know if it is the same kind of behavior. Maybe binaries are required instead? I have no clue.
There are many different ways to install software on Linux. Some of them are pretty hard. But there is a very easy way, and if you select the right distribution, almost everything is available that easy way. My opinion of the "right" distribution for that is almost any distribution based on Debian (Ubuntu, Mepis, many others and of course Debian itself). There is a very good GUI front end for "package management" (adding and removing software) called "synaptic". It is only one of several different ways to use the same underlying Debian package management. But it has major advantages (especially for a beginner) over other ways. One of the worst beginner-vicious behaviors I have seen in several Debian based distributions (including Debian itself) is just that the beginner documentation doesn't tell you to use synaptic. A beginner wouldn't even know it exists. It's right there, available for use, but buried among a pile of other names that are equally meaningless to a beginner. The documentation tells you some harder way to use the same package management.

Once you try synaptic to install software, you will quickly realize that *.msi crap you are used to is lame. This is an area where Debian is just way better than Windows.


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