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There is no "easy" transition to Linux.

Posted 09-05-2011 at 10:12 PM by ReaperX7

I've been using Linux on and off for the past ten years or so and at first, even I was very intimidated by the OS. It took a lot of researching and also a lot of trial and error before I settled in on my current distribution, Slackware. I've had the opportunity and unfortunate privilege of trying out other distributions that were more or less a migraine. Red Hat, Mandrake, SuSE, Ubuntu, and a few others I've forgotten over the years.

As a user of Linux I've been ridiculed in college for using Linux such as:

"That's a nerd's operating system. Only a nerd can figure out Linux."
"Linux is stupid. You have to do so much to do one thing. That's stupid."
"Why are you using Linux, when everyone in class is running Windows?"

There were others and many more...

Luckily my instructor told me something valued...

"Learning what you can, even outside the status-quo, will help you out more. You understand Linux because it's not just a reliable system to you, but it's a powerful tool that can even be used to repair a Windows machine. When those guys are having to sacrifice a customer's data, you'll be loading Ubuntu and have the ability to back it up and then restore the system without losing anything, then who's going to be the better technician? You will."

I've had to learn a lot about Linux software as well like what works best with what, replacements for programs that don't have a Windows clone, and even learning that dual-booting is often the best solution because often, you just need both operating systems to get more done.

Linux isn't just an OS you dive into like Windows. Practically everything in Linux is command-line based, meaning learning command structure and switches is more necessary and often a requirement. Hardware also has to meet certain requirements as well making me be more selective with hardware and knowing what works best, and literally what is going to not work.

I'll say this...

People can claim Fedora, Mandriva, Ubuntu, and such are all easy to use Linux distributions, but they aren't. There is no "easy" to use distribution. Each has it's own tools that must be learned and often, you find that what is "easy to use" isn't often the best experience with learning to use Linux. I learned more from one of the distributions with the highest learning curve than others.

Linux is something you really have to be patient with. Patience will tell you mostly what will work, what won't work, and even then, how everything will work together.
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  1. Old Comment
    I broadly agree with much of this except the bit about having to use the command line all the time. That simply isn't true. As an average user, you may occasionally have to use the command line but otherwise you can use it as often or little as you want depending on how you want to accomplish any given task. If your goal is to really learn 'Linux' then you will want to spend a fair amount of time using the command line because it is such a powerful tool.

    To a certain extent, I also disagree with the statement about no easy distributions. Most distros put a lot of effort into being easy to use so I thin there are some pretty noob friendly ones out there. I'm beginning to wonder if the popular ones are the noob friendly ones though...

    Apart from that, as I said, you talk a lot of sense.
    Posted 09-06-2011 at 02:26 AM by rich_c rich_c is offline
  2. Old Comment
    One thing I find infuriating about Linux is the fact that there are usually pretty standard ways of doing things (say, /etc/init.d/ scripts, for instance), but only a handful of distros really stick to it. On one distro it's expected you'll utilize init scripts, on another you're expected to use a graphical manager (which calls the f$*%ing init script anyways!), and on another you're expected to use some wrapper script BS. (Edit - I suppose this is more a feature of the "frankenOS" nature of Linux moreso than anything else, though).

    People have said that if you know one distro you know them all? For those people I challenge them to learn Debian then pass the RHCE exam. Doesn't work like that.

    And as for learning, you have to drop the "user friendly" disguise to really learn anything.
    Posted 09-06-2011 at 09:15 AM by rocket357 rocket357 is offline
    Updated 09-06-2011 at 12:56 PM by rocket357
  3. Old Comment
    Very true. I've often found the user-friendly distributions to be the biggest pains in the ass to deal with. I've found poor documentation, poor quality software, and even bad packing in some of the "user-friendly" distributions out there that claim to be "for newbies to Linux". Ubuntu has been the WORST system I've ever dealt with. I've used it more than enough to realize when an apple is rotten, and the same goes for Red Hat, Mandrake, and SuSE which all claim "user-friendly" but aren't. Seriously, if there was a grading scale for these distributions, I'd give them all an F- (if that is even possible).

    As far as the INIT scripting... I'd rather not go there... bad memories. I find rc.d scripts far simpler to use.

    BTW... I refuse to take a distributional exam for Linux if I ever took one. I'd rather take the CompTIA Linux+ exam that covers less generalized systems and more of the fundamentals you need to learn and have for administering Linux. Makes no sense to take an RHCE exam when you won't be using Red Hat, now does it?
    Posted 09-06-2011 at 11:35 PM by ReaperX7 ReaperX7 is offline
  4. Old Comment
    These "user-friendly" distros are also usually "admin-angry". Yes, they made many "common" tasks easier, but also made the others - if you want to do something unusual or in different manner - harder. On our "home" computer distros changed this way: OpenSuse -> Ubuntu -> Debian. For some time Ubuntu seemed to be nice, but when something broke every new release, I switched to Debian. It's easy to use (like Ubuntu) and easy to take care of.

    Besides different habits from other systems, I found out that Linux/Unix file organization is confusing for newbies. I mean, in Linux there is one tree with many strangely named branches. While on Windows you have multiple trees for multiple hard drives/partitions - acting like separate box, cupboard, shelf,... - and system itself is in one directory, which is in my opinion more intuitive for human. "user-friendly" distros and WMs, of course, emulate this to certain extent, but if newbie encounter simple permission error like "cannot write to /media/sda3/foo/bar/" (What is that /media/sda/ nonsense? I just wanted to put it in 'Data' disk...) or have to set optical drive for some programs (vlc, xmms , dvd::rip, handbrake) he has to look it up in "strange" /dev/ directory (and wonder which one is right cdrom? dvd? sr0? sr1?)
    Posted 09-08-2011 at 11:19 AM by yenn yenn is offline


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