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Old 01-19-2008, 07:22 PM   #1
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Does average guy stand a chance running a Linux distro?

Greetings Smart Masses,
I like to think I am of almost average intelligence. Up until two years ago I was running SUSE 9.2 pro. I wanted to run Linux in the last tower I built. The Linux package cost less and I was getting to the end of my budget. It worked fine other than occasionally losing the GUI when the power flickered. I replaced it with Windows XP. Before anyone casts dispersions on me let me say I am now trying to decide if I want to install Ubuntu or Kanotix. I recently downloaded the latest live versions of both and am taking turns doing what I normally do . I figure this will be the best way to see which one fits me best.
I never became very proficient using Suse. I think it was because I spent most of my time trying to tweak it. This time I am just going to use it. How long does it usually take to become adept at running Linux?

Thanks for taking the time to read this post.
Old 01-19-2008, 07:38 PM   #2
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Yes, I am not the sharpest tack in the box, just persistent ...
Old 01-19-2008, 07:42 PM   #3
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It took me quite a while, but when I started it wasn't quite as user friendly as it is today.
I think you can pick it up rather quickly. Just don't try to fix things that aren't broken - aka "tweaking"...

If you run into a problem, search the internet, if you don't find anything within 10 minutes, just post a question in the newbie forum. I for one don't mind finding a question that I can answer every now and then .
Old 01-19-2008, 08:00 PM   #4
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I would think that if you use a good book, you can do all that you ever did on windows - and more - in about a week.

Last edited by jay73; 01-19-2008 at 10:11 PM.
Old 01-19-2008, 08:35 PM   #5
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Well, as of right now, we have 333,005 members and the vast majority of them would count as "average guys" and the majority of that number are running a distro. Becoming adept really depends on what you consider adept. I run it daily as my only desktop at home and, while I am no programmer, I can search the web and apply what I have found.

It looks to me as though you are doing the right thing - trying out a few before you make a decision. Just do what most of us do - run it, search and ask when you hit a snag and enjoy it.

And welcome to LQ
Old 01-19-2008, 09:45 PM   #6
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Of course the average guy can do it. Boy, that was a dumb question.

These days Linux is much easier to install, and, once you get used to it, can be easier to maintain as well. Just try to forget your Windows concepts when you enter the Linux arena, and I think you will be fine. Remember, while on the surface Linux may look similar to Windows, the two systems are completely different planets, with their own atmospheres and lifeforms.

P.S. Generally, if you ask most Joe Schmoes how smart they think they are, they'll say they're smarter than average. If you give them the MENSA test you find they actually are just the average Joe. On that order, if the average Joe thinks he's above average, and on the same scale, you think you're just average ... leaves a little thinking to do, eh? Hehe ...
Old 01-20-2008, 05:08 AM   #7
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I'm average and I've managed to install and run several distros (in my distrohopping days, before I settled on Slackware). If I can do it, anyone can. But I'm still learning - that never stops.
Old 01-20-2008, 05:26 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by doondoon View Post
How long does it usually take to become adept at running Linux?
To do what? If all you want to do is browse the web, do e-mail, and maybe some simple word-processing, then you'll be "adept" in an hour or so.

Tell us more about what you want a computer to do for you.
Old 01-20-2008, 07:41 AM   #9
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Well, the average girl from the humanities department can - so you can.

And exactly the tweaking is what brings experience and knowledge some day.

Just stick with it and read.

As for the question "how long" - that depends simply on your expectations ("I want kernel programming - tomorrow!") and your persistence ("guy died in an Linux configuration marathon").

Usally, you just start "using" it until you have what you want - some people just don't need much more than Firefox and some Email-Client/MP3-Player, others still find new things to tweak after 10 years.
Old 01-20-2008, 11:58 AM   #10
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Thank you all who answered.
As far as what I want my computer to do for me. That is a good question. When I first built my tower and installed Suse linux I was working on my A+. So I was trying to figure out everything Linux would actually do to a computer. For example load and run new prodrams, how hardware drivers worked,and some security related issues. That way when someone brought me a linux computer that had a problem I could fix it. If I reccommended linux to someone I could help them get it up and running.

Now I want to build industrial programmable controller software, and Human Machine Interface software. Especially after I saw how much our company just paid G.E.Fanuc for our new software. I recently found a website called and downloaded a book on learning programming with Python. I want to see what I can build from scratch.I want to contribute something beneficial to a community that works so hard to provide an effective alternative to Micro$oft.
Old 01-20-2008, 12:27 PM   #11
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Learning to do the daily tasks on a modern-day distribution of Linux takes about a day. Less if you're a quick learner. Maybe more if you've never used computers before. But if the starting point is that you have used computers somewhere prior to Linux, "learning" it doesn't take much time (unless, of course, you go about working with LFS, in which case I hope you already know what you're doing).

If we take it that "daily things" include web browsing, email, office apps usage, theme fiddling, archiving/unarchiving and such, then it's a simle matter: most of the apps are either the same, or very equal-looking to those one has probably used before. Mozilla Firefox looks about the same outside Linux operating system too, and most browsers share the same components (address bar, some buttons, content area, ...) Office apps are so much alike everywhere that if you know how to use Word or Writer, you know the rest. Using the graphical user interface is so similar on Linux compared to Windows, for example, where a lot of users come from, that it doesn't really take long to adapt to.

The real difference is when you go to command prompt, or if it's the first time you do something with a computer. Then it depends on how easily you remember, how much you care to try and miss in a day, and what sort you are - do you want a task simply done, or learn how to do it, maybe in several ways.

The question could have been more appropriate five or more years ago, but nowadays the main desktops are so equal to the other mainstream operating systems that people easily adapt to them. From what I've seen, it takes a day to those who have used computers before, because all they really have to "learn" is where the Start-menu-equivalent is, that file browser looks and acts about the same, windows are closed by clicking on the cross button etc. etc. Or if one has used some of the more "rare" desktop operating systems, then s/he is usually a person who learns quickly and probably by her/himself anyway.

There are two exceptions to this. One is what I already mentioned: if you've never used computers before, you got to start from the low parts first (what are files, what are directories, what is a program, how you start and close them, ...). The other one is how you take it: if you decide you've used something for 15 years already and it's a waste of time learning something else, it is going to take long or forever. Or if you want to learn the thing, you like it, it's tempting...well, it could be less than a day (or you could learn much more in a day than the average person). Or if you were just bored about it all, you wouldn't remember much, and it meant repeating till you did remember. In a few words, it's up to your character.
Old 01-20-2008, 01:52 PM   #12
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The key to getting along with Linux is not freaking out if something breaks or doesn't work. Just keep your cool: review your config files, check the logs, post a question in a forum like this, and leave it for a day or two. Of course, some issues take longer to resolve, but in my experience virtually everything gets solved eventually.
Old 01-20-2008, 03:52 PM   #13
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Well I agree with what's already been said, I would only add one more thing. When something breaks (and it will) don't keep the windows habit and "re-install" you'll never learn anything by just re-installing. Try to work through the problems as they come, keep notes and you should do well.
Old 01-20-2008, 04:08 PM   #14
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just install slackware.
Old 01-22-2008, 09:11 PM   #15
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Well, thanks for the greetings and great info.You can go here to see what I ended up installing. I had a whole 120 GB HDD waiting to be used.


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