5 Things Every Aspiring Linux User Should Know

Yes. Another one of those ubiquitous bullet articles. Everyone loves ’em, it seems.

There are some fundamental things that every person who turns on a Linux box should be familiar with before proceeding. Some of these things are often overlooked or never learned by new Linux users. It’s a shame, actually. Knowledge of the fundamentals can create a great foundation for further advancement later on down the road. If you’re going to learn something, learn it right.

Here we go…

  • Numero Uno, in my opinion, is the importance of knowing and accepting the fact that the GNU/LInux operating system is NOT Microsoft Windows. Don’t try to make it such. GNU/Linux is a unique Unix-based operating system using the Linux kernel developed by Linus Torvalds and the GNU operating system developed by Richard Stallman and others of the GNU Project. Individual distributions of GNU/Linux, such as Ubuntu, Slackware, Debian, Arch, etc., are projects created by different people and supported by many, many dedicated coders, repository maintainers, software creators, technical writers, etc. To paraphrase a nearly clichΓ© quote, it takes a village to raise a Linux distro. πŸ˜‰
  • Item the second: ROOT IS GOD! Caution must be exercised at all times when user privileges are elevated to that of root. Working in the root environment should be done like riding a motorcycle. You CANNOT auto-pilot while riding a motorcycle; neither should you do so when you are root. In other words, pay attention to what you’re doing. Think twice before tapping that Enter key. One slip as root could destroy your entire OS. It’s a powerful tool. Be respectful of its power. Ignore this if you enjoy losing data regularly and reinstalling your OS from scratch.
  • Third thing to know: the command line interface is not a demon from Hell that will grind you up in its toothy maw. It’s just another tool available to the GNU/Linux user for accomplishing tasks that must be accomplished. For most of you, the GUI (graphic user interface) will suffice, but there will be times that you may need to use the command line. Don’t fear it. Embrace your inner geek. Learn the command line. You may find that you can accomplish more work more efficiently while using it.
  • Fourth on the list: Security, it’s a wonderful thing. Remember all those virus and malware scanners that you had to use in MS Windows. Remember how scared you were about email attachments. Remember that time your Windows system got corrupted and you had to pay someone at Best Buy $300 to get it working again? Bad memories, huh? Well, guess what? Just as dogs don’t catch the same diseases that banana plants do, GNU/Linux is not susceptible to the vast majority of the bad stuff out there that cripples MS Windows. Does that mean you’re 100% immune from troubles while running GNU/Linux? Well, no. However, I’d be comfortable in telling you that you would be about 99% immune. I’ve been running GNU/Linux operating systems on my computers for half a dozen years now. I’ve NEVER, not once, ever had any virus or malware issues.
  • Fifth and lastly:MS Windows and Apple/Mac have wonderful community support from multitudinous sites and communities around the Internet: I wouldn’t refute that fact at all. However, it’s important to remember that GNU/Linux and Open Source are products of the communities themselves in many cases. They are directly created, maintained, distributed and supported by many, many dedicated souls all across the globe. If you take the time to explore these communities, you’ll find that the amount of knowledge out there just waiting for you to come learn it is astounding. I don’t believe there is any other technical project so overwhelmingly supported by its adherents and fans in the global community quite like GNU/Linux and Open Source. Don’t be shy. Ask for some help.

Enjoy your new GNU/Linux adventure. It can lead to a long relationship with a fabulous operating system, outstanding open source applications, and wonderful friendships.



Further reading:

The Open Source Initiative

The Free Software Foundation

The Linux Foundation

Open Respect

22 Comments on “5 Things Every Aspiring Linux User Should Know”

  1. comhack says:

    Another Excellent post Eric!!!

  2. temmu says:

    good points. of course, forums.scotsnewsletter.com, bruno’s all things linux, is a great place to get help! πŸ™‚

  3. mechatotoro says:

    Eric, friend, thank you for another great piece of writing to recommend. I happen to know a three-day GNU/Linux migrant that might benefit from this.

    Again, big thanks!

    By the way, you made me explode in laughter with the CLI point. The illustration is memorable, too πŸ˜‰

  4. Ian says:

    Great blog with great points Eric. Also, as life gets in the way, I have not made my way here in a while. I absolutely love what you have done with the place. πŸ™‚

    I remember when I first started not to long ago, I wanted to learn the CLI and not depend on the GUI. I spend 75% of my time in the CLI and only about 25% in the GUI. The CLI people is where the magic is!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Like Eric said……..Don’t fear the Command LIne!!!!!


  5. Neil says:

    Real nice Eric. Numero uno is something I always think about when I have to straighten out my folks Windows pc. “This isn’t Linux….this really isn’t Linux…!”

    • Heh! Yeah, when I’m fixing MS Windows systems for family and friends, I often think, “Hell, I wouldn’t even be here if this were Linux.” πŸ˜‰

      Actually, I set up three Windows systems this past week or so for friends. No troubles at all, thankfully. πŸ™‚ Let’s see what those systems look like in year from now, though.

  6. Ian says:

    There is a good list of those “Good” influences that have made my transition to Linux about as good as it can get.
    SB is the reason I am an Arch user. Hands down.
    You have taught me quite a bit too. Hey, you even provided me with the “NUKE” button for those Windows machines I work on. πŸ˜›
    Even though I never had the honor of meeting Bruno, he still helps me a lot with his awesome collection of tutorials that I still read and learn from.
    Amenditman, Lil Bambi, Frank (whom I miss a lot) Plodr/Zlim (who brought me to BATL) and many more. It’s like you said. It takes a village. πŸ˜‰

    Speaking of influences…A while back, maybe almost a year, you started a blog about Bash Scripting. I kept everyone then poof…..You stopped. Any chance you will kick start those up again?

    • AHA! Someone noticed that I didn’t ever get back to my BASH scripting lessons here, huh? Well, it’s about time my one reader commented about this. πŸ˜‰

      To be perfectly honest with you, Ian, the next lesson was going to be about variables. Unfortunately, I was having a helluva time trying to simplify that topic to a point where it would fit in with my aim of keeping those lessons basic and geared toward the very inexperienced. I started that lesson on variables numerous times and just wasn’t happy with it. Then I got distracted by other things and…

      Well, there ya’ go. I do still plan to get back to that BASH series. Those lessons were based on Sobell’s A Practical Guide to Linux – Commands, Editors, and Shell Programming. It’s a really good book, but his section on variables was just a bit too complicated for what I was trying to do here. Stay tuned. I’ll be writing some new lessons soon… now that you noticed I had stopped. πŸ˜‰



  7. chekkizhar says:

    great…and as usual this new theme, just rockz…..

  8. Ian says:

    Variables are definitely something that is not easy to simplify. There are so many of them and where do you start and where do you finish.

    I have a 280+ page pdf e-book titled Bash Shell Scripting. It’s not an exiting read (the buttler did not do it by the way) but it is a weath of information. πŸ˜‰

  9. […] 5 Things Every Aspiring Linux User Should Know There are some fundamental things that every person who turns on a Linux box should be familiar with before proceeding. Some of these things are often overlooked or never learned by new Linux users. It’s a shame, actually. Knowledge of the fundamentals can create a great foundation for further advancement later on down the road. If you’re going to learn something, learn it right. […]

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