Tips and instructions to people wanting
to switch to GNU-Linux

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Part of the Basic help section

Published @ searchlores in January 2003

Tips and instructions to people wanting to switch to GNU-Linux
by Angela Natiash

Hehe... yep! This will be the first of a series of 'basic help' essays. I intend to add essays explaining the use of Proxomitron, the importance of a firewall, how to restore a FAT, etc... Green beginners help at your fingertips!

I am writing this article to teach ordinary people what to do and NOT DO if they want to switch to Linux because a year ago I myself took the plunge. Now I see many frustrated people screaming in users' newsgroups (alt.os.linux.suse and alt.os.linux.mandrake) about how Linux is all crap and how it's NOT ready for the desktop. I beg to differ. That's why I wrote this article.

Let's say you are an average computer users. You got maybe a PC or even two at home. You use it to "surf the Web", reading the sports news and probably looking for p0rn(everyone's done it, you don't have to be ashamed), sending and receiving emails, and maybe even doing some honest to God real work like word processing and writing a work report or two.

So you been hearing about this wonder called Linux, and you have decided you wanna check it out. After all, you don't particularly care about Microsoft's crappy Windoze. You are sick and tired of constantly updating because of the daily security holes found in Internet Exploder or in Windoze itself. You are sick being scared from viruses. You are sick of the daily re-boots and the dreaded blue screen of death. And best of all, you hear Linux is FREE!

So you go to the store (and if you are lucky) you find the shiny boxes with the names Red Hat, or Mandrake Linux or SuSE. They appear to be relatively cheap. You read about all the free software they all offer. It sounds good. So you close your eyes and buy one. It doesn't matter which one really. They are pretty much all the same.

Let's say you buy Mandrake because everyone says how much it is just like Windoze. You go home, rip the box open, and look with wonder at the 6 Cds they gave you. Cool! You stick the installation CD into the Cd-ROM and you reboot.

Here comes trouble...;-) Big time trouble. And you asked for it.

Possible(worse) scenario 1:
you re-partition your had drive wrong to give it some free space and you manage to hose a partition filled with valuable data. Of course, you didn't do a back- up. You don't NEED no stinking back up! Now you are totally pissed off, you throw that shiny new Linux box you just bought in the trash and you swear to never try Linux again. EVER! Well, you know what?

Solution: If you had bothered to do a bit of homework and read up on partitioning HDs BEFORE you started, you might NOT have run into that problem!

Possible scenario 2:
You manage to install it on your pride and joy 2 thousand dollars SONY laptop. Problem is when you reboot, you find that half of your hardware doesn't respond under Mandrake. You got no sound. Your modem doesn't work either. Your mouse is acting funny. The F keys fail to respond. You try in vain to make the stuff work by reading articles you find on the Web, and you may even post to a help newsgroup. No dice. Everyone tells you the same thing: Some hardware, and especially laptops have trouble working with Linux. Disgusted, you stick your restore Windoze XP into the CD-ROM and you delete Linux, vowing to never waste your time with such crap again!!!

Solution: again, you should have done your homework. Yes, Linux is picky about hardware. Especially internal modems. Sound cards too. There are numerous databases where you can find what hardware is compatibles with YOUR particular Linux distribution. So try again. But first make sure your hardware is supported.

Possible scenario 3:
You actually go out and buy the appropriate hardware. You do a nice install on your PC. After some tinkering you realize that to make the sound work, you must install something called OSS and ALSA. You read the Web sites and the FAQs, but NO matter what you do, the sound refused to appear. You get upset. You read some more How-Tos. You finally get the damn thing to work. The modem is next. You spend several more days trying various things people are suggesting, but you have no luck. You give up and you post a rant in the help group claiming "Linux is a Desktop Disaster" (I have seen that particular rant with my own 2 eyes. It convinced me to write this article). People call you a troll. Heated "discussion" quickly turns into a shouting match and name calling. It's funny to some, while others get mighty sore at you. Your "feelings" get hurt, you delete Linux, never to return again.

Solution: you should have set aside some real time for learning. you can't expect to become a wizard overnight. In fact, its actually easier than you realize, if only you took your time, didn't give up but went around for a while, thinking LOGICALLY why things weren't working out.
For example, numerous people get confused about "mounting things such as Cd-ROMs in Linux". They ask questions and they get even more confused by the answers. In fact, the automount option has been included into the Linux kernel for some time now. Most distributions come with it included, such as Mandrake 8.1 and SuSE 7.1 (dunno about Red Hat, sorry). Problem is Mandrake has a Perl script called "supermount" and people tend to mix the two.

Possible scenario 4-a:
You do everything right. You buy the right hardware. You read up the manuals. You are ready. You install SuSE. It works, but... You are disappointed how s-l-o-w KDE is. It drags, man! Star Office crashes every time you open it. You try to install a software with RPM and it doesn't go anywhere. You can't watch your favorite AVI movies with the DivX codec. You post some whining questions in alt.os.linux.suse. You bitch about KDE's speed. Since the people there are not very nice to whiners (not as nice as the people in alt.os.linux.mandrake) they jump on your ass. Certain words are exchanged. It's NOT pretty.

Possible scenario 4-b:
Same as above, except you claim that Linux is too hard to learn and it's NOT ready for prime time yet in your post. But you promise to return in a year or so, and try Linux again. People are still not nice to you, and leave you with a bad taste in your mouth. Oh well.

Solution: remember when you first bought and tried that nice store-bought PC with the Windoze all pre-installed on it and everything? If you stop and think about it, Linux will actually be as easy to learn and operate from the get go if it comes pre-installed on PC sold in the stores, JUST like Windoze.

Yes, Linux documentation sux. Yes, Linux is NOT as easy as Windoze's restore CD. But you know what? I used to be one of you frustrated newbies. Truth be told, I got mad too. But the only difference is that i decided:

I remember Windoze also took me several years to master. I was a brand new wide eye newbie, had just purchased my first PC(nowdays totally obsolete COMPAQ 233 MHz Pentium running Windoze 95 version B) and I plunged head first into the Internet.
Didn't know jack shit. Didn't even know why my browser(IE version 3) kept on crashing trying to access web sites which had JavaScript.
Didn't even know that I can use my right mouse button to do stuff. That's how green I wuz, hehe.
But I have come a long way. I'm still learning every day, even today. My next project is to tackle WINE and how to become more proficient with RPMs. Who knows, I might even learn how to HORRORS! compile my kernel some day...;-)

Final word: so don't give up on Linux. It's a great OS/kernel whatever it is. The modern distributions (SuSE and Mandrake) make everything almost ridiculously easy. And there are lot of people ready to help you. Me too if I can. I will even lend you my notes. See you in the newsgroups.

IMPORTANT TIP: buy an external modem for that Laptop, ok?

(c) Angela Natiash 2003

Some complements to

To read divx : (and it plays better even the WinBeurk own media formats , work in console mode too !!!)

An interesting project : running graphic application in console mode
(e.g. THE GIMP ('4newbies'=photoshop clone) (FAAAST !) :

4 instant messaging :
netmeeting clone :
a gold mine of software for linux :

some interviews :


Petit image

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