Tips and instructions to people wanting
switch to GNU-Linux
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
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
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
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:
- 1. to put aside some time and energy to educate myself by
reading as much articles as I can find and by asking questions,
- 2. to load up on patience (LOTS of it)
- 3. and to try and try again until I succeed and
- 4. to write extensive NOTES on each step so I can always refer
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
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 : http://www.mplayerhq.hu/homepage/
(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 !) : http://www.directfb.org/
4 instant messaging : http://www.jabber.org/
netmeeting clone :http://www.gnomemeeting.org/
a gold mine of software for linux : http://freshmeat.net/
some interviews : http://www.fosdem.org/index/interviews
(c) III Millennium: [fravia+], all rights