A Complete Guide for a Linux Noob

Discussion in 'Computer Games and General Discussion' started by R2DJ, Jul 16, 2008.

  1. R2DJ

    R2DJ GBAtemp Advanced Maniac

    Jan 30, 2008
    Now is the perfect time for me to do this as it is my summer break from college. I want to learn how to use Linux. Since I am a noob, can anyone (especially Linux users) recommend me sites that contain guides for Linux noobs. I've tried Linux before and I found it hard. I want to learn these things:
    • Different types of distros
    • The best way of partitioning
    • Dual-booting XP and Linux (with XP as the default)
    • How to install stuff
    • Which goes where
    • Most importantly, knowing your way around.
    Thanks for any help in advance!

    Also, Ubuntu was my first distro so I will use it again and seeing that it is now a different version, I would want to get my hands on it.
  2. arctic_flame

    arctic_flame GBAtemp ATMEGA8 Fan

    Nov 4, 2006
    England land
    If your PC was built within the last 8 years, it will be able to run the graphical "live" cd installer. This is great for people like you, with little experience. The Ubuntu installer will resize your partitions so it can fit, although you can change it manually. It will dual-boot fine, automatically, if you installed XP first.
  3. Marxian

    Marxian Advanced Member

    Dec 25, 2005
    * Different types of distros: The Linux page in Wikipedia has a great guide to the different distros.

    * The best way of partitioning: The Ubuntu Live CD will take you through the partitioning process. GParted is great also.

    * Dual-booting XP and Linux (with XP as the default): If you install Ubuntu after XP, you will have a boot menu, allowing you to choose the OS you wish to boot into.

    * How to install stuff: Ubuntu comes with many apps pre-installed. Most other apps can be installed using either the Add/Remove utility or the Synaptic Package Manager. Both of these can be accessed through the main menu.

    * Which goes where: The way system files are organised is different to Windose, but you have the usual folders such as Documents, Videos, Pictures etc.

    * Most importantly, knowing your way around.: Navigation is fairly straight forward. There is a learning curve but it's not that steep. Getting to know the terminal is probably the most difficult part for newcommers. Also permissions can be a PITA. Many actions that you take for granted in XP require owner permissions in Ubuntu. You will become very familiar with the word 'Sudo' hehe.

    For more info on Ubuntu try the Ubuntu forums or the docs.
  4. CockroachMan

    CockroachMan Scribbling around GBATemp's kitchen.

    Jan 14, 2006
    A distro is basically a Linux with an specific group of applications.. those applications are not only stuff like media players and text editors, but also the system kernel version and graphical interface.
    Some are optimized so that anyone can use it easily, some are made for more advanced users and require you to edit a lot of files and compile some code to make stuff work..

    The easiest one for a newbie would be Ubuntu IMO.. it has some neat stuff like automatic updates for all your applications , and when you want to install something it downloads and installs it for also..
  5. SavageWaffle

    SavageWaffle GBAtemp Maniac

    Jan 13, 2008
    United States
    New York
    Its a Open Source Operating System.
    Its good if you want a free OS, but remember you can get Window XP for free(torrent)
  6. Westside

    Westside Sogdiana

    Dec 18, 2004
    Guantanamo bay
    In other words piracy. Windows XP's updates have been becoming increasingly strict about finding out if you have cracked it or not.
  7. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

    pip Reporter
    Nov 21, 2005
    United Kingdom
    I am far less proficient on linux that I am with windows but in lieu of other replies I will give an answer as I understand it.

    Package management. Important here.
    Packages are for want of a better word installers. Generally they are distribution family specific although conversion methods exist for some distributions.
    The main distribution families are.
    Slackware (tar.gz/tgz)
    Debian (which has been "forked" into Ubuntu and Linux Mint amongst other things). Deb
    Red Hat. RPM
    Gentoo Linux. Portage

    Desktop type.
    Linux is just a kernel and everything runs on top of that.
    First layer is the x windows system. It looks like command prompts of days past but it far more versatile.
    On top of this is the desktop manager. Common managers include XFCE, KDE, GNOME and JWM.
    On top of this can be other things like Compiz (technically it is one of the above but hey), sidenote Compiz is what you will see when people do the "linux has had it for years" when comparing the 3d stuff in Vista.

    Broadly speaking.
    Low end/office operating system.
    What is says on the tin. A operating system geared at older computers or ones that do not need games/multimedia and the like.
    Popular distros include.
    Puppy linux. Damn small linux and most bigger distros have a low end option.

    I am using puppy linux right now as it seems to have my "parts I found in my room" machine sorted and running firefox 3, an IRC app, an office suite and a media player capable of playing what I want.

    Desktop OS
    Aimed at family use mainly. Different things happen here but the biggest irk is the GPL and patents.
    The GPL can limit the distribution of things that are not open source (like nice graphics drivers as they can not really release their DRM stuff/high performance algorithms as open source) and software patents can mean audio/video formats may have to be dropped.

    The former has no real workarounds (some people make it as simple as possible once things are installed though). Software patents do not exist in most of the world though so there are distributions that happily include stuff (Linux Mint being the general one people point at here).

    There are thousands of these. Linux mint is my favourite here purely as it uses debian, is nice to use and comes with audio and video support.

    Any distro can be made into a server of sorts but it does not mean it is wise to do so. These usually come with little more than X and are best left alone in your case.
    Most larger distros have a sever option.

    Scientific/task specific/embedded.
    Scientific/task specific tend to come with rapidly changed languages like python and science based software. Embedded are for things like mobile phones and did not warrant another section here.
    If you need one of these you should be linked to it in short order by whatever needs it. Quite frankly it is probably easier to turn a general desktop machine into one of these than hoping there is a current one for you.

    Go to distrowatch and see what there is that you want:

    The best bit of advice I heard on this matter is if it fails to work with more than 3 pieces of your hardware in fairly short order it is not for you.
    Re getting ubuntu, sure it is a nice distro but linux mint can use ubuntu's stuff, operates in much the same way and comes with fun extras.

    Drivers. Most companies do not provide decent drivers for windows let along linux. Wireless cards are the main problem, search for ndiswrapper and avoid the USB/firewire wireless cards if you can.
    2. Partitioning. If you ever used Fdisk you will be right at home with Gparted (comes as bootable CD form and on most liveCDs).
    Linux can read and to a lesser extent write NTFS partitions but Windows is useless when it comes to this sort of thing so I tend to make smaller linux partitions for dual boot machines.
    Note windows does generally not acknowledge linux so installing that first is generally a good idea.
    There are loads of different file systems each with limitations and advantages but I suggest ext2 or ext3 to start with.

    3. Grub is the default multiboot app used by just about everything. If the distro does not provide the option there is an extensive help section at the grub homepage.

    4. See package management.
    As every distro family is more or less different there tend to have to be specific builds for them (puppy linux can use slackware and there is some support for debian).
    If you have an internet connection you can generally grab software using the built in installers or downloading the installers by themselves (most distros do not allow user made stuff in without a bit of testing).
    Most distros come with a compiler if you want to make your own as well (follow some simple command line instructions). Install CDs may have some more stuff as well.

    5. "Which goes where".
    I assume this is for the above question.
    Low level stuff tends to be lumped in the with system files while other stuff can go in several places, uninstalling is as easy as installing though in most cases (same app, one click and another to confirm).
    To answer what goes where is a different matter and probably best dealt with by reading something like:

    6. http://lowfatlinux.com/ again.

    Some commands I have found invaluable and general observations.
    Everything is in one place (this is the root or / (the root directory or /root is a different thing)) This means there are no drive letters but things are in /mnt (used for isos, drives (USB sticks are usually SDA1 or something like that).
    If you have seen Vistas ever annoying "are you sure?" screen prepare to meet the linux version. Most distributions use multiple users (not puppy linux though) with root being the all powerful along with any administrators and then the lesser users.
    Most places with strongly suggest you not run as root longer than need be (some IRC servers even kick/ban you if they detect it).
    To avoid switching to root you have the sudo (super user do) command. ls is list files (equivalent to the DOS "dir" command) and if for some reason (it would not but just run with it) you could type sudo ls and get the command to run for a lesser user (may require the root password)
    At the command line tab autocompletes the entry (two hits brings up a list of possibilities)
    Command line 2. * and ? are available to all applications. * is anything of any length while question mark is a single character)
    If you have it all installed and the screen goes over res (some get a bit excited and VGA via adapters tend not to agree) then you have the multiple windows. Ctrl, Alt and the f keys. Typically there are 7 with with KDE/Gnome one being under f7 (I have a horrible feeling it might be 6 but the principle is the same). The others will bring up a command line.
    If you find yourself dumped at a command prompt before the window manager appears or it crashes "xwin" is to get it to launch, there are several other "x*" commands but once it is all sorted that is the most useful.
    file names are case sensitive.
    cd.. is no good, cd .. (with a space before the ..) is. Of course you can define your own command so that does not matter so much.

    Live CDs and stuff like puppy linux is great for experimentation as restarting is easy to do.
  8. R2DJ

    R2DJ GBAtemp Advanced Maniac

    Jan 30, 2008
    [​IMG] to everyone who helped, especially FAST6191 for giving a link for Linux tutorial.

    Will try Linux Mint and Ubuntu.

    I've tried different types of Distros last 2 years. I've tried Ubuntu, openSuSE, Gentoo, Yoper, Mandriva and PCLinuxOS. I just went back to XP as I thought it's complicated to use. I will go to that world again.

    Thanks again!
  9. matriculated

    matriculated GBAtemp Advanced Fan

    Sep 27, 2007
    I also use Ubuntu and I've found that having a separate partition for your home directory helps when you want to make backups or reinstall the OS. The home directory is where you put your files (not programs, usually) like MP3s, photos, documents - it's like the My Documents folder in Windows. I believe it also holds a lot of your preferences for various programs (not too sure about that).

    Also, check out WINE for those times when you need to run a Windows program and don't want to reboot into Windows or run in a Virtual environment. For example, I use WINE to run older Windows games and Pimpstreamer (video streaming server for the PSP). It's not as compatible as Virtualbox or VMWare but it uses less resources and you don't need to own Windows to use it.
  10. notnarb

    notnarb Not narbing it up

    Jun 18, 2007
    ^ I never leave linux without it