"How to Succeed with Linux"


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    "How to Succeed with Linux"

    Steps to becoming self supporting for succeeding with Linux

    1. Decide that it's worth it.

    2. Lower the stakes.

    3. Know your package manager.

    4. Master permissions

    5. Get a sense of your amazing Desktop choices.

    6. The Command Line is part of the Desktop

    7. Know where to get information.

    8. Whatever works is the right way, but there's always a better way.

    9. Be the community.

    10. Have a lot of fun.



    Some people who know me from this forum probably know that for years, it has been my dream to write the PERFECT newbie manual for Linux. Of course, there's no such thing as perfect, but as someone who came to Linux with a background in writing and virtually NO background in computing, I feel that I can supply a needed perspective to the existing literature. Such a manual would be more about the process of learning linux and less about supplying actual information. It would have to be, as there are vast landscapes of knowledge that I do not possess. I know almost nothing about networking, but I have a lot of experience on how to get Linux working with an uncooperative DSL provider who happens to be in bed with Microsoft. For a non-programming Desktop user, that may be the more important information.

    Anyway, I'm finally getting ready to make a start. Let me summarize the basic ideas that I'm kicking around. Perhaps they will be helpful to someone. Perhaps I can get some help. That's what it's all about.

    No matter what anyone tells you, for many people, it is easier to fail with Linux than to succeed with it. I know perhaps a half-dozen people who have tried Linux and have given up. For the so-called "everyday user", there are lots of difficulties, and nearly all of them are about SUPPORT.

    Let's face it, we're all living on Planet Microsoft. Everything most people know about what an operating system is or should be they learned from Microsoft. Now, let me make one thing perfectly clear. Linux fanboys are supposed to hate Microsoft. I used to hate them myself, but when I stopped needing to use their software, that became illogical. I may have some critical things to say, but the bottom line is that they've made a huge contribution toward making the world a better place by lowering the bar of computer literacy to include the masses, and for that they deserve to make a lot of money.

    No one has the right to control all information technology forever, and there was a time when Microsoft might have accomplished this. But that's all over now. It's never going to happen. As far as I'm concerned, the so-called OS wars were about living in a world where there is a choice, and we do. The War is over, and I believe that Microsoft is adjusting to this reality. As long as they behave competitively, and not anti-competitively, I welcome them and I hope and believe that, in the end they're going to be financially successful. .

    Support is why Linux is difficult, and support is bigger than most people realize. Support has to do with the whole culture around us. Support is all the software that you're used to using, all the software your employer uses, and all the knowledge about computing in the world around you. When I learned how to use Windows, I could draw on the knowledge of people all around me: friends, family members, and co-workers. When I learned how to use Linux, I had to turn to the internet, and to try reading about it in a book, usually a big fat book that was written by a programmer. I'd rather pour Drano into my eyes. No one at any computer shop in my area knew anything about Linux, so there was no help there.

    Support is hardware support. The Linux community has had to support itself with it's own drivers, and that's usually an advantage. I honestly can't recall having a problem with getting any PC Hardware running with Linux, but it took a long time for me to get used to the fact that Linux is almost never mentioned in the operating system "requirements" on the box, and that made investing in the contents of the box feel pretty dicey.

    Support is support from services. As I've mentioned before, my DSL provider, a major American corporation whose name rhymes with "Shmerizon", was absolutely uncooperative and unhelpful and sometimes a little bit rude (but I got Linux running on my Shmerizon DSL connection anyway!)

    Oh, and let's not forget the issue of installation. Most people don't have to install their Windows systems. I can remember a time when the idea of installing an operating system, seemingly taking the life of my system into my own hands, was as daunting as skydiving or scuba diving. Pre-installed Linux exists, but you're not going to find it at Best Buy.

    Let's not make excuses. None of these problems are the fault of the GNU/Linux technology. If Linux were as ubiquitous as Windows, these problems would go away, but reality is reality, and so it doesn't matter whose fault it it is. The problems are there, they are real and they must be solved, and sometimes they may even have to be tolerated.


    There are two ways to succeed with Linux.


    1. Get supported. Linux geeks will always tell you about their non-geek wives, parents and grandparents who can use Linux out of the box with no problem, and I'm pretty sure that what is happening here is that the geek is providing the support. Marry a Linux Geek, and the atmospheric conditions of a planet where Linux is as common as Windows are automatically replicated.

    You may not want to go that far. (Or you may be a heterosexual male. Female Linux geeks are pretty rare, somewhere between honest politicians and unicorns.) There's probably a lot of good professional support for Linux out there that I don't know about. Ask around the shops.


    2. Become self-supporting.

    Linux Haters (they have a website) have a saying: "Linux is only free if your time is worth nothing." Well, that's not the way I would phrase that, but it's absolutely true. Embracing the GNU/Linux lifestyle requires an investment of time that must be paid up front. The good news is that once the price is paid, it's paid... and then, it pays you back. My Linux education took up extra time for about eighteenth months, and has been saving me time, and a whole lot of money, for about six and a half years... and counting!

    Also, it turned out to be a whole lot of fun. Linux Haters also like to talk about how Linux is for a special kind of person, someone who enjoys computing for its own sake, while a normal person takes no particular joy in computing and simply "uses a computer as a tool." Well, there's a certain truth to that, too. I've been a Windows user, and a Linux user, and Linux users do tend to enjoy computing a lot more than Windows users. Draw your own conclusions.

    I have become self-supporting, which usually means that I have learned how to take advantage of all the support that is out there (and all the support that is "in there", hidden inside my computer). Eighteen months is longer than it should have taken me, and this article is all about cutting down that time. The person that I am writing this to is me eight years ago.

    Steps to becoming self supporting for succeeding with Linux

    1. Decide that it's worth it.

    2. Lower the stakes.

    3. Know your package manager.

    4. Master permissions

    5. Get a sense of your amazing Desktop choices.

    6. The Command Line is part of the Desktop

    7. Know where to get information.

    8. Whatever works is the right way, but there's always a better way.

    9. Be the community.

    10. Have a lot of fun.

    (to be Continued)
    Last edited by blackbelt_jones; 12-14-2010 at 05:02 PM.

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