Resources For Learning About Linux

Discussion in 'Computer Science & Culture' started by mmatt9876, Jun 17, 2019.

  1. mmatt9876 Registered Senior Member

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    I want to learn about Linux and how to use it. Can anybody share with me what they know about Linux and how to use it? Does anybody know where I can find information about Linux and how to use it?

    Is Linux fast, free, and secure? Is it widely used?

    I have heard of Linux Mint and Linux Ubuntu before. Does anybody use and like these two versions of Linux?
     
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  3. przyk squishy Valued Senior Member

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    The best way to learn to use Linux is to install a Linux distribution on your computer and just start using it. If you install any of the popular distributions you'll get a graphical/windowing user interface similar to Windows and Mac OS and you shouldn't have too much difficulty figuring out how to use it to do basic things like run programs. I don't think you really need a tutorial or book to tell you how to click on an icon.

    That said, there are some things that are done differently in Linux that might confuse you that you should be aware of. Probably the main one, if you're a beginner used to Windows, is that software is managed more centrally on Linux and the way you install programs is different than the way you do it in Windows.

    Another one you won't see immediately but might start to notice is that Linux is much more modular than Windows. For example in Linux, unlike Windows, the GUI (desktop/window system) isn't an integrated part of the operating system but a separate program (actually a collection of programs). This means you can run a lot of different GUIs on top of Linux, from full desktop environments like KDE:

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    to minimal window managers like twm:

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    (note the simpler graphics and the absence of any kind of task bar in the second picture). It's also possible to run Linux with no GUI at all.

    At some point, if you want to learn more than the basics, you'll want to learn to use the command line. (Windows also has a command line, but it's vestigial compared with Linux and mainly meant for running old DOS programs.) On this, I think this old article on the Unix "software tools" philosophy and, maybe later, Eric Raymond's book The Art of Unix Programming (available free online) make good reading concerning the philosophy and approach to software that Unix (which Linux is a variant of) comes from.


    It makes a good operating system. Personally I much prefer using it over Windows for various reasons.

    In my experience Linux is more responsive than Windows but how performant it is depends on the computer you are running it on and how you have it set up. See the two different GUI systems above? One of them needs a lot more memory and resources than the other one.


    Depends what you mean, since Linux-based operating systems run on everything from supercomputers to smartphones. If you count smartphones and tablets then probably a lot of people are using a Linux-based OS (Android) without realising it.

    If you're asking about desktop/PC use, then last I heard only 1-2% of people were using Linux as a desktop OS, although it varies a lot by background/profession. Among physicists, for example, I've seen about as many people using Linux as Mac OS or Windows.


    These are among the most popular desktop Linux distributions. Both are good choices as a first Linux distribution. Linux Mint is probably the better choice if you want to have common but patented multimedia formats like mp3 working easily. It's also possible to install them on Ubuntu but you'll need to jump through some hoops to do it.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2019
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  5. mmatt9876 Registered Senior Member

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    Thanks przyk, I will probably simply install Linux alongside Windows on my PC and just dive in.
     
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  7. Bowser Right Here, Right Now Valued Senior Member

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    I've loaded Linux Mint in the past, but I never got past the UI. I think you can invest a lot of time learning about the innards of Linux. I haven't had that much interest to spend my attention on it. I think it's interesting, but more geared towards those who love playing with the finer details of an OS.
     
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  8. psikeyhackr Live Long and Suffer Valued Senior Member

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    Udemy has lots of courses.

    The trick is to only buy courses when they are on sale. These sales seem to occur 2 or 3 times a month and I have been watching them since January when I started a Python and Web Development courses. During a sale a course that is normally $99 to $199 will only cost $11 to $13. Check the courses for how many hours of video they have. The longest I have seen is 45 hours while many are less than 5.

    https://www.udemy.com/courses/search/?ref=home&src=ukw&q=linux&p=1&duration=extraLong

    A sale is currently running through the 4th of July.

    Watch the previews, some instructors have accents. Check if you have a problem with this.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2019
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  9. mmatt9876 Registered Senior Member

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    The cool thing about Linux is you can toy around with it and do what you want.
     
  10. mmatt9876 Registered Senior Member

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    Thanks, I will check it out.
     
  11. mmatt9876 Registered Senior Member

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    Yea, I want to learn the command line too. I had thought Linux was built from the ground up and not a variant of Unix?
     
  12. przyk squishy Valued Senior Member

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    It's fairly easy to get started with that. The most basic thing you can do with the command line is use it to start programs. E.g., if you have Firefox installed, one way you can start it is to type "firefox &" in a terminal window and then press enter.

    This is, by the way, why that minimal window manager I posted a screenshot of above, twm, doesn't have or need anything like a taskbar or program icons or "start button" to start programs. As long as you have a terminal window open you can use that to start any program you want.


    Unix is not a single operating system but a family of operating systems that share common features, a design philosophy, and history. During the 1980s in particular there were several companies (including Sun Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and SGI) selling workstations with their own versions of Unix (Solaris, HP-UX, AIX, IRIX) installed. Linux is part of that family. It's a free and open source variant of Unix that was originally developed to run on PCs in the early 1990s, when PCs had only just become powerful enough to run a Unix-like operating system. MacOS, the operating system installed on computers made by Apple, is also a Unix variant.

    Linux and its history are themselves a bit complicated. Technically, Linux itself isn't a complete operating system but only an operating system kernel. This is why you have what are called "Linux distributions". These are collections of software consisting of the Linux kernel and many system and user programs taken from different places and packaged together to make a complete, coherent operating system.

    One of the earliest and most significant contributions to Linux distributions comes from the GNU project. Basically, in the 1980s, a guy called Richard Stallman started a project to create a free version of Unix. By 1991 (when the Linux kernel was released), the GNU project had all of the software they needed to make an operating system except they hadn't yet developed their own kernel. But people noticed they could get a complete, functioning operating system by porting the GNU software to run on the Linux kernel. GNU system and user applications still make up an important part of the core of Linux distributions available today.

    A chapter in the Raymond book I linked to summarises the history of Unix and Linux, up to about 1999-2003 when the book was written: http://www.catb.org/~esr/writings/taoup/html/historychapter.html.
     
  13. Confused2 Registered Senior Member

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    To my mind windows peaked at XP and has been downhill ever since. I now use Ubuntu for everything (business and home) but not just any Ubuntu - if you liked XP go for XUbuntu - https://xubuntu.org/ . My wife uses it for everything and she knows nothing about computers. In terms of security with Windows I think it very likely that Microsoft, Google and a lot of other people are logging your every keypress - just how much less secure than that you can get is difficult to imagine.
     

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