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William George (Product Development)

Time for William to learn Linux

Written on September 14, 2016 by William George

I’ve been a Microsoft OS user since… well, as far back as I can remember. I grew up on MS-DOS, moved to Windows 3.1 when I was around 11, and then from there through Windows 95, 98, 98SE, 2000 (yup, we skipped ME on my family’s systems), XP, Vista, 7, 8.1 (only on a Surface tablet), and now 10. I know how to get around in Windows like the back of my hand, or better, but I think it is finally time to diversify a bit.

Technically I’ve been running Linux on smartphones for years now, but while Android is built on Linux you never really interact with the OS on a phone like you do on a "real" computer. As Puget Systems has matured we’ve started to sell a significant number of Linux-based workstations, servers, and HPCs. We have other folks here who know a ton about Linux, and who are great resources when I need help or a customer has questions, I’d prefer to be able to converse more intelligently about it myself. I’m not sure I’ll ever run it at home in any significant capacity, but who knows: if Microsoft continues to get more intrusive in future editions of Windows, maybe a time will come when I need to migrate to a more securable OS.

Anyhow, that was a very long-winded way of saying that I am setting out to learn Linux. I’ve got a couple books on the subject, and my goal is to pass the CompTIA Linux+ test as a benchmark to make sure I’ve learned the basics in the end. In order to play with Linux as I study, I am setting up virtual machines - both here at work and at home - that I can tinker with. I think I’m going to start with Ubuntu Server, to get used to the command line, and then install a desktop environment from there once I am ready for it. I’ve heard good things about Mate, that KDE is classic, and that Ubuntu’s default Unity is not too horrible (depending on who you ask). If anyone reading this has a suggestion for a desktop to try, let me know in the comments!

Oh, and wish me luck :)

Learn Linux you will. Do or do not, there is no try.

Do or do not, there is no try

Tags: Linux, Windows, operating, system

I truly wish you the best of luck!

Although it sounds like you have a solid plan, you should perhaps include a trial-by-fire stage at some point in your learning. Skip the virtual machine and immerse yourself in Linux as much as possible. As you have seen from Android, it isn't that bad. The command line is a powerful tool once you get used to it, but just like in Windows or Android, you can can do all your normal tasks from the desktop if you want to. Like learning a new language, trial-by-fire is always the fastest way to learn, although it can be intimidating.

As for setup, I appreciate the stability and simplicity of Debian with XFCE, but I am old fashioned that way. I recently set up Linux Mint (Cinnamon) for someone to try out in a virtual machine. In that case, the person had always used Windows on a desktop computer and didn't like the recent trend toward making everything mobile-friendly. For a desktop computer, Cinnamon seems like a good Windows-like environment. So far it has been working out.

I look forward to hearing updates on your experience!

Posted on 2016-09-15 14:03:59

I'm pretty excited for you. I did two years on Ubuntu and learned a ton. At some point, you should dive in all the way. It is the best way to learn Linux.

Posted on 2016-09-16 03:39:37

Interesting that this should come up. I have had the same run from DOS to Win10 including skipping ME (though I also skipped 8). When the latest Win10 update arrived, it came with the straw that broke the proverbial operating system back. I had dabbled with Ubuntu but things there were ingrained in MS were arcane and/or obscure. I bought my wife a Chromebox and it does everything I need except games.

I've watched dual boot videos and looked at VM passthrough performance (some amazingly have no hit) and ultimately I think I might restrict the available set of games I play and go... Steam OS. I can't believe I actually typed that, but there it is. It's a Debian based system with the Steam wrapper over the top. I rarely store anything on my actual computer, my productivity apps are mostly cloud based and the other apps I use have a linux flavor. I'm getting older, kids are taking up my time, and the more I type, the more I'm ready to make the big jump.

Posted on 2016-09-17 04:22:33
Curt Vaughan

Go for it. After retiring from an IT career at a major university, where my last focus was on Windows Exchange and file servers, I've been using laptops with Linux since 2010. I started with Ubuntu on a Dell mini-netbook, and over time have installed Linux Mint on an old 2006 MacBook Pro that Apple would no longer support, as well as multi-booted PC laptops from which I run Mint, Debian, Manjaro, Mageia, and Peppermint distros. I've sworn off of Windows - too expensive, security flawed, and infested with spyware. I still have an iMac at home, mainly for my wife to use - she's not comfortable with the Linux world. Anyway, I first played around with Unix back in the late 80s on a Sun workstation, and eventually tested Linux for the first time with Redhat 6.1 in the late 90s. Linux has matured amazingly in the last 15 years. Go for it!

Posted on 2016-09-24 21:48:27

Linux Mint with their Cinnamon desktop is one of my favorites.

Posted on 2016-09-29 19:34:40

And if you REALLY want to learn the nuts and bolts, http://linuxfromscratch.org/ is a wonderfully fun project.

Posted on 2016-09-29 19:35:30

Hi William - Like you I have suffered through every Windows since DOS for the same reasons and know my Desktop would be better off with a free Linux OS and less bloatware but have become dependent on dozens of Windows Apps and the thought of converting everything and learning new Apps just plain scares me. However, I'm moving to 4K video editing using Resolve and need to upgrade my Desktop to a new PC - so would appreciate an update on your Linux vs Win 10 venture and what you have found. Thanks :)

Posted on 2017-07-03 10:29:13