I've been experimenting with various Linux Distro's off and on for some time now. Back in 2001, when I first used FreeBSD and Red Hat at school, those OS's
were quite cumbersome and painful to work with. Red Hat still is during the install, but with a bit of helpful information that's an easy one too.
Among some other popular distro's are, Linux mint, Slackware, Knoppix, System Rescue, Yellow dog, DSL, and PCLinuxOS. One question I often get, How come there are so many versions or distro's?" And the answer to that is simple; The free software community is able to develop operating systems under the GPL which encourages developers to create products based upon their talents.
What this mean then, is that developers are not hindered uneccessarily by corporate organizations. The end products are also open to anyone to change for better or worse. Ultimately the software in question becomes evolved into something better. Being free to develop software without boundaries has proven to be more succesful than some coporate approaches. Any OS essentially does the same job, it allows one to "operate" your computer. Most of us are comfortable using Windows, because that's the most popular OS line. That's all find and dandy, yet you have options other than this.
Some general statements I would make about Linux;
It's Secure and stable.
It can do anything any other OS can and more.
It's Fun to use if you pick the right operating system
Answers are easier to find in the Linux world.
Linux can run Windows and other OS' and applications.
Just check out google, altavista, or ask.com for linux security and you will find several resources providing answer and solutions to several issues that
plague all computer users. Don't get me wrong, every OS has imperfections, I simply look for those with the least problems. Linux, steeped in free software, can run MS office via WINEhq.org, so you don't have to through away your expensive office software. Further, you could run Koffice, or OpenOffice.org.
The two latter are free and Open Source, which means compatable and stable even.
One distro, I'm planning to install is Dreamlinux do to it's compatability with printers, digital camera's, and other consumer electronics. Further it runs Beryl, an opencompositing window manager. This allow you to get a 3d desktop that is fun to look at and use. I'm really excited about that distro because it has a built in remastering tool to make it easy to build your own customized OS. Neat huh? I currently run Ubuntu 7.04 (Fesity Fawn) which will soons show on Dell computers if it hasn't already. I believe that Dell already offer Ubuntu 6.06 LTS on a select group of Desktops and Laptops. Most Ubuntu user like that OS due to it's compatibility with standards based software and it's generally easy to keep up to date. LinuxMint, an OS based on Ubuntu, comes ready to go out of the box, which most people like about their Windows machines.
Also, if you want to try linux, you have several options for doing so. You might burn a LiveCD and choose to boot from cd from your computer's boot options.
You could also use VirtualPC from Microsoft wich is a Free virutal machine environment. I won't cover that here however. And back to the comment I made about linuz being fun to use, checkout XGL on wikipedia which will explain the 3d desktop. Oh and don't forget to checkout Xbox linux that allows your XBOX to run linux. Did I mention that Apple hardware can also run linux? Seen a neat video on youtube about that one once. Just google Mac in My Top under google video.
So I've talked about some of the things that linux is capable of doing, but what about support? Well the most obvious support page is the linux forum right here on Bleeping Computer.com. Also, check out linuxforums.org, and linuxquestions.org
Just a brief over of how Linux is organized.
Linux is seperated into some major compenents, The kernel, the shell, the DE or Desktop environment, window manager, window decorator, and installer apps. The kernel is what runs linux, it's the engine if you will. The shell is where you might enter commands manually rather than click on an icon, and it is much more powerful than the GUI. The desktop environment provides the organization of tools you'll use, and allows to to configure your system. A window manager is exactly that and defines how the open "window" will be displayed and used. Window managers are not to be confused with MS Windows which is a complete OS. A window decorator provides themes to make your windows look nice. An installer, such as apt-get or yum, is a predetermined set of tools for installing software. Synaptic is common on Ubuntu systems as it is a user friendly front end to apt-get.
So, where can you learn more about how to use linux? Start with tldp.org and linuxquestions. For information on standard linux tools, visit GNU.org Also check out FreeBSD because they have some great resources on using the command line, if that interests you. For Desktop environments, check out kde.org, and Gnome.org and remember that others exist. eveything else just requires a trip to your favorite search engine and type in what you're looking for.
BTW, you can also find help on IRC for many projects where once in a while you might talk to a developer.
I hope you've found this interesting and appealing and good luck!
Mods may decide to move this and that's perfectly OK, wasn't aware of a Specific section this belonged in other than Linux itself, but that is more geared toward problem solving.
Edited by RandomUser, 25 August 2007 - 12:05 AM.