Hi everyone. I'm new here but have been using and teaching Linux for some time. Please understand that I'm no expert - at all, but I am here to help. Pardon the long-winded introduction ;)
I read posts constantly web-wide about how hard Linux is and about the mysticism that seems to surround it. Additionally, people attribute those using Linux with all sorts of character flaws like being a "cracker", a terrorist, general malcontent, etc., etc., etc. You get the idea. Of course, this is slowly changing but it's really only doing so by attaching a monetary value to it. Towit, BestBuy now sells Ubuntu for 20 beans. People respect that a lot more than their ability to download it for themselves. Ya, kills me, too, but that's just how it is. Buy Linux = responsible consumer (actually, I'm a citizen), downloading it = creepy kid up to no good.
Moreover I see a lot of failed attempts at either installing Linux (OMFG it's SO HARD!!) or setting up additional functionality once it is installed. The way I see it is, I am a firm
believer in personal responsibility. Meaning, if you jump into a thing without understanding it you are doomed to failure. This is wholly unnecessary when you, and I'm speaking to everybody, realize that Linux is not Windows. Nor is it Mac. We should all be grateful for this but it seems to scare the crap out of most. Sigh.
I have built a Debian resource that has failed miserably - debiantutorials.org. The original intent was to assist those computer users fed-up with Windows in their migration to Debian, and if need be, Linux in general. I say I have failed becasue the site was hijacked by those immediate-gratification types that are already running Linux but can't seem to figure it out, for whatever reason. On the site I make an attempt to assist with tutorials and articles that I see as relevent to the switch. Also, I have written the site in what I consider to be a very casual and "homey" way. In an attempt to assist. In general it's been well received although it's very difficult to write that way. A large problem is that Windows users are either too afraid, or too ignorant to interact with the site. Don't be offended by "ignorant", it means without certain knowledge, not stupid. Another large problem is that those new to Linux demand it be Windows only safe from viruses and otherwise secure. Which it's not.
Many of us try to change the mindset of Windows users because it has to happen in order to be successful with Linux. Linux is completely not Windows. Conventions are different all the way around. I don't really see "free" (as in beer) as the biggest draw to Linux. I embrace it's configurability and it inherent safety and ease. By running Linux you are able to create the desktop (or server, or appliance) that you want and not what a company dictates. This throws a lot of people, after all, we are so used to being spoon or force-fed. We are used to having others think for us and make our decisions.
This is madness. You must consider what entity is doing the dictating and to what end. If this is done honestly many do stop and rethink things. But their newfound liberation leads to frustration becasue they enter into uncharted territory full of big plans and hopes only to see them dashed for their lack of education. Again, Linux is not Windows.
I don't wish to place all the blame on Microsoft, however. I place a substantial amount of blame on the computer user. The "wowie!" factor kills them. They jump in and fail and they say - "Linux SUCKS!" or "Linux is HARD!". Neither is true at all. Most of those people tend to propogate the web with maladies because they don't understand Windows at all either, but Microsoft doesn't let them. These computer users run their computers with wreckless abandon and some even call themselves expert or "power-users". Lol, once I helped run a secure network built on NT with win95 clients and some Linux controlled services (email). I realized that the power-user designation was nonesense. Unless it's ascribed to the user's ability to powerfully wreck their system. Windows wasn't set up to allow a user to get to the root of things. It still keeps users dumb and at bay. Truth is not marketing ;)
In order to have a successful run at Linux the computer user must understand that the system they wish to run is one that enables them. This can be scary to most, too, although I don't see why. We all passed the 3rd grade...right? Where is it written that we shut down our brains after High School or College? Where is it law that dictates learning stops once you've achieved your initial goal of surviving into adulthood? Yeah -- nowhere. Moreover, where is it written that any computer user can feel free to jump into a new thing, screw it up and then demand
assistance from others? lol -- nowhere.
Yet, there are many places filled with many people that offer up their expertise to the rookies among us. Comending them is not called-for. Recognizing their altruism and working with them to achieve our own goals is, however. When new users vent their inadequacies and frustrations at these people willing to help, nothing productive comes from it. Agendas get served, FUD gets spread and you, dear Linux rookie, are right back where you started. Nowhere. Hating what you don't understand is madness.
My children both run Debian. Not too often becasue I don't let them waste their lives in front of a computer; That cold and impersonal appliance that many of us ascribe powerful Voodoo to. lol. My daighter has sudo
power becasue she's responsible. She is 10 and has her own ideas and social guidelines (I cannot compete, I can only hope to contain a bit) but enjoys the fact that her computer is "awesome". You, a successful and smart MF, have insane amounts of trouble forcing your Linux computer to behave as Windows does. sigh. When did you become so dogmatic? There is no place for dogma with respect to computers. Changes and newness occur daily. When you join a new club there might be an initiation -- Linux is the same.
Those of us that are successful running the Linux distribution of our choice all have a thing in common. We want to run Linux. We are not tepid toe-dippers nor are we afraid to understand that this new thing in front of us will require a bit of learning in order to run successfully. I fail to understand how this is a difficult or unachievable goal. Of course, coming from the willy-nilly world of Windows, where you have been allowed to wreck your system, you may be used to operating in a lazy or ignorant fashion. You cannot force Linux to allow you to operate this way and when you come to terms with that you will be one step closer to enjoying the system. However, you will find that your Linux system is set-and-forget. Pffft -- maintainence is a 2 second thing.
People say -- "I cannot install applications!" I say phoey,. They say -- I can't print -- I can't get my wireless to work -- how come I cannot install X program? These comments are mostly coming from the mentality of a Windows dupe (all apologies but the shoe certainly fits
). All are incorrect and all are asked or posited in the wrong manner. A lot of users seem to be frustrated that they cannot double-click a thing and have it install. Well, these users would be wrong. You certainly can install applications that way. However, take it further -- how about compiling (ooooh, spooky word alert) that same application to work on your machine with the hardware that you have? That's the sh&t rigt there -- but I know -- give a person a rope....Windows software gets compiled, too. The devs do it for you. Software for Linux is mostly pre-compiled for you, too. Those come in the form of .debs or .rpms. They are, for all intents and purposes, an .exe file. You can double-click them if you have enabled your system to do so, or you can install them with the tools designed to install them. Your choice. ('nother spooky word alert) You can understand the workings of these pre-compiled packages or not. Who cares?
People say -- Linux is spooky because "I heard that I must use the terminal in order to configure my system". Hogwash! You can, certainly, but to think that you must maintains your dogmatic posture and sinks you in the FUD. I install Debian on computers belonging to people having all levels of computing experience. I also get a lot of happy calls telling me how wrong they were in their convictions about Linux. Woohoo!!! Fresh air! The terminal is there for you to use if you like and I always tell people that they should fire it up and see what it's all about. I give them some basic commands and tell them how to learn more and they love it. Even those people that would otherwise be considered people that shouldn't even be running a computer. They report success and glee. They report learning and they enjoy it. Welders, doctors, teachers, homemakers, engineers, politicians. The "smart" ones and the "dumb" ones. lol, what is dumb, anyway?
I hope that I haven't travelled all over the place too much in this long post. I could continue for days but who needs that? running Linux is as simple or difficult as you make it out to be. If you want to keep the Windows mentality then more power to you - just don't come callin' becasue there is nobody here to help you perpetuate that folly. Now, make the decision. And believe me, there is a lot of FUD that comes from the Linux side, too. Make the decision to either run it or no -- but don't be half-arsed about it and don't expect the system to allow you to screw it up by applying Windows habits to it. If you really want to screw up your Debian system (or, Linux) ask me how and I'll tell you. Then you can have fun bringing it back to functionality. It is in this manner that I learned Linux and I think it's a good way to go. Roll your sleeves up, learn the important disctinctions of LInux, install it, configure it, and then wreck it. (or, don't -- just install it and be happy) Before you know it you will know it. You will also realize one or two of the great aspects of Linux -- everything is a file, and you don't have to reboot. Ever, if you don't want to.
I will leave you, you curious and weary readers that have made it this far (the ones among you that will succeed), with a few basic tenets of Linux and hope that it serves you well.
Everything is a file
compiling is easy and beneficial
stop thinking about viruses
stop attributing magic to your computer, it's a stupid on or off machine
the terminal is your friend and is vastly more powerful than you will probably ever know, but it's pretty brain-dead simple to use
you are not allowed to change files outside of your /home/you directory unless you become root. This is a fabulous thing
almost all the drivers you need are already installed. Honest.
success with Linux demands desire and effort; as much or as little as you feel like giving it
with knowledge comes freedom, shed those shackles, breathe, enjoy it
there are no experts, there is only learning, as much or as little as you want
Linux will never sell you out
commands are powerful things and if you can think it, you can probably do it. Linux rewards creativity
some people will never find success with Linux, it is what it is. You may be one of these people, only you can decide.
The best things in life are the ones you have to work at.
Immediate gratification is an oxy-moron, stop demanding it
standards are a good thing, keeping the user in the dark is not
a little understanding can take you far, but don't get carried away and be one of those people that becomes dangerous