Recommendations for Learning Linux

My Framework laptop is finally on the way and I’ll be installing Linux. I’ve never used Linux and I’m going to use the Framework laptop as an opportunity to try it out and learn it. Haven’t decided on a distro yet, but as I’ve never used it before, I’ll probably just pick one and see how it goes. Maybe I’ll try others once I get a basic understanding of what I’m doing.

Are there any recommended resources for learning the basics of Linux? Maybe something about learning the terminal/command line? I’m fine with research and I’m sure I could find my way to some info, but I just thought I’d see if this community had any suggestions since there seem to be quite a few Linux users here.

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I’m also fairly new to Linux and my recommendation is twofold:
1, start small. Learn applications, use beginner distros like Mint or Pop for the first while, and get a feel for it.
And 2, don’t expect Linux to look, behave, or react like Windows or MacOS. Those are different animals from the cartoon penguin, and not meant to be treated the same.

Watch videos on YouTube for a while, too. You’ll pick up on terms and lingo, as well as a vague idea of what’s right and wrong.
I recommend The Linux Experiment and DistroTube, but there are many channels in many languages on many focuses. You’ll eventually find one that you’ll enjoy and learn from.

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Also keep in mind that there are certain problems related to Framework hardware on a number of distros, so be sure to check the linux section of this forum if you run into driver issues

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Thanks for the tip. I have been reading up about the various distros on the Framework.

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I did the same i went with Ubuntu with my only experience being some messing around in a terminal on Kali on a raspberry pi and im loving linux its much better than windows

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Thanks for the tips. Since I’ve never tried Linux before, I don’t have any DE or distro “preference” at this point, so it doesn’t matter what I start with on that front. I don’t need to use this laptop for work, so there’s no specific software I NEED to work, and I also don’t mind a learning curve and tinkering, so I just figured I’d pick something that seems like it should be stable on the Framework hardware and give it a go. I went with Fedora 35 and Xfce spin, just for the heck of it. I got it all installed and updated yesterday. I was able to get connected to my Wi-Fi, my network printer and get the few bits of semi-important software I wanted installed. So far, so good. It’s all working great and I’m having fun poking around.

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I’ve been using my Framework Laptop with Fedora 35 and it works perfectly. I am also learning Linux with this: https://linuxjourney.com/

Check it out! It has been very helpful so far.

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I recently switched from MacOS. The terminal is similar, but Linux is much more customizable.

I’m on Fedora 35 as it works well out of the box for the framework laptop. It uses the GNOME desktop environment and I’ve enjoyed it so far.

Here’s the guide I’ve been using to better learn the command line:

In my experience, errors are opportunities to learn how things work. Good luck and have fun!

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I switched to Linux on my main laptop circa 2006. Going back to Winblows because some tech needs it to update firmware (I.e. my GFs insulin pump) is psychologically painful for me now.

Those new to Linux are going to want the easiest road in, which means easiest to install and best documented (officially and with other tech blogs and tutorials). I agree with the above that say Ubuntu (debian based) and Fedora (Red Hat based) are the most polished install experience and highest user base distributions (so most likely to have someone else run across and document a solution for your problem already). Unfortunately, tutorials for one do not always work for the other (and go out of date quickly, pay attention to how old it is!), so knowing whether this set of instructions applies to your install is half the battle!

The third major camp is Arch Linux. This is not designed for those new to Linux and can be challenging to install well. However, the Arch Wiki is fantastically documented, and sometimes contains tips, tricks, and solutions that might be applicable to debian or RH installs as well. But when I finally “graduated” to my own arch install from scratch, there was a huge sense of satisfaction and fine grained control over everything about my computing experience.

As to Desktop Environment, you’re looking for three factors: smoothness, size, and speed. Smoothness is does everything just work?!? Sticking with the default DE from your chosen distro usually gets you the smoothest experience, but the good news is trying out others is very easy and low risk! Size is memory footprint, which should not be an issue on F.w, but is something to think about when trying to put Linux on older machines with less than ~4GB ram. LXDE, Xfce are two common “light” desktops that work fairly well but not always the most smoothly in my experience. The last factor is speed, and again on machines with the power of the F.w speed differences are slight to unnoticeable between Gnome, KDE, Unity, etc “full featured DEs”.

The awesome thing about Linux is there is more than one way to do it and probably more than one piece of software to accomplish what you want. The bad news about Linux is there are so many names of competing, overlapping, and obsolete pieces of software to keep track of!?!

Have fun learning it, it’s a great hobby and skill to have!

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A friend had recommended Linux mint as the ‘most windows-like’ and user accessible of Linuxes. As it happens, later that year my mobo failed on my desktop. I swapped out the motherboard and windows no longer recognized it as ‘my’ computer, so refused to boot. My windows upgrade key would only upgrade me to 32-bit. And all my files on my old account windows refused to copy over and access.

Long story short, I ran Mint off a CD, installed in twenty minutes, copied everything with no issues, and kept windows only for gaming. Now that steam runs almost everything on Linux , I dropped windows altogether.

If you want a specific recommendation, anything from the Debian line (Ubuntu, mint, pop, etc.) is a good choice for user-friendliness. Mint Cinnamon is windows-like so an easy jump. Pop caters more to gamers (IMO). Ubuntu came before both and is well established. I’d stay away from anything with a small user base because you won’t be able to google answers easily.

FYI, there are two pieces to a linux install; the OS (ex mint, Ubuntu) and the front-end (Plasma, cinnamon). You can swap the different parts, if you like. Easiest is to run them off a jump drive and just see if you like it. But my recommendation is to lean towards the default front end. The googling will be easier, and frequently the other interfaces are for special user cases, usually resource-limited devices or grognards.

I’ve been running Mint (Cinnamon) for about ten years now and love it. I’m definitely not an expert, and you don’t need to be. But you can’t be afraid of a little googling :slight_smile:

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Geeze… what version of Windows was this?

Windows wouldn’t fail to boot over a failed product key; that’s usually a boot-path issue (SATA > AHCI or NVME, for example), and since Windows 7 the same product key would work in 32-bit and 64-bit (and most Windows 7 keys would word with Windows 8, 8.1, and 10). At most would de-activate if it smelled a new motherboard and decided that it was enough to trigger the deactivation.

I’ve dropped in an install that started as a mid-2000’s BIOS configuration, replaced the motherboard twice, imaged it to an SSD, and dropped it into a replacement Dell 9020, reconfiguring and modifying the partition table to fit a native UEFI configuration, even using official Microsoft supported tools); in comparison, you’ve had a lot of terrible luck. It’s possible that a change in boot devices might impact it - Windows 7 and prior struggled with changed boot devices, but it got a whole lot more tolerant with Windows 8+ and the improvements with Windows to Go.

But I digress; Linux and macOS have each been pretty tolerant so long as the Kernel had the necessary drivers baked in, using GUID/ID-based mount options in fstab has improved that tolerance, and compiling the kernel itself is pretty trivial, though it might impact some distro-specific touches.

I liked Ubuntu but became scared when they dropped upstart for systemd purely because I get scared of switching init daemons, living in fear of something getting missed in the process.

How did you learn to use Windows? Probably not from a class or a tutorial. You probably got access to a Windows computer and just started using it, and looked up solutions and “how to” articles along the way as needed.

In academic computer science, professors basically assume that students have familiarity with Linux. As a freshman in college in 2004, I remember being told on my first day of CS111 that I needed to upload my homework to some Linux server via ftp, and then use ssh to run some commands from the terminal to actually submit my work. There might have been a quick demo and a recommendation to use PuTTY if you were a Windows user. It was a whole new world for me. I don’t think I had heard of Linux before that. The requirement to use Linux kept coming with various tools and libraries that were only available for Linux.

I bit the bullet and just wiped my hard drive to install Linux on my laptop for daily use like everyone else in the CS department. I had to try half a dozen distros before I found one (openSUSE, I think) that seemed to work with my laptop hardware. Things like wireless, suspend, touchpads, and removable media were very hit-or-miss back then (and mostly missed).

A year later, I was hosting web sites and applications from my own Debian Linux server.

So jump in with both feet and you’ll figure it out. Don’t get hung up on picking the “best” distro. Stick with one and learn it.

By the way, I think the Framework DIY edition is bringing more new users to Linux than anything else in recent years. Before this, even I would just use Windows out of inertia whenever it came preinstalled on a new laptop.

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That’s pretty much what I figured. Since I’ve never used it, I can’t possibly have a preferred distro and won’t know what I’m missing or not regardless of what I go with. So I just picked one. I went with Fedora 35, Xfce. I pretty much did just fire it up, install it and started poking around. Got a few programs I wanted installed, got my printer set up and have been using it without trouble for a couple days.

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@SodaStream This was Windows 7. It shipped with the PC, so it was intentionally locked to that device, and refused to boot. I had a Win8 upgrade key I’d bought cheap, so I reinstalled another copy of Win7 I already had (and was using on another PC), then upgraded to keep it legal. But since the Win7 install was 32-bit, the Win8 was locked into 32-bit too. I had to pirate a copy of 64-bit Win7, then upgrade it with my legal Win8 key. And of course, you’re familiar with Windows permissions. It pretends like everything is locked down and takes forever to manually override those permissions even if admin.

When I put the Linux CD in though, it cost $0, and everything WORKED. It never cares if my key is valid or I am using the license on another computer, or swapped parts between devices, if a user put access restrictions on, or if I’ve installed some unsanctioned Russian warez. The drive boots and gets to work. When my wife’s computer crashes and is ‘irrecoverable’ to Windows, we run the live image of Mint and fix things.

Linux is a great choice. I would recommend Zorin OS 16 in the long run for a first time user, but it might be hard to get wifi, bluetooth, and finger print readers working because they are new drivers and Zorin OS has an older kernel with older drivers. So, for the time being, I recommend Pop!_OS 21.04, Ubuntu 21.10, or Manjaro GNOME.

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Very similar to my experience. I distro-hopped quite a bit at the beginning. Get ready to start over often. It often felt like wasting time, but you have to try and figure out what works for you. I ended up in the Arch Camp after all, but not sure if that’s the best way to start. I started with gentoo at the time kde4 came out and was super messy. That overwhelmed me at the beginning, as I wasn’t sure if was doing it wrong or if something else in general was messed up. The easy ones, Ubuntu or Pop, will give you some experiences you might want to replicate on your own later. I was fleeing windows as I wanted more power to myself, so Arch or Gentoo were natural choices eventually, then. Once you arrive here, you will learn the most, as you have to do everything yourself.

Now that I think about it: an absolute beginner might actually want to learn with older hardware. The “easy” ones, tend to be behind kernel versions. so, if eg. bluetooth doesn’t work on Ubuntu and you are new, you might get confused who’s fault it is. Yours or if it wouldn’t work anyway as Ubuntu uses an older kernel.

Keep trying and keep switching! And keep learning!

When I introduce new people to Linux, or a command line in general, I normally recommend OverTheWire: Bandit with huge success.

I will say that my experience with Debian sid (the “unstable” branch, which is rolling-release) has been phenomenal. If you install with the unofficial netinstall ISO (which includes the firmware for the wifi card), everything pretty much “Just Works”, since the kernel (and other stuff) is new enough that things are supported out of the box.

I will also say that I have had basically zero problems with Debian “unstable” over the years, despite its codename and it being a rolling release. That being said, disclaimer disclaimer YMMV. But actually, the Framework has been the smoothest OOTB experience I’ve had with Linux on a laptop.

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