Getting Started with Linux (for Newbies)

Although I’ve gone on a bit about Linux history and what it does, the primary goal of my message is to make you take the plunge and let you try it it out – and in finally is to get you using it. To that end, I’d like to describe some things that might help you get started with Linux.

While Linux will run great on many low-end computers (even some old 486s and arly Pentiums), if you are completely new to Linux, I recommend that you start ith a PC that has a little more muscle. Here’s why:

Full-blown Linux operating systems with complete GNOME or KDE desktop nvironments perform poorly on slow CPUs and less than the recommended mount of RAM.

You can create streamlined graphical Linux installations that will fit on small hard disks (as small as 100MB) and run fairly well on slow processors. However, putting together such a system requires some knowledge of which oftware packages to select and often requires some additional configuration.

f you are starting with a Pentium II, 400 MHz, your desktop will run slowly in default KDE or GNOME configurations with less than 128MB of RAM. A simpler desktop system, with just X and a window manager, will work, but won’t give you the full flavor of a Linux desktop.
The good news is that, as mentioned earlier, cheap computers that you can buy from Ebay (or XQL) or other retailers start at less than $300. Those systems will perform X. The bottom line is that the less you know about Linux, the more you should try to have computer hardware that is up to spec to have a pleasant experience.
If you already have a Linux system sitting in front of you,

Chapters 2 through 6 will alk you through the Linux shell, using the desktop, and some basic system administration.
If you don’t have a Linux system running on your computer yet, you have  couple of choices:

Try a bootable Linux—If you have another OS on your machine and are eluctant to disturb the contents of your computer, a bootable Linux enables you to run Linux directly from a removable medium (DVD, CD, or even a
floppy disk in some cases). You’ll be able to try Linux without even touching he contents of your hard disk.

Install Linux on your hard disk—If you have available disk space that’s not lready assigned to Windows or another system, you can install Linux on your ard disk and have a more permanent operating system. (Some Linux distributions, uch as SUSE and Mandriva, let you resize your Windows hard disk to ake room to install Linux.)

Linux itself is just a kernel (like the engine of a car), so to use Linux you need to select a Linux distribution. Because the distribution you choose is so critical to our Linux experience, the entire Part III of this book is devoted to understanding, hoosing, and installing the most popular Linux distributions. Several of these distributions re included with this book, along with several useful bootable Linux distributions.


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