Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Getting to know the Linux community

The Linux community is far and away, one of the most helpful groups of people you'll ever encounter. Once you've downloaded and installed (or using the Live CD) the Linux distribution of your choice, i highly recommend that you register and regularly visit that Linux Distro's forums.

If you're running Freespire, then register at the Freespire forum at:

Or, perhaps you're test driving Ubuntu. Get to know other Ubuntu users at:

These are just a couple of examples. For your specific Linux distribution, simply search the pages where you downloaded it. You'll find a link taking you directly to its forum.

You'll find that the moderators and contributors at these forums want to make sure your experience with Linux is the very best possible. They are friendly, helpful, and patient with new users. They'll help you iron out any issues you may be having when navigating your new Linux OS.

There are just a couple of things to keep in mind.

1.) After registering, post an introduction. Introduce yourself to the forums. Let folks know you are a new Linux user.

2.) Be Polite. That is to say, be aware of the forum's code of conduct. Needless to say, being a nice guy wins more friends than being disagreeable.

3.) Be specific when describing your problem. Explain as much as possible with the problem you are having with your Linux distro. Be specific. Folks will help you, but you need to give them as much information as possible.

4.) Get ready to exercise your brain cells just a bit. Okay, you're going to have to learn a few new things. But, don't worry. Most of the tips and ticks (and possibly a few commands) are quite easy to grasp. Think back to the first time you ran Windows. Did you know everything about that operating system? Chances are you asked a lot of questions of a lot of other Windows users.

5.) Contribute. Give back. After you get your feet wet and know your way around Linux a bit, don't hesitate to answer some other new user's question if you know the solution. Even when you hep someone solve their problem, you'l something new.

Pretty soon, with the help of the forums, you'll be using Linux on a regular basis. You'll be installing software and customizing the desktop. and you'll discover how wonderful and easy Linux is to use!

The forums are a great way to really jump start Linux !

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

How to get Linux.

Linux is EVERYWHERE on the web. It's easy to obtain, easy to try out, and easy to install. In many cases it's free of charge or can be purchased at a very minimal cost. I'll take you through the basic steps on getting Linux running on your computer without harming your current Windows installation.

Step one: Pick a Linux distribution to download. Linux comes in many flavors. Because of it's Open Source nature, Linux has morphed, changed and improved over the years. Folks have taken Linux and enhanced it here and there, improving and refining it AND passing these enhancements on to other Linux developers. Open Source allows developers to look inside and "get under the hood." If you think of Linux as an automobile, it has the same chassis, but the body styling is slightly different from model to model. Regardless of the flavor of Linux you select, underneath, it's all the same. A stable, secure operating system.

A good place to find different Linux flavors is Distro Watch. Distro Watch lists the most popular Linux distributions, gives a brief overview of each and has links for downloading. When you download a Linux distribution, you'll be downloading it as an iso file. This file will then be converted to disk.

Step Two: Write your iso file to a CD-ROM. Now that you have your iso downloaded, it's time to burn it onto a CD-ROM. If you're running Windows (and you probably are), simply pop a blank disk into your CD-ROM burner tray and boot your software package (Nero, Roxio, etc.). Select Burn Image to Disk (or similar wording) and select the .iso file you downloaded. Click Okay and the software will do the rest. Make sure you use a 700 megabyte CD-ROM blank. Iso files tend to be every bit that size.

Note: if you don't want to go through the procedure of downloading an iso file and burning it to disk, many distributions will send you (for a small charge) a Linux CD-ROM. There are even a few Linux distros which will send you a Linux disk for FREE.

Step Three: Drop your Linux disk in your CD-ROM tray and boot. Run in Live Mode. Okay, you've got your Linux disk and want to run it. The really neat thing about Linux is, it gives you the very helpful option of running directly off the disk without installing to your computer's hard drive. Simply drop your CD-ROM disc into your tray and reboot your system. If you are running Windows XP, your first boot device will be the CD-ROM drive. Your computer will read the disk and Linux will launch off the disk.

Note: If you're running Windows 98 or Windows 95, you may have to jump into your computer's BIOS and change the boot sequence so your CD-ROM is the first boot device. Take great care before you alter your computer's BIOS settings! Please consult your computer's user manual before making any BIOS changes.

In most cases, Linux distributions will run Live mode first, right off the disk, and give you an option to install to your hard drive directly from the desktop environment. Sometimes,when you boot a Linux disk, you are presented with a menu of either installing or running in Live mode. Select Live mode and Linux will run off the disk.

Running a Live disk gives you the chance to see how your specific computer system handles each distribution. You can try out the features, test your hardware (sound card, graphics card, etc.) and all your peripherals (scanners,printers, USB drives,etc.) You can run pe-installed software right off the disk, play with the configuration of the desktop environment and tweak things to your heart's content. All the while, your Windows hard drive will not be touched!

I recommend you try as many Linux distributions as possible. get your feet wet. Run them all in Live mode and get a feel for things before you do a final installation to your computer's hard drive.


In future posts, I'll be talking about my favorite Linux distributions.

Monday, October 29, 2007

A brief history of Linux.

Linux came about through a series of happy coincidences. If you've never heard the story before, I'll give you the nutshell version.

Back in the late 1970's a computer programmer named Richard Stallman was working at MIT. He needed to get inside a software program and make a correction or two in order to solve a problem. But, the software manufacturer wouldn't allow this. They had a license that prohibited this sort of thing. That's when the inspiration for creating the Open source movement and software hit him. He decided to write his own operating system and make it freely available to anyone who wanted it.

Unix was the operating system Stallman was using at MIT, so he went about writing an OS modeled on Unix. He called it GNU. GNU stands for GNU's Not Unix. A recursive acronym that helped him drive home the point that no Unix code was being used and that his operating system was not Unix.

So he went about building his operating sytem a chunk at a time. he also created the GPL or, General Public License, which allowed him to give away his creation to anyone who wanted it. This is sometimes referred to as Copyleft.

Fast forward a few years. A young computer science student at the University of Helsinki named Linus Torvalds was creating his own operating system. He called it Linux and, using the GPL, made it available to the world. Now, this is one of the happy coincidence parts...Someone, somewhere, grabbed Linux and plugged it into GNU. Linux was the missing piece GNU needed. The two become one whole usable operating system. What we call Linux is really GNU/Linux. But somehow over the years, folks simply settled on calling the OS Linux.

If you're interested in knowing more of the story and meeting all the characters, I highly recommend the documentary Revolution OS.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

One Click Linux. Why I started this site.

I got tired of Windows. That's the simple truth.

I got tired of the pop-ups, viruses, anti-virus updates and a myriad of other things that slowed down my computing experience. I wanted an operating system that wasn't going to get bogged down with all kinds of programs running in the background eating up resources and slowing down performance. I didn't really want to spend a fortune on new hardware and software, so moving to an Apple system wasn't an option.

I looked around the internet and read so many good things about Linux, that one day, I finally downloaded it, installed it and...Well, here it is three years later and I absolutely LOVE using Linux! I'm so impressed with Linux, I want to tell everyone about it! So, this is the reason why I started this site. I'll be posting a lot of the things I've learned so you, the new Linux user, can get up and running with Linux a lot faster.

Learn from my experiences and mistakes. I'm going to really keep it as simple as possible. Really. That's half the battle with Linux (or any new system). Some well-meaning folks, when instructing new Linux users, get waaaaay too technical. I'm going to keep explanations simple and clear.

I hope you visit here often and I hope this site and what I have to say inspires you to visit other Linux sites and learn more. And I hope you then take that step and actually get Linux, install it and use it.

If you already have Linux installed, well then, you've come to right place. I hope this site helps you find the answer you're looking for.

I'm just one small member of the vast Linux community out there. That same community of users got me up and running. This is my way of giving back to the community. helping someone else get started using Linux.

Remember, this site is just the beginning. There are millions of people running Linux. The entire Linux community is always ready to help new users find there way through Linux.

Don't be scared. Linux is EASY! And believe me, Linux is so much better than Windows!