Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Easing into Linux

It's been almost a month since Christmas, and right about now, that new Windows computer you got as a gift on that magical morning may be acting up.

It could be slowing down or maybe you picked up a virus or piece of spy ware from an unfriendly web site. Or maybe you've just become tired of Vista constantly asking for permission to do even the smallest task.

(Or maybe you're one the folks who didn't get a Windows system for Christmas... but your current Windows set-up is definitely not working as it should.)

Well, you may be thinking of finally giving Linux a try. But, you still have a few questions as to how to make the move.

A few years ago on the Linspire Forums (now the Freespire forums), a new member asked the following question:

"i have 2 drives C=XP HOME D=Linpsire....maybe. used to windos doing everything for me so should i just do it or what?? help the new scared one please."

Allow me to translate this cryptic question a bit. The new member has two partitions on their computer's hard drive. Partition C has Windows XP Home Edition. Partition D is empty. The new member is considering installing Linspire Linux to this empty drive, but is a bit apprehensive.

I answered this question with the following advice which I believe is a very good approach in easing your way into using, and understanding, Linux. Even though I was speaking about Linspire Linux, this can be applied to any Linux distribution.

"About 2 years ago, I was in the exact same place you are right now. In fact, it's safe to say that many on this forum were in a similar situation to your own. So, rest assured, folks understand. And with that understanding, comes a great deal of help from the folks up here.

As was pointed out, be verbose, detailed and as exact as possible with any challenges that may come your way.

I call them 'challenges" and not "problems." The difference being, all that is required is a bit of understanding as to the inner workings of Linux. Once you have this knowledge, even a little bit here and there, you can move forward and get your system running properly. Problems only tend to happen to Windows systems.

First things first. Absolutely, run the Live CD. That's exactly what I did at first. I recommend you run the Linspire Linux Live CD for a good month or so. Don't even boot into Windows. Run the Live CD and try EVERYTHING Linspire has to offer. Browse the Internet, configure the email program, play a music file, plug in your flash drive, etc. Get comfortable with Linspire. Make sure your hardware works with Linspire. As issues come up, you can log on to this forum and ask questions. Get as much a background as you can, so once you make that dual boot install, you'll know what to expect and how to react.

Having said all this, if/when you do go for a dual boot install, make sure to do a complete backup of your hard drive. You probably have files that are pretty important. Back those up on a flash drive or USB Hard Drive.

Once you become comfortable with Linspire and understand how things are set up and work, THEN do the dual boot install. And, the installation process is quite easy.

If, for whatever reason, Linspire fails to work on your existing system from the Live CD, then I recommend you purchase a brand new box with Linspire pre-installed. Because, believe it or not, once you run Linspire, you're going to want to buy a new system anyhow. That's what I ended up doing after my dual boot install. Linspire is that good.

Welcome aboard."

This is the same advice I tell folks today. Get that Linux distro from Download and burn the .iso file to a CD. Run the Live CD as much as possible. Become familiar with Linux. Join a Linux forum and ASK LOTS OF QUESTIONS. Simply tell the members that you're a new user and want to move to Linux. Believe me, they will help you every step of the way. (The Linux community is incredibly generous with their time, knowledge, and help). And the move is not as difficult as you think. It's quite easy.

And finally, once you do install that Linux distro to your computer, you're certainly going to start looking at buying a new Linux system. Because, now that you have a cutting edge operating system (free from windows viruses, and spy ware), other members of the family will want one, too!

Get Linux.

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