A beginners guide to getting started with Linux

So you’ve made it here
Great, that means you have heard about Linux, and you have made the first step by doing a seach for “A beginners guide to getting started with Linux”. Well done! Let’s get started 🙂

How User Friendly is Linux for beginners?
Most Linux distros are available as a Live CD, which means you can start your computer with the CD in the CDROM drive and run it from there to try it for a while and have a play with your new chosen distro without having to install it, also it will NOT change anything at all on your computer whatsoever. So your Windows is completely SAFE.
Any good Linux suggestions for beginners?There are so many Linux distributions, and so many tastes, that it is impossible to tell somebody which is best for them and their computers. However, you can begin with the most popular which are easy for beginners to run and install. It’s like choosing a car for yourself, your partner, and your mother, each person has different needs and knowledge about cars. Distrowatch is a long established Linux website, and can give you a taste of what’s available from it’s Top 100, and also which are the most popular based on page-views. The current Top 5 as of Sept 2012 are:

Top 5 on Distrowatch.com:
1 Mint
2 Mageia
3 Ubuntu
4 Fedora
5 openSUSE

Other new-user-friendly distributions are:

Getting Information About Linux Distributions
Many new users have forgotten this skill. Go to the main website of your distro and also
the support forum and USE-THE-SEARCH-BOX. They all have them, and remember Google is your friend.
Be prepared to take notes, print information and sign up on a support forum.
Social networks are also teaming with experienced Linux users, go to Facebook, Twitter and Google+ and do a search for “Linux”. make friends with Linux users, ask questions to everybody using the #linux tag.

A Few Extra Notes Before The Impatient Ones Dive In Feet First

a) Linux Distros are downloaded as an iso file and will need to be burned to a cd or dvd as an image NOT data. Most CD/Dvd burners have the option to burn as an “image”.
b) Linux images should be burned at the slowest possible speed. Each burner will vary, try with 4X to start with.
c) Not ALL distros work on ALL hardware, although Linux comes with 1000’s of hardware drivers preinstalled or easily available. So you may have a problem with you 8 year-old “no-brand” USB webcam you bought at the market 🙂
d) Use Google or a Forum Search for a “How to Install [Distro] Guide”, most distros will now offer you a step-by-step installation program that will do it all for you anyway, all you have to do is answer a few questions on the application by clicking Yes or No.
e) If in doubt at any stage whatsoever, ask on the forum, or friends on Google+ Twitter or Facebook.

Linux Forum Do’s and Don’ts
There is a little netiquette involved on many forums, and each has their own way of doing things to keep the forum friendly, helpful, organised and easy to use. Forum communities are like little towns; everybody knows eachother, you will always be welcomed with open arms, there will be hepful and not so helpful advice, young and old, novices and experts, and probably a village idiot too! 😀

Forums will be run by a team of Administrators and Moderators, some are friendly and blend in as members, others are like the Gestapo on a power trip with their new found position. In general they are all there to help maintain order and support with different degrees of efficiency.

DO try and find an “introduction thread” and post a “Hello everybody, i’m new to Linux”. See what kind of welcome you get from staff as well as members.

DO read the forum rules. Some are long winded while others are short and to the point.

DO use the forum Help button which will provide a guide on forum use and features.

DO look at the various sections and post in the right place.

DO use the Forum Search, your question may already have been asked and solved and even have a Howto guide.

DO be prepared to help yourself, you get far more respect and quicker help if you can show that you have tried.


DON’T expect an answer within 5 seconds. Forums are run by volunteers with jobs, families and lives outside of the forum.

DON’T whine and complain. Stick to the point and stay positive, you will have everybody jumping in to help you.

DON’T double post your problem a second time or in different sections, you will not get helped any faster.

DON’T post useless information. “My screen is black”. State what your hardware is, and try to remember any error messages.

DON’T post attention-seeking exagerated titles. “[Distro] broke my computer!!!!!!!!! going back to Windows!!!!! AAaaaaah!”.

Linux Checklist
Ok, so, you have got a list of possible Linux distros, you know how to look for information and help. What now?

  • Go and buy a pack of good quality blank cd’s/dvd’s.
  • Head over to Distrowatch.com and read up on the Top 10 distros.
  • Start downloading your chosen Linux distro images.
  • Burn the images to cd’s
  • Insert in one into the CDROM drive and reboot the computer.
Nine out of Ten times, you will wait about 2 minutes and will be at a Linux desktop. You will be able to play and experiment without having to worry about any adverse effects whatsoever on your already installed Windows system.

That’s it !! Welcome to the wonderful world of Linux


4 thoughts on “A beginners guide to getting started with Linux

  1. Nice write up Rich and very to the point.

    I like to add, which I think can not be stressed enough, you have to be willing to learn. I think a point “Darthlukan” also recently made on G+

  2. Nice post rich in content Rich 🙂

    Just way there is no debian on list of user friendly linux distros ?
    I just notice that mostly new comers to linux to whom I install linux distro are better with debian than with shity Unity on Ubuntu.

    Also I prefer blob free kernel like debian have 🙂

  3. Hi Marko,
    I'm a long term Debian user and yes, new users get on just fine with it, my wife and kids use Debian and Crunchbang. However this post is aimed at people who want to install and setup Linux “themselves”.
    The list of suggested distros is based on their installer options as regard to a newbie user.
    I also dislike Unity and feel it will put new users off, but there you go, what can you do about that? Just suggest other distros.

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