Linux for noobs

I just had my laptop reformated and Ubuntu installed on it (lots of viruses killed it). Part of my interest in using it is that my work supports software with a version for Linux and I would like to become more knowledgeable about it. I’ve always been a Windows guy and would appreciate help from the teeming millions with their advice for a Linux noob. Can you recommend:

  1. Manuals for a new user
  2. sites for software (applications, games, tools)
  3. tutorials if possible.

Thank you for your help and advice.

Welcome to the bright and shiny world that is non-windows!

One of the fundamental differences between windows and most Linux distributions (incl Ubuntu) is the concept of software repositories. You should always install an application from a repository. Do NOT download some file and try to execute it. Everything you’d possibly want will be in a repository. If it’s not in the standard repositories, someone will have created one for it. A quick google/yahoo search should find it. You then add the new repository to the package manager (synaptic) and the app shows up as installable.

The advantage of the repositories and package manager architecture is that it will keep track of any SW updates and one application (your package manager) will keep EVERYTHING up-to-date.

A little tip: if you want to do all the usual media stuff (play mp3s, play WMV or AVI videos etc) you need to install the codec packages. Easiest way is to type this into a terminal:

sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras

It breaks down as:

sudo: Run the following command with root privileges (it will ask for your password).
apt-get: command line interface to the package manager
install: pretty obvious… :slight_smile:
ubuntu-restricted-extras: A so called meta-package that pulls in various other packages. In this case codec-related.

BTW, there will be a bit of a learning curve. Linux is NOT another name for windows. But once you get a grip on it, it is (IMO) a much cleaner and better designed OS. You may also want to take a look at the KDE desktop, you might prefer it over gnome (I did).

This is a great start. Yeah I’ve got Gnome but I’ll look at KDE. Any other suggestions/advice?

Put aside some time – I used to spend a few hours – and browse the repository. Use synaptic first, which is a front-end to the apt package management system. Later, you can expand, learning the ins and outs of aptitude, dselect, apt-get, dpkg, etc. (Note that you shouldn’t really need anything beyond synaptic, but it’s good to know others – at least, that they exist.)

FYI, I think that sudo is short for “substitute user do”. That is, execute a command (i.e., “do”) as a different user. Perhaps it’ll be easier to remember if you have it explained. There’s also the su command, which lets you assume another user’s identity.

As zwede says, use the repositories. It’s not only safer, but incredibly easy. And there’s sooooo much software at your fingertips…

Oh, one other thing – command line stuff. IMHO, well-designed GUI software is simply a front-end to a command-line executable (separation of function from presentation). Many, if not most, linux packages are; Windows software often fails miserably on this count. A brief list of helpful command-line commands, leaving out the basics of directory traversal, file searching, and such:
[li]man – short for “manpage”, displays documentation for a command. Too often, very badly written documentation. Yes, you can do “man man”. Also, some packages use “info”.[/li][li]command -h (or --help) – will print a brief synopsis of command line options for command. Sometimes -h will work, sometimes --help, sometimes both, rarely neither. It’s dependent on the author.[/li][li]apropos – searches the man pages for keywords[/li][li]locate – finds files (must be indexed by updatedb)[/li][li]uname – prints system information[/li][li]whoami – prints your effective user id[/li][/ul]
Naturally, there’s a lot more to know; just google “linux cheat sheet” for a selection.

No one else mentioned this, but I shall…

If you’re somewhat technical (and with Linux, you sort of have to be), you should learn a bit of shell scripting and get a book on Linux itself. Yes, paper is a bit old fashion, but you can write notes in a corner of a book and put book marks. Can’t do that with a computer screen.

These will help you understand the ins-and-outs of your Linux system. Plus, you’ll learn some of the terms that people on these boards will throw at you.

I use Linux (Fedora distribution at work), and I like Linux, but it’s still a bit rough around the edges for normal consumer use – especially when it comes to multi-media files. However, once you get to know it, you’ll begin to really like it.

If you’re interested in listening to audio, check out the Linux Reality podcast, which no longer produces new shows but the old ones are pretty good. I’ve been using Linux a long time and thought of doing a few short podcasts for new users, then I ran across Linux Reality and realized it had already been done.

You will learn to use the terminal. A website I recommend is getdeb. .DEB files are more or less setup.exe files as you are used to in windows for software that is not available in the repositories. It is always better to use the Ubuntu Software Center because upgrades get pushed out to you for all apps installed on your system not just system files like with windows.