What is Linux? Installation and User Guide

Spanish version: ¿Qué es Linux?

Probably you're one of thousands of people every day choose to try Linux. Okay, but... What should you do?

1 - Advantages and disadvantages of Linux: Why use Linux? This is the typical question that everyone does and we can now respond:

- It's more secure. Your documents and papers are safe from viruses and security holes.
- It's more efficient. It works faster and can perform more tasks at once.
- It's very versatile. You can customize everything.
- It's free software, which means it is you that controls your computer.
- Usually cheaper (free) software and more at your fingertips.
- Most hardware works without installing anything. The drivers are usually installed alone.

- There is a small percentage of hardware whose drivers are not installed automatically.
- Some programs do not have versions for Linux (but you can install Windows software on Linux):

2 - Choose your Linux distribution: Linux is only the core (or kernel) of the operating system, to use it you must install a "Linux distribution", which consists of the Linux kernel with a desktop programs and online support.

If you are a new Linux user, it's probably your best option is to test Ubuntu (or Kubuntu which is the same but with another desktop). Other popular distributions are Debian, Fedora, OpenSuse, Mandriva, Linux Mint, etc...

For install Linux, first download the distribution CD from their website and then enter it into your computer and restart. For example, in Ubuntu you will see a screen asking if you want to install or just try it without making changes on the computer.

If you want to install Linux on your computer without removing your old operating system read this article about partitioning the hard disk which explains how to run multiple operating systems at once.

3 - Learning about Linux: All distributions work similarly. The priority is to learn how to install new programs.

Other things you can look at is how to install codecs for playing music, watch videos and DVDs, customize the appearance, setting up the Internet connection, knowing the different desktops for Linux that you can use to learn to use simple commands (only if you get bored a lot), see the history of free software, read manuals, blogs ...

4 - Find the programs you need: Althouugh Linux distributions come with many preinstalled applications, you need other programs and probably you have no idea which one to try.

Penguin Project has compiled a huge list of programs used for each function you would need, so you can easily find the application that best suits what you want.

Look for Linux guides and programs from here:

Example: Watching movies, IM, widgets utilities, etc ...