I want to mess around with Linux again, recommendations for a noob?

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Fallen Kell

Diamond Member
Oct 9, 1999
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Can't comment on them. Been using Red Hat family (RHL, Fedora Core, RHEL, CentOS Linux). After decades of command-line use my concept of "easy" is peculiar. (Or perhaps it always was.)

Yeah, that is always my problem as well whenever these questions get asked about a "user friendly" linux distribution. Given that I learned in the days of Solaris, AIX, and IRIX, right as linux was just starting, it was pretty easy for me to hop over to the early linux distributions and take a look and not feel intimidated or lost. Things got better on all of them in the late 90's and early 2000's. I was mostly dealing with stuff from that timeframe when I learned, but there were plenty of systems that I had at work that were older which I still needed to learn how to support. The distros now all seem easy to me, but I have 20+ years of using them daily and supporting hundreds of users (on top of creating custom distributions, modifying installation disks to support additional hardware, creating drivers for hardware that had none.... so pretty much done just about everything but kernel development).
 
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Triloby

Senior member
Mar 18, 2016
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Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Pop!_OS, and Zorin OS are what most people would recommend for Linux beginner distros. I originally decided to try out Linux Mint a couple of years ago in a VM to try and understand Linux better and I liked messing around with it.

I still think Linux Mint is a solid choice for newbs to get their feet wet with Linux, but Ubuntu, Pop!_OS, and Zorin are good options if you don't want to use the Cinnamon desktop environment.

Recently, I got myself a used ASUS laptop and decided to install Fedora on it. I was actually surprised how nice GNOME works on laptops and touchpads. I think Fedora is a much nicer Linux distro and it's a nice middle ground compared to the more typical Debian/Ubuntu-based distros, but not as completely unfriendly such as Arch and Gentoo (insert unoriginal Linux meme about Arch users).
 

lakedude

Platinum Member
Mar 14, 2009
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Rather than commit to a full install you could try live DVD versions of say your top 3 choices. Play around a bit and pick your favorite based on your experience.
 

right_to_know

Member
Nov 19, 2015
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Why do so many of these distros come without a proper manual or tutorial especially ones aimed at new users like Mint?
 

mikeymikec

Lifer
May 19, 2011
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Why do so many of these distros come without a proper manual or tutorial especially ones aimed at new users like Mint?

You mean like say Windows has a proper manual?

The last time I saw a proper manual that came with a computer was with my Amiga 500.

The problem with providing a manual for a modern operating system is who to write it for. For example, these days the likelihood of encountering a person who has literally never used a computer before is virtually zero, but surely that's the kind of person the manual should be written for, but on the other hand the manual would likely need to be quaduple the thickness than if written for whoever might be considered the average user these days. After you've answered "have they ever used a computer before", then you need to move on to asking about mouse usage, keyboard, what kind of device the OS is running on, the Internet, etc. And yes, I do encounter customers for whom keyboards are a 'new thing'.

The guide I've written for my customers for how to use e-mail (a guide for email complete newbies but not computer newbies) with Thunderbird is 11 pages long. I doubt that anyone other than myself has read it all.

Also, I did a quick google and found this:

That seems like a good start for someone thinking about trying out Linux.
 

Triloby

Senior member
Mar 18, 2016
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Why do so many of these distros come without a proper manual or tutorial especially ones aimed at new users like Mint?

Because Linux, as a whole, is fragmented by design. There are so many different distros, desktop environments, package managers, and even custom kernels that making proper, user-friendly manuals is pretty damn difficult. Especially if your distro of choice is nowhere near as popular or has a massive userbase as Ubuntu does. Mint may be based on Ubuntu, but its entire desktop is the exact opposite of Ubuntu (GNOME vs. Cinnamon). For some people, having a completely different DE can make or break their Linux experience.

Technically, Linux Mint does have installation instructions for new users and an introductory tour guide to Mint after a new installation. Whether or not people actually pay attention to those guides in the first place is a different matter. Personally, I find installing Mint easier than installing Windows. At least you have a live environment to mess around with before you choose to install Mint. Windows doesn't give you that luxury of live testing before installing.
 

right_to_know

Member
Nov 19, 2015
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Also, I did a quick google and found this:

That seems like a good start for someone thinking about trying out Linux.

That's a guide on virtualbox not linux per se and ironically it has a proper manual of its own. You could have a look at it to see how one is done.



Technically, Linux Mint does have installation instructions for new users and an introductory tour guide to Mint after a new installation.

They're pretty poor and incomplete to put it politely unless I'm looking at the wrong one.
Where is the guide on something important like the package manager commands for example?


To answer the pair of you. It is possible to have a proper manual or guides that deals with the basic aspects of linux without being over simplified or complex.

Here are basic guide pictures.
Why isn't there something like that shown to the users when you first install.
That's one for the filesystem layout and the next one is for some basic commands.
 
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mikeymikec

Lifer
May 19, 2011
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That's a guide on virtualbox not linux per se and ironically it has a proper manual of its own. You could have a look at it to see how one is done.

Look, I realise you feel you have a point to make, but skipping past counterpoints that don't suit your perspective doesn't strengthen your argument.

Anyway, if a Linux newbie is thinking of playing with Linux then a) a virtual machine is a pretty good (debatably the best) starting method (as it gives the user the ability to alt-tab into their host OS to look stuff up) and b) having a guide for how to do that 'near' the Linux distro is a reasonably good idea. There's also Linux-specific stuff to include that probably isn't in a generic virtualbox guide (stuff like setting up shared folders, whenever I look it up the first results are always on a site that isn't virtualbox).

To answer the pair of you. It is possible to have a proper manual or guides that deals with the basic aspects of linux without being over simplified or complex.

Here are basic guide pictures.
Why isn't there something like that shown to the users when you first install.
That's one for the filesystem layout and the next one is for some basic commands.

Ok, in your opinion this is a good guide for a newbie. I'd pretty much guarantee that if you showed this to 90% of say Windows or Mac users who are interested in 'dipping their toe in the water', these guides would make them run screaming. They're also of no use whatsoever for someone who's looking for an easy way in to learning Linux; these days if you install say Mint or Ubuntu then you might not even need to play with the command line at all. However, if you're a technical manager who's just hired a junior yet technically-minded person with a plan to train them as a *nix sysadmin, then by all means start with the guides you've mentioned, and there's definitely a non-zero chance that you'd be training them without using more user-friendly distros like Ubuntu or Mint. Even in that scenario though, someone looking to become really proficient in *nix, the first thing they need to know is how to use a terminal text editor, which is completely missing from either of your guides. A casual amateur can get away with a GUI-based one.
 

right_to_know

Member
Nov 19, 2015
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Look, I realise you feel you have a point to make, but skipping past counterpoints that don't suit your perspective doesn't strengthen your argument.

I didn't. My reply to all of it was neatly summed up with this comment.

To answer the pair of you. It is possible to have a proper manual or guides that deals with the basic aspects of linux without being over simplified or complex.

My point was a proper guide or tutorials for the new user, not someone who doesn't know what a computer is.
Those pictures I linked were vague examples to show what level of info people should be getting.
Old linux guides explained how to manually mount drives,compile programs or set ownerships by command and more.


Here is an example of what you need to do to get another browser on it.

sudo apt install apt-transport-https curl

sudo curl -fsSLo /usr/share/keyrings/brave-browser-archive-keyring.gpg https://brave-browser-apt-release.s3.brave.com/brave-browser-archive-keyring.gpg

echo "deb [signed-by=/usr/share/keyrings/brave-browser-archive-keyring.gpg arch=amd64] https://brave-browser-apt-release.s3.brave.com/ stable main"|sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/brave-browser-release.list

sudo apt update

sudo apt install brave-browser

Where is the linux guide explaining all that, considering it is what you need to download new programs?




Having said that with the way the world is at the moment a basic to moderate guide explaining how computers work wouldn't be a bad idea either.
With people buying computers where all they get is a leaflet telling them how to plug it in even though a chimp could figure out that the funny shaped plug goes into the similar funny shaped hole.
 

mikeymikec

Lifer
May 19, 2011
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I didn't. My reply to all of it was neatly summed up with this comment.

Read my first question in response to your first post, for example.

Old linux guides explained how to manually mount drives,compile programs or set ownerships by command and more.

Here is an example of what you need to do to get another browser on it.

Where is the linux guide explaining all that, considering it is what you need to download new programs?

Ubuntu and Mint typically mount partitions automatically, and also there are GUI-based apps for partition management by default. Ubuntu and Mint for example have their own GUI interfaced package managers. The last time I played with permissions I did it through the UI (marking a desktop shortcut as executable IIRC). I very rarely mount by command line in Linux these days (the last time I had to was to mount a disk I pulled from a NAS with the BTFRS file system), and probably 80% of the apps I've installed are through the GUI package manager (on my install of Kubuntu 20.04 LTS it's called 'Muon package manager'. On Lubuntu it's called 'Lubuntu software center'. AFAIK both distros but the icon for the package manager very much front and centre, I'm not 100% sure though as it's been at least a year since I played with either straight out of the box. I installed Chromium straight from the Muon package manager for example.

Bear in mind I'm not going to advocate a given distro's quality of documentation either, but I think it's a symptom of a larger problem being that major operating system makers these days rely on the user googling their problems. It's a blessing and a curse because the increased availability of information is great, but it's by no means an indicator that the information is up-to-date, accurate, detailed or well-written. AFAIK Linux also has the downside of a community that is conflicted between making it user-friendly or nicely accessible for techies.

Here's a really basic example: I just had a customer who is new to Windows 11 ask me how to edit photos in the Windows 11 Photos app (they're used to the Win10 photos app). I just googled for the official documentation. What I found was documentation that hadn't been updated since Windows 10, and the two apps are different enough to warrant documentation for the newer version. In this case we're talking about a multi-billion dollar company, their current flagship OS, and hardly an obscure topic.
 
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crashtech

Lifer
Jan 4, 2013
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Package Manager does not contain every piece of software one might need. The Linux GUI's are getting better, but there are still significant opportunities for less experienced users to get into trouble, much more than any Windows OS, say 7 and newer.

I honestly think core Linux users like it that way, keeps the unwashed masses at arm's length.
 

Fallen Kell

Diamond Member
Oct 9, 1999
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Red Hat has plenty of documentation. You might need to pay for some but a lot are freely available. They have a 122 page guide on development tools along with another 100 or so pages on various IDEs, along with several thousands of pages of documentation/manuals on RHEL 8, installation guides/storage guides/security guides/advanced features guides, etc...

 

Triloby

Senior member
Mar 18, 2016
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They're pretty poor and incomplete to put it politely unless I'm looking at the wrong one.
Where is the guide on something important like the package manager commands for example?

Because the point of Linux Mint is to entice those who want to get away from Windows and maybe macOS without having to resort to the terminal for anything outside of hardware or OS troubleshooting. Considering the vast majority of Windows/macOS users rarely (if ever) use the terminal/CLI, it becomes almost necessary to try and lessen their exposure to it as much as possible. Do you think most Windows or macOS "refugees" want to spend time learning about dpkg or APT commands just to download an app when they have a GUI-based software manager available that can do that in just one click?

Same thing applies to basic file management. Most "refugees" are not going to take the time learning how to use the cp, rm, mkdir, pwd, ls, chmod, etc. commands when they already have a GUI-based file manager at their disposal.

Obviously, it would be much better and more useful to learn and use those basic Linux commands to begin with, but not everyone out there that's trying to jump ship from Microsoft or Apple will see it that way. Considering how vital or essential the GUI is in most apps (and even OS's) nowadays, telling people to learn terminal commands to do certain tasks every once-in-a-while is a nonstarter for most people.

Sure, I can type sudo rm -r /insert/directory/here to permanently delete all files and the folder itself, or I can right-click on that directory (assuming it's not located in root) within the file manager and click on sending that directory to Trash (and then emptying the Trash) or to fully delete. Both choices are valid and the terminal command is probably much faster than using the GUI, but not everyone will want to use the terminal if they feel that the GUI-based file manager is more convenient for the job.
 

Fallen Kell

Diamond Member
Oct 9, 1999
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Sure, I can type sudo rm -r /insert/directory/here to permanently delete all files and the folder itself, or I can right-click on that directory (assuming it's not located in root) within the file manager and click on sending that directory to Trash (and then emptying the Trash) or to fully delete. Both choices are valid and the terminal command is probably much faster than using the GUI, but not everyone will want to use the terminal if they feel that the GUI-based file manager is more convenient for the job.
To some extent, sure, I get it that the GUI might be more convenient to use for some things (package management for instance, or configuring system/network settings), but for most other things, the GUI is actually a detriment to the user to do what they want to have done. For instance, deleting files from a directory that has a lot of other files in it that you want to keep. For a DVR system, that you have transcoded video and you want to delete all the versions that you transcoded to 720p resolution, but keep the others, when you named them myvideo-720p.mk4 and myvideo-1080p.mk4 where-in you have hundreds of files of both and no sorting scheme will help because you transcoded them both at the same time, so both the 1080p and 720p versions have the same approx creation/modified dates, and since the are the same filetype, you can't sort based on filetype or creation/modified date, and since you have different sized shows (some 1 hour, some 30 minutes, some 2+ hours), you can't just sort on size, it means you would need to click and drag hundreds of files individually to delete them or move them into another folder via GUI. With command line, it is a single command, using a regular expression for pattern matching the name.
 

lakedude

Platinum Member
Mar 14, 2009
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I started using computers programming WATFIV FORTRAN on punch cards. Before there were monitors there were terminals and before video terminals we used TELETYPE machines. There was no such thing as a GUI back then.

I learned DOS and VAX VMS. Picking up the Linux CLI was trivial after that.

So yeah I know how to get by in CLI and yeah the power of sorts with wildcards is real but...

I did not buy a computer for myself until they were full color with a mouse and a GUI. If you want me to CLI you gotta pay me. I don't want to remember all that crap!

Oh God I don't miss needing to know all the sectors, cylinders, platters etc. on a HD. Don't miss setting IRQ on a sound card. Don't miss any of the typing! I'm not a secretary!!
 

Fallen Kell

Diamond Member
Oct 9, 1999
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I started using computers programming WATFIV FORTRAN on punch cards. Before there were monitors there were terminals and before video terminals we used TELETYPE machines. There was no such thing as a GUI back then.

I learned DOS and VAX VMS. Picking up the Linux CLI was trivial after that.

So yeah I know how to get by in CLI and yeah the power of sorts with wildcards is real but...

I did not buy a computer for myself until they were full color with a mouse and a GUI. If you want me to CLI you gotta pay me. I don't want to remember all that crap!

Oh God I don't miss needing to know all the sectors, cylinders, platters etc. on a HD. Don't miss setting IRQ on a sound card. Don't miss any of the typing! I'm not a secretary!!
But you don't also miss wasting your time using an inefficient interface that can make many tasks take 3-100 times the amount of time it would take with command line? Again, I am all for GUIs when they speed things up and/or make life easier by providing valid options vs needing to lookup the values from the manual. But for so many tasks, it is far faster to do it via command line. For instance, say you just want to update the system to the latest patch set. On an RPM based distro that uses YUM repositories, it is as simple as "yum update -y". But to use the GUI (if it has one), it will usually first take 45 seconds to 5 minutes just to open that GUI as it polls the system to determine what packages are installed, their versions, and check to see if there are updated versions available in your configured YUM repositories. All the while, someone who had simply typed "yum update -y" is on to doing something else as the update is already in progress and there is no more need for the person to interact with it.

Why waste your precious time that you won't get back waiting on GUIs and/or jumping through the hoops to use the GUI to inefficiently perform a task that could be done in seconds via the command line? Also, I don't miss needing to know about sectors, cylinders, and platters or IRQ numbers either (grant it I do know, but I havn't had to touch those things in probably 20 years, except for attempting to recover data from a failed hard drive).
 

crashtech

Lifer
Jan 4, 2013
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To be fair to GUI users, most won't just sit and stare at the applet, there are other things to do while it's "thinking."
 

lxskllr

No Lifer
Nov 30, 2004
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What kind of awfully written package manager takes 45 seconds to start? If that's how rpm distros work, I'm glad I use debian :^D

GUI's are better at simple tasks. I don't feel like hand typing an address to a server share five directories deep just to open a document in a text viewer. If I want to do something more complicated, I can use the gui to get to the embedded directory, right click 'open terminal here' and do what I need to do, saving a bunch of time. There's room for both. If you're solely in a terminal, or solely in a gui, you're doing it wrong. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.
 
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lakedude

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What kind of awfully written package manager takes 45 seconds to start?
Well the package manager comes up straight away but typically needs to be updated with the latest packages which takes half a minute or so.
 

lxskllr

No Lifer
Nov 30, 2004
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I just crudely timed synaptic by the 'thousand' counting method, and it took til '14 one thousand' to click, type in a not super complicated password, and query updates. I have a slow internet connection, so I won't bother timing the download and installation of updates(looks like some kernel stuff), but the initial load was pretty fast. I usually use the terminal to update, just out of convenience, but it's similar to synaptic.
 

Ajay

Lifer
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I just crudely timed synaptic by the 'thousand' counting method, and it took til '14 one thousand' to click, type in a not super complicated password, and query updates. I have a slow internet connection, so I won't bother timing the download and installation of updates(looks like some kernel stuff), but the initial load was pretty fast. I usually use the terminal to update, just out of convenience, but it's similar to synaptic.
LOL! Didn't even know what 'synaptic' was at first. It's a GUI package manager for APT. Kind of cool. It took 2 seconds for me to open 'Discover' (Kubuntu) and then I searched for 'synaptic'. I didn't install it, since, well, 2 seconds to open Discover...
 
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lakedude

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I just crudely timed synaptic by the 'thousand' counting method, and it took til '14 one thousand' to click, type in a not super complicated password, and query updates. I have a slow internet connection, so I won't bother timing the download and installation of updates(looks like some kernel stuff), but the initial load was pretty fast. I usually use the terminal to update, just out of convenience, but it's similar to synaptic.
Hmm, we must be talking about different thing. The update I was referring to is just an updated list of everything in the package manager including for example a dozen different versions of Firefox. You would never grab all that stuff.
 

lxskllr

No Lifer
Nov 30, 2004
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Not sure. I included typing the password, and reloading the repositories. That listed all the updated software in general, and told me about installed software that needs updating. Should only be one version of firefox, at least in debian. Dunno if other distros include development branches, or whatnot.
 

Hotrod2go

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Nov 17, 2021
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Guys, I'm having issues getting rufus or unetbootin to see a linux distro on my machine. Want to create a USB install & of course bootable. But every time I run either of those tools it sees other files in the directory but not the .ISO image of that linux distro. Running rufus for example with defaults already has it set to see bootable .ISO images but for some reason it refuse to see the file on my system. What the heck is going on here?

Thanks. :)