This is just one big copy and paste from user Calvin on the NBR. I thought i would share his excellent posts. Linux Switcher's Guide By: Calvin Blackburn Welcome, this is the Linux Switcher's Guide. In this guide you will find information for people who are thinking about switching to Linux, people who have already switched and want to know more, distribution choosing help, troubleshooting, as well as links to other informative guides and articles. Linux is rapidly evolving so i will be changing and updating this guide periodically to ensure that it is up to date. If you find any incorrect information, spelling mistakes, dead links, or would like to suggest more information, more links or more sections then go ahead and PM me about it. If anyone has any questions or problems related to Linux you can post it here if you feel so inclined. This guide is not intended to provide you with everything you need to know about Linux, but rather a solid foundation on which you can build upon. I made this guide under the assumption that you at least know the basics of Linux (what Linux is, what a Linux distribution is, etc.). I have provided plenty of links in the Recommended Guides and Links section for those who need to learn the basics and also for those who wish to get more in depth with Linux. This guide focuses on the most used Linux distribution, so for the time being it focuses on Ubuntu 8.10 "Intrepid Ibex" which utilizes the GNOME desktop environment, APT update method, and dpkg package manager. Most of this information is applicable to other distributions but this guide is specifically for Ubuntu so take it a grain of salt if you apply it to other distributions. If you wish to learn more about the other technologies that Linux can utilize, then I suggest you look at the Recommended Guides and Links section. Commonly Asked Questions I heard Ubuntu doesn't have any viruses and doesn't need a firewall, is that true? Yes and no. There are a multitude of reasons for not getting viruses in Ubuntu, you should read the Debunking the Linux virus myth article and the Ubuntu Security thread to clear things up. Does Ubuntu come with bloatware? Not at all, you don't need to worry about a trial of Microsoft Office 2007 and tons of useless software being bundled with your computer as with Windows. How do I launch applications in Ubuntu? I don't see a Start Menu! There is no Start Menu in Ubuntu, the Menu Bar you see in the upper left corner of the screen is how you launch applications and go to folders and administrate your system. The "Applications" menu has all your applications, the "Places" menu has your "Home" folder which is pretty much like "Documents and Settings" on Windows, and the "System" menu has all the tools you need to administrate your system. What kind of maintenance do Ubuntu systems need? In Ubuntu you don't need to defragment your hard drive, don't need to worry (too much) about viruses, (usually) you don't need install drivers, you don't have to worry about cleaning the registry, you don't need to worry about updating things because Update Manager automatically updates things for you. There is very little to no system maintenance you have to do in Ubuntu. This seems too good to be true, is there a catch? Although it may seem that way, there is no catch. That doesn't mean that everything is always perfect for Ubuntu users. Even though for most users the experience is smooth, there may be some problems and the entire experience can sometimes have bumps along the way as many different people have different problems. What's with those cool graphical effects I see in all those online videos related to Linux? That is called Compiz-Fusion, it is enabled out of the box in Linux as soon as you enable your graphics card drivers. You can set it to be as flashy as those spiffy videos, or you can tone it down a bit, or turn it off entirely if you feel so inclined. This isn't a core component of Ubuntu and is only an unnecessary composition manager that gives you eye candy if you want it. Sweet deal on that Compiz thing, does it eat as much resources as Aero or Luna? Nope, Compiz is made to give you all the eye candy you want and remain minimal when it comes to resources. You can have 512MB RAM and an old graphics card and set Compiz settings at Max. I've grown quite attached to a lot of Windows specific applications, does Ubuntu have equivalents? For the most part, Ubuntu has equivalents of all the applications you use in Windows. For example, instead of Microsoft Office, you use Open Office, instead of iTunes, you use Amarok, etc. In some instances there are no Ubuntu equivalents of Windows software you use (games, obscure closed source applications, etc.). in that case you can use WINE to run Windows applications in Ubuntu which although not perfect is a wonderful solution. Another solution is to use a virtualization application such as VirtualBox to run Windows itself in Ubuntu but this method requires a lot of resources. Will 3rd party computer components work in Ubuntu? For the most part, your printer will be automatically recognized and set up for your use once you plug it in, along with many other 3rd party components. There are some third party components that won't work in Ubuntu though, and require special workarounds or need to be exchanged for something else. How well does Ubuntu run on older machines? For a machine that uses an old version of Windows or runs slowly, Ubuntu will usually run much faster than Windows because it uses a lot less resources and manages them well. Ubuntu will also run superbly on newer machines if you are so inclined but you don't need as much RAM as the current version of Windows (Vista) which needs 2GB of RAM to run fast and smoothly, while Ubuntu is just fine with 512MB or 1GB. The same goes for processors. So....no gaming on Ubuntu, eh? Not necessarily true, Ubuntu has plenty of open source games, and has some commercial games that run on it too. Just not as many as Windows. There's always Wine to run games but it's sometimes not the best choice. I heard Ubuntu was customizable from startup to shutdown, is that true? Very much so, Ubuntu is made to give you all the freedom you want. While you have to use unauthorized hacks to get to use 3rd party themes in Windows, in Ubuntu you are given themes out of the box and are given the freedom to choose many more online. You can even customize your usplash (the loading bar when you boot up and shutdown) and your login screen. Everything is customizable. I've heard Ubuntu is for hackers and requires me to use the command line, is that true? Ubuntu is by no means for hackers, and you don't have to use the command line if you don't want to. It's up to you to use it if you want, it's not required as many people will falsely state. Sweet deal, how do I install it? Use the Ubuntu Installation Guide to help you with that. *note, link to the TPR version* Choosing a Linux Distribution There are many Linux distributions out there, this is only meant to be a starting point to help you get to know that there is more out there than Ubuntu. This lists and compares the 5 most popular distributions according to DistroWatch. If you want more specific answers as to what Linux distribution you should use, either the Linux Distribution Chooser test or the What Linux distribution should you try? test would be suitable options. From: Hardy Heron converts an Ubuntu skeptic Quote: Ubuntu 8.04 has still not won me over completely. Though I realize I can change the look and feel of my desktop, I still think the "Ambassador of Linux" should be prettier upon first boot. I'm disappointed in the Ubuntu Nvidia driver handling, but happy that I can finally use my wireless connection in Ubuntu. The functional Migration Assistant, the available Help tool, and refined software stack earn Ubuntu points in helping new users adjust, while the new PolicyKit loses one for over complicating an already confusing concept. However, I found little to complain about this release. In the end, my experience with 8.04 was much better than any version previously. I was actually fairly impressed, darnit. From: Kudos to openSUSE 11.0 Quote: openSUSE 11.0 is a fabulous release. The pretty new graphics set the stage for significant improvements under the surface. All the time and energy put into the package management system has paid off. Including KDE 4 is not as big of a risk for openSUSE as it might be for other major distributions because of the conservative and intuitive way KDE 4 is set up. openSUSE has given me hope that I could actually like KDE 4. As many point-0 releases, 11.0 does have bugs and rough edges. I experienced a few, and others are likely to be reported in the upcoming weeks. For the most part, the ones I encountered were insignificant, not show stoppers. Overall, 11.0 is a commendable release. The developers have done an admirable job walking that fine line between stable and bleeding edge. If you like the latest software or wish for a nice usable KDE 4, then openSUSE 11.0 is for you. If you're completely happy with 10.3, well, perhaps you might want to wait for further reports. From: Fresh Linux Mint is a mixed bag Quote: The latest version of Mint contains new features galore that help push it above and beyond the distribution it's based on, but it's also hampered by some issues that keep it from becoming superior. Regardless, the features it does contain make it worth a look. Just think of Mint as a great distribution with some hurdles to overcome before it can reach perfection. From: New PCLinuxOS 2007 looks great, works well Quote: In conclusion, I was quite pleased with final release of PCLinuxOS 2007. Its hardware detection and configuration is well above average. All the software I tested was stable and performed well. As delivered PCLOS is missing Kontact, my choice in a mail and news application, and KDE games, but they are available through Synaptic. So, between the included applications and those available in the repositories, PCLOS is a complete system ready for work or play. With its great looks and out-of-the-box capabilities, PCLOS is a wonderful choice for anyone who wants an elegant yet capable Linux desktop system. From: Fedora 9: Leading edge or bleeding edge? Quote: Aside from the problems with PackageKit -- and, to a lesser extent, the inclusion of KDE 4.0.3 -- Fedora 9 manages to balance innovation with a high degree of usability. Over the last few months, Fedora has been increasingly compared favorably with Ubuntu on both accounts, and, to a large extent, it deserves this praise. If anything, it has probably exceeded Ubuntu in innovation, with at least a dozen major new ideas in every release. It is a rare release, too, in which Fedora's menus and dialog do not show minor tinkering to fine-tune the user experience. Yet the problems in Fedora 9 emphasize how difficult a balance the Fedora project tries to maintain. The fact that improvements are coming for both KDE and PackageKit, and that, meanwhile, workarounds exist, is beside the point -- these facts are lucky accidents, and nothing that Fedora has done. Although Fedora's innovations make it one of the more interesting distributions to use and watch these days, the project needs to temper its creativity with more consideration of how changes affect users. Perhaps these relatively minor problems will help the distribution correct its release policies before a major disaster happens in a future release. Commonly Asked Linux Distribution Questions Why are there so many distributions to choose from?! One core concept of Linux is to give the user a choice, which is why you are able to customize it so much more than Windows. The different distributions out there cater to different needs and focus on different concepts which gives you the freedom to choose. If you're unsure of which one to choose it's generally recommended that you use the most popular one as it gained it popularity from being the one that caters to most people's needs. If that distribution doesn't suit you well you can always try the next most popular distribution. If you still can't find a distribution that fits your needs then it would be appropriate to ask in this thread or make a separate thread for help in choosing one perfect for you. What's the big difference, they're all still Linux right? For the most part they are no different from one another, but one distribution may focus on security and stability over being cutting edge, while another distribution is geared to general multimedia production, while at the same time another distribution focuses on gaming. They are all special in their own way and give you the option to choose them depending on what you want. I just installed Ubuntu, what do I do now? You should take some time to get used to your new OS. There are many new shortcuts, programs, tweaks and things you need to get used to. Don't be discouraged if something goes wrong and be sure to ask questions as much as possible when you're lost on something. You need to poke around your system to find out where things are, don't worry about messing things up because most problems in Ubuntu can be easily fixed. Alright, I'm ready for some learning, but how do I Add and Remove programs? Open up the "Applications" menu and click Add/Remove. That's where you will add and remove any and all applications you want. To add a program just find the program you want to install, click the check box next to its name and click "Apply Changes" at the bottom right corner of your screen. After you enter your password the program will be installed. It's quite similar for removing programs, just open the Add/Remove utility again and find the program you installed, this time you un-check the box next to it and click "Apply Changes". Sweet deal, but where can I learn more? You could continue poking around your system but if you're the type who wants to read about something before you go messing around then check out the Recommended Guides and Links section, there are many links there that will satisfy your thirst for knowledge. Troubleshooting I seem to have run into some problems, where do I get help? For help it's best to get it for free online, just ask us here or over at Ubuntu Forums. Either of us should be able to fix your problem, but if you like speaking over the phone with someone then you can purchase support from Canonical. Another good way to get information and help is to Google it.