This is my first post on here and I want to preface this by saying that I am a completely new user and have no previous knowledge with regards to Linux or Dual Booting. I have searched and researched the topics, and as such I think I understand at least a bit of the material but I want to posit some questions and concerns before I continue.
I suppose before I start explaining my questions and concerns I should tell you what I'd like to do, and what my system is:
I'm interested in learning Linux. Whether that is through, Arch, Debian, Ubuntu, Mint, or another distro (though I'm leaning more towards something that will actually allow me to learn what's going on in the background etc.). So Whatever distribution I decide on, I would like it to be somewhat demanding with regards to problem solving, but with enough community support that it is not impossible to find solutions should I completely dead-end on my own. In other words, Ubuntu is probably out, as is Mint, but as I'm writing this, I'm willing to be persuaded. Present to me your arguments, if you're feeling up to it, and if you have a logical merit to your argument, I will likely consider it. That goes for any and all distributions of Linux, just please keep in mind that I know very little, if anything at all about Linux as an operating system (Though I am here to learn!) and so you'll need to explain your arguments if you're going to convince me.
My system as it stands, is:
- 128GB SSD (currently occupied by windows 7 Professional with approximately 50GB available)
- 3TB HDD (2TB of Space actually usable, 1TB of this is free space.)
- Intel i7-3820
- Rampage IV Extreme
- 16GB Patriot Viper 3 1600mhz RAM
- Corsair H100
- Corsair HX850 PSU
- EVGA GTX 670
- Fractal Define R4
- Philips 23.6" LCD Monitor
I know much of that is irrelevant, but I want to keep in mind that I will always need drivers to run this hardware on whichever distribution I decide on. I am completely uncertain as to which distribution has the best community support/drivers, or whether the distributions are close enough (as they are Linux based) that drivers can be ported across. Any information on this subject would also be greatly appreciated.
My goal with this system, is to use Windows for school (which I have been doing and will continue to do) as well as gaming (while I'm willing to game on Linux, I understand that as of yet, not all of the games I would like to play are supported on Linux. Too bad really.). I plan on using Linux to learn Linux, and get myself prepped for any careers I may decide on that require me to at least be somewhat well versed in Linux (I'm planning on going to school for Technical Programming starting in September 2014) I live in Vancouver, BC, Canada and as such I'm not sure if knowledge regarding which OS's are used in the business will be relevant across international lines, but if you have any advice I'd love to hear it regardless, just keeping in mind, and pointing out difference of location.
So, the Questions and Concerns:
Wubi, what is it, why should I use it, or not use it?
Dual booting to an SSD? What are the things I need to be concerned about with this?
How should I partition the SSD if this is a viable option? What are the advantages or disadvantages of partitioning an SSD? Are there issues with partitioning an SSD more-so or less-so than partitioning an HDD?
Accessing files on HDD from a Dual-boot system. I have a storage drive, as you probably gathered and I would like to use this as communal storage. Can I do that without partitioning it? Does Linux access the same file-types as Windows or do I need to partition my HDD as well to use it for Linux?
I don't understand the separate parts or partitions that people recommend for a Linux system. I often see these listed: / (I assume this is root, which is where the main stuff happens, but I'd like a little more explanation on this) /home (No idea what this one is for) and /Swap (I think I know what this is, similar to a cache used on an HDD, but I have no idea how it functions, why it's important, or whether it's necessary for Linux, though I understand that there is a debate regarding that). That being said, I have no idea what they do, or why they're recommended, or if there are other partitions recommended.
When installing Linux (I plan on doing this through a bootable USB) What is the best approach (I suppose depending on distribution) to managing the installation so it is the most efficient install possible (uses only the space it needs on the SSD, with ample room for storage on my storage drive)?
Bootloaders, I know Windows bootloader doesn't recognize Linux (or Mac OSX I think?) and I've heard about GRUB but I have no idea what it is, what it does, how it works, whether it's a separate or included install depending on distributions. I also have no idea where to start with bootloaders in terms of understanding how they work.
Would it be easier, to load Linux onto a new, separate hard drive (say a 500GB Western Digital or w/e HDD), or would that complicate things more? Should I create a second system within my system? (a second SSD and a second HDD for storage?) Could I put Linux on a Separate SSD (say a 64GB or w/e one) and use my HDD for storage (I suppose that's a pretty similar question to can I use the HDD as communal storage)?
How many commands should I know before even attempting to Install Linux? I know arch is largely text-based and is entirely text-based during the install (I watched a guide, didn't understand it at all though I plan on taking notes the next time I watch it, hopefully with a bit more knowledge under my belt.) and it just seems intimidating, because sure I could use Archwiki and follow a bunch of step-by-step instructions, but I wouldn't know exactly what I was doing and I find doing step-by-step instruction based stuff to be completely frustrating when it comes to troubleshooting, because troubleshooting requires you to have some knowledge of what's going on.
Do I need to know how to program before getting into Linux? Should I know a bit of programming? I have a bit of knowledge when it comes to programming, mostly C++ and HTML/CSS but my knowledge is minimal at this point (hence why I'm going to go do a diploma on the subject). I get programming, it's not that hard, I just haven't had time to really delve into it yet (I understand it gets harder as you reach more complex problems, but I have a degree in Philosophy from the University of Victoria, and my degree was largely based around Symbolic and Theoretical/Analytic Logic which makes understanding statements in programming quite simple). If I need to learn some more programming, recommendations on languages/sources of information?
Optimization? Once I install Linux, whichever distribution you recommend, how do I optimize it so my fans aren't always running at full etc. i.e. How do I make it run smoothly?
Desktop Environments, What are they, Which ones do you recommend, how do you change them out on different distributions?
Log-in Screens? How does this work on Linux? What are they, are there different options available, and how are they implemented?
Kernel (The big topic) I understand that every OS has a kernel, every application also has a kernel. I don't know what a kernel is, I don't know what it does, how it works, why it's important, or what it's used for, but I've looked at Linux From Scratch, etc. and it requires you to do work on the Kernel from what I understand and that sounds absolutely terrifying to me, which is why I'm curious about it. I almost want to dive into this just because I have no idea what it is and I think it would really help me learn as much as I possibly could about the subject. That being said, I feel that if this is an integral part to all operating systems, I don't want to fuck anything up. (pardon my french.) As such, looking for information, what is the Kernel? What does it do? How does it work? Why is it so integral to the OS?
What programs can I expect to be missing when I move over to Linux?
What programs can I port over somehow? (How does this work, also?)
Those are my main questions and concerns, if I think of any more, I'll be sure to edit them in.
Thanks in advance for all your help. Resources are completely welcome, links to other forum posts if I've missed something somehow are also more than welcome. (No search function in the Forums? I ended up using ctrl + F but I mean an integrated search system would be nice since according to the forum rules we're supposed to search for our topic before posting on it. If I completely missed this, please feel free to screenshot/circle it and prove me wrong!)