Using Linux At School - New User

Hi there. I havent used any forms of Linux before but my friends swear by Ubuntu and other distros. I am using a laptop at high school next year for general work (using google docs) and I will have to do programming and web designing too. I really like the Idea of having a Linux distro to use at school. So will something like Ubuntu suit my needs? Also can I use things like Spotify on it aswell (love to work to music)? I plan to keep the Windows 8 that the laptop comes with too so am I likely to have any issues with partitions? Is it good to use something like Linux at school or should I stick to the Windows 8. What are the advantages to using Linux too?

Thanks everyone, Im very new to this so I need all the help I can get!

I personally would recommend you to start out with Mint, if you want to get into the whole GNU/Linux thing. It has the advantages of Ubuntu, but looks somewhat more familiar to windows users. As much as I am concerned, you can install spotify on Ubuntu(thus, probably on mint as well). Also, if you want to dual boot, there shouldn't be any huge problems. Nevertheless, I've seen some people having trouble, but that was back when windows 8 just got released, so don't know how does it work now.

As for advantages of GNU/Linux... The main advantage would be that it's free(as in, freedom. Also, beer). It's stable and quite secure. At the moment Linux doesn't have many games on it, so it means that there will be less distractions, lol. Linux is well optimized as well, so you can gain better battery life, if you know what you're doing. Many distros tend to ruin this awesome feature, though. Also, people generally learn more about how computers work just by using the system. So, yeah.

The biggest problem for me while using Linux was the video drivers. But seeing how SteamOS is going to be released soon, I guess better drivers will be made.

I may be not right at some points, so correct me, if something is wrong in this post.

Ubuntu will be fine. All linux distros are basically exactly the same, but with different desktops. Ubuntu's Unity desktop is very easy and simple to use. It also has the best support going for a new user.

You can install Spotify by following these instructions:

About dual booting with Win8, though. I have never tried it but I've heard that it is quite difficult to do. Something about UEFI secure boot. I'm sure if you google the issue you will be able to find a solution.
As for Linux being useful for school, well not really. Most education facilities use prorietary software like Microsoft Office, and most of the lessons will be geared toward a Windows environment. It won't add anything to be using linux.
However, you may find it easier to do your programming and web design in linux, as it's just set up to make that easier. I find Microsoft stops me from getting work done! However, I really do reccomend using Microsoft Office on Windows over Open Office or Libre Office on linux OR Windows. It will save you hassle.

Partitioning is simple enough if you take your time and do it step by step. Remember to back up any important data and also have a recovery disk available. Always have Windows installed first, otherwise the Windows bootloader won't let you boot into your linux.
have it set up like this:

[partition 1: Windows][partition 2: Ubuntu][partition 3: ntfs storage]

Having NTFS storage will allow you to read the files you store there in both Windows and Linux, because Windows is unable to read and write to other filesystems.

The benefits of linux? Well, that could take up a few paragraphs, but basically it comes down to customisablity and user control.

Okay thanks. Is it possible to use Microsoft office on Linux? I think the majority of my work will be done through Google Docs as it means that everyone can access everything over thier own different devices. Is this likely to be accessible on Ubuntu?

Is it possible to give a few examples of the customisability opitions on Linux? So you recommend it then for the programming and web design aspect of schooling?

It is possible to use Microsoft Office on linux through the use of a program called WINE, though it is not reccomended and is full of problems.

You can use Google Docs through the internet, just as you would an Windows or Mac.

A few examples of the customisablity options on linux? Well, everything. On linux, everything is a file and you can manipulate those files in any way you please. One thing that i have done is embed a terminal into the desktop so I could run certain command line utilities easily. Power management; I use a laptop so I wanted to get the best battery life I could. I was able to edit some settings and install a few utilities that helped with this.You can choose what software you want to do what and when and how you want. It really is hard to use Windows after using linux for a few years. I find most tasks in Windows tedious and stressful, but that's just me. Some people really can't stand linux and find it difficult

I remember hooking up my cousins windows 8 computer with ubuntu, you have to go into windows hard drive manager thing (its been over a year I can't remember what its called) you have to resize the volume and that resized area is what you install ubuntu or whatever linux distro you choose. I've used mint and ubuntu, personally I would still choose ubuntu as far as i know you can still install cinnamon on ubuntu which is what mint comes with or mate (desktop gui ) theres one other i can't remember. but theres a lot of different ubuntu desktops you can choose from unity, kde(closer to windows) xfce(super light weight-feels more like windows 98) gnome. theres a lot of different options choose what works for you. I believe virtual box runs in windows 8 I recommend checking that out and trying differen linux distros to see what you want before you commit to dual boot. 

Okay thanks for all that, Im new here so its good to get some advice. Any more recommendations or tips about Linux? And are there any good videos or articles that I could read to learn more?

Install Libre Office for your office needs, it is compatible with most microsoft documents and it is free. I'd get linux mint (100% compatible with Ubuntu packages) because it's closer to windows or if you want to try a new interface, Xubuntu is great and light weight. (I personally hate vanilla Ubuntu with a passion) Use gparted before you install Linux to resize your Windows partition (easy to do and very fast) and make sure you try out everything on the live disc to make sure the programs will work and wifi works. As for guides, the forums for the distro you choose will have loads of info and anything else is a quick google/youtube search away.

Start by reading everything on linux in this forum, there is a ton of info already there, and go ahead and use it.

If your goal is to learn, another option is to install your Linux distro in a VirtualBox ( Sure performance won't be exactly the same (still very good), but you'll be able to try the different options without dealing with partitionning your hard drive. Also, if you mess up, just delete your virtual machine and start again.

And for your first distro +1 for Mint.

Linux mint or fedora.

Ubuntu isnt that great. Just remeber you will have trouble if you get a document written in Microsoft Office. You can open them but most of them will look messed up.  But if you just use Google docs and all others do the same you will have no problem.

If you dont know much about partitioning i would recommend using wubi (ubuntu only) or mint4win (think thats the name). Then you can make dual boot very easy. I dont think fedora has something like that though.

I recommend following this guide for dual boot ubuntu/mint