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Welcome to Linux (Sticky?) - Rewritten

Welcome to a modern OS...
So Linux to some people is a major thing, to me it is, I plan to make a career out of using it and knowing things is required.
I have been a semi-active member in this section for around 18 months and I feel I have gathered enough information to guide new users on how to get the best start in Linux.
But this does not mean I will tell you what distro to use because I simply cannot, I personally am a person who loves Arch Linux as I get on with the system best, you may get on with Fedora or Ubuntu but anyways I digress lets get into the subject.

Part 1 - What is Linux?
Linux is a kernel, not an operating system, just like NT is a kernel for Windows and Darwin is the kernel for OSX.
The kernel is the piece of software that talks between the hardware and the operating system, if the system requests more power, the kernel will tell the hardware more power from said component, it will also tell the system if the user needs audio, USB, network etc.
The kernel on Linux is a bit more sophisticated than Windows NT kernel, we have different technologies under the hood from security to performance.
One technology is SELinux, this is tool that can stop specific types of attacks from been executed as it controls RAMs read/write accesses, a bit complicated for the new user but you will learn this sort of stuff during your time here.
Another tool we have is no-reboot patching this is becoming official in Linux 4.0, this allows the system to be patched and not rebooted but it still applies it, something that cannot be done in Windows (Yet...)
But all this would not be possible without the development system of Linux, by using cross collaboration world wide we would not have half of these technologies, as companies share their advancements to benefit others and their own needs.
All this was created by a Helsinki programmer named Linus Torvalds.

So how do we interact with Linux if its not an operating system?
We use something called distros, these are built on top of Linux by different communities, the advantage of this system compared to say Windows is the community can select what they want to be included in their distro and make it mission specific, examples of this follow.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux - Super stable for Workstations and Enterprise servers.
Debian - Extremely stable for servers.
Fedora - A test bed for brand new technologies.
Ubuntu - A new linux user distro aimed at simplicity.
Arch Linux - Aimed at keeping things simple and giving the user all the power.
Gentoo - for them times you need something super specific.

So you can make the distro fit you and your workflow compared to you having to fit the operating system, this is called freedom in the I.T world.
All this power comes with the cost of some knowledge but learning to fix things in Linux applies to learning how things work in other systems, Thanks to Linux I better understand how graphics cards work and how to fix issues in Windows.
Linux will expose you to the hard stuff if you let it, this is a good think because you become a better user for it, learning the system allows you to maintain and take better care of it without relying on patch Tuesday.

Driver support is also a lot bigger in Linux, the only drivers we generally have issues with are Graphics cards and Wifi but this is becoming less of a problem with each kernel release which is around ever 3 months.
But to get us going there is a set of open source drivers which are built automatically into Linux to provide a easier ride for new users.
This is how we have such an easy time with drivers, we have two sections which are Open Source and Proprietary.
Also ignore the stallmanites (people who believe only free open source software is the right way) this is absolute crap if you need that proprietary driver from someone go get it, save your self a head ache.

But with all this code open to the public, Linux would be easier to exploit no?
Not at all, the system is designed around user spaces which increases security on its own, as you cannot access another user space and is recommended for code to be entered here by Linus him self.
Reason for this is the user space is in a way sandboxed so nothing can get out, if there is a problem on that user it would spill to another user making life simple for admins.
We also have SELinux (Built by the NSA!!) NFTables (Advanced Firewalls) and a true package management system which allows us to pull applications down from the internet in a safe way, this is achieved by using pgp keys or authorized repos.
These keys are cross checked every time you download from that server, this ensures the file is legitimate and safe to download.
With these basic features as well as Linux requiring a password on every account makes it secure by default, no need for Anti-virus systems.

You say package managers?
This is one way to get programs onto our system using the terminal, let me first explain the terminal.
The terminal is one of the most powerful tools in existence for computing, this is not the short version in Windows, this terminal allows full system changes on the fly, package downloads, kernel swapping, system rebuilding, graphics stack editing (Search X server) and many more things, this is a tool built into the heart of Linux and should be used, the power you experience is something else.
But package managers are an extension of the terminal a few examples are as follows.
Aptitude (Apt-get) used by Debian based systems. - Binary
RPM (Red Hat Package Manager) used by systems based on RHEL and SuSE as well as others. - Binary
Pacman is based on Arch Linux. - Binary
Source is on every system and allows you to build the packages from source to compile to your specific needs, this is a bit more advanced.
These are how you get packages for your system and how you update, it is important to learn them all if you wish to become a sysadmin.
Again package management improves security by using pgp keys.

And finally gaming.
This is a big topic in Linux and it is hit and miss.
Steam is pushing for AAA titles to appear here and doing a good job, but we are far from Windows levels, we do have a tool called Wine (Wine is not an emulator, its a translation system) which uses Windows APIs (Which do not change to often) but its hit and miss, Steam is the best bet but it can compromise security a bit.
I personally use Steam on Linux but I keep a close eye on it as its store is a old version of Firefox, never run this as root...

If you wish to request information about a specific item please ask for it, and do not be afraid to ask questions we are here to help you get the best start in your Linux life.

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Also all beginners should forget how they used computers before, and learn how to use linux properly. It's been said a million times before but i'll say it again; linux isn't a windows replacement, it's a completely different platform.
E.g. installing software, drivers, making configurations... you don't download software and execute them, you install software from trusted repos. Configurations & settings, also for the drivers, are managed by editing text files in the softwares' respective config directories (everything is a text file in linux).
Most of the problems greenies are facing are caused by missing dependencies, faulty settings and un-optimized software, small stuff that isn't difficult at all to fix, but the no1 cause of all the recent issues is that people are doing it wrong

So drop the windows mindset and learn something different for a change; check the internet for guides, search these forums, don't be afraid to ask silly questions.
Lastly, but most importantly, read the guides and understand them - don't go copy-pasting what might have been a fix for someone else.

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When you do post that silly question I always see that one jackass that posts:

Why you no use google?

Chances are that if it's not a brand new piece of hardware or software, someone on the internet have had the same issue as you, and have figured out a solution.

I work in IT, I use google all the time to help me find solutions to the more odd problems, and when I'm out of my element. I honestly don't see how saying that people should try searching a bit is an insult, or that there is any reason to be offended because of it. Of course, it depends on the tone, but as long as no actually condescending words are used, then I see no problem with it.

When I help friends and people on forums I often use google to find solutions. This is something they could have done themselves.

I'm not saying that it's not okay to ask for help, but I'm saying that it doesn't hurt to do a quick google about the problem. In the end, if you google a bit yourself to look for solutions you learn more than if a solution is simply handed to you on a silver plate.

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Problem is a lot of new people do not know were to look, they don't know who is reliable, remember this is a brand new system to them.
I asked a lot of questions here when I started and until I built up a list of reputable sources I kept asking.

I often google for hours looking for something that any experienced user could have just told me in 10 seconds simply because I know what I want done and that something does it but I don't know what it's called.

"You mean, ___?"

I think it may be easier for people to understand the software installation concept as this is how Android and iOS function.

Can you give a few examples of these beginner mistakes that an advanced user could fix in no time?

Graphics issues, there is a popular one among new users which is they cant get the display server to appear, normally due to something in open source drivers, way to fix this is to use closed source drivers.
This is not something advanced but for new users it is.

Yeah but you have a list of sources to go to, there is never anything wrong in asking you learn and so do others as it is documented.

That was a joke right?

(nope)

That's insane.

Yeah, it boggles the mind a bit. It's implemented into the kernel now, and it's all open source:

http://git.kernel.org/cgit/linux/kernel/git/torvalds/linux.git/tree/security/selinux

They've made other contributions to cryptography as well, which is ironic given the government's current position on encryption. It's not like they haven't tried to be facetious, though.

Blacklisting the wrong driver or program.

Very well written man. This should definitely be a sticky.

Nope, the NSA built it

"I personally use Steam on Linux but I keep a close eye on it as its store is a old version of Firefox."

What is your source for this? The steam client has a custom built browser based on webkit that interfaces with VALVe's steam website.

I did not know this, I always though it was Firefox based, but I still keep a close eye on it

Yeah haha, forever learning to blacklist radeon in Arch and destroying the GUI lol