FAQ - Work in Progress... Blue links work! Introduction
So, you've ventured into the strange world of Linux, leaving behind Windows/Mac OS X. Linux can be a difficult learning experience for the uninitiated. We have included some advice from the top Linux forum experts for success in Linux.
Linux unfortunately is not always as simple as install and go. Normally the OS will be operational after the first initial installation but you may notice some limitations or problems. This guide aims to address the common problems associated with Linux. It is important to understand that Linux is not Windows. There are fundemential differences between Windows/Mac OS X and Linux but that is not to say that there is absolutely no overlap. Using Linux means diving into the world of the command line. The command line is not scary. In fact both Mac OS X and Windows have their own command lines, but they are less apparent in the normal operation of the operating system.
Learning commands improves your knowledge of both the underpinnings of Mac OS X and Windows. Many concepts and commands such as sudo are cross-compatible with Mac OS X, as Mac OS X has its roots in Free BSD, a close descendant of Linux. Do not worry if you do not understand all of the commands to begin with. That comes with practice and patience. Many of the mainstream Linux distributions are relatively graphical, so you can get a good feel for Linux before you take a plunge into the deep end.
Google is your best friend here. If you have an issue, chances are, you're not the only one! Also, most distributions come with a user manual. Please refer to these resources before posting a question to Tom's Hardware.
When you have a problem that you are absolutely sure cannot be solved by Google, please ask! Although we want to help each and every single one of you users out there, it can't be done. We really don't want to answer the same few questions again and again so we have more time to answer the really big unique questions this guide doesn't cover. When posting a question, be sure to include as much data as you can obtain about the nature of the problem, how it happened and your hardware configuration.
Linux is through with explanations on why something works. If you understand what Linux is telling you, you can more easily fix the problem. Most of the time, Linux provides the answer for you and tells you why. It doesn't always pop up a new window to tell you. Running the program via the terminal will pop up the program and also any helpful warnings errors encountered will be displayed in the terminal window. Many programs will have what is called a logfile. Logfiles document record what actions a programme took.
System-wide programmes tend to put logs in /var/log, user programs tend to keep logs in your home folder, /home/$USER, however usually it's either a file or a folder that's prefixed with a '.', making it hidden unless you specify that hidden files are shown.
Help! I've updated and my computer no longer works!
Updating a distribution like Ubuntu or Fedora is a little bit risky. That's because a distribution such as Fedora or Ubuntu run on the testing branch of development. After software is tested by Ubuntu and Fedora users it becomes stable, turning into Debian (Ubuntu), CentOS (Fedora) or Scientific Linux (Fedora).
They use older software that's been tested so well it is often used by enterprise. There is a significantly smaller chance of an update breaking your computer if you use these distributions.
Desktop environments are like masks and Linux are people at a masked ball. We can interchange masks, swap them around and (outwardly) look the same. On the inside we are different people, the same species, but different people.