How to Get Started with Linux
Getting started with Linux can be daunting. Whether you're a regular user of either Mac OS or Windows, there are many differences from both in Linux. These differences can be quite confusing, but there are ways to make the switch smooth and easy. Here are some ways you can make your switch to Linux as painless as possible.
Choose the Right Distribution:
If you want an easy transition, you're going to have to pick a good distribution (or "distro", for short). There are a few Linux distributions that newbies should stay far away from. Distributions such as Arch Linux or Gentoo are intended for advanced users, and use a complicated installation process in order to maximize the operating system's performance.
New users should instead opt to use a distribution such as Ubuntu or Linux Mint. Both of these distributions are easy to install. In fact, ease of use is the main aim of both distributions. They both operate much like Windows, but there are a few things that newbies will have to learn, such as the usage of package managers, or using the command line to install applications. But, all this information is easily found online, and methods differ from distribution to distribution.
You don't have to make Linux your only operating system. If you only want to try Linux out and get your feet wet, then dual booting is your best option. During the install process for whatever distribution you choose, this will be an option. Use the Linux installer to partition your hard drive, and install Linux on the new partition. When booting your computer, you will now have the option to launch both Linux, and the operating system you previously had installed. Be sure to backup your important documents before doing this, just in case something goes wrong. Its always good to have backups of your files, especially when installing a new operating system.
Utilize Linux Documentation:
When hearing the word "Documentation," some may imagine an impenetrable door-stopper of a tome. This is far from the case with Linux documentation. All Linux distributions have a "User's Guide". For the most part, these guides are free of overly technical jargon, and are terse and to the point. Some distributions even have wikipedia-like pages that one can use to find out specific details. Whenever you have questions about the usage or the installation of your chosen distribution, consult the user's guide. You're sure to quickly find the information you need.
Consult Linux Forums:
If you're having a technical issue, or you can't be bothered to consult the user's guide, online Linux Forums can help. Simply type your problem and distribution into the search engine of your choice and browse the results. Whatever your problem, you are certainly not the first person to have it. There are plenty of people online who're willing to help, and have solved similar issues before.
Do all this, and you'll have a mastery of Linux in no time at all. It doesn't take long to learn the basics, and once a user knows them they should have no trouble at all. But, when issues do arise, there are many resources available online to help. Whether its the user's manual, or other users online, issues should be resolved quickly. Getting started with Linux does not need to be an overwhelming or daunting experience. There are many distributions that aim to make the transition easy by more closely resembling the Windows or Mac environment. So long as one doesn't dive in headfirst and start with Gentoo, using Linux should be completely painless.