Linux is interesting to me, but I’ve never dipped my toes into it because it seems really intimidating (and a lot of loud people act pretty snobbish about it towards non-Linux users, making it seem even more intimidating to get into; I’d rather not be bullied for my choices in software or my ignorance in others).

It seems so complicated to me, and there’s so many types, and so much lingo that I’m not versed in, so that when I consider getting into it I just feel so overwhelmed I can’t even think.

My understanding of Linux is bare bones to say the least. I understand it’s highly customizable. I understand it’s a lot of manual work, though, at least… it sounds like it? From what I’ve seen people say, it seems like you need to remember a lot of codes and functions to do basic things unless you install interfaces for things? Again, I’m really ignorant about this stuff, so excuse my lack of proper terminolgy and such.

I also am under the impression that Linux isn’t the greatest for most games? Or at least, that’s what I heard a lot years ago, I don’t know if it’s still true (or if it was even true back then). If that’s still a thing, is it because Windows is just what everyone defaults to when designing software? How viable is gaming on Linux?

And how does one even… go about setting up Linux? How do you choose what er… version? Type? Ah, distro? Again this… terminology is foreign to me, I’m not fully sure what I’m saying. Would I have to whipe a laptop of Windows to install Linux on it? How would I do that?

I am fascinated by the concept of Linux but like I said, there’s just so much. I have ADHD and Autism and combined, the whole idea of jumping into this is so goddamn overwhelming to consider figuring it out all by myself.

Sorry if this is out of place, by the way.

ETA: Thanks for all the help so far everyone. I’m gonna start playing with various distros using an older laptop of mine. I bought it real cheap and used a few years ago and it has mainly just been used as my own personal tv that only plays Whose Line Is It Anyways? with Drew Carry every moment of every day, virtually nonstop… and the poor thing can do that on Linux just fine, too.

ETA2: After backing up the Whose Line episodes off the laptop, I tested out Ubuntu using virtual box on my regular laptop but it didn’t entice me much, so I searched for something else and found “Live Window Maker”, a uh, fork(? is that the right term?) of Debian and installed it onto the laptop. So far, successful! I havent explored it much since I finished my backup last night and installed the distro before I left for work, but I’m excited to start playing with it. I really enjoy the classic windows interface styling of this one, so I’m looking forward to playing with it.

  • Quazatron
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    2810 months ago

    Download a widely supported Linux distribution like Ubuntu and put it on a USB stick.

    Now boot from that stick. It will load (slowly) but it will not touch your disk.

    You can have a look around and kick the tires. Check out the default apps. Install some more apps.

    You can reboot and remove the USB pen to get back home to Windows.

    Now download something else and repeat.

    Do this until you feel that Windows is not your home anymore.

    That was my journey, maybe it is yours too.

    • Teon
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      1210 months ago

      This is exactly what I did. Download a bunch of iso images and use a USB thumb drive or burn them to disc.
      If using thumb drives, make sure you delete all hidden files when burning a different Distro to it so it’s clean.

      I would suggest going to https://distrowatch.com/ to read about the types of OS on offer.

      Think of it as,
      Linux is a car,
      Distros (Distributions) are the manufacturer (Toyota, Ford, Kia, Audi) and
      the DE (Desktop Environment) is the model line (Prius, F150, Sorento, A6).

      You need to choose a Distro and a DE.

      Distros to check out, Mint, Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Pop!_OS, Fedora, OpenSUSE. This will give you a variety to test a “live disc”, no need to install right now.

      DE’s to test, KDE, Gnome, Mate, Unity, Cinnamon.

      Most Distros are completely re-installed 2x a year with April and September being the release months.
      You can find LTS (Long Term Support) versions of many Distros. These are installed once and updated regularly for 3-5 years.
      And lastly there are Rolling Distros that are installed and updated in perpetuity.

      I personally settled on Kubuntu LTS. It’s a KDE (Plasma desktop). It’s very easy to customize when you get a little experience, but not necessary to customize at all. I’ve been using this for over 12+ years.

      Play around with some Distros, take some notes on what you like. You can dual install with Windows if you want/need to.
      And remember, Live discs (USB) are just a testing ground, changing settings will not save if you test the same Distro again.
      Always choose the “Try” or “Live” option in the boot menu and it won’t mess up your computer.

      And backup your current data before doing any of this. Better safe than sorry.

        • Synestine
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          410 months ago

          This is the way. I went from 6 low-end 16gb flash drives to 1 high-end 256gb Ventoy drive and it has been wonderful. I have yet to run out of space with 17 different Linux ISOs on there. I update Ventoy every month or so.

    • @[email protected]
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      39 months ago

      As for booting from USB stick: use Ventoy for that. It allows you to copy any number iso files to the USB stick and boot from any iso file that’s on it. No need to go through the hassle of writing an iso to memory stick over and over again.

  • @[email protected]
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    Everything you’ve said about Linux is pretty accurate. Great job!

    There’s a lot of complicated Linux distros, but obviously they’re not for 99% of people starting out. To start out on Linux, back up all your files (or don’t), and install it! Easy as… well it’s not that easy, but people pretend it is.

    There’s lots of distros, but one that will probably have the most agreement on from the community will be Ubuntu: https://ubuntu.com/tutorials/install-ubuntu-desktop#1-overview

    You can follow that link, and if you get stuck, just make a post saying “Windows sucks but I can’t do X”, and 1,000 angry Lemmies will try their hardest to help you

    • @[email protected]
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      10 months ago

      “Windows sucks but I can’t please my wife. Please help” :D

      Edit: poor taste joke, leaving it so I can be judged fairly.

      Better joke hopefully: “Windows sucks, but my tomato plants keep getting eaten by caterpillars. Please help” :D

      • @AbidanYre
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        1110 months ago

        $ unzip; strip; touch; finger; grep; mount; fsck; more; yes; fsck; fsck; umount; clean; sleep

  • UziBobuzi
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    910 months ago

    I got my first Linux system two years ago when I was 57. I took one of the COVID checks and bought a Linux laptop from System76. I had the choice of PopOS or Ubuntu so I just took straight Ubuntu. It was set up and running when I unboxed it and everything I need to know how to do I can just do a web search for. And that’s really not much. Best of all the thing starts up in seconds, when Windows was always taking its damn sweet time and shutting itself down for two and three hour updates when I needed to use it. As for gaming, that’s what my PS5 is for.

    Buying a pre-built, pre-installed Linux system was perfect for me. It might be what would work for you too. It takes a lot of the guesswork out of where to start.

  • @NevermindNoMind
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    710 months ago

    I know literally nothing about computers and I’ve been daily driving Linux for well over a decade. I just use Ubuntu and I’ve been pretty much using all the default settings, apart from some customization here and there. There was a time years ago when I wanted to learn and tinker, but in reality I never learned to use the command line for more than running updates (I still sudo apt-get update cause it makes me feel like hackerman).

    My point is, Linux is super easy to just set up and run. If you want to learn more, there’s plenty of opportunities for that. But it’s not something to be intimidated by at all. A lot of the community is enthusiasts (who’ve I’ve found extremely helpful back when I used to have problems) so you’ll hear more jargon in these spaces. But I’m sure there are tons of others like me that use Linux just fine day to day without understanding a ton about computers.

  • f00f/eris
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    I understand it’s highly customizable.

    That is true, it’s one of the main benefits to using Linux!

    I understand it’s a lot of manual work, though, at least… it sounds like it? From what I’ve seen people say, it seems like you need to remember a lot of codes and functions to do basic things unless you install interfaces for things?

    That depends. Most Linux distros come with all the necessary interfaces for those basic things by default, but a few will require you to set them up with the command-line interface (CLI). It’s just a good idea to learn CLI commands because they’re more reliable, more consistent across distros, and often required for advanced things or for troubleshooting.

    IMHO, the main challenges of Linux are:

    • Having to make configuration choices that Windows and OS X make for you (distros can go a long way in this regard, but you still have to choose a distro)
    • Having to install Linux, configure it, and solve problems yourself. (Basically, you use it at your own risk. If you run into issues, I recommend asking a friend, or failing that, asking on one of the many available Linux support forums (like this one) and chatrooms.)

    On the other hand, Linux is easier to use in some ways:

    • Distros typically provide software repositories (basically app stores) which are better curated than those of Windows or OS X. They can negate the need to search online, and make it easy to update the system at your convenience.
    • Viruses and malware for Linux are extremely rare.
    • There are fewer restrictions on what you can do with your computer, which makes customization much easier. There are no ads, nags, “premium editions”, or other commercial BS in Linux.

    I also am under the impression that Linux isn’t the greatest for most games? Or at least, that’s what I heard a lot years ago, I don’t know if it’s still true (or if it was even true back then). If that’s still a thing, is it because Windows is just what everyone defaults to when designing software? How viable is gaming on Linux?

    IMO, quite viable, thanks in large part to Valve’s efforts with SteamOS and the Steam Deck. A lot of games have official support for Linux now, and those that don’t run pretty much seamlessly through one or both of the Windows compatibility layers, Wine and Proton. Linux used to be pretty bad for gaming, but I think it’s close to on par with Windows now. It’s arguably even better for emulators.

    And how does one even… go about setting up Linux? How do you choose what er… version? Type? Ah, distro? Again this… terminology is foreign to me, I’m not fully sure what I’m saying. Would I have to whipe a laptop of Windows to install Linux on it? How would I do that?

    A “distro” is basically a version of Linux. More precisely, the operating system we call “Linux” or sometimes “GNU/Linux” is really just a bunch of disparate pieces of software that together could make an operating system, and a “Linux distro” is an operating system pieced together from those parts.

    As for the choice of distro, I wouldn’t overthink it. There’s a small chance your hardware won’t be supported by a given distro, or the install process will be more “hands-on” and difficult, but that applies to only a minority of distros. I personally am fond of Debian, though it’s a more “power user” oriented distro and can be hard to install; you might find one of its derivatives, like Q4OS or Linux Mint easier to set up.

    There is a way to “dual-boot” Linux alongside Windows, but it can be unreliable, and you will need to partition your hard drive to give them both dedicated space. There are tutorials for this, but I recommend wiping your hard drive. Back up anything important first, and then (on most distros) the installer will make it easy; you’ll likely just have to select your hard disk and an option to erase it. If you just want to try Linux without making it your main OS, I recommend installing it a virtual machine, such as Oracle VirtualBox or VMWare Player.

    I have ADHD and Autism and combined, the whole idea of jumping into this is so goddamn overwhelming to consider figuring it out all by myself.

    Speaking as a fellow autistic, I think the ability to hyperfixate helped me a lot with Linux, haha. But it is a lot, so I don’t blame you for being overwhelmed. As I said, once the setup is finished it’s quite easy to use, and the more advanced stuff, you can learn as you go along. So don’t worry too much.

    I hope this wasn’t too long/hard to understand for you. Feel free to message me if you need help getting set up with Linux, or need clarification on what I’ve said. I love helping people with stuff like this.

  • @carl_dungeon
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    610 months ago

    It’s not as bad as all that. Start simple and small. Install Ubuntu Linux on an old computer and just play around. I think you’ll find it pretty similar to what you’re used to.

    Once you feel like you can get around, then you can start toying with more advanced stuff like the command line. There’s no reason that you have to start there- you can ease in slow. Learn 1 command a day. Try to accomplish as task in linux that’s new for you. After you do a few things it’ll start to feel natural. Baby steps!

  • @[email protected]
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    510 months ago

    Let me tell you a small story about how I learned Linux:

    Two years ago I was annoyed by Windows and not being able to customize it.

    (What annyoed me in particular was that you had to go to the settings to manage bluetooth devices instead of being able to just connect paired devices from the icon tray)

    I had already heard of Linux in the past and had already tried it but never fully switched over.

    So I decided to install Ubuntu, everything worked well for a few days until I tried to do something it wasn’t designed for and it broke.

    (Ubuntu really isn’t designed for users that want to change their system in any way)

    After that I decided fuck it. I’ll try Arch Linux. I was pretty tech-savy so I ignored all the warnings about it only being for advanced users. I installed it and it broke. I reinstalled and it didn’t work again. But after a few times I had a running system and I felt very accomplished.

    Now I’m not suggesting you go the way I went. I had the privilege on not really needing my Computer and only using it for recreational means. That’s why I could leave it broken for a few days and not care that much.

    If you want to learn Linux. Take the plunge, install Linux Mint, and learn as you go. You’re probably going to fuck up sometimes. But google Startpage is always your friend. And if you don’t get further, the community will always help you.

  • @[email protected]
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    510 months ago

    The snobbish people are a loud minority.

    Linux these days ranges from very complicated to basically good to go out of the box. For basic tasks, you don’t need to dip into the command line in most cases.

    Gaming is possible, and it gets easier all the time, but you may run into some difficulties depending on your game of choice. Windows is the default for gaming, so the best experience is there. However you may have no problems at all depending on the games you want to run.

    You can dual boot windows and Linux (have both os’ installed, with a menu to choose which one when you start your computer), but it can be tricky to setup and there is a good chance you will unintentionally break your Windows, so if you want to try that, back up your data.

    Ubuntu has an install tutorial: https://ubuntu.com/tutorials/install-ubuntu-desktop#1-overview Which is a good place to start. If you manage that, the install processes for other Linux distros will be similar, but may not be as simple. The first few steps is also identical if you want to reinstall windows again, but with a windows install image instead of Ubuntu.

    My suggestion is to start with the Ubuntu tutorial, on a spare laptop you don’t care about (you won’t permanently break it, but you’ll likely lose all the data on it). I think you are in the right place, so reach out if you have any questions, hopefully someone will assist. Linux has some rough edges, so don’t be upset if you break something, you can always reinstall (via tutorial) if something gets broken.

    Good luck!

  • krimsonbun
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    10 months ago

    Linux isn’t really like this anymore depending on the distro you install. I switched to linux around 2 years ago when windows 11 was announced, switched to Pop!_OS. My idea was to dualboot with windows 10 until I don’t need it anymore but messed up during the installation and eradicated windows. Best mistake of my life. I don’t do much heavy gaming, most of the games I play are native and the one’s that aren’t run perfectly with proton. Really, I never needed windows in the first place. I slowly learned to do stuff on the command line but most popular distros have graphic interfaces for installing software, updating, etc.

    Very easy to use, other than since PopOS uses the gnome interface it doesnt have a similar workflow to windows, a bit more similar to mac, actually. Takes a while to get used to but I’ve lesrned to love it. You can also install other interfaces like KDE and cinnamon that look more like windows by default easily with 2 commands you can get from a youtube tutorial.

  • @[email protected]
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    410 months ago

    I’m fairly new to Linux as well, but have some experience. I’ll try to share my first steps.

    My very first step was gathering information: what are Linux distros? What’s the difference between them? Which is easiest to learn? There are a bunch of articles and forum pages dedicated to these topics. I learned that you can dual boot (i.e. no need to wipe Windows drive), that installation happens with a bootable media, like USB, and that gaming is generally not a problem. My first distro was Pop!_OS, which I don’t regret: it’s based on Ubuntu, meaning old, stable foundation, uses Gnome by default (look up “desktop environments”) which is gorgeous and very extensible, and had Nvidia drivers pre-installed, which is apparently a big thing.

    My personal method of learning is as-I-go: say, I just installed Linux, and now I want to install Firefox. How do I do that? I apparently can’t just run a .exe file like in Windows. So I googled it, and found out about package managers, and how to use them. My very first command wasn’t successful, but with time, I learned to use it without looking it up, simply from recurring use.

    If you do decide to install Linux, you may want to look up something like “top 10 things to do after installing [your distro]”, sometimes these help deal with some annoying quirks out of the gate.

    If jumping into the deep end isn’t for you, then the best resource to find all about Linux is the Arch Wiki. Don’t try to navigate it from the home page, it’s like a maze. Instead, whenever you look up information, try to find a page about whatever you’re looking up in the wiki.

    Here’re a list of things to look up for your convenience, to cover your base:

    • dual boot
    • desktop environments
    • Linux begginers friendly distros
    • Linux gaming reddit

    That’s just off the top of my head.

    It’s gonna be tough. Stuff won’t work as you want it to, and sometimes you’ll end up scrounging the web for hours because you searched the wrong words. Linux isn’t plug-and-play like Windows is, it demands a lot of attention at first, and maintenance later on. But at the end of the day, you’ll have an operating system that works for you, not the other way around. You’ll have a gorgeous desktop that everyone who doesn’t use Linux will be jelaus of. And you’ll have a deeper understanding of technology, which today is priceless.

    I hope this helps you, even a little. Oh, and don’t pay attention to the snobbish Linux users. If at the end of the day you find yourself struggling too much, not wanting to invest the needed amount of time and energy into it… there’s no shame in coming back to Windows. I admit, it’s very convenient and easy to use, and with enough know-how you can customize it too. Just don’t give up at the first sight of trouble.

    Good luck :)

  • Ádám
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    Most linux distros don’t need any tinkering to get up and running (sometimes drivers can be an issue), and you definitely don’t need to know any commands to get started. A good place to start is distrochooser.

    There are GUIs (graphical user interfaces) for basically anything nowadays. However, I definitely recommend learning the commandline later down the line, since it can be really powerful in automating mundane tasks or unlocking power you didn’t even realize.

    As for customization, a linux system is built in a modular way, so given enough experience, you will be able to replace any part of your system you don’t like. Be that the desktop environment, the kernel configuration or the init system (Don’t worry if you don’t know what those are yet).

    Gaming is fine if you make sure everything you want to play is supported. Protondb is a nice database where you can look up how well your games run under linux. It’s mostly the anticheat in games that have issues, not the game itself.

    EDIT: Don’t worry about what others think of the workflow that works for you. There will always be elitist assholes telling you to run arch when you encounter a problem. Just ignore them.

  • Notamoosen
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    310 months ago

    It can definitely feel overwhelming, so start simple. Install a basic well known distro; I’m partial to Fedora, but Ubuntu is also a great choice. You’ll learn a ton just by using it day in and out for typical tasks. If you need help reach out to the community. If anyone comes off as rude I recommend just ignoring and blocking them. Using it will eventually come to feel second nature like MacOS or Windows. Enjoy!

  • @merthyr1831
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    29 months ago

    I used a virtual machine to try out different linux systems until I found one I liked.

    You might like Zorin, Mint, Ubuntu, Kubuntu, or Pop!OS. They’re all very easy to set up and feels a lot like an easier and faster windows installer nowadays.

  • @[email protected]
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    110 months ago

    I’ve never seen a more mysterious and adventurous description of Linux. Just in case you ever write a novel on your first steps in Linux, you should know that you’ve got one reader already.