10 things you should know before every Linux installation

Martin Brinkmann
Jan 2, 2006
Updated • May 1, 2013

If you want to make the switch from the Windows operating system to a Linux distribution you should know some common differences that exist between the two systems before you start diving in head first. A Techrepublic article describes ten differences that every new Linux user should know before making the switch.

The article explains the differences of the file hierarchy, gives on overview on *nix permissions and the command line interface. Its great for a quick overview of some of the key features of Linux. It won´t be useful for more experienced users though. Nevertheless its worth to take a look.

Update: Here are the ten things you need to know about every Linux installations.

1. File hierarchy - Unlike some other OS's that have a file tree for each drive, the Linux file system is one big tree. At the top you have / (Root) and every folder, file, and drive branches off of this Root.

2. Modular system - Unlike the "tower" OS's from Microsoft, where everything is interconnected and depends on each aspect of the system, the Linux OS is spread out like a Market: everything works together for the common good, but vendors (independent parts of the OS) can be excluded, and the OS will still function. Don't want a Media Player or File Manager? Take it out! Your OS will not fall like a broken tower.

3. Hardware, software, and everything in between - Linux has come a long way in the few short years of its existence. It is less than half the age of Microsoft Windows, and yet it is more powerful, more stable, less resource-hungry, and graphically equal (if not superior) to this costly, buggy OS from Redmond.

4. Package Managers - Program installation made easy(er) - There are many ways to install programs in Linux, but the easiest is with your distribution's Package Manager (PM). The PM makes sure that any missing files (called dependencies) are also installed so the program runs correctly.

5. Permissions - Linux is designed to have multiple users, and these users fall into groups. Every user has permissions to read, write, or execute (R/W/X) their own files, and permission to change those permissions. Because Linux is designed for multiple users, each user has their own password and may restrict access to their files. These are called User Permissions.

6. Home directory - Linux can clutter the desktop too, but each of our users also has a Home directory, usually located at /home/user.

7. Default installation differences - There are a few differences between Linux distributions, such as where some files are kept or what some of the default programs are named.

8. CLI, or "how to run" - From the Start-type menu, the xterm program (also called Console) brings you to a Terminal, which looks a bit like a DOS window, but it actually predates and out-powers DOS.

9. Ctrl-alt-escape - Clicking the ctrl-alt-escape key combination changes your mouse into an X, skull-and-crossbones, or some other sinister mouse-cursor. In this mode, clicking on a misbehaving or frozen application will kill it.

10. The Internet is your friend! - Many distros have a User's Forum where questions, answers, and tips are passed around. LinuxQuestions.org is a great site for overall Linux knowledge and help.

The guide is available both at the Tech Republic website, and as a download for pdf.


Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


There are no comments on this post yet, be the first one to share your thoughts!

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.