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Linux is an alternative operating system that has been around for almost three decades.  It is based on Unix, an operating system that has been around for even longer.  Linux is very popular as both an alternative to Windows and as a server operating system.  In fact over 90% of all the top web servers run Linux.

To get started with Linux you need a distribution.  This is simply the collection of software that is installed on your computer in order to run Linux.

Some Popular Distributions:


Ubuntu is my personal favorite.  It is easy to install and easy to use.

Linux Mint

Easy to install and an easy adjustment for Windows users.


I used this distribution in the earlier days of Linux.  It is not considered as easy to install as Ubuntu, but is it is stable, powerful, and professional.


This is supposedly the most up to date version of Linux, with all the latest bells and whistles.


This one is based on the commercial Red Hat Linux.  It is very stable and a good choice if Red Hat is used at work and you want something similar at home.

Installing Linux

Each distribution has excellent installation instructions for beginners, and I won’t repeat them here.  Read the docs and watch the Youtube videos and you’ll be up and running in an hour or two!

Installing Software

Each distribution has an easy method for installing software.  Most of the time you just click a few buttons.

The Terminal

In Windows the average user hardly ever uses the terminal and command line.  In Linux you also don’t need the terminal for most uses.  For a long time that was the only way to interface with the computer and the command line in the terminal is still a great way to get lots of things done quickly.  Check out the Command Line Tutorial in the links below.

Much Will Be Familiar

Many of the things you use your computer for can still be done in Linux.  In some cases the application names are the same.  Other times you need to use new applications but almost all the functionality is still available.  The good news is almost all the applications you need are free.  Let’s review some common ways you use your computer.

Internet Browsing

Firefox and Chrome are still available for Linux and they work basically the same.  This is really handy because so much of what we do now operates within a browser.  Odds are if you did it in a browser in Windows you can do it in a browser in Linux.

Office Applications

There are excellent office applications available for Linux.  Microsoft Office is not there except in the browser-based form but there are several alternatives.  Check out Libre Office, which probably has all the functionality you need.  And don’t forget the excellent Google online apps.  They work fine running under Linux in the browser.


Doesn’t everyone just use Gmail these days?  (Only kidding!)  Well Gmail and other browser-based email apps work fine in Linux.  If you prefer more of a desktop app like Outlook check out Thunderbird.


Rest assured there are many ways to listen to your music in Linux.  You have lots of choices.  Almost all the distributions come with at least one music player built in and you can easily download others.


There are many different Linux graphics programs to try.  Here is just a partial list:

  • Gimp
  • Inkscape
  • Krita
  • Vectr

Learning to Program

If you have any interest in learning to program there is simply no longer an excuse.  There is so much information online including tutorials and whole courses.

Linux is a programmer’s friend.  Almost any programming language is available for Linux, as are hundreds of editors, development environments, and tools.  Read the reviews and check them out for yourself.

As an example, check out Visual Studio Code for Linux.  This is a free Microsoft coding environment and editor.

I have obviously only scratched the surface of what Linux can do for you.  I urge you to do a little research and give it a try.  You won’t be disappointed!

Some Web Links To Get You Started:

Linux Beginner Tutorials

Linux Command Line

A Nice Cheat Sheet of Linux Commands