Beginners Guides: Linux Part 1: Getting Familiar

Getting started with Linux can seem complex, but we will walk you through the first steps. Installation not required

Since its creation in 1991 by Linus Torvalds to the present day, Linux has been half operating
system and half symbol. This publicly licensed operating system has a sort
of mystical aura about it that’s about as cool as you can get in the computer
world. Conquering Linux has been the right of passage for a generation of
computer enthusiasts.

Under the skin of this icon lies a mere operating system, but
it’s an operating system with a single staggering advantage. It’s
free. Not free as in “gee I hope nobody from Microsoft pokes around inside my computer”
but ‘free’ as in the entire core of the operating system must be public
domain.


width=83 align=left vspace=9 border=0> In this first part of PCstats two-part guide to basic Linux use
and installation, we aim to familiarize you with using Linux for everyday computing
purposes by means of the most popular Linux desktop environment, KDE.

Since we realize
that many users will not be willing to take the plunge and install Linux onto
their systems to test it, we will use a ‘live CD’ Linux distribution, which can
run entirely off a single CD. This will allow you to get used to the feel
and function of the KDE desktop environment, as well as learn some basic Linux
commands, while avoiding a permanent install. All you have to do is boot
from the CD. Your existing Windows files are left completely intact.

What’s a Desktop Environment?

Simply put, it’s what you see; the Graphical User
Interface (GUI, pronounced “gooey”) of an operating system, like Windows
has, well? Windows.
target=_blank>Microsoft’s claim to fame is their graphical desktop
environment which is an integral part of their operating systems, and of how we
use computers today. Linux, on the other hand, was developed first as
a non-graphical operating system, an offshoot of Unix. Due to the fact that Linux is
entirely open source, other programmers are free to create and expand
upon it.
Over the years, this
has resulted in several different ‘desktop environments’ being available for
Linux, most of them not surprisingly based on the familiar Microsoft/Apple model
of a graphical desktop with windows that hold icons representing data. The
two desktops that emerged as the most popular are KDE and Gnome, both of which
are rather similar to Windows in functionality with several small differences
and refinements.

These desktop environments, more than any other factor have lead to the increasing popularity
of Linux. They present a friendly and familiar face to any
Windows user (and the fact is, just about every computer user out there is a
Windows user, sorry Apple), allowing Linux to be used for essential functions without
frustration or memorization.

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