9:25 AM>Well guys, it's been a little over a week since I made the switch from Windows to Linux. So far, I'm liking it better than Windows, which is strange, considering the multiple times this week I've felt like kicking my box. But the times I've jumped up and down and screamed with joy makes up for it in ways that I cannot even begin to explain. The wall behind my desk has now became a handy map of Unix commands, half scribbled/half printed, the area around it cluttered with empty 2 liters of Vault, my poor friends collecting screenfuls of late night rants... yup, lol, I've hit upon a new obsession.
Just in case you're curious, I chose Mandriva as my first Linux distro. Now, for those elitists out there that may be saying, "Mandriva is too easy, you'll never learn anything about Linux running Mandriva", you're wrong. Yah, it's an "easy" distro, you can quite easily go out of your way to avoid doing anything remotely Linuxy and stay in a protective Mandriva bubbled world, but it'll be a rather small and limited little world, not to mention, the same could be said of much more touted OSes such as Ubuntu. I originally chose Ubuntu as my first distro, but it, and especially its user forums, blew *at least, that's what my personal experience was with it*. Straight out of the box I had driver issues... ok, I can deal with that... but what I couldn't deal with was having command lines thrown at me right and left with absolutely no explanation of what exactly I was doing by pasting them into the terminal, so that when the final suggestion was tossed my way I ended up with a BSD at startup with no idea as to what I had done to get it there *something I'm in no way comfortable with is not knowing the cause of a problem, even if I don't know how to fix it*, and not a single driver issue I was having got fixed along the way. Ubuntu might have had a chance with me if their forums were at least a bit more catering to newbs. Part of helping a person isn't just giving them solutions to their problem but explaining the solutions as well, so if something does screw up along the way they'll at least have an idea of what happened. Anyways...
After the BSD, I decided I would give Mandrake 10 a test drive, and later downloaded and installed Mandriva 2006 *not much difference*. A+ on the setup. It didn't just offer "beginner" settings but "advanced" settings as well, and it even gave you a list of your hardware + hardware configuration so you could edit it if need be. You could realistically control every aspect of the setup - yah, their setup is that good. With all the desktop environments + workstation packages selected, installation still only takes 20 minutes. Workstation packages minus games and developer packages + just KDE selected = 7 minute installation. Awesome. :D
Almost everything in Mandriva can be done either via graphical environment. Everything that I've came across can also be done via the terminal. And you have the option for the terminal in practically every part of the OS, and you can even choose to start up via the terminal. So Mandriva leaves plenty of room for learning and growth, but also gives plenty of room for taking a break when you need one. "No pain, no gain!" you may say. Well too much pain = the person giving up in most cases, also. I don't want to dual boot, and I don't want to spend months just trying to get my drivers to work properly just because I don't know what the heck I'm doing. I think just the factor alone that I was willing to give Windows the boot *no pun intended* and go straight to Linux should earn me some room to breathe. :P
So, right now, I'm focusing on learning my basic list of Unix commands and the Linux filesystem, and after a week, things are coming together and making sense for me nicely. Yes, it was rather overwhelming at first - like waking up in the morning with that no-so-fresh feeling - which is why I think so many people think Linux is hard, but you catch on to it quickly.
Now, a note to beginners about the Linux forums -
Some of them ARE going to give you a hard time if you choose to reinstall the OS after encountering a problem rather than type in whatever command lines they throw at you, and may even accuse you of not being willing to learn. DON'T let them get to you. Perhaps it's just me, but I believe you should at least understand what the commands they give you are going to do before you try using them. Every time I've had problems it's been directly caused by me playing the monkey and typing in whatever command lines were thrown at me without understanding what they did, and I learned nothing... that's not the way you learn. So if you run into a problem & are worried about typing in whatever they tell you, don't do it, and reinstall if you have to. You only have to install the system files, and most of your settings + all of your files are saved, so it's not a huge deal. But please, DO try to learn the commands and filesystem, and DO follow their advice if you can understand what it's going to do, because then it IS an actual learning experience. But don't let the jerks out there shove you around until you can't tell your head from your arse and give up.
Anyways, that's just my beginner's initial thoughts on the whole thing. :)