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Top 5 mistakes by Linux first-timers

By Katherine Noyes
October 14, 2010 09:27 AM ET

PC World - With the arrival of Ubuntu 10.10, the list of reasons to try Linux for your business just got a little longer. The free and open source operating system is now more user-friendly than it's ever been before while still offering the many security and other advantages it has over its competitors.

If you're among the legions of new Linux users out there, congratulations on making a smart move! Now that you're on your way to a lifetime of freedom from high costs, vendor lock-in, constant malware attacks, and the many other disadvantages associated with Windows and Mac OS X, you should be aware of some of the classic mistakes Linux newcomers sometimes make.

None of these should be deal-breakers, by any means. Nevertheless, an early heads-up can help prevent unnecessary frustration. Without further ado, here are five key things you should avoid when starting out with desktop Linux.

1. Expecting Windows

Humans are creatures of habit, so after years of using Windows--or Mac, if that's the case--it's hard not to expect what you're used to every time you use a computer.

Ubuntu and recent Linux distributions have incorporated many user-friendliness features from their Windows and Mac competitors in recent years, so there is actually going to be quite a bit of similarity these days--much more than there used to be. When it comes right down to it, though, even consumer-ready Maverick Meerkat isn't Windows, and you shouldn't expect it to be.

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This is not--I repeat, NOT--to say that things are harder. Linux is not more difficult to use, especially if you're on a modern distro like Ubuntu. It is, however, different. It might take you a little bit of time to get used to its slightly different way of doing things. Don't let that put you off--a small learning curve will gain you a lifetime of advantages.

2. Running as Root Unnecessarily

One of the big differences between Linux and Windows is that Linux users don't typically have "root," or administrator, access. That's a very good thing for security, and it's something you should take care to preserve by not running as root unnecessarily.

That said, you should not fear running as root, either. There are some tasks that require root privileges, and for good reason. Just make sure you do it only when necessary.

3. Using Google to Find Software

If you're coming to Linux from Windows, for example, you're used to the hunt-and-peck approach to finding new software packages online--and then, doubtless, paying dearly for them. One of the beauties of Linux, however, is that it makes this process much easier--not to mention generally free.

Originally published on www.pcworld.com. Click here to read the original story.
Reprinted with permission from PCWorld.com. Story copyright 2012 PC World Communications. All rights reserved.
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