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How does someone with major experience in other OS's make a transition to Linux if one's been using it for a while, on and off for two years.

By transition I mean everyday use without booting to something else. How does someone learn some advanced operation skills with shell for everyday use? Note that I'm not asking about the basic skills, I get stuck with other things that are deeply involved with the system itself and can only come with everyday use.

I know there are books and sites around that can help, but I guess I'm asking what the easiest way is to do it instantly.

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6 Answers 6

The easiest way to make the transition to Linux, in my case, was setting up a dual boot system with Windows and Ubuntu where the Windows system simply didn't get to be booted anymore.

A friend of mine, who is a full-blown Linux geek, kept nagging me about giving Linux a try. Back then my only experience with Linux was an awfully configured, unstable Linux Linpus that had come with my netbook as an OEM install. Since the Linpus distro on my netbook was pretty much useless and had only caused me problems so far, I gave him leave to install some other flavour of Linux and show me how it all worked in the process. That way he taught me some Linux basics, including stuff like how to use a terminal (my friend is an avid fan of the command line, and I guess so am I now, too), file systems, the OSI model, the Free Software movement, and so on.

The positive experience with Linux on my netbook eventually inspired me to have Linux running on my desktop computer, too. This is how the dual-boot system came into being. After the setup it so happened that I booted only Ubuntu for several days straight, and somehow, there didn't seem to be a real reason for me to go back to using Windows. Ubuntu was very easy to use, almost hassle-free (at least much more than Windows had ever been), and I had started to like it. So I just stuck with Linux, and Windows has since been converted to a gaming-only system :)

My friend is always at my disposal whenever I encounter a problem, and I also consult Linux-specific sites or forums on the Internet for that purpose frequently. So, my transition to Linux happened more or less instantly and I am still by no means an expert, but I try to learn as much as I can. It does take some time, though, and sometimes the best solution for a problem eludes me until after having gained more insight and knowledge somewhere else.

At the moment, I am trying out Linux from Scratch (LFS) because I feel that I still know too little about the inner workings of my Linux system. LFS does not really count as a Linux distribution, but is rather a detailed step-by-step manual for building your own Linux system from scratch (hence the name) and learning which gears make which part of the system run. Perhaps you might want to give this a shot, too?

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You've already dipped your toes in the water for the last two years (which is an excellent and highly recommended preparatory step), so the best and easiest (and IMO the only) way to transition to using it full time is to just start using it full time.

With that much part-time use, you don't need more theory. You need more practice and you need to get into the habit of using it every day if that is your aim.

Dive in. You'll learn soon enough whether it's going to work for you.

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I would install a dual boot setup with Ubuntu or Mint, two of the friendly desktop Linux distros. Then I would go through the excellent http://www.linuxfromscratch.org/ book online, where you build a Linux distribution from scratch, soup to nuts. When you are finished with that, you will know Linux as well as anyone.

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I've done a few LFS builds, and I still don't know Linux as well as anyone. –  Tshepang Jul 28 '12 at 14:44

One approach I recommend that is a bit different to dual booting, and slightly more expensive, is to have 2 machines side-by-side, one with *nix, the other with Windows.

Part of the problem with dual-booting is you often have something going on one that you don't want to interrupt just to switch to another OS. While this may motivate you to find a solution in the OS you're currently in, it's still a nuisance.


Another possible approach is the VM solution (running one OS in a virtual machine). Pick whichever OS you want to become primary and set the other OS up as a VM inside that one. As long as you have the adequate resources to run a full VM, and you don't need the performance of a full machine, this works well.

If you're really up for a challenge, you can even set it up so you can run a partition on the disk as a VM, and dual-boot at the same time. So you could run the other OS as a VM, but also boot into it if necessary. It can be done (as I've done it), but it's not a trivial task.


For work, I will never be able to give up windows entirely. Unfortunately there are just some things that don't exist for *nix (such as the VMware vSphere client). I've used both the above solutions, but having 2 machines side by side is what I use every day. The windows machine mostly just sits off to the side running an Instant Messenger, but it's there if I need it.

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You could always run the vSphere client in a VM or as a secondary function of a racked Windows server (i.e. not on your desk) and use RDP to connect to it - that's what I did when I had to administer vmware (I changed jobs a few months ago so vmware is no longer important to me :). Saves power, saves desk space. –  cas Jul 28 '12 at 23:36
    
I'm already doing one of those, it has helped a lot, and a I have learned a lot, but it's still a pain to have to rely on the other system when I can just use one that I like (Linux). My life is really hard right now because of this. Hope you can understand. Anyway +1! :) –  Eve Jul 29 '12 at 0:48

If you want to learn the in and outs of the boot process and all the other Linux goodies, a distro like Gentoo or Slackware might be a good playground for you. Teaches you to build your own kernels and boot images and software as well.

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Based on my own experience, I'd advice just plunging in to fully into *nix. Force yourself to learn and advance quickly. Just make sure you have a live internet connection you can use to ask questions and search for answers for problems others have had before. Doing this helps you improve really fast.

Try to challenge yourself to do some tasks that are easy with graphical interfaces with the command line. Continuous practice will soon make you a pro. You'll soon wonder how you ever used other operating systems when you learn just how simple most tasks are in linux and how, jusy like in programming, there are tons of ways to solve the same problem.

All the best!!

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