10+ mistakes Linux newbies make

whoosh

Cooler King
Staff member
Premium Supporter
#1
New desktop users can make plenty of mistakes (as can anyone). But knowing which mistakes to avoid, from the start, helps prevent a LOT of frustration. I’ve handled the topic of mistakes new Linux admins make, but never those of desktop users. Here are some of the most common Linux desktop mistakes I see new users make.

Note: This article is also available as a PDF download.

1: Assuming they are using Windows
Although this might seem way too obvious, it’s not. The average user has no idea there are even different operating systems to be had. In fact, most average users couldn’t discern Windows XP from Vista from 7 (unless they are certain Windows 7 was “their idea”). Because of this, new users might believe that everything works (or doesn’t work, as the case may be) as it does in Windows. Make your end users aware that they are using a different operating system — and that it works differently.

2: Trying to make exe files work
Unless you have done your homework and installed WINE, double-clicking those .exe files simply won’t do anything. And when that happens, your end users are going to be upset. I have seen many an end user download an app made for Windows assuming that it will work for Linux. Make it clear to users that Linux, like Windows, will only run applications made for that operating system. This, of course, is tossed out the window when WINE is involved. But new users won’t be using WINE anyway.

3: Choosing the wrong distribution
One of the biggest problems for users is choosing the wrong distribution. Imagine being a new user and selecting Gentoo or Slackware or Fedora! Yes those are all good distributions, but any of them would send a new user running away in fear. If you are in the initial stages of helping a new user out, do yourselves both a favor and choose the distribution carefully. Consider the user’s ability, needs, and hardware before you make that selection. Don’t just jump on board Ubuntu because everyone says you should. A lot of distributions out there are made specifically for new users. Give them all a close examination before making the choice.

4: Not finding software
Because so many new Linux users are migrating from Windows, they think software can be had from the same channels. Most of the time, this is not the case. The new user needs to become familiar with their package management tools right away - especially tools like Synaptic, Packagekit, and Ubuntu Software Center. Each of those tools is a mecca of software where users can most likely find all the applications they need.

5: Sending OpenOffice dobadwordents to Microsoft Office users in the default format
I see this so often. New Linux users are proud of the strides they have made but dumbfounded (and sometimes turned back to Windows) because the people they share files with can’t read their formats. Remember, Microsoft products are not good at getting along with other operating systems and other applications. Make sure your new users are saving in file formats that are readable by the Microsoft equivalents.

6: Avoiding the command line
I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why people completely avoid the command line as if it is the most complex tool there is. I know people who can work absolute magic with Photoshop but can’t seem to type a simple rm command at the command line. Why this is I will never know. New users shouldn’t shy away from the command line. Knowing the command line isn’t essential anymore, but it will make them more capable users.

7: Giving up too quickly
Here’s another issue I see all too often. After a few hours (or a couple of days) working with Linux, new users will give up for one reason or another. I understand giving up when they realize something simply doesn’t work (such as when they MUST use a proprietary application or file format). But seeing Linux not work under average demands is rare these days. If you see new Linux users getting frustrated, try to give them a little extra guidance. Sometimes getting over that initial hump is the biggest challenge they will face.

8: Thinking the Windows directory hierarchy translates to Linux
There is no C:\ in Linux. Nor do you use the “\” character. Nor should you use spaces in filenames. These are common mistakes new users make. Trying to map out Windows to Linux, directory for directory, is impossible. You can get as far as C:\ = / and maybe Default User = ~/, but beyond that you’re out of luck. Make sure new users understand that everything starts at / and their most important directory is their home directory (aka ~/ aka /home/USERNAME/).

9: Skipping updates
I have been burned with Windows updates many times. Need I bother mentioning the update from Explorer 7 to Explorer 8? Very rarely has a Linux update fubar’d a system of mine. In fact, I can’t remember the last time it has. So I am always up to date on my systems… and with good reason. Those updates bring new security patches and features to software and should be applied. Having an installation with a security hole is not what your users need, especially on a machine that houses important information.

10: Logging in as root
I really shouldn’t have to say this. But just in case, be sure to tell your users DON’T LOG IN AS ROOT! But… just in case they must… DON’T LOG IN AS ROOT! Instead, have them open up a terminal window and either “su” to root or use “sudo”. And just in case you didn’t hear me the first time, DON’T LOG IN AS ROOT!

11: Losing windows to the pager
The pager is one of the handiest features of the Linux desktops. But over and over, I’ve seen that new users don’t quite understand what the pager is for and what it does. Because of this, they will “lose” their windows from the desktop. Where did it go? It was there a moment ago! I guess it crashed. No. More than likely, they moved it to another desktop. Another desktop? You see where this is going? Help the new user understand what the pager is and how useful it can be.

12: Ignoring security because it’s Linux
A big part of me still wants to boast and say, “In the 12 years I have used Linux, I have never once had a virus or worm or been hacked.” Although that is true, it doesn’t mean I should ignore security. I have witnessed the effects of a rootkit on a Linux machine. They aren’t pretty and data will be lost. Tell your users that they can’t ignore security just because they’re using Linux. Security is crucial, regardless of the OS.
http://www.zdnet.com/blog/btl/10-mistake...in;content
 


catilley1092

Extraordinary Member
#2
That last one is really critical. No matter the OS, it needs to be secured. I run Ubuntu/Mint, and now Zorin OS. They all can use ClamTK, a simple, yet powerful virus scanner. In a dual boot setup with Windows (any version), ClamTK can even clean malware from Windows. It's limited to 1 partition at a time, but it gets the job done.

ClamTK simply needs the GDebi package installer to install it to your system. It will download & install a few more packages to make it work, but it's easy to do. And the virus scanner itself is easy to run.

Get ClamTK here:

ClamTk Virus Scanner

No matter what you read while the Linux system is installing, security is still imperative to have, kept updated, & ran regularly. Fortunately, it only takes 5 minutes (max) to run a recursive (full) scan on your home folder (where your apps, downloads, browsers are), I do it before shutting down.

You should, too.

Cat
 


Ralph Bromley

Honorable Member
#3
Actually I woulrd kind of refute that Fedora is hard to use, no its gotten quite easy to manage these days and is only slightly harder to use then say ubuntu (installing codecs is a tad tougher)
 


BigFeet

Senior Member
#4
2: Trying to make exe files work
Unless you have done your homework and installed WINE, double-clicking those .exe files simply won’t do anything. And when that happens, your end users are going to be upset. I have seen many an end user download an app made for Windows assuming that it will work for Linux. Make it clear to users that Linux, like Windows, will only run applications made for that operating system. This, of course, is tossed out the window when WINE is involved. But new users won’t be using WINE anyway.
Well, unless you're using wine ;)
 


Ralph Bromley

Honorable Member
#5
I will admit though, WINE is a mixed bag.
 


rbeldua

Honorable Member
#6
First time I had my hands on Backtrack, I had an aching head for days! :eek:
 


#7
Thanks whoosh,

I need to learn.. how to work with linux server as I'm friendly to Windows only.

I'm very new to Linux server, Planning to get a server to start web hosting business. As a newbie I'll consider the above mentioned points.. really helpful for me.
 


#8
New desktop users can make plenty of mistakes (as can anyone). But knowing which mistakes to avoid, from the start, helps prevent a LOT of frustration. I’ve handled the topic of mistakes new Linux admins make, but never those of desktop users. Here are some of the most common Linux desktop mistakes I see new users make.

Note: This article is also available as a PDF download.

1: Assuming they are using Windows
Although this might seem way too obvious, it’s not. The average user has no idea there are even different operating systems to be had. In fact, most average users couldn’t discern Windows XP from Vista from 7 (unless they are certain Windows 7 was “their idea”). Because of this, new users might believe that everything works (or doesn’t work, as the case may be) as it does in Windows. Make your end users aware that they are using a different operating system — and that it works differently.

2: Trying to make exe files work
Unless you have done your homework and installed WINE, double-clicking those .exe files simply won’t do anything. And when that happens, your end users are going to be upset. I have seen many an end user download an app made for Windows assuming that it will work for Linux. Make it clear to users that Linux, like Windows, will only run applications made for that operating system. This, of course, is tossed out the window when WINE is involved. But new users won’t be using WINE anyway.

3: Choosing the wrong distribution
One of the biggest problems for users is choosing the wrong distribution. Imagine being a new user and selecting Gentoo or Slackware or Fedora! Yes those are all good distributions, but any of them would send a new user running away in fear. If you are in the initial stages of helping a new user out, do yourselves both a favor and choose the distribution carefully. Consider the user’s ability, needs, and hardware before you make that selection. Don’t just jump on board Ubuntu because everyone says you should. A lot of distributions out there are made specifically for new users. Give them all a close examination before making the choice.

4: Not finding software
Because so many new Linux users are migrating from Windows, they think software can be had from the same channels. Most of the time, this is not the case. The new user needs to become familiar with their package management tools right away - especially tools like Synaptic, Packagekit, and Ubuntu Software Center. Each of those tools is a mecca of software where users can most likely find all the applications they need.

5: Sending OpenOffice dobadwordents to Microsoft Office users in the default format
I see this so often. New Linux users are proud of the strides they have made but dumbfounded (and sometimes turned back to Windows) because the people they share files with can’t read their formats. Remember, Microsoft products are not good at getting along with other operating systems and other applications. Make sure your new users are saving in file formats that are readable by the Microsoft equivalents.

6: Avoiding the command line
I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why people completely avoid the command line as if it is the most complex tool there is. I know people who can work absolute magic with Photoshop but can’t seem to type a simple rm command at the command line. Why this is I will never know. New users shouldn’t shy away from the command line. Knowing the command line isn’t essential anymore, but it will make them more capable users.

7: Giving up too quickly
Here’s another issue I see all too often. After a few hours (or a couple of days) working with Linux, new users will give up for one reason or another. I understand giving up when they realize something simply doesn’t work (such as when they MUST use a proprietary application or file format). But seeing Linux not work under average demands is rare these days. If you see new Linux users getting frustrated, try to give them a little extra guidance. Sometimes getting over that initial hump is the biggest challenge they will face.

8: Thinking the Windows directory hierarchy translates to Linux
There is no C:\ in Linux. Nor do you use the “\” character. Nor should you use spaces in filenames. These are common mistakes new users make. Trying to map out Windows to Linux, directory for directory, is impossible. You can get as far as C:\ = / and maybe Default User = ~/, but beyond that you’re out of luck. Make sure new users understand that everything starts at / and their most important directory is their home directory (aka ~/ aka /home/USERNAME/).

9: Skipping updates
I have been burned with Windows updates many times. Need I bother mentioning the update from Explorer 7 to Explorer 8? Very rarely has a Linux update fubar’d a system of mine. In fact, I can’t remember the last time it has. So I am always up to date on my systems… and with good reason. Those updates bring new security patches and features to software and should be applied. Having an installation with a security hole is not what your users need, especially on a machine that houses important information.

10: Logging in as root
I really shouldn’t have to say this. But just in case, be sure to tell your users DON’T LOG IN AS ROOT! But… just in case they must… DON’T LOG IN AS ROOT! Instead, have them open up a terminal window and either “su” to root or use “sudo”. And just in case you didn’t hear me the first time, DON’T LOG IN AS ROOT!

11: Losing windows to the pager
The pager is one of the handiest features of the Linux desktops. But over and over, I’ve seen that new users don’t quite understand what the pager is for and what it does. Because of this, they will “lose” their windows from the desktop. Where did it go? It was there a moment ago! I guess it crashed. No. More than likely, they moved it to another desktop. Another desktop? You see where this is going? Help the new user understand what the pager is and how useful it can be.

12: Ignoring security because it’s Linux
A big part of me still wants to boast and say, “In the 12 years I have used Linux, I have never once had a virus or worm or been hacked.” Although that is true, it doesn’t mean I should ignore security. I have witnessed the effects of a rootkit on a Linux machine. They aren’t pretty and data will be lost. Tell your users that they can’t ignore security just because they’re using Linux. Security is crucial, regardless of the OS.
Thx a lot, useful!
To be honest I found myself in a few paragraphs ;)
 


ussnorway

Windows Forum Team
Staff member
Premium Supporter
#9
DON’T LOG IN AS ROOT!
Flashed back to my old networking teacher as I read this... good times.

Drum it into them and they WILL learn.
 


#10
Being a Linux noob I have already had to use the "sudo" in the command line to install my Samsung printer drivers. My question is what does "sudo" mean? Its a acronym for?
 


Ralph Bromley

Honorable Member
#11
Super user do, basically it grants the user administration rights in a a more secure manner then just granting the end user those rights by default
 


#12
Thanks, its funny that in reading the manual etc they say to use that command but never tell you what it means.
 


#13
I watch a vid on this guy moving to Linux Mint. He moved so fast in his initial set up it was hard to keep up. I think we need another topic 10-things-you-need-to-do-after-installing-linux. One of course is installing all the codecs.
 


Ralph Bromley

Honorable Member
#14
Thanks, its funny that in reading the manual etc they say to use that command but never tell you what it means.
a lot of Linux commands actually makes a lot of sense if you look hard enough like MV means move or RM means remove then you get other commands like apt that is an acronym for another package tool.
CP means copy CD means change directory and Su usually stands for superuser
 


#15
the topic very good, thanks
 


#16
I agree with these top mistakes. More and more people are trying to dive into learning about Linux, but I think they're not giving themselves enough time to truly learn it before just giving up.
 


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