Linux Starters Guide for Disgruntled Windows Users

A while back I wrote about the Ubuntu Linux LiveCD, a truly awesome piece of open-source software engineering. The one thing (more or less) that I lamented was that the LiveCD doesn’t take greater advantage of the installed Windows configuration that it knows it’s running alongside. But as many people pointed out, it’s just one small step to install the full distro; in fact the LiveCD includes an Install option, which will even resize the Windows partition to make room for your shiny new Ubuntu installation.

At Overclockers, Joe Citeralla has written up a useful guide to getting started with Ubuntu, for Windows developers who are dipping their toe in the salty Linux sea. (Does that work??)

Being Overclockers, they equate Linux configuration to overclocking your PC (when all you have is a hammer…), and then provide some useful links for both getting started and delving a little bit further into customizing your Linux setup.

In fact, that’s really what makes this guide useful: its collection of handy links aimed at Windows users who happen to be staring wistfully at the greener grass on the opposite river bank.

The links include tutorials for “noobs”, the Beginners’ forums, an excellent Linux glossary for Windows users, and so on. Perhaps most importantly, there are some handy tips for getting your wireless Internet connection working.

Hardware manufacturers knock out Windows drivers as if their livelihood depends on it (funny that), but they tend to overlook Linux; so the Linux community must work extra-hard to plug the gaps. Their hard work actually has paid off, and it’s likely that your wireless card will just work. But their “get out of jail free” card is ndiswrapper, which magically runs your Windows driver.

If you’re a Windows user and you haven’t tried out a Linux distro yet, there are very few barriers remaining to stop you doing so. With Vista looking further and further away (and ever more restrictive), this could just be the way forward.

About the Author

Matt Stephens is a senior architect, programmer and project leader based in Central London. He co-wrote Agile Development with ICONIX Process, Extreme Programming Refactored, and Use Case Driven Object Modeling with UML - Theory and Practice.

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