Linux Tutorial: 1. Introduction

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Linux Tutorial: 1. Introduction
« on: January 28, 2015, 01:18:44 PM »
Linux Tutorial: 1.  Introduction
  • Are you dissatisfied with Windows?
  • Are you tired of “renting” expensive software, constantly having to buy updates or upgrades, and paying endless annual subscription fees?
  • Are you concerned with the security of your computer systems?
  • Are you concerned that your aging hardware may no longer be able to run the newest versions of Windows?
  • Are you currently using Windows XP, or earlier, and concerned that Microsoft no longer provides any support or updates?
  • Are you willing to consider, and try alternatives to Windows?
If you can answer “yes” to one or more of these questions, perhaps it is time to consider trying  Linux?  You have probably heard of Linux in your travels on the Internet; and have heard just how hard it is to use, and does not support modern PC hardware.  That is categorically not true, as I will demonstrate in this series of tutorials.  However, do you realize that you are probably already a Linux user?  Well, you are if you use an Android Smartphone or tablet, an iPod/iPad/iPhone, or a Kindle!  Google's Android OS, Apple's iOS, and Amazon's Kindle OS are all versions of Linux, and at their heart sits the Linux Kernel.  Your cable box is a small computer and likely uses Linux as its' operating system.  Other examples exist all over the place.  It is hard to imagine that anyone reading this tutorial is not in some way already a Linux user, it is that pervasive in today's world of electronic devices.  It is NOT hard to use.  It DOES support almost every hardware PC device.

So, what is Linux?  Linux is the generic name for every operating system that uses the Linux kernel to perform all the basics of computer functions.  There is not one Linux; there are literally hundreds of “Linux” operating systems out there to choose from.  Each one has varying characteristics to offer users.  Most have simple installers, and provide users with a familiar, easily recognized graphics user interface, or “GUI”.  But, one thing they all have in common is that they are FREE.  FREE, as in no cost whatsoever, either for the operating system, or any applications, with a small number of exceptions.  The largest of those exceptions is games, so if you are a gamer, be prepared to ante up for your favorites from time-to-time. If you are not a gamer, or are only an occasional one, virtually anything you want to do is free.  If most of your time is spent on line, either browsing the Internet, using email, social networking, an office suite, or playing audio/video media, your entire software experience will not cost a single penny.

Linux is efficient.  It runs well even on older, less capable hardware.  It even runs on micro hardware.  I have a Raspberry Pi at home, and it runs Linux.  See here: http://www.raspberrypi.org/ for more information about that fun device.  A Raspberry Pi circuit board can be purchased today for less than $31.00 from Amazon.  A complete kit including case, power supply and all necessary cables is less than $60.00.  Plug in a monitor or TV, add your existing keyboard and mouse (including wireless ones), plug in your network, and you are ready surf to your heart's content.  But, that isn't the subject here.  Our tutorial is aimed at using Linux on your desktop, laptop or netbook, either supplementing or replacing your existing operating system.

As I said earlier, there are many “flavors” of Linux to choose from. Since I cannot cover all of them in this tutorial, I needed to pick one to use here.  I picked Linux Mint v17.1 using the Cinnamon desktop.  Why?  It is one of the more popular Linux “distros”, and when installed it uses the familiar “Start Button/Task Bar” model we all have become used to using over the decades.  Linux Mint is a fork of the very popular distro Ubuntu.  A fork distro is one that is based on the distro it is derived from.  In this case, Linux Mint uses the Linux kernel, many aspects of Ubuntu, and the Cinnamon desktop, or GUI, providing the user interface and desktop structure. That is completely legal with Linux, which is distributed using open source licensing, whereby the kernel, and all software, including the GUI, must be free to use, free to copy, and free to modify for everyone, including the distros themselves.

So, what do you need to experiment with Linux?  You need a PC, laptop or netbook that either runs Windows, or even an old one that ran Windows in the past, and that has a USB port.  If it runs, or ran, Windows, it should run Linux Mint.  We will test that before we actually install anything.  You will need a USB flash drive 2GB or larger, and you will need a copy of Linux Mint.  Linux Mint can be freely downloaded from their site here:  http://linuxmint.com/. You want the “Cinnamon Edition”, and either the 32-bit or 64-bit version from the download page here: http://www.linuxmint.com/download.php. You want to use the version WITH CODECS, which is at the top of the version list.  If your hardware is 64-bit use the 64-bit version.  If the system you want to use is 32-bit, or if you are unsure, use the 32-bit version.  From the list of official download sites, choose one as near your home as possible.  The downloads are big, about 1.4GB, so if your Internet connection is slow, it will take some time to download.  If you use dial-up, it might be better to order the installer DVD.  Just click on the “Get Linux Delivered to Your Doorstep” field on the right hand side of the page.

The next thing to do is to make sure your file downloaded correctly.  To do that you need to calculate the MD5 hash of the file you just downloaded.  An MD5 hash is a complex arithmetic calculation that produces a unique result for every file.  If even one bit is corrupted, the calculated hash will not match the correct hash.  The correct hashes are different for the 32-bit and 64-bit versions, and are as follows:
 
32-bit: d1a9474f4f48c3a2220ddd1ff57f76b3
 
64-bit: 0307ffcd5046c176599904193899426e

To calculate the MD5 hash for your file, go here: http://www.snapfiles.com/get/hashcalc.html and download HashCalc.  Run HashCalc and point it to your downloaded file, and it will run and calculate the file's MD5 hash.  The calculated hash MUST MATCH the correct one for your version, or Linux Mint will not run correctly or install.  If the MD5 hash does not match the correct one, you will need to download the file again.  If it still does not match, it means your line is noisy, and then it would be best to order the installer DVD.
 
The next step is to make a bootable USB flash drive containing Linux Mint.  If you ordered the installer DVD, you may use that instead of the bootable USB flash drive.  Our Knowledgebase contains complete instructions on how to make a bootable flash drive here: http://spywarehammer.com/index.php?topic=10162.0. Make sure you choose Linux Mint in the drop down menu shown in the first image in that article.

Our next post will cover Linux Tutorial: 2.  Understanding Hard Drives and gparted.
 
« Last Edit: February 13, 2015, 12:17:00 PM by PCBruiser »
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