2 of 10Image
Linux Mint desktop
I recently told an event audience that I could ensure a smooth migration to Linux simply by providing new users with a machine running the operating system and a few basic facts. The faces of some members of the audience betrayed their scepticism. So I thought I'd set out here the 10 pieces of information that I believe can help ensure a successful transition.
1. It's just an operating system
Most of the computer tasks people perform today are done through a web browser — unlike two years ago. That change makes the operating system almost irrelevant. As long as it can run a browser, it just operates in the background, working away without being noticed. Of course, that's the state of affairs that should prevail anyway, because an operating system is nothing more than a layer between user applications and hardware.
Image credit: JA Watson
Windows 7 Start menu
2. It's not Windows
Many new users aren't really aware of a difference between Windows, Linux and Mac. But what they do need to know is that they shouldn't invariably expect Windows-like behaviour. That expectation almost always leads to trouble. Of course, you don't need to explain every difference between the operating systems, but you do need to prepare them for any unfamiliar machine behaviour that you think they are likely to encounter.
Image credit: Dong Ngo/CNET News
3. There is no C
Windows users are used to a file-system structure that never really made sense. Linux, on the other hand, has a perfectly logical directory hierarchy — a fact new users need to understand. There really is only one main directory they need to know about: /home/username, where username is their name.
Most modern distributions create certain directories in the user's home directory: Documents, Pictures, Music and Video. The purpose of these subdirectories is obvious, and new users only need know where they are located. They also need to know that their home directory is the only place on the file system where they can save files.