A friend of mine wrote to me and asked me how he could go about switching to Linux*. I sent him an email back with some suggestions about how to approach it and he suggested that I should share this with others, so here it goes.1) Have a reason why you want to learn Linux. Learn about the origins and history of our community. When you know how far we have come and how we got to where we are, you are more likely to appreciate the efforts of those that came before you.
2) Set a number of tasks that you want to be able to accomplish within the first month. Write them down and track your progress. Be ambitiously sensible. Whether it takes you a month or two, it does not matter. Real knowledge of something gained in two months is preferable to shallow knowledge acquired in
3) Document, document, document. Keep a log of what you do on your computer. It is one of an administrator’s most precious tools. Even if you are the single user of your computer, you are still its administrator.
Your “admin log” will make troubleshooting easier. It will also make the same task easier next time that you have
to do it.
4) Write down the cool things that you learn that you had not expected to learn. When you figure something out,
share it with others. By doing so, you nurture the community that will in turn nurture you and you make
sure that you have really fully internalized the newly acquired knowledge. Even if you have not written a line of code in your entire life and never intend to do so, you can share everything you know, thereby creating a multiplier effect in the chain of knowledge sharing.That little piece of documentation that you write will help somebody when he walks down the same path that you are now on.
5) Ask questions the the smart way.
6) If at all possible, dedicate a specific computer to run Linux on a permanent basis. If you dual-boot, you are not likely to leave your comfort zone.
7) Realize that you are expanding your skills and that you are likely to have some cognitive dependence on whatever OS you used before Linux.Once you break this cognitive dependence, you will be a more knowledgeable hacker, and maybe, even a better human being.
8) Realize that all operating systems suck, just some do more than others.
9) Corollary to eight. Just because you do not know how to do something now, it does not mean that it cannot be done.
10) Linux is about community. If you see a problem that needs to be addressed, get up and do it. Yes, you. You may think that somebody is bound to get to it before you do. The problem is that Joe and Mary may agree with you and, well, you see where that takes us.
11) When you decide to get up and do it, realize that you are literally standing on the shoulders of giants.
You’ll be surprised at how much help will be available to you when you become a doer.
12) Mix fun with learning. You are more likely to enjoy your journey if you laugh along the way.
13) Realize that all that is worthwhile requires work and sacrifice. There is a price to be paid for not being able to control the bits that pass through your computers. The sooner that you gain control of your computing, the better off you will be.
14) Given the fast pace of change in the technology world, realize that there is no destination. You are on an ever changing journey, you might as well enjoy it.
15) Do not pursue technology for technology’s sake. If you do, all your technical prowess and gadgets will
not mean a thing to you or others. Put a human face on technology by thinking of ways that you can use technology to address many of the social ills that affect the world you live in. More importantly, have enough distance from your technology to be able to understand that with some problems, such as with environmental degradation, technology can be as much the problem as the solution.
16) Realize that many people around the world are working to make your computing experience easier. It gets better and easier all the time. Time is on your side.
17) Join a Linux user group close to where you live. Search for one here: http://www.linux.org/groups/
If the interests of the first crowd of guys you meet do not match yours, try another user group. If there isn’t one anywhere near where you live, start your own!
18) Support free software developers. They have families to feed and dreams to accomplish just like you. They do not live on thin air.
19) Move slowly but steadily. It may take you two years to get to where you want to be, but if you do not start now, you’ll never get there.
20) Let’s rock.
** For brevity’s sake and to prevent RSI, I will refer to GNU/Linux as Linux from here onwards..
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Gonzalo Porcel Quero teaches and writes about international politics, social theory, the influence of history on foreign policy making, the European Union, and the politics of cyberspace.
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