There are currently no reasons that can hold you back from getting started with Linux. Whether you’ve got an old system to revive or you are pretty much done with a laggy system with high vulnerability to get infected with viruses and malware. It’s your time to switch or at least start using Linux.
Although Linux comes with many of its distributions having various desktop environments to choose from. And the fact that it’s free, open-source, and pretty much no issues with security and system protection makes it a perfect option to use or at least worth a chance.
Choose a Linux Distribution
Unlike other operating systems, Linux comes with a number of distributions (flavors) to choose from, which makes it more exciting. Some of the popular choices you can’t go wrong with are Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Debian, Manjaro, and Fedora.
It’s not a difficult task to choose a distribution just look for one that meets your eye, fits your needs and compatible with your system (which most of them are) and you are good to get started with Linux.
Every Linux flavor is awesome on its own (I can’t recommend one), you should definitely consider searching for your taste. And there’s a great website to help you choose one called DistroTest.net. They currently have 236 distributions which you can test right in your browser.
Choose a Desktop Environment
Being able to choose a perfect desktop environment for your choice of Linux distribution is one of the main reasons to opt for a Linux Operating System. Some common choices are Gnome, KDE, Xfce, MATE, and Cinnamon. Most of the Popular distributions provide a handful of desktop environments to go with so, choose according to your needs.
One of the most common and default desktop environment for most of the popular Linux distributions. Choose this if you want a clean and elegant traditional Linux feel. Not recommended for old or low-end hardware systems (it can consume most of your resources resulting in some performance issues).
One of the most versatile and customizable desktop environment, available for most of the Linux Distributions. It gives you almost full customizability to make your system look exactly what you want. Recommended for those who take their time to customize their system and can utilize its versatility. Otherwise, it still looks good out of the box.
This is the desktop environment you are searching for if you have an old or low-end system. And for those who have a decent system, this can provide a decent boost in the actual performance of your system. Although it does not look as flashy and elegant as other desktop environments, you can always tweak some settings to make it look good.
This desktop environment lies between Gnome and Xfce (sort of perfect balance). It provides a pretty modern looking Desktop while also aims to use system resources as efficiently as possible. It is great for systems with a decent and low configuration.
This desktop environment aims to provide an easy and elegant user experience with surprisingly good system resource efficiency (and also my personal favorite). Highly recommended for those who are transitioning from Windows to Linux. It’s a new desktop environment that could be buggy sometimes.
Apart from these, there are more desktop environments that you should definitely take a look at. None of them is perfect but you will eventually find a desktop environment that will be perfect for you until then keep exploring.
Install or use live
Now that you have downloaded your choice of Linux distribution you can either install the full operating system or use its live version for portability. I will paint the scenarios for you to understand your needs.
If you are just getting started with Linux as a beginner I would recommend you install it as a virtual machine first. There might be some performance issues (since your main operating system and the virtual machine is running simultaneously) but it’s worth a safe installation experience. When you get or currently have the complete idea of the installation then you can easily install it as your main operating system without any issues.
If you only use your browser for surfing and other stuff most of the time, you should consider this option (skip this section completely if not). You can easily make a live installation media of your desired Linux Distribution just from your Pendrive. And in 5-10 minutes you will have a full Linux desktop in your Pendrive just plug and enjoy Linux in any of your computer devices.
It is not ideal for those who do heavy and work-related tasks on their system and ideal for those who just use their system for browsing and entertainment. Although it’s great for those who are just getting started with Linux, there are some downsides to this:
It does not provide data persistence (some distribution does provide but involves extra setup). On every boot-up system resets and destroys all user data. You can use another Pendrive or external drive for storage (do not store anything in the system).
Use a USB 3.0 Pendrive or you may experience performance issues.
Note: The next steps can be useless for you if you opt. for live mode. You can install your favorite applications on every boot and bear the risk of losing them again. Only use the live mode when you are completely satisfied with the preinstalled applications it comes with.
Install Hardware Drivers
There’s not much to it and nothing if you don’t have any proprietary hardware in your system (like a dedicated graphics card). Although every popular Linux distribution detects and configures most of the hardware drivers at the time of installation. But some proprietary drivers need to be installed separately.
They can easily be installed with the help of the Driver Manager almost every distribution comes with. Just fire up your driver manager and check for any pending driver installation and install if any.
Install your Favorite Softwares
Everything is set up correctly now, its time to install your favorite applications and Softwares. There should be a Software Manager in your system via you can install apps directly by searching their names. Note that many of the applications and software you are used to may not be available for Linux. But there’s a list of good alternatives to them worth a look.
There’s also a great solution if you want to use Windows applications on your Linux system and that is wine (and it’s not an emulator :). Follow this guide to Set up wine.