With this guide you can get started in the world of Linux and discover computing in a different way. It is a thought, a philosophy relatively different from the commercial giants like Windows and Apple. Surely the best shortcut you will find to take back control of your computer and your data.
I. Why install Linux?▲
Curious to change operating system, but yet you do not have the computer background. The command line is scary, coding is not your thing and yet tired of the failures of other operating systems? I am talking about the Windows blue screen as a fatal example. This can be a start to migrating to Linux.
Okay Linux isn’t (always) stylish, it’s not a Mac Book Pro or Air.
However Apple or Windows has an unfortunate tendency to have user environments that are not very customizable and constrained, it is a fact: the geeks are on Linux. Your Linux computer is not everyone’s computer. It’s yours, personalized according to your IT needs, you take back control of your computer. This should be the main reason for migrating.
Computing becomes more complex with cloud computing and it is more difficult to understand in the different layers of abstraction what a computer is and how it works with the “all connected” and “smart object” that are beginning to us invade by smartphones, drones. Approaching Linux allows you to better understand all this problem and therefore the security of your data on the web. Android runs on a Linux kernel, ie 75% of smartphones, 92% of supercomputers are under Linux and only 1.97% of personal computers are under a Linux system.
IB. It’s completely free, you don’t pay for a license▲
Latest update of Windows 8, all fresh with its new metro-style work desk, you will have to pay the operating license. It was Christmas and you change your computer, workstation under Mac, you fall for the latest Mac Book Pro, which will cost you a return trip to Tahiti. And then in fact you would perhaps have preferred to go to Polynesia.
This is just the beginning. You are going to have to buy some software. The latest Office suite and a license for 150 €. You are Photoshop junkie and also buy the license. Dragged into the offering, you also pay for updates to content that you’re not sure you’re using. Apple offers you its latest OSX, a small update and a few euros more for the maintainability of your personal workstation. Updates, service packs, software suites, end to end, it’s a budget!
Linux is completely free, whether on a computer or a fleet of 3000 machines as well as the open source software included, around 30,000 packages under Debian in the repositories. You install the distribution, some automatic updates and you are on a complete operating system, software suite, internet browser included, communication.
IC. Mount the system on an old or new machine, small or large▲
Want to recycle a computer, or switch a laptop to a lightweight system to prevent it from getting too hot. The core of Linux and its kernel run on thousands of global servers operated by engineers in need of stable production resources. It is the same kernel that you find on your personal system and lighter than Windows or Mac.
ID. Modify the system as desired▲
If you browse a bit on blogs and specialized sites under Linux, it is impossible not to have noticed hackers on their system, or hackers. Customizing the system is second nature in Linux. Want to change the color of the windows, no problem. Don’t like the computer startup screen?
Let’s go to give a little freshness. Does this icon look like nothing? Let’s change it! Need a startup script for a program, let’s go.
Everything is editable, find the system configuration files and start to customize your computer. If you are a little afraid, there are tools like Ubuntu Tweak for example in the software repositories. If you are imaginative and creative on your computer, you have found your place.
IE. Learn computer science in depth▲
Whether you are a beginner or an advanced level, Linux allows you to learn computer science step by step using modern functions, command line or directly in graphs to explore the functions of the computer. You can for example learn to do manipulations in different forms:
- control work access permissions;
- find out which commands are being executed with the top function;
- “Mount” a USB storage drive or external hard drive with mount;
- what rsync is and how to use it for backing up your data;
- become master of your data with the grep, tail or find commands.
IF. Edit and have fun with effects in Linux or different applications▲
Linux is highly customizable and you can modify the system to give effects to your work desk, add additional workspaces and other stuff to increase your productivity while having a cool and sleek desk or more extravagant like a airplane dashboard, and indicators on the operating status of the computer. An example with the desktop under Gnome Shell from Elementary Luna .
The Unity dock in Ubuntu to manage your applications and the automatic search for documents on your computer. It is also possible to run a Windows system for Linux applications by virtualizing the system with VirtualBox or applications with wine.
II. Choose the Linux that’s right for you▲
You have decided to take the plunge and go for Linux or to start an attempt again after a few years of interruption for X reasons. It is time to prepare a distribution under Linux “distro” that you will install on a Live USB (the CD is no longer valid) to enter the world of Linux.
To create a USB key, you will need a utility under Windows named Linux Live USB creator or Lili for the intimate ones of the software available for download . A second solution is to install the system by virtualization under VirtualBox to test it safely on your current operating system with this tutorial.
A small overview of the different popular distributions for Linux that you can test according to your needs and desires. For that, install by Live USB , then restart your PC on the USB key. Some distributions are made for beginners while others are for advanced users, even experienced (Arch Linux and Kali). You can download the .iso image file on each site distributions or via BitTorrent .V
II-A. Ubuntu: the most popular “for human being”▲
Ubuntu is developed through the Canonical company by an entrepreneur named Mark Shuttleworth. He had a dream of making Linux accessible to everyone. It’s a relatively young cast. It has since been extended with the Ubuntu Touch version for smartphones and tablets. The community of Ubuntu users is very large and responsive in the forums in the event of a problem, or even sponsorship. It’s a simple solution to start with, focused on ease of use. This is the distribution with which you will have the fewest hardware problems during installation, often with high hardware support compatibility.
You will find desktop variants such as Gnome-shell, KDE or XFCE. Ubuntu comes under the very intrusive Unity environment with search on Amazon, eBay. The distributions change name depending on the desktop: Gnome remix , Kubuntu , Xubuntu . Ubuntu offers a cloud service called Ubuntu One by default.
II-B. Linux Mint: the new distribution for beginners▲
Linux Mint is based on simplicity and elegance. It is a distribution derived from Ubuntu and therefore robust. There are two desktop environments either under Cinnamon or Mate. To migrate from Windows without being too lost on the interface, this is a good choice, because the bar and the menu are placed in the same way. A smooth migration. Everything you need by default in an OS is there: office suite, tools, internet, browser, flash player, MP3, DVD. To get started with Mint you can follow this user guide .
II-C. Mageia: the alternative French system▲
Mageia is a French project born from Mandriva’s death in 2010. The distribution is based on the creation of stable IT governance for collaborative work by a community of enthusiasts. You will find the documentation on this page . The default desktop is under KDE. It is also the first distribution to have integrated the free format MariaDB as a database management system (DBMS) instead of MySQL.
II-D. Fedora: the robust alternative▲
Fedora is developed by the Linux company Red Hat. The system is robust and little different from Ubuntu apart from the package management (based on Debian .deb under Ubuntu) in RPM. Development is rapid, supporting a variety of hardware and PowerPC oriented. Fedora is also used on the server side and system administration side.
II-E. Arch Linux: the corner of the bearded and experts▲
Arch Linux is not the distro that you install after two or three drinks and start to remake the world. But it is good for redoing your computer operating system from A to Z. To learn Linux and computer science “like a pro”, this is what you need and also a lot of coffee or tea. at hand. You start with nothing and build your system. Here no update every six months, but only updates as needed. English is required. If computing and the command line aren’t your thing , start with this community-edited French installation guide on a Virtual Machine with VirtualBox.
II-F. Kali : l’offensive 127.0.0.1▲
Kali Linux formerly Back | Track is a cybersecurity offensive project to penetrate computer networks. Debian-based distribution for users who are very knowledgeable about IT risk, network auditing, etc. It is absolutely not for a beginner, but it is still very well known in the Linux world. Don’t try to get help using it on forums, you won’t get any. Entering a network that does not belong to you without authorization is punishable by three years in prison and a fine of € 30,000.
III. Install Linux on your personal computer▲
You’ve decided to give Linux a chance and just found the right distro for your needs. So let’s go for the installation via a live USB. You are going to need some knowledge on disk partitioning as well, system cohabitation, and boot / multiboot.
You should no longer need this guide during installation, as you will no longer have it handy. Although print it out to keep it handy in case of a system // Kernel-Panic // panic or your own cold sweat.
III-A. Burn a Live USB▲
There are several ways to burn a Linux distro. The CD become obsolete, we now go via USB especially as ultrabooks do not have a CD / DVD drive. As I mentioned before, you are going to need Linux Live USB Creator software to do this on Windows. For Mac the method is a little more complex, and I advise you to dig a little on Google.
As an example we will burn the latest version of Linux Mint available at this download page . Plan for the 64-bit version if you have more than 4 GB of memory on your computer. Otherwise, switch to 32-bit. Choose the Mate or Cinnamon environment. You can then choose a live download mirror of the .iso i.e. your image file or the Torrent link through BitTorrent.
You have installed Linux Live USB Creator and your 2 GB USB key (at least) is ready for burning, the Linux Mint image has just finished downloading. You have a few functions to do on the software:
- Choose the USB key to use;
- Choose the location of the Linux Mint image, in this case an .ISO;
- Leave a persistence mode on the live CD keeping the parameters on your USB key during its use;
- Format the USB key if necessary in FAT;
- Click on the lightning bolt to begin the engraving process.
Once your USB is ready, you’re going to need to restart your PC, and trouble will begin. It’s a good sign you’re here to learn, isn’t it? Normally your PC is not configured to start on an operating system on a USB key. To do this you have to modify the BIOS of your PC. The BIOS is specific to each computer manufacturer and to enter it you have to know the secret combination. The first screen it displays for a short while is your bios with normally the combination to enter it. Most of the time the Delete key or DEL, or even F8. It’s up to you to explore and explore your computer to change the external drive playback setting:
If all goes well, your USB drive will launch and the Linux Mint system loading screen will appear:
III-B. Installation procedure▲
The installation may be slightly different between distributions. If this is the first time you are installing Linux on your computer and Windows is already on the hard drive, chances are you don’t want to start by removing your old operating system. In this case you will make the two systems coexist on the same computer. It will be possible to choose at startup either Windows or Linux.
III-C. Partitioning the hard drive▲
You will start the installation procedure by clicking Install Linux Mint on the computer desktop. You arrive at the partition screen where it is also possible to coexist with Windows if the Live USB system detects the system present on the disk.
In the case of this installation, we will install the system automatically on an LVM logical volume and encrypt the hard drive entirely in AES with dm-crypt . Do this if you have decided to remove Windows [after backup] for better compatibility.
You will then be prompted for a strong password for your encrypted hard drive. Preferably a good disk password: that is to say greater than 16 alphanumeric mini characters coupled with special characters and not forming a known word.
Then choose your user name (login) and password for the session. Do not encrypt the personal folder, you have already encrypted the hard drive.
If you keep Windows, encrypt the personal folder here to make the systems coexist.
Partitioning and installation was completely transparent, but what did my computer do?
The installation needed to partition to install essential system components:
- the system root “root” is on / and formatted as ext4 <10GB;
- a swap memory area the same size as your RAM memory;
- the bootloader allowing to start the system or to multiboot with Windows thanks to Grub2 .
When restarting after ejecting the USB key, the GRUB Bootloader appears to choose the system to boot. If you live with Windows, the information displayed:
- name of the distribution (ie Linux Mint);
- its version (eg: 16);
- its kernel [kernel] (eg 18.104.22.168-generic);
- the mount partition (eg: / dev / sda2);
- a test of the RAM memory, hardware fault;
- other systems (Windows).
If you reinstall Windows, you lose the GRUB and the multiboot boot. In this case, it will be necessary to reinstall the GRUB, for example with a LIVE USB in command line by choosing / boot.
It is easier to install Windows before Linux to avoid problems with GRUB.
Everything should work out-of-the-box. If you are unlucky, it is possible that
some hardware was not recognized such as Wi-Fi and your associated network card.
In this case ? you are going to need some settings manually.
IV. Boost hardware compatibility▲
Most of the material in circulation works fine under Linux. In some cases there are some issues with exotic material. For example, the case of hybrid cards on Sony Vaio laptops and the “dock”. If your computer is new, the latest generation drivers have not always been compiled for Linux.
To avoid any hardware compatibility problem, some manufacturers are “Linux friendly”, such as HP, Lenovo or DELL. We find native computers for sale under Ubuntu with the Dell XPS for example and you save Windows license.
List of computers for Ubuntu: http://www.ubuntu.com/certification/desktop/ .
IV-A. Recurring panic, my Wi-Fi is not working▲
This is the most common case. Everything works, except the WLAN network card, that is to say the Wi-Fi. Normally already during Live USB on your laptop you would have seen the sign that something was wrong and that the problem should be fixed. . The first instinct is to Googling your problem and see if other people don’t have a solution for the same material.
A first attempt is possible on the command line [alt + F2] then indicate:
terminal or Applications> Accessories> Terminal] with ifconfig and iwconfig or
nm-tool (ie: FN + F2 to activate Wi-Fi on a laptop). Select
what you are surely missing: Select
wlan0 Link encap:Ethernet HWaddr 81:23:2b:69:95:1c inet adr:192.168.0.2 Bcast:192.168.0.255 Masque:255.255.255.0 UP BROADCAST RUNNING MULTICAST MTU:1500 Metric:1 Packets reçus:90109 erreurs:0 :0 overruns:0 frame:0 TX packets:56301 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0 collisions:0 lg file transmission:1000 Octets reçus:121710992 (121.7 MB) Octets transmis:10722558 (10.7 MB)
You can also try this: Select
sudo ifconfig wlan0 up
Hardware diagnostics, you need to know the manufacturer and its name, at best the chipset and the BUS (pci, pci-e, usb). Under Windows you can retrieve the information, then go to this help: http://linux-wless.passys.nl/ .
In command line lsusb if your Wi-Fi card is in USB and lspci if the card is internal to your computer on a pci or pci-e bus Select
sudo lspci -v
What should already refer you to a solution if you are not indicated in “red” ie a blacklisted card. Secondly, you can also go to the Ubuntu documentation in English , also this one and the French one .
If nothing works, it remains to recover the driver under Windows. You will have to get it and export it. Install the ndisgtk package, then to add the Windows driver under Linux. To download the software, use an Ethernet cable temporarily. If you aren’t afraid of English, follow this HOWTO for Windows drivers .
IV-B. Proprietary drivers▲
Most of the hardware is open source like Intel and other manufacturers. Sometimes, it happens that the driver is proprietary (Nvidia, AMD ATI, Broadcom…) in particular the graphics card or certain network cards and perhaps your Wi-Fi. In this case, it is possible to install it via a tool simple: Additional drivers (available in the Ubuntu software library or already installed by default) System> Administration> Additional drivers
As a general rule, after a new installation of Linux in Ubuntu, check afterwards if there are no proprietary drivers to install.
Do not forget to fully support the system in French in the system settings or in a terminal: Select
sudo apt-get install hyphen-fr hunspell-fr language-pack-gnome-fr libreoffice-l10n-fr mythes-fr libreoffice-help-fr firefox-locale-fr wfrench thunderbird-locale-fr
IV-D. Various owners: DVD, MP3, Video, flash, fonts, etc.▲
On Linux Mint, you install proprietary software and formats like MP3 by default. In Ubuntu, which is more based on open source, this is not configured by default. It is very easy to configure this by installing the package: ubuntu-restricted-extras and extras from the command line through apt-get or from the Ubuntu repository. Select
sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras libavformat-extra-53 libavcodec-extra-53
Then for DVD Select
sudo apt-get install libdvdread4 sudo /usr/share/doc/libdvdread4/install-css.sh
Other distributions have other restricted packages in the repositories. Search in the manager such as YUM, Synaptic according to the formats “mp3”, “avi”, “Windows media”, etc.
IV-E. In the case of mice and keyboards▲
Normally everything should work by default. For a little more extra tools like button remapping, use the xev utility and its documentation .
For more help on keyboard shortcuts, go to this page or hold down the Dash key for a long time, corresponding to the “Windows” key.
IV-F. For more online help▲
- Developpez.net , the community of French-speaking developers and IT pro.
- The French-speaking Ubuntu community is a good place to start with a wiki and forum provided to retrieve information and ask questions. Documentation is very well provided for laptops and hardware. Also go to Ask Ubuntu in English for info. IRC: Freenode server # ubuntu-fr.
- The Arch Linux wiki intended for Arch Linux users, the best wiki on the subject for learning Linux in depth. Arch users no longer use apt-get as package manager, but pacman which changes the distro commands.
Otherwise it remains Google ….
V. Install applications and go even further▲
Here you are, you have finished the installation and configured your distribution with functional hardware. Your desk is blank so what’s next? Tips and tricks to have an even more productive and personalized OS according to your tastes.
GOES. Installation of applications, software▲
Ubuntu and Mint integrate the software library to easily install and navigate to explore applications or software. Users also give ratings to these like on Android and Google Play.
If you need more use of repositories, I recommend installing Synaptic for Debian based distros such as Ubuntu or Mint. Select
sudo apt-get install synaptic
Let’s take the example that you are looking for VLC, the video, audio and internet streaming player.
Either you install via the software library or from the command line with: Select
sudo apt-get install vlc
It’s that easy to install software in Linux. In the case of Chrome, the internet browser: Select
sudo apt-get install chromium-browser
Updates will be done when needed with the update manager and will ask you if you want to apply the necessary system, security and application updates.
VB. The command line again and again▲
To go further in the command line and the terminal , in particular if at random of your choices, the desire to install a Linux server for example Debian 7 with Owncloud for personal private cloud on a Raspberry Pi is part of your projects, it is going to be necessary to dress or undress for the plunge and compile it yourself.
A good start with the framabook ebook: Going further with the command line .
Plan a good dose of tea, coffee, or the Red Bull for the intrepid. Do not be afraid of the command line, it can dramatically shorten tasks once you have acquired a few habits.
VC. Some software packages for your workstation▲
In addition to the installation, you might need the following:
Xchat – IRC (Internet Relay Chat) messaging client;
Shutter – Screenshot manager;
Zim – A personal wiki / notes;
gtkhash – Check hash of image file, .iso;
p7zip – 7zip archive manager;
gimp – Drawing software, substitute for Photoshop;
Inkscape – Vector drawing;
filezilla – FTP and SFTP client;
Transmission – Torrent Client;
JAVA 7 – Java environment;
Virtual Box – Virtualization;
Via PPAs :
Ubuntu-Tweak – Computer configuration, modification and customization;
Variety – Random wallpapers.
In a command line in a terminal Select
sudo apt-get install xchat shutter zim gtkhash p7zip-full gimp inkscape filezilla transmission icedtea-7-plugin openjdk-7-jre virtualbox
Ubuntu-Tweak PPA Select
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:tualatrix/ppa sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install ubuntu-tweak
PPA Variety Select
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:peterlevi/ppa sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install variety
Battery management for laptops Select
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:linrunner/tlp sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install tlp
VD. Security of your workstation▲
Linux is considered more secure than Windows or Mac. However, a workstation is not necessarily secure depending on your habits. The user does the security, not the computer.
VD-1. The Ubuntu Unity case▲
Since version 13.04 Ubuntu has incorporated some rather annoying security vulnerabilities such as spyware with Amazon and eBay in the search and remote desktop on the section selection screen.
VD-1-a. Securing the session under Lightdm in a terminal▲
Add : Select
VD-1-b. Modification of Lens, search on Ubuntu, removal of Amazon & co shopping▲
gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Lenses disabled-scopes "['more_suggestions-amazon.scope', 'more_suggestions-u1ms.scope', 'more_suggestions-populartracks.scope', 'music-musicstore.scope', 'more_suggestions-ebay.scope', 'more_suggestions-ubuntushop.scope', 'more_suggestions-skimlinks.scope']"
- Security and the Cloud. It is advisable to keep your data in Europe since the Snowden case as part of the protection of privacy. So avoid solutions like Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, etc. that are on US servers of US companies.
An interesting secure cloud solution is Wuala, 5 GB free, adopting asymmetric client-side encryption and your data is encrypted on their servers in Europe.
For installation, follow this guide: https://www.wuala.com/en/download/linux .
- As part of software firewall management, you can install gufw . This is easily configurable.
- For the management of confidential documents, TrueCrypt is also available under Linux at this address: http://www.truecrypt.org/downloads .
sudo apt-get install network-manager-openvpn
VI. Acknowledgments Develop▲
Thanks to Anthony Le Goff for this tutorial. Thanks to Claude Leloupe and Infosam for the template and proofreading.
Did you like this tutorial?