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Community Question: Teaching Linux Newbies

The Linux training question of the day today was: “What’s the best way to teach a Linux newbie?” We received a great response from our Facebook and Twitter friends and followers and wanted to post these ideas on our blog so that others may be inspired to share Linux more effectively.

@5h3r4t4n said “You got deleted everything you know about windows, thats the difficult part, after that everything gonna be Easy, read, read..”
@allan1850 said “I would say sit them in front of the system and let them play”
@parinsharma said “Telling him about it the FOSS and after he/she gets interested just start them telling about shell scripting and GUI Compiz etc.”
@airurando said “Patience, small steps, introduce them to what they would find useful first.”
@juanfer1 said “I think with some series of screencasts tutorials”
@vargas7 said “Begin with Ubuntu and a comparison of the common windows functionalities and where they can be found in Linux”
@jamesswinyard said “Sit down with them, let them play, then let them ask questions as they find things.”

Keep them coming and we’ll continue to post them here. You may use the comments for below to answer “What’s the best way to teach a Linux newbie?”.

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  1. October 20, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    Don’t give them the choice of Windows & Linux.
    I’ve seen a lot of people installing Ubuntu as a second OS (read: auto-booting Windows) and found most of them ignoring the Ubuntu-part.

    Give one a desktop and don’t give them access to Windows, and they won’t even think about windows after a week.
    (This needs the installed linux desktop to have proper codecs installed, standard apps’s setup, etc…)

    If you give them a computer where they have to start searching the net for the simplest action they want to perform… They’ll hate ‘linux’ for the rest of their lives.

  2. October 20, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    Using of forums is a way to quick solve of a task.

  3. October 21, 2009 at 5:02 am

    1st, i asked them to name the Win programs they love most, then I pointed them that Linux already have them. MS-Office is the common program they love so much, so I teach them how to use OpenOffice or Abiword or KOffice.
    2nd, i asked them to browse the web, and asked them what program they used to download. Then I pointed them that they can do it with wget or aria, from the shell, although the GUI are also available. But through the shell is so quick.
    3rd, if they asked me what the shell is all about, I told them that Windows also has Command.com and can do administration task from that (not all Win users know about Command.com), but it lacks so many features than the *nix’s shell. Then I told them that Linux can do all they can imagine from the shell, and Elinks/Lynx can browse the web too.
    4th, if they asked me about gaming. Well, i just can point them to Wine, and if everything is just not right for them, I can only say that gaming is still biggest gap between Win & Linux (I have to say the truth, right?). *sigh*
    The point is that it’s definitely a hard break if you want to change the way people use their computers. Do it slowly and we should be patience ;) like teaching a kid how to ride the bike.

  4. David Critchley
    October 21, 2009 at 6:26 am

    If it’s possible on their machine and they still insist on Windows (usually XP) then I would do a Virtualbox install. I have found that the easiest way to wean them off is to give them a distro which has at least Windows like looks, PCLoS is great for that.
    Also show them the similarities such as Firefox, Open Office et al and whatever happens don’t complicate the issue, as soon as you mention CLI to someone who just used Windows you will get the blank stare of rejection.

  5. October 21, 2009 at 11:10 am

    @David Critchley Very good suggestion of using virtualbox to show similarities. Thus build confidence. Thanks for commenting

  6. October 21, 2009 at 11:11 am

    @rustam Very good check list. thank you. I want to so off-the-street experiments using these techniques. what do you think?

  7. October 21, 2009 at 11:12 am

    Best over all Linux forum? Linuxquestions? ubunutforums? Beginlinux.com/forum? :) other?

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