If you’re in IT, there’s no way around the fact that you will have to learn Linux. That’s because the open-source operating system has come to rule the cloud, containers, AI, virtual machines, and so much more. In short, Linux has become a staple of enterprise computing.
That’s reason enough for Linux to be on your radar. For some, this isn’t a big deal. For those who have worked primarily within the GUI worlds of Windows and macOS, this could be an issue. Even though Linux offers outstanding GUI environments for both desktop and server installations, to get really serious about using Linux in your business, you will have to know the command line.
But no matter what aspect of Linux you’re going to have to learn, what are the best ways to learn this powerhouse operating system?
Let’s examine a few ways that will make your journey with Linux as painless as possible. Once you’re up to speed with Linux, you could help deploy Linux for your company or even work within a QA services department like those found in BairesDev. Either way, your skillset needs the addition of Linux.
With that said, how can you learn the open source operating system?
When I first started out with Linux (back in the late ‘90s), there wasn’t nearly as much documentation available as there is today. Because of this, I was made to just dive in and start using the operating system.
This required a desktop GUI included in the Linux installation. That was fine, as my intention was to use it as my default desktop operating system. And once installed, there was no going back. Windows was gone from my machine and I was forced to learn how Linux worked.
When you’re forced into such a situation, you have no choice but to learn the ins and outs quickly. That’s exactly what happened. First I had to understand how the file system works (and how it compared to Windows’). Next came the installation of applications. Of course, back then it was considerably more challenging to do that.
In the end, however, it took me roughly a week to understand the Linux fundamentals. I was using it as though it was second nature. Anyone with a modicum of IT knowledge can get up to speed with Linux by doing this.
Use a Virtual Machine
You might not want to blow away your Windows or macOS operating system. Why? It’s always good to have something familiar to use. To that end, install the likes of VirtualBox and spin up one of many Linux distributions as virtual machines.
Not only will this route allow you to keep that familiar environment, but it also offers you the opportunity to load up a distribution, install it, and then destroy it without doing harm to your main desktop. This process will also help you to get very familiar with the Linux installation process.
Using a virtual machine manager will also allow you to set up a test network of Linux machines, so you can start to get familiar with the minutiae of Linux networking.
Try a Different Desktop
One thing you’ll soon realize is that not every Linux desktop is created equal. Say, for instance, you opt for a Linux distribution that makes use of a tiling window manager (such as i3). These types of desktop interfaces can be quite challenging, so the learning curve for them will be considerably steeper.
Instead, opt for a Linux distribution that makes use of a desktop environment that looks and feels familiar to what you already use. That way you at least mitigate the psychological aspect of using something so different from what you already know.
For example: if Windows 7 was your favorite interface, opt for Kubuntu or ZorinOS. If your desktop jam is OS X, then take a look at Elementary OS. Or, if you want a desktop that does a great job of getting out of your way while making usage very simple, try Ubuntu’s take on the GNOME desktop environment.
Take an Online Class
There are a number of online classes that focus on Linux. One of the best (and most often suggested) online classes is this Introduction to Linux, by creator Linus Torvalds. Another option is the NDG Linux Unhatched course.
Chances are your online education source of choice offers a number of different Linux classes. Make sure to find something basic to get your feet wet.
Because Linux is used for and by so many development companies, you’ll find almost every quality assurance team (such as those offered by BairesDev) is well-versed in Linux. So if classes aren’t your cup of tea, you can always outsource your education to such a company.
Finally, Google is your friend. For those who already have a feel for how computers work, spin up a Linux virtual machine, dive in, and turn to Google when something stumps you. You’ll find that nearly every conceivable question has been asked and answered online. Chances are, the problem you are facing with Linux has a detailed solution to be found by way of the search engine giant.
Just make sure to narrow down your search criteria when you’re attempting to find an answer, so you can find the answer more efficiently.
Learning Linux isn’t nearly as hard as you might think. Taking those first steps can be as easy as diving in headfirst or taking an introductory class. No matter how you do it, don’t let the unfamiliarity of the platform dissuade you from taking the time to get up to speed with Linux. It’s no longer a matter of “if” but “when” you’ll need the skills to deploy and use this platform.