7 tips to get you started with Linux

Getting started in Linux can be a bit scary, mostly because of the fear we tend to feel towards the unknown. Although the system has improved greatly in both hardware support and usability, it is still a radically different product than Windows and, realistically, with far inferior hardware support. This means that not all computers are suitable for using Linux.

Despite their differences and limitations, for years now there have been distributions that make it quite easy and offer an experience out of the box superior to Windows. For example, Manjaro already offers pre-installed all the software that the user may need for common multimedia and gaming use, including applications (including Steam), pre-installation of codecs and also the NVIDIA driver for those computers that need it. Currently there are many Linux systems that are faster to install and configure than Windows in case the hardware shows high compatibility.

But as I said, the greater facilities present in many Linux systems does not make the experience similar to Windows, since the way of proceeding is radically different. This means that getting into Linux continues to be an experience that generates a certain feeling of uncertainty in novices, especially if they are not clear about certain things before starting to use it.

In order to guide the user in his first steps with Linux, I am going to expose a series of tips based on my personal experience. I started taking my first steps in 2007 and since 2017 I use it as the only operating system at the physical machine level, so I spend my days using it for quite a few tasks, including office automation, video recording and editing, desktop virtualization and video games, yes, even those compiled for Windows using Proton.

Intel, the trusted Linux brand

Linux is much more limited than Windows when it comes to hardware support, and that’s because all manufacturers are involved in the latter and only a few are committed to the former. One of those few that offer powerful support for Linux is Intel, which traditionally has been and is the manufacturer that best treats the open source operating system.

Intel provides a large number of official drivers for Linux and is the only one that fully supports the standard system graphics stack and VA-APIthe main framework in Linux for hardware acceleration of multimedia content playback. In addition, it is one of the top contributors to the kernel (which is really Linux, because the system is more like GNU/Linux), which reinforces its position as one of the most reliable manufacturers.

Put more plainly and with fewer technicalities and weird little names, the more Intel components a computer has, the more Linux-friendly it is in theory. The preference for Intel is reflected in aspects such as the fact that AMD laptops from Linux assemblers include Intel Wi-Fi, although it is important to note that this support is provided through proprietary firmware. Another thing to take into consideration is that the presence of many Intel parts is not a guarantee either, as there may be some non-compatible component that may ruin the whole experience.

However, Intel being the manufacturer that treats Linux the best does not mean that its support is symmetrical compared to Windows. Currently the clearest example is Arc dedicated graphics, which in Microsoft’s system have experienced a remarkable improvement over the months, but in Linux we find that the Vulkan driver is somewhat abandoned, which greatly limits its use in video games and other applications that rely on that API.

Intel, the manufacturer with the best Linux support

NVIDIA, a brand to watch out for.

NVIDIA is a much loved and appreciated brand among Windows users (or at least it was until recently), but the situation takes a 180-degree turn when we jump to Linux. The reason lies in its driver, which, with the purpose of sharing as much code as possible between supported operating systems, ends up being more than just a simple driver.

To sum it up simply, the NVIDIA Linux driver is actually an alternative graphics stack to the standard one used by the system.which is supported by Intel and AMD. This results in a very different performance than in many occasions can lead to problems of tearingapplications that do not finish working correctly, crashes when updating the kernel and other issues.

In addition to the peculiarities of the green giant’s official driver, there is the company’s reluctance to adopt the standards agreed by all the others, and when I say all the others I mean mainly Intel, AMD, Valve, GNOME, KDE Plasma and Red Hat. That reluctance has resulted in its support for Wayland, the graphics protocol that aims to replace the old Xorg, being far inferior to that of Intel and AMD because of their years-long refusal to adopt the standards. NVIDIA did not rectify until it saw that its alternative proposal was a disaster.

Taking a twist on the above, using NVIDIA on Linux can end up being a headache due to the fact that the maintenance of its official driver becomes quite cumbersome. Some distributions such as Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Pop!_OS and Manjaro incorporate wizards to facilitate the installation.but these do not avoid the possible issues that the user may face.

For all the above, the use of NVIDIA on Linux is only recommended in case of doing things like working with artificial intelligence, Blender at a professional level and video editing solutions like DaVinci Resolve. In case you want to use Linux as a basic desktop Intel and Radeon are better options, and the latter has already more than proved its capabilities for running video games through the Steam Deck, which uses the standard graphics stack through SteamOS 3. As a fact, Valve is the main developer of RADV, the Vulkan driver used by default for Radeon on Linux.


Consider purchasing a computer from a specialized assembler.

In case you are contemplating the purchase of a new computer and are at a loss as to what to buy, it doesn’t hurt to take a look at the catalogs of Slimbook, Tuxedo and Vant, to name a few of the more well-known Linux computer assemblers.

The advantage of the dedicated Linux assemblers is that the computers they sell are presumably thoroughly tested to work with that operating system. If one digs into the internal specifications, one can see a prominent presence of Intel components, especially in the models that use an Intel processor. I have already explained the reason for this preponderance.

It is true that the prices of hardware from Linux-oriented hardware assemblers may be somewhat higher than a compatible that comes with Windows or no operating system, but that extra cost is worth it if in return you get a clean Linux experience, without requiring manual installation of components or modifying kernel arguments.

That said, it is important to take into consideration that the situation for computers with NVIDIA graphics does not change in the slightest as this is a point to be corrected by the green giant.


Test a live Linux session well before you start doing anything.

Due to the limitations of Linux when it comes to hardware support and despite the fact that there is a brand that can be trusted, it is always good to download an image that provides a live session before proceeding with the installation. This way can also be used to superficially test distributions and then choose one.

Live sessions do not necessarily provide the same experience as a local installation, especially in terms of operating system performance and responsiveness, but they do provide the same experience as a local installation, especially in terms of operating system performance and responsiveness. Are a good way to see if the hardware is detected correctly and that at least the most basic components of the computer are working. Of course, not all live sessions of the distributions pre-install the NVIDIA driver.

It is normal that the live sessions of Linux distributions provide some basic applications such as a web browser (almost always Firefox), a file explorer and an office suite (almost always LibreOffice), so the user has many options to have everything needed to make a basic use of the computer to surf the Internet and perform certain basic tasks.

Hardware you bought doesn’t work with Linux? Return it to

We citizens of the European Union enjoy a legal framework that is quite protective of us as consumers, but, to my surprise, it is a point that few take into account when buying hardware with the intention of making it work with Linux.

When I buy hardware and see that something is wrong, I investigate possible solutions, and I if I see that the fix consists of two steps or more, I proceed to process the return because it’s clear that I’ve been screwed and that the experience I’m going to have is going to be torturous and unpleasant.

One of the possible reasons why many Linux users do not exercise their rights as consumers within the European Union is the widespread culture of understanding the use of the operating system as a hurdle test, something that has come to be even romanticized by certain users.

Migrate earlier to cross-platform applications with support for Windows (or macOS) and Linux.

One of the most common failures when trying to migrate from Windows (or macOS) to Linux is to start with the operating system itself. This makes the process much more uphill because the change in workflow is radical as there is almost nothing in Linux that the user is used to using in Windows.

Before changing the operating system present on the computer, it would be advisable for the user to replace a good part of the applications he uses in Windows with alternatives that are also present in Linux. Here we can highlight the office suite, since Microsoft Office is a very commonly used software that is not natively supported on the penguin system at the moment. Here we should seriously consider replacing Microsoft Office with LibreOffice, ONLYOFFICE or WPS Office, to name the three most popular alternatives.

Other substitutions that the user may consider are replacing the Epic Games Store and GOG Galaxy clients with Heroic Games Launcher, although to support those platforms many prefer to pull in Lutris, which is only available for Linux. Steam, on the other hand, offers official support for Linux and its application works basically the same, with the elements placed in the same places.

It is important that substitutions are made in a radical way, that is, by removing from Windows the software you intend to replace, because if the user intends to use the alternatives only ten minutes a day he will end up sticking with the software he is already used to using, so in the end he will neither adapt nor assimilate the alternative.

Employing the same applications on Linux and Windows greatly reduces the impact of change. because the flow of use of a common user is heavily application-centric, so if you have the same ones on both systems, you will feel less lost and perceive a more enjoyable experience from Linux.


Some systems to get started in Linux

This is not a post dedicated to the best distributions to get started in Linux, but rather a series of tips to get started on the right foot regardless of the distribution. However, as I have the focus on those people interested in getting started, it does not hurt to mention those systems that on paper offer less complications regardless of the user profile.

The obvious thing to do is to start with Ubuntuthe best known distribution by far. It has proven its worth throughout its history, which together with its popularity has allowed it to be the Linux system with the best third-party support by far. In addition, it has a wizard that makes it easy to install the NVIDIA driver and also makes it easy to obtain the codecs needed to play all popular multimedia formats.

In case the original Ubuntu is not to your liking, the user has at his disposal the official family, which changes the graphical interface of the system for another that may be more to your liking. From here we can highlight Kubuntu, with KDE Plasma; Xubuntu, with Xfce; as well as Ubuntu MATE. On the other hand, there is Linux Mintthe most popular Ubuntu derivative, which offers a graphical interface called Cinnamon with a Windows-like layout and pre-installs a large number of useful graphical tools.

If the hardware purchased is of the latest generation, it is very likely that it is advisable to use a distribution that provides recent versions of the kernel and Mesa in order to have a better performance. Here openSUSE Tumbleweed is a good candidate.


My intention with this article is to offer advice focused on those parts that are ignored on many occasions, even by Linux users themselves. It is obvious that starting with a user-friendly distribution is important, but apart from that there are many other aspects to take into consideration that end up being even more important than the distribution itself, especially regarding the hardware that is best supported by the kernel.

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