10 Easy Steps to Make Your Linux Useable

Linux is an OS for nerds and it only runs on geek machines. No way my suave (circle one: XPS | G5 | Alienware) is gonna run Linux!

Sound familiar? Don’t believe a word they say, the days of CLI-only workstations and green-and-black screens are long over. Now anyone can download and install most distros via easy to use setup screens… But when it comes to actually using Linux is where most people freak out, for no real reason at all. Read our article on how easy Linux is to use then you’ll see what we mean.

We’re not here to cover the details all geeks should know such as disabling services and installing games or setting up web-servers, Google exists for one reason, use it. This list/mini-guide covers simple and extremely effective ways to make your Linux a more enjoyable OS from top to bottom, and take the geek-factor out. Don’t worry, it has enough secrets to keep you intrigued, but it’s nowhere near as hard to use as it’s made out to be.

It’s all about the looks, isn’t it?
Well, not really.. But much of it is. Linux is blessed with GPL, and cursed with it at the same time. Most distros don’t ship with the software you need to make Linux look tolerable. This software is free, but not GPL’d and as such you have to install it on your own.

1) Get the graphics drivers.
ATi or nVidia, SUSE or RHEL, you need the drivers, and you need them bad. It is absolutely amazing how much of a difference they will make. Your system will be faster (especially if you have any eye-candy running at all), you’ll discover that the OpenGL screensavers aren’t slideshows of abstract art, but actual moving animations and displays of light and color.

2) Get the fonts.
This one had us perplexed forever: with all the work people do for Linux, how come no one can make decent looking Serif, Sans Serif, and Monospace fonts that can be used as the defaults for their type, and fill your menus, apps, consoles, and web browsers with pretty and readable letters.

Until someone writes such a thing, here are the Microsoft TrueType fonts for Linux. Chances are if you are reading this on a *nix distro, it doesn’t look good. Install this RPM (courtesy of mjmwired) or compile from source and install, bookmark this page, and restart Firefox.. As you will immediately notice, the difference is huge.

3) Themes.
This one goes without saying, but if you are an unlucky user of anything except RHEL, Slax, FC5, or SUSE, and especially if you use Ubuntu, you should know by now that distros ship with themes that don’t do the OS justice. If you use Gnome, check out this site for an amazing number of really cool themes; and should you use KDE, then here is its sister site.

8 thoughts on “10 Easy Steps to Make Your Linux Useable

  1. "Don’t believe a word they say, the days of CLI-Only workstations and green-and-black screens are long over." not true. On fonts – I prefer DejaVu and its ancestor Bitstream Vera to all Microsoft fonts. If you love Arial, have a look at helvetica. NTFS and Wine : these have NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with usability. they do help Windows users feel at home, though. You say most distributions are Debian- or RHEL based. This is wrong, as RHEL is based on Fedora. This is an understandible misconceotion, as the term "Red Hat-based" is very common; The former Red Hat Linux  is now Fedora, and RHEL for the Enterprise. SUSE and Mandriva, for instance, are based on early Red Hat Linux versions. All in all, you do make multiple valid points and this article is probably interesting for fresh newbies coming from the Blue Screen Empire of Microsoft. 

  2. @freezombie:
    I’m sure Novell would love to know that you think SuSE is based on Fedora. Although Fedora is now the testbed for all things RedHat, it is not the ‘basis’ of RHEL which is developped in parallel.

    Some distros are in fact based on Fedora or RedHat Enterprise (like scientific linux, white box linux, mandrake, etc.) but most started over from scratch and went in different directions (Debian, Slackware, Fedora, SuSE, etc.) Ubuntu for example is based on Debian, not Fedora.

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