10 Common Mistakes First-Time Linux Users Make

Switching to a new operating system is a whole different experience. As the interface and features change, it can take some time to explore and understand the new environment you are working in.

Linux is more of a command line-based OS as compared to Windows and macOS, which rely mostly on their graphical user interfaces or GUI. This is one of the reasons why new Linux users often find it confusing and make some beginner mistakes that ultimately dampen their experience.

To get the most out of your new Linux device, here are 10 mistakes you should avoid as a first-time Linux user.

1. Avoiding the Use of Terminal

The terminal is a core Linux utility. Once you get to know it, it is the most essential and convenient tool to carry out all the major operations in the OS.

In Windows, for example, you perform most of the functions, such as updating the system or installing software, through the GUI. But in Linux, you’d be better off performing those tasks with the help of the terminal.

You might tend to avoid this command-line functionality in the beginning because you are used to GUI-based systems. Another reason could be the misconception that the terminal is hard to use and can be frustrating with its complex commands and a rather basic interface.

However, in reality, it is much more efficient and powerful than GUI-based systems if you try and learn how to use it properly. You’ll not just save time but also enjoy the advanced user experience.

2. Trying to Run EXE Files

EXE is the default format for executable files on Windows and MS-DOS systems. You use these files for software installation. The bad news is these files are not meant to run on Linux.

The process of downloading and installing apps on Linux is different. You have to check the right extension according to your distro before downloading the package from the internet. It can be DEB for Ubuntu or RPM for Fedora. You can execute EXE files on Linux, but that requires a bit of configuration from your end.

3. Using Root Too Often

Linux hides admin-level details of the system by default to ensure privacy and security. The admin-level access to the Linux system is called root. Most of the functions, such as power off and reboot, don’t need root access. So you don’t need to use sudo (superuser do) before every command.

If you use root too often, you may damage your OS. This is because root grants applications access to sensitive system-level files. Any changes in these files can potentially lead to the whole OS crashing. So it is best to use root only where necessary.

4. Choosing the Wrong Distro

Linux has a wide range of distros, providing different features and experiences. Some distros are specific for certain tasks, like security auditing, and some are for general use. Choosing the right distro is the most confusing step for a Linux beginner.

Before installing a distro, you should always do your research and compare it with others. It is important to be clear about your usage needs and preferences to find the distro that might suit you well.

5. Looking for Installation Files Instead of Repositories

As discussed above, you need an EXE file to install software on Windows. You might follow the same practice on Linux to install apps. While you can find installation files for Linux apps, the better way is to use repositories.

On Linux, you install apps through repositories. Installation files are kept, released, secured, and maintained in repositories on a remote server.

The benefit of installing apps through these repositories is that you don’t have to manually look for, download, and run the installation files. You just input the package manager command in the terminal, and it will automatically download and install the files through the repository.

You can also look into Snap and Flatpak for quick and convenient app installation.

6. Using Wine Instead of Trying App Alternatives

If you are switching to Linux from Windows, you must be used to the features and software that it offers. You can use Wine to run Windows software and games on Linux and it can assist new users in adapting to Linux.

However, too much dependency on Wine is not suitable for many reasons. Firstly, the app running on Wine is not much stable and efficient. Secondly, excellent open-source alternatives are available for almost all popular Windows apps.

These alternatives are entirely free most of the time. So, avoid depending on Wine to run Windows software and let yourself immerse in the Linux experience fully.

7. Being Too Carefree About Security

Most users switch to Linux because it is more secure and privacy friendly. Linux system architecture makes it difficult for third-party files to access superuser privileges, making it more secure than Windows.

With this reputation, you might be tempted not to care about security at all, thinking the system is secure enough to counter any threat. But that’s not true because threats and viruses constantly evolve with the evolution of technology.

So being too carefree about security is a critical mistake you shouldn’t make after switching to Linux. Avoid downloading suspicious torrents and files to remain secure. Better yet, install one of these Linux antiviruses just to be on the safe side.

8. Thinking Linux and Ubuntu Are the Same

If you have only recently learned about Linux, chances are you might think Linux and Ubuntu are the same. But in reality, they are two different things. Linux is the kernel that helps an operating system (basically, software) interact with hardware, whereas Ubuntu is a Linux distro, meaning it is an operating system based on the Linux kernel.

As Linux is open source, you can easily customize it to create new versions. Distros like Ubuntu and Manjaro are operating systems made on top of Linux and have custom features.

9. Running Any Command Found on the Internet

The Linux terminal is a powerful tool that can potentially grant superuser access to applications. It is important to realize the criticality of using terminal commands to avoid security mishaps.

You must have come across various commands on the internet for installing apps or updates. While it’s impossible to memorize all the commands and not refer to guides on the internet, running just about any command that you find online can be dangerous because it may contain a security threat to your system.

Even a one-liner command can exploit your PC and the accounts stored on it. So it is best to make sure to search for commands only on reputable websites to stay safe.

10. Sharing Linux File Formats With Windows Users

Sharing Linux files with Windows users is a frustrating mistake that you should avoid. You need to understand that Linux and Windows are different in their functionality and environment.

The file extensions for Linux and Windows software are different too. For example, if you are using an MS Office alternative on Linux to edit text, the files created in that app might not translate well in MS Word and vice versa. The same goes for almost all the other Linux app alternatives for popular Windows software.

Although these alternatives try their best to help you export files in a format that’s compatible with other operating systems, you’re bound to run into outliers.

Mistakes Are Key to Learning Linux

If you have just transitioned to Linux or are planning to switch soon, these points will save you hours of frustrating internet searches.

Linux newcomers are often bombarded with misconceptions about Linux that aren’t true at all. It’s crucial that you clear your mind of these myths before installing a Linux-based operating system.

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