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1.3 Linux FAQ and Myth-Busting

In this lesson we’ll go through some of the most common questions people have coming into the Linux world. We’ll dispel the most widespread myths that often prevent people from trying Linux and finding out just how great a platform it can be.

1.3 Linux FAQ and Myth-Busting

Hey, this is Kiz. Welcome back to Linux for web designers. In this video we're gonna go through some of the most commonly asked questions from people who are coming into working with Linux. And we're also gonna go through and bust some old myths that are still hanging around about Linux. The first myth that I want to burst, is the idea that Linux is really hard to install. That can be one of the things that's off-putting for people, thinking that they have to get into a really complex workflow to try to get Linux onto their system. In the past, yeah sure, it might have been hard to install Linux but now is a very straight forward process. Most have a graphical installer that handles the whole process for you. So you put Linux onto a bootable USB, you plug it in, boot up to that USB and then you'll get a step by step graphical process that will ask you questions like what kind of keyboard layout you want. What your time zone is, and most of them will detect if you all ready have it on the operating system on like Windows and give the option to install next to that system. Or to completely replace everything on your drive with your new Linux system. So it's really no more difficult than filling in a form on a website for example. Now alternatively if you want to, you can choose a version of Linux to install that does give you full command line control of every single thing that you install on to your system. But that's only if it's really important to you to have fine control over every little thing and if you're happy to take on that sort of challenge. But it's absolutely not necessary anymore. Next up and this is a really persistent notion about Linux and that is that it's difficult to use. This is another thing that is probably a fair thing to say in the past, but that's really not the case. There are hundreds of Linux distribution. Some are designed for people who really wanna get their hands dirty and do everything manually. But there are plenty that are designed to make Linux as straightforward and user-friendly as possible. Now, those distros are the ones that are most popular with the largest communities. So, by far, the biggest portion of Linux use now is focused on being user friendly. In my experience with this kind of distros, the easy views is on par with Mac or Windows. It's a different paradigm, so you do have to learn how things work in a different way. But other than just learning that different paradigm, there really is no enhanced difficulty over Mac or Windows. Like any operating system, you do need to learn it, but if you have the technical capability that allows you to be a web designer, you certainly have the capability It allows you to work with Linux. Now if you want to, you can sorta scale up the complexity of working with Linux. If you wanna dig deep into the system, and really tinker with the nuts and bolts, then you can find plenty of challenge, but all of that challenge is optional. If you want to just keep it straightforward, keep it user friendly, then you definitely can. Myth three is that there's a bunch of really complicated command line stuff that you have to do if you wanna work with Linux. That also is just not true. Again, in the past, you probably wouldn't have really been able to get far on a Linux machine without using command line, but now there are distros that have graphical tools to take care of pretty much everything if that's what you prefer. But that said though, even though you can use graphical tools for everything, you really would be missing out on some of the cooler stuff about working with Linux if you swear off ever working with command line at all. And what I'm talking about is doing some things by command line that are not complex. I'm not talking about really difficult things to learn. I'm just talking about things that are gonna make your life a lot easier. So if you've never used command line before, don't be put off. It's really a lot more approachable than a lot of the chatter that you might hear would make you think. Don't feel like command line is something that you should shy away from because if you do get into it and use it for some light things, it's gonna be really helpful. Myth number four is that there's no professional level of software on Linux. And just like the other myths that we've talked about so far, sure that used to be the case in all honesty. But that's really not true anymore. And again, being honest, it’s probably only quite recently that we've gotten to the point where the software that's available for you to use on Linux, is at that level where you can function as a professional web designer. And there's two reasons for that. One is that native software has gotten a lot better. We're talking about software projects that have got big communities of developers that have been working on these software applications consistently for a good amount of time, and the results are there to show for it. And then on top of the improving native software, you also now have a whole gamut based browser software that's really good. And any gaps that are left in a web design workflow that you can't quite smoothly fill with native Linux software. You can definitely fill with browser based software thrown into the mix. Now one of the things I want to let you know about as part of this course is not just all of the good things about Linux. I'm also gonna try to let you know about any gotchas that you might need to work around as well. So one of those things is that even though there is great professional level software available now in the mix, you may still run into a problem if you need to share files with colleagues. So if you have colleagues that absolutely need for you to give them PSD files for example, then you're going to have trouble trying to achieve that on Linux. There is almost no chance that you're ever going to see Adobe software running on Linux. And right now, there isn't any software on Linux that has a really good PSD import or export function. It's there to a degree, but not quite to the level that you would need to share with other people. However, on the flip-side, what you do have in this software is free of charge software applications or very, very low fee applications. So depending on whatever workflow you have, how many of the people you're working with, then you may be able to get your colleagues to consider using some different software as well, and potentially saving your company some money on software phase. And then beside from that, if the interaction that you need to do with other colleagues is part of a web design process, is that you need to hand off designs to coders. Then working with the kind of software that we are going to go through in this course could be a big advantage. Because those coders can now just use this free software to access the designs that you created. Meaning that now there's no need for any license fees or payments to be made to give coders the ability to access your designs. So that's a couple of the major myths. Now, I am just going to have a look at a couple of frequently asked questions. You might have heard me say the word distro a couple of times. Distro is short for distribution, so we talk about all the different distributions of Linux. This is where it can get a little bit confusing because Linux itself, is actually just the kernel. It's just one part of the overall operating system. But there are over 200 different operating systems that all use this Linux kernel, and they call come under this Linux umbrella term. So that kernel is pretty much on the base level of the operating system where you'll also find something called GNU. When you take a GNU plus Linux, then you get foundation of a whole operating system. Now just as a point of interest related to what we're talking about earlier with the free software movement. The free software movement and GNU are very closely tied. GNU stands for GNU's not Unix. Unix is the foundation of an operating system like Mac OS for example. And that's where you get some of the similarities between Mac OS and Linux. But GNU is created as an alternative to Unix with a view to maintaining software freedom. So in most Linux distros, you have GNU and Linux coming together, and then a whole bunch of other stuff gets piled on top and that makes up your whole operating system. Now, just as a point of interest, Android actually currently uses the Linux kernel, but it isn't typically classified as a Linux distro. I can't tell you exactly why Android isn't typically classed as a Linux distro, but it does use the Linux kernel, so that's just a point of interesting information. And that leads us to the next question is, okay, so what's the difference between one distro and another. So different distributions, they basically make a choice on what other code they wanna bring into the operating system on top of Linux and GNU. But this is a lot like what we do in a website. We decide if we're gonna bring in jQuery. We decide if we're going to use node, if we're going to use Angular, if we're gonna React or whatever else. You can also compare to a framework where you have a whole bunch of code that’s sort of prewritten, so that it has something that's very complete and get you off and running. So in the same way that every web framework is gonna use HTML, CSS and JavaScript, but then they might implement those things in different ways. Every Linux distribution is probably going to use Linux and GNU. But they're gonna implement it in different ways. So this is one example. This is how the elementary OS, operating system is put together. You can see at the bottom here we've got Linux and GNU. And then we have a bunch of other software libraries that are basically stacked on top that give us all of the rest of the functionality that we would expect in a typical operating system. And this is one distro, but other distros might have a whole different set of software libraries stacked on top of GNU and Linux. So that sort of the technicalities behind that, but the real thing you wanna use as an end user what difference does it make to me personally? Well typically choosing one distro versus another can affect exactly how a software gets installed, how updates are managed, whether you get big chunks of updates all at once in a major upgrade package or if you get lots of little upgrades over time in a rolling release model. Distros decide what applications are bundled in their operating system by default. So what media player, what Office software and things like that. And they also choose which desktop environments they wanna offer. And we're gonna go through in more detail how to choose a distro specifically for web design later. But I just mentioned desktop environments, and that brings us to the next question, what is a desktop environment? This is where you have one of these paradigm shifts, where working with Linux is a little different to working with Mac or Windows. So, a desktop environment is basically the UI that you have over the top of your system. Now you can compare this, once again, to a website. So for example, let's say you have a website that's using certain code libraries and functionality to make it work on the back end. Now that is independent to how the user is gonna interact with it on the front end. But you have the same thing with Linux distributions. Each distribution has it's own way of handling things on the back end. But then on top of that, they integrate a user interface that is typically contained in it's own modular project. So, a desktop environment controls how your desktop looks, how you interact with your desktop, what options you have for customizing your desktop. Often it influences what default software there is, so for example your file manager, your terminal system monitor and things like that. But because a desktop environment is separate from the underlying operating system most distros will elect to choose from more than one desktop environment. So to try and draw a parallel to working with Mac and Windows. If you could imagine that you could have a system that worked behind the scenes just like Windows so you could install XEs and Windows only games for example. But then the user interface looks exactly like Mac with the buyer across the top and a dark end finder and app store and what have you. And that might seem a little alien, but that's pretty much how things work in Linux. So when you go to download an operating system that you're interested in using, you can look at the desktop environments they offer, and you can say, yeah, I'm gonna choose this one, because this is my favorite. And that's really cool in two ways. One, because you can have the same operating system with different ways to interface with it, and two, you can find out which desktop environment is your favorite. And then have a whole wide range of different choices of underlying operating system, that you can then interface with in the exact same way that you're already comfortable with. I guess, so there's the main myths and FAQs that I want to cover. There are plenty of others, but those are the ones that I see most commonly asked about. Now we're gonna move into the main section of this course. And that is where we're gonna start going through into the more practical steps of actually getting you set up with a great work flow in Linux for web design. We're gonna start by looking at how you can choose a Linux distribution for web design. And there are a lot of choices and don't be overwhelmed by that because honestly it's really part of the fun. You go from being restricted to pretty much just two operating systems, and having it be a big deal switching from one to the other. To now having 100's of choices, having it really not the difficult to switch from one to the other and just having lots and lots of choice. And it is really good fun testing all of these different distributions it's kind of addictive to be honest. So, in the next video, we are gonna go through what the considerations are that you should bear in mind as you set out to find the distro that's your favorite, that's gonna be really great for web design workflows. So we are gonna talk about that in the next video. I'll see you there.

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