Yet, the choice of an expert is the least problem.
What about the choice of the Manuals (which Manual to read and which not to read, and which to read top top), when you even don't know what is important at this stage and what is not, and what does 'impotant' in linux mean. Once you start reading the Manuals you may never end up (or at least within the foreseeable future) with them.
On the other hand learning the OS by the method of Trial & Error may also prove to be waste of time. One may learn things that are not correct (bad software engineering practices) and that may be even totally wrong, or that may impose unnecessary risks to the OS.
What shall we do then?
- Well, start asking questions.
Question number one: 'What is the best distro?' is a good question but it is not the first one (to be asked). Question number zero is 'What does that mean?' (what is my understanding of the best distro and what is the general understanding of this, and what is the formal definition of 'the best distro'). Best in terms of what? ... best suited to my qualification and skills, best placed on my hardware platform, optimal for my applications, or all of these ... and what are my applications going to be? Am I going to make a Web server, a Desktop Machine, a Database Server, Forex Tradestation or something else. Best distro for a web server may turn to be not the best distro for a desktop even on one and the same computer platform. In the general case the latest distros are not the best distro for your computer platform (which may be rather old) and applications (which may not be supported any more).
Next question: 'What is the difference between local installation (from a Live CD, for example), and a web based installation?'. Where can I download a Live CD from and how to burn the .iso on a CD?
Now we have some objectives. Reading the Manuals is not always waste of time, but reading the Manuals without any purpose is for sure.
If you feel more comfortable learning by the method of Trial & Error, read a little (from the Manuals) and test a little (on the Computer).
When testing whatsoever one should always have in mind the 'Big Picture', and the problem is not that there exist newbies that may read several books before start understanding the Big Picture - the problem is that there exist 'experts' that may write several books before having the Big Picture.
So the next question is - 'What is the Big Picture in linux?'
Example of the answer:
- Linux is an OS placed on different hardware platforms (servers, desktops, mobiles, etc.)
- Linus is a UNIX-like OS with a kernel
- Linux is packaged in software distribution packages, called Distros
- The most famous linux distros are: Fedora, Ubuntu, OpenSuse, CentOS, Debian, Gentoo, etc.
- The graphical user interface of the OS is the X Window System - most popular versions of which for Desktop are Gnome and KDE
- The user interface is organized through Command Line Interface (CLI - on the System Terminal) and Graphical User Interface (the SubMenus of the X Window System).
- The applications are distributed in packages (.rpm), tarballs (.tar) (unlike the .com and .exe files in Windows)
- The Windows emulator for .com and .exe files is WINE, but running .com and .exe files under linux is considered to be unserious
- There are linux applications that provide compatibility with the Windows users at file format level (.doc, .ppt, .xls, .m4v, .pdf)
- The best approach of installing software under linux is from RPMs (intended for your linux distro: Fedora, Ubuntu, Debian; and your computer platform - i586 (Intel Dual-32 bit architecture), x86-64 (AMD 64), Itanium (Intel Quad-64 bit architecture), etc.); with a Package Manager;
- The most widely distributed Package Managers are - rpm (RHEL), yum (Fedora), apt-get (Gentoo), portage, and gem (for ruby Gemstones).
- The package managers may be run from the System Terminal - by writing $ yum; $ rpm etc.; or from a Graphical User Interface (in Fedora for example, by selecting: System -> Administration -> Add/Remove Software: calls RPM; Applications -> Systems Tools -> Yum Extender: calls Yum (the various distros have different path in the X Window system)).
- When looking for a package look always at first in the repository list;
- When searching packages on the web, specify: <package name> <your distro> <your platform> .rpm
- The batch files in MS Windows (.bat) correspond to the shell files (.sh) in linux
- The OS has a set of background processes (called Daemons) that are started at staring the OS (some of which are critical for the work of the OS)
- The daemons in Fedora (for example) could be accessed from: System -> Administration -> Services
- If you don't know something - there is always Google search, and Wikipaedia, before the Manuals
- Look for a definition of a term and examples on the web before 'reading the Manuals'
- If you don't know what you are looking for - there are linux forums on the web
One can amend and extend the Big Picture with some procedural and priority rules, if he would feel more comfortable.
If one knows the Big Picture he can 'sacrifice' two or three installations of linux distros on his computer, which is much faster than reading the Manuals at first. Even if you fail to the level to 'read the Manuals', always ask questions, look for the definitions of the terms, and know always when to stop reading (and to start testing).
Now to answer the question 'What is the best linux distro?': download from the net 2-3 linux distros for your computer platform and find out which is 'the best'.
Without an intention to frighten the 'paper rats', but there is no way to answer this question by 'reading the Manuals' only.