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Up front, there is just one burning question in mind for my conversion. Is learning one flavour of linux readily translatable to skilled use of the others? Like the car/motorcycle ...
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  1. #1
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    Does one largely equate to another?


    Up front, there is just one burning question in mind for my conversion.

    Is learning one flavour of linux readily translatable to skilled use of the others?

    Like the car/motorcycle analogy of the sticky on the top of this forum - is learning it like learning to drive, and no matter which car you drive in, its pretty much the same skills, but just the placement of the controls (syntax) you would have minor adjustment to get used to?

    If I take up Ubuntu, practise with that as a server, learn the command line, learn the packages, the firewall techniques, and so on.. if some day I need to get my head into OpenSUSE, is that a totally different leap? Or is it a small step?

    Thanks for any insights you can provide.

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    I'm in no way a Linux guru, or even that knowledgeable; but I have tried a handful of different distributions. Except for the small things like package managers, or desktop environments, everything seems more or less the same. So I think an analogy that best fits would be:

    It's like learning to drive a car, and then switching to a jeep. Different styles but essentially the same.

    That's just my layperson's opinion though. I could be wrong.

  3. #3
    Linux Guru jmadero's Avatar
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    distros definitely have some differences that can become irksome to get used to and even hard to overcome the differences at times. I'd even say the longer you use one distro the harder the switch can be, I started with Fedora, used it for about a year, then went to OpenSuse for awhile (less than a year) and ended up with Ubuntu. Been using Ubuntu for years now and every time I try to switch I just get irritated and don't want to spend the time "relearning" basic things (for instance installing drivers).

    Is it possible? Of course. And I'd say the specific change you were looking at (Ubuntu to OpenSuse) is one of the easier ones since both distros are basically for newer users. Now a switch from Ubuntu to Gentoo, Ubuntu would give you very little of the experience required to use Gentoo correctly. OpenSuse is KDE based while Ubuntu by default is Gnome based so that is a relatively big difference (it'd just require time getting to know the placement of things and even little commands like editing a text file is different by default)

    Ubuntu
    sudo gedit /etc/samba/smb.conf
    would edit gedit at super user level

    OpenSuse
    su -
    super user password entered
    kate /etc/samba/smb.conf
    that's just for a really really simple example
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    Linux Engineer hazel's Avatar
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    I would say the difference between Gnome and KDE is quite dramatic, and you can have both these desktops in the same distro.

    The default desktop and apps, and the package manager are two of the things that differ most between distros. Also the extent to which they are novice-friendly. As jmadero said, jumping from Ubuntu (very novice-friendly) to Gentoo (definitely for experts) would be painful. But going from Ubuntu to Debian is easy, and from Debian to Gentoo or Arch is a much shorter jump.

    The underlying structure is much the same in all Linux distributions. It's the surface which is different.
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    Linux Guru Cabhan's Avatar
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    The vast majority of skills that you learn by using Linux apply equally to every distro.

    There are some things that you will have to relearn, as people have said. However, these tend to not be particularly difficult, and even examples like the su/sudo example may not be great, because Ubuntu can be set up to use su, and SuSE can be set up to use sudo.

    You may occasionally get into more architecture-level stuff with init scripts, for instance (System V is most common, but there are some that are BSD style, and others that are completely unique). If you're actively packaging software, then the differences between producing RPMs, .debs, and those Gentoo files (can't remember what they're called) are quite large.

    I suspect that the largest difference can be in discovering things that one distro has hidden from you. For instance, the shift from Ubuntu to Gentoo would certainly require relearning some skills, but it would also expose you to a number of things that Ubuntu handles for you, but Gentoo requires you to be explicit about.

    But overall, learning any distribution will put you in a pretty good spot with any other.

  7. #6
    Linux User zenwalker's Avatar
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    Personally use Slackware-based distros for the very thing you refer to in your question --

    "Is learning one flavour of linux readily translatable to skilled use of the others?" --

    "translatable" being the key word. Labels for files and directories change, but underlying mechanics are very similar, if not identical. Something about going with the oldest appeals to me.

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    Just Joined! tyho's Avatar
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    About the gedit-kate example: Yes, they differ a lot, but as Cabhan said, you can set up ubuntu to use su and SuSe to use sudo. Also, you can choose a different editor: I use emacs for pretty much anything on every system. So you don't have to change your habits if you don't want to.

    I have another question:
    Does a setup of an "expert system" (e.g. Gentoo) teach you anything about other, more user-friendly systems? In other words, if I installed Gentoo on my computer, would it help me to understand Debian? With understanding, I don't mean "How do I set up XY?" but rather understanding the hidden parts...

  9. #8
    Linux Guru reed9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tyho View Post
    I have another question:
    Does a setup of an "expert system" (e.g. Gentoo) teach you anything about other, more user-friendly systems? In other words, if I installed Gentoo on my computer, would it help me to understand Debian? With understanding, I don't mean "How do I set up XY?" but rather understanding the hidden parts...
    I would say yes. For me, at least, installing and using Arch has taught me more about linux in general than distro hopping through a dozen more "user friendly" distros did before. The translation issue comes from knowing how to accomplish a particular task in other distros. For example, loading or blacklisting modules and adding/removing services in Arch seems to me a trivial task, just a simple edit in rc.conf; trying to accomplish the same in Ubuntu feels unnecessarily complicated and opaque. (Just read the man page for update-rc.d)

  10. #9
    Just Joined! tyho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by reed9 View Post
    I would say yes. For me, at least, installing and using Arch has taught me more about linux in general than distro hopping through a dozen more "user friendly" distros did before.
    OK, thanks for the hint! I guess, that's something I'll try some day... once I am back home and got a normal desktop system again

  11. #10
    Linux Guru Cabhan's Avatar
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    I used to be a heavy Gentoo user until I left it because of a growing anger with their package management. I'm now on Ubuntu, and I feel that I take advantage of Ubuntu's handle-lots-of-things-for-me attitude.

    However, I understand what is going on behind the scenes. When something breaks, I have some insight into what happened and some idea of how to fix it.

    Even though, for instance, Ubuntu handles all of my filesystems and such for me, understanding fstab and how mount functions can only make things clearer.

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