L14 and new to linux

So as a new to Linux user, as the L14 will be my first Linux machine, what tips can everyone offer for initial setup, etc. that newbies would often overlook, or mistakes of the “I wish I had known to do that” nature? Everything from naming the laptop, do I need a firewall, initial must have apps, loading my data/files (pics, music, LibraOffice, etc) from a backup thumb drive, etc.

I’ve been looking at basic Linux commands as well, to create a cheat sheet of sorts, for starting out, and tutorials as to how to download apps, which method(s) is/are best, or favored, and why.

Honestly, anything any of you more experienced users can think of that I will encounter the first month or two in getting setup and acquainted with the laptop and PureOS. I still use windows at work, and have a macbook pro at home, if that matters any, to illustrate where I am coming from.

Thanks in advance!

Try to document every configuration you do (even if it’s just a link to a tutorial you found online). This way you know what you did, how to undo it and it saves you a lot of time if you need to do it again. My biggest regret is not doing this from day 1.

Since you mentioned naming the laptop, just remember that your host name as well as your username is by no means private and some programs send it as telemetry. Just use generic names to identify your device/account. (I like using elements from the periodic table for my host names).

On how to download apps: Try to always get apps that are available from your distribution repository (sudo apt install appname from the terminal or simply install directly from the software app). If the app is not available, my second choice is to compile it from source, and if that isn’t available, the app is not free and you probably don’t want to install it (that defeats the purpose of using Pure OS)

If you have any specific questions and don’t want to bother the whole forum with it, don’t hesitate to write me a DM


Thanks I’m sure I will find many questions to contact you with!

You’re going to love the freedom and general lack of frustration.

Always apply updates. Applications and/or bits and pieces of the system will receive updates almost daily, sometimes several times a day.

Keep in mind that if you don’t like PureOS, you have the freedom to replace it with another distribution, or to simply dual-boot both distributions. I use Linux Mint, which I think is fantastic and easy, but have never tried PureOS.

Some distributions are “rolling releases” and some are “long term support” releases. Others are more short term. With a rolling release, the system can be kept indefinitely, as updates keep coming. With a long term support release (LTS), the distro may be good for 5 years, for example, after which it will no longer receive any updates at all. Before its end of life, you should upgrade to the next LTS. Some distros make it possible to upgrade the distro to the next version without wiping and reinstalling. With others you may have to totally reinstall the OS. (Or you can choose a fresh install anyway.)

Set your machine to make automatic backups of the system on a regular basis. This will make it easy to revert any bad changes you make, and will also make it easy to set up your system again whenever you reinstall the OS.

Firewall: Yes, definitely. Your distro will likely include a simple application with good defaults already set.

As for apps, after you’ve checked out the ones that are installed by default, add any additional ones you think you need. You can install from the software app, the terminal, or (likely) Synaptic Package Manager, if it’s part of your distro.

Terminal commands: remember you don’t have to know everything at once. Learn them as you need them.

When querying the internet for answers, pay attention to the date of the article and which distro it’s referencing. Debian-based distros, like PureOS, Ubuntu, Linux Mint, etc., use different commands from, say, Arch. (To state it simply.)

I hope this is not insultingly basic. Enjoy!

By the way, I think it would be interesting for us all if you posted all your questions here. For some, it has been a while since we switched to Linux, so understanding what obstacles, if any, new users encounter can help us to help them in the future.


Thanks, and I’m sure I’ll be sticking to PureOS for the time being, and possibly experiment in the future when I feel more comfortable.

And always assume I know nothing at this point, nothing is too basic. Ecen the most basic things for experienced users will be brand new for me.

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This explanation of the Linux file structure may be useful:


Speaking of the terminal, when you open it, it starts in your Home folder: whatever user name you have chosen will be displayed at the prompt. As user, even though you own the machine and set up the OS, you are not root (i.e. “admin”) at this point. You can execute any commands that don’t require root privilege. This is a security precaution.

To execute commands that do require root privilege, simply preface the command with “sudo” (super user do, or some call it “switch user and do”) and enter your password. It’s equivalent to raising yourself to admin temporarily. When you close the terminal, you will revert back to non-root level.

If you’re following some internet instructions to execute some random commands, make sure you understand what the commands are doing. You don’t want to download something from an unofficial and untrusted source.


The best advice I can give you is just to use it.


If you find.you have to reinstall your OS for some reason, be proud: you’ve just become a Linux user.


Learn to use git! Start as soon as possible. Then, have your config files under revision control as a git repo. GNU Linux distributions usually have system-wide config files (eg things in your /etc folder) and user config files (often dot files (ie .profile, .bash_profile, etc) in your /home/username , or under /home/username/.config). Keep those files under version control, too, if you changed them.

Keep a clone of this repository on some reputable online service (ie sr.ht, or gitlab).

Do not keep confidential files (unless encrypted) online, tho.

Additionaly, start learning Emacs :stuck_out_tongue:

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Seems a bit advanced for a new user, no?

Get a big second hard drive. Clone your usual drive. Use some of the extra space to make a partition to save yet another copy of just your home directory. Now you have a system that should not be able to fail. With some space still in hand you can install different versions of linux and try out as many as possible. Physically remove the first hard drive if you are unsure about the install process. Each new install will expose you to different apps and their advantages, different setups commands and methods. take a look at the linux tree for suggestions:https://distrowatch.com/images/other/distro-family-tree.png Playing around is the only way to learn.

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What exactly? Git, or Emacs? :slight_smile:

The basic concepts of both are relatively straightforward and I’ve seen novices picking them up in no time. Just take baby steps.

I’m not suggesting OP learns Elisp, cherry pick commits, or learn one of merging flows, just very basics (git clone, commit, push) .

PureOS is really friendly to newcomers. My partner is not a computer-head one bit and she is able to get along just fine. I would rate the following up as must haves:

  • LibreOffice
  • Rhythmbox
  • Evolution or Geary
  • Firefox

Optionals that I just love include the following:

After that, I think a lot will come down to what you need your computer for. For general home use, most of that will get you going just fine.

Finally, welcome to Linux. There is a lot of documentation out there and much of it varies in level of sophistication and may or may not apply to you. One of the things I learned in my journey (Slackware 8.1 represent!) is to backup precious files before embarking on trying to fix or add something to my system. As a neophyte, I would sometimes not be able to recognize whether or not the solution I found online was right for me. And I would end up painting myself into a corner. Damage control via backups is just a decent way of addressing that risk.

And please, feel free to ask more questions as you continue on. We are here to help you.


One of the common mistake made by new user coming from other OS, is to expect finding the applications they are used to
Sometimes they are lucky and a linux version exists, else sometimes wine can run perfectly the missing windows app, else you will have to find a equivalent/remplacement application
Feel free to search and ask on forums if you don’t find what you need

An other thought about the differences is that GNU/Linux is more about configuring your computer to how you want it to run, from small user configurations to crazy kernel modifications
Where Apple and Windows knows better than you what you want/need, and you will just have to follow wherever they want you to go
But you can also let you drive by the GNU/Linux distribution you choose if this is the kind of computer you want

About the terminal, you may have to use it for some tips given in articles or forums, but you also may not touch it, depends on how much you’d like to control your computer.
It may seems complicated and scary, but if you try to understand how it works, you’ll see that it is not that complicated

It really depends on your profil, but I would absolutely not recommend the use of git or emacs for a basic new user, it’s overkill, maybe once you’ve started to appreciate using the terminal it could be interesting


My basic advice is to find someone you can bug when you inevitably break the OS. Ideally someone physically close, who you can meet and who will make your system boot again, or make your internet connection work, or even explain something hard to describe by showing it.


LibreOffice, Standard Notes, and Signal desktop are all on my list, with BitWarden, and what do you think of Dolphin file manager? or do I even need one?

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Using myself as an example, I had never heard of Emacs until I saw it mentioned in the forum a few months ago, and I’ve been using Linux at home since about 2009 or 2010. (And I still don’t really know what it is.) So I naturally question how useful it would be for a new Linux convert.

As for git, I don’t really interact with it, either.

Maybe I’ve been missing out all these years! :slightly_smiling_face:

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You don’t need any of them, even they can be useful. Git would not be in the top ten I would recommend to a Linux newbie.

Emacs is much but at first I would say it is a text editor. It is powerful, so maybe worth to learn but like vim it is really not intuitive and there are alternatives like gedit, nano and so on.

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I think Dolphin is fine. For most it seems intuitive enough. One thing that I think is worthy of note is to try to eject one’s USB devices from Dolphin before disconnecting. While it hasn’t happened a lot, I have bricked a couple of portable drives that way. Two to be exact. They were using Veracrypt (ooh! Add Veracrypt to your list) so that might have had an influence there too.

Just be cautious around that.