Windows girl goes Fedora

By Annelie Gullberg, August 2005.

Editors note:

As the founder and maintainer of I asked a member who I knew didnt know much about computers or even less about technicalities, to write a review. I wanted to see how difficult she would find it and also to open our eyes to what level of patience we might need in the forums or on IRC, when someone new comes in, asking for help. Here it is, a review from a total newbie. It describes her thoughts on trying linux for the first time (and sticking with it too).

Feel free to discuss this review on the forums.

First Impressions
The Terminal
Work spaces
NTFS mounting
using Mplayer to play videos
Using linux and its' programs
Digital camera
Dual boot


When I came across the word 'noob' or 'newbie' I found that most of the self claimed beginners knew more than what I would interpret the meaning of the word. A noob is someone like me. Someone who honestly doesn't know much about computers, at least not the technical aspect of it. Someone who will need to be taught and explained to as if I was a little child. That's a noob! And I am proud to be one – a real newbie. Perhaps someday I will be able to help other people but so far I am quite happy to achieve the simplest task ;) I was introduced to Fedora Core 3 when someone close to me thought I should give it a try. 'Sure' I said and he started installing it for me. I was feeling excited about trying it out as I had heard so much about it. Even my little 6 year old boy was using it and spoke about it with fast words and gestures. And then I got the computer with the finished product installed, my laptop containing the treasure... the distro I would stick with, Fedora Core Release 3.

Back to top ^^

First Impressions

I wanted to surf, that's what I knew. I was determined to be able to use this program just like with Win, cause to be honest, you become somewhat lazy. You have all you need under 'bookmarks' and you know very well where to go and what to click to be able to see videos etc etc... To my help I had FireFox, which brought me into cyberspace. “You'll love the tabs” , I was told. Ofcourse it would turn out to be right. I am predictable I guess, but at the time I had no idea what he was talking about. I wanted to know where and how I could access my stuff from Windows. If I was going to learn this stranger, I needed to know that I could have all my old stuff there with me, such as pictures and documents. It turned out I had to do a NTFS mounting of files. And yes, it was as complicated as it sounds, but I'll get to that later. Fedora Core gave me a run for my money. How on earth would I ever master this art that is used by so many, loved by so many when to me it all could be expressed with three little words: Weird, complicated and scary. Well, thank gosh for and the #linux-noob IRC channel on EFNET ;)

Back to top ^^

The terminal

People talked about writing codes in something called 'console' and it took me a while to understand that they were not talking about something that would pop up when pressing Ctrl+Tab. They were actually talking about the TERMINAL. You know, that little black TV screen (or monitor if you'd like) in the left upper corner.

Ok seeing as I didn't install this myself I am not sure if that's something that's there as a standard or if you would have to install/add it to where you want it, but for me it was there au naturel and it's a mighty good place to have it at as well ;)

A little window would open and this is where you'd type your commands and codes. It was all quite interesting and even though, very complicated for me, refreshing all the same. I made myself create a little 'things to remember' file (in GEDIT) with my first linux commands and this is what I had in my file:

su -– (log in as root=administrator)

pwd – Where am I in the Terminal (what directory)

ls (or dir)- Show the contents of current directory

cd /home - (cd= change directory)

uname -a (showing your version of kernel)

uname --help (get details/info about a command)

rpm -ivh ( i(install) v(verbose) h(hash mark progress indicator)= so that you can see the installation progress of an rpm.

mkdir /home/miss_lia/WinXP = Creates a folder in home/miss_lia

fdisk -l = lists the file systems (it basically shows you the partitions/what file systems they are)

gthumb - show thumbnails

And these little commands have been helpful, to say the least. If nothing else I have been using them when I felt like I wanted to pretend I was a Linux expert. A few commands here and there and voila!

Back to top ^^


Here's a default for Linux, The workspaces. If you want to have things organised, this is the way to do it. In your bottom right corner you will see four different workspaces. I found them when accidentally pressing something and my windows dissapeared. i thought my laptop was haunted but then I found it again... on a different workspace. Now I can easily have everything the way I want it, easy to find and use. This is usually how I use the workspaces:

W1. Internet browsing (emails, blogging, newspapers etc)

W2. Chatting (Xchat, newsgroups etc)

W3. Image programs (image places online, GIMP etc)

And the TABS that I mentioned earlier, will help you get organised as well. You might want to open a window and IN that window you can have more windows (by just pressing Ctrl+T). You can have a cascade of little tabs and the best thing of all: You can reload them ALL at the same time! Such a time saver ;)

Back to top ^^

Mounting NTFS

I think this is one of the first things I did. I wanted to be able to create homepages and needed some old stuff from Windows. I had actually heard about NTFS before, working in a computer company (yeah * har *) but I didn't really have any idea what it did. So I was guided to a link in the forums and it was only for me to follow it to the best of my abilities. And yes, I had to ask a few times but I did it, I managed to open up the door to where I can reach my old stuff in Window and use them in Fedora. Quite amazing how it works, don't you think? Have a good read at what I did and what you will have to do if you are mounting a different file system. NTFS howto.

Back to top ^^

Playing videos isn't that easy

Next problem/motivation arrived as I was trying to watch a video clip in a newspaper website. I downloaded the file but it wouldn't play. After asking around I was told that I needed something called Mplayer, since the 'normal' Win Player or Media Player didn't cut it in this new world. Yet another link, yet another hurdle and hours spent. This time it was a bit harder because even though I managed to install it, it still didn't work. I had to be sending screenshots from my Terminal and then receiving help back, as to what I was doing wrong and what I should be doing instead. It took some time and effort but eventually I was able to get it playing my videos. For help on how to install and get Mplayer working for you, look at: Mplayer howto.

Back to top ^^

Using Linux and it's programs


I needed somewhere where I could write my stuff, my little notes and scribbles and since I was used to Ms Word and Notepad I was able to use gedit which comes with Gnome. Of course some problems arose (it's not a sport otherwise). As I saved the text the very first time, I clicked 'Save As' and saved. Then I continued writing and thought that a simple 'Save' would do and in fairness, it did, but not the way I wanted it to. Somehow it duplicated my text into another Gedit file. I tried again and it did the same thing. Three different files I got before I threw in the towel and asked for help. And to be honest I have no idea who did what or if anyone did anything, because today it works fine, just the way it should. Maybe I was doing something wrong, but I'll never find out. This is one of the 'You'll learn from your mistakes' that I won't learn from =)


Now this is the program (apart from Firefox and GAIM, then) that I use the most. I love creating art and editing images. Gimp, I found had a lot of similarities with Paint Shop Pro and Adobe Photoshop. You can use layers and change opacities and get very neat borders. I have found tutorials on the Internet and guidelines as to how to create certains icons with sliding backgrounds and animations. I created an animation, I am proud to say but the whole sliding background I still haven't been able to do. Gimp is a wonderful thing, but also very frustrating. Due to lack of time right now I have put it aside but the tutorial that I didn't master is still on my agenda, on top, infact.


Of course I must mention Gaim as well. Being a surfer who spends the time online checking mail or chatting, I needed it. There was no MSN Messenger to be found, so I found Gaim instead. It didn't take long for me to figure out that I didn't needed to add anyone to my list. Somehow the program is connected to Msn Messenger (or a lot of other instant messenger clients, such as ICQ) and it will pick up your contact's list once you enter your login details correctly. Very handy. Also, you can actually have different accounts (through different emails or IMC) and you can simultaniously have them open as well. It gave me a sense of professionalism, that's for sure.


On occasion I hop into this Real time chat place (IRC) using a program called Xchat. If you have been using Windows you are probably familiar with IRC or MIRC but let me tell you, this is way cooler. Ok, so the silly slapping games (“X slaps X around with a large trout”) are gone, but who needs to be bitchslapped by wet, innocent water animals anyway? Instead they have features that catch your eye. If someone is talking to you, writes your name, that sentence becomes red, which is excellent for when you have been away from the computer a while and want to see if you have missed anything.
You will see your Ops and friends in different colored buttons, you'll be able to use quick controls (like ban, kick etc) using a navigation bar at the top. And the layout is neat and fresh and easily navigated. +++ from me.
I know that you can access Xchat through Windows as well but seeing as it's default here and not there, I think most people tend to go for irc/mirc.

Back to top ^^

Using a digital Camera

Being a mother of three, I take a lot of pictures. And I found that it was too much of a hassle to bring the negatives in for development, so I got myself a camera. A digital camera. (It's so great, you can actually just delete the pics where you didn't end up looking as good as planned haha).

Anyway, what's great about using it in Linux is that it's a fast process. Fast and painless. All you need to do is to plug the camera into your USB port and turn it on. Up bounces a window that asks you if you want to download your images onto the hard drive and off you go. In fact – it's the very same with screen shots! Gone are the days where you had to take the shot, then open a paint program, paste and then save it. In Linux FC3 you click the screen shot button and straight away a window pops up, ready to save, ready to go. I'm impressed =)

And should it not work as you want, read this: screenshot howto, you can change the 'timer' if you want more time too...Instead of 'sleep 3s; import -window root screenshot.png' you can have 10, for example. Just change the 3 to a 10.

Back to top ^^

Dual Boot

However... I have a website for my kids, where family and friends can keep up with their different stages of toddlerhood and school etc... and that particular site uploads your pictures from your hard drive onto the website SO EASY if you are using Windows and IE. (Instead of having to upload one by one, you have the chance of uploading 30+ at a time!) So with that knowledge, I often boot into Windows.

We have Dual Boot. How convenient if you think about it. To be able to log off your current operating system and then just reboot in to another. It takes a simple click as you restart. You have a few seconds to select what OS you would like to use and that's it.

Still, with Windows so close and handy – I chose to use Linux! I like it, I like the feel of it... it's different, fresh and I am proud to be able to use it.

Go Linux =)

Back to top ^^


Click to see big picture (1400x1050 pixels; 166 KB))
Click to see big picture (1400x1050 pixels; 295 KB))
Click to see big picture (1400x1050 pixels; 284 KB))
Click to see big picture (1400x1050 pixels; 115 KB))
Click to see big picture (1400x1050 pixels; 493 KB))
Click to see big picture (1400x1050 pixels; 136 KB))

Back to top ^^

(c) 2005.
Created by anyweb on August 16, 2005