What NOT to do as a new Linux User

I started my journey in Zorin OS. Then used Mint, Fedora, Debian, Arch, Pop!_OS, and some more. Now I'm back to it! Not willing to brag here. Sorry if you guys felt like it. I only want to guide new friends of the Linux community not to commit major and minor mistakes I did. And others I fortunately did not.

  1. Using root privileges for no reason

Although it feels pretty cool to look like a hacker, to "sudo" things up on the terminal can pose security risks. Like when utilizing package managers other than your native one (in this case apt) or snap. I know. I did it.
Entering a root shell through "sudo -i" for a single desktop user won't create an opportunity for an attacker, but might make you yourself break the system. So "sudo -i" with responsibility.

  1. Executing told terminal commands without knowing what they do

There is a friendly aid: "man". Like typing, for example, "man ls". It lets you know what something does. Don't believe me? Ok. Consult it in Firefox, for man pages are also stored online. Then you won't fear doing it in the shell.
Some people are willing to help in the Linux world, but a few of them might simply "troll" newcomers out of malice. So at least check through a Google search what something causes before executing it in the shell.

  1. Not choosing native packages

They are more practical and easier to manage. In the Gnome Software, the software store front-end to Flatpak, Snap, and them, pick those.
There is nothing wrong installing the former if there isn't one. Don't fear it. But native ones are often better if you don't need the more up to date ones.

  1. Adding repositories without responsibility

Zorin is Ubuntu-based. That means the whole "internal parts" of it, as if it was a human body, are of Ubuntu.
It doesn't mean, though, you should install PPAs without discernment. Much less unwisely install apt packages of distros not based on Ubuntu, like Debian's.


Very well said and it is sound advice.
Are you also willing to have this thread be open that others can contribute tips for safe practices?


Yes! Isn't is already by default?

It is. But sometimes, it is better to close a tutorial to prevent a lot of ongoing discussions that tangent away from the Original Post and distract from the guide.:wink:


This List will grow...lol
Many have had plenty of learning mistakes. Self included.

Solid point. But how to consolidate people's contribution with a locked thread, if that is what you meant to say? Still, I'm yet figuring out how to "close" it. Not sure if I already have the privileges to do it.

Closing threads are on the moderators. They are the only ones with this power. We normally close tutorials and guides so general help questions, even regarding tutorials, are posted elsewhere so as not to clutter the guide with questions, issues and resolutions that most won't encounter.


Thanks for making it clear, friend.

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I have a couple of common mistakes that I encounter frequently.

  1. Do not expect Linux to be the same as Windows/MacOS.

    It's only natural to compare things to whatever equivalent one is most familiar with; this applies to just about anything: cars, food, traditions... However, it's unreasonable to expect two separate things to behave identically and that's often a common pitfall and source of frustration to new users.
    I've been guilty of this as well. I remember the first time I used a Macbook, having used Windows all my life, and found most things so out of place that I couldn't wait to shut it down. Be patient and have a little willingness to learn, it won't take long.

  2. Do not ignore error messages.

    How many times I've seen people asking about an issue they were having, showing a screenshot describing the root case and action needed to resolve it. Of course, error messages are often scary but once again a little patience is needed. More often than not, all the information is right there in plain language.


In regards to #2:
tput rev;read -p "Command? " in;tput sgr0;man $in # Show man page for a command

tput rev;read -p "Action? " in;tput sgr0;apropos $in # List of commands for action taken

tput rev;read -p "Command? " in;tput sgr0;sudo dpkg -S */$in$* # Show which package a command belongs to

tput rev;read -p "Package? " in;tput sgr0;sudo dpkg -L $in | xargs which # Show which commands belong to a package

compgen -c | sort | uniq # Show all available commands

I've set my terminal up so I have commands already-populated, with comments like above. It makes it really handy for looking things up.


Here's one that crippled my system. Ironic, same day I responded to this...lol Couldn't salvage, had to wipe fresh & reinstall.
Be careful of the icons you install, select. (In this case - Inspire).
Caused me to get stuck in that login loop. And timeshift didn't work after I re-installed.. Just got done doing everything from scratch.

This is a strange one, as icon sets are placed in a pretty isolated location and do should not have any access whatsoever to files that relate to login, xauthority or anything with timeshift.
Even a corrupted download or misplaced file or mis-configured index could not cause this.
Are you able to PM to me a link to this set so I can take a look at it?

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Double Post to update:

I downloaded and extracted the Inspire Icon set. There is nothing out of the ordinary - nor any malware.
I can only guess that sheer coincidence is involved.
An Icon set really cannot affect login or remove Timeshift files.
It may be a sector or block that contained crucial information failed - and the downloaded icons (being large files) overwrote that space on the drive - resulting in what you saw.

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I would only advise beginners on the following two points.

  1. Backup your user directory.
  2. Try and learn.

My advice is:

  1. Install Zorin OS to its own drive partitions, don't share it with any other OS.

  2. Save your personal files to external drive(s) formatted with NTFS... if your OS crashes, you can use any other flavor of Linux (or Windows) to access your drives; and if you need to bug out due to some catastrophe, just grab the drive(s) and go. And you can reinstall Zorin OS without losing your personal files.

  3. Have 3 drives on which you keep your personal files... each a full copy. If one drive fails (which happens), you've still got two copies. If two drives fail simultaneously (which has happened to me before), you've still got one copy.

  4. As a "the end is nigh" last option, also keep a fourth USB memory stick onto which you copy your personal files once a week or so. Don't keep it attached to the computer all the time, only when you're updating the files... a lightning strike may wipe out all your other drives, but you'll still have your personal files. Don't make this drive magnetic media.

  5. Keep whole-drive compressed backups of your OS drive(s). If a drive fails, drop in a same-sized or larger drive, boot the Zorin OS USB stick in 'Try Zorin' mode, copy the .img file back onto that drive, and you're back up and running. If your configuration becomes unbootable, boot the Zorin OS USB stick in 'Try Zorin' mode, copy the .img file(s) back to the OS drive(s), and you're back up and running.

  6. DO NOT rely upon snapshots as though they're a life-safety measure... they'll let you down at the oddest times (voice of experience), which is why #5.


This bears repetition.

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I don't think this is necessarily good advice. The problem with having multiple drives with identical data is that they wear and tear at similar rates, so hardware failure is likely to happen also at similar times. Accidental fires, theft or some other external factor can also destroy all copies of your data if you keep them in one place.

The famous 3-2-1 backup strategy accounts for all of this: Have 3 copies of your data in 2 separate media or storage devices, and keep 1 of them offsite.

In any case I think this is good advice in general not just Linux users. I think we've all been guilty of not doing this and suffered the consequences...

It would confuse new users to try to give them large amounts of knowledge. What is needed is essence.

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Did this last the other day, used deja dup (aka backups) and just saved my 'home' folder. After a fresh install downloaded packages, did a restore of home folder, it worked GREAT. Saved passwords, sign ins. So I'd recommend installing them prior to doing the restore. I was extremely satisfied.