An Easy Way to Learn Linux

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Do you want to learn Linux? It may be easier than you think.

I’ve wanted to learn Linux and get the Linux+ certification for a while now, but I don’t have a Linux system. Knowing that I’m a kinesthetic learner, I know that I learn much better when I do things rather than just reading about them.

Knowing this, I needed a Linux system.

Learn Linux

Learn Linux from a Bootable USB

Most systems can boot from a USB device by modifying the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) or Basic Input/Output System (BIOS). Additionally, there are now several bootable USBs available for sale.

Once you configure your system, these allow you to choose what operating system to boot into. As an example, I have a system with Windows. It can now boot into either Windows or Linux.

After looking around, I ended up buying one that booted into the Linux Mint Cinnamon distribution.  Linux Mint is a flavor of Ubuntu, one of the distributions recommended by CompTIA in the Linux+ Proposed Hardware and Software List.  After using this system for Linux for a couple of months, I verified that the system still boots into Windows without any problems.

Learn Linux with Linux Mint

Learn Linux with Linux Mint

After buying one and modifying the UEFI or BIOS, you can boot into a fully functional Linux system with these steps:

  1. Plug in the USB.
  2. Reboot the computer.
    The Mint USB that I bought launches the YUMI MultiBoot USB menu.
  3. Select Linux Distributions.
  4. Select the Linux menu item.
    The USB I bought displays a Linux Mint menu item.

Accessing the BIOS or UEFI

To access the BIOS or UEFI, you simply press a key or key combination while the system is booting. Traditionally, this is the F1 or F2 key.  You must enter the key at the right time. Otherwise, the system will boot to the operating system. If I want to get into the BIOS or UEFI, I let my finger dance on the F1 and F2 keys hoping I’m entering the key in time.

Unfortunately, several systems require you to use alternate keys. The good news is that you can usually read the directions on the screen as the system is booting to identify the key that will take you to the BIOS/UEFI.

However, Windows 10 systems sometimes boot too quickly making this a frustrating experience. Instead, you can use these steps within Windows 10 to reboot into the UEFI menu.

Warning: Ensure you read each menu item before selecting it. Some menu items can restore your system to factory defaults causing you to lose all data or reset security settings erasing key security information.

  1. Click start, type Settings, and press Enter to start the Settings app.
  2. In the Settings App, click on Update and Security.
    Alternately, you can enter Recovery Options in search text box and press Enter.
  3. In Update & Security, click on Recovery.
  4. Warning: This step will reboot your PC. Ensure you have saved all your work.
    In Recovery, scroll down to the Advanced Startup section and click on Restart now.
  5. After the system reboots, you’ll see a menu. Select Troubleshoot.
  6. In the Troubleshoot menu, select Advanced Options.
  7. In the Advanced Options menu, select UEFI Firmware Settings.
  8. In the UEFI Firmware Settings menu, click Restart.

Modifying the BIOS or UEFI

The most challenging thing I faced with this is getting my system to boot from the USB. It has a UEFI and all the settings weren’t obvious to me at first.

My first step was to set the BIOS Settings -> General -> Boot Sequence to go to the USB first. Theoretically, by setting the system to boot from the USB first, it would always look for a bootable USB first. It didn’t. Instead, the system ignored this setting.

Three other settings needed to be modified:

  • Enable Legacy Option ROMs
  • Enable Attempt Legacy Boot
  • Disable Secure boot

Warning: Ensure you read each menu item before selecting it. Some menu items can restore your system to factory defaults causing you to lose all data or reset security settings erasing key security information.

In this context, legacy refers to the older BIOS. The first two settings are in Settings -> General -> Advanced Boot Options. For my system, I just checked the box for each.

The third setting was in the Settings -> Secure Boot -> Secure Boot Enable section. For my system, I selected Disabled.

Last, if your system has a Trusted Platform Module that has been enabled, you’ll need to disable the Platform Trust Technology (PTT) feature. In the Settings -> Security -> PTT Security section, ensure the PTT On checkbox is disabled.

Check out our Linux+ Study package here.

Learn Linux

Learn Linux by Booting into Linux

At this point you should be able to boot into Linux using the simple steps listed earlier.

  1. Plug the USB into the computer.
  2. Reboot the computer.
    The Mint USB that I bought launches the YUMI MultiBoot USB menu.
  3. Select Linux Distributions.
  4. Select the Linux menu item.

This will put you into Linux. If you purchased the Linux Mint USB, it includes the Cinnamon Graphical User Interface (GUI) mentioned in the CompTIA Linux+ Objectives.

Once booted, you can double-click on the Terminal icon at the bottom left. It’s all black with just a little white in it. Hover over the icons and the name of the app will appear.

Check out our Linux+ Study package here.

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