Total Newby. My Experience Switching To Linux

fx9

Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2021
Messages
54
Reaction score
46
Credits
663
This is gonna be a bit long, but I'm just posting this in case it helps give others direction or understanding.

10 months ago I signed up to this forum to get some insight as to what type of computer to buy to get Linux installed on, and advice on which distro to choose. I ended up settling on a Dell Inspiron 7472 14-inch laptop.

Specs: Intel Core i5-8250u CPU, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD + 1TB HDD, 14” 1080p screen (non-touch), Ethernet port, HDMI, SD Card slot. I picked it up for $300 CAD, and installed Linux Mint after watching many a video on its usability.

My main concern was privacy. I got tired of throw away windows machines bogging down every 3 years, so I got a Chromebook. I later realized that for all the convenience Google offers I was trading any and all privacy I ever had.

So, 10 months ago I set up the computer, no personal info on it, and I was trying to set it up with no link to my identity. I wasn't sure if I was going to use it for searching and use the Chromebook for anything tied to my name, or how I was going to get it sorted. I had no idea of what to expect for privacy. If I could log into accounts I had used on the Chromebook, or signed up to with old emails, or if I would link myself to all the info I had freely handed out over the years and have all my efforts be for nothing.

To avoid that I tried setting up privacy based browsers, but I had no idea if my bookmarks would allow for browser fingerprinting. Most of the browsers I was trying wouldn't store passwords, so with no passwords or bookmarks using the new computer was not enjoyable. I got really busy last summer and pretty well shelved the entire project. I only used it for Gimp and Inkscape on occasion.

Last month I found the time to dig in again, and it took some time to clarify, but forum members helped me realize you can not expect to be anonymous online. There is no way to be completely private. Trying to set things up that way will lead to something you will never use, or you will be deluding yourself of a much more private experience than you can ever get.

Last year I had set up the drives to automatically write programs to the SSD and store docs and media to the HDD. All I had to do was figure out how to set up the user experience. I ended up installing Brave browser, Librewolf, Palemoon, Firefox, and others. After working through them all I have finally settled on TOR as my main browser. I have imported all my bookmarks. I went with TOR browser because I am using Surfshark VPN. You can check your IP and DNS info on their site and TOR is the only browser that is completely randomizing and spoofing my IP, DNS, location, etc. With ad/tracker blockers and other privacy features you are getting a pretty private browsing experience. Not anonymous by any means, but you are not just giving up your searches and allowing all your activity to be followed across the web. I have not had any issue with crashing or functionality, so it is winning on lots of levels.

I installed Keepass for password management. All info is stored on the computer and can be backed up however you prefer. You simply log in and then any site you visit you just need to copy and paste your credentials. I have been meaning to get a password file going so all my info was organized, safe, and in one place. Keeppass does that and I feel more organized and in control of that info than ever before.

Having gotten to this stage Linux is now my daily driver, and given some time I will be installing it on the Chromebook once I have my Google files downloaded and can close my google account.

I set a proton email account which does not require any personal info to sign up. I am using this as my new sign up account, but have not found a way to get my old junk @live mail account accessible
because they want phone number verification to sign in on Tor browser and won't allow a proton mail account to be used as backup verification. So basically they won't let me access without verifying my identity and linking it to this computer. I've just started changing log in info over to proton and will likely just delete it once I have moved away from it. I have installed Thunderbird for accessing my other emails easily.

I think for other things that are going to be an issue with logging in on a TOR browser like banking or Amazon, I will set up Brave browser. Where I am tied to the accounts with personal info and credit cards anyway I won't be trying to keep my activity private and I can keep all that info in one browser, but I think for everything else, generic searches, forums, etc. I am going to use TOR for all.

I am using Freetube for videos. It gives you access to Youtube videos without a login, or tracked views and you can still subscribe to accounts to follow new content.

So all in all I continuing on as I always have, but I have no google login, I have no Youtube login, I have no Google or Microsoft account connected to my every action on the computer and when I write a document or email, I am no longer giving Google a copy first.

The operating system is WAY faster. Reboots take seconds. Opening programs is super quick and general usage with mint is very familiar and easy. The only real difference is the terminal. It is a completely different language and I do not understand it at all. I am capable of using it though because there are great tutorials for anything you are trying to accomplish.

I am a complete convert. I enjoy using Linux, I love having my privacy back. I think my next effort is going to be figuring out if a degoogled phone is a functional option.

I hope this might give someone in my shoes 10 months ago some direction and focus.

Thanks to everyone here that helped walk me through it all.
 


OP
F

fx9

Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2021
Messages
54
Reaction score
46
Credits
663
OK, so I am continuing to get this all dialed in. I originally posted this so people looking to change over for the same reasons as me, privacy, might be able to reference it for the path others have taken.

There is definitely no one size fits all solution. I am customizing for me, and there are a lot of factors guiding my decisions.

I am no longer expecting any sense of anonymity on the internet, but I am implementing a lot of options that increase my privacy and remove my real identity from the equation.

I am still struggling. Sometimes I find an app I want to add and it's a 5 minute thing. Other times it can take me 5 hours to get what I want done. It's a learning process, and I am building the most streamlined, custom use, ORGANIZED, functional computer I have ever used. It would take a seasoned user some time.

On the privacy side I have landed on Brave, Waterfox, and Tor as my three main browsers at this point. I am using Surfshark VPN and there is no proprietary GUI for Linux, and the available one is... Clunky. Only up to date browsers will support the SurfShark extension, so after trying almost all of them in order of preference Brave and Waterfox are the 2 I can run the extension in. And, Tor, well, it's Tor. It has it's own protections.

With this setup I can turn on the VPN for all functions and have my browser either in another location, or just as a second layer of protection in case the (clunky) GUI drops out or any other issue occurs.

Waterfox was recently bought out by a marketing company. I am using it for things like Amazon, Netflix, that sort of thing, where I am tied to my identity. If there is tracking and monitoring going on, well, I am already openly handing over actions to the sites I am visiting. I am just able to do so more securely with the settings and VPN.

Brave is more for general browsing, sites I frequent, but want to isolate from my identifiable logins. Tor is more on the general browsing side where I just want to go where I am lead and not have to worry about ads, trackers, personalized search results, and all the rest.

I have downloaded all the information that I have been giving over to Google with my other systems. It's a lot. It's disturbing to see how organized and cataloged your life is in the system. Some things came over from the Chromebook too, so Czkawka (hiccup) duplicate finder has been priceless for keeping the system clean and organized.

Setting up the drives to store files on the hdd and programs on the SSD has made keeping things running smooth a piece of cake. File organization is also simple to keep up on. KeepassXC is hands down the best password manager I have used. I have everything sorted right out. Never a qlitch or forgotten password. It also has a browser extension that works with both Brave and Waterfox, which is another reason they are my current choices for bookmarked browsing.

I still haven't sorted out the old junk mail with all the old logins and such on this system yet. I am using thunderbird, which is slick, but I need to add a phone number to verify that it is my email to access from this one. I am not sure if I am going to change everything over to another account, or what the plan is yet. I have a Pixel coming next week so I can degoogle my phone as well. I plan to install CalyxOS, an open source google free version of android. It seems to be the best option for functionality and privacy.

I think Calyx is going to play into how I proceed with emails and other things as well, so I am not rushing to change everything before I have that set up as well.

This is still a work in progress which is why I wanted to start this thread. I will update as I move along.
 
Last edited:

darry1966

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 25, 2017
Messages
589
Reaction score
483
Credits
3,470
Welcome aboard = sounds like your having fun = enjoy the linux journey. :):cool:
 
OP
F

fx9

Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2021
Messages
54
Reaction score
46
Credits
663
Welcome aboard = sounds like your having fun = enjoy the linux journey. :):cool:
Hahah, Thanks. Sometimes fun, sometimes... What am I missing? This is driving me nuts!

I love the userability and customization options. It's more work, but after using a system truly geared to the user, I feel like I have been duped into using junk systems that focus on user friendly frills, not user needs or satisfaction.
 

darry1966

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 25, 2017
Messages
589
Reaction score
483
Credits
3,470
Well I have to say you sound like someone who thinks carefully about what they are doing and is prepared to get stuck in, I wish you well and look forward to hearing more from you in this forum.
 

Condobloke

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 30, 2017
Messages
4,638
Reaction score
4,028
Credits
26,271
Czkawka (hiccup) duplicate finder has been priceless for keeping the system clean and organized.
Agreed, Using due care the app is priceless

I note you are a bit leery of using the Terminal. WHonix would be one way to be become really well acquainted with the terminal !
..and seeing it is in a virtual box, you can blow it away any time you like.

I would not allow it to get in the way of other plans that you may have, though.
 

kc1di

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 14, 2021
Messages
1,035
Reaction score
877
Credits
7,375
Hello @fx9,
Welcome to the forum, enjoy the journey! :)
 

ML_113

New Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2022
Messages
29
Reaction score
15
Credits
186
I am willing to try just about anything. Seems a bit advanced though.
If you are already familiar with Virtual Box, that's easy - just download their OVA then import it.
If not then install Virtual Box, play with it for a while. If you have problems, just delete everything and start over again, don't attempt to fix it - that's the beauty of Virtual Box.
 

forester

Active Member
Joined
Mar 5, 2022
Messages
309
Reaction score
174
Credits
2,238
Welcome, @fx9 !

Good to hear your initial experiences with GNU/Linux. I use surfshark and brave for a lot of things, vivaldi for others. The distro Parrot has a lot to offer, as does the ubuntu-derived kodachi, security-wise, if that it important to you. Bleachbit cleaning after vivaldi usage shows a lot of files being deleted. It's kinda fun, though.

That's the point -- have fun!
 
OP
F

fx9

Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2021
Messages
54
Reaction score
46
Credits
663
I use surfshark and brave for a lot of things, vivaldi for others.

Vivaldi! I've heard of it, but lost it in the list of many. Just installed it. Works great, thanks for another option.

I'm really liking Linux, I'm setting up a sweet system. Looking forward to getting to know it better. When I am completely free of Google (everything downloaded) I think I will install a different Distro on the Chromebook just for a better understanding.

I absolutely NEED a better understanding of the terminal. I can follow tutorials well enough, and I get some of the commands and what I am doing, but I have no idea how to accomplish anything on my own. I think I will get going with virtual box pretty quick so I can play around.

Any good tutorials? I've looked, but you find guys rambling on about Super User Do vs Substituting User... I don't care who's fighting over what to call anything, I want an easy to understand overview.
 
OP
F

fx9

Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2021
Messages
54
Reaction score
46
Credits
663
Czkawka (hiccup) duplicate finder has been priceless for keeping the system clean and organized.

Agreed, Using due care the app is priceless
You mean going through 1400 duplicates 1 by 1?

Yup.

BORING, but effective.
 

kibasnowpaw

Gold Member
Gold Supporter
Joined
Jan 2, 2022
Messages
143
Reaction score
84
Credits
1,159
First, I have to say I didn't read it all. My head started to hurt, so I stopped but about privacy.
The problem with privacy is the only way to get 100% privacy is to have a Linux that is 100% secure. Unfortunately, that means a lockdown Linux, which means no Freedom, which means a lot of work to get stuff to run.

Freedom means you can do what you want, but that also means less security and more complicated to have privacy. Sure there is stuff that can help, like VPN and Browser, that hide your IP, but it only goes so far, so the question is, do you want freedom or privacy.

i don't know that much about the difference OS, I only used Ubuntu, POP_OS! and now Garuda because I'm a gamer, so that is what comes first for me.
 
OP
F

fx9

Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2021
Messages
54
Reaction score
46
Credits
663
My Pixel showed up yesterday, a week early. I already flashed it and CalyxOS is very impressive off the hop.

I am fully degoogled and fully functional. Flash took 10 minutes. After that I installed some apps, added emails, contacts, changed preferences and I am not missing a single feature I had before. I just have to go out to the truck and connect to make sure hands free works, and I'm done. Way easier than I expected and not a single short coming yet.

Things are shaping up!
 
OP
F

fx9

Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2021
Messages
54
Reaction score
46
Credits
663
First, I have to say I didn't read it all. My head started to hurt, so I stopped but about privacy.
The problem with privacy is the only way to get 100% privacy is to have a Linux that is 100% secure. Unfortunately, that means a lockdown Linux, which means no Freedom, which means a lot of work to get stuff to run.

Freedom means you can do what you want, but that also means less security and more complicated to have privacy. Sure there is stuff that can help, like VPN and Browser, that hide your IP, but it only goes so far, so the question is, do you want freedom or privacy.

i don't know that much about the difference OS, I only used Ubuntu, POP_OS! and now Garuda because I'm a gamer, so that is what comes first for me.
Exactly. I'm not doing anything that requires militant security. I am just not on the I'm not doing anything wrong so who cares what they see team anymore.

What I want is to have a functional computer that I enjoy using and enough privacy that I am not tracked all over the place. Or even worse uploading everything I do to someone else's servers.
 

Tolkem

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 6, 2019
Messages
1,455
Reaction score
1,176
Credits
10,561
I absolutely NEED a better understanding of the terminal.
Try these:
 
  • Like
Reactions: fx9

kc1di

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 14, 2021
Messages
1,035
Reaction score
877
Credits
7,375
Try these:
this is a good place to start
 

KGIII

Super Moderator
Staff member
Gold Supporter
Joined
Jul 23, 2020
Messages
6,438
Reaction score
5,711
Credits
51,811
You'll do just fine, judging by your steps so far and your attitude.

I'm a proponent for 'use it until you can't' and then look up what you need to know. This way, the skills you're learning are those you'll actually use. Instead of learning skills you'll never need, find out what you need to know and learn it. You can worry about learning 'the rest' (there's always more to learn) after you've gained some competency.

I'm also a proponent of 'learning by breaking'. Try things, new things. Sure, it'll eventually break your system - but you'll learn a great deal while trying to fix it. It also instills a good backup habit and backups are important. Breaking your OS is a step on the path of Linux mastery.
 
$100 Digital Ocean Credit
Get a free VM to test out Linux!

Linux.org Hosting Donations
Consider making a donation

Members online


Top