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Setting Up

A few simple steps for the absolute beginner to get you on your way. If you're totally new to programming or Linux and FOSS in general, I recommend taking a glance through the glossary before trying any programs if you aren't at all familiar with Linux and FOSS.

What you need

To get going with the practical tutorials and examples on this site, you will need:

Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of Linux distributions come with Python already installed, so all you'll need to do is get Linux up and running.

Why Linux?

There are lots of reasons to use Linux! Here are just a few:

Here's an example of how useful a terminal can be. The following command will create three folders instantly named one, two and three. Simple as that - no need to open up your folders, right click and select 'create folder' three times; although you can do it that way too if you prefer.

mkdir one two three

Installing Linux

Choosing a distro

Because anyone is free to copy or edit code under a FOSS license, there are lots of different versions of the Linux operating systems available, known as 'distros'. This site is intended to be beginner inclusive, so I'm going to recommend using one of the more popular distros out there:

Distro Description
Ubuntu Ubuntu is the most popular linux distro, and is typically the safest bet for a beginner. That said, the way menus and the desktop work are a little different that what you'll be used to on Windows or Mac.
Fedora Fedora is another of the most popular distros, with a bit of a reputation for being more 'cutting edge' by getting new software available sooner. In the past this meant compromising on stability, but those days are past and you should have no problem at all installing and running Fedora for any computing needs. This the distro I currently use!
Linux Mint This distro is something of a smaller operation compared to Ubuntu or Fedora. However, it is solid and extremely user friendly. Use the 'Cinnamon' desktop which is similar enough to Windows to be intuitive.

Any one of those will do nicely, but it probably won't be long until you're feeling more adventurous!

Download and install

Here are the steps to installing a distro. Use online tutorials and videos to help you - there is no shortage of resources and tutorials covering this.

Check Python is installed

Once you've booted in to your new distro, open up a terminal (it will be a program named something like "terminal"). In these tutorials we'll use the latest major version of Python, python3. Type that in to your terminal, and it should open up the Python REPL, and tell you the current version you have installed, like so:

As you can see, I'm currently using python version 3.7.3