i don't mean to nitpick, but that transparency you're seeing is not real alpha blended transparency, like you would see in more graphically advanced guis like aqua. it's a bit of a hack job; the window will take a snapshot of the desktop area behind it and make it its background. you can see it refresh choppily when you drag the window. x (the graphics server) doesn't have true alpha tranparency yet. just thought i'd clarify...
but anyway, back onto the real topic.
there are plenty of reasons to get into linux. however, there are also plenty of reasons _not_ to get into it. it depends on how you use your computer, and what aspect of the computer you're interested in. i'm not trying to chase you away or anything, but i can give better reasons if you can tell me a little about how you use your comp, your computing background, what you like about computers, etc...
how did i learn? well... i've never bought a linux book in my life. someone bought one for me at one time, but i don't know where it is, what it was about, what the title was, or even what it looks like. (a testament to how much time i actually spent on it: zero)
but anyway, here's a little story for you, about how i got into linux:
i think it was about... i don't know... maybe sixth grade. i had just lost all my important stuff in a fatal windows crash. (FAT has no journaling, which sucked for me...) after cursing my head off and breaking my windows cd... and the subsequent shock at the realization that i could no longer reinstall my windows, i decided it was time for a change. it was not worth the time to get a hold of another cd, and windows was boring. everything in the os was far too easy, and i wanted a challenge. a _real_ challenge, not just fixing those stupid dll errors my neighbors always ended up with. one of my geekier friends at the time (whom i have now far surpassed in linux geekiness - i showed him how to a text-only linux install for gentoo a couple months ago) suggested linux. i had heard of it, but did not really know anything other than the fact that it was, at the core, a command line. that was attractive to me, considering the fact that i used a computer since the age of four and basically grew up in front of it, and i had ended up using DOS for more of my life than i had windows. command line was definitely appealing. so, with no prior knowledge at all, i downloaded and burned the most user friendly distro at the time (corel linux, i think - i believe they pioneered graphical linux installs) and installed it.
so after getting in and looking at that pretty little gui called x (kde, more specifically - really old kde) for a while, and poking around with the web browser and whatnot, i found out how to log out of x and found myself with a command line.
this was nice. the 'dir' command from dos worked (although 'ls,' i found out later, was clearly better), as well as the 'cd' command. 'move' and 'copy' however, did not. i poked around, knowing absolutely nothing. naturally, i didn't get very far.
and then came another problem: i did not know how to get back to x. oops.
i tried all the commands i could think of, from 'x' (which doesn't exist) to 'gui' (which doesn't exist either) to 'get me the hell back to that stupid desktop already!' (which i wish was a real command) and then, after discovering a whole new world when i realized that linux was case-sensitive while dos was not, a slew of other variations.
it took me several days of messing around (no internet, mind you - i wouldn't have even been able to _comprehend_ the usage of 'ifconfig' and 'route' at that point) before i finally found out that 'startx' was the right command. and demonstrating myself as the complete antithesis of common sense, i did not think to restart the computer - and smacked myself about it later, when i finally learned the difference between runlevels 3 and 5.
but after getting back into x, and deciding a couple days later that i had not nearly learned enough, i shut down the x server and went back to the command line. and i forced myself, just by sitting in front of a computer with a tiny little bash prompt, to learn and figure it all out - the hard way.
that's how i learned. if that sounds masochistic to you, then you're probably right. but it also means that it's probably not the method for you.
so after that incredibly verbose story of my beginnings in linux (hey, you asked...), i'll recommend another option (and one i wish i had the luxury of during my first bumbling linux experience): the net. the net is vast, and i sound like Major Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell. but it really is - everything on linux is out there. _everything_. from massive document repositories such as the linux documentation project (http://tldp.org
) to linux user communities such as this forum and the gentoo forums (and even the kernel mailing list, for that matter), it is easy to find any info you want, and get just about any question answered. i remember - after finally getting on my feet with linux, i headed over to linux.org (i didn't know any linux sites, and made a reasonable guess at an address) and read every single HOWTO document they had available.
... yes, i'm a geek.
but the point is that you can get everything you want to know about linux off of the net - for free. (disregarding the price of internet access) you'd have to hand over a mess of cash for a book with pretty much the same info.
actually, this little trip down memory lane reminded me of where i put that stupid book. i went and got it - it's called "Special Edition Using Linux," copyright 1997, and is 734 pages long. (it comes with redhat 4.1 with a whopping 2.0.18 kernel, slackware 96, and caldera openlinux. caldera doesn't even exist anymore - it's a part of SCO, that company we all hate at the moment) it cost 60 dollars... and it looks like i know everything in it. i could have used those 60 dollars to get a new game! the book makes a nice lap desk for my 8887, though...
so save yourself those 60 dollars and go check out the linux resources on the net. it's all free (as in beer), just like linux.
oh yeah. i'm in high school too. (well ok, i finally got out last month. but i'm not in college yet, so i still feel like a high schooler)
personally, i don't find it a waste at all. after talking around at the university's summer orientation, it seems like i've got a massive head start over a lot of the other comp sci people in my engineering and applied science department. ("What the heck is BSD?" gimme a break) not only has building a linux system from scratch given me serious insight into how an os works, but reading about and messing with optimization flags taught me a lot about compiler and computer architecture, reading kernel code has shown me many programming methods from different people and has taught me some C, and i'm sure there's plenty of other stuff i can't think of. so i tortured myself in the beginning, but now... i wouldn't trade it for the world. i love this stuff.
... it seems i've written this post with an extremely linear and rambling train of thought. it must be because it's 6:30 AM and i'm tired from staying up all night. but sleep is for the weak; i'll catch up on it when i'm dead.