[nSLUG] New User Advise

Jack Warkentin jwark at eastlink.ca
Tue May 10 20:06:22 ADT 2005

Hi Robert

On Tue, 2005-05-10 at 14:13, Gerard MacNeil wrote:

> Your issue now is what to learn.  That will depend upon how much you
> already know and what you are out to achieve.  What I am suggesting is
> that carefully choose what it is you want to learn first.

I couldn't resist throwing in my two cents worth on the question of how
to get started learning GNU/Linux. And Gerard has some very good advice.

But let me start from where I am coming from. I have a PhD in Computer
Science and spent 10 1/2 years as a prof at Lakehead University in
Thunder Bay, Ontario. And even with that background I find maintaining
my GNU/Linux system a challenge - probably because I am not really
interested in learning all the details necessary to be a really good
systems administrator. I have my home computer mainly to use as a tool,
for word processing, spreadsheeting, digital cameraing, etc.

There are two ways of learning, and this applies to just about anything.
First is to jump in somewhere and start biting off chunks, chewing,
swallowing and digesting them as best you can. This is the way I believe
most people learn GNU/Linux (other than those who learn it at school or
university). Having a good background in computing helps a lot and
without it the learning curve is much steeper for GNU/Linux than it is
for many other things.

Second is to try to take some systematic approach. For GNU/Linux I would
highly recommend the book LINUX: Rute User's Tutorial and Exposition.
You can buy a copy for $30 from the Vancouver-based
http://www.halfpricecomputerbooks.ca/ It comes complete with a CD of its
contents so you can look stuff up as you are working away at your
computer. Here is an important quote from the book's beginning.

"The ordering of the chapters is carefully designed to allow you to read
in sequence without missing anything. You should hence read from
beginning to end, in order that later chapters do not reference unseen
material. I have also packed in useful examples which you must practice
as you read."

I expect you will be combining both approaches. You have to get your
system workable, so you will be biting off those chunks that are not to
your satisfaction. And hopefully you will also try a more systematic
approach to fill in gaps.

So. You have already learned quite a lot from the experience of trying
to compile and install some software. You could have avoided the
tribulations by obtaining and installing a pre-packaged version of that
software, but you would also have forfeited the learning experience.
Whatever way you choose to continue your learning, best of luck, please
don't give up, and remember there is a community here ready and willing
to help.



Jack Warkentin, phone: 902-404-0457; email: jwark at eastlink.ca
39 Inverness Avenue, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, B3P 1X6


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