CentOS Joining Red Hat Family

CentOS Project Leader Karanbir Singh writes:

With great excitement I'd like to announce that we are joining the Red
Hat family. The CentOS Project ( http://www.centos.org ) is joining
forces with Red Hat. Working as part of the Open Source and Standards
team ( http://community.redhat.com/ ) to foster rapid innovation
beyond the platform into the next generation of emerging technologies.
Working alongside the Fedora and RHEL ecosystems, we hope to further
expand on the community offerings by providing a platform that is
easily consumed, by other projects to promote their code while we
maintain the established base.

Read more about this fabulous development in this ars technica article and in Karanbir Singh’s CentOS Announce list posting.

I’m very excited about this. CentOS has been a favorite of mine for many years. I used to tell folks it’s the closest thing you can get to Red Hat without spending money. Now it’ll be closer than ever before.

Best of luck with this endeavour CentOS and Red Hat!

Later…

~Eric


Bodhi Linux – It’s About Time

I’ve been using GNU/Linux as my primary operating system for quite sometime now.

Actually, this June will be my six year anniversary of switching to GNU/Linux. Wow! Time sure does fly. It seems like it was only yesterday that I was burning and installing Ubuntu 6.06 Dapper Drake. ;) Since that beginning, I’ve burned hundreds of CDs and DVDs with GNU/Linux distributions on them. I’ve tested most of the main line distros like Debian, Fedora Core, Mandriva, OpenSuSE, Slackware, Arch , Ubuntu, Mepis, Mint, etc. over the years.

Like most, I’ve found my favorites… Slackware, Arch, Debian (Sid), Zenwalk, Vector, Salix, CentOS, Foresight, Ark, etc. These distributions can almost always be found on some partitions on one of my systems at any given time. There are a few that have really impressed me. I’m always impressed with GNU/Linux, but to tell you the truth, it’s been a while since I was just absolutely taken aback by the presentation and quality of any distribution. I think Arch was the last distribution to really knock my socks off.

I think this is because, basically, all GNU/Linux distributions are pretty similar under the hood. It’s just how the eye candy wrappers are manipulated that make them somewhat different. Gnome in OpenSuSE can look a lot like Gnome in Debian, for example. KDE 4 is still buggy and bloated, regardless of what distro you’re running it in. Just kidding, KDE fans. ;) Every once in a while, though, the entire presentation; website, support, documentation, visual appearance of the installer, ease-of-installation, and 1st boot up impressions conspire to overwhelm one’s reactions… pleasantly, I mean.

This is the case today for me. I have heard a lot about Bodhi Linux, of course. Jeff Hoogland, the lead dev for Bodhi, is a member at Scot’s Newsletter Forums where I’m an Admin. I read Jeff’s blog regularly. I’ve watched from the very beginning when he first started putting Bodhi together. So, yeah… Bodhi Linux wasn’t some unknown for me. My pal Paul “ChipDoc” Campbell was a contributor to the Bodhi Linux documentation project. Oddly enough, I had never (till today) tried Bodhi Linux.

Recently, I received a little Dell Latitude D610 laptop from my niece. The unit is in near new condition, but it’s limited hardware-wise. I had been looking for the perfect lightweight distribution for it. First I tried my old favorite Vector Linux. That was pretty nice, but even VL was pushing the limits of this little guy’s Pentium M processor and 768Meg of RAM. Next I tried Zorin OS. Zorin was pretty cool. It calls itself a “transitional Linux” due to the fact that it’s geared for folks coming from MS Windows. Zorin worked well, but I still wasn’t satisfied.

Today, I visited the excellent Bodhi Linux website. I snooped around. I read the documentation. I looked at the beautiful screenies. I downloaded the tiny (450Meg) Live/Install .iso file. I burned it to a CD. I inserted that CD into my little laptop here on my desk and an amazing thing happened. The grizzled old GNU/Linux, Slackware-loving, veteran GNU/parted-using nocturnal geek, who is rarely impressed with anything these days, was IMPRESSED from minute one with Bodhi Linux.

Everything about Bodhi Linux just seemed… well, right to me. From the installer’s simple step by step walk-through to the general informational blurbs that came up on the screen during the installation process; it was all pleasant and Zen-like. I don’t know if Jeff was intentionally aiming for this mellow and tranquil feeling, but one assumes he was with a name like Bodhi, right? You hit your mark, buddy.

After the relatively quick install, the fun really begins. You get to actually start using Bodhi Linux. I like to start any distro with the customization stage. I go through the desktop first, changing the panels and icons and whatnot to my usual setup. I then go a bit deeper into the operating system and modify app behaviors, start-up behaviors, themes, window behaviors, and so on. On a distro that I’m not familiar with, like Bodhi, it may take me a couple hours to get it how I want it.

My simple little Bodhi Linux:

Photobucket

If you haven’t tried Bodhi Linux yet, what are you waiting for? You don’t need an old obsolete laptop to run it. It’ll run on your bleeding edge system just as well; better, actually. Bodhi is only minimal at the initial install. Thanks to their unique AppCenter, you can stuff your Bodhi full of yummy apps and goodies. If they don’t have it in the AppCenter, you’ll probably find it in Synaptic (using Ubuntu‘s repos). If you still can’t find your fav app, ask for it on the forums. Someone will make it happen for you.

Jeff, my hat’s off to you and all the contributors to the Bodhi Linux project. You folks have done an amazing job with this distribution. I can pretty much guarantee you that I’ll be looking for a spare partition or two on my main or shop system to install Bodhi Linux. I am impressed. Don’t get me wrong, though. You’ll still be hearing me bitch once I find the aggravating things in there. I know they’re there. They always are. I’ll try to stay calm and tranquil about it. Ahhhhmmmm… Ahhhhmmmm… HA! :)

Later…

~Eric


Vector Linux x86_64 Coming Soon!

I used to always have a Vector installation on my systems somewhere.

Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case for quite some time because I’ve been patiently waiting for the x86_64 release of this excellent Slackware-based distribution. The wait may be over soon, though. I just read THIS article over at All About Linux blogsite. I’m very happy to read that Vector is finally coming out with a 64 bit version. YAY!

Vector is a great distribution. Back in the early days of my Linux Adventures, I was very impressed with it. Unfortunately, when I upgraded to 64 bit computing, Vector did not follow suit; neither did Zenwalk, another Slack-based favorite of mine. Oh well, that’s the way it goes sometimes. However, with this news, I’m happily anticipating having a Vector install on one of my systems again soon.

I’ll also start recommending (and installing) it for my unhappy MS Windows-user family and friends. Most folks are using newer 64 bit hardware these days. It’s difficult to talk them into downgrading to a 32 bit OS, leaving some of their newer hardware’s potential by the wayside. I’ve been recommending Linux Mint or Ubuntu for these folks, as they have 64 bit versions, but I’d really rather get them going with Vector.

Well, anyway… that’s the news. Once this new 64 bit version of Vector gets released, I’ll be downloading and installing. Expect a review here in the near future.

Stay tuned…

~Eric

Additional info: from the VectorLinux Forums –> VectorLinux 7.0 Gold Has Been Released


The GNU/Linux Adventurer’s Backpack

If you are setting off on your new GNU/Linux adventure, there are some must have things that you’ll be needing to take along with you.

When you’re at the kitchen table packing that backpack for your big adventure, don’t forget to stuff these items in there with your lantern, matches, water purification pills, and lip balm. You’ll find this stuff will come in very handy along the trail.

A little history

Linux, which specifically means the kernel portion of the operating system, was born in 1991 when Finnish student Linus Torvalds decided he wanted something to run on his 80386 processor based PC. Linus turned the code for his new kernel loose on USENET.

Within a short while Softlanding Linux System (SLS) was born of a mating of Linus’ new kernel and Richard Stallman‘s GNU Operating System. The SLS project was taken over by Patrick Volkerding, who morphed it into Slackware Linux, the oldest still living GNU/Linux distribution. You can view the Linux family tree to see how things progressed from there.

Some handy documentation –

C’mon. Quit whining. Sometimes, it’s a good thing to read the fine manual. The “man” pages, short for manual, are available to you from within any GNU/Linux distribution. They’re already in your backpack even if you didn’t know it. To access a manual page for a certain command within Linux, just use this from the command line:

$ man <command or application name>

For example, let’s say you want to know how to use the ls command. You would type this into the command line:

$ man ls

LS(1)                            User Commands                           LS(1)

NAME
       ls – list directory contents

SYNOPSIS
       ls [OPTION]… [FILE]…

DESCRIPTION
       List  information  about  the FILEs (the current directory by default).
       Sort entries alphabetically if none of -cftuvSUX nor –sort.

       Mandatory arguments to long options are  mandatory  for  short  options
       too.

       -a, –all
              do not ignore entries starting with .<snip>

…and the manual page for the ls command will magically appear. Cool, huh? You can also refer to that same manual page by using online websites that make that same information available to you. You can use Linux Man Pages, Linux Man Pages Online, or other similar sites.

For some more in depth GNU/Linux documentation, you can check out The Linux Documentation Project (TLDP), LinuxDocs.org, or DistroWatch.com. The last provides brief synopses and reviews of most of the GNU/Linux distributions available today.

Which distribution to start the adventure? –

If you clicked on that DistroWatch link above, you’d see that there are many, many GNU/Linux distributions out there in the world. While choice is a good thing, numerous choices can sometimes be overwhelming for new adventurers; what trail should I take? Every GNU/Linux advocate will have their own favorite list of distributions that they recommend to all the new adventurers they run across. Following is my list of the five easiest transition distributions. What’s a transition distribution? I define that as a GNU/Linux distribution that is easy to install and use right out of the box for new adventurers who are mostly used to using Microsoft Windows products.

Ubuntu – this is the distro that took GNU/Linux from the desktops of geeks like me and put it on Gramps and Granny’s system. It did more to popularize the GNU/Linux operating system than any other distribution prior.

Linux Mint – this distro from the land of Eire is slam packed with all the great stuff you’d want in an operating system. It’s good to go right out of the box.

Mepis – while not the most popular GNU/Linux out there, this Debian-based distribution is a fine product, and most suitable for new adventurers.

PCLinuxOS – this distro is a branch of the old and venerable Mandrake/Mandriva GNU/Linux. It’s easy to install and to operate.

Ultimate Edition – this distribution gets its foundation from its Debian and Ubuntu roots. It is also easy to install and has loads and loads of useful software included the moment you boot up.

Vector Linux – this excellent distribution is based on Slackware Linux. It is easy to install and use.

OK, then. We have some history, some documentation, and a choice of distributions in our backpack now. We’re almost ready to begin the adventure. But wait! There are a few more very important items that we’ll be needing.

Tips and Tutorials –

Tutorials are documents that teach in a step-by-step fashion. They can cover a lot of information in a small space. They’re usually simplified so that amateurs and novices can follow along without the need to know the really complicated stuff underneath it all. Tips are just that; little tid-bits of information to make things go easier on your adventure.

There was once a man called Bruno, he was my friend. He was also a serious GNU/Linux advocate and teacher. He selflessly spent many hours of his daily life teaching others about GNU/Linux. Many of us who knew him learned from him and were inspired by him to carry on his tradition of teaching. While Bruno may no longer be with us, part of the legacy he left us is his Tips for Linux Explorers site. Yes, some of the info there is a bit dated, but most of it is still very relevant and helpful.

As far as tutorials go, there are many sites with wonderful GNU/Linux tutorials. Here are a few that I use regularly: The Linux Tutorial, YoLinux Tutorials, Linux Survival, HowtoForge, Tutorialized, and Linux Planet Tutorials. Believe me, if there’s something you want to accomplish within GNU/Linux, there is a tutorial somewhere that will show you how. Remember, when searching for answers to your GNU/Linux questions, Google is your friend.

More good reading –

5 Things Every Aspiring Linux User Should Know – another article that may be useful to new Linux Adventurers.

New to Linux? Here’s Your Hitchhiker’s Guide to Linux Forum Galaxy! – by Megatotoro

Some Advanced Reading –

The books listed below are somewhat advanced. I wouldn’t recommend that new Adventurers dive into them right off. Give yourself some time to climb a bit higher on that learning curve, then give these books below a peak or two. The more you experience GNU/Linux, the more the information in these books below will make sense to you. I put them here because they are excellent learning tools… when you reach that level.

Linux – Rute User’s Tutorial and Exposition by Paul Sheer

LINUX: Rute Users Tutorial and Exposition is the only Linux sysadmin’s guide proven by 50,000+ Web users. It presents in-depth coverage of all aspects of system administration: user management, security, networking, Internet services, packages, config files, shell scripting, and more. It also contains detailed cross-references to LPI and RHCE certification topics, making it invaluable for exam preparation. (description from Amazon.com) *This book is also available online in .pdf format.

Linux Pocket Guide by Danial J. Barrett

Linux Pocket Guide is organized the way you use Linux: by function, not just alphabetically. It’s not the ‘bible of Linux; it’s a practical and concise guide to the options and commands you need most. It starts with general concepts like files and directories, the shell, and X windows, and then presents detailed overviews of the most essential commands, with clear examples. You’ll learn each command’s purpose, usage, options, location on disk, and even the RPM package that installed it. (description from Amazon.com)

A Practical Guide to Linux – Commands, Editors, and Shell Programming by Mark G. Sobell

Packed with hundreds of high-quality, realistic examples, this book gives you Linux from the ground up: the clearest explanations and most useful knowledge about everything from filesystems to shells, editors to utilities, and programming tools to regular expressions. Sobell has also added an outstanding new primer on Perl, the most important programming tool for Linux admins seeking to automate complex, time-consuming tasks. (description from Amazon.com)

Understanding the Linux Kernel by Bovet & Cesati

Understanding the Linux Kernel will acquaint you with all the inner workings of Linux, but it’s more than just an academic exercise. You’ll learn what conditions bring out Linux’s best performance, and you’ll see how it meets the challenge of providing good system response during process scheduling, file access, and memory management in a wide variety of environments. This book will help you make the most of your Linux system. (description from Amazon.com)

The Debian System by Krafft

The Debian GNU/Linux operating system approaches Linux system administration differently than other popular Linux distributions, favoring text-based configuration mechanisms over graphical user interfaces (GUIs). Debian may appear simplistic and even slightly outdated, but it is actually very robust, scalable, and secure. Debian’s open development cycle and strict quality control by the developers help Debian to constantly gain popularity, despite its reputation as an operating system just for professionals and hardcore computer hobbyists. (description from Amazon.com)

And lastly, but never last, this most necessary thing to have in your GNU/Linux adventurer’s backpack:

Community –

We come into this world alone and we leave it alone, but fortunately, while in this world, we have each other. Were it not for the GNU/Linux – Open Source community, there wouldn’t be any GNU/Linux; or if there were, it would be some ghastly thing used by a few uber-geeks in the darkness of night on their own desktop systems. Joyfully, that isn’t so because we have community; arguably the most important ingredient in the brewing pot.

There is a large and very active GNU/Linux – Open Source community every where in the world. You can access and interact with that community in many ways; boards and forums, USENET Groups, mailing lists, websites and portals, blogs like this one, etc. Community means a lot to me. Below you’ll find my list of favorite places where I go to learn what I need to continue on my own adventure:

Boards and Forums

Scot’s Newsletter Forums – Bruno’s All Things Linux – a Linux support forum and much more. This site is run by Scot Finnie, Editor-in-chief of ComputerWorld.com.

Jeremy’s LinuxQuestions.org – a Linux support forum and community dedicated to assisting adventurers of all skill levels and abilities.

TechSupportGuy Forums – Linux and Unix – another excellent Linux community forum.

The Linux Foundation’s Linux.com Community – a relatively new and growing community with many helpful members.

Just Linux Forums – a great community resource.

Linux Forums – search this place for great tips and assistance as you travel along in your adventure.

Also, don’t forget… nearly every distribution of GNU/Linux has its own very helpful support community. Check out the main websites for links to their forums and such. All the distros mentioned above have their own forums. Check ‘em out.

Linux News Sites

Tux Machines – Susan Linton’s wonderful Linux community site.

Linux Today – news you can use.

Linux Insider – more informative Linux news.

LXer Linux News – the world is talking about GNU/Linux and Free/Open Source Software.

The above are just a sampling. There are literally hundreds of top level, informative Linux news sites on the Net. Search!

Linux Learning Blogs

Linux Operating System – Guillermo Garron’s very helpful and informative blog.

Linuxaria – Ricardo Capecchi’s bi-lingual Everything About Linux blog.

All About Linux – a self-professed “very” popular blog about Linux, Open Source, and Free Software.

Linux Notes from Dark Duck – helpful information on choosing and running Linux on your systems.

Dedoimedo – a place to learn a lot about a lot. A unique experience, I might add.

There are many more sites out there, too. Each distribution usually has a handful of dedicated bloggers and teachers running from their own websites. Don’t forget to search online. You’ll find some wonderful stuff.

One other thing you can do when starting out on your adventure is to register with The Linux Counter and be counted as part of the community. Proudly display your Linux Registered User number for all to see. Sorry, they’re out of stock on the super-dooper decoder rings, though. You may find one in that Cap’n Crunch serial box on your kitchen table. ;)

I’ve tried to make this as all-inclusive as I could, but of course, I’ve failed miserably. GNU/Linux is a topic that volumes have been written about. How could I possibly give you all that information in one short article? Oh well. I hope that what you do find here will help you along in your adventure. I leave you with three bits of wisdom that I learned early on when I first started out on my adventure:

  • First and foremost, GNU/Linux is NOT MS Windows. Please don’t expect it to be.
  • Secondly, KEEP notes! You will find this an immeasurably important practice to discipline yourself into doing regularly. I don’t care if your notes are on your iPad or your main system or on a dead tree note book (my choice medium). Just keep notes. You won’t regret it.
  • Lastly, but again NEVER last, the community is there for you. Take from it all that is offered, so that you can learn and expand your horizons on your great GNU/Linux adventure. We ask only one thing from you in return; when the time comes that you have reached a level of knowledge where you can comfortably (and accurately) do so, please give back to the community that supported you. This way there will always be those willing to help the new GNU/Linux Adventurers coming along the trail.

Happy adventuring!

~Eric

P.S. I intend this document to be a living device. I will probably be amending it from time to time.

Addenda:

I – 08 May 2011

a. added Vector Linux to suggested starting distributions

b. added an advanced book list for those who would like to go a bit deeper in their studies

II – 28 February 2012

a. added link to 5 Things Every Aspiring Linux User Should Know

III – 22 August 2012

a. added Megatotoro’s New to Linux? Here’s Your Hitchhiker’s Guide to Linux Forum Galaxy!


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