An Open Letter to Richard Stallman

Dear RMS,

A few days ago Guillermo Garron wrote a piece on his website after seeing you speak live. A link to that article was posted at Scot’s Newsletter Forums – Bruno’s All Things Linux, where a discussion ensued. During the course of that conversation, I thought that maybe it was about time that we started using a less bulky nomenclature for the GNU/Linux operating system. I posted a few suggestions, but I think I like GNix the best.

A worthy contraction of terms, I think. While I’ve always tried to refer to my favorite operating system as GNU/Linux in my public articles and other posts around the Internet, I often lapse into the shorthand version of “Linux” that is commonly misused by most everyone else in this community; mostly because of the bulkiness of GNU/Linux.

No Windows fans, that I know of, go around calling their operating system Microsoft Windows whatever version. They just call it “Windows”, usually. They know it’s Microsoft. They’re just lazy, as are most of us in the GNU/Linux community of users. So, my thoughts are let’s call it GNix (pronounced g’nicks).

I doubt Linus would mind. He might like it, too. You never know. A marriage of the Linux kernel and the GNU operating system should have a worthy moniker. Maybe now is that time for it to be.

I’m running Slackware GNix as my primary OS on all my machines, but I also have Debian GNix and Fedora GNix installed as testers. Hmm… that rolls off the keypad pretty nicely, I think. :)

Regards,

~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


Why Linux Will Never Be a Factor On the Desktop

Why Linux Will Never Be a Factor On the Desktop

Tony Bradley expounds on the current status of GNU/Linux popularity (or lack thereof) and the future of the operating system.

The comment I left on ComputerWorld’s page for this article:

I’m a loyal GNU/Linux user. I parted ways with MS Windows (for the most part) nearly six years ago. I keep installations of XP and 7 on some of my systems in order to stay relatively well-versed in the the usage of those operating systems in order to facilitate my constant need to fix the computers of family members and friends (the ones I haven’t converted to GNU/Linux yet).

That being said, I’m not one of those GNU/Linux fanbois who is sitting at my desk with my Jolt in one hand and a joint in the other dreaming about LInux’s imminent world domination. I would prefer that Linux stay under the radar. If it ever managed to have the commercial popularity of MS Windows, it would wake one morning to find that same large target painted on its back for all the hackers, malware writers, and generally mischievous malcontents.

No, I’m more than happy to operate my little GNU/Linux systems in relative obscurity. Besides, once something gains in popularity, someone always steps in to regulate, tax, manipulate, restrict, or mutilate it in some way. Leave my GNU/Linux alone.

Like I say on my blogs and the tech forums where I admin/moderate, “Whatever operating system works best for you IS the one that’s best for you.”

Later…

~Eric, the Nocturnal Slacker

Read the article, tell me what you think about it?

~Eric


Vector Linux 7.0 Standard – a Mini-Review

My niece deposited her old, tired Dell Latitude D560 laptop on her old, tired uncle yesterday.

She knew that he would wipe that ol’ corrupted Win XP installation off that baby and make ‘er scream again with a nice efficient GNU/Linux operating system. With a 30Gig hdd and only 760M of RAM, screaming will be only moderate with his little machine. However, scream again she does with a fresh install of Vector Linux 7.0 Standard (32 bit).

I had fully intended to give newcomer to the GNU/Linux scene, Zorin, a go on this old lappy. Unfortunately, their download hosting sites were terribly slow today; I mean dial-up slow. The NLUUG Netherlands site was faster than the U.S. iBiblio site, but that ain’t saying much. Either one was stating 11-12 hours download time for a measly 1.1Gig .iso file. That’s just sad. Oh well, maybe another time for Zorin. It does look promising; particularly as a transitional OS from Win to Lin.

Today, though, Vector won out in the download speed race. I’ve used Vector off and on across numerous of my systems and platforms over the past 6 or 7 years. It has always been a stable, usable, no-surprises distribution. I like that. I’m not a fan of surprises when it comes to operating systems. I like boring. I’ve been reluctant, as mentioned elsewhere here, to install Vector on my main or shop systems because I’m patiently waiting for a 64 bit version. A 32 bit version was just what this lappy needed; one not too bloated.

Installation was almost Slackware-ish boring. As I said, no surprises… GOOD! I installed on ext3 partitions; one for / and one for /home, as is my standard practice with GNU/Linux. The entire installation took about 15 minutes or so. I’m running the default Xfce/Cairo Dock desktop at the moment. It’s pretty nice, actually. Ethernet and wireless work out-of-the-box; again, no surprises.

Here’s a pic of the peppy and refreshed old laptop (click of bigger pic):

Photobucket

So, there you have it. Have an old, tired laptop lying around out in the garage? Grab it and install a fresh Vector Linux install on that baby and off you’ll go. That lappy will be a fully-functional machine once again. Set it up for the kids. Donate it to some needy person. Whatever you do with it will be better than what it was doing, sitting on that shelf all lonely and neglected.

Later…

~Eric


5 Things Every Aspiring Linux User Should Know

Yes. Another one of those ubiquitous bullet articles. Everyone love’s ‘em, it seems.

There are some fundamental things that every person who turns on a Linux box should be familiar with before proceeding. Some of these things are often overlooked or never learned by new Linux users. It’s a shame, actually. Knowledge of the fundamentals can create a great foundation for further advancement later on down the road. If you’re going to learn something, learn it right.

Here we go…

  • Numero Uno, in my opinion, is the importance of knowing and accepting the fact that the GNU/LInux operating system is NOT Microsoft Windows. Don’t try to make it such. GNU/Linux is a unique Unix-based operating system using the Linux kernel developed by Linus Torvalds and the GNU operating system developed by Richard Stallman and others of the GNU Project. Individual distributions of GNU/Linux, such as Ubuntu, Slackware, Debian, Arch, etc., are projects created by different people and supported by many, many dedicated coders, repository maintainers, software creators, technical writers, etc. To paraphrase a nearly cliché quote, it takes a village to raise a Linux distro. ;)
  • Item the second: ROOT IS GOD! Caution must be exercised at all times when user privileges are elevated to that of root. Working in the root environment should be done like riding a motorcycle. You CANNOT auto-pilot while riding a motorcycle; neither should you do so when you are root. In other words, pay attention to what you’re doing. Think twice before tapping that Enter key. One slip as root could destroy your entire OS. It’s a powerful tool. Be respectful of its power. Ignore this if you enjoy losing data regularly and reinstalling your OS from scratch.
  • Third thing to know: the command line interface is not a demon from Hell that will grind you up in its toothy maw. It’s just another tool available to the GNU/Linux user for accomplishing tasks that must be accomplished. For most of you, the GUI (graphic user interface) will suffice, but there will be times that you may need to use the command line. Don’t fear it. Embrace your inner geek. Learn the command line. You may find that you can accomplish more work more efficiently while using it.
  • Fourth on the list: Security, it’s a wonderful thing. Remember all those virus and malware scanners that you had to use in MS Windows. Remember how scared you were about email attachments. Remember that time your Windows system got corrupted and you had to pay someone at Best Buy $300 to get it working again? Bad memories, huh? Well, guess what? Just as dogs don’t catch the same diseases that banana plants do, GNU/Linux is not susceptible to the vast majority of the bad stuff out there that cripples MS Windows. Does that mean you’re 100% immune from troubles while running GNU/Linux? Well, no. However, I’d be comfortable in telling you that you would be about 99% immune. I’ve been running GNU/Linux operating systems on my computers for half a dozen years now. I’ve NEVER, not once, ever had any virus or malware issues.
  • Fifth and lastly:MS Windows and Apple/Mac have wonderful community support from multitudinous sites and communities around the Internet: I wouldn’t refute that fact at all. However, it’s important to remember that GNU/Linux and Open Source are products of the communities themselves in many cases. They are directly created, maintained, distributed and supported by many, many dedicated souls all across the globe. If you take the time to explore these communities, you’ll find that the amount of knowledge out there just waiting for you to come learn it is astounding. I don’t believe there is any other technical project so overwhelmingly supported by its adherents and fans in the global community quite like GNU/Linux and Open Source. Don’t be shy. Ask for some help.

Enjoy your new GNU/Linux adventure. It can lead to a long relationship with a fabulous operating system, outstanding open source applications, and wonderful friendships.

Later…

~Eric

Further reading:

The Open Source Initiative

The Free Software Foundation

The Linux Foundation

Open Respect


Today’s Featured Distribution – Foresight Linux

Once upon a time, when I was a relative newcomer to GNU/Linux, I found a wonderful little distribution, which was also new at the time.

Tomas Forsman, a member of the Foresight Linux team, probably doesn’t even remember me from back then. I frequented the old support forums for Foresight Linux back when it was in version 1.0. I think that was sometime back in 2006. I remember FL creator Ken Vandeen from back then. I found Foresight, a fork of rPath Linux, while perusing Distrowatch one evening. It looked intriguing. Besides, I liked the green color theme. Green is my favorite color, you know.

I’ve had Foresight on many of my systems over the years since v1.0. It’s never been my primary operating system. You all know that I’m a Slacker, but that doesn’t stop me from experimenting with other distros. I have my favorites that are never far from one of my systems. I can usually be found tweaking (often breaking) these distros on any given day.

I did a major system overhaul a year or so ago and never was able to get a working copy of Foresight installed. It wasn’t Foresight’s fault, though. Tomas knows that I’m an Xfce fan, so he provided me with an alpha of their Xfce version. It didn’t seem to like my hardware for some reason. Well, that was a while ago, anyway. Their Xfce 64 bit version is in final release now and installs and runs perfectly.

I know this because I just installed it  a couple nights ago. I didn’t have any issues during installation. For any of you who have ever installed a GNU/Linux distribution on your system, you’ll not find any surprises with the Foresight installer. It’s pretty straight-forward and relatively easy.

Once I had FL installed, I did my usual tweaks here and there under the hood and with the Xfce interface. All went well. I have a completely updated and usable Foresight Linux installation on my system now. I made a quick custom wallpaper for it and took a nice screenshot for you folks.

If you’d like to give Foresight a tryout, you’ll find that the distribution has excellent documentation and a helpful support community. Tomas also visits Scot’s Newsletter Forums – Bruno’s All Things Linux quite often. You can catch up with him there occasionally. Foresight is a stable, full-featured distribution with a sterling pedigree (RedHat, rPath). It’s suitable for a home system or a business server.

Stop on by the Foresight forums. Tell Tomas I sent you. He’ll get you up and running with Foresight in no time at all.

Have fun with it! :)

Later…

~Eric

Image credits: Foresight Linux “eye” logo owned by Foresight Linux.


A Short Trip Down Memory Lane

Back in 2006, I was a fresh-faced new GNU/Linux adventurer.

About a year after my first install of Ubuntu, I posted THIS at Scot’s Newsletter Forums, a site which has since become my second home. Some of my opinions have changed since then. For instance, I don’t use KDE anymore (not since 3.5). I also don’t care for Google too much these days, not since they’ve started showing their greedy fangs… “Do no evil” Pffffft! Yeah, right. Anywho…

Relatively quickly I settled on Slackware as my primary operating system. My GNU/Linux mentor, Bruno Knaapen, once predicted that I would end up with Slackware because I definitely had the Slacker attitude. Miss you, Bruno, old friend. He called that one right. I run Slackware as my primary and Arch Linux as my secondary (backup) OS on my main system. I also run Slack on my laptop and my shop systems.

Back in the beginning of my GNU/Linux adventures, I ran Slack as primary and Debian as secondary. Arch beat Debian out for that position quite a while back, though. Don’t take this the wrong way. I still have a deep and undying love for Debian. I believe it is one of the finest distributions of GNU/Linux ever. About the only complaint one can have with Debian is that its software is a bit dated.

No, Debian is not a risk taker’s distro. It’s staid and stable as a ROCK. Part of this is because of all that older and well-tested software in its huge repository. If you want a distribution that is just going to work… and work… and work without a glitch or burp, Debian is for you.

Earlier today, we were discussing Debian at Scot’s Newsletter Forums – Bruno’s All Things Linux. I realized that I had not had a copy of Deb on any of my machines for a year or so. That’s not like me. I always keep an up-to-date Deb somewhere on my systems… just in case. I decided to download and install it. I have numerous “tester” slots open on my main machine, so space is not an issue.

The install went off without a hitch. I had to make some minor edits to Arch’s menu.lst (the MBR controlling boot-loader on my system) and to Debian’s fstab (switch from UUIDs to /dev/… nomenclature). My only issue now is that I need to install the proprietary Nvidia drivers. I usually do this manually, but this time around, I think I’ll do it the “Debian Way“. Knowing Debian, this shouldn’t even cause me to break a sweat.

If you have moderate GNU/Linux experience, and have never tried Debian before, I strongly recommend that you give it a looksee. Next to Slackware, Debian is the oldest still maintained GNU/Linux distribution. Slack only has it beat by a few months, actually. Try Debian. You’ll learn a lot about GNU/Linux with this distribution. You’ll also get the unique experience of using one of the absolute best package managers in existence… apt.

Until next time…

~Eric


Today’s Featured Distribution – Zenwalk (Revisited)

Today’s Featured Distribution – Zenwalk

Posted by V. T. Eric Layton on Apr 10, 2010

Ahhhhhmmmm… Ahhhhhmmmm… It’s a Zen thing.

Good morning faithful readers! Today we’re going to talk a bit about what I like to call “Slackware for the faint of heart” – Zenwalk Linux. Zenwalk is a tight, lite, and beauteous thing to behold. Only a geek can see beauty in operating systems, but it’s there. I assure you. Zenwalk (originally Minislack) is based on Slackware.

Its default desktop environment is the “little mouse that roars” – Xfce. For those of you unfamiliar with Xfce, it kinda’ looks like Gnome, but it’s a whole lot less bloated and much faster. Click HERE for a nice Zenwalk/Xfce screenie. Sharp looking, huh? It’s extremely customizable, so you can easily make it your own.

I first ran across Zenwalk about four years ago when I was experimenting with Slack-based Linux distributions. I was impressed from the very first boot up. Not only is Zen relatively easy-peasy to install, but it’s also easy to customize and operate. You don’t have to be a Linux whiz kid to drive this baby. And with all that going for it, it still has the guts of Slackware… one of the most stable distributions of GNU/Linux ever created.

Zenwalk Linux also has a few other things going for it. It has a dedicated development team, a wonderful support community, a great wiki, and excellent documentation.

Don’t just sit there. Run on over to the Zenwalk Main page and grab yourself the version of your choice. It’s free. Of course, any assistance you can offer is always welcome.

Ahhhhmmmm… you feel calmer just thinking about running Zenwalk, huh?

Peace out!

~Eric

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This article was originally published on my Nocturnal Slacker | Lockergnome blog. You can see it there by clicking HERE.


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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