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


Here a /bin, There a /bin, Everywhere a /bin /bin

So, most of you GNU/Linux users have by now peaked into that File System directory on the left frame of your file manager, huh?

Ever wonder how all that /bin, /sbin, /usr/bin stuff came about? Well, thanks to a really interesting article by Thom Holwerda at OSNews, you can now read all about it.

It seems that back in the day (early 70s), when Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie were at Bell Labs tinkering around with Unix in its infancy, how they came to name these directories was primarily determined by their available storage space at the time. Geeks just being practical; ain’t it great?

From busybox.net list:

Rob Landley
Thu Dec 9 15:45:39 UTC 2010

When the operating system grew too big to fit on the first RK05 disk pack (their root filesystem) they let it leak into the second one, which is where all  the user home directories lived (which is why the mount was called /usr). They replicated all the OS directories under there (/bin, /sbin, /lib, /tmp…) and wrote files to those new directories because their original disk was out of space.  When they got a third disk, they mounted it on /home and relocated all the user directories to there so the OS could consume all the space on both disks and grow to THREE WHOLE MEGABYTES (ooooh!).

3Meg… WOW! Nowadays, we dash off inane missives that often exceed 3 Meg in size. We don’t even think about it. Can you imagine? I was 10 years old in ’71, running around in a neighbor’s overgrown yard playing “war” with my pals. Dennis and Ken were in their late twenties and using their genius to create the foundation for pretty much everything you see in front of you right now… the Internet, the operating system on your computer, the code that is the foundation for most of it, etc. Amazing, huh?

Thom Holwerda from his OSNews article laments:

Arguing that the UNIX directory structure is a horrible, horrible mess that defiles an otherwise elegant system is like trying to convince a floor tile to flip over. People are so used to their knee-jerk responses about how it all supposedly makes sense, they often refuse to even think about redesigning it for the modern age. Since the geek is a proud and stubborn creature, there’s little to no chance of this ever changing in my lifetime.

PhotobucketThom is not a big fan of the Unix file structure. I can see his points. When you read how those directories actually came about, you begin to wonder, as Thom often does, whether the whole thing needs a reboot/rename. Well, it probably won’t ever happen. Hell, some of us still like to boot into a command line interface rather than a graphic one. Holwerda says that geeks are a proud and stubborn. Yup… mostly stubborn. ;)

Read the article. Click on the links. It’s some interesting stuff, folks.

Later…

~Eric

Image credits: Ken Thompson/Dennis Ritchie courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, a worthy Internet resource. Help if you can.

Further reading:

The Creation of the Unix Operating System

Dennis M. Ritchie

Ken L. Thompson

The Linux Directory Structure

Arpanet


How I Got My Nickname (Revisited)

How I Got My Nickname

Posted by V. T. Eric Layton on Mar 31, 2010

What exactly is a “nocturnal slacker”? Is it some late night lazy slob who hangs out and posts baloney like this online?

Umm… well, could be. However, that’s really not the origin of the nickname. The “nocturnal” part of my nickname is due to the fact that I actually am a serious night owl. The nick was given to me years ago by the biker community. The “slacker” part isn’t indicative of my laziness; although, I do suffer from that affliction occasionally. A “slacker” in Linux-land is someone who uses the Slackware Linux distribution.

What’s Slackware? Well, that’s what I’m here to talk to you a bit about tonight. Slackware Linux is the oldest, continuously maintained GNU/Linux distribution. Slackware was created by a young man by the name of Patrick Volkerding back in 1993. Slackware prides itself on being the most “unix-like” GNU/Linux distribution. Its stability is absolutely legendary in the Linux community. It’s simplicity is a thing of beauty.

Alas! Slackware is not for everyone. New Linux Explorers would curl their eyebrow hair just looking at Slack’s text-based installer. I once read an Eric Hameleers (AKA Alien Bob) quote about Slackware in a Linux Magazine interview. He said, “Slackware assumes you are smart! This appeals to people.” That is true… and COOL! People often have heard me state that Slackware is the only GNU/Linux distribution that comes complete with ATTITUDE. It takes a special brand of whacked geek to love Slackware.

Now you know how I became the…

Until next time…

~Eric

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This article originally published on my Nocturnal Slacker | Lockergnome blog. To read it there along with the original comments, click HERE.


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