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Hunting on the Internet, it seems I can find either beginners' guides bent on getting me into programming language and syntax from lesson 1, or 1100 page long comprehensive handbooks. But nothing on hands-on getting started or dealing with the problems that in practice arise. So far I have had to rely on Internet searches which provide mainly vast amounts of out-of-date or simply wrong information and waste a lot of my time.
Let me detail my early real-life experience so far with Ubuntu 14.04. I downloaded it from a disc from a magazine. I was happy to see I had a choice of a tryout version, which I could allegedly remove leaving no remnants behind, or a permanent one. I soon opted for the latter.
I needed to replace Windows XP on a Samsung N130 Netbook. I wrote to Samsung, but they offer no support for Linux.
The first unpleasant surprise was that I discovered the hard way that when one entered a password one was typing blind. I thought this had gone out with early version cellphones, where I sometimes spent half an hour wondering whether I had typed a capital, a lower case letter, a digit or a puctuation sign.
Since I live alone and keep my N130 at home, this Linux preoccupation with security is paranoic. I wrote for help and found a way of diminishing the number of times I need to use the password. But it was not long before I entered it wrongly too many times and found myself locked out.
I discovered I could press shift when starting up and get to a recovery menu. I needed this to get to the superuser function in order to set the password as an ordinary user. However, on both DVDs, (From Linux Welt 4/2014 and Ubuntu Spezial, 2/2014, selecting the option for Root/Shell produced the message "Give Root Password for maintenance."
But it is a feature of Ubuntu that it does not provide the user with the root password. What nonsense is this?
I spent many hours searching the Internet before I found an alternative for getting round this stupidity. I needed to install a Brother printer.
But this proved impossible without access to the superuser. And when I got it, there were conflicting views as to whether I should modify the first item on the menu (generic mode) or the second (recovery mode).
Finally I got the printer to work with the help of such arcane instructions as "boot linux grub into single user mode."
What beginner book tells you this?
Is the Linux community trying to attract or repel new users?
I will save for a separate mail problems that have arisen with error messages, and how I am supposed to act on them.
Sorry that things have been problematic. I don't think there is one comprehensive guide. I think the key thing here is to find a way; even if that requires re-install, to know your root password.
As Windows has grown where you can't do certain things without being an Administrator, Linux also follows suit with the intentions of protecting you against performing actions which would be bad to your system. However it is not fun when you're in the situation you find yourself in.
Similarly, when you enter your password to a webpage, especially a secure ordering type of site or a financial site; it's sometimes more difficult to reset your password without proving your credentials. Therefore as a result it is a good idea to be able to recall those passwords. Everyone has various ways of doing this, these days where there are literally hundreds of passwords and credentials which you need to remember. (It's also not always just the passwords, but the answers to secret questions.)
Again, I think the key thing here to do is to get your root password and save that information somewhere useful to you and as secure as you feel you need it to be. The easiest, but also most invasive way to do this is to reinstall.