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Introduction to Linux - A Hands on Guide
This guide was created as an overview of the Linux Operating System, geared toward new users as an exploration tour and getting started guide, with exercises at the end of each chapter.
For more advanced trainees it can be a desktop reference, and a collection of the base knowledge needed to proceed with system and network administration. This book contains many real life examples derived from the author's experience as a Linux system and network administrator, trainer and consultant. They hope these examples will help you to get a better understanding of the Linux system and that you feel encouraged to try out things on your own.
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I've been recommending BeaFanatIX to people asking for a very light distro for older machines for several weeks strictly on the basis of a DistroWatch blurb and a glance around the BeaFanatIX home page. Looked like a nice idea. Started feeling guilty the last few days and decided the least I could do is kick off the liveCD version, and see if I was giving bad advice once again.
At the link above, you click on the picture of the pretty kitty-cat, and you're presented with 2 choices of .iso images; ... thus:
* BeaFanatIX 2006.2 final: ISO | MD5
* BeaFanatIX 2006.2 final, isolinux version: ISO | MD5
for machines not working with GRUB
That was a little vague for me in deciding which I should select, so I took the top one. Wrote the .iso, popped it in my laptop, and powered it up. Was presented with a 'grub>' prompt that wouldn't do anything. Went back to the site to look over the documentation (might have been a good idea to start with that), and found:
The BFX2 CD uses GRUB as (graphical) boot loader. However, we noticed issues on a few notebooks. Since we don't know the reason for that, we offer a second CD which uses isolinux as (commandline) boot loader.
Thought, "Hmm! Maybe I should have tried the other .iso." So I did. Either .iso is only about 156 MB, and is set up to run as a LiveCD with an 'install to hard drive' option. I wasn't interesting in testing that. One other note from the doc pages is worth quoting:
We consider novice Linux users as our main audience; however, Windows users who look for an alternative are also potential clients, so we've prepared documentation for Linux and Windows systems alike.
The 2nd .iso cd came up with a 'boot:' prompt, and an invitation to hit F2/F3, if I was confused at that point. I typed 'bfx2' and the [Enter] key and was on the way. In a minute or so, I had a Gnome Desktop ... no video problems ... with a sparse but very usable selection of applications. Abiword, Gnumeric, Beep Music Player, Firestarter, and all the other things necessary to have a computer equivalent to a bare bones Windows installation.
The LiveCD recognized the partitions on my hard drive, and I could access data files from my /home directory there; no problems picking up an .mp3 file to test BMP. It played the file fine, no need to mess with sound or codecs. It did not recognize my rt2500 wireless lan card at all, although it found the (disconnected) ethernet port and modem. BeaFantIX ships with a 2.6.15 kernel. I'll bet that upgrading that to 2.6.17+ would fix the wlan issue.
Opening a Terminal window and typing 'su -' dropped me immediately to a root prompt. I don't know whether a hard drive installation would force the entry of a root password. I did read in the docs that a hard drive install would set up Synaptic. Upgrades are done via Apt, but I'm not sure of the default source.list. I suspect it's Ubuntu.
Overall, I like the presentation, it has a good beat, and it's EZ, I'll give it a four and a half. (That's a nine if you must have scales of 10.)
Would you recommend the product? yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 8
Easy for a new user, does what it says on the label i.e. works with older machines.
I fit into both the designated categories for the product, i.e. new user and getting away from windows. I'm keen to prove that we don't need big machines or Windows software and my elderly amd266 computer assembled from bits & pieces is ideal- but would not work with Ubuntu. Enquries directed me to lightweight distros thence to Beafanatix.
I note the comment about f2/f3 on setup, after a few tries I concluded that my computer was as basic as any so I used "failsafe". After some HDD partition issues (sorted with help from LQ) I had a working desktop.
Glitches: opened hotmail account and internet crashed several times. Picked up email from Mail2web and that was better although not foolproof. If I put in a non Linux disk by mistake the computer locks & needs rebooting. Didn't pick up my sound card.
I expect to find ways round these things and will share the results.