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Old 06-27-2008, 02:22 PM   #1
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Best way to learn Linux?

Hi all, my Windows PC kicked the bucket last week and a friend is going to install WXP onto it, but I have been wanting to learn Linux for years, so am going to see if he can partition the hard drive and put Linux on it also.

Another friend mentioned something about a CD he had a while back that had a Linux OS on it, and that I could put that in the CD ROM drive and boot up using that to first familiarize myself with Linux to see if I really would want it.

Is there such a beast, if so, where can I get one? If not, how easy is Linux to learn on the fly if I had it installed? I have a minimal knowledge of Unix.


Old 06-27-2008, 02:28 PM   #2
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You can use Ubuntu as a live CD, and when you've familiarised yourself with and if you like it, then you can easily install it:
Download the desktop .iso, burn it to a CD, boot up from it, and away you go.
Old 06-27-2008, 02:35 PM   #3
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If you want to burn your own LiveCDs there are dozens available through
Old 06-27-2008, 02:43 PM   #4
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To answer your "best way to learn Linux" question ...

For years I dabbled with Linux. But I always had Windows as a crutch. So, when I had a problem with my Linux install, I'd just do whatever in Windows. One day I thought to myself "enough's enough", erased Windows and installed Fedora 4, and effectively forcibly immersed myself in Linux. Same thing as lingual immersion. Now, the only reason I have a virtual installation of Windows is for my web server, which understands my ASP.
Old 06-27-2008, 02:43 PM   #5
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thing that worked the best for me was to put it on a 2nd machine or a machine I didn't care if I screwed it up and just tried to do things. Get in and get your hands dirty and read.. Then read some more.. And when you're tired of reading... Read some more.

You best friends will be and

read the man pages. try a few commands and then add flags/options to see what else the command can do. Think about the things you liked to do on a windows machine and research how to do it in Linux. I like to listen to online radio stations, got my ipod working under linux, edited video clips, recorded internet radio streams.. So I just searched around and tinkered with it. Be patient. It will take a while to get your head wrapped around what you want to do. And you will screw some things up, thats fine. Just learn how to fix what you screwed up.
Old 06-27-2008, 04:01 PM   #6
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And I decided to use Linux as my sole OS. Makes you learn
stuff quickly ;}

Old 06-27-2008, 04:07 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by dmmoran View Post
Another friend mentioned something about a CD he had a while back that had a Linux OS on it, and that I could put that in the CD ROM drive and boot up using that to first familiarize myself with Linux to see if I really would want it.
That is called a "LiveCD" and most current Linux distributions provide them as downloads (.iso files) that you can burn to a CD.

Originally Posted by dmmoran View Post
Is there such a beast, if so, where can I get one? If not, how easy is Linux to learn on the fly if I had it installed? I have a minimal knowledge of Unix.
You can download an Ubuntu ISO from this link: Download Ubuntu. It is the easiest distribution to install and use for a first timer. You can boot from the CD and play with it for a while. When you feel more confident, you can double-click the installation icon and it will automagically detect your Window installation and setup a dual boot.

I had an English professor who said, "The easiest way to learn how to write well, is to read a lot of books."

This principle applies to Linux. The easiest way to learn how to use Linux is to read a lot of books about how to use it. I have been using Unix and Linux since 1988 and I am still learning new things every day. Most libraries these days have sections with books about Linux, so you do not even have to buy a book to get started. However, eventually, you will want the books around for reference.

Last edited by David1357; 06-27-2008 at 04:08 PM. Reason: Added note about free books at libraries.
Old 06-27-2008, 04:21 PM   #8
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Take a look on this page:

and choose one and try it, if you don't like try another, just don't fell bad if you don't get working at the first time. All of us was some time ago...
Old 06-27-2008, 05:55 PM   #9
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Choose a distro that is target as "distro for newbies" ( like ubuntu ) and then figure out how it work, the best way to learn linux ( and something else ) is trying to do and don't feel bad if you don't get.
Old 06-27-2008, 07:30 PM   #10
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If you want to LEARN linux, you must be fearless. This means you must accept from the start that you WILL break your OS and you WILL reinstall from scratch.

Once you have accepted that mentality, then you need to experiment with various advanced activities. You must fiddle with the system up to the point you break something. Reinstall from scratch when you must, but try to learn from your "mistake" first.

Some examples of "advanced" activities to try:

Try installing a minimal system and only add things as necessary.

Try setting up SAMBA or SSH or Apache or MythTV or rsync from the command line interface.

Try setting up your own startup scripts to park your hard drives or other things.

Try setting up diskless netbooting, or RAMboot.

Try recompiling the kernel with minimal modules.

Break /etc/fstab by purposefully messing up the root "/" partition entry. Then play around in busybox after rebooting.

Play around with the scripts in /usr/share/initramfs-tools/.

There are so many cool things you can do in Linux...try doing some of them, and you'll learn a lot!
Old 06-27-2008, 10:24 PM   #11
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One observation about "live" distros - there are some that are designed to run live, and others that will run live, but more for the purposes of evaluation than to use it everyday. On my computer (512k ram), booting Ubuntu (for example) live is interminably slow, but booting Knoppix is ok (and Puppy is quick). For the big distros, you need a system with a fair bit of ram to run live, so bear that in mind. If you try a "full-flavoured" distro with a kde or gnome desktop, don't think that the distro will be as slow as that when installed.

If you want to go ahead and install, my advice is to get an imaging program (I have Acronis True Image) and image your windows partition. Acronis lets you restore your whole partition or your main boot record. If you install something and want to delete it or everything gets messed up and you need to start again, you can put things back the way they were. You can be brave (or even stupid!) when you can easily restore things. If you go this route, you need to learn about grub and booting first.
Old 06-28-2008, 12:01 AM   #12
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Wow I am shocked and GRATEFUL for such an incredible wealth of help from you all!!! I have been in many forums of various kinds over the years and have never seen such community -- I will read through these again and hopefully make an informed decision on how to go about learning Linux.


Old 06-28-2008, 01:33 PM   #13
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As has been said in more than one reply, the best way to learn linux is to USE it.

Question for you, Did you know anything about Windows before you used it???

Use linux to learn linux. nuff said


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