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Old 01-08-2008, 02:25 AM   #16
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I started off by installing it I can't say I knew much anything about it except that it had a penguin on the cover, and I recall installing it a few times a week - some days more than once a day - because I happened to mess something up I couldn't fix yet. In the beginning I couldn't do much with it, but after finding a book about UNIX things got a little forward. The beginning was mostly just blind shooting, but eventually I did learn what I can and cannot do, what I should not do, and how things work (not everything, but some of the things).

I think the reason why it took me so "long" to learn the operating system was because there was no documentation (EDIT: of course there were man pages and such, or so I think, but I didn't know they were there, nor how to use them if I did), and moreover, nobody to ask from. When more reading and books came available, and some others installed the thing as well, the learning process went faster. Nowadays when internet is at hand almost everywhere, I think it's a whole lot easier to start learning. The tricks of having the OS work for you (and not vice versa) are learned by trying out, I still think so, but nowadays if you don't know what to do after the setup completes and you meet a "login: " prompt, you can always ask at LQ.

My advice then...well, it must be that (especially new users) should not "be afraid" of the system, but try and do things. It's ok to do a reinstall at the end of the day (I did sometimes) if things get messy, but ultimately doing and experimenting yourself is the most effective way of learning. And whenever you get stuck, first try yourself, but if it doesn't open, simply ask (here, for example). No need to spend weeks over one problem anymore, since help is available.

Last edited by b0uncer; 01-08-2008 at 02:26 AM.
Old 01-08-2008, 03:22 AM   #17
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When I started I didn't have internet access, so I learned with books. Of course, everything you need is out there on the net.
When I started out I was interested in learning about *nix systems. Today I couldn't care less how it works, as long as it works.
Old 01-08-2008, 04:36 AM   #18
Registered: Oct 2007
Location: Sydney, Australia
Distribution: Debian
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!!! by having fun !!! that is the best approach. Also by reading, testing and writing:
Old 01-08-2008, 06:46 AM   #19
Registered: Oct 2007
Location: Oregon
Distribution: Slackware 12.2
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Still learning, but here are my two cents of time savers

I am very new to linux. I delved into darwin once mac switched to os x, and I had a look "under the hood"... and, since it was based on bsd, my next step was to try openbsd (figured the makers of openssh would keep puffy secure)--every now and then, about twice a year, since 1999, I would download some distro's iso for powerpc and give it a spin; I never got maclinux going back in 1999, but I did notice that I got further each year.
I remember getting so excited when I saw xeyes on darwin after building Xfree86. But eventually I would get frustrated with the "trials"... wouldn't get sound to work, or my printer... eventually, I would be back to the familiar osx. I tried debian, suse, mepis, and ubuntu... It was with ubuntu, on a i686 that I acquired for my son's "windows only" online homeschool, that I became determined to figure out ubuntu, and make it "contain" windows in its own virtual bubble...

Unfortuanetly, the ubuntu was picking up my ata drive as a scsi, and assigning it a /dev/sda, instead of a /dev/hda... this prevented me from using hdparm to set DMA for my drive, and the edubuntu ran faster off of the live cd than when installed.

Then I discovered slackware. It won my loyalty by working... it wasn't the easiest distro to install. But the users in its large userbase actually share the knowledge they've accumulated Thanks Slack Users. It seemed like the intimate details of tweaking darwin (like how to build it from scratch) were not readily acquired online, and are coveted secrets kept by apple developers...they're probably there somewhere, buried in how to manage open directory, etc., but why bother, they're gonna change it by the next release anyways. And in the ubuntu forums, it seems like there are so many noobs that noobs start answering other noobs questions without really knowing, so there were lots of what I call "wild goose threads."

However, slackware knew my drive was ata, and I could use hdparm on it, and it was so fast... wow. Then, the forums melted my questions away, one by one. Now my son's i686 slackware 12 box runs winXP inside virtualBox for his homeschool; he can print to a shared CUPS printer...saned even shares his scanner with the other workstations, and that is something unheard of in windows and mac...we share music folders, software repositories, etc. with NFS. Slackware is the first distribution that actually got a desktop functional enough for me to like it better than os x. Elegant in its simplicity Thanks Pat.

And if you made it this far though this monologue, let me add something useful: over all, I think I found more answers in the documentation that comes with the distros, customized to the distro, than in chasing the advise tailored to other distros in wild goose threads. Just as often as not, after a day of futile www searching through other situations' solutions, I'll return to the directory containing the source code I'm trying to compile, and find that the answer was in the README, or in the ./configure --help output.

Now I try README pages, man pages, info pages, searching forum, then posting in forum, in that order. I know there are realtime resources on IRC, but haven't tapped in. Too busy reading man pages.

But I share the sentiments of the former posts about slackware. I think its user base and community are so happy to offer assistance, that I've found that most of my issues have already been answered at LQ, and haven't needed to post many questions at all.
Old 01-08-2008, 07:19 AM   #20
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Registered: Jan 2007
Distribution: Gentoo, Fedora, Slackware .. Mac OS X?
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Shell account (I think it was .. no ssh, you had to telnet into it <3 old times ..) -> LiveCDs (Knoppix/Phlak - I loved Phlak) -> Slackware 9.
Old 01-08-2008, 07:52 AM   #21
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Location: Annapolis, MD
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How to learn Linux by NOT doing what I did.......

Here is (approximately) what I did:
  1. Very early (Apple-II/Mac 128 era), learned Unix and C. Forgot most of it, but at least remembered that there was such a thing as a CLI
  2. Bought (paid for--in a store!!) SUSE (something like version 2 or 3...)
  3. Decided that the best way to keep the Windows crutch at the ready was with 2 computers + a KVM switch. Easy access to Windows crutch of course slowed the learning process.
  4. Got distracted and dropped the whole thing for a while.
  5. Tried some of the other distros--eg Fedora 1 or 2---got frustrated and...
  6. Bought SUSE AGAIN!! (You might excuse the first one, but this was dumb---although that version (9?) was pretty good)
  7. Discovered Ubuntu---wow, everything works!!!
  8. got POed at Ubuntu because of the stupid no-root-user thing---discovered Mepis.
  9. got RHEL4 at work--Good news: they support Linux---Bad news: only RHEL
  10. caught the distro-hopper disease (In my case it has been diagnosed as terminal...)
  11. Forced to learn shell-scripting because there were some things I wanted to do with LDAP
  12. After many years of thrashing around, discovered LQ---Joined in Nov 2005. This was the beginning of the really serious push. (Only a coincidence that I was seeing the very real possibility of layoff...)
  13. At LQ, proved the time-honored principle that learning often comes thru helping others. (Even when some of your advice turns out to be wrong....
Old 01-08-2008, 09:07 AM   #22
Registered: Sep 2003
Location: Ohio
Distribution: Ubuntu 12.04
Posts: 315
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I started out with Suse 9.1 and knoppix. this site helped A LOT. will become your best friend. I just kept trying different distros till i found one i liked. I used suse up until 10.1 came out. then it bombed and was horrid. I started trying other distros xandros, Mandrake (at the time, lindows/linspire. Then i kinda got frustrated and left linux alone for a while. opensuse 10.2 came out i started playing with it got ticked cause of my stupid ATI card. got an nvidia and all was well. tried pclinuxos and debian then ubuntu. now im using ubuntu 7.10.
Old 01-08-2008, 10:31 AM   #23
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The internet: Google, LQ (of course), downloaded guides from the Linux Documentation Project. I still regard myself as a newbie, learning bit by bit, by trial and error.
Old 01-08-2008, 11:44 AM   #24
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I'm not a expert, but I can tell you that I learned what I DO know about Linux by:
  1. Breaking Linux (but make sure you backup often if you take this route )
  2. Using LFS, and now, CLFS for my everyday machine. Maybe that's why #1 happens so much.
  3. Of course, answering questions at!
  4. Contributing to the CBLFS wiki.
  5. Reading the link in #5 in my signature.
Number 1 has really been my greatest teacher. As long as you backup before you go mucking around, you'll figure out what does and doesn't work. Then the challenge is understanding why. I have found that 99.999% +/- 0.001% (I made up those #'s) or more of the problems you encounter are not unique. Some take a little more digging than others, but generally Google has the answer. Read the link in #5 in my signature before you try a mailing list, IRC, etc.

Any great sites?!!! You've already found the greatest, but Bookmark Advanced Bash Scripting, don't worry about the "Advanced" in the title. Learn it, love 'cause you'll need to use it someday if you use Linux.

Best Linux version (distro), Cross Linux from Scratch, of course!

Last edited by weibullguy; 01-08-2008 at 11:45 AM.
Old 01-08-2008, 11:51 AM   #25
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Very good post pixellany!

I have a similar history - apple IIe but then skipped MS products because I opted for Xenix (like unix) in my business. Learnt a fair amount of command line because there was no gui at that time. But I digress..........

I used RH, Mandrake and then Corelinux. Really liked Debian. I think I spent 4 days installing and re-installing Debian Woody until I could figure out what the hell they were talking about.

I learnt to make notes about everything I did and still refer to them regularly. I ran a dual boot system for 6 months. Windows '98 was my "safety blanket". I set myself complex tasks to achieve. Since I first saw the Internet I always wanted to have my own server. That was like the ultimate objective.

My own outlook is to push yourself. If you get into Linux then you are probably a "techophile" anyway. Set yourself goals and learn everything you can about the subject and try it. If things go wrong and you don't understand what is going on or cannot figure out what went wrong then ask the good folks here. Most times they will be very patient but other times people can be quite harsh. Persevere and try to phrase questions correctly by doing some reading and giving concise information. Most of the folks here don't want to try and extract huge amounts of info from you. They will just ignore the question. Be prepared with as much info as possible.

Last edited by TigerOC; 01-08-2008 at 11:53 AM.
Old 01-08-2008, 12:13 PM   #26
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Registered: Dec 2007
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trial and error

Originally Posted by PMorph View Post
I'm not exactly an expert, but here goes..

Method: Trial and Error
Hint: Make Notes - or regret
I totally agree, every OS I have had in the past, I have to reinstall it several times before i get familiar with it. So you don't necessary have to mess ur OS up to learn but trial and error is the best way to learn, good luck!
Old 01-08-2008, 12:17 PM   #27
Registered: Jul 2006
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
Distribution: openSUSE 11, RHEL4 & 5, CentOS 5
Posts: 57

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First tried Redhat, in the long-long ago... then Mandrake, Mandriva, FreeBSD, Solaris, Debian, Fedora, Mepis, Ubuntu... the list goes on and on... finally, I found SUSE and have stuck with it. The big problem that I had with learning linux/unix was that I always was on a dual-boot with Windows and left everything setup for Windows to work. Now with NTFS-3g and explore2fs, I was able to make a little more wise decisions about how to manage the dual-boot (quad-boot now), and make linux work throughout everything. The only partition on my computer that I can't work with in linux is the one for Mac OS root (but I'll bet there's a way for me to use that one too, just no need).

A few years ago, my best friend and I decided to start having LFT (Linux Fun Time) a few nights a week. Neither of us knew much about linux, we were both sick of Microsoft's reign of terror, and mac os is like an insult to the end user. During LFT, we'd force ourselves to work in a runlevel 3 like environment. Even if we were in the GUI, we'd edit the conf files in vi; even if there was a way to set it up in some GUI tool, we'd tweak it manually. We'd setup things that we didn't really need, but were curious about. The internet is the limitless resource; you just have to know what the question is. If you hear someone mention something and you don't know what it is, google it (or search here @ LQ). You want to do something with your linux box, but you don't know what linux prog will do it, sourceforge and freshmeat. Get really stumped, start a new thread here. As you can see, we at LQ are tons of geeks that will help you out and not look down our nose because we were all newbies at some time; the only thing we might get guilty of is accidentally not mention that one step that goes without saying to one that's a pinch more advanced (EG, "Whoops, forgot, that'll only work when you're logged in as root).

I choose Linux mostly because of the community support. You ask some MCSEs some Windows related tech question and they assume you're a moron (because there are a TON of idiotic Windows users, I'm one of those MCSEs... hehe), and don't get me started about the Mac gurus, they just have some kind of serious personality glitch. Linux users help other linux users because that's the only way any of us became linux users.

Good luck...
Old 01-08-2008, 07:35 PM   #28
Registered: Mar 2006
Location: North Ga. USA
Distribution: various
Posts: 39

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When I finish learning linux I'll let you know. But seriously, 1st distro was xandros.I'm a distro hopper. Have tried all the popular distros trying to find one to do it all. I haven't found it yet.
I have a seperate rig dedicated to linux. Like others I tweak it until it breaks, then start over. I also use a MS crutch, but after about 2 years I have gotten to the point that I could rely on linux as my only os at home.
Old 01-09-2008, 01:46 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by crenclan View Post
When I finish learning linux I'll let you know.
Really ; - That will be in a very long time because I don't think anyone finishes learning Linux, not even Linus.
Old 01-09-2008, 11:04 AM   #30
Registered: Dec 2007
Distribution: Fedora, Oracle Linux & Centos
Posts: 197

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Im still very new to the Linux world but started out 6 months ago with Ubuntu 7.04. Coming from an Windoze Windows world. Now I'm working on earning the Linux+ Cert. I'm forced to use Windows at work but I run Fedora 7 in vmware to study and use during the day. First I started using Beryl and the GUI now I'm studying and learning the commands.
Live CD are great. So far I've tried Ubuntu, Fedora, Centos, OpenSuse and a few others. My goal is two be able to use and administer MS, Linux & OS X. My next Laptop will most likely be a Mac so I can run OS X, MS (whatever)and Linux on the same box.


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