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Old 03-07-2004, 05:39 PM   #1
Registered: Feb 2004
Location: New Jersey, USA
Distribution: Ubuntu 14.04
Posts: 55

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Question Learn by doing advice for newbie

I am a newbie to Linux but have a good deal of IT, PC and Windows knowledge...COBOL, VB, Pascal, SQL.

I have been using Red Hat Linux 8 for about 9 months but due to a full time job and family/home/auto demands I get little time to concentrate on learning Linux.

My question: does anyone have "Learn by doing" advice for someone like me. In other words, with the little time I have available taking "drinks from the fire hose" is going badly. There's just too much to learn.

I tried doing a search in on "Learn by doing" but didn't see any similar posts, though I imagine the question could have been worded differently.

I've read Sam's Teach Yourself RH8 Linux in 24 hours, I've visited the LDP, I've set up dual boot WinME/RH8 with shared data partitions and used Samba to provide shared access. In other words, I stuck my foot in the water and now I need to know how to learn to swim on my own and which direction to start swimming.

Maybe people know of Web sites where there are "Learn by doing" exercises, or books I should buy, or community projects wanting people to test software, or anything that would put some purpose in my aimless wanderings. If I was a teenager with lots of time I'd probably be well past newbie by now.

Thanks in advance for any advice or comments or criticism (that helps too).
Old 03-07-2004, 05:54 PM   #2
Registered: Feb 2004
Distribution: Debian
Posts: 286

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I'm not 100% sure what you mean with your emphasis on "learn by doing," but by far the best guide IMO is

Looks like you can safely skip most of its chapter 2 and all of its chapter 3.

I advise going through the chapters and following the exercises and examples. A significant amount of the stuff in the early parts should be quite easy for you. Still, I must stress that a lot of the "basic" stuff is missed by the latest batch of linux initiates who are overly reliant on GUI interfaces. If you pay attention and practice what's in the guide I linked to, you'll find that the typical unix command line environment is far more powerful and flexible.

If you go through the whole book and learn everything, you will be a unix wizard.
Old 03-07-2004, 05:57 PM   #3
Registered: Jan 2004
Distribution: OS X; FreeBSD; Debian
Posts: 172

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I would recommend getting Red Hat 8 for Dummies here
Once you've learned RH, maybe you would like to consider moving on to a more powerful distro, such as Slackware, Debian (which I use), or Gentoo [I suggest this because you have a good knowledge base]. If you still want to keep it simple, go with Mandrake. Whatever you do though, stay away from LindowsOS like the plague. It ends up being very expensive, and you have to download all the software you want through their Click-n-run service. Free distros will do the job just fine.
The reason I suggest that you move on after learning RH is that they are now straying away from home users and more into the enterprise market.
Old 03-07-2004, 09:19 PM   #4
Registered: Feb 2004
Location: New Jersey, USA
Distribution: Ubuntu 14.04
Posts: 55

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Snacky: the "Rute User's Tutorial" looks like a good step-by-step approach. As you say, some of the early chapters will be too basic, but I'm sure I'll get into challenging stuff soon enough. Yes, you're right. The command line aspects of Linux challenge me. For instance, where I work (a Windows shop) many don't even know what a "Regular Expression" is, whereas I know but couldn't form one without having a RegEx guide open on my desk. So I'm only one small step up. But that tutorial will give me a structure to follow, which will help because of my limited time frame, so I'll remember where I left off in my studies.

apache363: thanks for the distro advice. Perhaps I shouldn't load up too much on Red Hat books if Slackware, Debian, Gentoo or Mandrake are in my future (?).

Thanks both of you for taking the time to reply and share your thoughts.
Old 03-08-2004, 06:02 AM   #5
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Location: Plymouth, England.
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I know what you're asking, but I'm unsure why. I found that I learned Linux best by doing it, not by doing exercises presented to me in a book or webpage. If I came upon a specific problem, then I would tackle that problem and that problem alone until it was sorted.

Also, what is it that you want to learn? Are you looking to learn Linux admin or are you looking at it as a desktop OS? The route you take will depend on what you want to get out of it.

The RUTE is a good 'book' to read through, unless you're really not interested in that area of Linux systems, in which case it could be quite off-putting.

Old 03-08-2004, 08:25 AM   #6
Registered: Feb 2004
Location: New Jersey, USA
Distribution: Ubuntu 14.04
Posts: 55

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Good point, Thymox. I should have been more clear in my OP as to what my purpose in even installing Linux was.

Well, of course, as a programmer I try to keep my skills up to date, and the absence of Unix/Linux knowledge is a big hole. But I also enjoy PCs as a hobby, but one which I only get to work on with limited time due to limited time. Finally there's the free spirit of Unix/Linux (like that of the Interenet) which I appreciate for its own sake and don't mind contributing to when I have something worthwhile.

But to be concrete: when I said that the "drinks from the fire hose" weren't working, I meant that after reading the Sam's 24 hour book on RH8 and getting RH8 up on a spare machine, dual/booted and hooked into my home network, I am having trouble with subsequent tasks because of the 80/20 rule (it only took me 20% or less Linux knowledge to get this far) and because of how my time to spend on projects and learning is so chopped-up across days. Example: I gather enabling ssh on my home network should be done with security concerns in mind, which led me to investigate how to address Linux security concerns (beyond the simple Low/Medium/High approach), which led me to an awful lot of information on this topic including suggested downloads, some of which needed to be compiled and customized. In a sense this could be an example of the kind of "Learn by doing" that I was talking about, but it seemed I had gotten in over my head as a newbie.

Perhaps the answer is that with limited time I'm doomed to not make much progress. I just wanted to make sure that others out there hadn't found some good stepping stones. In other words, I think folks would agree the first stepping stones are pretty much always: read a beginner's book, choose a distro, install and play around a little. My question is: although many "next" stepping stones are possible, which ones are best.

Final concrete point: if I could 9 months from now say that I had a good Linux backup scheme in place, that I had a better understanding of security concerns (for the sake of my professional knowledge as well as just safety), had ssh working and a dummy Web site up using SQL, and had installed some software that required a bit of customization (as opposed to just a simple RPM), then I'd feel I was making some progress. Perhaps these should be my next "stepping stones". Are the good choices, or is the water too deep in those areas?

Thanks again.


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