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Old 01-20-2006, 06:56 AM   #1
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Question Newbie overwhelmed - where to start?

I've made the jump but don't have a clue where to start with what. I've installed Mandriva 2006, but everywhere I read, I'm reading things (acronyms, verbage, etc) that have no meaning to me. What/where is a good starting point to understand the basics of Linux? I'm totally ignorant of Linux. Is Linux/Unix the same thing? compatible? Does any linux app run under Mandriva? I've got alot more questions, but I'll save them for after my introduction!

Is there a basic of the basics guide for ignorant newbies?

I may be ignorant, but the fact that I'm ditching Windows means I'm not stupid!

Thankx everyone. See you this evening!
Old 01-20-2006, 07:10 AM   #2
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Classic question---we should invent some automatic answers...

The answer is deceptively simple: One step at a time.

First, forget what you know about Windows--pretend you are just sitting at your old Apple II or Mac 128. Push buttons, rummage thru menus, try things to see what happens.
Learn a few programs that are already installed---eg text editor, web browser, e-mail, maybe some games.

Next, learn the package manager. This shows you what is already installed and what is available automatically.

At some point, spend a few hours exploring the command-line interface and getting comfortable with the directory structure and basic commands. One good place to start is "info coreutils"---this give you the manual on some of the most basic commands.

After you know you way around a bit, go buy a good introductory book. I recommend "Linux in a Nutshell"--O'Reilly. Also look at the Linux Documentation Project (TLDP dot something)

When you know what questions to ask, try Google, this forum, etc.
Old 01-20-2006, 07:15 AM   #3
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I recommend getting a book like Running Linux 5th Edition (just came out last December) or Linux In a Nutshell.

Linux and Unix are not the same thing. Linux is a POSIX compliant "unix like" OS that was created from the ground up. These days most software written for commercial unix OS's can be easily built and used under linux. To officially be "UNIX" you have to be certified by the OpenGroup which Linux is not.

Mandriva can run any linux app. In general most people try and stick to installing things through there distros native package management system so they don't have to worry about package dependencies and the likes.
Old 01-20-2006, 07:18 AM   #4
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LinuxQuestions has a lot of great links.
You might want to give the wiki from this page a try:

Also, a search for 'newbie' on 'linux bookmarks' (top right of your screen on this page)
gives me:
And many other good starting points!
Good luck
Old 01-20-2006, 07:22 AM   #5
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Gammaw, welcome & good luck!

".. reading ...(acronyms, verbage, etc) that have no meaning to me."
Give it time... it'll come.. but to make it easier:

"What/where is a good starting point to understand the basics of Linux?"
(its a busy looking page, but the info is there)

But I tend to think that the best way is to just USE your linux.. there will
come a time that something is not correct, you need to do something and can't
or for any other reason, and it'll 'force' you to learn. But after all,
it is a computer, and meant to be used (productivly?).

"Is Linux/Unix the same thing? compatible?"
Simply put, no. However there are many similarities.

"Does any linux app run under Mandriva?"
I'm not familiar with Mandriva, but any linux source code can be compiled
and used on any linux system.

have fun !!!!!

Last edited by tw001_tw; 01-20-2006 at 07:23 AM.
Old 01-20-2006, 07:22 AM   #6
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"I've made the jump but don't have a clue where to start with what. I've installed Mandriva 2006, but everywhere I read, I'm reading things (acronyms, verbage, etc) that have no meaning to me. What/where is a good starting point to understand the basics of Linux?"

Like with anything, if you come up against something you dont understand, google it

There is also: where you can search for such guides

"Does any linux app run under Mandriva?"

Mandriva is a distribution, Linux is Linux, an OS made up of the Kernel, System programs etc. A distribution generally takes Linux and personalises it ie. packages (programs), configurations, kernel versions, and many more things.

Many distros use package managers to make installing/updating packages easier. RPM (Redhat Package Manager) is one such type. However other distros besides those created by redhat use them (such as Mandriva). These Rpms are similar to windows .exe binaries, and can just be installed on the target system they are compiled for, so generally you need the right package for the right distribution.

The alternative to this is installing from source code (most *nix packages are released in source versions) whereby providing you meet the requirements (dependencies, compiler, etc.) you can install it on whatever distro you want.

Mandriva has a package manager called Urpmi you might want to look into for downloading/installing/maintaining your installed packages -

Thats something to digest and reflect on, and these forums are a great place for help, and even reading others posts gives an amazing amount of insight into Linux
Old 01-20-2006, 07:28 AM   #7
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I recommend that you first limit the scope of your experience. What I mean is that you should get to know Linux from the normal user point of view. Then think about what you would normally do in Windows and find out how to do those things in Linux. I've said in other threads similar to yours that if you are running a GUI in Linux then a lot of what you already know about Windows is the same in Linux.

I don't know the specifics of the Mandriva default installation so I don't know if you which window manager you will be using. It may be KDE or Gnome. Either way you will see a start button at the left side of the task bar ... just like in Windows. If you click on that you will see a list of applications and groups of applications ... just like in Windows. If you highlight the menu item labeled "Internet" you will see a menu with other application types such as web browser, email, chat, and other things that you would have avalable in Windows. You may have the Firefox web browser. Click on that and you will be able to browse the WWW .... just like in Windows. Once you get your bearings and begin to feel comfortable using this approach then you can start to think about how to apply software patches and installing new software ... just like in Windows.

You will find that things like highlighting text in one window, opening the edit menu at the top of the window, clicking on "Copy", then highlighting another application, clicking on the edit menu at the top of its window, and clicking on "Paste" works just like in Windows.

So don't worry. The GUI interface will make Linux look very like Windows. You should find that things are not so different as you may have expected.

Is Linux/Unix the same thing?
No. Linux is a work alike operating system. It was designed to look and act like Unix. It is so much like Unix that you can use it to learn Unix, but it is not Unix.

It depends. Actually that is a VERY complicated subject. The good news is that most open source software is designed to run on Linux.

Does any linux app run under Mandriva?
No. You can try to get any open source Linux application to run on any particular distribution of Linux. Success will vary with each different application. The good news is that Mandriva is a very popular distribution with excellent full time development and support, just like Red Hat and SuSE. The people who create Mandriva do a lot of work to make sure that thousands of applications will run on their distribution. More information can be found at the Mandriva web site.

Is there a basic of the basics guide for ignorant newbies?
You could probably spend a lot of money for huge books on Linux but there is really no need. There are numerous web sites that have varying degrees of subject matter specifically for new users. You could start with the tutorials at this web site. A few other good sites are:

There are a bazillion web sites that cover some aspect of using Linux.
Old 01-20-2006, 12:25 PM   #8
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Location: Ohio USA
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It's amazing how helpful you all are! Thank you so much for taking the time to give a newbie a grand welcome. Can't wait to get home so I can play, read and learn!

Old 01-28-2006, 11:19 AM   #9
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Don't worry, I felt just like you do in December when I started. I have bought book upon book, scoured this site, and at first, couldn't even follow advice I was given-it all looked like double dutch.
I am by no means a pro, but I must tell you that a really useful site for quickly getting up to speed without reading yourself into a coma, is

Other than that, the more you mess with it (sounds like a cliche), the more "ah, so that's how it works" moments you have. Good luck, and welcome to the sucker-for-punishment frat!!
Old 01-29-2006, 03:53 AM   #10
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Thankx Simoneroper! I'm checking it out now. I think it is exactly what I'm needing!
Old 01-29-2006, 11:44 AM   #11
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Thumbs up

I've learned a great deal just cruising the forums here. If you look at my post count, I do much googling and reading here when I run into problem. The other thing I do, I have a test computer where I install different distros and play around with dualbooting, messing things up and starting over. That's the great thing about having an extra box to use. You don't have to worry about screwing things up, and I think hands-on is a great way to learn.
Old 01-29-2006, 02:30 PM   #12
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As a previous user suggested I recommend Running Linux 5th edition because like you I was, and still am a total newbie and knew nothing about Linux at all. I don't reccomend Linux in a Nutshell yet because it is a little more advanced, I know because I got it first and returned it for Running Linux 5th edition. Very good newbie book.
Old 01-29-2006, 07:16 PM   #13
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Theres some links in my sig that may be of use.

Plus, you should also visit easy urpmi which is a site that will "semi-automate" the setting up of online package repositories for mandriva. It's reasonably straight forward i.e. just follow the instructions, then copy and paste into a terminal (logged in as root of course) and let it "do it's thing".

That way, when you start checking out the package manager facility in the Mandriva control centre/MCC/configure my computer, it will offer you the latest versions of packages that you have installed, want to install or want to remove.

theres also lots of distro specific info for mandriva to be found here. The bonus of a distro like mandriva, is that you can do just about everything you want in a graphic environment, and can delay the learning of CLI until you feel ready.


Old 01-30-2006, 08:58 AM   #14
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Another good thing to do: keep a diary. As in a #2 pencil and a spiral-bound notebook... When you have a write it down clearly in your own words. When you make a , do the same.

With a diary, as soon as you have "written it down," you have captured it. You don't have to go chasing after this particular rabbit at this particular time. You don't have to worry about forgetting it.

As you will see, the Linux environment is in some ways identical to Windows and in some ways absolutely different. It may well be, for many of you, "your first second operating system." Those differences will hit you like an iron skillet in the face ("p-p-p-pWANG-G-G!") at most-inconvenient times. It happens to all of us. So you just need to take it slow and easy.
Old 01-31-2006, 12:59 AM   #15
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Here is what I wish I would have known when I started using linux.

There is a thing called a terminal window, or terminal. Gnome terminal, Konsole, and xterm are all terminals. When you launch a terminal window, all of linux belongs to you. You will be inside of bash. Bash is the bourne again shell. You just type a command at the prompt. First you have to know the commands. Type <xman>, and a little window will pop up. Click <manual page>. Click and hold <sections>. Drag to a category, and all the commands will come up. Almost every linux program has a listing in xman, which is a gui for the <man> command. If you type man at the prompt, followed by a program name, the manual page will come up. There is another command called apropos. You type apropos <search term>. If there is a package name or description matching the search term it will appear. Apropos is a good starting point if you want to know what something does.


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