[ALUG] Steep Learning Curve
mail at markreid.net
Sun Jan 2 20:32:58 GMT 2011
For myself, I've always learned most by actually using the OS and that's
applied to the many OSes I've used in the past. But to do that it's
usually best to have a stable working installation of the OS to start
with as troubleshooting installation issues is about the worst thing a
new user can encounter. I've seen enough of your posts to gather that
many of your problems have been actually get a working installation of
In the Windows world computer vendors get around the problem by
pre-installation as installing Windows can be just as much of a pain as
installing a Linux distro, a point which most Linux critics have
forgotten. I've had experience of installing Linux Mint on one
computer and Windows XP on another recently. The XP installation to
ages and a lot of disks to get it optimised. Mint installed in about
10 minutes and it's only blemish was that I couldn't get it to the top
resolution of my screen without a set of command line tweaks on
xorg.conf. I'm astonished no-one has thought of a GUI front end for
that particular set of tweaks - or have they and I haven't found it yet?
That may be a pain to sort out in Linux at the moment, but to my
knowledge a similar easy tweak isn't possible in Windows if your drivers
don't have the correct resolution information for you hardware.
So my suggestion is to play around with a working version of Linux first
before going back to installation issues when you want to start using it
productively. This allows you to evaluate it and work out how it
functions. When I first started with Ubuntu, I messed around with it
for months before I abandoned Windows. Like you I was concerned that I
could cope if it broke down and I had to fix it. Actually, the issue
was just learning how it worked as it rarely threw up any issues I
couldn't find an easy answer to. There are two suggestions I'd offer to
get stable evaluation installations.
1. Install VirtualBox in Windows or Mac an then install your Linux
distro on that. It's a straightforward installation from CD or iso
file, very rarely throws up any issues and gives you a working distro to
play with in a sandboxed environment which allows you to test it to
total destruction without affecting your host OS. I find that it is
quite difficult even for a hardened nerd to break a Linux system once
it's running properly - but it can be done.
2. If you really want a dual booting system, always test your computer
with a live CD. If it doesn't work easily out of the box with a live
CD, it isn't going to do so on an install. Live CDs give you the
opportunity to evaluate a distro and gives you the ability to determine
whether any installation issues are going to appear.
I've never found books about Linux particularly useful. I have one
called an Idiot's Guide to Linux but that's now a bit dated but good
for learning basic command line stuff. Another is Linux in Easy Steps
by Mike McGrath which is Ubuntu based but because of the quick release
cycle on Ubuntu will always be out of date!
It is a steep learning curve to get used to Linux if you are a Windows
user (but probably less so for a Mac user), but if you're relatively
proficient on Windows, you should be able to suss out for yourself
what's what and pull the info you need to do it from a Google search.
I found the Ubuntu Forums and Linux Forums useful places to go when I
got stuck as they had beginners sections where I could ask what I now
realise where dumb questions! Actually this mailing list is pretty good
for picking up ideas although I was past the dumb question stage when I
found it. I also have Ubuntu Geek on my RSS feeds as there's often
useful articles and software suggestions on it.
Another useful item I downloaded was a diagram of the Linux filesystem
with a description of what the directories in a standard system did and
what stuff was stored there. The filesystem lies at the heart of
Hope that helps.
On 31/12/10 22:12, Simon Royal wrote:
> I've been in and out of Linux for a few years. Various distros (Mint,
> WattOS, DSL, Xubuntu, Ubuntu,on various machines and architecture. A
> year ago I used it full time but went to Mac. Now, Im back.
> It is such a steep learning curve. Ive already had a crash course in
> GParted even before Ubuntu was running. While Ubuntu is great and user
> friendly, it is still Linux and requires you to be on the nerdy side.
> Id like somewhere to start, so I can understand the basics and
> underpinnings of Ubuntu. It is no good - with any OS really - having it
> working, but not knowing what to do when it does wrong.
> Are there any good books or websites you can recommend. I know you are
> all here to answer my questions, but I would like to read up and really
> get my teeth into it.
> --- Twitter:http://twitter.com/SimonRoyal - LowEndMac:http://tinyurl.com/macspectrum - Skype: Simon-Royal.
> --- IBM ThinkPad R31 running Ubuntu 10.10& Windows XP Home. Apple PowerBook G3'Pismo' running OSX 10.4. Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini Pro running 2.1
> main at lists.alug.org.uk
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