[Gllug] Newbie asks: how to learn?

John Hearns John.Hearns at cern.ch
Fri Dec 20 11:24:24 UTC 2002

On Fri, 20 Dec 2002, N London John wrote:

> The general query is this: I know that the best way to learn something 
> is by doing it. (I'm still on Knoppix & Demo Linux, so there's limits 
> to what I can do at the mo').The problem I'm running into, is how to 
> make sense of all the (vast quantities of) information out there? I've 
> a list of linux related bookmarks a mile long. It's difficult to know 
> where to start and what to trust (a lot of the info, even for some 
> newbie sites, is technically beyond me).

One good learning exercise I can recommend is downloading and compiling
your own kernel.

One you have got Mandrake up and running, and you are happy with it,
first of all learn a bit about your bootloader - probably Grub.
Learn how to boot from the ORIGINAL Mandrake kernel, so you can get
out of trouble when your new kernel won't boot, or does something badly.
That's lesson no 1 in systems admin - always have a way of backing out of 
a change!

Getting and compiling your own kernel sources is a great introduction to 
the beuaty of open source software. Jsut think - you can have your own
Unix-alike system, and all the code! And you can study how it works -
or change things. Wow!
For instance, there was a discussion on the Beowulf list recently about 
to go about changing the priveleged ports range from 1-1024 to something
bigger. The conclusion was don't touch this with a bargepole - but it is
instructive to learn  form the discussion, and to be honest it reminded me 
again that these limits are only set in software somewhere!

So my advice, when you are confident, get the latest 2.4 series kernel
sources. LEarn how to configure the kernel - and you will learn about
the hardware on your machine as you will have to know what is in there to
compile the relevant modules. Have fun.

But I'll reiterae again for the gallery - you are BOUND to have an 
unbootable kernel at some point.
So make sure you know how to boot the original, and that you don't wipe
this out.
And don't hurry - get to know your Mandy system first.

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