[Wolves] Advice on how to teach myself Linux - novice

Adam Sweet adam at adamsweet.org
Thu Jan 5 13:06:59 UTC 2012

Hash: SHA1

On 31/12/11 10:28, Daryl wrote:
> I am looking to finally teach myself Linux after dabbling with it.
> Can anyone advise me on good resources/books for a novice.

Sorry, it occurred to me yesterday that I hadn't answered this.

First thing is work out what you actually want to do. Learning
something is a lot easier when you have a goal. Maybe it's run a
website from your own webserver, maybe it's a mail server, maybe it's
just to replace Windows as a desktop.

If you want to replace Windows, then you probably don't really need to
learn the command line. Just install Linux on something and play
around until you start to feel used to it.

You need to make space for Linux on your disks by creating some disk
partitions. The installer will do that for you, offering various
options but if the thought of that scares you, go for an easy life and
either install it on a spare PC where you don't care about the data on
the machine, or put a spare disk in your PC. Disk partitioning
accidents are pretty rare these days, but if the power goes or you
make a mistake, your data (ie Windows and all of your files) is gone.

As for which version of Linux, for a desktop look at Ubuntu, Kubuntu,
Linux Mint, Fedora, OpenSUSE or Mageia. My personal recommendation
would be for Ubuntu or Fedora, my preference is Ubuntu. Others will
suggest any number of others but pick one and start there, if you
don't like it try another. All of us have been through this process
before finding the one we were happy with. For some discussion on
which version of Linux does what and is suitable for what purpose have
a look at:


For a server, look at CentOS or Ubuntu. You might also like to try
Debian (on which Ubuntu is based), but it is traditionally not for
beginners. Having used it for so long now, it's hard for me to say
whether that is still the case, but it seems a lot easier now.

With regards to learning command line and thus server stuff, read as
much as you can, look for howtos and beginners documents. You'll need
to learn at least one text editor and vi or vim are traditionally on
pretty much every Linux by default though it takes a bit of learning.

Some websites to get you going:


...and don't forget the website for your version of Linux. The major
Linux versions all have extensive documentation available. CentOS is
almost exactly the same as Red Hat Enterprise Linux, so for CentOS you
can get commercial grade technical manuals.

Every piece of software you use will have a manual on the web and in
most cases, on your system. Just type the 'man' command on the command
line, followed by the program name (in this case for the program 'man'):

man man

Man pages (short for manual pages) will appear pretty terse at first
but if you put in the effort they will become your best friend and
tell almost everything you need to know about a program works. The
trick for you will be in knowing what programs you need to be able to
do what you want. For the answers to that there is trial and error,
Google and us. Nobody will resent you asking how to do something
unless you haven't tried to figure it out yourself first (and used

Don't be afraid to come to LUG meetings and ask questions, that's what
LUGs and LUG meetings are for.

Think that just about covers everything, the rest you can pick up as
you go along :)


Adam Sweet

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