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    Thread: Linux - how to get started?

    1. Member alleghenyman's Avatar
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      08-27-2012 11:17 AM #1
      I am looking for something new to play with and have no idea where to start. My level of geekiness is somewhere between "follows complex instructions" and "writes Java script".

      I have a strong desktop PC that I use for Open Office, Firefox, and GNU image editor. I have a separate work PC so I don't have to worry about compatibility issues besides my printer.

      Can anyone tell me a good version to start with? I need to be able to install it on a hard drive that currently has no OS installed. Also, is there a good user manual or resource to get me acquainted with it?
      "You see, I am for the great loves and the great hates."
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    2. Member You are to blame's Avatar
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      08-27-2012 11:28 AM #2
      Signatures are for the insecure

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      08-27-2012 12:13 PM #3
      http://distrowatch.com/

      As well as Ubuntu. You can have lots of fun playing with linux, if you like that sort of thing.
      Quote Originally Posted by winstonsmith84 View Post
      Tax? I don't mind paying state sales tax. Every time a see a pothole, a school that is falling down or a canceled essential state program, I remind myself why.
      Quote Originally Posted by Tornado2dr View Post
      535 members of congress plus 1 pres screwing us all the time...that's dirty pirate hooker level gang rape.

    4. Member alleghenyman's Avatar
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      08-27-2012 02:00 PM #4
      Any idea how I could boot from a portable HD when I don't have an OS installed on the internal HD?
      "You see, I am for the great loves and the great hates."
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      08-27-2012 02:17 PM #5
      Quote Originally Posted by alleghenyman View Post
      Any idea how I could boot from a portable HD when I don't have an OS installed on the internal HD?
      a lot of the linux distros are bootable from thumb drives. I'm assuming you have a working pc and know how to burn an ISO to a disc?
      Quote Originally Posted by winstonsmith84 View Post
      Tax? I don't mind paying state sales tax. Every time a see a pothole, a school that is falling down or a canceled essential state program, I remind myself why.
      Quote Originally Posted by Tornado2dr View Post
      535 members of congress plus 1 pres screwing us all the time...that's dirty pirate hooker level gang rape.

    6. Member alleghenyman's Avatar
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      08-27-2012 03:10 PM #6
      Yes and no. My work laptop does not have a writable optical drive, and I'm not sure about my wife's work laptop.

      I don't think I have a large enough thumbdrive so I wanted to try the portable HD before trying to find one. I don't have a lot of free time and don't want to drop another $15 on a thumbdrive I'm never going to need again.

      Could I use an SD card as a bootable thumb drive?
      "You see, I am for the great loves and the great hates."
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    7. Member OOOO-A3's Avatar
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      08-27-2012 03:20 PM #7
      Quote Originally Posted by alleghenyman View Post
      Can anyone tell me a good version to start with? I need to be able to install it on a hard drive that currently has no OS installed. Also, is there a good user manual or resource to get me acquainted with it?
      15-year Linux/Solaris/OS X admin here. Opinions are like strings, every yo-yo has one... here's mine:

      Do not waste time trying to 'learn' linux with Ubuntu. Ubuntu is set up as a user-friendly(ish) desktop distribution, and is a GIANT pain in the ass when you want to do anything manually (as you will need to when learning). They've windowsified it to death.

      The best, most full-featured, most 'organic' distribution that will let you LEARN how it works is Slackware. I ran a whole company off slackware servers for years, and 6.5 years after I left it's still 50% that way (the other 50% being OS X now). I've used RedHat, SuSE, and others, and nothing had the power, flexibility, consistancy and simplicity of Slackware.

      http://www.slackware.com

      You can support the project by ordering installation CDs/DVDs, or you can download and burn them yourself. For a first-timer, just order the discs http://store.slackware.com/cgi-bin/store


      As for learning... any book that will teach you "linux" is a scam. What you need is to learn fundamental principles (the store link above also has the Slackware Essentials book), then get a ****ton of books (PDF or dead-tree) that will teach you specifics. The best of those books are from O'Rilley (NOT BILL!!!!, different, sane O'Rilley): http://oreilly.com/linux/index.html One of the most essential skills is learning the 'vi' editor.... you won't be able to edit any config files without knowing that! grep, sed and awk are also super-useful. Note that EVERYTHING you need to know is available on some website somewhere, with the warning that there's also obsolete info out there too. Google is your friend, although an actual human who can point you in the direction of what question to ask *really* helps when you're trying to figure something out!

      Linux is like English, with all it's varieties. Basically, it's the same all over and you can get by, but the nuances of British/American/Australian/Irish/Scottish/Nigerian usage are quite different. Instructions for doing something simple in RedHat may not work at all in SuSE, or Slackware, for example.


      The best way to learn is to set a goal and fight your way to it. Like, say, making a full-featured fileserver for your Windows machines, printerserver, router and firewall. All things that would take me a few hours total from first install to finished product, but will blow your n00b mind as you try to figure it out. When you've mastered & perfected it*, you'll really know it and will feel great.

      Quote Originally Posted by alleghenyman View Post
      Any idea how I could boot from a portable HD when I don't have an OS installed on the internal HD?
      Depends on if your PCs BIOS supports booting from USB.

      To install, you'll make installation DVDs. You can simply enter the BIOS and set the DVD drive as the 1st bootable device, and the USB bus as the 2nd bootable device. Boot off the DVD, run the installation, partition and format the USB drive and specify it as the target for installation. The bootloader (LILO, GRUB, etc) installed by your distribution will handle selecting the boot drive.


      *('mastering' unix or 'perfecting' a server are like finishing a painting... it never happens, eventually you get to a point where its good enough and you give up and go with it as it is )

    8. Member x047x's Avatar
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      08-27-2012 03:23 PM #8
      Quote Originally Posted by alleghenyman View Post
      Yes and no. My work laptop does not have a writable optical drive, and I'm not sure about my wife's work laptop.

      I don't think I have a large enough thumbdrive so I wanted to try the portable HD before trying to find one. I don't have a lot of free time and don't want to drop another $15 on a thumbdrive I'm never going to need again.

      Could I use an SD card as a bootable thumb drive?
      Yes ubuntu is where it's at for getting to know Linux. It's very friendly and great to get your feet wet (and it looks sexy smooth ha ha). As far as boot media, just pick up a 8 gig $6 flash drive from Newegg: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16820313114. I've heard it is possible to boot from SD, but it's rare. Check your BIOS and see if it recognizes the SD card as removable media.

      Good luck!

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      08-27-2012 05:09 PM #9
      If you are one of the people who criticize Microsoft for having too many variations in their Windows OS lineup, get ready for a serious headache. There are more versions of linux than you can imagine. Ubuntu is the most mainstream and is what I would start with to see if you even want to spend the time to learn linux. I tried it for a week and went back to Windows. You may have more patience than me though.
      Aaron
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    10. Member SSj4G60's Avatar
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      08-27-2012 05:44 PM #10
      Also there is WUBI

      http://www.ubuntu.com/download/deskt...dows-installer

      It allows you to install/uninstall Ubuntu like a program

    11. Member alleghenyman's Avatar
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      08-27-2012 07:07 PM #11
      Thanks everyone.

      Power5, no I'm actually bored with Windows and looking for some variety.

      0000-A3, that's all over my head but it's where I want to get to someday. I think I'll start with Ubuntu and then play with some of the things that you describe. I'd like to get that full "inside and out" user experience with time.

      x047x any idea where I can confirm that my BIOS does what you say? Google or is it a property I can read on the PC?

      I will probably have some installation questions so it would be cool if you all checked into this thread later.
      "You see, I am for the great loves and the great hates."
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      08-27-2012 08:22 PM #12
      Quote Originally Posted by alleghenyman View Post
      OOOO-A3, that's all over my head but it's where I want to get to someday. I think I'll start with Ubuntu and then play with some of the things that you describe. I'd like to get that full "inside and out" user experience with time.
      Ubuntu is like typing with oven mitts. You'll see a pretty desktop, and run a couple of commands to update (only) their software from (only) their update system. You won't learn a damn thing about "linux".

      PM me with questions, I don't check in here often.


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      08-27-2012 09:08 PM #13
      Quote Originally Posted by OOOO-A3 View Post
      Ubuntu is like typing with oven mitts. You'll see a pretty desktop, and run a couple of commands to update (only) their software from (only) their update system. You won't learn a damn thing about "linux".

      PM me with questions, I don't check in here often.

      You want him to learn linux and you point him to Vi? Are you crazy? That's got to be the worst kind of text editor ever created. Trying to learn to use vi is what made me want to quit linux.

      80 to 90% of what you want or need to do, you can use one of the GUI's. That's more than any normal person really needs. 10 to 20% (which most people will never need to do) you'll have to learn the intricacies of the CLI. It's very powerful and you can really **** something up if you don't know what you are doing. Most of the commands using CLI have switches and each switch has a lower case and upper case and it makes the command slightly different.

      http://linux.about.com/cs/softoffice.../a/gui_cli.htm
      Last edited by Egilbe; 08-27-2012 at 09:23 PM.
      Quote Originally Posted by winstonsmith84 View Post
      Tax? I don't mind paying state sales tax. Every time a see a pothole, a school that is falling down or a canceled essential state program, I remind myself why.
      Quote Originally Posted by Tornado2dr View Post
      535 members of congress plus 1 pres screwing us all the time...that's dirty pirate hooker level gang rape.

    14. 08-27-2012 09:43 PM #14
      Sure GUIs help you accomplish most of what you're looking for but for customization and a true peek behind the curtain, VI is where it's at. It's extremely powerful and that will definitely teach you all about linux.

    15. Member theuean's Avatar
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      08-27-2012 09:56 PM #15
      Uhh, yeah I'll second that you need to learn VI as well. All the fun of learning unix and any linux distro is in the terminal anyway. Go with Ubuntu or Mint if you want to install an OS that is not Windows, as theyre great fun and work well. But if you want a tech project and something to hack around in (meaning, you're someone who is never happy with how it runs and is always tinkering with settings in the background and experimenting) then stay away from Ubuntu and Mint and build your own thing from the ground up. I have more experience with RedHat than Slackware but you'll do great with most anything.

      As far as where to start... you've taken the first step! Hit up the forums all around, but it will help if you have a goal. Go grab an Ubuntu ISO and start playing around. Try and get a dual boot PC running, config GRUB, learn how to auto mount an NTFS drive at boot time... these three simple tasks will have your eyes popping and you'll quickly know if you want to keep at it
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      08-27-2012 11:12 PM #16
      Quote Originally Posted by Egilbe View Post
      You want him to learn linux and you point him to Vi? Are you crazy? That's got to be the worst kind of text editor ever created. Trying to learn to use vi is what made me want to quit linux.
      Yes. vi is *awesome* for editing text files, I actually use it for general writing a lot of times because of how easy and powerful it is.

      Actually, MS Word is the worst text editor ever created. And using any GUI text editor for any system work is the fastest way to **** up something, short of doing cat /dev/null > `find .` as root

      How do you spot a unix admin using a GUI editor?

      :wq


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      08-27-2012 11:35 PM #17
      Vim is a bit easier. I hate vi. With a passion.
      Quote Originally Posted by winstonsmith84 View Post
      Tax? I don't mind paying state sales tax. Every time a see a pothole, a school that is falling down or a canceled essential state program, I remind myself why.
      Quote Originally Posted by Tornado2dr View Post
      535 members of congress plus 1 pres screwing us all the time...that's dirty pirate hooker level gang rape.

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      08-28-2012 01:24 AM #18
      Quote Originally Posted by Egilbe View Post
      Vim is a bit easier. I hate vi. With a passion.
      Well, yeah..... that's why most linux distros, and OS X, actually use vim and symlink vi to it for convention. Except I think slackware used elVIs at one point...

      See:
      Quote Originally Posted by OS X 10.7
      ls -l /usr/bin/vi
      lrwxr-xr-x 1 root wheel 3 Jul 20 2011 /usr/bin/vi -> vim
      ...but for general convention all those derivatives of the original 'vi' are still referred to as 'vi'.

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      08-28-2012 06:47 AM #19
      Quote Originally Posted by OOOO-A3 View Post
      Well, yeah..... that's why most linux distros, and OS X, actually use vim and symlink vi to it for convention. Except I think slackware used elVIs at one point...

      See:


      ...but for general convention all those derivatives of the original 'vi' are still referred to as 'vi'.
      ok, I'll forgive you then for recommending he learn to use vi. Only a total Unix nerd would use that horrid text editor. *shudders*

      Most commands used in Linux are also used in Unix and Android. Each OS has it's own unique twist on some things, but for the most part, becoming proficient in one, applies to all three
      Quote Originally Posted by winstonsmith84 View Post
      Tax? I don't mind paying state sales tax. Every time a see a pothole, a school that is falling down or a canceled essential state program, I remind myself why.
      Quote Originally Posted by Tornado2dr View Post
      535 members of congress plus 1 pres screwing us all the time...that's dirty pirate hooker level gang rape.

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      08-28-2012 07:57 AM #20
      vi
      Quote Originally Posted by Mk1Madness
      Back when making your car faster and better handling was the big thing.
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      Yeah, I prefer slow-cooked bacon; and bacon grease saved is great for frying other stuff, adds some good flavor to almost anything. Except maybe tofu, that stuff is beyond help.
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      08-28-2012 09:19 AM #21
      Quote Originally Posted by Egilbe View Post
      Most commands used in Linux are also used in Unix and Android.
      The kernel of the OS is the technical difference between 'linux' and an official 'unix'. The userland (all the 'commands') is usually either of the GNU or BSD flavor, with linux favoring GNU. Minor differences in usage are on the level of american english vs. australian english.

      Each 'command' is actually a separate program for the most part, which makes it easy to port them from one system to another.


      Also...

      iOS is an extremely light version of OS X, for mobile devices.
      Android is an extremely light version of Linux, for mobile devices.


      Sometime in the mid-1990s I predicted that the monolithic OSs (like Windows95 / Classic MacOS 8) would go away, and we'd all be running unix workstations. I was told I was stupid, crazy, and called a lot more names. Now, there are 60 million users of OS X (a certified Unix), and hundreds of millions of users of iOS & Android devices walking around with unix workstations in their pockets. #smug #vindicated

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      08-28-2012 09:33 AM #22
      But the monolithic OS's haven't gone away
      Quote Originally Posted by winstonsmith84 View Post
      Tax? I don't mind paying state sales tax. Every time a see a pothole, a school that is falling down or a canceled essential state program, I remind myself why.
      Quote Originally Posted by Tornado2dr View Post
      535 members of congress plus 1 pres screwing us all the time...that's dirty pirate hooker level gang rape.

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      08-28-2012 04:16 PM #23
      [name drop] I know the guy who created Vim [/name drop]

      Watching him write blog entries during the time I worked with him in Africa was something else, that's for sure.
      Sean
      formerly Speedemon

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      08-28-2012 04:45 PM #24
      If you REALLY want to learn linux... use Gentoo and do a full stage 1 install.
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      08-28-2012 11:37 PM #25
      I've been using Linux on and off since the early 90's, before Debian came out; Slackware 0.99. A whole stack of floppy disks that we used to download off of Usenet.

      With the older releases everything was manually configured. The kernel was not able to dynamically load libraries, so with every hardware change, we had to recompile the kernel.

      Even the X-server had to be manually configured with the timings for your specific video card and monitor. I actually bought a copy of AcceleratedX and Moteeth (Motif for Linux).

      All the GUI components had to be individually configured - the base Window Manager was either TWM or a Solaris knock-off. They were replaced with AfterStep or Enlightenment. Gnome and KDE came a few years later.

      Networking was also a bit tricky, since we mostly had dial-up at the time. Configuring PPPoE was a necessary evil, as was compiling network support, sound, printer, samba, etc.

      Anyhow, Linux has come a long way, to the point that it's as simple to configure as Windows with all the utilities that people have built.

      Is there any distro still as archaic as the old ones? That's how you really learn to install and configure Linux.

      I have personally used RedHat, Suse and now Ubuntu. Each is very good at installing all the required drivers.

    26. Member morbs_gt's Avatar
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      09-03-2012 02:30 PM #26
      Quote Originally Posted by OOOO-A3 View Post

      How do you spot a unix admin using a GUI editor?

      :wq

      lol, here is one for you: we have Microsoft Office Communicator at work, I'm usually there at around 6am to push configurations onto all sorts of equipement. I've had a colleague send me "exit" in the middle of a conversation one morning. Talk about awk-ward.. well it was 6am
      Last edited by morbs_gt; 09-03-2012 at 02:35 PM.
      Sent from my vwvortex account.

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      09-03-2012 06:30 PM #27
      Quote Originally Posted by morbs_gt View Post
      lol, here is one for you: we have Microsoft Office Communicator at work, I'm usually there at around 6am to push configurations onto all sorts of equipement. I've had a colleague send me "exit" in the middle of a conversation one morning. Talk about awk-ward.. well it was 6am
      how else do you leave your VAX e-mail?
      Quote Originally Posted by winstonsmith84 View Post
      Tax? I don't mind paying state sales tax. Every time a see a pothole, a school that is falling down or a canceled essential state program, I remind myself why.
      Quote Originally Posted by Tornado2dr View Post
      535 members of congress plus 1 pres screwing us all the time...that's dirty pirate hooker level gang rape.

    28. Member morbs_gt's Avatar
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      09-04-2012 06:00 AM #28
      Quote Originally Posted by Egilbe View Post
      how else do you leave your VAX e-mail?
      No VAX, this was the equivalent of typing "exit" at a Windows Messenger window, talk about .
      Sent from my vwvortex account.

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      09-04-2012 07:57 AM #29
      Quote Originally Posted by morbs_gt View Post
      No VAX, this was the equivalent of typing "exit" at a Windows Messenger window, talk about .
      Working too much with CLI?
      Quote Originally Posted by winstonsmith84 View Post
      Tax? I don't mind paying state sales tax. Every time a see a pothole, a school that is falling down or a canceled essential state program, I remind myself why.
      Quote Originally Posted by Tornado2dr View Post
      535 members of congress plus 1 pres screwing us all the time...that's dirty pirate hooker level gang rape.

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      09-04-2012 12:14 PM #30
      Quote Originally Posted by Egilbe View Post
      Working too much with CLI?
      I guess so, I just hope it doesn't get to the point where he starts using net send like netbios owes him money
      Sent from my vwvortex account.

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      09-04-2012 01:27 PM #31
      So I'll piggyback on what the OP started - I've had people tell me I need to use Linux for years and can never really figure out why. What exactly is the benefit in using it (if any)? I've got an old laptop running XP, a Mac, and a new PC that I just got this past week that I'm setting up as a gaming rig which is, unfortunately, running Vista. I had thought about running Linux on my gaming system, but my understanding is that you can't play games or really run any actual Windows programs though Linux right? You still have to have an actual OS on the system besides Linux?

      Thanks for humoring the nooby questions

    32. 09-04-2012 02:43 PM #32
      You can install Wine (free) on your Linux OS to run Windows applications. It doesn't require a Windows license. It can handle most programs.

    33. 09-05-2012 10:26 AM #33
      puppy linux

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      09-05-2012 02:24 PM #34
      Quote Originally Posted by morbs_gt View Post
      lol, here is one for you: we have Microsoft Office Communicator at work, I'm usually there at around 6am to push configurations onto all sorts of equipement. I've had a colleague send me "exit" in the middle of a conversation one morning.
      I've done that, and 'quit' at the end of an email. You *do* know how to send email manually by telnetting to a mailserver, right? http://www.pantz.org/software/smtp/smtptelnet.html



      Quote Originally Posted by morbs_gt View Post
      Talk about awk-ward.. well it was 6am
      Guess your colleague was still too sed-entary that early.


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      09-05-2012 02:37 PM #35
      Quote Originally Posted by OOOO-A3 View Post
      I've done that, and 'quit' at the end of an email. You *do* know how to send email manually by telnetting to a mailserver, right? http://www.pantz.org/software/smtp/smtptelnet.html





      Guess your colleague was still too sed-entary that early.

      you really need to quit flying taxis around and go back to sys-admins for unix/linux servers. Seen some jobs advertised at over $100k a year.
      Quote Originally Posted by winstonsmith84 View Post
      Tax? I don't mind paying state sales tax. Every time a see a pothole, a school that is falling down or a canceled essential state program, I remind myself why.
      Quote Originally Posted by Tornado2dr View Post
      535 members of congress plus 1 pres screwing us all the time...that's dirty pirate hooker level gang rape.

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