Re: Where to start?
From: Floyd Davidson (floyd_at_barrow.com)
Date: Sat, 22 Nov 2003 02:30:02 -0900
firstname.lastname@example.org (Ben Fullerton) wrote:
> - Slackware (7.0, I think. I havn't looked at it for a year or two.)
> One of the CDs contains several versions of the Kernal.
Slackware is a good idea. Version 7 is not. Others have listed
some of the reasons to go with the latest release.
> - A growing level of frustration with Windows (not unusual, I suppose)
> - NO knowledge of Linux or Unix
> - a Pentium 233MMX, or maybe a P II 350, to run it on, using a SMALL hard
>drive in a removable caddy. Both computers have a rack for the caddies.
The 233MMX is pretty slow. The PII 350 isn't exactly fast, but
it can at least do serious work.
You don't define "SMALL hard drive", so it's difficult to guess
what you mean. Do consider that hard disks are *cheap*. If
your disk is less than 4-6GB, go find something bigger. Even at
that size, you probably want to check out larger hard drives
unless you don't expect to use this system for much. 6 Gb on a
little used laptop, for example, works fine but anything less
than 20 Gb on a much used system is just shooting yourself in
the foot to no advantage.
>Most of the time they will have W98SE hard drives plugged in.
> - Each computer has a D: drive (FAT file system) for data and graphics
If you are going to be dealing with images, the significance
of what was said above goes double (or maybe quadruple).
>Eventually I will need USB as well as parallel port and PS2 capability,
You want at least a 2.4.20 kernel, which Slack 7 does not have.
>also each computer has a NIC connected to a crossover cable and the P I
>has a second NIC talking to an ADSL modem.
The 233MMX would be just fine as a firewall, and Linux makes an
*excellent* firewall. (For that, even a 1Gb disk would be a great
plenty too. But you *don't* want to learn Linux by installing
it as a firewall...)
>I would like to start out slowly - command line operation (as in DOS) and
>learn the basics of Linux before getting into the GUI operation and
That sounds like a good idea (for someone with a Windows/DOS
mindset on how to use a computer), but it just is *NOT* worth
doing. I'll get into that down a bit.
>graphics file editing, etc. (My Nikon LS40 slide and film scanner has
>software for Linux but that would be used only after I learn the basics.)
>For a start - what can I do with ONLY a Kernal installed? Anything?
> - why are there several on the CD? To accommodate increasingly complex
>distro's and programs?
It's got everything you can imagine, and the source code too.
>Enough questions to start out with.
>BTW, about two years ago I picked up a "Sam's Teach Yourself Linux in 24
>hours" (or something like that).
> It was useless to me - sort of a "paint by numbers" approach with no
>information at all about things fit together and interacted with each
>For those who read this far - thanks. I hope to hear from some of you.
>Retired but not retarded.
Get the latest set of Slackware CD's. Or... do that if your
intention is to learn "unix". RedHat, SuSe and the others go to
great degrees to add at least one more layer of abstraction
above the typical "unix" way of doing things. Your indication
that you'd like to deal with a command line suggests you don't
want that layer, which is where Slackware Linux (and FreeBSD)
differ from other ways to escape from Windows.
But don't hog tie yourself with the Windows way of doing things.
Learn how to manage a /unix/ box instead! And *use* what is
available. This isn't 1984 and you don't need to limit yourself
to a character based command-line-only terminal screen in the
mistaken belief that that is the "unix" way of doing things. It
isn't. The unix way of doing things is to make the power of the
system available to each user. Anything that interferes with
that is the wrong way!
For example, you don't want to be starting programs by default
in some specific directory just for that app. You want to be
able to start an app *anywhere*. Few apps are appropriate for
starting from an icon because of that (the app will think it is
in your home directory). Web browsers, a clock/calendar, things
like an address book, a calculator, etc. are the kind of tools
which are fine to start from an icon (they always access the
same data files, regardless of what your working directory
happens to be at the moment). Editors (text, sound, image
or whatever), spreadsheets, compilers, display tools, etc.
are crippled if they start from an icon.
But, while that means you may not be interested in KDE or GNOME,
*don't* assume that you don't want to run X or have GUI
capabilities, you *do*! But the way they get used might be
different... Consider using fvwm as a window manager, and
having multiple desktops, for example. And rather than having
one command line, just invoke xterm as many times as you like,
with more than one invocation in each virtual desktop if you
need them. (I've got 15 virtual desktops, and at the moment
have 11 xterms running, and one desktop has 3 of them).
This provides, for example, mouse _clickable_ switching between
desktops, and mouse _positioning_ to switch between windows on
a given desktop, plus cut and paste between any and all of the
various windows. I have a desktop manager that amounts to 15
squares, one for each desktop, that are in a column that runs
vertically up and down the left side of my screen. I need to
keep all of about 3/16" of that visible in order to have a
visual sense of where I'm at currently and be able to move the
mouse over and click on a square to change desktops.
(The visual orientation is nice for retired old farts that
suffer from Can't Remember Shit syndrome, as in, "where am
I now????". :-)
Obviously, with 11 xterms running bash, I do most of my work
from a command line. But all of those GUI type apps are
available: xv, gimp, ghostview, xmms, netscape, opera, etc. etc.
Plus, along the top of my screen I do have a "button bar", which
provides a system resources display using xsysinfo and xload,
plus a clock/calendar program and icons for the few things that
are useful to invoke in that way.
The advantage of Linux is you can be different, and do it *your*
way. Slackware provides the easiest distribution to learn a
traditional unix based "your way".
-- Floyd L. Davidson <http://web.newsguy.com/floyd_davidson> Ukpeagvik (Barrow, Alaska) email@example.com