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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

How to Get Started with Linux

Have you always wanted to find out more about linux, but were not sure where to start? Here is a little information on where to find, and how to run and / or install a linux distribution.

What is Linux?

Linux is the kernel, or core part of an operating system that is free from any software licenses. Free to download, and install on as many machines as you like.

Here's an explanation from http://www.gnu.org/

The GNU Operating System - Free as in Freedom
What is the GNU project?

The GNU Project was launched in 1984 to develop a complete Unix-like operating system which is free software: the GNU system. Variants of the GNU operating system, which use the kernel called Linux, are now widely used; though these systems are often referred to as "Linux", they are more accurately called GNU/Linux systems.

GNU is a recursive acronym for "GNU's Not Unix"; it is pronounced guh-noo, approximately like canoe.

Trying Linux

First, you may not have known that you don't have to install linux to try it out. Just look for a live cd distro, download the .iso file, burn it to a DVD, or CD, and then boot from the DVD. When you are finished playing around, just pop the DVD out, reboot, and your old OS will come up as before. Of course the computer will run slower from DVD, but it is a good way to get a feel for which distro you like. Some of the more popular live distros are ubuntu http://www.ubuntu.com, and knoppix http://www.knoppix.org (click on the flag for English, or whatever language you prefer). Once you've had a taste, you may want to install it by itself, or as a dual-boot configuration. There are some good howtos, but some of them are outdated. These look pretty good.
http://www.howtoforge.com/windows_linux_dual_boot
http://highlandsun.com/hyc/linuxboot.html
http://www.linuxdevcenter.com/pub/a/linux/2006/05/08/dual-boot-laptop.html

Finding a Linux Distribution

If you want to work as a sysadmin, you really should learn RedHat linux -- https://www.redhat.com/, but you don't have to pay for it unless you want support. You can start by downloading Fedora Core -- http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/. Another popular business distro is SUSE which is now owned by Novell -- http://download.novell.com

Live CD List
http://www.frozentech.com/content/livecd.php

Top Ten Distributions
http://distrowatch.com/dwres.php?resource=major

Choosing a desktop Linux distro
http://www.desktoplinux.com/articles/AT3269115798.html

If you have trouble downloading, you can always buy CDs or DVDs for a very small fee.
http://www.frozentech.com

Finding More Linux Information

RedHat has some very good documentation on their website -- https://www.redhat.com/docs. For example, The Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 - System Administration Guide is available in HTML and PDF formats: https://www.redhat.com/docs/manuals/enterprise/RHEL-4-Manual/sysadmin-guide/

Another good source of information is the Linux Documentation Project -- http://en.tldp.org

If you want more interactive help try http://www.linuxquestions.org or a local Linux User Group, known as a LUG, such as KPLUG -- Kernel Panic Linux User Group http://www.kernel-panic.org You can sign up for the mailing list of most LUGs. Some have more traffic than others. This particular LUG happens to have a linux-newbie list for beginners, and they are quite friendly, and very good at answering questions.

And don't forget the ever important google search, using http://www.google.com/linux -- http://systemnotesorg.blogspot.com/2007/03/topic-specific-searches-in-google.html


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