View Full Version : Ok, how do I 'learn' Linux?

October 2nd, 2008, 03:45 AM
After finally getting Linux installed, and after some work getting it connected to the internet I was happy to start using Linux. Ya I can browse webpages and do regular stuff that I can do in windows, but I want to learn how to really use Linux.

When I need to update drivers for some of my hardware I have no idea to do it, when I need to change things I'm not sure what to do, yea I can google or ask in forums, but that doesn't always work. Is there a manual to using Ubuntu? Something that will get me comfortable with using the terminal and have a general idea of how to keep my system running smoothly?

I really like Linux and want to get comfortable with it. I figure if I don't learn the terminal I never will.

What do you guys/gals suggest?

October 2nd, 2008, 03:49 AM
I would strongly suggest helping out new users. The best way to learn is to teach.

October 2nd, 2008, 03:52 AM
Aysiu, it's truly a surprise to get a post from ya because you were one of the people that inspired me to use Linux. I read your blog and write ups and I really enjoyed them.

As far as your advice goes I haven't a clue even with Linux basics so I don't think I can be of much help. There has to be some kind of globally proclaimed book that is good for teaching people Linux fundamentals? I mean how do they teach kids who are using Linux in different parts of the world.

Anyway I'm open to any method but I would like to truly grasp this OS some day.

October 2nd, 2008, 03:54 AM
Well, I'm not a Linux expert, but what I do know I learned simply from helping others. I'd start with only the basics I knew and then expand out slowly from there.

There may be some good books out there. Not sure exactly what you're looking for. Maybe do a search for ubuntu or linux at your local library?

October 2nd, 2008, 03:57 AM
This site has plenty of info on Ubuntu use. I would suggest not trying to do too much, too soon. Just leads to frustration. Search these forums and when you find a solution for a problem, make sure several posters suggest the same fix. Don't be overeager to try the every suggestion. It may not be the correct one for you.



October 2nd, 2008, 04:00 AM
http://linuxcommand.org/ - It offers a great deal of information on Linux shell commands, which you will see frequently posted around the forums. It helps to be informed when you start to help others.

Also, it seems you are already familiar with the psychocats guides. Learn them, reference them, love them. While not the be-all end-all for every Ubuntu or Linux problem, they are nevertheless fantastic.

From there, install a VM (Virtual Machine) such as VirtualBox, and start testing other distributions - not all distros are created equal. You will often find that using a distro that is less user-friendly "out of the box" often provides a more accelerated learning experience.

Obviously, don't jump in too quickly, or you're likely to break something on your system (or somebody else's if the wrong advice is given). With that in mind, take your time and pace yourself. None of the "gurus" learned any Linux system overnight.

Good luck to you, and welcome to the forum!

October 2nd, 2008, 04:01 AM
Teaching is good. But observing is better. Check out the new posts everyday, and see what problems do users face and observe how people solve the problems. that is one way, the other way is learn yourself. read the documentation for the commands you wanna learn and experiment (in a safe way).
you can read the documentation by entering in the terminal
man command

October 2nd, 2008, 04:04 AM
Try this:


Its a real good tutorial...I took the same steps too and worked out fine for me. :)

October 2nd, 2008, 04:07 AM
Hi Mike,

Well it has always seemed to me a lot of people on internet forums would rather you look up your own info before asking for help there. I try to google for things but a lot of times end up at dead ends. I also am guilty of sometimes posting without searching.

I guess something I will have to learn is patience because when I get on a kick to accomplish a certain task in Linux I want to do it that day. I don't have that much time at the computer so when I sit down I want to actually do something. Sometimes only one person will reply, or none at all, and then it gets frustrating. That's why I asked about some kind of book, internet write up's are cool, but they only tackle certain and specific tasks. I guess overtime using them your Linux knowledge will grow, but I'm not sure if that will give me core knowledge of the OS and how to really use it and understand it. Maybe that's something that can't be learned without much useage.

October 2nd, 2008, 04:07 AM

There are beginning guides and sys/net admin guides in many formats and all free.
A few guides appeal to a limited audience.
http://www.unixy.pl/forum/art/pdf/The_Debian_Linux_Cookbook_Tips_And_Techniques_For_ Everyday_Use.pdf

October 2nd, 2008, 04:10 AM
Sorivenul, Vishzilla, ymf,

Thanks for the info and links. I'm about to head off to bed soon but I've bookmarked them and will do some 'studying' tomorrow.

October 2nd, 2008, 04:10 AM
try this


October 2nd, 2008, 04:13 AM
My only experience with Linux prior to September was a few weeks, a few years ago, when I was forced to use Red Hat. Not an experience I'd want to repeat. I read almost every post in Absolute Beginners and General, for reasons stated above really. I like reading peoples' problems, how they're worked through, and eventually solved. Occasionally I can help someone with the little knowledge I've gained - that's the best bit. It's mostly fun and endlessly fascinating to me, although you might not feel the same... ;) Here's a page I found about half an hour ago - http://ubuntuguide.org/wiki/Ubuntu:Hardy - I wish I'd found it half a month ago...

October 2nd, 2008, 04:13 AM
Best way to learn i have found is through action. Read some of the tutorials on the forums and try a few out, read up on recent support threads especially those in the Absolute Beginners sub forum. Try a new WM, install some different distros, there are loads of things you can try. Focus on the basics first and getting your own Desktop up and running including all the apps you need and try to be totally independent of any other OS.

October 2nd, 2008, 04:22 AM
Thanks everyone for the replies. I have loaded up a good amount of bookmarks that should last me a while. Hopefully I can find most of my info there but I might still come knockin on the forums for stuff that confuses me.

I'm gonna head off now I'll check in tomorrow.

October 2nd, 2008, 04:22 AM
Slackware taught me everything I know. IBM Developer Works also has some very good Linux guides.

October 2nd, 2008, 04:25 AM
Without trying to sound condescending or patronizing, it just boils down to what you're interested in doing. I would say that most Linux users have quite a few years of experience try different distros, many failed installations and plenty of horror stories. Forum users usually point you to a link so you can decide.Just browsing this forum you will learn quite a bit about Linux. Not everyone here uses Ubuntu.


October 2nd, 2008, 06:03 AM
Download and install inx in virtualbox, its a distro meant to teach linux, as a guide

Its designed to be easy to follow


October 2nd, 2008, 06:09 AM
After finally getting Linux installed, and after some work getting it connected to the internet I was happy to start using Linux. Ya I can browse webpages and do regular stuff that I can do in windows, but I want to learn how to really use Linux.

When I need to update drivers for some of my hardware I have no idea to do it, when I need to change things I'm not sure what to do, yea I can google or ask in forums, but that doesn't always work. Is there a manual to using Ubuntu? Something that will get me comfortable with using the terminal and have a general idea of how to keep my system running smoothly?

I really like Linux and want to get comfortable with it. I figure if I don't learn the terminal I never will.

What do you guys/gals suggest?

With Linux we usually don't do driver updates since they are part of the kernel and if the driver is working then why fix it?

The only exception might be if you got a high end video card and wanted to install the latest driver for games like Nvidia or ATI.

Upgrading the rest of the drivers is probably not necessary with Linux unless its not working, I usually use the drivers that come with the distro.

To learn the basics of Linux I would look to something like this.



It is helpful to learn the basic commands first and become proficient in them until you feel comfortable.

October 2nd, 2008, 07:18 AM
Buy a good Linux book to fill the 'gaps' in your knowledge of linux. And then, to apply the knowledge participate in the forum actively and start helping out people.

Books I recommend:
1. How linux works - What every super user should know
2. A practical guide to linux commands, editors and shell programming
3. Beginning Ubuntu Linux / Ubuntu Hacks
4. Learning the Bash Shell

October 2nd, 2008, 07:40 AM
If you really want to get your hands dirty and learn a lot about linux in the process try Linux From Scratch (http://www.linuxfromscratch.org/) I did it years ago and I learned quite a bit, unfortunately I worked another job for two and a half years that had absolutely nothing with computers and all I did was surf the net and email. It's amazing how once you get into your fifties how much you forget when your not using computers every day. I'm getting my proficiency back by helping people in the forums.


October 2nd, 2008, 07:43 AM
Well, how did you learn Windows? You played with it for years. Looked up tips and tricks here and there from websites, friends, and magazines. Probably downloaded several viruses and also probably screwed up plenty of apps, if not the OS itself, messing around trying to do something cool. Reinstalled several times and learned to keep your data well away from your OS and apps for those just in case moments. Heck, even learned to keep your apps off the same partition as Windows.

Now, I find learning Linux is exactly the same as when I was learning Windows, only easier. Way easier. If you want to update your drivers, apps, or OS itself, usually what you are looking for is in your repositories and is basically just a click away. In Windows, you can't do that. You have to download everything individually from each website depending on the driver or app you are trying to upgrade. I dual boot myself, and I find 70% of my time in Windows is spent just finding and updating software on my system. Microsoft Update doesn't help much, it just tells you what it failed to install so you have to go to http://download.microsoft.com, look for your update, download it, install it, go back to MSFT update to install more updates on top of something you have already updated. (Just did a complete overhauled clean install on my system of both Ubuntu and Windows. After all was said and done my Windows OS install [no apps, that goes in another partition] was a lot bigger than my Linux Ubuntu install with all apps on the same partition. I'm talking Linux is over 2Gig smaller than the Windows OS alone, and I have Gnome, KDE, and XFCE and all related apps installed on my Linux partition.)

Anyway, I spent 1/10th the time in Ubuntu updating everything from a fresh install and adding all the programs I want than I did in Windows, and that's with all my apps already downloaded and ready to install on a separate external HDD for Windows.

Heck, learning Windows is a lot harder than learning Linux. If you want to do something in Linux, it's usually just a few clicks away in Synaptic or a few simple commands in Terminal. Windows, your guess is as good as mine where you should start if you want to do something. Try changing your desktop theme in Windows. It's not as easy as downloading the theme package and going to your theme manager and hitting install. Here's a good one, try installing drivers for your video, sound, or whatever card without using an .exe that will put in extra bloat on your system. (I'm pretty ticked after reinstalling WinXP the other day. Initial install, 2gig, after all updates, over 7 gig. And I don't have a super fast connection. Just updating .NET Framework is a chore in itself. Screw you MSFT Update.)

I thought I was the man in Windows for years. I used it everyday. I could do anything. Now, after using Linux for a year and seeing how easy and simple things can really be, I actually feel my heart drop when I have to boot up Windows. Here's something that blows my mind, why is Vista on a DVD? It's just an OS with some bare bones apps that should be replaced by Mozilla products and other open source apps anyway. I know you can get Linux Distros on DVD, but that's b/c the maker usually puts every app under the sun on that sucker. Ubuntu is one CD, and most of that is just apps and eye candy. Very, very nice eye candy.

Most apps in Linux have 3 parts from what I can figure out. The main program itself, the binders that tell the app how to react and where to look on your system, and a GUI for us dummies so we can point, click, and say, "Wow, I'm so smart." 9 times out of 10 if you don't have all the binders to an app and try to do something that you don't have the binders for, the darn thing will tell you exactly what binders you need. Just go to synaptic, hit search, type the names of the binders into the search, click on the binders check box, hit apply, and reload the program and watch it go. (Wow, I'm so smart.)

Here's something I love about Linux. When you update your system, it updates your system. It gets rid of your old files and replaces them with the new ones, which are sometimes even smaller than the old ones. Windows, just puts crap on top of crap, thus slowing your system down even further. Totally craptacular. The only system they make where they do a complete update to the system is their XBox360. Why, b/c when they do an update on that sucker they have to replace everything, and not put crap on top of crap.

Linux is very modular. It's like Legos. You have all the pieces, if you put them together just right you can make some very neat things, however if one of the pieces fall off, all is not lost. You can put the piece back in and get it back together again. Windows is like clay. Looks really nice until something breaks. Then all you can do is pack it with more clay, making it heavier and uglier. (By the time Vista sp3 comes out I bet that sucker will be 2 DVDs, and you'll need a 12 core processor running at 4Ghz with 20Gig of RAM with 6 SLi video cards just to open the Start menu. Am I the only one that remembers when WinXP came out you could run it with 256 meg of RAM, a Voodoo 3 3000, and 500Mhz CPU, and it was a big deal when AMD was first to hit the 1Ghz mark by cooling their processor with cryogenics? Dang I'm getting old.

Heck, I remember when the first Pentium came out and Win95 was the shiznit. 133Mhz was the bomb. Heck, the Pentium II came out and everybody thought 200Mhz was fast. Had a friend max his credit card to buy one the day it came out.

Anyway, I find if you take someone who is a Linux Ninja/Pirate/Geek/Wizard/Uber Terminal Junky, and plop their butt in front a MSFT machine, they will probably be more frustrated than, well, something Larry the Cable Guy would say. However, I find if you take a Windows Geek and put them in front of a Linux machine, they'll hate themselves for all the time wasted trying to learn Windows. Heck, I feel I still don't know crap about Linux, but I feel I know it better than I do Windows now, and I took college classes on the Monkey. Not to mention all the classes I had to take on it in the Army, and using it everyday since 96. Heck, how many folks know an MCSE Certified individual that still can't solve that coworker's virus problem without just wiping the HDD? Here's an idea, get Clam AV on an Ubuntu desktop, also install ClamTK for us dummies, put the Windows drive in an external HDD, and scan that sucker. (You would not believe how many dirty looks I get when I suggest this. Especially when everyone else caught the problem, except me b/c I love Linux.)

If you want to learn Linux, trust me, you will. And it will take you a lot less time and a lot less frustration than it did "learning" Windows.

October 2nd, 2008, 08:53 AM
Ubuntu updates to an entire new version every six month (April and October). Drivers and software will be updated at that time. Between those six months, you usually only get security and bugfixes updates.

October 2nd, 2008, 12:13 PM
At least I learnt great deal of my current knowledge by just trying. Google, trial and error. For the terminal, I used SSH connection to another machine and tried to maintain one of the game servers the remote computer ran. I followed a tutorial which showed how to set up the server, and that way I learnt some basic commands like ls, rm, mkdir, chmod, cat, grep, wget etc.

Then after the server went down, I started using all that knowledge with the everyday usage. I'd wget and extract the tar files drirectly via terminal rather than using browser, file browser and a file compressing tool to do it.

Then I started to study the file structure of the whole root filesystem and learnt alot about how important /var/log/ can be, or that how nice it is to know what /etc/*.conf holds and what can be done by editing that file.

So basically, to learn is to use. To use is to learn. The start might be rough, follow tutorials and learn from them. The rest is up to you. :)

Edit: I've used Ubuntu for more than two years, and I must say that my recent few-days experience with installing Arch Linux to ym home server taught me more than what Ubuntu taught me in two years. As from "learning linux"-point-of-view: hree days of Arch > two years of Ubuntu. :)