Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Learning More About Linux?

Cliff posted more than 7 years ago | from the diving-deeper-into-the-penguin-knowledge-base dept.

Linux 184

teh moges asks: "From an administrator point of view, I know a lot about Microsoft Windows: where files are stored, where settings are, which registry keys to edit, how to change drivers, and so on. I made the initial switch to Linux a year ago. I now feel capable enough with using Linux, from an end user's point of view, so that when things go wrong, I can fix them. I now want to become even more familiar with Linux. Are there any great resources, such as websites, wikis or books for someone that wants to find out exactly how Linux works and how to fix and modify it?"

cancel ×


Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

What distro? (-1, Flamebait)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#18806415)

In time honoured Slashdot tradition, let me make a car analogy:

Hey folks, I just got a car and I'd like to know how to change out the engine and stuff, can anyone recommend a website?

Re:What distro? (3, Insightful)

corvair2k1 (658439) | more than 7 years ago | (#18806463)

Sure thing.

Get yourself a Haynes manual [] for your model vehicle.

Real men (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18806597)

use Chilton's []

Re:Real men (2, Insightful)

twistedcubic (577194) | more than 7 years ago | (#18806987)

Bzzt! Real men use both. Sometimes pictures/illustrations/explanations are better in one than the other.

Re:Real men (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18808847)

I wish I could have modded this insightful AND off-topic! ;)

Only thing to understand... (3, Insightful)

fimbulvetr (598306) | more than 7 years ago | (#18806447)

Linux is files. The entire OS is based on files. Things to run on startup? Files. Opening hard drives? Files. Drivers? Files. (kernel mods)

No magical black box registry, windows drivers, etc. Once you understand this, other things will come easier.

Re:Only thing to understand... (5, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#18806513)

Double cut flat files? Nail files? Diamond files? Needle files? Machine files?

Can you be more specific about the files please.

Re:Only thing to understand... (5, Informative)

twenex27 (1004369) | more than 7 years ago | (#18806615)

Linux is files. The entire OS is based on files. Things to run on startup? Files. Opening hard drives? Files. Drivers? Files. (kernel mods)
Not quite true, of course. Networking breaks the "everything is a file model". Arguably, device drivers do too (witness the hundred and one interfaces to control different devices).

Re:Only thing to understand... (1)

dpilot (134227) | more than 7 years ago | (#18806713)

Certainly better than being made of tubes...

Are you sure Linux really isn't a series of tubes?

On a slightly more serious note, many aspects of Linux are documented, perhaps a starting point for what you want is the "Filesystem Hierarchy Standard". The name has changed a time or two, and I don't exactly know the latest, or the acronym.

Re:Only thing to understand... (1)

313373_bot (766001) | more than 7 years ago | (#18807045)

Are you sure Linux really isn't a series of tubes?

Well, you can build pipelines of streams (like files!) and programs, right? ;-)

Re:Only thing to understand... (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 7 years ago | (#18806845)

No magical black box registry

Can you say, "sysconf?" Or the /proc filesystem? That's a "registry" if I ever saw one. Slightly more manageable than the one on Windows, but a registry nevertheless.

Re:Only thing to understand... (1)

dextromulous (627459) | more than 7 years ago | (#18807003)

Can you say, "sysconf?" Or the /proc filesystem? That's a "registry" if I ever saw one. Slightly more manageable than the one on Windows, but a registry nevertheless.

I can't think of many ways that /proc is similar to Windows Registry... would you care to enlighten me? I can think of many ways they are not similar... The fact that userland programs do not store persistent information in /proc is the first thing that comes to mind.

Even /etc/* is more like Windows Registry than /proc is.

Re:Only thing to understand... (2, Interesting)

schon (31600) | more than 7 years ago | (#18807005)

I would say that you made a nice example of selective quoting, but you couldn't even get that part right. You probably should have said "no [...] registry".

No magical black box registry

the /proc filesystem? That's a "registry" if I ever saw one.
Could you explain how it's a "magical black box"?

And you know what? Everything in it shows up as (wait for it..) files - which was kind of the point of the message you replied to.

Re:Only thing to understand... (1)

Bloke down the pub (861787) | more than 7 years ago | (#18809671)

Everything in it shows up as (wait for it..) files
On what do you base that conclusion - that the expanding tree hierarchy looks a bit like windows explorer?

Re:Only thing to understand... (2, Insightful)

fimbulvetr (598306) | more than 7 years ago | (#18807571)

I can treat everything in proc like a file. Like cpuinfo, or net/arp or THM/temperature. I can echo things into them to change processor speeds, networking options, etc.

Slightly more managable? You show me one time when proc corrupted simply by "being there" in a stable kernel and I'll give that assertion to you.

Re:Only thing to understand... (1)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 7 years ago | (#18807015)

Plan 9 is an OS based entirely on files. *nix is not. `ls /dev | grep eth0` for an example.

Re:Only thing to understand... (1)

RKThoadan (89437) | more than 7 years ago | (#18807477)

Considering how often I've recently had to figure out which of the thousand or so config files I needed to edit and where the heck it was hiding, I pretty much wish Linux did have a registry.

The windows registry could certainly be much better, especially from a security and compartmentalization stand point, but at least I can find the darn thing (and by the way, the registry is stored in files, theres nothing particularly magic about it)

Re:Only thing to understand... (1)

fimbulvetr (598306) | more than 7 years ago | (#18807547)

/etc. It's called /etc.

If your distro doesnt put config files there, ditch it and get one that's worth a shit.

Re:Only thing to understand... (1)

JackieBrown (987087) | more than 7 years ago | (#18807583)

For system wide settings a good place to start is /etc and for user setting look in your home directory.

I don't see how looking at the registry and seeing HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT, HKEY_CURRENT_USER, HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, HKEY_USERS, HKEY_CURRENT_CONFIG, and HKEY_DYN_DNA plus all the hidden config files scattered all over windows root and user directories is easier.

Re:Only thing to understand... (1)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 7 years ago | (#18808295)


Which is why, in the Windows world, people who manually edit the registry are looked upon as gods. If you can sit and stare at that all caps shit for more than 5 minutes without your eyes bleeding, you're a freaking hero in my book.

Re:Only thing to understand... (1)

oatworm (969674) | more than 7 years ago | (#18808495)

Oh, it's not the all caps that's difficult to parse - heck, that's the easy part. It's when you need to pass such wonderful keys as "\HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Interface\{243368F5-67C9-3510- 9424-335A8A67772F}" and have to know what's really going on there. That said, the registry isn't all bad - it's kind of nice to be able to just do a quick CTRL-F and search for a particular value that I know needs to be changed everywhere (think server names when a new server comes on line, that kind of thing). I just wish it wasn't just marginally comprehensible.

Re:Only thing to understand... (1)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 7 years ago | (#18808473)

Don't forget to mention that they are all "hidden" in your home directory and begin with ".*".

Re:Only thing to understand... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18807529)

Not exactly, but it's a close enough first approximation.

For the Ask Slashdotter: /bin stores essential programs. These tend to be very low level programs. /dev stores file-like interfaces to device drivers. You can read and write to them, just as you would a file. (Using C. You probably won't need to touch anything in there unless you're programming drivers. /etc stores configuration files. They're supposed to be text files. The syntax varies across them, so Google is your friend here. /home stores user directories. Each user gets a /home/ directory. /lib stores essential, low level libraries.

There are a few others, but these guys are the important ones for what follows. There is also a /usr hierarchy, which has it's own bin, lib, (possibly etc). It's meant for "shareable, read only data". This is where globally installed programs usually go.

GCC is your compiler. You probably won't have to play around with it much, but I'll talk about some tricks to give you more insight into Linux. Suppose there's a program you want to try. You create a dummy account called "dummy" for it (so your data won't be in harm's way if it's buggy). Now, when you compile the program, you'll probably have to write ./configure. But that sets up the compile so that it gets installed in the main hierarchy. That's not what you want. So instead, you use ./configure --prefix=/home/dummy/program. Now, when the program is done compiling, you issue the install command (make install) and make automatically generates /home/dummy/program/bin, /home/dummy/program/lib, and so on. You've basically just made a private /usr hierarchy. This can be very handy.

Now, suppose you end up really liking the program, and you want to be able to use it from your account, but want to deny everyone else access. You can just mv /home/dummy/program to /home//program. Everything will (should, really) continue to work. Now you'll want to change the hierarchy's permissions so that only can run the program. You can do that with chmod -r 541 /home//program.

Of course, you don't want to have to keep typing /home//program/bin/ to run it, so you have to add /home//program/bin/ to your PATH environment variable. You do this by issuing an export command of the form export PATH="/home//program/bin:/home//program/lib:$PATH"

Now you can type the program's name from any location, and it will run. But only until you restart your shell. To make the change permanent, you'll have to edit your .bashrc or .bash_profile file. These are a lot like DOS batch files, but are written in "Bash", which is more flexible. Just stick the export command above in either of them, and the command will be run when you log in.

There are a lot of magic numbers and constructs in my post. Think of it as an invitation to learn about what you're interested in.

Re:Only thing to understand... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18809613)

No magical black box registry
Not that it's actually that hard!

But, if you really can't cope, Microsoft's new PowerShell presents a file-model view of the registry (amongst other things).

Roll your own distro? (4, Informative)

8-bitDesigner (980672) | more than 7 years ago | (#18806483)

I was in a similar situation about a year ago, and I found that the best way to learn about the guts of the system, so to speak, was to pick up Gentoo [] , which is something of a "Roll your own" kind of Linux distribution.

Now, by no means do I recommend this for day to day use. I love Gentoo, but it breaks. Frequently. And unless you know a fair bit about how the system works, you'll end up breaking it quite often yourself. This is a good thing, and introduces you to the various configuration files, locations of critical items, how everything slots together, and how to compile your own kernel. The Gentoo documentation is excellent, and if you go about it with a certain goal in mind (web server, router, media center) you'll end up learning a fair bit about Linux in the process.

Re:Roll your own distro? (4, Informative)

nschubach (922175) | more than 7 years ago | (#18806557)

LFS [] (Linux From Scratch) is another way.

Honestly though, like stated above, once you understand that Linux basically treats everything like a file... you can fix pretty much anything. As far as a good reference or tips site. Google [] . 99% of the time, a quick cut and paste of an error will direct you to the right place. (That is if you don't understand it right away.)

Re:Roll your own distro? (1)

moexu (555075) | more than 7 years ago | (#18806639)

I would also recommend Gentoo. I used Mandrake for 2 years when I first started with Linux. It was a nice distro and everything just worked, but I didn't think I was really learning anything since I didn't have to mess with it. I tried Gentoo out and felt that I learned more in the first week trying to get it installed than I had in my previous 2 years of Mandrake. Another even more hardcore route to go would be installing Linux from Scratch [] .

Aside from distro forums and Google I've found a couple of books to be especially helpful.

Re:Roll your own distro? (0)

toadlife (301863) | more than 7 years ago | (#18808957)


So it's [] true!

(Mod me down. I deserve it)

Re:Roll your own distro? (2, Interesting)

baldass_newbie (136609) | more than 7 years ago | (#18809899)

Running Linux is one of the best books for learning the overall structure of systems. Matt even notes the basic exceptions between Slackware and most other core distros in terms of structure and processing.

Re:Roll your own distro? (2, Interesting)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 7 years ago | (#18806841)

While I agree that the Gentoo documentation is excellent, I can't say I liked the distribution. Maybe if I were to have installed it myself from scratch, instead of having inherited an installation, I might have understood why stuff broke as often as it does. But my one experience with Gentoo was on a production machine, and the first time I tried to update the system, the mailing system broke.

My own advice to the submitter is to go between Gentoo and LFS with respect to automation and below both with respect to complexity and use Slackware. I've used it exclusively for my own machines for the several years I've used Linux, and in the process of taking a stable core system and trying to add onto it, compiling from source as necessary, I've broken and fixed things enough. The build scripts are available too, so you can customize as in LFS, but with the advantage of simple packaging.

Re:Roll your own distro? (3, Informative)

mollymoo (202721) | more than 7 years ago | (#18807483)

Gentoo breaks as often as it does because portage's handling of dependancies is a bad joke. Actually, I don't know if it's portage itself or poor quality ebuilds, but "emerge --update world" breaks for me about 40% of the time (no, I'm not running the unstable ~x86). I'm not shitting you when I say it took me three days to bring a box which hadn't been updated for four months up to date. That wasn't all compile time, the damn thing just kept stopping. Portage apparently didn't know it would break before it started, despite the problems all being related to dependancies.

When it breaks, portage doesn't tell you why, you basically have to search the Gentoo forums for an answer. In the inevitable thread(s) related to the problem I often find a response from a dev which says that you need to update X and Y together, so both X and Y block each other. Having the package management system manage packages for you is evidently too much to ask.

I do like Gentoo's arrangement of config files etc. though. It's nice to work with, just shitty to update.

Re:Roll your own distro? (3, Insightful)

harryman100 (631145) | more than 7 years ago | (#18809723)

I'm not shitting you when I say it took me three days to bring a box which hadn't been updated for four months up to date.
In my experience, updating a gentoo box infrequently is a bad idea. You should either update every week/month or not at all. The way I look at it, you either want a system with the latest everything, or you want a system which works. If you want the first, you should expect to spend a bit of time working on it. If you want the second - why on earth are you updating every four months.

If I wanted a system to be stable, but not that far behind current stuff. I'd probably be updating once a year - you have to do a bit of work to fix some of the updates, but at least you only have to do it once a year.

On the other hand, if I wanted a system that's always up to date, I'd be updating every other week. This is what I currently do on my two gentoo boxes, and I've very rarely had problems. (The last problem I had was when it upgraded mysql from 4 to 5, some of the defaults changed - I spent ages trying to work out why I couldn't connect from other machines.)

One thing to note, if you're having problems when updateing world add the --deep flag to emerge, it will update all libraries that need it as well. Then follow the emerge with a revdep-rebuild, to check for things that have been broken by updated libraries (and fix them)

Re:Roll your own distro? (1)

mollymoo (202721) | more than 7 years ago | (#18809863)

In my experience, updating a gentoo box infrequently is a bad idea. You should either update every week/month or not at all. The way I look at it, you either want a system with the latest everything, or you want a system which works. If you want the first, you should expect to spend a bit of time working on it. If you want the second - why on earth are you updating every four months.

The box was previously updated frequently precisely because falling behind causes grief, but had lain unused for four months. Updating rarely is fine if you rarely install new packages, but I use the box in question for all sorts of things so fairly often install new stuff. Installng new stuff against old libraries etc. involves finding the old version of the ebuild which works with your install and using that. Keeping up to date means "emerge package" is much more likely to work without much hassle when you want it to. The fact that the choices are update frequently or fall behind and have serious pain when you do finally update or install something new really does indicate that portage isn't doing a very good job.

Re:Roll your own distro? (1)

iabervon (1971) | more than 7 years ago | (#18806977)

I've actually had the opposite experience with Gentoo. I've done all sorts of wrong things with it, and had all sorts of things wrong, and the system has continued working perfectly despite that. (The main exception being qmail, which never fails to be running, but doesn't necessarily, you know, deliver mail.)

It's often difficult to get things built and configured the way you want (what, I need the xml USE flag for php for this? Time to rebuild it... And I need to hand-edit an apache config file to have a https-only web app), but until things are set up, they're clearly not working, and once they're working, they stay working.

My coworker's accidentally upgraded his Debian stable machine this week, and various things were actually not running for a couple of days, and he had to pay actual attention to working on the system for non-trivial amounts of that time, despite the fact that it had been working a few days before.

The closest I've had to that level of breakage is when I accidentally lost a CUPS configuration in an upgrade because I didn't realize it was locally modified (by another co-worker). Next closest is having qmail-local not restart (actually, not stop so it could be restarted) when I switched from "qmail" to "netqmail", an operation which the system automatically put off until I told it to really do it, because I had an evening to spend getting it working again.

On occasion, I've had new versions of things just not work (mostly drivers for my laptop). In these cases, the solution has been to mask the version that it just installed, and emerge again.

I agree that Gentoo exposes you to exactly what's going on with the system a lot more than other distributions, and I don't know if that means I'm just not breaking things due to knowing what not to mess with, but it seems to me to just not break very much. And when it's going to break, it tells you it's going to break, and you can tell it not to (e.g., upgrading from mysql-4.0).

Re:Roll your own distro? (1)

fimbulvetr (598306) | more than 7 years ago | (#18807605)

The main exception being qmail, which never fails to be running, but doesn't necessarily, you know, deliver mail.
Nope, that's just qmail. Nothing to do with gentoo. Nothing like software that "doesn't have security vulnerabilities" simply because the author can deny it.

Gentoo isn't that hardcore... (1)

krovisser (1056294) | more than 7 years ago | (#18807667)

A lot of people say that Gentoo is compiled for your system and thus results in a massively faster system. This only has some truth to it. They also say that Gentoo allows for a much deeper understanding of linux and how their computer works. This is even less true. There used to be a site up making fun of gentoo users who think they are bad ass by using gentoo, but I believe it is MIA now. You can browse this thread to get the jist of what it said: stdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0 [] I'll admit that Gentoo is far harder to get running then say, Ubuntu, but by no means does it make you an expert. At the least, it makes you really efficient at copying-pasting errors in google... at the most... ??? Although, I run it on my laptop, and it took a bit of time to get everything working. Would I switch distros? no, I like it a lot.

Three letters (2, Interesting)

i_should_be_working (720372) | more than 7 years ago | (#18806511)

LFS []

Re:Three letters (2, Funny)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 7 years ago | (#18807157)

Why not just buy a good book?

Re:Three letters (1)

dintech (998802) | more than 7 years ago | (#18809829)

Yes I don't why men have such problems just saying those three little letters to each other.

Linux from Scratch (3, Insightful)

jomas1 (696853) | more than 7 years ago | (#18806521)

Check out [] and []

Try creating a distro of your own and you should get a handle on the mysteries of the OS. If you don't have spare hardware check out and try creating your lfs distro on a virtual x86 computer

Re:Linux from Scratch (1)

mdhoover (856288) | more than 7 years ago | (#18807557)

Indeed, there is no better way of getting a grasp on how it all hangs together than by building it yourself by hand, gives you a good feel for where everything is. I can personally vouch for the LFS build method ;-)

*blatant plug mode* Or if you feel a little more adventurous and want multilib support for your amd64 there is cross-lfs (, it is done by mostly the same guys as LFS but emphasis is more on cross-compile toolchains for shoving linux on whatever toys you have...

If you have any issues just lob into #lfs-support on or #cross-lfs on freenode and we'll sort you out...

Re:Linux from Scratch (2, Insightful)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 7 years ago | (#18808577)

The first time I went through LFS I purchased the book. I think it probably saved me a week or two. Also, I use LFS primarily as a sandbox, if I want to test something I use LFS, when I need to get some work done I currently use Debian. I feel it is absolutely imperative for a desktop system to be somewhat dependable. Go ahead and break your LFS system, reiterate over your LFS system several times experiment with package management, configurations, bootscripts, break it, fix it, and customize it. Currently I'm on my fifth iteration of LFS, it's really been the best thing I've found.

Avoiding Surprises (1)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 7 years ago | (#18808809)

P.S. OSS is usually a moving target, in that it actually gets updated and things change, avoid "new" unless you need it, stay in the package tree. Use OSS and I'm saying this from a pragmatic view. Review hardware against your kernel, version of X, desktop environment, and your distribution. Make sure there's accurate documentation if you get into trouble, prefer hardware that releases their specs. Ask questions and go to a Lug meeting every once in a while. Buy Crossover office, don't try messing with Wine it's a PITA and I think they get more out of your money than your bug reports. Learn how to build rpm and deb packages, then you can go outside of your package tree, still avoid closed source 3rd party crap though, unless you install it with crossover. Finally, trust me, yes it's really worth it, it will even make you a better Windows user/admin. Of course this is what I've learned and what has been important to me, YMMV.

Re:Linux from Scratch (0, Offtopic)

cobbaut (232092) | more than 7 years ago | (#18809087)

LFS is overrated for learning, cause you basically spend two days compiling stuff.

A lot of bookstores however have very good Linux books, use those as a start and continue with manpages and google.
The Linux Documentation Project is at

It also helps to install different distro's in vmware to play with.
System Administration of Red Hat servers is different from Ubuntu/Debian... [] is not too bad, but does contain errors :(
( can also be useful, even for linux)

Break It. (4, Informative)

Tragek (772040) | more than 7 years ago | (#18806523)

I've learnt oodles about all OSs by breaking them. Delete something. see how it changes the behaviour of the system. If it was somethign really important, you'll learn about system recovery, otherwise, trouble shooting.

I'm serious.

Re:Break It. (1)

fimbulvetr (598306) | more than 7 years ago | (#18807633)

Exactly. I also learned a lot by overclocking. Not only do unstable speeds corrupt wierd things that I've seen time and time again in the real world, but even the hobby itself teaches you stuff about hardware.

excellent point (1)

CaptainNerdCave (982411) | more than 7 years ago | (#18809201)

you should be doing this with everything that you want to get better at/learn more about - essentially, put yourself into situations that you wouldn't normally (well, you don't think you would) get yourself into; this is a rehashing of the "sink or swim" philosophy. fight your way out of all the wet paper bags you can get into, be prepared to reinstall, don't keep anything important on the install/boot partition (just keep all of your important things on your personal fileserver). move things around, change permissions, delete things willy nilly (ie without the package manager or apt-get/emerge/etc) and you'll start to see things happen that you don't want to happen... sometimes the distro will tell you what is wrong and you can fix it by booting up with a livecd or into a safe configuration; if that isn't the case... then just make sure nothing valuable will be lost by reinstalling.

i don't even want to count the number of times i've reinstalled xp (or on how many machines), but eventually i learned that putting all of my goodies on a single partition was making my life much harder. with knoppix, (a couple of differents forms of) gentoo and ubuntu (which i stick with because it is the easiest to get new users into, so i must know it) i have done so many reinstalls and have learned a lot about each os through the random changes i have made and the various problems that arose due to stuff that i didn't realize i had done.

best advice ever: keep your important data safe and secure somewhere. once you've done that... play. the odds are almost zero that what you do wrong will be irrepairable. my favorite thing to tell everyone that asks me to teach them how to handle something better: "i can only show you what i do, what i know works and doesn't; i can't teach you to be reckless, random, cautious and experimental."

Use it. (2)

PAPPP (546666) | more than 7 years ago | (#18806551)

Really. Just use it. Like many other things, the best way to become familiar with Linux is to use it for your daily tasks for a while, and find out how to fix any problems you run into. I've used a dual-booted machine for some time, and about 6 months ago I made the decision to switch my main OS over from WinXP to Linux, and relitively painlessly went from dabbling to a being well versed pro user in a few months.

Re:Use it. (3, Funny)

DaveCar (189300) | more than 7 years ago | (#18809639)

Err, he stated:

I made the initial switch to Linux a year ago. I now feel capable enough with using Linux, from an end user's point of view, so that when things go wrong, I can fix them.

Now I know it is de rigeur not to read the article, but there wasn't even an article to read here - did you even read the question?

No one answer. (4, Insightful)

normuser (1079315) | more than 7 years ago | (#18806553)

I dont have one magic answer.
Forums are good for getting and sharing information on specific problems as long as the "google it yourself" crowd havent invaded. (how else would you have found the forum?). [] is a good start.
There are varias wiki's specific to certian subjects.
And I dont mean to sound rude with this, but please read the man page first. Weather or not you understand it at the time.

On a side note the best way I have found to learn about something is to break it first. but maybe thats just me.

Another great website: (2, Interesting)

KWTm (808824) | more than 7 years ago | (#18808703)

From time to time I'll visit [] , a "linux tutorial" aggregator site where people collect various tips about Linux and its various applications. This is often how I will hear about various applications, methods to secure your computer, tricks for administering Linux, etc. For example, as of this writing, among the first page list of articles we have a tutorial on installing VirtualBox in Linux, emacs essentials, how to install dual monitors, etc. Most articles are good, although the styles can vary since Librenix just points to various web pages; they weren't created for Librenix itself.


Wiki (2, Informative)

Shinsei (120121) | more than 7 years ago | (#18806575)

I have found that [] is a great resource for knowledge about the basesystem itself of Linux. I do love my Gentoo of course, but you'll find resources on said wiki for Linux in general - and quite a few of them - and I've seen people from both the Debian and Ubuntu community also look to this Wiki from time to time.

Re:Wiki (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18807261)

Who modded this flamebait? Frankly...

I'm a Gentooist too, and guess what? It's one of the best communities around. I learned a lot installing, maintaining, troubleshooting and even *gasp* optimizing my system. Oh, and sometimes I do look around other distro's forums and wikis! And I heard users of other distros do look around Gentoo docs too! Heresy!!!

Posting AC for obvious reasons: sarcasm sometimes is considered trolling.

Here's part 1 of how to fix Ubuntu Feisty Fawn (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18806599)

Removing ekiga ...
Removing evolution-plugins ...
Removing evolution-exchange ...
Removing evolution ...
Removing evolution-common ...
Removing evolution-data-server ...
Removing evolution-data-server-common ...
Removing f-spot ...
Removing tomboy ...
Removing libgnome2.0-cil ...
Removing libgconf2.0-cil ...
Removing libglade2.0-cil ...
Removing libgtk2.0-cil ...
Removing libgmime2.2-cil ...
Removing libgmime2.2-cil from Mono
Removing libglib2.0-cil ...
Removing libmono-system1.0-cil ...
Removing libgdiplus ...
Removing libmono-cairo1.0-cil ...
Removing libndesk-dbus-glib1.0-cil ...
Removing libndesk-dbus-glib1.0-cil from Mono
Removing libndesk-dbus1.0-cil ...
Removing libmono2.0-cil ...
Removing mono-runtime ...
Removing mono-gac ...
* Removing packages from mono
Removing libmono-corlib1.0-cil ...
Removing libmono-system-web2.0-cil ...
Removing libmono-sqlite2.0-cil ...
Removing libmono-system-data2.0-cil ...
Removing libmono-sharpzip2.84-cil ...
Removing libmono-data-tds2.0-cil ...
Removing libmono-system2.0-cil ...
Removing libmono-security2.0-cil ...
Removing libmono-corlib2.0-cil ...
Removing libmono0 ...
Removing mono-jit ...
Removing mono-common ...
update-binfmts: warning: no executable /usr/bin/cli found, but continuing
anyway as you request

In part 2 we'll be looking at installing XFCE and removing the embarrassment that is Gnome. Until next time...

Re:Here's part 1 of how to fix Ubuntu Feisty Fawn (1)

Russellkhan (570824) | more than 7 years ago | (#18806805)

Umm, Why didn't you just install Xubuntu in the first place?

Re:Here's part 1 of how to fix Ubuntu Feisty Fawn (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#18806901)

Or, if your needs are so minor, use OpenBSD or something.

No substitute (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18806665)

If you really want to know this stuff, there's no substitute for Linux From Scratch [] . You build the entire system piece-by-piece.

SOme input (2, Informative)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 7 years ago | (#18806693)

Here is what I got, take it for what it is worth.

See 'man Linux Filesystem Hierarchy'. In case for some reason that doesn't work on your system, here is a link -> l/ []

heres a few (3, Interesting)

drfrog (145882) | more than 7 years ago | (#18806703) []

this is the linux doc proj the one place i found indispensable while learning slackware back in the day

lately [] is a god send as well

and of course , unlike windows software, most linux software readme files are actually filled with useful information

othjer than that either a quick google on a specific question or jump onto irc will usually get you some help

Re:heres a few (1)

spiritraveller (641174) | more than 7 years ago | (#18806979)

your second link pulls up a page with nothing but sponsored links.

Did you mean to spam or was this perhaps a typo?

Re:heres a few (3, Informative)

drfrog (145882) | more than 7 years ago | (#18807119)

oops sorry

it should be

Re:heres a few (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18807729)

Now that site just brings up porn.

Re:heres a few (0, Offtopic)

Kandenshi (832555) | more than 7 years ago | (#18808947)

huh? You got my hopes up, but that looks like a normal Debian/Ubuntu tips page to me.

I was hoping for boobies =(

Perhaps you made a typo of your own? Or have some sort of naughty malware on your computer?

Do what I did (3, Insightful)

stinerman (812158) | more than 7 years ago | (#18806755)

I fancied myself a Windows "power user" and then GNU/Linux was foisted upon me because of a hardware crash. My backup system wasn't good enough to run XP, so I tried Red Hat 9. It certainly was a bitch, but I leaned GNU/Linux by doing the same thing I did when I was learning Windows: poke and prod at the system and see what changed. Doing is the best way of learning.

Don't really worry too much about a specific distro. I went from RH9 to Fedora Core to Ubuntu to Debian over the span of about 4 years. Once you learn enough, you can pick up any distro without too much hassle.

My best advice is to pick a distro and dual boot with XP/Vista. Every day try to use your GNU/Linux distro a bit more each day. Be sure to try to fiddle with settings. Just make sure you have a backup ready for any important data. For awhile there, I was reinstalling the OS weekly. Don't be afraid to experiment.

Re:Do what I did (1)

stinerman (812158) | more than 7 years ago | (#18806829)

Err...mod me down. Maybe I should RTFS every once in awhile.

O'Reilly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18806833)

O'Reilly [] publishes any number of books that will suit your needs, covering everything from the basics on down to the most esoteric.

Read a general introduction to Unix (3, Informative)

Ivan Raikov (521143) | more than 7 years ago | (#18806909)

First of all, you should have in mind that Linux is just a kernel, and what you are probably more interested in are all the userland programs that comprise your typical Linux distribution. I think it is best to start with a general Unix introductory text, because the fundamental principles have not changed in 25 years, and it is much better to understand the core Unix system utilities and how they plug together to accomplish complex tasks, rather than waste time with all the modern Windows-like interfaces that are fashionable in Linux distributions today.

There is one "classic" Unix introduction book that I can strongly recommend, and that you can probably buy used for a dollar: Exploring the Unix System [] by Stephen Kochan and Patrick Wood. Make sure to get the paperback edition that is about 400 pages. Also, apparently the authors are going to release an updated version of that book -- check [] for updates.

Once you learn the fundamentals of Unix systems, then you would be ready to learn the modern tools available in Linux distributions. Remember that is much more important to learn the principles and philosophy that Unix was built upon, rather than attempting to memorize arcane details.

this might sound insane at first (1)

http (589131) | more than 7 years ago | (#18807011)

issue the following commands
part 1:
$ cd /bin
$ for binary in * ; do man $binary ; done
$ cd /usr/bin
$ for binary in * ; do man $binary ; done
$ cd /usr/local/bin
$ for binary in * ; do man $binary ; done

part 2:
$ su -
# cd /sbin
# for binary in * ; do man $binary ; done
# cd /usr/sbin
# for binary in * ; do man $binary ; done
# cd /usr/local/sbin
# for binary in * ; do man $binary ; done
# exit

Don't take a long time doing this, and more specifically DO NOT ATTEMPT TO MEMORIZE EVERYTHING. Just skim the man pages. You'll get a feel for what programs are available. Then read the man page for apropos so you can jog your memory later.

Re:this might sound insane at first (1)

CrankyOldBastard (945508) | more than 7 years ago | (#18807383)

Or you could try:

for dirs in / /usr/ /usr/local ; do
for prefix in '' 's' ; do
cd ${dirs}${prefix}bin
for binary in * ; do
man $binary

You shouldn't need to su to root to see in the various sbin dirs, only to run the apps. for example, on my system (debian etch) /sbin has permissions 755.

One of the "best practice" ideas for any unix-like OS is spend as little time as root as possible.

Re:this might sound insane at first (1)

JackieBrown (987087) | more than 7 years ago | (#18807769)

If you run KDE (or use Konqueror) type man:/

Start with Slackware. Seriously. (3, Insightful)

SadGeekHermit (1077125) | more than 7 years ago | (#18807041)

Your best bet is to start with Slackware 11, it's a manual distribution which will force you to actually get involved with it and learn how things work under the hood.

For example, you have to write your own iptables firewall script. But by doing this, you'll be able to understand the output of "iptables --list" on any distro out there and see what it's doing behind the scenes (for instance, amusingly, what holes does it leave open if any?).

You can download the distro here, for free: []
(my favorite mirror is: re-11.0-iso/ [] )

There's a good book on it available here: []

Think of it this way (using a car analogy like the other guy, but more seriously):

If you learn to drive in a car with a five speed stick and a clutch, you'll be able to drive almost any wheeled vehicle on Earth with very little futzing around. It's almost like having a superpower.

But if you start out driving an automatic, you'll ONLY be able to drive automatic until somebody teaches you manual. And you won't have any reason to learn it, so you'll miss out on a potentially important skill.

It's better to start out with something challenging and switch to the easy stuff later.

Go Slackware, be a nerd like us! You'll thank me later.

By the way, here's a nice iptables firewall script (1)

SadGeekHermit (1077125) | more than 7 years ago | (#18807103)

Just for you, my very own iptables firewall script! If anyone notices anything I left out, please let me know and discuss!

(start here):

# Script by SADGEEKHERMIT, based on an earlier script I wrote for FreeBSD/ipfw.
# This firewall script should be placed in /etc/rc.d and named "rc.firewall".
# Assumptions: you're using iptables, and your computer is a workstation
# which isn't making any services available to the web. Also you're paranoid.

# First, clean out the current ruleset.
iptables --flush

# Now for the initial admin part.

# Policies (what isn't explicitly allowed is automatically denied):
iptables -P INPUT DROP
iptables -P FORWARD DROP
iptables -P OUTPUT DROP
# Allow all local, loopback traffic:
iptables -A INPUT -i lo -j ACCEPT
iptables -A OUTPUT -o lo -j ACCEPT
# Block malformed "XMAS" and "NULL" packets:
iptables -A INPUT -p tcp --tcp-flags ALL ALL -j DROP
iptables -A INPUT -p tcp --tcp-flags ALL NONE -j DROP
# Block ping:
iptables -A INPUT -p icmp --icmp-type echo-request -j DROP
iptables -A OUTPUT -p icmp --icmp-type echo-reply -j DROP
# Permit DHCP!!!
iptables -A OUTPUT -p udp ! -o lo --dport 67 -j ACCEPT
iptables -A INPUT -p udp ! -i lo --sport 67 -j ACCEPT
# Permit DNS:
iptables -A OUTPUT -p udp ! -o lo --dport 53 -j ACCEPT
iptables -A INPUT -p udp ! -i lo --sport 53 -j ACCEPT
# Permit ICMP type "destination unreachable":
iptables -A INPUT -p icmp --icmp-type destination-unreachable -j ACCEPT

# Now for our internet access rules. These will explicitly permit
# web browsing, passive-mode FTP, etc.
# The way this works is, for every TCP port you want to use,
# you add these two lines (replacing N with the port number):
# iptables -A OUTPUT -p tcp ! -o lo --dport N -j ACCEPT
# iptables -A INPUT -p tcp ! -i lo --sport N -m state --state ESTABLISHED,RELATED -j ACCEPT
# For a workstation/home computer, you'll want to make these ports available:
# 80 (HTTP), 443 (HTTPS), 110 (POP3), 143 (IMAP), and 25 (SMTP).
# NOTE: Doing it this way means we don't have to explicitly block anything.
# If we don't allow it, it's blocked. For example, if you're not on the loopback
# interface (localhost, lo) you can't access X at all (tcp ports 6000-6020).

# Internet access rules:
iptables -A OUTPUT -p tcp ! -o lo --dport 80 -j ACCEPT
iptables -A INPUT -p tcp ! -i lo --sport 80 -m state --state ESTABLISHED,RELATED -j ACCEPT
iptables -A OUTPUT -p tcp ! -o lo --dport 443 -j ACCEPT
iptables -A INPUT -p tcp ! -i lo --sport 443 -m state --state ESTABLISHED,RELATED -j ACCEPT
iptables -A OUTPUT -p tcp ! -o lo --dport 110 -j ACCEPT
iptables -A INPUT -p tcp ! -i lo --sport 110 -m state --state ESTABLISHED,RELATED -j ACCEPT
iptables -A OUTPUT -p tcp ! -o lo --dport 143 -j ACCEPT
iptables -A INPUT -p tcp ! -i lo --sport 143 -m state --state ESTABLISHED,RELATED -j ACCEPT
iptables -A OUTPUT -p tcp ! -o lo --dport 25 -j ACCEPT
iptables -A INPUT -p tcp ! -i lo --sport 25 -m state --state ESTABLISHED,RELATED -j ACCEPT

# FTP is a special case. You would NEVER allow non-passive FTP, because
# then you'd have to open up all YOUR high ports from 1024-65,535. Why even HAVE
# a firewall? On the other hand, passive FTP is a lot safer; you're allowing traffic TO
# port 21 on the remote server, and traffic TO and FROM high ports on the remote
# server. This doesn't open up ANY local ports on this machine; it just means you
# can talk to high ports on the remote machine, which isn't all that bad.
# So here are the rules for PASSIVE MODE FTP:
iptables -A OUTPUT -p tcp ! -o lo --dport 21 -j ACCEPT
iptables -A OUTPUT -p tcp ! -o lo --dport 1024:65535 -j ACCEPT
iptables -A INPUT -p tcp ! -i lo --sport 1024:65535 -m state --state ESTABLISHED,RELATED -j ACCEPT

DO'H!!! DISCLAIMER: I'm NOT affiliated with them. (1)

SadGeekHermit (1077125) | more than 7 years ago | (#18807279)

I'm just a nerd, not part of the Slackware project per se, and although I dearly love Slackware, this opinion is purely my own and not designed to benefit anyone or any distro or anything except YOU who might really dig it.

Just thought I'd mention that!

Sorry for all the posts. :)

Old school, learn Unix (3, Informative)

dru (4742) | more than 7 years ago | (#18807555)

When I was learning about Linux, back in the mid-90s, the most valuable resource I found was The Internals of the 4.3BSD Operating System by McKusick, Quarterman, Leffler and Karels. This book acquainted me with the design goals of unix-like operating systems, and the issues of implementing these patterns.

Also, I'd pick either Aileen Frisch's Essential System Administration or UNIX System Administration Handbook by Evi Nemeth.

Fast forward to the 21st century, I now spend the bulk of my time using FreeBSD.

Linux is great, but remember that the thing that makes it great is that it's a unix-like OS. Learning the skills to be comfortable on Linux, Solaris, *BSD, HP-UX, AIX, or whatever the flavor of the day, will take you further than limiting yourself to just one.

Good luck!

Define please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18807587)

exactly how Linux works and how to fix and modify it?

When you say 'linux' do you mean

The Kernel?
A kernel + userland?
A kernel + userland + other programs that run in that environment?

The USPO says that Linux is a branding for soap, so is that what you seek?

One possibility (1)

petrus4 (213815) | more than 7 years ago | (#18807655)

Linux From Scratch [] . This is a project which maintains and outlines the knowledge of how to manually compile a Linux system from source code. In other words, it's about as fundamental as you can get.

The project is also run by some really awesome people...probably the most decent that I've come across in the Linux community.

Rute's tutorial (1)

b1ufox (987621) | more than 7 years ago | (#18808183)

here is the link to rute's excellent guide for linux. [] .

Read man pages or if you are on a Red Hat/Fedora system info and pinfo are great.

Choose a distro you feel comfortable with, see what you can change and how this affects the system.

Good luck

Just read this (2, Interesting)

swillden (191260) | more than 7 years ago | (#18808261)

There are probably some good books out there, and I hope you get some recommendations for them, but there is one key thing that you should learn about Linux that will get you 99% of everything you'll ever need to know about how your system works: How it boots.

If you understand how everything gets started you'll understand how it all fits together, and, even better, you'll have the starting point you need for tracking down anything else you need to figure out. And the great thing is that it's simple enough to described reasonably completely in one brief slashdot post.

The boot process consists of the following steps:

  1. The boot loader loads the kernel
  2. The kernel mounts the root file system and finds and runs /sbin/init, the first userspace process
  3. /sbin/init finds and reads /etc/inittab, which tells /sbin/init what shell script to run to kick everything off (/etc/init.d/rc, usually).

That's it. All you have to do is go read that shell script and you'll find out how absolutely everything running on your system gets started, from the file systems that are mounted to the network devices that are configured to the graphical user interface. Of course, along the way, you'll run across dozens of commands and hundreds of configuration files that you'll have to look up, but with 'man' and a little persistence you will gain an understanding of each major component, where it lives, what it does, how it gets started, restarted, killed and modified.

Even better, you don't have to worry about understanding it all at once. Once you find the /etc/init.d/rc script, and see how it executes all of the other scripts in /etc/init.d, you'll be well equipped to track down the answer to any question you have about how your system works. Sometimes getting an answer will mean traipsing through a few levels of indirection, but all the information is there. No magic, nothing hidden, all there for your perusal and/or modification.

Re:Just read this (1)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 7 years ago | (#18808873)

Except that distros begin to migrate away from sysinit. Ubuntu uses upstart, which works differently: []

Re:Just read this (1)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 7 years ago | (#18808883)


Use the source luke, use the source ! (2, Informative)

pruneau (208454) | more than 7 years ago | (#18808265)

Well, for starters, never forget two things:
  • even if it's not documented, you _have_ access to the source
  • even if you do not have time to access/read the source, the problem are usually in the open, generally discussed by someone else you could easily locate. If you are the first one, someone is usually going to answer you.
On linux, most of the configuration is done in _text_ files, and most of the system set-up is done by sh/bash shell script. Get familiar with shell scripting (it's a minimal requirement anyway), and you usually can read you way through. For example, it's a very good way to understand how the system starts, in details.
Of course, RTFM/RTFMan is always a good idea, but usually, a " --help" gets you through most of the time.
Now, of course, not everything is a shell script, and you do not have the time to study the manual pages or the documentation. Make sure that you have various tracing tools (system/network/etc):
  • strace : for system calls
  • lsof : for system calls and file/network access
  • tcpdump/wireshark : for network tracing
  • /procs : can do some of this all, but whithout real-time tracing.

Using those tools on misbehaving/unknown programs is going to give you some insight on how they work, and _what_ exactly they are doing. Their output can really be intimidating, but once you get some minial knowledge about protocols and other inner workings
And of course, having some basic idea in programming in the langague of you main applications is going to be helpful, but that really depend on how much time you want to devote to it and how programming-inclined you are.
Never forget that the unix philosophy is not about monolythic applications, but rather distributing tasks to smaller utilities. So learn about all those funny commands that are displayed when you press any keyboard letter and . You are going to be surprised: did you know that linux has "cut" and "paste" has commands ?

Total Immersion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18808349)

The best way to learn a foreign language is total immersion. It's the same with GNU/Linux. Pick a distribution and start using it for everything. You'll pick it up soon enough.

In my opinion the best way... (2, Informative)

XenoBrain (719411) | more than 7 years ago | (#18808601)

Is to take a class at your local college or University. That's better than any book you could buy or forum you could visit. It really makes you process and apply what you learn, as well as making sure your education is well rounded. The UNIX classes at my college have no prereqs, and cater to career professionals in atmosphere, attitude, and availability and applicability. I'm sure you can do just as well if you take a look.

Slackware (1)

pilsner.urquell (734632) | more than 7 years ago | (#18808611)

The De Facto credo of Slackware is KISS, Keep It Simple Stupid.

ALL configuration file are plain text files that can be eddited manualy.

Slackware always uses a plain vanilla Kernel, never pached.

Slackware has a policy of incorporating only stable releases of applications, standing mainly for design stability and aims to be the most UNIX-like Linux distribution. Doug McIlroy summarized the UNIX philosophy in three simple rules:

Write programs that do one thing and do it well.

Write programs to work together.

Write programs to handle text streams, because that is a universal interface.

Slackware Linux does not have a complex package manager like RPM or dpkg. Packages are normal tgz (tar/gzip) files, often with an additional installation script and a package description file. For novice users tgz is much more powerful than RPM, and avoids dependency problems.

Slackware uses BSD style init scripts, while most other Linux distros use System V style init scripts. Basically, with System V style each runlevel is given a subdirectory for init scripts, whereas BSD style gives a single init script to each runlevel. BSD style advocates say that it is better because with this system it is much easier to find, read, edit, and maintain the scripts. System V advocates say that the System V structure for the scripts makes them more powerful and flexible.

It is worth noting that System V init compatibility has been incorporated into Slackware, starting with version 7.0.

Thea way I put it is that Slackare is is lean, mean ant to built to stay that way.

Thanks (1)

teh moges (875080) | more than 7 years ago | (#18808705)

Thanks for the replies, it seems I have alot to read. I am going to head off to Linux From Scratch and start with what they have there, and see how that goes. Depending on how that goes, I'll go to Slackware and see what it has. Thanks also for the suggestions for books. Despite what is available on the net, theres always something extra when reading it from a book.

Re:Thanks (2, Informative)

Budenny (888916) | more than 7 years ago | (#18809273)

They are very good suggestions, but I would start somewhere a bit simpler.

Scott Graneman Linux Phrasebook
-- this isa fairly small but amazingly comprehensive and very clear book on using the command line. The OReilly Pocket Linux is also good but much more limited.
Ward How Linux Works
-- fairly discursive, but once you've read it, you understand how it all works and the detail will slot into place
Schroder Linux Cookbook (or actually, anything she writes)
-- well, she's brilliant, doesn't cover everything, but what is covered is clear, detailed and after you work through it, you can do it, and you understand it.
Linux in a Nutshell
-- this is a sort of paper version of man, Graneman's book is a subset with more examples. But if you have this you can find every option in every command in an instant. Have it for reference.

I agree about slackware. Install slackware and work through their brilliant documentation. This is a good accompaniment to Ward's book.

Good question, and some worthy responses. (1)

FoamingToad (904595) | more than 7 years ago | (#18809903)

I'm sure there's a lot of early *nix users who will find the information in this thread particularly helpful.


go to the fag pr0n sites (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18808749)

goto one of the fags pr0n sites and pay attention to how they suck them dicks. dick smoking is big among and the linux crowd.
in no time you'll be sucking them dicks like a pro!

Books (3, Insightful)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 7 years ago | (#18808851)

Essential System Administration By Æleen Frisch []

Unix Power Tools By Shelley Powers, Jerry Peek, Tim O'Reilly, Mike
Loukides []

Running Linux By Matthias Kalle Dalheimer, Matt Welsh l []

The UNIX Systems Administration Handbook by Evi Nemeth, Garth Snyder,
Scott Seebass, Trent R. Hein, et al. andbook-3rd/dp/0130206016/ref=pd_bxgy_b_text_b/104 -2587738-8696715?ie=UTF8&qid=1176522696&sr=1-1 []

The Practice of System and Network Administration by Thomas A.
Limoncelli, Christine Hogan nistration/dp/0201702711/ref=pd_sim_b_4/104-258773 8-8696715?ie=UTF8&qid=1176522696&sr=1-1 []

Martin F. Krafft: The Debian System: Concepts and Techniques []

Benjamin Mako Hill, Jono Bacon, Corey Burger, Jonathan Jesse, Ivan
Krstic: The Official Ubuntu Book n-Mako/dp/0132435942 []

Re:Books (1)

Neolith1982 (942696) | more than 7 years ago | (#18809039)

Hmmm.... The Best books about Linux I have read so far are unfortunately German ones, but if someone knows English Versions of theese Books, feel free to add For the start, and to reread the Basics: Michael Koffler - Linux, Instalation, Konfiguration, Anwendung (roughly in English: Linux - installation, configuration, using) For deeper understanding of the system (all by Helmut Herold) Linux/Unix Grundlagen ( in English: Linux/Unix Basics) Linux/Unix Shells (in English the same ;)) awk & sed lec & yacc make Linux/Unix Systemprogrammierung ( in English: Linux/Unix Systemprogramming)

Why not do the most obvious thing? (4, Informative)

Eggplant62 (120514) | more than 7 years ago | (#18808903)

Find and join your local Linux Users Group. Start here on's List of Linux User Groups and see what you can find. Most of everything I know from Linux is either: []

1. What I learned from my local LUG
2. What I learned from my best friend, the Linux Guru
3. What I learned from reading a multitude of books and websites
4. Through classwork at the local business college with a Linux-friendly IT program

Interact with people who know about Linux. Ask questions. Read HOWTOs. Get reference books and read them.

Re:Why not do the most obvious thing? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 7 years ago | (#18809721)

Don't forget usenet. And before asking questions on any forum, read this [] .

slashdot, of course (1)

quakehead3 (988738) | more than 7 years ago | (#18809063)

Come to slashdot everyday. You'll learn a lot about linux that way :)

Tools are the key (4, Informative)

simm1701 (835424) | more than 7 years ago | (#18809155)

The real key to unix (any unix) is knowing how to use the tools that you get installed with the OS to make your life easier.

First things first is the terminal (xterm, kterm whichever it doesn't matter) use it. Forget the GUIs, use the shell.

That brings us onto the shell itself. Pick one and stick with it for a while. On linux most people prefer bash, its a good choice as even though its not on all unixes by default its not difficult to obtain (just don't try to set the root users default shell to bash on solaris)

Learn the language of the shell, pipes, redirects, command line interpretation of special characters, handy tricks like tab complete, loops, variables, tests and use these all on one liners - progress to script files and also learn about functions - shell scripts are usually going to be fairly primitive tasks but they are the key to an easy life as an admin.

Man is your friend - and should always be the first place you turn for help, then google, then forums.

Learn the basic commands, ls, mv, cp, rm, learn their options and understand the justifications for using them (-i? -f?)

Pick an editor and learn to drive it - this is a long process but well worth it. Don't bother with a GUI one, consider that later. On a default linux install you will probably have vim and emacs - try them both, see which you like and use it. Check out guides on how to customise them until they behave just how you want them (I have a 10 line .vimrc file I can create from memory that makes vi behave just as I like) - ok yes vim != vi, but to shock vi purists I like to be able to use the cursor keys while in insert mode!

learn atleast the basics of the other important tools - at the very least find and grep. Awk and sed should certainly be on the list as you will encounter many scripts that use them, atleast some basic knowlege of perl would be handy (I prefer to use perl instead of awk and sed but thats my preference not everyone would agree)

Set up services and experiment, run a webserver, database server, mail server and learn as much as you can stand to about iptables to secure your box.

Keep backups, don't be afraid to break things, fixing what you broke (after finding out what you did to break it) is some of the best education yuo can have

All in all

Have fun!!

You can't be serious... (0, Flamebait)

joto (134244) | more than 7 years ago | (#18809341)

If you have trouble finding explanations for how linux works, it's quite remarkable that you are able to grok how windows works AND being completely unable to use google. In fact, I don't believe you. If you had said you didn't want to learn something new, because you already had invested a lot of time in windows, I'd believe you. But that you can't find more about linux on teh Intarweb is far beyond disbelief. Either you must have absorbed your windows knowledge through osmosis or some other process not involving intelligence; or you have recently suffered a stroke or something that damaged your brains ability to work; or you are simply a troll. My money is on the latter. Because stuff to learn about linux is just a click away.

Linux? (1)

dintech (998802) | more than 7 years ago | (#18809795)

You must be new here.

"How Linux Works" No Starch Press (2, Informative)

flotationIsGroovy (835554) | more than 7 years ago | (#18809993)

How Linux Works [] describes the inside of the Linux system for systems administrators,
whether you maintain an extensive network in the office or one Linux box at home.

Some books try to give you copy- and-paste instructions for how to deal with every
single system issue that may arise, but How Linux Works actually shows you how the
Linux system functions so that you can come up with your own solutions.

After a guided tour of filesystems, the boot sequence, system management basics,
and networking, author Brian Ward delves into open-ended topics such as development
tools, custom kernels, and buying hardware, all from an administrator's point of view.

With a mixture of background theory and real-world examples, this book shows both
"how" to administer Linux, and "why" each particular technique works, so that you will
know how to make Linux work for you.

I had the same problem (1)

Stu101 (1031686) | more than 7 years ago | (#18810089)

All I did was find a a social interest group that re purposes IT kit for use by charities and the like, strips it down, rebuilds it and installs Linux on it, and servers too. It does two things, firstly, it keeps computers out of landfill and secondly it helps people less fortunate than myself learn and use computing, kinda like freegeek, but for charities! Just think of the massive array of different kit you could get to play with!
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?
or Connect with...

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>