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back to article The netbook newbie's guide to Linux

Thanks to their design as appliances, you can get down to useful work straight away with any of the new breed of Linux-based netbooks. But sooner or later, a fair few folk come up against the unfamiliarity of Linux. And, like the legendary tribe of pygmies, you may find yourself jumping up and down in the head-high long grass …

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Very clear :)

It's pitched just a leetle bit below my level but this is very well put together :) There's nothing I hate more than guides that basically say "to do x, perform magical incantation y" and don't explain what's going on

more of this sort of stuff, please (even if this specific series is unlikely to tell me, personally, anything)

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Linux

Root password...

Actually the reason Acer do not supply the root password for the AspireOne is that the user configures that on the initial boot of the laptop.

So - no security hole, just good practice not to supply 1000's of laptops with the same root password !

What an astonishingly high standard of research must have gone in to this article.

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Coat

Good article

As the title says - very interesting.

Whilst I have nothing against Linux (use it on a few servers I look after), the article does highlight the problems with it still.

Windows XP or Vista (possibly earlier versions too), you just go to "Network" and it lists the computers. Double click and you see the shares. Double click the share and you see all the files.

All in the GUI.

I'll check back in another couple of years to see if Linux has grown out of stupid names for it's applications, different apps that do the same thing depending on the distro and provides a GUI for the VAST majority of interaction the user will do.

P.S. Not flaming - just a bit disappointed that even something as simple as browsing to a fileshare on the Linux netbooks can still be so tricky for newbie users. One day soon the manufacturers will get it right and actually spend some time refining these sort of things and put their changes back into the community.

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Finally

Finally someone is writing an easy to follow guide to Linux command line, keep it coming!

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Gates Halo

If this is what n00bs have to do...

...it's no wonder the return rate on Freetardix netbooks is higher than the Paytard ones.

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All well and good

I learned DOS about 20 odd years ago. About 16 years ago, when Windows 3.1 came out, I no longer had to remember obscure commands, switches, and the rest of it, or go delving into thick manuals to work out exactly what it was that I needed.

I know a lot of you don't like Windows on principle, but command lines! For heaven's sake, haven't we moved on past this? I'm sure I could go back to raw coding in bytes if I had to, but the world has moved on. It's time Linux did.

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Spaces in usernames and passwords

If you have a space in your username or password you can do one of the following

1) put a \ before each and every space

sudo mount -t cifs -o user=bid\ mead,pass=whatever //192.168.1.11/MyShare /mnt/mountpoint

2) put the paramater inside ' characters

sudo mount -t cifs -o 'user=bid mead,pass=whatever' //192.168.1.11/MyShare /mnt/mountpoint

Thumbs up for a good beginners guide though

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Steve ...

Steve, just for your info the issue isn't with "linux" itself, its with the interaction between windows and linux. Samba allows a linux machine to talk a "filesystem" which isn't native to the "operating system" and to share a linux native filesystem in a manner that windows can understand. I think thats actually pretty impressive!

Simply put windows uses SMB/CIFS and most unix systems use NFS, unfortunately no windows user ever sees the need to setup windows to talk NFS, but linux users often have a need to talk SMB/CIFS.

If you have all linux machines then the network file system (NFS) which can be native to most operating systems (including windows if people configure it) is one of the most straight forward networked file systems you can use. (in my opinion).

There are also gui file systems which will happily go off and see windows file shares, however for what ever reason the notebooks such as the acer one and asus eeepc have gone with other applications.

But I agree with your point about too many applications to do the same thing, its both a credit and a curse to GNU/LINUX.

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This is why Linux fails

You *need* to go to a command window to mount a share? How very 1980s.

How you you send an email? Tap the network cable in Morse code or something?

No wonder Windows leaves Linux in the dust.

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Gates Horns

@Steve

As opposed to "iEverything" and "WinThingumybob"?

Looking for a reason (however moronic) to disallow Linux.

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Stop

@Steve

The only reason that the netbooks are a pain in the arse to browse network shares is because the manufacturers use shitty implementations.

Find an Ubuntu box, go to Places, Network... and lo, see the local Windows machines around you.

It's faster than Network Neighbourhood as well in my experience.

Don't confuse Linux with "Linpus" or any of the other manufacture sponsored installs.

That's like saying all cars are slow because all you have driven is a 1.1 Fiesta Popular Plus. It's crippled because it's for idiots, the larger, real versions are far nicer to use.

Steven R

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GUIs

I mostly skimmed through this since it's nothing new to me but it seems like a good intro to the command line. Having said that, it's giving Linux a bad name. I don't know about what's pre-installed on the AA1 but there are GUIs to do all of these things, including the "Network" thing that Steve mentioned above. I don't use any of them but that's just me. I live on the command line.

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(Written by Reg staff)

@Steve Raith

Netbooks are not for idiots, Steve, simply people who want to do basic computer tasks.

A fair few of them have become enthused enough to learn more about Linux but get put of by smart-arse forums that tell you you're a dick because you've not been running Debian for the last ten years, or writing your own programming language. I know this isn't what you're saying, but just do a search on almost any Linux-oriented forum and you'll find many, many examples.

This piece - and the other parts of the series to come - was inspired by my frustration with that kind 'holier than thou, clever that thou' attitude, which is worse because it alienates the very people Linux ought to be trying to get on its side.

Time to grow up, folks - or just have done with it and state that Linux is only for the chosen few, and we can leave you all in your happy little OS apartheid.

BTW, I have a netbook. And I'd love to try a "larger, real version" of Linux. The snag: bits of the hardware stop working when I do. Again, something the Linux community needs to address - we're not all kernel and driver coders.

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@Steve

This puzzled me too. Never used the Aspire 1 or any of the other netbooks, but my Linux distro of choice (Ubuntu) behaves exactly as you would expect - all in the gui, browse shares on the network. Simple as a simple thing. I'm amazed the Aspire doesn't have something similar, maybe someone else can enlighten me.

To be honest, my first thought when I started reading the article was "why are we straight into the terminal" - I can only assume that the Aspire either doesn't have, or hides, the gui tools for the applications being discussed. Don't get me wrong, it's an interesting article, but maybe a bit scary for a new user coming from Windows.

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Linux

Pretty good article

It's nice to see some tutorials on how to do these things.

To be honest, the majority of people who would probably buy these mini notebooks for web browsing wouldn't even think of connecting to network shares. It's a bit disappointing to see that Acer didn't include some sort of tool to connect to Windows shares in the GUI, but then with things like Ubuntu Netbook Remix coming out, those who want to do things like this will be able to.

@ CN Hill

Sometimes using the command line can be MUCH faster than using a GUI. I often just crack open a Terminal (or on Windows a command prompt) as what I do is quicker and easier using the command line than using the slow lumbering GUI (yes, that's on Windows too!). That's just me though, I can understand that some people just can't be bothered with terminal windows.

Rob

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Memememememememe!

"Again, something the Linux community needs to address - we're not all kernel and driver coders."

Not really.

Something the linux community CAN address, but not something they NEED to address.

Oh, and someone tell me how to get Windows Vista to see

ext2fs

ext3fs

zfs

xfs

etc.

Windows "server" my arse.

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@Tony Smith

The Linux community generally addresses hardware compatibility issues as quickly as it can. It's the hardware manufacturers who drag their feet and don't provide the same level of support that they provide Windows users.

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Keeping it simple

This emphasis on the command line does a disservice to Linux systems. As an old-timer I usually dive into the command line because it works consistently on just about any kind of Unix system (another big advantage of *nix).

However with the rise of netbooks the friends who just want to do a bit of internetting get the horrors when I explain the quick way of doing things.

So, any takers on how to do useful stuff on a netbook without command-line magic?

Here is the first step to AA1 bliss without the command-line

hit Alt-F2 to get a dialog in which you can specify the program you want to run.

Type xfce-setting-show and press Enter

Click on the Display icon and on the Advanced tab (I think... our AA1 has a bat flattery) tick "Show root menu on right-click".

You can now right-click on the AA1's desktop to get a menu of all installed programs.

From the System submenu, there is a Package Manager GUI that can be used to download and install programs.

Newly installed programs can be accessed from the right-click menu. Putting programs in the Acer menu is text editor stuff, unfortunately.

Other niggles with the article...

so what about no root login... that's so 20th century. Open a terminal window and type "sudo su" and the world's your ostrich.

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Unhappy

Way more complicated than necessary?

I run ubuntu - and as I remember, acquiring full compatibility with Windows shares was just a matter of asking Synaptic nicely for the samba package, and then using Nautilus almost identically to how I would have with Windows Explorer back in those days.

I think either your chosen distro is seriously lacking some features, or you're actually Mr. Ballmer infiltrating El Reg to scare newbies away from linux on their netbooks.

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Happy

I get by with Ubuntu Wubi inside Windows

Like the series and think it's a very good idea, by the way. Lots of these Linux appliances are appearing and they can really fly with some help. Back to my point though.

Wubi meant I didn't have to mess with my windows install, it runs native 64 bit, and it just works with all my devices. So when I need to do some work with my iPhone I can boot windows and it just works too.

I also recommend the newly-published "Ubuntu Kung Fu" if you want to get Ubuntu to work well, lots of the tips work fine for all Linuxes.

I do think that you still have to mess with Ubuntu too much - to get the sexy 3D desktop (on a machine that can't run Vista!) and a Mac-like interface (using AWN manager) with all the nice rendering took quite a bit of digging and reading Linux journal. The default Gnome install with the awful desktop backgrounds is horrible. Took a good couple of weeks of messing about to get it looking as good as I knew it could.

So, the appliance manufacturers have tried to make their machines not look like an advert for dog poo and start with a decent-looking desktop that doesn't need messing with to be productive. Good on 'em.

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sfc

So Windows leaves Linux in the dust because it uses command line?

Surely the paytards have clicked on 'Start', then Run' types 'cmd' followed by

'sfc /scannow?

Or do they just take their box down to PC World to let a 'professional' sort it out?

Must confess, I don't use command line in linux much, just click like the Windows' users.

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RE: @Steve's

Thanks for the replies everyone (other than Mark who can go do one)

Fair point that it's the implementation rather than the platform itself regarding having to mount file shares.

Though I do stick to my other two points... (YUM? Why not "Updater" or "AppMgr" if your aiming for the mainstream user...?)

It's a shame that OEM's are doing this, as it's tarnishing the name of Linux. Ironic that an open platform is this limited out the box when it comes from these particular builders....

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Unhappy

What you HAVE to do?

Try to keep on thread, guys, this is a basic introduction to the command line - why drag GUIs into it?

Note the first paragraph - see where it says that it takes a linux aficionado an effort to get to the command line?

No, you don't have to use the command line to mount a share, but you can CHOOSE to do so if you know how/what you are doing. This article is an attempt to remedy the ignorance endemic amongst those that have little knowledge beyond 'turn off your computer and turn it back on again".

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Linux

/mnt is *temporary* mount point

"We'll start by creating an empty directory, the 'mountpoint'. In accordance with long Unix tradition, this belongs under the /mnt directory"

Maybe under the old days of Unix but according to the Linux Filesystem Hierarchy Standard http://www.pathname.com/fhs/pub/fhs-2.3.html#MNTMOUNTPOINTFORATEMPORARILYMOUNT

"/mnt : Mount point for a temporarily mounted filesystem

Purpose

This directory is provided so that the system administrator may temporarily mount a filesystem as needed."

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@CN Hill

I also am a former DOS user (I even have the I heart DOS bumper sticker from PC Computing to prove it). However, it's the odd day that goes by where I don't open a command window in Windows (XP) to do something.

Frankly, I'm tired of the "choose something from the menu" model - I'm much more of a "tell the PC what to do" kind of guy. I think command lines are here to stay, even if they're only infrequently-invoked options within a GUI.

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Alert

About that editor...

Nice article, and the series promises to be a big help to new users who want to get a little more out of their machine than the manufacturer had in mind. But there was one little shock towards the end:

"I don't need to tell you how to use [vi] here, because the MSI Wind Suse Linux implementation comes complete with all the Unix man - for 'manual' - pages. If your machine is an MSI Wind, just type man vi."

Now, I've been using vi in various forms for 15 years, and I happily (even evangelically) recommend it as a very powerful text editor. But to tell a Linux newbie (whom you assume has not previously used "less") to try using vi with ONLY the man page as a guide... Well, I can't think of anything that will drive the poor n00b away from Linux any faster than that. The mode-switching alone may invoke cold sweats when he tries to escape (literally) from an inscrutable tilde-filled screen.

Of course, vi *can* be learned, and learned very well, but I think that this particularly gentle reader would be better served by a link to a vi usage guide or tutorial. This was the first good option I could find in a hurry:

http://www.eng.hawaii.edu/Tutor/vi.html

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Good intro to the command line, but there are GUI's too

At last, a reference to Wikipedia on the register without saying wackypedia. At least one person at vulture central has seen that there are some good articles there.

By all means, introduce people who are interested in command lines to less, but consider <shift><page up>.

@CN Hill: Linux has GUI interfaces for almost everything. For some purposes, the command line is a better choice. As far as I know (I have not used MS software for about a decade) Microsoft have taken the choice away from you, so you cannot easily perform some tasks from a command line interface in Windows. Next time you are suffering from the death of a thousand mouse clicks, remember that I could accomplish the same task in seconds from the command line.

Linux forums can be unfriendly to newbies. There are several possible reasons. A small minority of penguinistas do not want a bunch of computer illiterates encouraging malware authors to target Linux. Sometimes a script kiddie is being rude to hide his ignorance or to feel superior. The most common reason is that the newbie has not demonstrated any effort to look for existing solutions. Unfortunately not all penguinistas point newbies at http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html

If you want things to happen automatically, without having to reach all the way over to the mouse, then the command line is to first step to learning how to create scripts. Here are some resources I wish I had found when I first met the command line:

When you read the manual, it is displayed by a program called 'less'. Learn what you can do with less by typing: "man less"

The next step is to learn what you can do with the manual. Type "man man".

Command names can be a bit cryptic, but that last page should have told you the solution. Try: "man -k cifs"

The GNU project has issues with the man pages. They prefer the info pages. Type "info info" to learn how to read them. If you know vaguely what to do, but need a reminder of the details, the man pages are the best choice. If you are exploring unfamiliar territory, the info system is more useful.

Very often, newbies (and Gurus) collect together related infomation into a tutorial (a HOWTO). Check out the Linux documentation project (http://tldp.org/). Before diving into one of the documents (find the right one in http://tldp.org/HOWTO/HOWTO-INDEX/index.html), check the date. If the one you are interested in is two years old, you can safely assume that no-one has updated the HOWTO because modern software tools have made the task trial.

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Anonymous Coward

Application Names

yum, apt-get and rpm may be not be useful names but it's all a matter of what you know. Why isn't Power Point an application that has something to do with plugging my laptop in? Or Excel as a training tool? Or Word as a dictionary... perhaps it is a dictionary with a bit of bloat. Visual Studio can't make movies. Skype, Firefox, Chrome, Outlook Express, lots of program names aren't that descriptive.

All that aside, good start to a series of articles. Hope the focus broadens.

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Anonymous Coward

sudo

it doesn't mean run this command as root, it can mean that, but it doesn't have to.

man sudo

Terminal first, oh no, straight to console or the bootloader command line.

Gosh, people have unix heroes, oh no, it is all gone horribly wrong :)

Your hero should be your library, and you mad man && grep skillzs, not some piece of meat.

If this is your first night with unix, then you have to code.

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Coat

wipe it

or you could just wipe it and install what should have been on in the first place: http://www.ubuntu-eee.com/

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Really a newbie guide?

It seems that the people who like and understand the article are used to Linux. Those who don't like or understand the article aren't Linux experts. So it seems that this newbie guide is only useful to non-newbies...

Why on earth are we looking at terminal and command-line stuff for the first article? How about a guide to summarise the differences between the various flavours of Linux used on netbooks? How do they compare with Windows? Why choose Linux over the Win XP version?

Or how about a guide on how and where things are stored (e.g. the equivalent of My Documents or Applications)? How to install new programmes? For example, what's the difference between installing programmes in Linux vs Windows or Mac? Or what's the difference between user and root?

But most importantly, why can't we have at least one newbie guide to Linux that doesn't mention terminal? It just gives people the fear.

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Pirate

OK

The article is good as an article, but I'm not really sure who it is aimed at. People who want a simple point-click, know-nothing-beneath-the-bonnet interface get exactly that from the netbook manufacturers.

People who want a more Linux-y experience will probably install Ubuntu or one of the other full-featured "proper" Linux distributions. Who would actually want to tinker about in the command line of the netbook's restricted distribution? And why? OK, I know that some people will, but are they likely to need an article like this?

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Needs perspective.

Reading this article made me concerned that it would simply just be jumped upon by WinTards as another reason to justify labelling Linux as being backwards and hard to use, because it deals with setting up a network share via the terminal. Sure enough the usual comments are in evidence here.

It may have been a good idea to point out first that the majority of distro's automatically pick up Windows networks in the GUI from the get go. Then point out that picking up a non platform file system automatically is something that a supposedly fully featured Windows Server hasn't a hope in hell of doing. But thanks to the software on your little SCC, it can do this and provide the ability for any Windows PC or server to access the Linux filesystem without installing client software on the target computer.

Then go on to say that the instructions show you how to do so on a distro that does not feature this in the GUI as standard. You could then point out that even with this feature lacking initially in the GUI, the OS is still far more able and featured for network tasks than the network crippled Windows XP Home. Which is a valid comparison for a minimal striped down Linux OS that runs on Netbooks.

You could then, if you felt boisterous enough, explain how to set up the little SCC as a Windows domain controller network web, ftp, webdav, cvs, svn, email, proxy, spamfilter, virus scanner, file and print server.

This might go some way to deflecting the more ill-considered comments about how one particular Linux distro on a netbook can't automatically see a non native file system from a different OS...

...then point out again for good measure that Windows can't do this anyway without the Open Source software that your SCC is using.

Thank you.

Do I have a chip on my shoulder about this?

Yes. Pass the Ketchup.

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Linux

noobie guide

aye - right.

sorry - in all fairness a very good introduction but yes, why dive straight into "terminal" when a fully functional linux operating system can be achieved without resorting to anything more complicated than icons and data boxes (AKA ubuntu 804 as per my test box)

problems? one possible dilemma springs to mind - after installing the operating system how does one install a network card ... in the event that linux can't access it? thereafter how does one ensure the best updates to make the most of sound and vision. THAT would be an eminently suitable "chapter one" for linux noobies. [yes, I know about the "try before you install" option that will retain extra drivers for use during the final install... what if I install without putting windows in first?]

I was lucky, ubuntu recognised my mobo sufficiently to be online as soon as I installed (and noticed the network activation icon). oh... I did try centaur but baulked before the installation began and had already chosen to avoid fedora after seeing a mate spend so much time typing lines in terminal that require half a dozen "tab" presses. Can't comment about Suzie or RedHat - feel free to enlighten me.

I am a troo noobie in a linux environment, despite (or perhaps because) I taught myself DOS (initially version 3... then 6) 28 years ago when it came on a single floppy disk and have suffered the many fold insults of upgrading to windows 3.11, win95, win98, 98SE* (bypassed 2k and millennium editions within seconds of seeing them in [in]action) and finally embraced XP circa SP2 when I was unable to access the full potential of growing hard disk sizes. I ain't changing lightly - I'm fed up to the back teeth of the crap and bloat that erupts from Redmond. I am obliged to keep XP running purely for entertainment purposes but as of last week I made the commitment and am now searching out the maximum number of ways to use linux on a day-to-day basis and thus to be reliant on M$ only for the things that absolutely cannot be obtained elsewhere.

Two things I ask... a true "noobieguide" to take me by the grubby sweaty hand and lead me to the promised nix ... and a piece of incredibly brilliant coding that can emulate a windows operating system, capable of taking windows drivers, windows software, directX9/10 and thus accept large windows-dependent games.

* win98SE - the first OS after DOS that I liked AND liked me hence my reluctance to shift

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vi? Not vim?

> If your machine is an MSI Wind, just type man vi.

Thus promptly killing any interest a noob might have in learning about UNIX-like operating systems. Let's face it, the man pages are mostly useful if you already know the basics.

Besides, these days vi is usually a link to vim, so instead try `man vim` ...

Disclaimer: I learned vi in 1980ish, at Berkeley. It's been my go-to text editor ever since. I'm typing this in vi, on an IBM Model M keyboard, attached to an IBM type 3151 terminal, which is in turn is plugged into the serial port on my laptop's docking station, providing a bash prompt running on Slackware.

Why? Because I've been a Slack user since 1.0, my fingers know vi, my fingers LOVE the Model M for touch typing, and my eyes really appreciate the 3151. No distractions between brain and ASCII in ~ ... I'll save to ~, then copy/paste to the browser on the console when I'm ready to post. Geekish? Absolutely ... but it gets worse. I actually have a login that I use for serious writing that uses vi as my shell ...

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Anonymous Coward

These articles are for the Linux people

not the newbies.

It gives a chance for the slightly older newbies to pontificate about why they didn't get the help they think they deserved, but instead put that onto the new newbies to deflect attention from their little RTFM worn ear drums.

If you want to learn the command line start each line with man <space> then a random letter, <tab> a few random times, hit <enter> then read all that appears and repeat.

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Why YUM?

YUM = Yellowdog Update Manager

Yellowdog is/was a Linux distribution aimed at PowerPC systems. Based on RedHat.

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Education and Constructionsit Learning

Education is my primary focus. From there I use it as a means to help people learn what they need to know. Whether it is at work or with something such as using a computer. This usually entails an overview so a person is able to see how things relate to, rather than describing the forest by detailing individual trees.

I appreciate the intro to the Terminal. I have often been frustrated when instructed to go to the Terminal and do something that I don't understand.

However, I would love to see a regular article that begins with an overview of the system and how they relate, then the individual parts and then onto higher level tasks.

For example, though I have been using computers since the VIC 20 I have yet to really understand the file structure of Linux. It just doesn't make sense because with c:\ I know that I am (most likely) seeing a physical drive from its root. If I want to know where programs are I can look in c:\programs, etc.

I lost my Windows Vista install (no great loss, but a loss none the less) because I screwed up not understanding how Ubuntu and Windows can coexist on a hard drive because of the confusing file structure and terminology. I am not saying that Linux is a bad structure or anything, just confusing to someone who has no previous knowledge of it as is coming at it from a DOS/Windows background.

I can install a program and it doesn't load an icon on the desktop or appear on my start menu I know I can go to the c:\programs directory and look for a directory that has the program I just installed and drag the application to my desktop... When I somehow manage to install a program from a distribution not loaded with my Add/Remove it is 50-50 whether or not I will be able to get it on my Applications menu. OppenOffice 3.0 is an example. I was able to load it by installing it from copying and pasting the process from someones tutorial on the internet... but it didn't "update" 2.4 it just loaded it onto my computer somewhere. I was able to finally get it (sort of) on my menu, but I could not figure out a way to see associations from 2.4 to 3.0.

These types of things need to be addressed. An overview of Linux, its file structure, what the different directories and how they work, etc. Then getting into the Terminal to do things to the system.

I love my Ubuntu I have loaded on my Acer Aspire 5100 and enjoy tinkering and learning... but the frustration of people assuming we have knowledge we don't posses is frustrating.

My point is, in education, I never assume that a person has the requisite knowledge. In person I can ask, in writing I presume that they don't. The same with Linux. I would really love to see a weekly article starting from the beginning. Just like the old days when computer magazines would give tips and tutorials on how to use programs.

Good article.

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Way Beyond Newbie Level

I really don't think that this article really is suitable for newbies, perhaps people who are new to Linux but can program Windows programs in their sleep? I don't think the average user at the moment even understands how command prompts work, let alone all of the complex instructions offered up here. I certainly wouldn't be giving this guide to my father and tell him to go for it.

As much as I like Linux, the entire OSS movement seems to design everything so that a high level of technical knowledge is necessary to even use the software, it seems like with no motivation to make things stupid-proof (I.E. big corporate paychecks) we don't bother.

Also I really can't fathom some of the comments on this, in my experience with Linux I find I need to keep a terminal window open nearly all the time, to say that the GUI tools allow you to do everything is the exact opposite of my experience. I also use Windows and I would say that my incidence of using the terminal in Windows is probably about once a month, far from nearly constantly like in Linux (Fedora 9 right now).

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Very strange article

Very strange article indeed. First off, there is no reason for the average new user with this machine to EVER use a terminal. So it is completely weird to start out with this. Second, you don't even tell them, having decided for some bizarre reason to get into the terminal, useful information about it. If you are going to teach the terminal, fine, but start with simple stuff and move up. Pipes, for Heavens' sake! This is simply ridiculous.

Third, you show a very strange mixture of the sophisticated and the totally uninformed. Like, Linpus is just a variant of Red Hat, which you don't seem to realize. You are puzzled by Xfce, which has been around for ever and is probably the third after KDE and and Gnome, and anyway not much different from Gnome.

It would be much more helpful for the average user of these boxes to explain to them how to use Linpus in GUI mode. Then mention to them that there is such a thing a a terminal, and Scott Graneman's excellent little book is the best introduction to it, if you really do want to go there. I realize that the Register audience is probably not the one to direct this to. But you are falling between two stools. Its way too sophisticated for the naive user. And its not what someone who knows much about computing needs.

This, by the way, is experience talking. I know ladies of bus pass age who are happily using linux on these machines to write letters, collect recipes, email, shop, look at pictures of their grandchildren, all the usual stuff, and wouldn't ever think about getting acquainted with terminals or pipes. And quite right too!

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Linux

No root shell? really? NOT!

so... nobody saw the OBVIOUS root shell ?

anyone ??

since we have a command that can execute other commands with root-level access, and we have a command prompt....

sudo bash

ring any bells ?

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martin, elreg an tardigrade

tardigrade, to be fair they are now pointing out how bad vista is if you go to the netbook roundup, so they aren't clueless. You might have been better off mailing the author with suggestions.

elreg/martin, problem is most notebooks have been half-arsed configured by retailers who have to use Linux to get the "from £170!" ticket but don't want to have many people buying linux (they probably lose some MS kickback on a linux sale. So a noob needs to know how to undo the damage. Unlike Vista Lite, at least you *can* undo the damage.

And if someone is going to be scared at the command line, how comethey claim they NEED Photoshop or, worse, Excel (or the VBA which is FAR scarier than a command line)?

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Coat

Consumer software?

Although linux distros are an interesting 'toy' to play with I really do not think it is yet 'Consumer ready' to launch a coup against M$ windows. There are too many fanbois slagging windows off and saying how great Linux is, but no one seems to be making an effort to make it user friendly for the average user. In my 'world' everyone uses Office and windows (2000 or XP) so there is not the interest in changing to a different OS. At least Windows is almost install and use out of the box. Ubuntu, which I have installed on an old laptop seems to come the clsoest so far.

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Happy

About Dave

Sorry to hear Steve.We all need a Dave in our lives.

A spot check. A reference. I call Philippe my sanity check.

Loosing a friend is always hard.

From all of us, to his family and yourself our sincere condoleances.

The article is nice. But what we forget at times as readers , is the

people behind the keyboards.

All the best , and by all means , find a new " sanity check "

God do you ever need one :)

Ric

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Unhappy

First things first

My condolances, I am sorry to see a great mind leave this world, your friend will be missed Mr.Bidmead.

Now as for the rest of you lot, yes you the complainers!

http://linux.oneandoneis2.org/LNW.htm

Linux IS NOT Windows, get used to that fact already! sheesh, it has been 17 years already!

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Bloody good article

Bloody good article, sadly below my level now, but I wish I had had access to this sort of thing when I was learning Linux. Instead I had to deal with the sort of smug wankers who presumed that because I used Windows I had no idea what a command line was (I have one open all the time and batch scripting was part of my job at the time), or those that diliberately made the system appear more complex than it really was, presumably the linux-geek version of a cock extention.

The linux community can be like a worldwide clique, if you don't use linux or unix you often can't get in except by learning by yourself to the level whereby you are accepted. Oh, and don't even think of being critical in any way... This attitude has put off a lot of people I know from getting into linux.

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Bronze badge

Some of us are forgetting the key point.

This is for people who have bought a small, cheap, computer. That machine, and the installed OS, is the starting point.

And this filesharing setup is a simple, useful, example of how to use the command line. There might be a GUI utility, but you can build onwards from this installment towards a shell script, which can be set to run when you click on an icon.

Frankly, if I had one of these machines I wouldn't give a monkey's what your favourite Linux might be able to do. I'd want to know how to use what I've got.

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Happy

Replace the distro

I replaced Xandros with Opensuse11 on my eee901, Everything works except bluetooth and the four upper left special buttons. I really recommend you install a popular distro on it instead of the crippled factory installed one.

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Thumb Up

Not another MS vs Linux flame

How many 'newbie' netbook users read The Reg! This article seems to be aimed at MS 'power users' looking to try an alternative OS.

My 'better half' (like most people) is an INTERNET user, she has never seen the command line and probably never will. She tried Vista and found it 'to in my face' and so I installed Ubuntu. I've had to 'support' it myself by explaining why she should click the 'update thingy'.

This type of article is needed as some people need more knowledge and the 'community' is not always the best place to get that. I bet Dave would have taken the time to explain to the 'newbie' that MS are not the computer or the internet.

One criticism, if you have X-window type GUI installed, use another editor. vi(vim) is not a good starting point. gedit or kate can be started from the command line but will give the user a much more familiar interface.

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Boffin

Go Go Gadget CLI

@CN Hill, "All well and good"

<quote>command lines! For heaven's sake, haven't we moved on past this? I'm sure I could go back to raw coding in bytes if I had to, but the world has moved on. It's time Linux did.</quote>

This meme needs to move on. As long as there is a requirement for cross-platform-standard tools such as {if|ip}config/trace{route|rt}/ping/netstat (etc), there will be a command line on both Windows, Linux. and so on from which to run them. There is *nothing* "stuck in the past" about this being the way things are.

@Flocke Kroes "Good intro to the command line, but there are GUI's too"

<quote>By all means, introduce people who are interested in command lines to less, but consider <shift><page up>.</quote>

...except you can't guarantee all terminals/terminal emulators have scrollbars or scrollback buffers. You do have a better guarantee that 'less' (or at least 'more') is around. Hence, in an article highlighting how cross-platform the Linux command line facilities are, that's what you get.

// (multiple) thumbs up to the article, except I've picked my doppelganger again

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