Why do we waste time reading articles about Linux that don’t provide what they promise in the title?
This article doesn’t give you just 10, but eleven types of resources that ALL new or experienced Linux users should bookmark, or at the very least be familiar with in case they get stuck or have a problem that needs fixing. I realize that I failed to deliver exactly what was I promised in the title. Please accept my most sincere apologies.
Unless we are lucky and own one of the new manufacture-supported computers that come pre-loaded with Linux, we will need to fix problems ourselves. These resources are the best ways to find support and assistance for fixing those nasty errors we can sometimes get in Linux.
Undoubtedly we’ll will want to brag or casually talk about Linux with friends, family and acquaintances, so let’s start with the basic history. The Linux page at Wikipedia will teach us all we need to know about the history behind Linux. After reading this, can you tell me when Linus first began working on the non-commercial replacement for MINIX? If not, go back and read it again.
2. Distribution Selection:
If we haven’t already, we’ll need to go ahead and select a distribution that fits you. The premier resource to find distributions is DistroWatch. Even if we already know what we’re going to be using, I suggest visiting there on a monthly basis, or subscribe to their RSS feed to keep up-to-date with new releases.
Become part of the community and join a forum. The two most active forums I am aware of are Linux Forums and Linux Questions. Those are a great general resource, but you may want to find the forum for your specific distribution, where you can find specialized help from people who know some of the more intricate details of your chosen distro.
There are so many out there, but I’ll list the most important ones that we will want to read so we keep up to date with trends. Slashdot, LXer, Linux Today, Linux.com, and my personal favorite, the Digg Linux/Unix section.
5. Console/Terminal Familiarity:
Usually, we can get along just fine in Linux without using the console in most cases, but sometimes you just gotta get down and dirty. The more you do, the more you learn about the system. Here’s a few: Linux Shortcuts and Commands, Linux Newbie Administrator Guide, Linux Command Reference, How To Look Like A UNIX Guru, and my favorite, Linux Command Line Tips
There are lots of books to read about Linux, and costs range from free to priceless. For example, Introduction to Linux – A Hands on Guide. I don’t recommend books to most people, because it’s an awful lot of information to take in. If you want to go with something that isn’t a snore, I personally enjoyed Linux In A Nutshell.
7. Wiki for your distribution:
Wikis are websites that anyone can add information to, the most famous of them is Wikipedia. A wiki can be as simple as a FAQ, or a complete and total documentation source for every program that is maintained or supported by our distribution of choice.
8. “Alternative” Media; Newsgroups/IRC/Mailing Lists.
Newsgroups for Linux are listed at Linux.org. IRC for your specific distribution can be found by searching for the terms “IRC” followed by the distro name. You can get a LOT of very specialized help in these IRC rooms. Just imagine a chat room filled with hundreds of Linux enthusiasts. Somone is bound to help. IRC can be a real life saver when you are in DIRE need of assistance. For example, if you get stuck in read-only mode, and can’t bootup properly. Login to IRC, someone probably can probably figure out the problem. Mailing lists are also grouped as an alternative media, because most people don’t like to have a million emails flood their inbox and clutter things up. Here’s a suggestion: Create a brand new Gmail account, and use the RSS feed of that email account to view topics as you want to. Or, set up the mailing list preferences to send you a condensed version of the list on a daily basis.
9. Search for the Answer:
I hate to mention this one, because it seems like common sense to me. If we get an error in any program, the chances are that someone else has already had this problem, and posted about it online. Simply copy and paste the error, throw it into a Google Search, and enclose it within quotes to make sure you get the most relavent results. Nine times out of ten we will receive multiple hits, as well as a fix.
10. Ask Questions:
Learning how to ask smart questions is difficult. Luckily, I just provided a link that will teach you exactly how to do it! Once you learn to ask smart questions, the answers you seek (even “stupid” questions) will come faster, and you will learn from experience.
If you’ve got an iPod or CD player (use CD/RWs) in your car, there’s two podcasts that you may want to listen in on: The Linux Action Show is mainly news and is really fun show to listen to. Going Linux is about “how to get stuff done.” Going Linux is by far and above one of the most comprehensive podcasts I have listened to on ANY topic. Linux Reality is also notable. These are perfect for long commutes, and they’re free, so throw away your satellite radio and start learning something on your way to work or school.
If you are familiar with and utilize these 11 resources above, I promise that you will be able to rub elbows with fellow Linux users of any level of experience.
Stay tuned, and hit the RSS feed on the left if you like. I know it’s annoying. Am I going to change it? I know it’s not hard, but I think the RSS feed scrolly icon thinger going or staying should be a community choice. There will be a poll in the sidebar shortly.
I hope you all enjoyed this article, and for my regular readers – I am still working on the ‘cost of free software’ series part 3 and will hopefully be finished soon. I did NOT anticipate that it would take over 3 days to download the complete source code of Ubuntu.