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My first "Windows Anonymous" session

by coldmiser (Hermit)
on Jul 17, 2003 at 22:25 UTC ( #275426=perlquestion: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??
coldmiser has asked for the wisdom of the Perl Monks concerning the following question:

Hello, my name is Coldmiser, and I am a Windows Junkie.

First step in getting over this terrible disease is admitting my fault. I have been using Windows for 10+ years and am quite good at it (MCSE, etc...). I enjoy getting my applications and just running "setup" to install them.

Due to the popularity of Linux, I am finding myself more and more intrested in it, but since I know nothing about it, I am having a terrible time switching over to it (like most people, I like to stick with what I am good at). I have recently (as of today) installed a fresh copy of Red Hat 9 on my secondary PC and I would like to get to know how to use this wonderful (Microsoftless) operating system. Also, not being familiar with 'C' at all (Perl and VB being my only languages) I find myself at a loss trying to do anything on Linux.

My question is simply this: Is there any good books out there that will teach me how to use Linux fast and that will explain it in terms that an ex-windows junkie can understand? (thankfully, Perl runs on both platforms so I won't be completely hopeless)

Thanks for your help.

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: My first "Windows Anonymous" session
by phydeauxarff (Priest) on Jul 18, 2003 at 02:05 UTC
    About four years ago I too took the plunge into linux after years of being a microserf by "playing around" with Mandrake and Redhat.

    I would like to humbly recommend checking out Debian as I have found it to be the ultimate lazy-man's works, is easy to maintain and best of all, it is a non-commercial distro which is the whole reason I was getting away from MS in the first place ;-)

    The Debian website has much info but in addition I would recommend Debian Planet and Debian Help as these two sites saved what little hair I seem to have left.

    Lastly, if you are like me you will be wanting to do all of the above on a laptop which brings it's own set of challanges to the I add in to my recommendations Linux On Laptops which, frankly is nearly as much of a god-send as Perlmonks has been to me.

    As for books....quite honestly, if you are an your money...there are better on-line resources that won't cost you money and most of the books are about half "how to install" anyway.....with the notable exception of the Linux Desk Reference by Scott Hawkins which I used quite a bit until I eventually got more comfortable typing in "man" when I forget what a command does...which is pretty much daily

    Good luck, and welcome to the world of former MS users.....come on in, the water is just fine.

      In reply to phydeauxarff, most of the *Nix distro's are free, if that's what you mean by non-commercial.

      Debian is a great recommendation, as is your page on Linux On Laptops. Actually the reason I had not included Debian in my recommendations is that I've had trouble installing it on my laptop (which the good people at Linux On Laptops fixed for me), and I have not with Mandrake or RedHat.

      In any case, if you are interested in a source that is good for learning the general commands available in *Nix and how to use them, you could check out Linux Commands

      I've found that link to be very helpful to me in conjunction with the man pages. Also, some Linux versions have the info facility which provides some good in depth info on certain topics. For example, I had an assignment that I had to use bison to do, so I typed info bison at the prompt and it pulled up several examples of using bison.

      Hope this Helps.
        Actually, I meant 'non-commmercial' to be descriptive of the fact that Debian is not a company while Redhat and Mandrake are both companies and the distributions part of a commercial enterprise.

        While the others are open-source and can be obtained at no cost (or little cost if you consider the media and bandwidth to obtain them), they are commercial entities driven by commercial needs such as market share and I believe this affects their offerings.

        Debian has no profit motive and no shareholders to answer to and this shows in that often their distro doesn't include the latest whiz-bang feature, but IMHO the stable distro is just that....rock solid.

Re: My first "Windows Anonymous" session
by traveler (Parson) on Jul 17, 2003 at 22:34 UTC
    I recommend Linux for Windows Administrators. It is about US$35 at Amazon. It will help decode the "strange lingo" we linux folks use.


Re: My first "Windows Anonymous" session
by teabag (Pilgrim) on Jul 18, 2003 at 11:27 UTC
    Hey coldmiser,

    We've all been linux newbies once. I learned using linux watching experienced sysadmins type in "impossible to remember commands" in vi (a very fast and most excellent editor, once you get the hang of it). But watching it didn't get me where I wanted to be. So I bought the most excellent Running Linux by O'Reilly. Worth every penny.

    This great book covers ALL the basics, and is excellent for future reference. What especially struck me was the humourous tone which made the book loads of fun to read. I have the second edition so it's bound to be even better now.

    Another great buy is Learning the Bash Shell, but you might want to read "Running Linux" first. "Learning the Bash Shell" is however essential if you're thinking of using linux for more things than just a webserver ;).

    Remember, most things that are written in both books you can probably find on the net, but if you want all essential information gathered together, these books deserve a place on your bookshelves.

    Hmmm, I wonder if I get a discount the next time I buy a new O'Reilly?

    Sure there's more than one way, but one just needs one anyway - Teabag

      Hey teabag,

      A little off subject, but have you used vim at all? I love that even more than vi.

Re: My first "Windows Anonymous" session
by Rex(Wrecks) (Curate) on Jul 18, 2003 at 17:18 UTC
    I'll probably get bashed for this, but if you are looking to learn a *nix with a Windows background, try FreeBSD. I did it that way.

    The reason I say this is because FreeBSD is not as install friendly as RedHate and most of its brothers, it takes time and effort to do the install the first time, and X Windows can be a chore.

    Now people are looking at this going, "You idiot, why would you recommend the harder route?" Easy answer, you will know a whole lot more about the FreeBSD (and other *nix types) after that installation than you will after doing the point and click install of RedHate. You will understand the file system better, understand how X Windows is working better, and understand the mentality behind *nix a bit better (i.e.: Multi-User vs. Single-User, and RedHate is really going for the single user look and feel).

    The other reason for FreeBSD is your comment: "I enjoy getting my applications and just running "setup" to install them." The FreeBSD ports directory is arguably the closest thing to this on the *nix platform. Certainly easier than RPMs, and although I have heard good things about Debians Package manager, I don't know it well enough to compare it.

    This is not going to be an easy route, some of the things you take for granted in Windows are just not going to be there. But you will also start to find (later down the road) that the *nix platforms have some versatilities that Windows doesn't have. You will need to go much deeper than the UI to find this as the UI's in *nix are not nearly as stable and robust as Windows. They are coming along, but they are not quite there yet. But then again, if you are any good with Windows at all, you already know that the commandline is the only place to get any real work done, even in Windows.

    Good Luck, and I hope you manage to come out of it with respect for all operating systems rather than becoming a zealous convert. I currently run 5-7 different OS's for a variety of different things and each one of them does excel at certain things, even my RedHate box :)

    "Nothing is sure but death and taxes" I say combine the two and its death to all taxes!

      Well Rex(Wrecks), that's an interesting point of view, but I like it. The only thing I worry about in suggesting something like FreeBSD is that one might get too frustrated with it and turn back to Windows

      I'm sure no matter how much you dislike "RedHate", you probably like Windows even less. My idea was just to get him something that would quickly and easily assimilate, but then again, Redhat does provide so much that you can do in terms of GUI setup, its not even really like *Nix anymore.

      Perhaps the best solution would be as you say, use multiple Operating Systems. I know that's what I do... I'm using Debian, GenToo, Mandrake, and Windows XP.

        Actually Win2k/XP is pretty tied with FreeBSD in my opinion.

        I see what you mean by the frustration factor, but the poster asked for quick learning, typically this means a bit painful as there is a ton of knowlege to assimilate is a short period of time. I like RedHate the least of all the OS's I use. They tweak basic things to make them unique to them. Any OS that tweaks basic things just irritates me. The cool thing about the *nix's is thier similarities, that you can port knowlege from one to the other, RedHate tries to break this, which is another reason not to learn from this platform.

        RedHate does have advantages, primarily in support for devices and software. Most software will have a port to RedHate quicker than other *nix's, and they have done quite a good job with driver support "out of the box". The other major advantage is one of the same advantages Perl enjoys, a HUGE online community to glean information from. I actually have several RedHate installations, 2 of them are even withing reach at the point of writting, but they are still my least prefered flavor of OS. To each his/her own though, and just because I don't prefer it, doesn't mean I won't use it :)

        "Nothing is sure but death and taxes" I say combine the two and its death to all taxes!
Re: My first "Windows Anonymous" session
by Huele-pedos (Acolyte) on Jul 17, 2003 at 23:10 UTC

      Myself, I learn better by just playing with something. I recommend grabbing a copy of Linux RedHat, or Linux Mandrake (probably the two most Windows like *Nix systems), then just going thru the man pages, and websites playing with different commands.

      The more hands on you get, and the more complications you run into using things, the more you will learn. I really like this page in particular, The Linux Documentation Project.

      If there are specific areas you are concerned with, say Networking in *Nix environments, then I would buy a specialized book.

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