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#211707 - 31/03/2004 11:52 advice for a Win addict
Whitey
member

Registered: 09/03/2002
Posts: 178
Loc: Louisiana, USA
If I knew nothing about Linux (and I dont) and I wanted to learn where would be the best resourse to start?

I have tried to install it before. I made it all the way through the setup only to find that I did not know how to make my devices (such as my network card) work under the linux platform.

I am a finanice major, so I am not looking to spend my eintire life writing code, but am not happy with the options exteneded to me under the Windows platform. I am interested in learning the linux platform becasue I have recently started maintaining my own web site and the server runs under unix (which i am under the impression is similar but not identical to linux), and i was hoping to shorten my time maintaining the site by investing the time to learn Linux. Should I be thinking about learning a new platform, or should I just be content with the knowledge I have of windows based products?

Inititally I wanted to host my site on my local computer using the personal server option under XP, but I could not get the address to hit my IP. I exhausted my reseoures attemping to correct the problem and settled for a site hosted by a company, but maintained by me. Initally the site is crap. I know it needs a lot more work, but I am in the middle of deciding what to do first. I have written everything in frontpage becasue I didn't want to spend all day writing a site that I could do in an hour in frontpage. I know that if i switch platforms that I will lose the ability to publish from frontpage (unless i have a dual boot OS).

Bottom line:
1) I have a lot of questions and no idea where to begin.
2) I want to be able to efficently make updates to pages
3) I want to sheild myself as much as possible from attacks (that means not using certian MS products such as outlook)
4) I dont really know what I am talking about.
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#211708 - 31/03/2004 12:24 Re: advice for a Win addict [Re: Whitey]
thinfourth2
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 13/04/2001
Posts: 1742
Loc: The land of the pale blue peop...
I was here about a year ago totally pissed off with windows machine sticking their legs in the air and after getting the empeg i decided to learn mre about inux and i installed it but never really made friends with it.

I have now got an apple which under 10.3 OS X it runs unix under the bonnet so i can learn it if i wish which i really should but i have been very impressed and there is very nice toys out there for a mac.

Another route to go down
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#211709 - 31/03/2004 12:42 Re: advice for a Win addict [Re: Whitey]
cmtempeg
journeyman

Registered: 29/07/2003
Posts: 66
Loc: Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
Well, to get the ball rolling, heres where I'd recommend starting out:

First off, I'd get a windows-user-friendly Linux distribution. I hear good things about Suse with its Yast configuration thingamajigger. However, I understand that the free version of Suse isn't particularly easy to get your hands on, meaning you could/should go buy a retail box from your local computer store. Installation should be a breeze. My distribution of choice happens to be Debian, but I don't recommend it for a newbie.

Suse uses KDE by default as the user interface and most other distros have KDE as default or as an easily selectable option. I recommend KDE as it should be mostly familiar-feeling for a windows user. Spend some time familiarizing yourself with things. Find a text editor you like (kwrite perhaps? similar to Textpad)... look at the general structure of the filesystem (/etc, /usr, /home)... read the primers or tutorials that come with your distribution's documentation.

When you feel more comfortable, tackle getting a web server configured. There are some things that can help ease this task such as Webmin, a web-based administration tool for many things Linux.

Despite the hype, maintaining a Linux box honestly isn't as easy as a Windows box. Once you are familiar and comfortable with it all, it starts to make sense, however.

Where to get help? I'd check google for linux primers for windows users, I'm certain you'll find plenty. For specific questions on how to use something, I usually start by skimming the manpage of the program I have a question about. Then, check I check the web site of the application in question for mailing lists, FAQs, HOWTOs. Finally, I scour google and google groups. (not necessarily always in that order)

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Hello, my name is Bingo. I like to climb on things. Can I have a banana? eek eek.

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#211710 - 31/03/2004 12:56 Re: advice for a Win addict [Re: Whitey]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 12146
Loc: Sterling, VA
I can only comment on the web authoring. I strongly suggest that you stay away from Frontpage. I used it when I started out, and I swore by its ease-of-use by using the same speed argument you used. It doesn't change the fact that Frontpage pretty much messed up my HTML learning process by doing some very funky things. You may learn differently, but I'd suggest learning how to code first, then using programs to aide you. I still code everything myself, though, as I hate having some program add code I didn't want. However, I'd suggest something like Dreamweaver if you want a program.

I'd also suggest, regardless of what you decide to do, reading through all of W3Schools.com (the HTML, XHTML, and CSS sections, at least) ASAP. That site is a very good resource for learning all this stuff.

As for Linux, I have yet to have someone explain to me a user-level reason to switch. I hardly think it's worth it when I don't have all that many issues with Windows (well, 2000 at least - if 2K didn't exist I'd probably have been using Linux for 4 years now ).

*edit*
When I say that I don't use a "program" for web authoring, I mean that I don't use a Frontpage equivalent program (like something with any WYSIWYG interface). I do, however, swear by Ultraedit 32. A big thanks goes to the empeg folk who turned me on to that program. If for no other reason, I love it for the color coded text. Fantastic.

Before that I just used Notepad


Edited by DiGNAN17 (31/03/2004 13:01)
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#211711 - 31/03/2004 13:05 Re: advice for a Win addict [Re: Whitey]
matthew_k
pooh-bah

Registered: 12/02/2002
Posts: 2298
Loc: Berkeley, California
One thing a lot of people don't realize is how the older unix peopled learned unix. None of them installed linux and learned from there. They all had their first unix experiences on a timesharing system that someone else who knew what they were doing set up. Learning to USE unix/linux is a challenge anyone can take on, but learing to administer linux while learning to use it is the real stumbling block for everyone.

So, try and find a friend who will give you a shell account on one of their boxes. Poke around till you're very familiar with the basics of cat/grep/ls/cp/mv/cd and all those basic things that every unix person assumes you already know. A good goal is perhaps to write a web site and set up a few CGI forms of some sort. Once you've got that down, move on to running your own Linux box.

Matthew

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#211712 - 31/03/2004 13:30 Re: advice for a Win addict [Re: Whitey]
wfaulk
carpal tunnel

Registered: 25/12/2000
Posts: 16706
Loc: Raleigh, NC US
I'd probably try Mandrake as a first-timer Linux distribution.

Probably the best way to learn is to simply pick something that you need/want to do and just do it. When you hit a stumbling block, ask some questions. That's basically how all Unix folks learned how to do it. It's a good point that we were users first, then admins.

Personally, I have the same feelings about Webmin and other fancy GUI addons to configuration changes as someone else had about FrontPage. It may get it done, but you won't be learning anything and there might be some weirdness behind the scenes.

And, for the record, Unix is a set of operating systems that work similarly and present the user with a very similar set of tools. There are two main branches, System V (pronounced "five", not "vee") and BSD, being commercial and educational varieties, respectively. They're mostly the same, but have quirks of their own. Linux is an attempt to clone Unix. It inherits quirks from both SysV and BSD, annoyingly. But for the most part, they're all quite similar while retaining certain differences.
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#211713 - 31/03/2004 13:53 Re: advice for a Win addict [Re: Dignan]
Whitey
member

Registered: 09/03/2002
Posts: 178
Loc: Louisiana, USA
Frontpage pretty much messed up my HTML learning process by doing some very funky things

I do how to know code HTML a little. I dont know all of the commands, but I know the basics. I have also taken a JAVA class, but I beilive that to be pretty useless in writing JAVAscript. I have toyed with the idea of using dreamweaver, but given the comments, I think I'll read up a bit more on the HTML tags. The idea of writing stuff like embedded tables and changing colors within text boxes while changing the text font so that it contrasts is what drove me to use the "code factory." I know that I could write a very plain page, but I am wanting the site to attract investors (eventually) and all this stuff has to be done in my spare time. I can't negelct my classes in an effort to get my projects off the ground.

Would it be more advantageous to set linux up on a seperate box from my windows computer?

Thanks for all the help!
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#211714 - 31/03/2004 14:00 Re: advice for a Win addict [Re: Whitey]
cmtempeg
journeyman

Registered: 29/07/2003
Posts: 66
Loc: Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
The idea of writing stuff like embedded tables and changing colors within text boxes while changing the text font so that it contrasts is what drove me to use the "code factory."
I suggest looking into CSS. I agree with previous poster, start at w3schools.

Would it be more advantageous to set linux up on a seperate box from my windows computer?
seems like an OK idea to me.
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Hello, my name is Bingo. I like to climb on things. Can I have a banana? eek eek.

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#211715 - 31/03/2004 14:03 Re: advice for a Win addict [Re: Whitey]
wfaulk
carpal tunnel

Registered: 25/12/2000
Posts: 16706
Loc: Raleigh, NC US
If you're just running a web site without much dynamic content over a home-sized connection, you can get away with a very low-powered computer and still be fine. For example, I run my (admittedly very low traffic) web site on a Pentium 166 and it works just fine. (Although I'm using OpenBSD instead of Linux, there shouldn't be a huge difference in requirements.) So you could conceivably get yourself a very cheap computer to run your web site as long as you don't want to have big heavyweight applications running on it, like GUI frontends and databases and office suites and modern browsers. Personally, I think that you'd be better served by learning Unix command-line stuff rather than arguing with GUI nonsense first anyway, assuming that there's a Linux distribution these days that supports not having GUIs installed.
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Bitt Faulk

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#211716 - 31/03/2004 14:29 Re: advice for a Win addict [Re: Whitey]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 12146
Loc: Sterling, VA
I know that I could write a very plain page, but I am wanting the site to attract investors (eventually) and all this stuff has to be done in my spare time.
I of course don't know what your definition of attractive is, but I do pretty well with just a text editor. The only problem for me is that I'm not a graphic design person at all. I suck at it. Still, I'm able to produce a site that (I hope) is visually appealing and, more importantly (IMO), functional. Here's two of my sites:
www.dignan17.com (should be XHTML compliant as well)
www.skerik.org

Again, I suck at graphic design, but I'm able to do just fine with only a text editor. For me I'm actually quicker with that type of program, and I feel you can create sites that look much better than you would with Frontpage.
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Matt

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#211717 - 31/03/2004 17:18 Re: advice for a Win addict [Re: Dignan]
bonzi
pooh-bah

Registered: 13/09/1999
Posts: 2401
Loc: Croatia
I agree that running a simple web site is not a compelling enough reason to switch to Linux. However, I cannot imagine doing any development without command line. IDEs are nice (be it Eclipse, MS Visual whatever or this-or-that builder or what have you), but good shell and Unix utils are absolutely indispensable. What can poor developer do without shell/find/grep/sed/awk and their cousins!? I personally have Cygwin installed on all my Win boxes, but there are other similar kits, including one from, gasp, the Evil Empire itself.
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#211718 - 31/03/2004 23:29 Re: advice for a Win addict [Re: wfaulk]
canuckInOR
carpal tunnel

Registered: 13/02/2002
Posts: 3162
Loc: Portland, OR
I'd probably try Mandrake as a first-timer Linux distribution.
I'm surprised no-one's suggested Knoppix, yet! It's a great way to play around, and learn about linux, without having to go through all the hassles of installing a dual-boot system, or going cold-turkey with only a linux system.

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#211719 - 01/04/2004 06:39 Re: advice for a Win addict [Re: Whitey]
fishmonger
stranger

Registered: 05/11/2003
Posts: 47
Loc: /home/fish
In reply to:

Would it be more advantageous to set linux up on a seperate box from my windows computer?




I just installed another HDD In my box, and use that. No need for an entire second system. However, if you do have older hardware lying around, Linux will gladly run on it.

If you want my 2 cents as far as distro does, I'd use Fedora for various reasons. It's pretty intuitive and has a large user base. With the addition of yum and apt, I don't have any real reason to use Debian anymore.

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#211720 - 01/04/2004 06:59 Re: advice for a Win addict [Re: Dignan]
muzza
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 21/07/1999
Posts: 1765
Loc: Brisbane, Queensland, Australi...
If you just want to learn HTML, Ultra edit is fine. I picked up a book of html "programmer's reference" (Osbourne Press, Powell and Whitworth, 0-07-213232-9) a few years ago and find it really handy just to look up the correct syntax and attributes of any element. I used it when I was learning PHP too.

In my opinion, if you are developing a site to attract customers, you need the best you can afford. Which usually means having someone else do it. eg, I know how to hammer/drill/nail stuff, but I wouldn't do a shopfront.
That then takes the pressure off you to play without affecting your 'shopfront'. It's easy to make a site look bad.

I've found things like dreamweaver or golive handy to develop complex tables, get them just right, then use that as a template for the rest of my PHP code.

I think the idea for Knoppix is a great one. It would let you boot up your current computer into linux without installation or shared system problems. And you return to a known state of play each time you boot. If you can do the dual system (old PC running linux and main computer running Win) you can get more done and can easily switch to your windows system if something goes south with the linux.

Turning to apple is a good solution, but I don't believe that all things are in the same place as they are on a standard PC Linux install (correct me if I'm wrong). but all the commands are there.

It's an exciting and fun thing to do if you have the time.
Good luck!
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#211721 - 02/04/2004 12:18 Re: advice for a Win addict [Re: muzza]
wfaulk
carpal tunnel

Registered: 25/12/2000
Posts: 16706
Loc: Raleigh, NC US
Turning to apple is a good solution, but I don't believe that all things are in the same place as they are on a standard PC Linux install (correct me if I'm wrong). but all the commands are there.
While it's nix under the hood, it's pretty far under the hood, and most of the standard Unix conventions are thrown out the window. It has many if not most of the Unix user commands, but I don't know if it'd really get you anywhere useful if your intent was to learn Unix.
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Bitt Faulk

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#211722 - 03/04/2004 12:15 Re: advice for a Win addict [Re: muzza]
drakino
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/06/1999
Posts: 7868
Loc: Seattle, WA
I don't believe that all things are in the same place as they are on a standard PC Linux install

There is a standard place for things in the Linux world between all the distributions?

Honestly, installing Fink on a Mac gives you even more of the Unix type enviornment to work in. The advantage of a Mac these days is you can poke at the Unix layer under it, while still having a good work enviornment at all times. Plus, Linux can install onto a Mac and coexist with OS X if you want the full Linux feeling. It's an expensive route though, but may be worth it as an overall platform switch.
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Tom

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