[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[ale] Where to Start?

On 6/18/10 2:01 PM, Lenaud Hughes wrote:
>     Some members brought up the concept of professional vs. personal
> aspirations. So as Brian suggested, I'm including a little background to
> clarify my interest. I'm a college student. Prior to entering college  I
> had no experience ( or interest) in coding or anything related to it. In
> my first semester I took an entry level course that used Java to explain
> different concepts and techniques within the computer science field. I
> fell in love with it; the problem solving, the ability to create
> something out of nothing, the entire process of going from problem to
> algorithm to code to solution.
> I immediately changed my major to computer science and began delving
> into the world of software. I came across an article by Joel Spolsky
> spelling out the deficiencies of what he referred to as  the "Java
> school" student. That article led me to a Paul Graham article  which led
> me to a "How to be a Hacker" article which led me to Linux.
> So at this point in my "career"; I'm not too worried about whether my
> focus will be on a commercially-viable distro or otherwise. I more
> concerned with just "digging in" and learning as much as I can. I'm sure
> once I start learning I'll be able to determine whether I need to stick
> with my first choice or change course.
> Thanks again for everyone's assistance.
>                         - Lenaud

My suggestion as a former professional Linux instructor is to try the 
big three distros (whatever they should be)[1]. Then find the one you 
like the best and stick with it. Use Linux exclusively. If you have 
issues trying to accomplish something look for help from google, the 
mailing list, IRC etc.

The second best piece of advice I have for you is to become involved 
with your local Linux user's group. (you've started already there). The 
mailing list is only one of the ways you can connect with us geeks.  Try 
IRC (irc.freenode.net channel #ale), and come to the meetings, join the 
facebook group, follow those of us who use identi.ca or twitter (I'm 
goozbach BTW). Sometimes it can be a bit daunting to start into a new 
culture so I'll give you a few hints:

  * don't be afraid to ask -- We've all had to start somewhere.  You're 
seeking knowledge, ask for help.  We've all got varying levels of 
expertise in various distros/projects/etc.  There is a great breadth of 
knowledge in this group.

  * grow a thick skin -- This is one that I wish I didn't have to say, 
but it sometimes occurs that some of the more technical people can get 
burnt out about people asking the simple questions over and over. 
Sometimes they may respond a little brusquely.  Don't take it 
personally. You'll find if you stick around, those brusque folks have 
the most war scars and are *EXTREMELY* helpful in the more dire of pinches.

  * learn to RTFM (read the F#@$^ing manual) -- You would be amazed how 
much info is already available in your Linux distro, you just have to 
know where to find it.  If you know what command to run, but not how to 
run it try this: "man <COMMAND>".  If you aren't sure which command to 
run but know it has something to do with some topic, try this: "man -k 
<TOPIC> and it will give you a list of man pages to look at. Buy an 
"intro to Linux book" one of the better ones in my opinion is the "bible 
series". Try the webpage of the software you're using, some of them have 
pretty good documentation (I've got Apache's docs on speed-dial). Other 
solutions can be found via the internet (google is your friend).

  * don't be afraid to make mistakes -- Linux can be scary (much less so 
in recent years) , there are some commands which can quickly cause 
irreparable damage. But luckily the most damage comes from using 
super-user privileges incorrectly. Make sure you've got your data backed 
up regularly(ask for help setting that up if you need to). Break things, 
learn how they work, then put them back together (I learned more from my 
Linux jobs when things weren't going well than I ever did when things 
just worked).

  * enjoy the journey --  Relax, enjoy your new freedom, new friends, 
and powerful tools. Find a niche. Play with a new programming language, 
open source projects, etc. Look for Linux blogs. Go to a Linux 
conference (Is Atlanta Linux Fest happening this year?). Have fun.

I hope this helps. Welcome to a new world friend.

Derek Carter
aka goozbach