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[ProgSoc] Linux help resources document
I'm involved as a sysadmin/general-fix-it-guy for a media workspace run by
volunteers etc. Most services on the network run on linux, as do a few of
the computers. Most ppl involved in it are philosophically into the idea
of linux (and against micros~1), but their primary eXPerience is with
windows. But they do generally want to learn. And as I'm going travelling
for a bit, I need to teach them how to do stuff.
I've been thinking about this issue a bit, and figure the best way to
cover all bases is to teach ppl how to learn. So I'm working on a simple
document that explains where help/info can be found. No doubt such a
document already exists, and I'm already going against what I wrote in the
document, but its a bit of exercise for me anyway.
anyone care to comment on the document, and/or ways of teaching ppl
here's the doc:
TIPS ON HOW TO FIND INFORMATION IN LINUX/COMPUTERS/ETC
generally, use the top group first, followed by the bottom groups. Although it
may take ages to read thru the docs to find the particular thing u need to do,
remember that u are learning things that give u a broader picture and/or teach
u other things and/or come in handy in the future. `live' help usually gets u
the specific solution to ur problem quicker, but u don't learn as much in the
process, and u want to learn stuff, right? (well, if ur server is under
attack, maybe stopping the attack is a teensy bit more important, but u get
ARCHIVED/PUBLISHED MATERIAL - ur first port of call
* man - man is the unix manual. type `man blah` to bring up the manual
page for the blah command, if it exists. type `man -k blah` to bring up all
manual pages which have blah in them.
* info - newer linux info. Gradually replacing man, as it can have a
heirachical structure (contents, etc) and hyperlinks. Don't know too much
about it (I mostly use man - TODO - pls add more info about it here). Most new
programs have info (also known as TeXinfo) pages, older programs usually have
their man pages converted to info pages.
* doc - the folder /usr/share/doc (and sometimes /usr/doc) contains
documentation about individual packages (in SuSE linux this is in
/usr/share/doc/packages, other distros may have it in a similar subdirectory).
These often have a README, install notes (usually only useful if u r compiling
it from scratch), sometimes a detailed manual, and other bits.
* HOWTO - the folder /usr/share/doc/HOWTO (or /usr/doc/HOWTO or
/usr/share/doc/howto etc) contains descriptions of _how to_ do things. there
may be a subfolder for plaintext or html versions of the howtos. Theses can be
very complex or very simple, usually user-contributed descriptions of how to
do a particular thing (setting up a network, putting in a CDROM, hooking up a
coffee machine to ur puter). there is usually a subdirectory `mini`, which
contains smaller howtos.
* FAQ - some distros have a FAQ (frequently asked questions) package, which
might be in /usr/share/doc/FAQ or similar. some packages (programs) have a
FAQ in their doc directory (/usr/share/doc/package-name). Otherwise, look on
the web for FAQs. They are usually collated from newsgroups and mailing lists
and contain invaluable info about problems ppl have encountered.
* Newsgroup/mailing list archives - archives of ___. See below.
* WWW/internet - search for what u want (http://google.com/linux allows u to
search just pages related to linux). Most searches will return a link to
one of the above bits of info, but possibly other docs may turn up. Can be a
very efficient way of finding info if u search criteria are detailed enuff.
can save trawling thru loads of doco.
* Books - go to ur local book store, or better still technical book store, or
even a public library (yes, they do still exist).
IMHO, titles such as `teach yourself foo in 21 days` are rather useless.
Books published by O'Reilly (have an animal on the front usually) tend to be
fantastic. Go to amazon.com if u can't be bothered getting up from ur
computer. Ask known geeks about what books are better for what subject (most
subjects/programs have a `bible` - the _one true authority_)
LIVE/INTERACTIVE HELP - If u can't find ur answer thru any of the above
methods, try the following, where a human may answer ur question.
* Newsgroups - comp.blah.blah. have a look. play around. ask questions and
read responses. TODO - more info here, newsreaders etc
* Mailing lists - like newsgroups, but delivered to ur doorstep. Some prefer
newsgroups coz they don't clutter ur inbox, some prefer mailing lists coz u
don't have to leave ur mail client. Most open source projects have a mailing
list (or three) u can subscribe to. Volume can be _huge_ on some of them.
INSTANTANEOUS HELP - if u need help in a real hurry, try this. Best saved as a
last resort, or in case of emergencies.
* IRC - instant help. irc.debian.org is a good started for linux help, others
exist no doubt. Join a relevant channel, ask a question, and someone usually
offers advice real soon. like an instant newsgroup. No archiving tho. TODO -
more info/links about irc clients.
* PAID SUPPORT - redhat, SuSE and other linux companies offer support if u
paid 4 their product or pay for support. Never tried it, but it may be good
for life-threatening emergencies or if u got lotsa cash to throw around and
feel like supporting the economy and avoiding some intellectual problem
solving work (or if none of the above methods have worked and ur still too
jaded by microsoft to format ur hard disk and install windows). Some support
is by email, some by web, some fone (the latter prolly being the most
expensive). This is all speculation by me as I have never used it and no
little about it and it might be the best thing in the world, better than sex
(whoops - there's a rude word there to throw content rating systems and stop
kiddies from reading this - lets maybe overload the system a bit more with
bombs, anarchy, bin laden, pedophilia, cryptography and the rest. Whoa.
written by vik after drinking too much coffee and jaded by computers. This is
an attempt to free myself from the computer realm by encouraging other ppl to
learn to do stuff. This is Open publishing. Feel free to
add/modify this doco to make it more or less accurate, verbose, cluttered,
tactile, marketable etc. look at the sky.
"I think it would be a good idea." Ghandi, on Western Civilisation
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