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Re: [tlug] maybe a repetitive question about distros

Pietro Zuco wrote:
> Tlugers.
> After talk about distros I only would like to express the problems that I 
> have, that maybe a lot of beginers like me have.

Wasn't there some talk of making a Linux for Beginners FAQ? What ever 
happened to that idea?

> At the begining I undertood that it's normal that I had some difficult to 
> understad a lot of new things of Linux, specially because I was affected by 
> some disease produced by Windows that dind't let me think. I really think 
> that is dangerous for the main to use Microsoft products for a long time.

I salute you--it can be hard to think past Big Brother's programming. 
Just watch out for O'Brien, OK?

> The man pages are full of information but they explain too many things.

One of the most important steps in becoming a cluebie is learning *how* 
to read man pages. I agree, they provide *all* the information anyone 
could ever need (in theory, anyway--I have had to go to the source 
before because of outdated man pages), which can be quite overwhelming. 
Jumping to the example section, as someone suggested (sorry, I cannot 
remember who), is one good way to alleviate the mass of information. 
Another good trick is to go into a man page knowing *exactly* what you 
want to do. e.g. I want to create a tar archive, and gzip it. So I man 
tar, and try the obvious first: look through the switches for "create". 
I could use the '/' key to search for the text "create", or I could try 
what I think is an obvious switch, such as -c. Same technique for 
gzipping. So, I come up with tar cz <dirname>. I run it, and get lots of 
weird output, at which point I realise that I have just sent the gzipped 
tar to stdout. Oops. So I either:

a) tar cz foo >foo.tgz
b) or dive back into the manpage, trying to find how to slap the archive 
into a file. Again, I try the obvious, -f. Bingo.

See what I mean? There is sort of a science to it (and an art as well, I 

> How to configure sendmail. It's like a mysterious software.

You damn right! Use qmail. ;)

> And the think that more frusrtate me is that all this hardware and all ths 
> things are fully supported by linux, and that I have to appeal to so very 
> automated windows like distros as Redhat, mandrake, etc only because the 
> documentation is so disperse and wide that I feel I'm swimming in a ocean of 
> words and I don't know where to begin to learn!!

Which is why I suggest that you start with Redhat and gradually wean 
yourself off the *config tools as you learn how to do things with vi 

> I know that the equilibrium between a lightness of configure manually a system 
> and an automated configurable system is very difficult, but maybe if the 
> documentation was structured in some different way, and not as looong text 
> files that some times talk about of obsolete hardware, will make easy to 
> people to introduce them in the Linux world.

But you see, once one learns how to use the documentation, it is 
actually quite useful. Consider this scenario: I have been using some 
flavour of Unix for a while, and I know how to use tar to create 
archives and extract them, all the normal stuff. However, one day I need 
to do something different with tar. Maybe I want to install some 
software from a tarball, and I think, there must be a better way than:

cd /usr/src
cp ~/foo.tgz .
tar xvzf foo.tgz
cd foo
sudo make install

I read the manpage, and I find just what I need: the -C switch. So now I 
can shorten the process a bit:

cd /usr/src
tar xvzf ~/foo.tgz -C .
cd foo
sudo make install

This is a trivial example, but this is why the docs *do* work.

Now, I would welcome a slight change in formatting, maybe listing the 
"common" options and usage first, throwing in some examples, and then 
going to the more "advanced" options and usage.

Josh Glover <>

Associate Systems Administrator

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