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Howdy all. I'm going to be teaching a student-run, 9-day course in beginning to mid-level Linux use at my school in about two months, and so I'd like to compile ...
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  1. #1
    Linux Guru Cabhan's Avatar
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    What Do You Wish You Had Known?


    Howdy all.

    I'm going to be teaching a student-run, 9-day course in beginning to mid-level Linux use at my school in about two months, and so I'd like to compile a list of topics that would be useful to cover. I'm planning to cover the history of Linux and its relationship to UNIX, Minix, GNU, the shell, distros and their differences, how Linux is a multi-user environment, UNIX permissions, basic filesystems, and development tools. I've only just been selected to teach it today, so I'm still working out my topics.

    My question to all of you is:

    If you were taking a class to learn Linux, what topics do you wish the instructor would cover? What topics did you have difficulty learning? While I may go into some more advanced topics, please try to keep to mid-level or beginning-level useful or essential ideas.


    Thanks a bunch!

  2. #2
    Linux Enthusiast flipjargendy's Avatar
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    Exclamation One thing for me...

    This might be related to "File Systems" but whether it is or isn't it was something i thought of when i read your question.

    Something that i had trouble with was how different distros install things different (RPM's vs. Deb Packages... etc), and why.

    i'll keep my mind on this and post anything else i think of. Congrats on being asked to teach the class too.
    Running Linux Since 2001
    Registered Linux User #430868 - Since 91206

  3. #3
    Linux Guru Juan Pablo's Avatar
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    Vi maybe as it is in every distro out there and may make your life easier in Linux. Mounting and unmounting file systems, fstab, X Server configuration, compiling manually (specify that is not longer the standard way to install programs in Linux please). The file sytem structure, package managares , difference with windows. Some basic command line instruction. And for a mid-level recompiling kernels and making good .configs.

    Understand that Linux != windows and doesn't work in the same method in almost anyway.
    Put your hand in an oven for a minute and it will be like an hour, sit beside a beautiful woman for an hour and it will be like a minute, that is relativity. --Albert Einstein
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    Don't PM me with questions, instead post in the forums

  4. #4
    Linux Newbie daacosta's Avatar
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    Red face

    A Unix course is quite an undertaking. In particular I know that I'd hate to be exposed to the console if I were a kid but nowadays I'd have appreciated more if a teacher had encouraged me to use the console and learn some basic commands to manipulate files, concatenation, invoque programs, compilation of programs, etc. Unix is perfect if you want to challenge curiosity and if you add to your questions something like "Figure out two ways to solve the problem and comment on the approaches."

    VI, VI, VI and more VI... Sure, EMACS dudes will flame me but that could be used as an independent project

    Hmmm... Security... At least minimal habits of good computing...

    Unix file system...
    -D-

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  5. #5
    Linux User muha's Avatar
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    As an example of the strength of bash maybe something about sed?
    Also what I like is simple programming examples like a bash script or hello world in c. To me it was enlightenment that I could do those things on my desktop computer.
    Apache would be nice to mention as many of these kids are chatting over sites that are served through linux/unix apache servers.
    Now what? You have Linux installed and running. The GUI is working fine, but you are getting tired of changing your desktop themes. You keep seeing this "terminal" thing. Don't worry, they'll show you what to do @
    <~ http://www.linuxcommand.org/ ~>

  6. #6
    Linux Guru fingal's Avatar
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    If I was a beginner I would want to know about:

    partitions: how to set them up/resize them/manipulate them;
    different file systems, and how they compare with each other;
    how to link different *nix commands together to achieve various objectives ... (I think of this as 'chaining' commands together);
    an introduction to bootloaders;
    an introduction to hackerism: what does it really mean and is it valid in today's world? After all without this where would Linux be?

    I appreciate that modern distros sort out many of the above issues for you, but sometimes you have to change things manually. I'm self taught and this is a slow route to learning anything. If I'd had access to an introductory course (formally or otherwise) I would have picked up the essentials in several months, rather than a few years.

    What are the differences between a shell and a terminal? Even now - though I'm more than happy using a CLI - I'm not 100% sure about that. I think students have to grasp how layered a Linux distro is ... that hierarchy of kernel, X-server, desktop manager, desktop environment etc.
    I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. - Pablo Picasso

  7. #7
    Linux Guru bigtomrodney's Avatar
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    Not so much something I wish I had known, but something I struggle to get across when talking to new users - package management. Coming from Windows most people see it as a bad thing, preferring an exe they can click and watch a wizard. It helps to have a good solid demonstration of package management, preferrably with something like apt or smart that shows not only the ease of use but the huge availability of programs. This could really benefit the idea of linux.

    A recent convert of mine still thinks apt-get is the finest command he's ever seen. At the rate he uses it it's likely to be the only one he ever sees again!

  8. #8
    Linux Guru fingal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigtomrodney
    Not so much something I wish I had known, but something I struggle to get across when talking to new users - package management. Coming from Windows most people see it as a bad thing, preferring an exe they can click and watch a wizard. It helps to have a good solid demonstration of package management, preferrably with something like apt or smart that shows not only the ease of use but the huge availability of programs. This could really benefit the idea of linux.

    A recent convert of mine still thinks apt-get is the finest command he's ever seen. At the rate he uses it it's likely to be the only one he ever sees again!
    Yes! Essential as this is the first hangup that new users encounter. It takes ages to adjust to Linux package management models. Get over that hurdle and you've more than halfway there I reckon.

    I think a comparison of different package managers would be good, but more importantly, a practical demonstration. Maybe split the students up into groups and get them to set up some repos and install some software.
    I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. - Pablo Picasso

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    Super Moderator Roxoff's Avatar
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    I'll re-iterate what others have said - VI/VIM is probably the single most important tool they could learn. Without it they're helpless, and if they start to grasp some of it's complexities, then they'll fly (unlike me...).

    Everything else you teach 'em should really be about their general approach rather than specific skills to cope with configuring specific packages, which they'll get their heads round by trial and error later.

    Teach them that the best solution is the elegant solution - and in Linux systems configuration, elegance == simple.

    Teach them that there is never a single 'best' solution to anything - that choice is the name of the game. If they're configuring a system for themselves, they get to pick their fave, if they're doing it for someone else, they may have set up stuff that isn't their favourite, but they'll learn a lot more.

    They need to learn how to read unfamiliar config files, 'cos that'll help them fix other peoples systems - and leave their friends going 'wow' when they do it.

    And teach them that if unauthorised people get into their systems, then it's even more than a matter of professional pride - and that they should take it personally. It's not just a matter of 'oh well we'll just reinstall' they've gotta be hurt. That approach ups the level of care they'll take when securing their systems.
    Linux user #126863 - see http://linuxcounter.net/

  10. #10
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    I really don't think time should be wasted on vi/vim when other more important things could be covered. Only a more advanced user would need to harness the power of vi. Until then, anything that will edit a text file is sufficient.
    For me, the most important things on an introductory level is explaining the kernel itself, the filesystem structure and mountpoints. Then comes the command line and things related to it. X, just like the kernel, should not be taken for granted either. I think compiling from source should be explained as an introduction to package management.
    It is true that most users will be a little wary of package management but when I first installed linux and started to use apt-get, it was in that moment that I fell in love with linux. So I guess the correct approach to package management will definetly win people over.

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