Want to Learn Linux? Why Not Learn it the Hard Way?

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News Posted: Sat, Dec 22 2012 12:11 PM

With Valve soon to launch its Steam client for Linux, the OS has its first real boon where gaming's concerned. Sure, there have always been games available for Linux if you've known where to look, and likewise, the Humble Bundle has been a definite help as well. But with Valve backing the OS for gaming, the future is very bright, and it may even coax those who've had no interest in Linux before to dip their toes in it. But what fun is there to be hand-held? Why not learn Linux the hard way?

That's the idea behind a command-line focused learning series titled just that. Based on the "Learn X the hard way" system authored by Zed A. Shaw, the idea is that you'll learn something easier when you're presented scenarios in a certain order. While I'd argue that diving into a distro like Arch or Gentoo would also be a great way to learn Linux, this method has the benefit of specifically giving you tests that you may not experience right away otherwise - it also presents you with a text editor right off the bat, which is a huge help.

Some exercises can be completed from within the browser itself, but for most, you'll want to take advantage of a VirtualBox image provided for free. It'll allow you to follow along with a pre-setup environment which allows you to work with files that may not exist on a distro you install yourself. The entire test is comprised of 30 separate exercises, with an introduction and virtual machine how-to prefacing them.

In a quick glance through, the exercises all look quite good overall, and as it's quite thorough, experienced Linux users may be able to benefit from select sections as well. That said, there are also bound to be certain sections where experienced Linux users would recommend something else, but nothing I've seen strikes me as odd. The first exercise introduces you to vim, while I prefer nano - but I don't disagree with the author's decision since vim is a far more powerful editor. I just consider it to be more beneficial for coders and the like, while nano is much more jump-in-and-go for simple edits. To the author's credit, nano is mentioned as a backup, in case he didn't "persuade" you well enough to stick with vim.

Above, I mentioned that installing Arch or Gentoo would be another great way to learn Linux the "hard way", but after perusing this guide, I'd have to say it might be a good idea to install one of those afterwards, essentially allowing you to put all your new-found knowledge to good use. And while it might be tempting to do this entire guide at once, it's not recommended. You'll likely retain information better if you take things slow!

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mhenriday replied on Sun, Dec 23 2012 5:26 AM

Being someone who always seems to do things the hard way - a true-blue graduate of the school of hard knocks - I must say this sounds interesting. But I'm missing part of the story - who's the chap (I'm rather sure that it is a chap) behind this tutorial ?...

Henri

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RWilliams replied on Sun, Dec 23 2012 2:13 PM

I couldn't find a trace of the author anywhere. It's easy to tell he's a passionate sysadmin though ;-)

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