November 23, 2001

Web review: Linux knowledge, step-by-step

Author: JT Smith

- by Tina Gasperson -
If you've used Linux for any length of time, chances are you've experienced some success: configured a sound card or monitor, got your USB mouse recognized, learned how to make a desktop shortcut icon to access your Windows partition. One of the coolest things about Linux Step by Step is that you can add steps for those who come after you on any number of paths.The other cool thing, of course, is that there are many steps already here. Many contributors have taken the time to share their knowledge and have placed it here in this well organized repository. Back up, boot disk, CD burners, compression, databases, encryption, games, ipchains, java, printers, scanners -- this is only a superficial list of categories you'll find at Linux Step by Step.

Some categories are fuller than others; it depends on who has decided to share what. The philosophy maintained by the site owners is that the "steps" are a good way to provide answers to people, especially on mailing lists where these types of queries pop up over and over again. You could cut and paste the "step," or provide a link to it.

Other sections of Step by Step are even more suited to sharing with newbies. "Bedtime Reading," for example, provides indepth information on a variety of somewhat broader topics than those included in the steps, like boot process, fragmentation, LILO, overclocking, and partitions. There's also a great section that should be called "assumed knowledge," but they decided they liked "inferred knowledge." Either way, it is "essential reading for the newbie," and includes stuff like tarball extracting and compiling, command line, and common graphical expressions.

Linux Step by Step has a couple of mailing lists that seem active -- linux-users, with more than 600 messages so far this month, is for all general discussions about, duh, using Linux, and the general list, dead by comparison with only five messages in November, is for other technology-related discussions.

The FUQ (Frequently Unanswered Questions) section could have been really great, but its a little on the threadbare side, touching only on security and cable modem questions -- the latter of which isn't really a question anymore with logins a thing of the past and automatic dhcp configuration in most Linux distributions.

Finally, a section entitled "Newbies" contains an interesting article called "A Beginner's Guide To Linux Proficiency," and some good advice for people entering the mailing list fray for the first time, like the responsibilities of asking for "kid glove" treatment by stating, "I am a newbie," and how to change your status from "newbie" to "toast" in an instant.

Linux Step by Step solicits contributions and even offers a template so you can be sure to get all the important information included. The templates ask for step by step instructions on how to get "x" installed on "x" distribution and "x" hardware -- and like I said before, practically all of us have something to contribute here.

Linux Step by Step motivated me, not only because I can find the answers I'm looking for there, but because it made me realize that I can add my little bits of knowledge to the big picture, and make things a little bit easier for someone else.


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