November 2, 2001

Web review: Things we wish we'd known about Linux before we started

Author: JT Smith

- by Tina Gasperson -
"There are far better pages scattered around out there, but this is the page I wish I'd found to begin with; a linux newbie guide based on a RedHat6 workstation install." That's lifted right off the front page of this week's review site, and I couldn't have said it better myself.There is some good, basic hand-holding information here, stuff that a novice might spend a lot of time either searching for, or asking irritating questions about. Although it is Red Hat specific, those who choose another distribution will still find answers to questions.

"Before You Begin," for instance, throws out a few hints like, "verify that your hardware is compatible," (with a link to Red Hat's hardware compatibility page). Here's another clue: If you're installing Mandrake, SuSE, Debian, or the like, they also have lists of hardware compatibility published on their Web sites.

Another clue: "The documentation can be confusing. Some outdated. Even if not inaccurate there may be newer and easier ways to do things. Choose a well reputed distribution and stick to their documentation
before looking elsewhere." This is true, seems simple, but is not so obvious to a newbie.

Here's a good, Red Hat specific hint: "The installation does not check for disk space. If you choose more rpm packages than there's room for, the install simply hangs. If you install a lot of rpm's, you need more space in /usr than the 500
Mb's the Guide mention. I stuffed 700 Mb in /usr in no time." I was surprised by this, and would assume that RedHat has corrected this bug since we're on the 7.2 release.

And this: "Rule of the thumb says the size of your swapdisk(s) should equal your RAM, and not be smaller than 16MB. Earlier versions of Linux didn't accept swap disks bigger than 128MB and making several
swapdisks was a solution. Current Linux'es accept swapdisk over one gig. Note: New Linux kernels version 2.4.* should be given a swap-disk TWICE the amount of your physical RAM."

For future flexibility: Do make /home a separate partition."

Then we move into broader topics like disk naming conventions, being root, users and groups, X configuration, screenshots, and a whole lot more. Like I said, it's a lot of information. And it's all on one simple page -- no fancy graphics, no intricate page navigation, no java script. Easy to search, easy to read, easy to find what you're looking for. It really is everything you wish you knew before you started.

As an extra, added bonus, the author of this page has also created "KVirc Stuff," "Mozilla5 Stuff," "Games," and "Hardware" information pages. Like the Linux page, they're simple, straightfoward, and a pleasure to read. I recommend them.


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