It is critical to make sure you have documentation that is appropriate to
your level of Linux expertise. There is no more certain way to make your
experience using Red Hat Linux a failure than to not have the documentation you
need, when you need it.
As the name implies, the Official Red Hat Linux 6.0 Getting
Started Guide is just that -- a guide to taking those first steps with
your newly installed Red Hat Linux system.
Let's take a look at three categories of people using Red Hat Linux, and try to be
more explicit in terms of the documentation you'll need. Let's start by
figuring out your experience level. Here are the three basic categories:
- New To Linux -- Has never used any Linux (or Linux-like)
operating system before, or has had only limited exposure to Linux. May or
may not have experience using other operating systems (such as Windows).
Is this you? If so, please turn to Section 4.1.1.
- Some Linux Experience -- Has installed and successfully used
Linux (but not Red Hat Linux) before. Or, may have equivalent experience with
other Linux-like operating systems. Does this describe you? If so, please
turn to Section 4.1.2.
- Old Timer -- Has installed and sucessfully used Red Hat Linux before.
Are you an old-timer? If so, please turn to Section 4.1.3.
``A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.'' This old
saying can be applied to just about any endeavor; we're going to apply it
to learning to use your Red Hat Linux system. Learning to use a Linux system
effectively can be a long, rewarding journey, where you find that you can
easily do things that people with other operating systems can only dream
of. But like all journeys, you've got to start somewhere, and take that
And the first step you need to take is to get yourself some documentation!
This cannot be stressed enough; without documentation you will only become
frustrated at your inability to get your Red Hat Linux system working the way you
Here's what you should look for in terms of Linux documentation:
- A brief history of Linux -- Many aspects of Linux are the way
they are because of historical precedent. There is also a Linux culture
that, again, is based to a great deal on past history. A bit of knowledge
about the history of Linux will serve you well, particularly as you
interact with more experienced Linux users on the Internet.
- An explanation of how Linux works -- While it's not necessary
to delve into the most arcane aspects of the Linux kernel, it's a good idea
to know something about how Linux is put together. This is particularly
important if you've been working with other operating systems; some of the
assumptions you hold about how computers work may not transfer from that
operating system to Linux. A few paragraphs that discuss how Linux works
(and particularly how it differs from the operating system you're used to),
can be invaluable in getting off to a good start with your Red Hat Linux system.
- An introductory command overview (with examples) -- This is
probably the most important thing to look for in Linux documentation. The
design philosophy behind Linux is that it's better to use many small
commands connected together in different ways than it is to have a few
large (and complex) commands that do the whole job themselves. Without
some examples that illustrate the Linux approach to doing things, you will
find yourself intimidated by the sheer number of commands available on your
Red Hat Linux system.
Here is some direction that may help to match all of your requirements:
- Books -- Linux for Dummies, by John ``maddog'' Hall,
published by IDG; Using Linux, by William H. Ball, published by
Que; Running Linux, by Matt Welsh and Lar Kaufman, published by
O'Reilly & Associates; Red Hat Linux Secrets, by Naba Barkakati,
published by IDG.
- Red Hat's website -- At our very own website
(http://www.redhat.com), you'll find links to the Linux Documentation
Project (LDP), the Official Red Hat Linux 6.0 Installation Guide,
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions), a database which can help you search for
a Linux Users Group near you, a knowledgebase of information and more. In
short, you'll find a wealth of information to help you get started.
- Newsgroups -- Linux users are second to none when it comes to
helping new users understand Linux. You can find dozens of Linux-related
newsgroups on the Usenet, but a quick search through Deja News
(http://www.dejanews.com) shows: linux.help;
linux.redhat.misc and linux.redhat.rpm. Also, from the
Deja News website, you can frequently search for specific information from
As you gain more experience using your Red Hat Linux system, you'll probably find
that you'll need more in-depth information. Continue reading the next
section to find out more about the kinds of documentation that will help
you at that point.
If you're a long-time Red Hat Linux user, you probably already know that the
following pretty much says it all when it comes to documentation:
Use the Force -- Read the source!
There are times when you'll just have to sit there and look at the sources
to understand things. Fortunately, because of the freely available nature
of Linux, it's easy to get the sources. Now if it were only that easy to
Now that we've covered documentation, let's look at some other common