"The first installment of the series, Installing and
Administering Linux, puzzled me from the start. It was the first
book written for Linux beginners I had seen in which the Linux
installation occurs in the last chapter! My gut reaction was that
the book was written backwards. I thought, "How is anyone going to
learn Linux using this book when the installation chapter is last?
Did the authors really think that newbies were going to learn Linux
by reading a whole book about it before actually doing an install?"
Regardless, I began reading the book, deeply curious about its
approach. While reading Chapter 5, I remembered a Linux class I had
taught in which I walked the class through a full Linux install on
day one. Even with explicit written directions and standard
equipment, it was chaos. More importantly, after the smoke had
cleared and the students had become administrators of their own
Linux systems, most of them had looks of "Now what?" on their
faces. The students didn't know how to do the first thing with
their new systems. I spent the rest of the course behind the power
curve trying to demonstrate how powerful Linux was to a group of
students that didn't know the basics of Linux operation. It was
like finding yourself at Everest's base camp with permission for a
peak assault, but the expedition members didn't have rope, ice axes
or oxygen--only enthusiasm. I learned a very valuable lesson
regarding teaching Linux. I subsequently reorganized the course to
provide students with working Linux systems on day one. This way,
we started our climb to base camp from sea-level and learned to
navigate Linux terrain (file system) along the way, in addition to
rope and ice axe skills (the command line, shell, vi editor,
utilities, processes, etc.). I saved the trial-by-fire, final push
to base camp (full install of Linux, including the X Windows
System) for the final exam. The students were less intimidated at
the start, learned quickly and had more fun with this approach.
Upon completing the class, they were geared up to peak their own
"Remembering that teaching experience, the chapter order in this
book suddenly made perfect sense. Installing and Administering
Linux is the book I will use to teach my next class. But if you
don't want to move to San Diego and enroll in my next beginners'
Linux class, do the following: 1) get access to a working Linux
system; 2) buy this book; 3) read the material, complete the
exercises at the end of each chapter and take the quizzes. I
guarantee that you will be a proficient user by the time you
attempt your first Linux install."
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