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Linux Journal: Installing and Administering Linux [Book Review]

Feb 25, 2001, 16:16 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Glen Otero)

"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 Linux Everest."

"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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