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July 27, 2006

The Easiest Linux Guide You’ll Ever Read

by @ 6:57 am. Filed under General SUSE, SUSE Blog News

I’m finally (mostly) finished with it. I have been working on a book for the past couple of months. The main goal behind the book is to assist marginally-experienced Windows users to be able to check out Linux without too much worry. I have a few more things to iron out with it, but when it’s all finished, I will post it for all to have, free of charge. As of right now, it is about 160 pages long. Below is an excerpt of the first few pages of it:

About the Author

Scott Morris began using computers over 20 years ago, at the age of 10. He has used 25 different versions of 5 different operating systems over this time period. Of those many operating systems, he has experience using MS-DOS, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Mac OS 9.x – X. He has enjoyed using many different distributions of Linux, including Mandrake, Red Hat, Gentoo, Fedora Core, Debian, and SUSE.

He has worked recently as Editor of the Novell CoolSolutions Linux communities. During his employment there, Novell, along with many other news outlets, has published over 110 of his articles. He gets particular enjoyment out of helping people discover the excitement of the Linux operating system. Articles he has written can be found on his author page, located at: .

He also has a personal blog, located at, which he uses for personal enjoyment and to help others. He writes opinions, news, tips, and tricks about the SUSE Linux operating system. This blog is a light-hearted resource for beginning Linux users. The latest version of this book can be found at this website.

Table of Contents

Who should read this book 7

An introduction before we start 9

More familiar than you think 9

Common Myths 10

Things to know about Linux 13

Getting Help and Learning More 18

General reading material 18

Forums 19

Mailing Lists 19

Other Resources 20

How do I get Linux? 21

Download Linux and put it onto CDs 21

Purchasing Linux Installation CDs 23

Installing SUSE Linux 23

Installation Options 23

Linux-only Installation 24

Beginning the Installation 25

Sharing the computer between Linux and Windows 58

Beginning the Installation 59

Introduction to Users and Groups 89

Get to Know Your Desktop 90

What is KDE? 90

The K Menu 91

The Kicker Panel 94

The KDE Control Center 94

Changing Mouse Behavior 95

Changing Time and Date Display Format 99

Window Themes 104

Desktop Preferences 111

Konqueror: filesystem and web browser 116

Browsing through your files 116

As a web browser 118

Kicker Panel 119

Installing Applications 122

Applications 129

OpenOffice 129

OpenOffice Writer 130

OpenOffice Calc 132

Thunderbird 135

Setting up your email account 136

Sending and receiving email 146

Firefox 147

So you want to use the command line? 151

View directory contents with ‘ls’ 153

Make a directory with ‘mkdir’ 154

Remove a directory with ‘rmdir’ 154

Change to a directory with ‘cd’ 155

What directory am I in? Using ‘pwd’ 155

Copying files with ‘cp’ 156

Moving files with ‘mv’ 156

Deleting files with ‘rm’ 157

Viewing text files with ‘cat’ 157

Viewing text files with ‘less’ 158

What time is it? What is the date? Using ‘date’ 158

Using ‘man’ to find help 159

Conclusion 160

Who should read this book

This book is geared towards Windows users who want to take a look at Linux. Are you interested in trying Linux on your computer? If so, you have found the perfect book. In this book, I will give you a gentle introduction into using Linux, and help you ease into it. The only technical skills you should have include browsing the Internet and downloading files. It will help if you have burned your own CDs before, but such skills are not required. If you have a computer geek handy, that also couldn’t hurt. The purpose of this book is to make it easy to try the Linux operating system, particularly for people who are used to Microsoft Windows. Even if you only use your Windows computer for checking email and surfing the Internet, this book was written just for you.

Having used Windows myself for nearly 15 years, I was very used to that platform. I didn’t realize how used to it I was until I tried to use something else. As an illustration of what I mean, let’s say that you download Linux, and eventually figure out how to download Linux. Even when you finally do get it installed, it is somewhat of a bitter-sweet triumph. On the one hand, you feel good about having successfully gotten that far.

On the other hand, after you have installed it, you sit there, staring blankly at your new desktop wondering what in the world to do next. You may feel somewhat lost. You have heard how wonderful Linux is, but don’t know why, or how to make it perform all the impressive tricks. In many cases, you don’t even know what those tricks are (at least I didn’t when I first started).

If you are considering trying out Linux on your desktop, but have some anxiety about learning everything, from this point on, you have no need to worry. We will take it one step at a time. The top priority of this book is to make everything as easy to learn as possible. I am going to give as much background and explanation as I can.

My goal is that you understand the purpose and concepts involved with each step that we take. I want to go over the why as well as the what. The more you understand, the better your foundation will be. A good, strong foundation provides a solid base upon which you can build as you learn more. This helps you learn more efficiently, and retain more of what you learn in the future.

Before we try and get Linux to install it, we will discuss some fundamental topics. When you are switching from Windows to Linux, there are some expectations that you will need to change. You are going to be using a brand new platform. You cannot assume that the new platform to be equivalent in all aspects to the old one.

To begin with, we will mold your expectations. If you know what to plan on, your experience will be more pleasant. In other words, there is a mental shift that will take place as well as you switch platforms from Windows to Linux. I want to make that shift as easy and pleasant as possible for you.

If all goes well, this introduction will be painless. At very least, I hope to make the migration process as enjoyable and easy for you as I can.

Your experience will gradually increase as we explore the various aspects of the Linux operating system. As this occurs, you will have questions. You will want to learn more about different things. If, heaven forbid, something goes wrong with your system, you may wish to seek help. You may want to interact with other Linux enthusiasts. You may even wish to share what you have learned with others.

There is almost an endless list of online resources and communities that will address all of these issues and plenty more. I will share with you many great resources that you can use to learn more about Linux. Hopefully, I will be able to help you know where to go for each of the different types of help or information that you seek. This way, if you have a question that I do not address here, you will know where you can find your answer.

Well, there you have it. A short introduction to what the book discusses. Hang tight and in a few days I will have the final draft ready for everyone to download. Have a good one.

5 Responses to “The Easiest Linux Guide You’ll Ever Read”

  1. Paul Mellors Says:

    Hi Scott, will the instructions work with SLED 10?

  2. Scott Morris Says:

    The book is written for SUSE 10.1. Because SLED 10 is based off this platform, I’m sure that almost all of it would apply to SLED 10, excepting the sections dealing with how to get SUSE 10.1. They will be pointed towards a SUSE mirror, whereas you’ll probably just buy SLED 10. For the most part, a great deal of it will probably be compatible.

  3. E@zyVG Says:

    Nice … somehow I missed that you were working on a book. I am definitely going to get this one, even if I will have to pay.

    I wish you that this book of yours will get all the credits it deserves from Linux and expecially SUSE community.

  4. Scott Morris Says:

    E@zyVG and larrydag,
    I should have it available very very soon. Look for it here very early next week. Thanks for the interest!
    Have a nice weekend.

  5. larrydag Says:

    This sounds like a great project. Let me know any way that I can help.

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