I am a complete newbie in the Unix/Linux world. I used some Unix workstations at university, but I never really had a very clear understanding of how they worked, so I think I can safely downgrade myself to “absolute beginner”.

I have decided to jump into the world of Linux by installing Ubuntu 8.10 on an external USB drive and seeing where that takes me. I was able to install the OS on the external drive, but I am currently stuck at the point of trying to connect to the internet. My network card was fried during an electrical storm and I have been using a USB network adapter. Ubuntu seems to know that the USB network adapter is there, but doesn’t know what to do with it. I am stuck at that point. (I found the driver for the adapter, but I don’t know enough about Linux to be able to install it yet.)

Since people often ask me how I learn how to do stuff on my computer, I thought I would try to document the path towards my own personal computing enlightenment. I guess it involves quite a bit of reading (websites, magazines, anything I can get my hands on) and a huge amount of trial and error.

In the spirit of friendly documentation, here are three things that I have learned so far.


1. Get a friend to help you through your first installation so you don’t give up before you even get started. I had a friend help me with a basic dual boot installation on a desktop and then I did the USB HD installation by myself (with some online encouragement from a friend in Finland who has been acting as my Linux mentor).

2. If you want to install Ubuntu 8.10 on an external USB drive, follow these instructions.

It says that you can skip steps 8 to 11 (I did), and I also skipped steps 12 to 14 without any ill effects (that I know of). There are other sites with instructions for this task, but this one seems to offer the most simple procedure.

3. Read This.

Basic Introduction to UNIX/linux by Claude Cantin

The figures seem to be missing, but it is written in a way that even a complete beginner can absorb. I think it is important to have an understanding of Unix/Linux to get the most out of your new system. Well, that is what I think after two days of playing in the Linux world. I could be wrong, but it seems fairly self-evident.


It is going to take me a while to read Mr. Cantin’s tome, so I will leave this post for now and write more when I have learned more!

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