If you are new to the world of Linux, there are a number of resources to explore and become familiar with. Having access to the Internet is helpful, but not essential.
The Linux Documentation Project is a group of volunteers who have worked to produce books (guides), HOWTO documents, and manual pages on topics ranging from installation to kernel programming. The LDP works include:
By Matt Welsh, et al. This book describes how to obtain, install, and use Linux. It includes an introductory Unix tutorial and information on systems administration, the X Window System, and networking.
By Lars Wirzenius and Joanna Oja. This book is a guide to general Linux system administration and covers topics such as creating and configuring users, performing system backups, configuration of major software packages, and installing and upgrading software.
By Steve Frampton. This book describes day-to-day administration and maintenance issues of relevance to Linux users.
By B. Scott Burkett, Sven Goldt, John D. Harper, Sven van der Meer, and Matt Welsh. This book covers topics of interest to people who wish to develop application software for Linux.
By David A. Rusling. This book provides an introduction to the Linux Kernel, how it is constructed, and how it works. Take a tour of your kernel.
By Ori Pomerantz. This guide explains how to write Linux kernel modules.
More manuals are in development. For more information about the LDP you should consult their World Wide Web server at http://www.linuxdoc.org/ or one of its many mirrors.
The Linux HOWTOs are a comprehensive series of papers detailing various aspects of the system—such as installation and configuration of the X Window System software, or how to write in assembly language programming under Linux. These are generally located in the HOWTO subdirectory of the FTP sites listed later, or they are available on the World Wide Web at one of the many Linux Documentation Project mirror sites. See the Bibliography at the end of this book, or the file HOWTO-INDEX for a list of what's available.
You might want to obtain the Installation HOWTO, which describes how to install Linux on your system; the Hardware Compatibility HOWTO, which contains a list of hardware known to work with Linux; and the Distribution HOWTO, which lists software vendors selling Linux on diskette and CD-ROM.
The bibliography of this book includes references to the HOWTO documents that are related to Linux networking.
The Linux Frequently Asked Questions with Answers (FAQ) contains a wide assortment of questions and answers about the system. It is a must-read for all newcomers.
If you have access to anonymous FTP, you can obtain all Linux documentation listed above from various sites, including metalab.unc.edu:/pub/Linux/docs and tsx-11.mit.edu:/pub/linux/docs.
These sites are mirrored by a number of sites around the world.
There are many Linux-based WWW sites available. The home site for the Linux Documentation Project can be accessed at http://www.linuxdoc.org/.
The Open Source Writers Guild (OSWG) is a project that has a scope that extends beyond Linux. The OSWG, like this book, is committed to advocating and facilitating the production of OpenSource documentation. The OSWG home site is at http://www.oswg.org:8080/oswg.
Both of these sites contain hypertext (and other) versions of many Linux related documents.
A number of publishing companies and software vendors publish the works of the Linux Documentation Project. Two such vendors are:
Specialized Systems Consultants, Inc. (SSC)
P.O. Box 55549 Seattle, WA 98155-0549
Linux Systems Labs
18300 Tara Drive
Clinton Township, MI 48036
Both companies sell compendiums of Linux HOWTO documents and other Linux documentation in printed and bound form.
O'Reilly & Associates publishes a series of Linux books. This one is a work of the Linux Documentation Project, but most have been independently authored. Their range includes:
An installation and user guide to the system describing how to get the most out of personal computing with Linux.
More basic than Running Linux, these books contain popular distributions on CD-ROM and offer robust directions for setting them up and using them.
Another in the successful "in a Nutshell" series, this book focuses on providing a broad reference text for Linux.
Linux Journal and Linux Magazine are monthly magazines for the Linux community, written and published by a number of Linux activists. They contain articles ranging from novice questions and answers to kernel programming internals. Even if you have Usenet access, these magazines are a good way to stay in touch with the Linux community.
Linux Journal is the oldest magazine and is published by S.S.C. Incorporated, for which details were listed previously. You can also find the magazine on the World Wide Web at http://www.linuxjournal.com/.
Linux Magazine is a newer, independent publication. The home web site for the magazine is http://www.linuxmagazine.com/.
If you have access to Usenet news, the following Linux-related newsgroups are available:
A moderated newsgroup containing announcements of new software, distributions, bug reports, and goings-on in the Linux community. All Linux users should read this group. Submissions may be mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
General questions and answers about installing or using Linux.
Discussions relating to systems administration under Linux.
Discussions relating to networking with Linux.
Discussions about developing the Linux kernel and system itself.
A catch-all newsgroup for miscellaneous discussions that don't fall under the previous categories.
There are also several newsgroups devoted to Linux in languages other than English, such as fr.comp.os.linux in French and de.comp.os.linux in German.
There is a large number of specialist Linux mailing lists on which you will find many people willing to help with questions you might have.
The best-known of these are the lists hosted by Rutgers University. You may subscribe to these lists by sending an email message formatted as follows:
To: email@example.com Subject: anything at all Body: subscribe listname
Some of the available lists related to Linux networking are:
Discussion relating to Linux networking
Discussion relating to the Linux PPP implementation
Discussion relating to Linux kernel development
There are many ways of obtaining help online, where volunteers from around the world offer expertise and services to assist users with questions and problems.
The OpenProjects IRC Network is an IRC network devoted entirely to Open Projects—Open Source and Open Hardware alike. Some of its channels are designed to provide online Linux support services. IRC stands for Internet Relay Chat, and is a network service that allows you to talk interactively on the Internet to other users. IRC networks support multiple channels on which groups of people talk. Whatever you type in a channel is seen by all other users of that channel.
There are a number of active channels on the OpenProjects IRC network where you will find users 24 hours a day, 7 days a week who are willing and able to help you solve any Linux problems you may have, or just chat. You can use this service by installing an IRC client like irc-II, connecting to servername irc.openprojects.org:6667, and joining the #linpeople channel.
Many Linux User Groups around the world offer direct support to users. Many Linux User Groups engage in activities such as installation days, talks and seminars, demonstration nights, and other completely social events. Linux User Groups are a great way of meeting other Linux users in your area. There are a number of published lists of Linux User Groups. Some of the better-known ones are:
There is no single distribution of the Linux software; instead, there are many distributions, such as Debian, RedHat, Caldera, Corel, SuSE, and Slackware. Each distribution contains everything you need to run a complete Linux system: the kernel, basic utilities, libraries, support files, and applications software.
Linux distributions may be obtained via a number of online sources, such as the Internet. Each of the major distributions has its own FTP and web site. Some of these sites are:
Many of the modern distributions can be installed directly from the Internet. There is a lot of software to download for a typical installation, though, so you'd probably want to do this only if you have a high-speed, permanent network connection, or if you just need to update an existing installation.
Linux may be purchased on CD-ROM from an increasing number of software vendors. If your local computer store doesn't have it, perhaps you should ask them to stock it! Most of the popular distributions can be obtained on CD-ROM. Some vendors produce products containing multiple CD-ROMs, each of which provides a different Linux distribution. This is an ideal way to try a number of different distributions before you settle on your favorite one.
… or you are extremely impatient and know that the 24 hours it might take to download the software from the Internet is faster than the 72 hours it might take to wait for a CD-ROM to be delivered!