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Linux Learning Idea!

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
Hey guys/gals, I'm brand new to Linux (Going to be running Debian) and I want to learn how to do things the right way and be proficient. I've seen various threads on here about advice, tips, guides etc. BUT I have a simple request for guidance from current experienced linux admin's.

Post 1 project for me to do that you feel will benefit me greatly by having the knowledge gained from completing it.

My goal is to work through 1 project a week in this thread for 3 months and asses my knowledge level from there.
Thanks for the suggestions in advance and I'll keep you all updated!
Edited by dave2z - 2/15/12 at 9:04am
    
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post #2 of 24
Recompile your kernel, using the latest stable release. Through research, eliminate as much "bloat" as you can, so that you have everything you need for your specific hardware configuration but don't have an enormous kernel.


The recompiling process itself is very simple, and Transhour has an excellent guide here under the How-To section. The key to this project is learning just how extensive the kernel is, and how much is built into it by default that you probably don't need.


Key factors to keep in mind:

1)Read the help menus for each kernel item. If you are using menuconfig (you'll see this through Transhour's guide) press 'H' to see these menus for each line item. If you use xconfig for kernel configuration, it will be displayed in a dedicated pane for each line item.

2)Compile for your specific CPU architecture. Note, there are multiple ways to ensure this, not just through menuconfig/xconfig. Again, pay attention to Transhour's guide.

3)Unless it's a very specific hardware item (I.E. "Support for 3ware RAID controllers" and you don't have one) if you are unsure about an item - Google it. If you're still unsure, leave it at the default. Some kernel options may not be very obvious in their effect at first. However, if you just go disabling everything you'll most likely have a non-functioning kernel.

4) Remember, if you get a non-working kernel it's not a problem. Just reboot and use the previous kernel (when you boot to GRUB each kernel will (read: should) have a separate entry). Recompiling a new kernel has zero affect on other kernels.

5)Do not delete your default kernel. Many people will delete the default one once they have recompiled a new one (even without testing the new one). Even through multiple kernel compiles/patches/etc.. I always keep the default (that is, the original one from install time) kernel available as a just-in-case-something-nasty-happens fallback.
    
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post #3 of 24
Thread Starter 
300

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED

I'll report back when finished! Thanks!
    
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post #4 of 24
Learn to do everything in the terminal. There's a lot of mundane tasks that we do in a GUI but can also be done easily in the terminal, most of the times faster. What might be fun is to install a tiling window manager like xmonad and just dig right into some serious terminal work. Also you can try to learn Vi, Vim or Emacs which are text editors for experts. I haven't really even used them much and instead I use nano tongue.gif.

Bonus: Learn how to play Dwarf Fortress rolleyes.gif

EDIT: Super bonus: Beat Dwarf Fortress.
Edited by Rothen - 2/15/12 at 11:17am
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post #5 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rothen View Post

Learn to do everything in the terminal. There's a lot of mundane tasks that we do in a GUI but can also be done easily in the terminal, most of the times faster. What might be fun is to install a tiling window manager like xmonad and just dig right into some serious terminal work. Also you can try to learn Vi, Vim or Emacs which are text editors for experts. I haven't really even used them much and instead I use nano tongue.gif.
Bonus: Learn how to play Dwarf Fortress rolleyes.gif

I'd suggest something other than XMonad, at least dwm/scrotwm/awesome, Learning Haskell on top of Linux could get confusing for him ph34r-smiley.gif At least until he learns most of what he needs to know in Linux. Haskell can just be a complete pain at the beginning, easy though after you figure it out, and dwm/scrot/awesome all have pretty straight forward config files, even for those without any programming knowledge.
post #6 of 24
I think this idea, while probably difficult overall, is the best way to pick up Linux.

I have dabbled a little with Fedora here and there; but I want to get into Linux a bit more in depth. I have decided to move over to Arch and will be following this thread to hopefully keep up.

+rep for creating a thread that will hopefully be helpful to many more.biggrin.gif
post #7 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by TurboTurtle View Post

Recompile your kernel, using the latest stable release. Through research, eliminate as much "bloat" as you can, so that you have everything you need for your specific hardware configuration but don't have an enormous kernel.
The recompiling process itself is very simple, and Transhour has an excellent guide here under the How-To section. The key to this project is learning just how extensive the kernel is, and how much is built into it by default that you probably don't need.
Key factors to keep in mind:
1)Read the help menus for each kernel item. If you are using menuconfig (you'll see this through Transhour's guide) press 'H' to see these menus for each line item. If you use xconfig for kernel configuration, it will be displayed in a dedicated pane for each line item.
2)Compile for your specific CPU architecture. Note, there are multiple ways to ensure this, not just through menuconfig/xconfig. Again, pay attention to Transhour's guide.
3)Unless it's a very specific hardware item (I.E. "Support for 3ware RAID controllers" and you don't have one) if you are unsure about an item - Google it. If you're still unsure, leave it at the default. Some kernel options may not be very obvious in their effect at first. However, if you just go disabling everything you'll most likely have a non-functioning kernel.
4) Remember, if you get a non-working kernel it's not a problem. Just reboot and use the previous kernel (when you boot to GRUB each kernel will (read: should) have a separate entry). Recompiling a new kernel has zero affect on other kernels.
5)Do not delete your default kernel. Many people will delete the default one once they have recompiled a new one (even without testing the new one). Even through multiple kernel compiles/patches/etc.. I always keep the default (that is, the original one from install time) kernel available as a just-in-case-something-nasty-happens fallback.

oh wow, that's a harsh first challenge. I'd have opened with something a little more n00b friendly. laugher.gif
Still, I guess you have to start somewhere.smile.gif
post #8 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Plan9 View Post

oh wow, that's a harsh first challenge. I'd have opened with something a little more n00b friendly. laugher.gif
Still, I guess you have to start somewhere.smile.gif

Yeah I know. I haven't even compiled my first kernel yet (I did do liquorix, but that was through an AUR script tongue.gif). Tough first challenge.
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post #9 of 24
To be honest, I can count on 1 hand the number of times I've needed to manually compile my own server.
post #10 of 24
Make sure you start with a minimal, no-GUI install of Debian. If you're planning to be a server admin, you need to be comfortable with a) no GUI other than a terminal and b) a minimal set-up, containing only what is required to be running. Only enabling the required services/modules/daemons is a big part of the set-up, and a big part of running a server.
 
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