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Re: [LUG] Linux Training


On 13 February 2017 at 13:21, Neil via list <list@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
A while ago a friend asked me if I would be willing to teach him about Linux. I said I would think about it. Since then his circumstances have changed and he has moved away from the area. However, it got me thinking about this, especially as I know that some of the people on the list are interested in getting more converts to the cause. So here are some of my thoughts and questions.

The scenario is that someone has asked me to get them started on Linux, having heard that it is a good system and being fed up with Windows.

First thing, the computer. I just do not like the dual boot with Windows set up, I think it can easily cause problems. So, we need an old computer which is no longer required, not too old I hope, or even a new one bought especially for the purpose.

It depends really on the interest level of the individual. I would say that a "good" setup for someone looking to migrate to Linux would be one where initially their other operating system is still available, but not immediately so. A quick change to the GRUB menu so it goes straight into Linux rather then presenting a menu. They would still be able to boot into their other operating system by rebooting and holding the Shift key so the GRUB menu is presented, but don't necessarily tell them that off-the-bat. My reasoning is that if people can see that they have an easy escape route when something becomes slightly taxing, then they'll take it again and again. Completely obliterating their existing operating system is an option, but simply making the escape route less easy can help.

Next comes the big question, which distro? I use Xubuntu so I know the xfce desktop well. There are other recommended distros for beginners such as Peppermint and Linux Lite which also use xfce. But what about others that I don't know so well? Would it be fair to restrict them to a distro just because I know it well, or would that simply be the sensible thing to do?

I would personally recommend giving someone a distro that is well supported by the community and that you are familiar with. Ubuntu tends to be my distro of choice for this, despite being a Debian user myself. One of the key things the user should understand is that there is a choice. If they find that they like to dig around and change things up a bit, then they are more than welcome to do so... but for the sake of getting them up to speed with using the system, I prefer Ubuntu.

Then, how should we start? I could begin at the beginning with downloading the iso file, getting it on to a USB stick and then installing it. Or perhaps it would be better to do all that myself and to go straight to working with the new distro and come back to the installation etc afterwards.

When you buy a new computer, you normally do not get the opportunity to experience the installation part of the process. However many of the initial MCSE training courses, and I believe the RHCE training courses also frequently start with "installing the system". These days it is remarkably easy to do and is very well documents, so there shouldn't really be too much standing in the way of doing this.

Most Windows users know little or nothing about using a terminal screen, yet it is so useful and powerful. So what would be the best way to get that across?

Do they needÂto use it initially? Too much "wow, isn't this stuff powerful" can be a massive turn-off for many. Teach them that the environment is different but familiar. When they are ready to progress to "the next level" then command line love can be shown.

I think this would be one of the stumbling blocks to the whole scheme. Yet I feel that it is a very important part of the training.

That depends on what the training is for. If the training is set out to get someone up to speed with managing Linux systems remotely from the command line, then absolutely. If the training is set out to get desktop users up and running and working in a comfortable environment, then maybe give the command line a miss for now?

Then the packages. Inevitably my personal likes and dislikes are going to come into this. For example, the browser. I hate Chrome/Chromium. I think that Firefox has become too bloated, so it is installed but rarely used. I do use one called Pale Moon (what FF should have become), and also a fairly new one called Vivaldi, which is my current favourite. There will be other package examples as well, no doubt. Of course, if it is one I Iike then it will be one I know well and should be one that I therefore teach well.

But what if the trainee doesn't like it? Linux is all about choice, after all. Again, I would teach them about the default applications that it comes with, teach them about the different choices, and teach them how to install other applications.

There are other questions that came to my mind about all this, but I don't want to keep on too long. However, one final thought, it would not be a good idea, or fair, to set them up and then just leave them to it. They will have problems and questions, a fairly steep learning curve, so I ought to be available to provide help and further training for some time.

I must admit that, when I heard that my friend was moving away, one reaction was relief.

Are you providing "training" or "support"? The line between the two is often blurry.
Providing training in Linux should not be taken lightly. It is quite a commitment. Or, to put it another way, a nightmare.

Training indeed can be a nightmare. But then if it was easy, everybody would do it and we wouldn't need teachers.

As somebody who runs an IT training business, I can definitely vouch for it being a commitment, and one that I made many years ago.

I am always around and happy to discuss teaching and training.

Grant. :)
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