How to Get “From Here to There”: Series Introduction

25Aug08

What Is This All About?

Every pioneering, epic journey worth taking from point A to point B requires asking for directions, wrong turns, heading in the completely wrong direction, or even getting lost. After all, you’re the scout. The first person to be sent out with enough knowledge to try and find your way to the highly desired point B. Your chances of success are greatly improved if you have some important skills and tools to take along with you. With that introduction, my intended goal of sharing some of my knowledge and tools with you regarding the world of Linux distributions can begin. Of course, before I proceed I should make it clear that I’m no expert and won’t pretend to be one. I’m just a keen experimenter, and a fan of what Linux distributions have enabled me to do. With that I begin my “From Here to There” series.

I was originally going to write a blog post on using Network Block Devices in Linux, when I kept running into the same problem over and over. My hope was that I could write an article simple enough for anyone to grasp. However, each time I went back to the entry, I discovered that there was yet another thing that I take for granted, that many Linux users might not understand. Each time I attempted to remedy that situation with some general guidelines, I found that I had to cover exceptions for the multitude of distributions out there which would really make the blog entry far too long and far too complicated for my intended audience: Linux newbies, and the highly curious users of other OSes.

So I sat down for a while and tried putting my finger on how it is that I can move between the Linux distros fairly easily and get work done. I’m no computer expert. I’m not a programmer. I’m just a basic system admin who went from Mac (pre OS X) to Windows (3.1 through XP) and got involved with Linux in 1997 out of necessity. While thinking, I realized that there are many things that we computer folks take for granted about what we do normally that fall into the category of “missing knowledge” for the average user. Without that knowledge, understanding how to use a computer is next to impossible. Many people before me have written about people who simply learn how to use specific brands of software, and do not acquire the application literacy needed to be able to use any software of the same category (ie. word processors). That’s not what the “Here to There” series will be about.

Instead, it will be my intention to try and share some of the more basic skills that I take for granted, when I use computers, that others might be unaware of. Everyone who is at an intermediate level or higher, with regard to computer use, has skills like these. But we rarely if ever discuss them because to us they are second nature. So the “Here to There” series will attempt to get people from point A to point B with a clear understanding as to how and why the journey is worth it. Since my experience is largely with Linux and Free/Open software, that is where some of my focus will be. But, in all honesty and with only a few exceptions, there really is little difference between OSes and applications today. As a result, much of what I share should apply to many OSes and applications. I will be attempting to post the first in the series this week.  (Correction: Life, as usual, has become fairly busy.  So I will be starting the series sometime soon.  The first part should appear when it’s ready…)

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