Monday, August 30, 2010

[BLUG] (SoIC Informal) Linux Meetings for this Fall

@BLUG: Please feel free to join in on this. We're open to any one who
is interested in coming. This is an informal Linux meeting group that
I am doing for some C.S. students at IU. I'd welcome others to it, as
well as any guest speakers. :-) This is a copy of the announcement that
I sent out to them detailing the scheduling.

The format for this is really simple, we have about seven sessions that
will occur every other week starting on Monday, Sept. 6th. They'll cover
various topics on Linux and the basic idea is to give you a good running
start on using Linux as your primary desktop platform.

So, here's how the schedule looks so far:

Sept. 6th, 2010
1) Basic Installation and Configuration

Sept. 20th, 2010
2) Desktop environments and the X Windows system

Oct. 4th, 2010
3) Package management

Oct. 18th, 2010
4) The command-line essentials and special CLI tricks/tools

Nov. 1st, 2010
5) Text Editing and the Programmer's toolchain

Nov. 15, 2010
6) Remote access, secure shell, public/private keys

Nov. 22, 2010
7) Encryption and Security on Linux

It's designed to get you step by step up and running with your new Linux
system, and using it as quickly as possible.

Towards the end I have focused on some cool things that I think are
worthwhile to teach, that you generally won't get in other places.

Here is a bit of a Q&A that I hope will answer your questions:

Q1. What do I need to participate?

If you want to get the most out of these sessions, you should
bring a computer on which you can either install Linux directly
(that means to complete wipe the old OS from it), or that
has enough disk space to run Linux in a virtual machine
environment. If you don't have either of these, then you can
still get something from the sessions, but it won't be nearly
as fun. :-)

My recommendation is that you have a laptop that you can dedicate
just to Linux, and use that. If you can't do that, then VMWare
Workstation is your next best bet.

Before you go to the first session, you should have either your
Laptop ready to wipe and erase, or have VMWare Workstation
installed. You can go to the VMWare E-Academy and get VMWare
Workstation 7 for free (Windows, Linux) if you are a student of
the SoIC.

You need to ask for an account though, so do that quickly! Go
to the following link:

And make a request for a VMWare E-Academy account. Once you get
that you can get VMWare Workstation for Free. Or VMWare Fusion
if you are on the Mac.

You will also need to have at the ready a DVD of Slackware
13.1, either the 64-bit version if you have a modern processor,
or the 32-bit version if you have a computer that is really
old. The easiest way to get them is from the torrents page of

Make sure that you download this to your computer early! You want
to have it ready by the 6th. If you are using VMWare Workstation,
then you should be able to just have it located somewhere on
your machine. If you want to do a native installation with a
complete wipe and erase, then you should burn the DVD to a disc
first so that you can use it during the installation.

For any machine that you work with, make sure that you have
at least 20 or 30 GB of space on the machine. This shouldn't
be a problem if you are going to do a wipe of the computer,
but if you want to use VMWare Workstation, make sure that you
have enough disk space to hold Slackware, the DVD, and VMWare. I
recommend 40GB for a good usable system, but you can get by with
less. like 20GB or so.

Q2. Where are we meeting?

We should be meeting in Lindley Hall 101, which I will be
reserving for the above dates assuming that you all can give me
good times to meet.

Q3. When are we meeting?

Ah, this has yet to be decided. This is important, so please,
everyone send in your preferences for times on Monday Evening. My
thoughts are that this would be a one or one and a half hour
long session that starts at either six or seven o'clock. We can
also start a little earlier if you would like. Please, everyone,
send me your time preferences so we can get this worked out.

Q4. What will the meetings be like?

Very information :-) and fairly easy. I'll spend about half the
time going through the material, and then I'll be working with
each of you to answer any questions you have. The rest of the
period after I get done with the walk through is for you guys
and gals to shoot the breeze and get me to answer any questions
you have about Linux and other things in general. You should be
able to follow along with most of the stuff that I show you on
your own machines, so that should make it easier.

Q5. What if I want to discuss something that is not on the syllabus?

Sure! We can do that. Just let me know what you guys want to
cover and I'll try to find time to fit it in, either with an
extra session or as part of the existing sessions.

Q6. What if I run into trouble and I don't know what I'm doing or how to fix things?

Ah, the good news is that there are a lot of help resources
out there for getting help with these questions, especially
with Linux.

BLUG Mailing List:
Slackware IRC Channel: ##slackware on (You need to use an IRC client for this one)
Usenet: alt.os.linux.slackware
Slackware homepage:

Q7. What if I can't make it to one of the sessions?

Well, we're going to be sorry to miss you. If you have trouble
making it to many of them, then you should let me know ahead
of time in case we need to do some rescheduling. On the other
hand, these will be mostly independent pieces and you can very
easily pick this stuff up on your own in your own free time if
you want to do so. So, don't worry about not being able to make
it to some of the sessions.

Q8. Why Slackware?

If some of you have heard of Linux before and have looked
around at it, you'll probably wonder why I'm not going to teach
something like Redhat Enterprise Linux, Fedora, Ubuntu, or
Mandriva or the like. Well, that's actually pretty simple. This
is a class that's targeted at getting you to really understand
Linux, and especially as a computer scientist. In this respect,
Slackware presents the least extra things you have to know to
get a good understanding of how the system works. Things are
stable and consistent, and managing the system doesn't require
much more than an understanding of the command line and a text
editor. This can't be said for the other systems. Since you will
be using the command line a lot in your C.S. careers anyways,
it's a very good opportunity for you to use Slackware as well.

Slackware also has the advantage that it's very easy to
customize and has some of the most up-to-date software packages
around. Combined the its stability, Slackware makes it easier
for me to discuss the latest and greatest without sacrificing a
stable system. It also let's you as an user get what you want
on the system with a minimal of hassle. This is an advantage
when we're teaching you how to use Linux.

And, possibly the other interesting tidbit: if you come out
of this knowing how to use Slackware, then you can comfortably
migrate to any Linux system without trouble. That can't be said
for the others.

I look forward to seeing you all! Please send me comments, concerns,
conflicts, questions, and the like.

Aaron W. Hsu

BLUG mailing list

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