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Re: Linux for newbies
From: Quentin Hartman <qhartman () lane k12 or us>
Date: Fri, 14 Nov 2003 11:38:59 -0800

On Thu, 2003-11-13 at 14:22, Matt Atkins wrote:
First of all, I want to tell all of you what a great mailing list this is.  
I am just starting to scratch the surface of network security, and this list 
is the major source of my information, ideas, and motivation to learn.

Me too. :)

In my first of many posts, I would like to ask the group what flavor of 
Linux is recommended for a newbie.  I have no experience with Linux, and 
want to teach myself the ins and outs.  I will probably be purchasing a book 
or 2 to help get things off the ground, so a good book recommendation would 
also be appreciated.

        You will likely get two classifications of answer to this question.
From the "make it easy to get results fast camp" you will see responses
along the lines of Redhat, Mandrake, and Suse. From the "Don't make it
too easy so you actually know what is going on" camp you will see
responses like Debian, Gentoo, and Slackware. All are valid answers
depending your philosophy and motivations. And realistically, pretty
much any "real" (read: not Lindows) modern Linux distro will likely
serve you well. They all have strengths and weaknesses, but I have not
seen one in many years that could not be classified as "good".
        I personally am from the second camp. Get your hands dirty, get well
under the hood, and _really learn_ what makes the OS tick, not just how
to use the customized configuration tools that "Shiny Distro X"
provides. I personally like Gentoo because I like how portage works,
that it is source based, has good documentation, and has a very strong
and helpful user community. I also have a great deal of respect for
Debian and Slackware, though they aren't really my cup of tea and my
experiences with them have been limited and not terribly positive. 

        As far as books go, O'reilly books are typically excellent. Since you
are obviously interested in security, I have to say that I consider
"Practical Unix & Internet Security" 3rd Edition to be a great
reference, and "Computer Security Basics" provides a good broad
overview, though not Linux specific. "Essential System Administration"
is also a top-drawer title. There are many others that I have read and
are good, but their titles escape me at the moment. Really though, the
best reference really is right here, ye olde Internet. The Linux
Documentation Project (www.tldp.org) is very nearly an authoritative
resource on most facets of using Linux, and using Google to search mail
list and newsgroup archives has proven to be invaluable to me. The
Gentoo user forums (forums.gentoo.org) are also chock full of useful
tidbits, especially if you choose to use Gentoo.


-Quentin Hartman-

Academic Computing and Networking Services Coordinator
Fern Ridge School District 28J
Elmira, OR
Office: 541-935-2253 x429
Cell: 541-914-2989
qhartman () lane k12 or us

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