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Basic Linux Training

Lesson 16: Beyond This Course

Table of Contents


This course was advertised as "A brief and very basic introduction to the Linux operating system and XFree86 for Intel 80386 or better PCs." In the previous 15 lessons, we've covered an enormous amount of material in Running Linux, with roughly 400 URLs - including over 200 Linux HOWTOs and mini-HOWTOs, several online books, tutorials and courses. You have a book list of another 60 books and a bookmark file several hundred additional links, and a list of Linux Users Groups worldwide with over 200 working URLs.

If you've read the textbook and done the assignments, you should have a very solid, basic understanding of the Linux operating system. You should feel comfortable enough to handle almost anything as a user and be well on your way to dealing with the routine tasks of system administrators.

However, you need to be aware that there is a lot of important stuff we did not cover - areas like security, privacy, copyright, programming, etc. And in most of the areas that we did cover, you may need to continue experimenting and learning. It is up to you to follow through with your training.

  • You have an operating system second to none, and you got it free, complete with source code and all the programming tools and compilers you'll need to maintain the system. Literally hundreds of programmers and hackers have contributed to Linux, and it's getting better all the time because it is free and open.

  • Everything you need in the way of documentation is available online, and also free. There's another couple of hundred people involved in writing and maintaining these invaluable texts. Some of them are well written and easy to follow; others are not. But as Linux develops so will the documentation.

    • You did pay for the convenience of having all the essential source code and binaries collected onto a CD-ROM, and, of course, you bought the textbook. That's a very small price compared to the alternative operating systems.

  • Now you can put all your computer money into hardware where it belongs!

One thing I hope you will do this weekend is review all your notes. Make corrections where needed, elaborate where your notes get a little thin, clarify where they get a little fuzzy. Do it while it's still fresh in your mind. Use your original notes as a rough draft and rewrite your notes. After you've done that, I would appreciate it very much if you would take the time to point out areas where you think the course could use some adjusting - where it was too fast or too slow, where you had too much or too little detailed information to work with, and also how you think this course could be better.

Continuing Your Training

Where you begin will depend on your particular interests. If you're interested in programming, system administration, high resolution graphics, games, or just cruising the Internet, there's always more to learn.

I strongly recommend that you find a Linux User's Group nearby and get active. If there's not one where you live, start one - our LUG didn't exist 10 months ago, now we have over 100 members. Read through the User Group HOWTO, by Kendall Grant Clark of North Texas Linux Users Group in Dallas-Ft. Worth which will give you more details. There is also a new mailing list specifically for starting and maintaining a LUG. If you're interested, there is also a mailing list devoted to LUG-support. (Send e-mail to with the message subscribe lug_support [youraddress].)

Keep monitoring news:comp.os.linux.announce to stay on top of what's happening in the Linux community. Subscribe to some of the mailing lists that interest you most. Read the Linux Gazette online every month, and subscribe to the Linux Journal, or buy it at your favorite newsstand like I do. Get in the habit of checking a few sites on a weekly basic and others monthly to keep up with what's going on in the Linux community worldwide. There are a few additional links below.

And while you're cruising through the newsgroups, take a look at all the software updates and new releases in news:comp.os.linux.announce since you started the course! And think want it would have cost you with the operating systems!

Looking through the Trades

Hardware prices are likely to continue to fall as they pave been for the past year or more, while performance will continue to go through the roof.

There are realistic expectations of achieving 10,000 MHz chips within a decade.

ADSL could be available within a year - perhaps 40 or 50 times faster than your 28.8 modem, and roughly the same price as conventional 56K or IDSN. We might all be using cable modems within 5 years at T3 or better speed for the same price or less than we are paying for 28.8/56 K service.

In 1996 and again last year (1997) the production and sales of mainframe computers has gone up about 55 to 60 percent, and sales are expected to quadruple by the year 2000. Corporations and web servers are returning to mainframes because they have become more cost effective.

As more and more end-users and businesses are taking a serious look at their computing needs and how to get more of it done in less time for less money, Linux will continue to expand. And with that expansion, commercial software manufacturers will start porting all their applications to Linux. Eventually, within 5 years say, this may reverse - development could very well become Linux native, porting applications to other operating systems that have been developed for Linux.


If you check the listing on the LDP homepage, you'll see some interesting projects that are currently in various stages of development: for example, the ongoing SEUL project to simplify the interface with the end user so they won't have to learn Linux inside out just to get it installed and configured properly.

There are several major projects getting increasing support - voluntary hardware certification will pick up as more and more manufacturers see the potential in the explosive growth of Linux, there are projects to simplify the installation and configuration process, and a certification project for Linux consultants technicians and engineers.

All of this will mean that Linux will get better and become more popular as it becomes easier to install, configure, and use. With that popularity will come even more support from hardware manufacturers and software developers.

And, yes, Virginia, with more talented word smiths, the HOWTOs and mini-HOWTOs will get more readable ;-) Something that is long overdue.

There's still the question of the first killer app, though. No one has any idea what it will be, where it will come from, or when. But with literally tens of thousands of experienced programmers and hackers working on various parts, it could come at any time. Also, with the explosive growth of Linux in the last 12 to 18 months, hardware manufacturers are beginning to take notice of the potential market of Linux users. (Red Hat has revised it's estimate of Linux users worldwide as possibly 7 to 10 millions. That sounds reasonable to me, but no one really knows because there are no expensive licenses to count.)



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Date last revised: 5 June 1998

Copyright © 1997, 1998 Henry White. All Rights Reserved.
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