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To: gentoo-doc@g.o
From: Ted Kosan <tkosan@...>
Subject: Re: Gentoo newbie ebook
Date: Tue, 30 Jan 2007 21:56:43 -0800 (PST)
Jan wrote:

> you might be interested in a draft of the "Introduction to Linux" stuff 
> [1] than one of our developers started some time ago. 

Thank you for letting me know about this document.  I had not seen it before
but I think it contains some very useful information.

Josh wrote:

> Problem is, a general book about Linux
> fundamentals is not necessarily what Gentoo needs -- users (and
> developers) need to know specifics about *our* OS. The general Linux
> concepts they can pick up from just about anywhere. That information has
> been duplicated ad infinitum; just stroll down to your local bookstore
> or browse the web. You want to know the specific Gentoo stuff? Our
> installation handbook and online documentation suffice quite nicely.

I think that a problem for most newbies is that they are overwhelmed by the
huge amount of Linux information that is available and they do not know where
to begin.  Beyond this, most Linux-oriented information assumes the user has a
solid fundamental understanding of how a computer works.  Many Linux experts
gained their understanding of how a computer works on relatively simple
machines ( like Commodore 64s and Apple IIs ) and when they began learning how
UNIX-like operating systems worked, the fundamental knowledge they already had
enabled them to grasp the UNIX information quickly.

Unfortunately, the fundamentals of how a computer works is not taught as widely
today as it was in the past and this lack of fundamental information is a huge
barrier that newbie must overcome before they start studying Linux.

I am not aware of any distros that are currently taking the time to provide
newbies with the fundamental pre-Linux computer knowledge they need.  I do
think, however, that a distro that took on this challenge would generate a
significant amount of interest.

> That's why I'm still up in the air about Sven's old draft handbook --
> there's a very fine line to walk. You can either just write something
> that is more generic, and has fewer distro-specific
> commands/suggestions/discussions (in which case what's the point?) or
> you can show users what they need to know to accomplish tasks "The
> Gentoo Way". Finding the balance between the two (if there is one), is
> tough. Especially since I'm not too sure that someone who first needs to
> know how a computer works (or what it is!) should be trying to figure
> out Gentoo just yet. ;) -- Hey, I could be wrong; maybe Gentoo would
> make a great object lesson.

My opinion is that Gentoo does provide just the right technologies ( and just
the right balance between difficulty and simplicity ) to allow a newbie to go
from knowing almost nothing about computers through grasping the fundamentals. 
Once they have the fundamentals, learning the Linux-oriented materials is much

It has been my experience that around 75% of the students who try to install
Gentoo Linux on their own, fail and give up.  My expectation is that the
materials I have written should be able to drop the failure rate to below 25%.

> All that being said, do take a look at the draft Jan linked; it's
> already CC-licensed, and our policy thus far (based on precedent) is
> that we don't host documents here that haven't been guideXMLified and
> properly licensed without the prior approval of the author(s).

I like the draft document quite a bit, but the materials I have created are
aimed at a different goal than it is :-)

As for the document format, the materials I have written are currently in
OpenDocument format, but they could be transformed into another format like
guideXML.  I think, however, that a case could be made for leaving them in a
format that has the look and feel of a traditional book.


gentoo-doc@g.o mailing list

Re: Gentoo newbie ebook
-- Chris Gianelloni
Re: Gentoo newbie ebook
-- Josh Saddler
Re: Gentoo newbie ebook
-- Josh Saddler
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