Learning Open Source

by Ben Bullock

The place to start when first venturing into the land of open source software is with an open source operating system, such as Linux or FreeBSD. Linux is probably the most user-friendly of the bunch with FreeBSD a close second. There are several Linux distributions available, such as RedHat Linux (www.redhat.com) and Mandrake Linux (www.linuxmandrake.com). It makes sense to obtain an official boxed copy of the operating system of your choice the first time or two you install it because you will get a set of directions that explains the procedure.

Following the installation you need to get hold of a book or two on introductory Linux and start reading and experimenting. You might as well plan on blowing away your first installation as you learn the ropes. There are a number of good books available at any of the large bookstores such as Borders or Barnes and Noble. Hands-On Linux by Mark Sobell is often recommended for the beginner. There is also Running Linux, third edition by Matt Welsh. You might even consider starting with one of the Dummies books if you have no previous UNIX experience. Some additional books that would be of value once you get your feet on the ground:

A lot of information is also available online at sites such as:

Somewhat more advanced sites would include:

You can expect to spend several months at the very least learning how to run and configure any of the freely available open source software operating systems. Patience and persistence are virtues in this process.

If you want to keep up on the latest news, these sites are recommended: