You need documentation that is appropriate to your level of Linux
expertise. Otherwise, you might feel overwhelmed or not find the
necessary information to answer any questions. The
Red Hat Linux Reference Guide deals with the more technical aspects and
options of a Red Hat Linux system. This section will help you decide whether
to look in this manual for the information you need or consider other
Red Hat Linux manuals, including online sources, in your search.
Three different categories of people use Red Hat Linux, and each of these
categories require different sets of documentation and informative
sources. To help you figure out where you should start, determine your
own experience level:
New to Linux
This type of user has never used any Linux (or Linux-like)
operating system before or has had only limited exposure to Linux.
They may or may not have experience using other operating systems
(such as Windows). Is this you? If so, skip ahead to Section 2.1 Documentation For First-Time Linux Users.
Some Linux Experience
This type of user has installed and successfully used Linux (but
not Red Hat Linux) before or may have equivalent
experience with other Linux-like operating systems. Does this
describe you? If so, turn to Section 2.2 For the More Experienced.
For someone new to Linux, the amount of information available on any
particular subject, such as printing, starting up the system or
partitioning a hard drive, can be overwhelming. It helps to initially
step back and gain a decent base of information centered around how Linux
works before tackling these kinds of advanced issues.
Your first goal should be to obtain some useful documentation. This
cannot be stressed enough. Without documentation, you will only become
frustrated at your inability to get a Red Hat Linux system working the way
You should acquire the following types of Linux documentation:
A brief history of Linux — Many aspects
of Linux are the way they are because of historical precedent. The
Linux culture is also based on past events, needs or
requirements. A basic understanding of the history of Linux will help
you figure out how to solve many potential problems before you
actually see them.
An explanation of how Linux works —
While delving into the most arcane aspects of the Linux kernel is
not necessary, it is a good idea to know something about how
Linux is put together. This is particularly important if you have
been working with other operating systems, as some of the assumptions
you currently hold about how computers work may not transfer from that
operating system to Linux.
An introductory command overview (with
examples) — This is probably the most important
thing to look for in Linux documentation. The underlying design
philosophy for Linux is that it is better to use many small commands
connected together in different ways than it is to have a few
large (and complex) commands that do the whole job
themselves. Without examples that illustrate this approach to
doing things, you may find yourself intimidated by the sheer
number of commands available on a Red Hat Linux system.
Keep in mind that you do not have to memorize all of the
available Linux commands. Different techniques exist to help you
find the specific command you need to accomplish a task. You only
need to know the general way in which Linux functions, what you
need to accomplish, and how to access the tool that will give you
the exact instructions you need to execute the command.
The Red Hat Linux Installation Guide is a excellent reference for
helping you get a Red Hat Linux system successfully installed and initially
configured. The Red Hat Linux Getting Started Guide covers basic system
commands, the graphical desktop environment, and many other
fundamental concepts. You should start with these two books and use
them to build the base of your knowledge of Red Hat Linux. Before long, more
complicated concepts will begin to make sense because you already
grasp the general ideas.
Beyond reading Red Hat Linux manuals, several other excellent documentation
resources are available for little or no cost:
2.1.1. Introduction to Linux Websites
— On the Red Hat website, you will find links to the Linux
Documentation Project (LDP), online versions of the Red Hat Linux
manuals, FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions), a database which can
help you find a Linux Users Group near you, technical
information in the Red Hat Support Knowledge Base, and more.
You can participate in newsgroups by watching the discussions of
others attempting to solve problems, or by actively asking or
answering questions. Experienced Linux users are known to be
extremely helpful when trying to assist new users with various Linux
issues — especially if you are posing questions in the right
venue. If you do not have access to a news reader application, you
can access this information via the Web at http://groups.google.com/. Dozens of
Linux-related newsgroups exist, including the following:
linux.help — A
great place to get help from fellow Linux users.
This newsgroup primarily covers Red Hat Linux-specific issues.
— Pose installation questions to this newsgroup or
search it to see how others solved similar problems.
— Questions or requests for help that do not really fit
into traditional categories go here.
— A good place to go if you are having trouble using
RPM to accomplish particular objectives.
2.1.3. Beginning Linux Books
Red Hat Linux for Dummies, 2nd Edition by Jon
"maddog" Hall; IDG
Special Edition Using Red Hat Linux by
Alan Simpson, John Ray and Neal Jamison; Que
Running Linux by Matt Welsh and Lar
Kaufman; O'Reilly & Associates
Red Hat Linux 8 Unleashed by Bill
Ball and Hoyle Duff; Pearson Education
The books suggested here are excellent primary sources of information
for basic knowledge about a Red Hat Linux system. For more in-depth
information concerning the various topics discussed throughout this
book, many of the chapters list specific book titles, usually in an
Additional Resources area.
2.2. For the More Experienced
If you have used other Linux distributions, you probably already have a
basic grasp of the most frequently used commands. You may have
installed your own Linux system, and maybe you have even downloaded and
built software you found on the Internet. After installing Linux,
however, configuration issues can be very confusing.
The Red Hat Linux Customization Guide is designed to help explain the
various ways a Red Hat Linux system can be configured to meet
specific objectives. Use this manual to learn about specific
configuration options and how to put them into effect.
When you are installing software that is not covered in the
Red Hat Linux Customization Guide, it is often helpful to see what other
people in similar circumstances have done. HOWTO documents from the
Linux Documentation Project, available at http://www.redhat.com/mirrors/LDP/HOWTO/HOWTO-INDEX/howtos.html,
document particular aspects of Linux, from low-level kernel esoteric
changes to using Linux for amateur radio station work.
2.3. Documentation for Linux Gurus
If you are a long-time Red Hat Linux user, you probably already know that one
of the best ways to understand a particular program is to read its source
code and/or configuration files. A major advantage of Red Hat Linux is the
availability of the source code for anyone to read.
Obviously, not everyone is a programmer, so the source code may not
be helpful for you. However, if you have the knowledge and skills necessary to
read it, the source code holds all of the answers.