[Clug-work] Unix lessons wanted

Pradesh Chanderpaul pradesh at myrealbox.com
Thu Sep 4 08:32:41 SAST 2008

Hi Arnold

Welcome to the world of UNIX. I admire your thirst for knowledge.

Let me explain that I'm not offering my services, but rather some advise
for you to get started.

You've probably heard this, but experience is your great teacher here.

UNIX has changes dramatically when I first started using it, and my UNIX
knowledge then hardly comes into play now. When I first started using
UNIX I used the command line all the time and loaded the graphics layer
to show off my friends. These-days I load the terminal program to show

I have two kids aged 7 and 12 that have been using Ubuntu Linux for
about 2 years now, My son installed Linux on my old laptop by himself
when he as 10!

My suggestion is to just play around, then as you need to do something,
search for it. UNIX to too vast a system to take any other approach,

This is what I did:
- Created a separate user account for my kids to log in and play around
  without fear. Remove admin type access.
- Changed the menu to only keep the important bits.
- Helped them to download their own desktop wallpaper (look at
  www.gnome-look.org/ )
- Installed an "Internet guard" (dansgardian) to protect my kids while
  surfing. My 12 year old uses the Internet only.

Changing the visual interface helped to get them familiar with the
machine and enjoy using it.

The next thing I did was to install software that they could use:
- gCompris - a very nice educational game for Unix
- madbomber - because my have an old Atari machine and the game is on
- Tuxpaint - beautiful paint too for kids (and adults)

The UNIX system comes with all the help you need. On the command prompt,
you can find information about (almost) any command installed on the
system. Use the 'man' command or 'info' command. For example

- man shutdown		- help on the shutdown command
- man -k shutdown	- search for commands related to keyword
- whatis shutdown	- Short description
- info make		- Provide tutorial, book or help on the
                          'make'. Uses links (like a web page, but
                          in text only). Not so easy to use at first.

'Tricky" installation almost always have no clear answer and you could
spend minutes, or days, getting it right. A good serach engine is your
friend here, and I found http://ubuntuforums.org/ an invaluable

For programming skills, well, choose a language and then get started.
There is a whole range of languages from logo (anyone remember the
turtle) to Java, C, Pascal, PHP, (Visual, cough)  Basic, and Lisp.

Most educational institutes use Visual Basic (use gambas
http://gambas.sourceforge.net/ )  or Java (Search for the free book Java
for Kids).

Even the command shells (there is more than one type) have a shell
language that will rival some of the popular ones today.

Feel free to contact me if there are specific details you require and
best wishes on your journey.


Pradesh Chanderpaul
DataCraft Software Consulting CC.
Tel     : +27 11 468 4045
Mobile  : +27 82 654 5765
Web     : http://www.datacraft.co.za

On Thu, 2008-09-04 at 06:09 +0000, Arnold Shapiro wrote:
> A 46 year old father and his 10 year old son need Unix lessons.
> We are computer literate.  We have installed the latest version
> of Ubuntu and are playing around with the various apps available.

> We need some help with how to install the more tricky programs
> and drivers (eg the driver for our wireless card).  We want to
> know about how to use the terminal properly and would like to
> find out about the best Unix apps available.  We would ultimately
> like to learn some rudimentary programming skills.  We have good
> equipment, a wireless home network and a 4 megabit ADSL line

> Windows and Mac machines are also available if we need them.

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