lessons Lessons Learned Along the Way:

The following is a list of important lessons that have been hard-won by painful experience. Ignore them at your peril:

1. Patience; with it, all problems are solvable; without it, your better off not even trying.

2. Linux is not Windows; do not, repeat, do not, re-boot at the first sign of a problem. Do not make unnecessary mouse clicks, in a vain attempt to kick-start or close a recalcitrant application that is hanging. Take your time, think it through. I fall else fails, you can always cntr-alt-backspace to kill KDE and then easily restart it. Wild clicking only exasperates the problem, whatever it is. Sometimes, Linux, just like a person, needs time to digest the commands already given to it; give it time to sort itself out when necessary. Walk away for a while, if necessary.

3. Installation woes are my most common problem. Any hacker who can make installation ofnew applications easier will be doing a good thing indeed.

4. Installation: if you have problem during an installation, whether when installing from source using ./configure, make, make install; or when using rpm -i, or whatever, recall this immediately: Many other bright people have probably had the exact same problem! So, if you go look for it, there is probably a well-documented solution to just this problem. Often, it is right in a readme file, often, it is right on the web site from which you downloaded the file to begin with. Do a Google search if necessary, but be aware this is the fastest way to solve your problem; find the docs on how others have solved it.

5. Installation: When all else fails, be methodical. Read the README's, read the installation instructions, observe the error messages when installation fails.

6. Become familiar with the file system. These directories, and what's in them, are quite important. They are a big part of what you need to know in order to make solving problems easier.

7. Try to be methodical in all you do, whenever practical. But be aware, that by playing around you will learn the basic skills necessary to help you understand the solutions to future problems. After all, finding the documented solutions is one thing; understanding how to use them is another.

8. Don't use Netscape 4.7; use Mozilla, use Opera, use whatever you want, but just don't use Netscape 4.7.

9. Learn the Bash shell commands.

10. Learn the Bash shell configuration files such as .bashrc which is usually in your home directory. Since it is a sort of hidden file, you won't see it unless you are in root. Be aware that under different Linux systems, these congfiuration files may go by slighty different names. Whatever their names, learn them.

If you learn and use these ten rules of thumb, you will be well on the road to vistory.

My current setup is very stable. Ah, yes, Sweet Stability. I am no longer in Cron-Hell, my cron works fine. My applications I use every day work fine. Linux rocks.

Take it one day at a time. Learning and using Linux is a journey, a process. Enjoy the journey. Savor and cherish the process. Live the way of Linux.

But keep on keeping on. Every single day you learn new thngs. You learn the most, often times, by your problems. If you struggle for an hour with a tough installation issue, you learn a whole lot about file systems, what is where, what does what, etc. Even if you do not solve the problem that day, yes, especially when you fail, you learn; you learn by doing, and by attempting to do. When you try something new, you learn the most.

Long live the experience.

Ron Stephens
July 7, 2002