a beginner

Jerry McAllister jerrymc at msu.edu
Fri Oct 12 10:15:55 PDT 2007

On Fri, Oct 12, 2007 at 11:47:17AM -0400, Connie Webb wrote:

> Please help as I don't know where to begin.

Presuming what you want to begin is learning and using FreeBSD,
the first thing is to start studying the extensive documentation
that is available.  See:

Especially read the FreeBSD Handbook:  

But, some of the other parts of documentation are helpful too.
  For Newbies gives a brief overview.  
  Publications lists lots of things published about FreeBSD, but there are 
    more, such as "FreeBSD Unleashed" which is missing from the list and 
    is pretty good.   Note that there may be more recent versions/editions 
    of the books listed.
  Online Books and Publications lists some of the online magazines and
    articles describing how people did things with FreeBSD.
  Don't forget the Manual Pages - usually called 'man pages' which you
    should install when you install install FreeBSD, but are also 
    available online.

But, since it is very difficult to just read stuff and understand it, 
I would suggest, after reading some of the beginning parts of the Handbook
such as 'Getting Started' and 'Installing FreeBSD',  commandeering a machine, 
downloading or buying the install CD for the latest RELEASE version and 
plugging it in and doing an install.  

Use it a bit just like that and maybe learn to configure X (x.org) 
and then after a while of playing so you have some familiarity, read
some more, wipe the whole thing and do the install again, for sure
with X and add some more things that you want to try, such as a web
server (Apache 2.2) and we Client/Browser (Firefox) and get Email set
up to your satisfaction.  

Keep reading the Handbook and other documentation.   It will give you 
ideas for additional things to try and improvements to make.   Keep in
mind that most of the people who write have favorite things that they
advocate.   The more religious they sound about it, the more likely it
is that there are other ways that may work just as well and, for your
specific purposes, whatever they are, even better.  So, try to stand a
little above the religious wars.  

For example, at the moment one of the hot wars seems to be about 
Email MTAs (Mail Transfer Agents).   They all work just fine for some 
applications and situations.  Sendmail, which comes included in a base
install, can be a little confusing to configure, but it comes included 
and already configured to work for a basic setup (which most people never
get beyond on a personal server), so, until you move to some more 
complicated/demanding situation (many thousands of accounts with different
rules for each or whatever), there is little need to worry about it.
Just learn from it. etc, etc, etc.

Another one that initiates religious wars is the text editor to use.
VI, Emacs, Vim, many others.
Try a few and find a favorite, but learn to use 'vi' at least well 
enough to get by.   The reason is that vi is always available in
UNIX systems (including FreeBSD) and much system management seems
to assume you are using vi.  So, you are going to get stuck with it
at times and, like many things, once you get used to it, it will
seem almost second nature.   I wrote up a page on learning to use
very basic vi.  It doesn't tell you everything about it.  There are
many more quite powerful things you can do, but if you learn the 
basics, you can do almost everything you need to do while managing
a FreeBSD (or any other UNIX) system.  That page is at:


Unfortunately, it is currently on a machine I have to take down frequently
for various work needs.  So, if it doesn't come up, check again an hour
or so later.  It will probably be back up.

Have fun.   FreeBSD is a very sophisticated and reliable OS, intended
for real computer work.  It is not just a toy, but once you get used
to it, its value becomes more apparent and /usr/ports/... is loaded
with eye candy as well as more useful work tools.


> Connie Webb
> Montgomery County Courts
> Helpdesk Specialist
> 41 N. Perry Street
> Dayton, Ohio
> Phone: 937-225-3480
> email: webbc at montcourt.org
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