Minimal skills

Ralf Mardorf ralf.mardorf at
Thu Jun 4 07:58:42 UTC 2020

On Thu, 4 Jun 2020 07:41:34 +0200, Polytropon wrote:
>If you don't mind, I'd suggest to dedicate a workstation PC
>or a laptop for FreeBSD, while having a second computer (or
>a smartphone) for web access (documtnation, mailing lists,
>or web forums).

On Wed, 3 Jun 2020 18:27:40 -0700, David Christensen wrote:
>For self-learning, the starting point is to obtain a working personal 
>computer (PC) and Internet access.  I suggest a Windows or macOS
>desktop or laptop computer [...] Do not make any dramatic changes to
>the PC, and do not attempt to install FreeBSD or any other operating
>system (e.g. "dual boot"). [...]
>Install virtualization software on your PC (I suggest VirtualBox). 
>Create a virtual machine (VM).  Install FreeBSD on the VM (see chapter
>3 of AF3E).  Don't worry if you make mistakes during installation -- 
>delete the virtual machine and start over.  Once you have a working 
>FreeBSD VM, shut it down and take a snapshot.


it's not easy to decide which of those two approaches is the better one.
I would say it's better to install FreeBSD on bare metal.
While the recommendation to use VirtualBox is very good, since it's
the easiest to use virtual machine, I dislike this idea for two reasons.
To learn how to maintain a computer, it's wise to learn the basics
regarding hardware and software, so it's way better to avoid a virtual
machine that fakes hardware and getting your hands dirty by touching
real hardware. Btw. starting with a desktop tower PC and a screwdriver
IMO is better, than starting with a laptop, since IMO you
literally should get in touch with the hardware.

I started with hardware modified C64 and Atari ST computers. In the
beginning a friend helped me with the hardware. The Atari ST had a 80286
hardware emulator and was running DR DOS. I learned different levels of
programming BASIC, PASCAL, Assembler, Turbo C++.

Later I migrated to a Windows 98 and user-friendly Linux
distro dual-boot PC, before I used FreeBSD and a user-centric
(non-user-friendly) Linux distro. I do not program with programming
languages anymore and I do not modify computer hardware using a
soldering iron anymore. Nowadays I only write shell scripts and I only
piece together ready-made computer modules.

A desktop tower PC's motherboard has got slots to connect hardware
cards, RAM etc. and shell scripts are quite powerful. It's good that I
used programming languages and a soldering iron in the past, but not
necessarily needed to maintain a modern computer.

Btw. one of my few contributions to FLOSS communities is helping novices
with Ubuntu Linux. My recommendation before starting with a BSD or not
user-friendly Linux distro is to start with a user-friendly Linux
distro. A dual-boot with e.g. Windows isn't necessarily required.
Consider to use Ubuntu first.

While for some domains I'm using an iPad, e.g. for drawing, the idea
that a beginner should have a Smartphone or tablet computer is only
useful to get information/help via Internet. A second PC or laptop
would allow to download and e.g. burn software, something that might be
even more helpful in some dead ends a greenhorn could experience. OTOH
neighbours or friends might assist, if you need more than a Smartphone
or tablet computer to fix an issue with your FreeBSD (or maybe Ubuntu
;) computer.


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