In the summer months this year (and hopefully more summers in the future), my office will be getting some student interns who will work for us for half of the day and then learn things from us for the second half. One of the first lessons I’m planning is a crash course in Linux. There are, of course, about a million different distros available, from mainstream releases like Ubuntu/Debian and Fedora to more–specialized releases, such as RebeccaBlackOS. For my purposes, though, I’m just going to focus on Ubuntu and two variants (the MATE and Cinnamon versions of Linux Mint) because, well, I’m most familiar with Ubuntu and some of its quirks, and while installing a new OS will be part of the first project, I don’t want to spend all of my first class just working through stupid install issues that I can’t help solve quickly.
But I’m offering several different variants because most of what I hope to teach will be happening on the command-line, and it won’t hurt these kids to get to make a few choices about their desktop environment. I like Unity quite a bit at this point (though I did initially downgrade from 10.10 netbook to 10.04 because GNOME 2 was a lot more stable back then), but I understand that there is a learning curve, which is why I’m offering the more Windows-like Cinnamon and MATE, a fork of GNOME 2 for those who might like a more classic Linux feel (not that I expect any of them to have any working knowledge of Linux coming in to the project).
For those of you who might like to play along at home (I plan to share some of my lessons here if I think they’re any good as a learning tool), I’m starting everyone out with a pretty basic load-out beyond the basic install. I’m asking everyone to install Guake, my favorite Quake-like drop-down terminal emulator, and Vim, because emacs is for losers and Nano, the default text editor, is no better than just using Notepad. If you’ve never used Vim before, you should probably go download it and run
vimtutor from the command line so that you can get the basics.