Learning Linux

A journey to the wellspring of hackerdom

January 30, 2023 · Felipe Vogel ·

Confession: until recently, I wasn’t a fan of the command line.

“What?! A whole year into your developer career, and you don’t live 24/7 in the terminal????!”

Nope. But a few months ago I discovered what the whole rest of the world already knows: tab completion! 🙈 And that made me wonder: what other command-line superpowers am I missing out on?

So I’ve embarked on a quest, a quest in which (fade in epic music) I will learn the the ways of the command line, to wield the ancient caret. But I will not stop there. Nay, for it is a quest to a far-off land, a land nearly as ancient as Unix Time itself: the land of Linux—er, GNU/Linux.

Digression: At one point in the long GNU/Linux naming controversy, the name “LiGNUx” was proposed. Good thing that didn’t catch on!

Linux learning resources

I’ve heard that the gold standard Linux education is to install it, mess around with it until it breaks, and then repeat.

But I like more structure in the beginning, so after Google-sleuthing for learning resources and crossing off some that I tried and didn’t find useful, here the promising prospects still on the list. The items preceded by a dollar sign (💲) are not free.

This list is excerpted from my learning roadmap, so check there for the latest version of the list.

But reading books about Linux wouldn’t do any good if I didn’t get my hands dirty too!

Installing Linux on my old laptop

I chose Linux Mint over Ubuntu because I like Mint’s more familiar UI, and the fact that it’s community-supported makes me feel superior 😏

I didn’t run into any major installation problems, and all my hardware works. Impressive! That certainly wasn’t the case the last time I tried Linux, but that was 15 years ago when I was a wee wannabe hacker. (Now I’m an adult wannabe hacker.)

So yeah… not much to say here because it was so easy.

Goodbye to Windows?

I’ve already confessed that I use Windows on my personal computer, and I use my non-optional work MacBook in a way as Windows-like as possible.

But recently I listed in my mind the things I like about Windows: customizability, lots of free apps, and a real Linux command line in WSL which gives me fewer headaches than the MacOS terminal.

Then it hit me: all of these points are even more true in Linux. So why not switch to Linux?

I want to switch, but the only snag is that I love AutoHotkey, and a Linux port is still in progress. I use AutoHotkey to make my keyboard and (especially) my mouse more useful. I could probably do the same things by other means in Linux—everything is customizable in Linux, after all. And anyway I might use my mouse less and less as I become more capable with the terminal. Still, I’ll wait a while in the hope that I’ll be able to more or less plop my AutoHotkey script into the Linux version.

But it’s only a matter of time before I switch. So I guess it’s appropriate to end with a non-ending.


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