Hi there,
I have heard so much about Unix but still know so little. 'Its an operating system that puts me in control' is about as far as i got.
What are the potentials?
What would i need to do to my windows Xp laptop to run Unix?
What kind of software and books should i be looking at?
How much experience do i need to be any good at it?
Are there any courses out there that one could attend to be a 'GURU"?
I need help please and was told i could find answers here. Please reply asap:icon_cool:

Personally I have no direct experience with unix, except of course mac os x (I guess its unix...), but I do have experience with both freeBSD and various linux distros. So I will respond to the best of my knowledge in accordance with my previous experiences with freeBSD and linux.

>What are the potentials?

Basically power. With linux, the potentials are endless. With a little programming and linux experience it is possible to do anything free of charge. Do you want to make your gui look like windows, mac os x, or something completely different? With linux you have choice regarding almost every aspect of your system (including the kernel, the core of your operating system). The neat thing about this is individuality. Linux has no "defaults" (except maybe for compilers. When one compiles almost any program for linux, one uses the gcc: the Gnu Compiler Collection.) and therefore can function and look like anything.

> What would i need to do to my windows Xp laptop to run Unix?

check out the following websites:

http://www.freebsd.org/188189188188 a very "unix like *nix. Derived directly from unix"

http://www.linux.com/189190189189 a general linux website. A great place to get started.

http://www.gnu.org/190191190190 the official website of the GNU project (Gnu's not unix). Learn about the philosophies of free software and why its is superior morally.

I suggest you start about with a nitty and gritty linux "distro" (a distro is what linux users call a flavor or varient of linux.)

Below are some linux distros I recommend to learn linux as fast as possible:

http://www.gentoo.org/191192191191 build your own operating system! compile everything from scratch and learn a lot about linux! (this might be over the head of a new linux user but if you are up to the challenge...). Very "bsdish" and therefore "unixish."

http://www.archlinux.org/192193192192 the best distro in the world! (its the one I use) Since all the software packages are compiled for the intel i686 architecture its blazing fast! (14 second boot up time with a 5600 rpm harddrive!) Also very "unixish."

http://www.slackware.com/193194193193 small, simple, and stable slackware is a good solid distribution. The oldest distro is current development. Also very "unixish."

http://www.linuxfromscratch.org/194195194194 build your own linux distribution! Not recommended for the faint of heart. (definitely over the head of a new linux user but if you want a challenge or want to be frustrated try it.)

http://www.debian.org/195196195195 the de facto standard for web servers and therefore probably the second most stable operating system after freeBSD. The second oldest distro in active development.

> What kind of software and books should i be looking at?

You probably should learn from trial and error, it allows you to truly understand the problem. Google questions you have or post on daniweb, I and many others will be happy to assist you.

>How much experience do i need to be any good at it?

Depends. If you jump straight into the deep end with some of the above distros probably a few months. If you stunt your growth distros that hide the internal workings of linux maybe a few years.

>Are there any courses out there that one could attend to be a 'GURU"?

to be a linux guru you probably want to be familiar with most shell commands, and know the following programming languages:


After you have a good grasp on all the above languages you might want to look into kernel development. Only a kernel hacker can claim to be a true guru.

NOTE: one of my firefox extensions adds a random string of letters to all urls I post. I cannot help this!

i would start out with linux, and then move on to unix. Solaris is good, freebsd is really stupid and hard to setup, but will learn tons while doing it.

if you want a unixey linux use slackware

or gentoo or arch

slack is easier to install IMHO and has a BSD sysinstall - like installer

Being a Linux user for the past 13 years, (starting when I was 6), one of the biggest brainf***s you could do is start with a UNIX system (the only exception being Mac OS X - which is a Darwin/BSD UNIX core), especially when you are coming fresh from the Windows world of computing.

I change distributions, practically, every few months, and I have finally settled on Debian. It's small, easy to setup (my brother, who doesn't know the difference between the CPU and RAM was able to successfully install it without any of my help), and it doesn't have ridiculously bulky packages and clunky dependencies like the RPM-based distributions.

Spend a few, comfortable years (or a few fast-paced, accelerated months) learning conventions inherent in Linux; most importantly, learn to use the command line. Learn about logical command chaining, and how to - essentially - control the computer from the command line (setting up/monitoring daemons "servers", administrating users and processes on and off networks, man pages).

After you're comfortable, with that, you will need some handbooks for the UNIX (*BSD or Solaris) way of things, and you will be set to go. There are subtle differences between LSB (Linux Standard Base) programs and UNIX programs; keep in mind Linux is more so a giant collective of thought, like the Borg, whereas the UNIX world is essentially multiple mimicries on the same entity by huge corporations (SCO, Sun, HP, etc.).

For example, to list all running processes from all users on a Linux system: $ ps -ef And on a *BSD system, it would be: $ ps aux .
Subtle differences like that.

As for my opinions on other Linux distributions, here goes:
Gentoo - don't waste your time. It's trim, but I don't want to spend 2+ hours installing an OS. I could see it being a good tool for learning the short and curlies of a Linux machine from the inside-out, but after a while, you may find that waiting 20+ minutes to install, erm compile, Firefox isn't worth the wait.

Fedora, Mandriva and other RPM-based distros - Too bulky and too clunky. They're perfect distributions for setting up on workstations where is strictly for end-users in, say, an office situation where the users need to do work, and aren't learning about Linux systems. Also, as far as system configuration goes, they hold your hand something fierce.

Debian, Ubuntu and other DEB-based distros - Really good. Ubuntu is perfect for the new-to-Linux-from-the-Windows-world type of person (such as yourself). It aids the user in things such as system configuration and installing/removing packages (programs), but doesn't pamper you to the degree most RPM-based distros do; it provides adequate control without too much abstraction. Once you get comfortable with Ubuntu, I suggest you give Debian a shot.

yes debian is faster and more lightweight than ubuntu IMHO but ubuntu is easier to get codecs etc... set up and has a livecd

commented: ... welcome back +3
commented: I agree +9