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As a new user you've installed and used Linux. You are quite happy with the way it works for you over a period of time. You're comfortable with KDE and all the GUI tools that Linux provides and you are itching to explore the *nix world beyond the fancy graphics. Now that your system is stable and running, you're not sure what to do next or how to continue in the learning curve without messing up what you've achieved so far. Well, here are some of my tips for those wanting to make the next step.
If you're happy as a Linux user, stop here. Here are some ideas meant for those who are really interested in digging deeper into *nix as such.
Posted on Wed, Apr 5, 2006 at 13:35 IST (last updated: Wed, Oct 29, 2008 @ 22:01 IST)
Stop using KDE
Stop depending on KDE and its useful apps. This way, once you force yourself to look at alternatives, you'll actually find yourself using the command line a lot more. This is the best way to learn it. Man pages are your friends. If you're looking for a WM I recommend fluxbox or IceWM.
Try a different distro
Assuming you have free partitions on your current setup, you can try installing another distro to multi-boot more than one distro. It's actually easy to add more entries to the existing grub or lilo configuration. In case you don't have free partitions, consider getting a second hard disk. Otherwise you can get hold of an old machine and try installing Linux on it.
The advantage of using more than one distro is that you learn more distro-specific tools and also you can experiment with one distro without the fear of messing things up, while keeping your main distro stable and running as normal.
If you're comfortable with GUI-based distros like Fedora, Suse or Mandriva, I suggest Gentoo or Slackware.
Compile a kernel
Get the latest kernel from www.kernel.org and compile your own kernel. It's actually very easy to compile a kernel. This will also allow you to learn more about your hardware specifications and how device drivers are actually used in Linux.
Push productivity to its limits
How much can you do with a minimalistic set up? Can you switch from your favourite GUI editor to vi/vim? Can you find alternatives to perform certain tasks from the command line? Can you switch from a WYSIWYG office program to LaTeX? This will be a good challenge over a period of time and should be fun learning too.
Another opportunity is to try and build a system from scratch. A good way is to try and convert a bare minimum Linux installation into a fully functional media workstation or a production server.
Learn a programming language
Take your pick: Shell scripting, C, C++, Perl, Python, PHP, Java among others. Programming for *nix can be fun and challenging. Apart from the language, try and learn different GUI toolkits, media libraries and so on. The list of opportunities is almost endless.
When you are finally confident that you can handle Linux and all its vagaries including compiling a kernel, consider moving on to FreeBSD or a similar OS. BSD is closest to the original UNIX platform (BSD is UNIX ported to the PC). Now you can proudly proclaim that you know UNIX!