NEWS: Indian Linux guru puts together a 'teaspoon' of GNUtraining

NEWS: Indian Linux guru puts together a 'teaspoon' of GNUtraining

Post by Frederick Noronh » Sat, 08 Dec 2001 05:48:52



INDIAN LINUX GURU PUTS TOGETHER A 'TEASPOONFUL' OF GNU-TRAINING

By Frederick Noronha

SPOON-FEEDING may be a term with unpleasant connotations. But a South Indian
Linux guru has compiled a 'teaspoonful' of training that could make it easy
to understand and master the world's best-known 'free' OS (operating system)
that has many advantages and yet can also be difficult to get started on.

Looking for an excellent one-stop resource for learning about Linux? Want a
handy one-stop answer for all your questions about Linux? 'Linux in a
teaspoon' -- a one CDROM collection of tutorial material on Linux --
promises just that.

"The title is inspired from the famous books titled 'xxx in a nutshell' and
exploits the metaphor of 'spoon-feeding'," say the compilers behind this
interesting product brought out from India, a country with considerable
software skills where Linux is gaining growing attention in IT circles.

GNU/Linux in a teaspoon (Ver. 3) has been compiled by Algologic Research and
Solutions, based in the city of Secunderabad, South India. As is prominently
mentioned, this CD-ROM is "for personal, academic usage only and not for any
commercial exploitation".

(Linux, or more accurately GNU/Linux, is a package of computer applications
and an operating system, which functions as an alternative to Microsoft
Windows or Apple's MacOS. Linux can replace Windows on your computer
desktop, or Windows NT on your server.)

Now, the two co-authors promise that this CD-ROM could be "your introduction
to the magic of GNU/Linux". Many users of this alternative Operating System,
which is now taking even the business-world by storm, swear by its efficiency
once they get started on using it. But getting started can be tough...

Put together by Grenoble-educated engineering doctorate holder S
Parthasarathy and a young GNU developer Raghuram this is a useful product.

On the CD are over 40 full-length text books and over 200 HOWTO documents
covering every aspect of Linux in, what they authors call "a profound but
readable style". It also includes over 120 mini-HOWTOs and 'tons' of
tutorial material, plus numerous links and pointers to more resources on the
world wide web. As if this were not enough, the CDROM also includes 70
issues of Linux Gazette.

To put this together, the team had to compile over 17,000 files in over
3,000 directories. They merged this all in a single, easy-to-use top-level
navigational index. Its price -- at just Rs 300 in India (around US$ 7) --
is a modest enough price to basically meet copying, media costs, delivery
and direct overheads only, say the authors.

Dr Partha, as he is called, is an active contributor to the Linux movement.
Some of his contribution to the Linux documentation project have been
translated into Japanese, Dutch and French. Raghuram is also the moderator
of the Linux Users Group in the South Indian city of Hyderabad, the
twin-city of Secunderabad.

Some warnings: this is only a training CD ROM. It does not contain
installable Linux versions.  Yet, the neat manner of compiling this
information, and the affordability of this package, make it a useful
contribution.

Doc Partha's style is interesting. In the 'homepage' of the CDROM, he
provokes the reader, suggesting you "do not read" the material that follows
if you believe in certain "myths" about Linux.

For instance, he says, stay off if you believe Linux is no fun. Or if you
buy the argument that Linux is hard to install. (Besides, we are also
reminded, dual boot 'bigamy' is permitted in computing.) For each such myth,
the doctor goes on to offer detailed answers why things are not so.

One gets a chance to see very attractive screen-shots of what's possible
under Linux. Or to learn the exciting role played by Linux worldwide... say
in propping up well-respected search engine google.com There are cartoons
which poke fun at *the* rival OS (no prize for guessing which).

The approach taken by this CD ROM is interesting -- standards are
maintained. You're not even locked down to Linux to read it. "Get the best
out of the CDROM if Linux is installed. Otherwise too, you can browse HTML
and PDF pages on other OSs," the reader is told.

Its "preferably" to go through the CD while being connected to the Internet.
This allows additional information to be got through links provided. But,
without this too, you can get "lots of things to read and learn".

This CD includes some very useful guides -- books already published abroad,
and often reproducible freely under GNU or other licenses, quite unlike
restrictive copyright policies that could make information unaffordable and
out of reach of the Third World.

Some of this CD's material includes the Simple Users' Guide for Linux,
Learning Linux from Scratch, Learn Unix, and the much-appreciated RUTE to
Linux. Useful back-issues of Linux Gazette, LinuxFocus and the like are also
included.

Other myths that Doc Partha systematically demolishes are: Linux is not
manageable (by me). There are no applications software for Linux. Linux is
just a black box. Linux is no good for real-time systems and embedded
systems.

In putting this together, the Secunderabad team has also been careful about
being rather subtle in promoting its own Linux-training courses... often
in a polite, tongue-in-cheek manner.

There are two or three references to the Linux services Algologic offers.
(It has its own training course -- a dosage of eight 'teaspoons' of Linux,
spread over two days.) But, at the same time you're also reminded that you
can learn Linux by yourself, even though, as the authors put it, learning
with them is the painless route.

Need more free advice? Algologic's answer is: "Do anything, ask anybody
except Algologic." As the firm goes on to explain: "We are actually
overwhelmed by general enquiries about Linux. This CDROM should hopefully
answer all your questions, or point to resources where you can find answers.
In any case, do not send us any general enquiry about Linux. We *do not*
answer such mail and enquiries."

It offers many pointers though, and the firm also itself offers professional
-- paid, that is -- advice. This CD-ROM seems to be an interesting model of
sharing its resources while still building up a route to earn the money that
will keep up the company's bottom-line.

Says young co-author Raghuram: "Linux means Freedom, freedom of thought and
freedom of using it according to your requirement. Its a way of life and
once you are *ed you cannot change it, rather you wont feel like using
any other operating system." He believes Linux makes on concentrate "on
skills rather than on your benefits, as they will surely come your way".

This CD-ROM could go quite some way to build up awareness about Linux in
India -- a country with ambitions of becoming a software superpower, where
'free' and open source software is attractive for many reasons, not just the
fact that it is affordable and piracy-free. (ENDS)
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CONTACTS: To find out more about the product, contact Dr. S. Parthasarathy,
Phone +91-40-775 1650 Algologic Research & Solutions Email:

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