Advice, Gift of the Open Source Community

We sometimes may give newbies a hard time, but not everyone can know everything.

Last month we talked about the do-it-yourself tenet of the open-source philosophy. Closely linked to that one is this month's topic of discussion, advice. One of the best aspects of the community is the willingness to share experiences with one another, which can be especially gratifying if you are undertaking a new project. Without a doubt, one of the most popular article types on the Linux Journal web site—both most-read and most-submitted—is the how-to article.

Early in 2003, Jay Docherty began a series of articles detailing the steps to take when one decides to install Linux on a laptop. Indeed, if you want to run Linux on a Dell or Compaq or other major-vendor laptop, you're going to have to put it there yourself. His first article, “Advice for Buying a Linux-Compatible Laptop” (, offers some points to consider when you're buying a new laptop on which you want to install Linux. In part 2, “Setting Up a Base Linux Install on a Laptop” (, Jay explains how to install Debian Sid and compile a custom kernel for your installation.

Alternatively, if you want to have a full Linux workstation but can't and don't want to spend a bundle, take a look at Glenn Stone's article, “Roll Your Own $450 Linux Box” ( From the case to the video card to the CD-RW drive, Glenn offers suggestions for quality inexpensive hardware that will build a budget version of the Ultimate Linux Box. Of course, our readers had comments and advice of their own, so be sure to catch their postings at the end of the article.

Our most popular article so far this year has been Greg Kroah-Hartman's “Time for Users to Start Testing 2.5” (, in which Greg asks you, our readers, to help him and the rest of the kernel team test the development kernel. The comments quickly blossomed with questions and advice on how to get 2.5 working, so look for more testing and bug reporting help on the site as 2.6 draws closer.

Our web site maintains all of its articles, new and old; so if you do a little exploring, you might come across an article outlining the process of “Setting Up a VPN Gateway” ( Duncan Napier explains how to “install and run an IPSec-based VPN gateway with a firewall using a single bootable Linux diskette distribution”. If you'd like to set up a secure internet connection between your home system and your work LAN, this one should help you do exactly that.

If you have some project advice or experience you would like to share with others, perhaps saving them a few missteps along the way, send your ideas to New articles are posted on the web site every day.

Heather Mead is senior editor of Linux Journal.


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