Linux and how it works

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As the owner of a Freekbox--or of any computer running Linux--you possess a machine that has virtually unlimited possibilities. And since the Linux system installed on it is Free Software, you can do anything you wish with it, no questions asked. Making it do the things you want it to do requires only that that you invest the time and effort to learn to configure and administer it. This class is designed to give you a healthy start on doing just that.

The primary purpose of the class is to give you a solid introduction to what Linux is and how it works. Rather than giving detailed instructions on performing specific tasks, emphasis is placed instead on the system as a whole and how its component parts fit together to make it function as it does. The goal is to help you understand how things work, why they work that way, and how that affects you as a system user and administrator. You will use the command line and the Gnome graphical interface to explore the system, in the process learning basic Linux techniques and terminology that you need to know in order to set it up to meet your needs, and in turn learning to use that knowledge to both find help with system administration and to properly carry out instructions once you have found them.

Topics covered in class sessions will vary, depending on the specific needs and interests of the students. As a result, not all the specific topics listed below will be covered in any given class. However, every session will include user and password administration and software installation, and always will emphasise ways to make your system both functional and secure.

Introduction: Students will answer the following questions:

  • How long have you had your Freekbox?
  • What is working for you? What do you need help with?
  • What do you use your box for primarily?
  • What do you hope to learn today?


  • Linux
    • What is it?
    • What can it do?
    • How does it work?
    • Why should I care?
  • The Linux System
    • Multitasking
    • Multi-user
    • Modular
    • Distributions

Class Activities:


  • Creating users
    • System>Administration>Users and groups
  • User permissions/Group permissions
Diversion: Have the students create an account and do nothing about permissions. Log out and log in to the new account and show that they cannot now access users and groups
  • Changing passwords

Apt, Synaptic and program installation

  • Open synaptic
  • Overview of packages
  • searching for packages
  • Discussion of dependencies and what is a package, using gtkboard as an example
  • Install example program(gtkboard is a good example)
  • a brief touch on .tar.gz files and why not to use them if you have a choice

The Linux filesystem structure

  • Overview
  • Creating directories
  • Permissions again

Networking for beginners

  • What is an IP address
  • What is a subnet mask
  • What is a gateway
  • Changing the name of your computer

Security concepts

  • Why Linux users are not afraid of viruses
  • What is a good password
  • Security updates, what does that mean?

Instructions for the Instructor

  • Set up class by setting up Freekboxen for all class participants. This includes:
    • One 17" beige monitor from the warehouse
    • One Freekbox
    • Keyboard, Mouse, Mouse pad, 2 Power cords.
  • Turn on all systems, Username: oem Password: freegeek
  • When class is over, please unplug everything from the system and leave the systems ready for Adoption Class the following day.
    • Delete any accounts that were created

  • Note: The class is actually fairly free-form with many diversions because of questions. The idea is to get across more understanding of the system and can depend a great deal on the students previous understanding.
  • Another note: If there are problem boxes, put a note on it explaining what went wrong and what you tried to do about it and put it in the tech support office. There are forms available for this purpose.