just how much can you do with?

blinux.list at thechases.com blinux.list at thechases.com
Sat Mar 2 19:08:46 UTC 2013

On March  2, 2013, Karen Lewellen wrote:
> My frustration is that there is no, or not that I can find
> simple single basic Linux source book.

You might try Michael Stutz's "Linux Cookbook" (another book
with the same title, by Carla Schroeder is also available,
but I've not read that one, so I can't speak to it) is
freely available online at


I have it in dead-tree, and even as a long-time *nix user, I
learned new things reading it.

> This is what makes hands on training so special.  Those in
> class get the uniform basis, but a teacher can speak to
> the individual needs of the student before them.

You might be able to find something at a local community
college.  Unfortunately, from what I've seen Linux has
gotten to the degree of "user friendliness" (read "things
hidden behind a GUI") that these courses may not be quite so
accessible, or they might teach a particular distro.

> The speakup manual i have references keys I cannot even
> find on the keyboard due to the names given them.

If you can give examples, others here on the list might be
able to help.  A cursory read over the docs at
http://www.linux-speakup.org/spkguide.txt I see a lot of
references to "keypad {number}" which usually refers to the
keypad on the side of a regular keyboard.  On a laptop,
those keys are often translated to the right portion of the
keyboard so you have M=0, J=1, K=2, L=3, U=4, I=5, O=6, and
7, 8, and 9 are the same.  Sometimes this needs to be
enabled by either a "numlock" or "function lock" button, but
laptops vary so much in this regard that you might need
sighted help to test them out.

> How much can one accomplish using the equivalent of .bat
> file work in Linux?

These are called "shell scripts" and are much more powerful
than .bat files in DOS.  Over at Linux Journal, Dave Taylor
has a long-running series of "Work the shell" articles
archived at
which can walk you through the basics through more advanced

Additionally, most distros come with a multitude of
full-fledged programming languages you can use for more
complex tasks.  I tend to prefer Python, but Perl and Ruby
are both usually available.

> I have already decided that what I will be able to do with
> this machine may be confined to one or two functions only,
> media that I cannot access others, and extra word
> processing, assuming the Linux edition of wordperfect I
> have can be incorporated into debian.

>From the console, I've found that it's easier to use a
text-based source and then post-process it into the desired
format(s).  So you might author your document in DocBook,
LaTeX, HTML, or Markdown using your favorite editor, then
use a command to produce a resulting PDF, HTML, or .DOC file
output.  I tend to compose in HTML and then generate output
directly from that (if I even need to, as most folks know
how to handle HTML files just fine).

I've heard of folks running WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS inside a
dosbox, but I've not played with that, nor can I speak to
how accessible it might be.

> Oh and that my printer will work lol.

I'm afraid I can't help as much there.  However, most Linux
installs provide "CUPS" (the Common Unix Printing System)
which also happens to have a web-based administrative
interface that you can use to add/manage your printer(s).
As long as your printer is supported by CUPS (which I
believe is what Apple Mac computers use too, so if it's Mac
compatible, it should be CUPS/Linux compatible too).

> Using something like Ice Wiesel, the debian equal of
> firefox, can I manage things with scripts prepared in
> advance for the effort?  I am going to ask about browsers
> in a different thread.

Browsers come in a ton of flavors, some being more or less
accessible than others.  I tend to prefer actual-Firefox
over Ice Weasel and I understand that it has pretty good
accessibility hooks under a GUI (i.e., running Orca rather
than Speakup/yasr/emacspeak).  Others likely have better
input regarding the best GUI and terminal browsers.

> My computer is not a toy, it is a tool.  I require my
> tools to function efficiently without having to rebuild
> them once a day.  part of why I never went to windows.
> the risks was just too great for me professionally. If I
> cannot learn Linux as I learned dos, by which I mean sit
> in the same room with a person, learn how to do some basic
> tasks and where to go for help, then I must work around
> what I do not now.  that might mean using scripting for
> those basic tasks, if those can be created then edited to
> plug in the ever changing locations.

I understand what you mean about it being a tool.  I don't
know if you're currently dual-booting, if this one Linux
machine is your only boot-option, or if you're trying Linux
on another machine (I see your email address puts you at a
shell account, so that might give you a nice play-ground).
I started with Linux back in '95, installing Slackware from
umpteen floppies was a LONG afternoon.  One machine was my
work-horse, while my other machine was for playing around.
I think I reformatted that second machine 50-100 times in
the span of a year.  But it gave me the freedom to be

As always, this list is a great resource on which to ask
questions.  Especially if you're willing to wade through my
epic-length replies (grins).

Take care, and feel free to ask questions here on the list
as many of us are here because we find it fun to be helpful!


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