just how much can you do with?

Tony Baechler tony at baechler.net
Sun Mar 3 09:21:23 UTC 2013

Please see my answers below.  I'll deal with your points one at a time. 
First, it's not as hopeless as it sounds.  Yes, Linux has a learning curve 
and it's certainly not the same as DOS, but it's much more powerful once you 
get used to it.  I stayed with Dos and Windows 98 for years because I didn't 
want to give up the flexibility, but now that I'm pretty familiar with 
Linux, I wouldn't go back.  If you have DOS programs that you want to use, 
you can probably still run them in Linux.  I've used Debian and Linux in 
general since about 2000 and I wouldn't call myself an expert.  There is a 
lot to learn.

On 3/2/2013 10:13 AM, Karen Lewellen wrote:
> Let me ask this simply. I hope I can go back and locate the last knight
> here, who was providing amazing wisdom on media options with Linux, but for
> now let me see what can be learned.

I can probably help you.  I regularly download podcasts and record streams.

> I have a debian box here, using squeeze. I have no intention of upgrading to
> wheezy any time soon...this one is bad enough lol.

Unless you have a hardware synthesizer, you should consider upgrading at 
some point.  For now, Squeeze is still the official, supported stable 
release and it's a good option, but eventually it will no longer be 
supported after Wheezy is released.

> While I remain deeply thankful to the person who basically put squeeze on a
> hard drive and sent it to me, the disadvantage is this.
> I have no idea what I have, and I have no simply way of learning what I have.

Run the following command:

dpkg -l

That lists all of the installed packages.  There are probably quite a lot of 
them.  You can safely disregard the libraries for now.  There are other ways 
of looking at your installed packages, but let's keep it simple for now.

> My frustration is that there is no, or not that I can find simple single
> basic Linux source book.

Actually, there are several.  If you have a Bookshare subscription, look 
there as I've seen quite a few.  Even if you don't, Debian itself has a 
pretty comprehensive set of documentation.

> something like the old windows for dummies books. I do not mean
> documentation built into the os itself. That assumes you already now the
> basics of the os.
> If there is such a source, please direct me to that source.
> Nor do I mean a tutorial program. That mode of learning forgets some human
> fundamentals. All people learn individually. To generalize what a person
> needs to know, usually written from the abilities of the person doing the
> tutorial is not a firm way either in my view.


> 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 could look at cucat.org which seems to have an intro to Linux course. 
There are also many beginner Linux podcasts.  I assembled several of them 
for someone else.  Contact me privately if you want me to send them to you.

> Personally? I learn best with someone sitting physically with me doing the
> teaching. Linux can have rather the learning curve for some...if not
> individualized.
> i would pay for that sort of training gladly.
> and if I can find someone brave enough with a local Linux users group, if I
> can find that at all, I may see how well they do at learning how to use the
> screen reader plus Linux together to train me.

I can offer some training.  I primarily offer support by email, but I can 
try to work with you and answer some of your basic questions.  I might be 
able to offer some interactive training as well via the phone, depending on 
your availability.  I offer a Linux help and support service for $99 per 
year.  All support is done by email to keep costs down and all support is 
individualized for your needs.  Interactive support, such as telephone and 
ssh is billed at $15 per hour with a two hour minimum.

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

Can you give an example?

> and there is simply too little basic guide information on Linux in general
> that I can find.

Oh, there is lots of documentation out there.  If in doubt, you can ask 
almost anything of Google and it should find something.  As you say, the 
problem is that it isn't all in one place.  However, there is the Debian 
Handbook which is very complete.  http://www.debian-handbook.info/

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

A lot more than in DOS.  Can you give an example of what you want to do?

> 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.

No, it isn't accessible.  You would have to either use an editor like Emacs 
or install X Windows, Gnome and LibreOffice.  Your machine can do a lot once 
you learn.  If you have Wordperfect for DOS, you can run it in Linux and 
it's accessible.

> Oh and that my printer will work lol.

Printers can be a challenge.  If it works in DOS, it probably works in Linux 
as well.

> Using something like Ice Wiesel, the debian equal of firefox, can I manage
> things with scripts prepared in advance for the effort?

What do you mean by this?

> 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.
> Thoughts?
> Karen

Debian itself is generally very stable, even if you run testing.  I totally 
understand that you don't want to fight with your machine.  Squeeze is very 
stable and shouldn't require much maintenance unless your drive goes bad or 
something happens outside of the norm.  One thing I can say about Debian 
stable releases is that they're rock solid.  I ran them on a business server 
and never had a crash due to the packages.  I don't know what you do 
professionally and what kinds of scripts you need, so I can't comment on 
what will be a better choice for you.  I can say that not every DOS program 
has an equivalent in Linux and a lot of things work very differently.  If 
you can use a shell account, you've already learned a lot.  If you're 
starting from scratch with only a DOS background, plan on a lot of trial and 
error.  It took me a few years before I really felt comfortable with using 
Linux on an almost daily basis.  If it helps, you can probably go back to 
DOS if you just can't get anywhere with Linux, but please give it lots of 
time and patience.  You can probably do almost anything you want once you 
learn the basics.  linux is very powerful and has a lot of tools.  There are 
books just on shell scripting, for example.  For now, let's just take a 
small step at a time and start with the basics.  I hope you'll take 
advantage of my support services.

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