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Date:      Fri, 19 Aug 2011 00:08:45 -0500
From:      "Conrad J. Sabatier" <>
To:        scott mcclellan <>
Cc:        "" <>
Subject:   Re: new to os
Message-ID:  <>
In-Reply-To: <>
References:  <>

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On Thu, 18 Aug 2011 15:18:09 -0700 (PDT)
scott mcclellan <> wrote:

> I'm looking to try something different with my machine (or maybe I'm
> going through a midlife crisis).

Hey, learning new things is never bad.  Not to do so is to stagnate.  I
was in my late 30s myself when I took up Unix in earnest.

> Currently run Wimdows (point and click), and would like to gravitate
> back to DOS (this is a thing of the ancient past for me 30 years - on
> a TRS-80). I know remember extremely little of OS vernacular.

Well, put 'er there, pal!  My first machine was a TRS-80 Model I (16K,
Level 2 Basic, cassette tape-based, never got around to upgrading to be
able to run TRS-DOS).  Learned a heck of a lot using that machine,
though.  Went from there to an Apple //e (later upgraded to a //gs), and
then on into the wonderful world of PCs, DOS, Windows, etc, and
finally, FreeBSD.

> Am I biting off more than I can chew, or is there a OS commands for
> dummies out there, or does FreeBSD have such a critter that one can
> go through.

One of the things I love about FreeBSD is that it is an excellently
documented system.  I've tried a number of Linux distros over the
years, just out of curiosity, mainly, and couldn't help noticing the
difference in the quality of the docs as compared to FreeBSD.

> I'll pour through the FAQ and got hrough the online manuals for now.
> But it all seems greek. Can someone point me in a diresction to
> degreek this stuff for me. Thanks, Scott McClellan

The official FreeBSD handbook (available both online and locally, if
you install the "doc" distribution during your initial installation) is
an excellent place to start, along with the FAQ (ditto).  There are
also many Unix tutorials for newbies on the web.

Myself, the very first time I installed FreeBSD back in 1996, I spent
the first month or so working strictly with the text-based consoles.  I
didn't even try to install and configure X until later.  This turned
out to be good for my education.  I plowed through man pages, did a lot
of trial-and-error stuff, and learned a great deal that way.  One of
the things that I found particularly enlightening was to cd into a
"bin" directory (/bin, /sbin, /usr/bin, /usr/sbin, /usr/local/bin) and
do a "whatis *".  This pulls up a one-line description for any file in
that directory that has a man page.  You can then decide what interests
you and bring up the actual page with "man whatever".  Great way to
familiarize yourself with the commands you think you'll want to use.

I suppose there is one tip worth mentioning specifically: do yourself a
favor and install one of the optional shells, such as bash, from the
ports collection.  Much more flexible, powerful and customizable than
the default /bin/sh (or even worse, csh).  Once installed, you'll then
want to change your default login shell using the "chsh" command.  For

chsh -s /usr/local/bin/bash

Remember, *all* third-party software installs under /usr/local (another
thing I hate about most Linux distros is how they clutter up the base
system directories with third-party packages; FreeBSD is *so* much
cleaner in that respect).

And remember, help is just an e-mail away.  Or checkout the forums on
the FreeBSD website.

Welcome to the wonderful world of Unix!  Have fun!

Conrad J. Sabatier

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