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Introduction

This course is entirely self-paced; there is no fixed schedule for going through the material. You can go through the course at your own pace, and you’ll always be returned to exactly where you left off when you come back to start a new session. There is no specified time period in which you have to finish. Having said that, the key to getting the most out of this (or any) course is to have a routine. As per your schedule, you could spend maybe one hour a day or perhaps a couple hours every weekend. Whatever it is, try to stick with it. That way you will find that you better recall what’s previously been covered and are better able to digest the new material.

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The chapters in the course have been designed to build on one another, starting with some basic elements and progressing to more advanced topics. It is probably best to work through them in sequence to minimize confusion. If you skip or only skim some chapters quickly, you may find there are topics being discussed you haven't been exposed to yet. But this is all self-paced and you can always go back, so you can thread your own path through the material.

 

Learning Aids

Besides simple exposition through text and figures, this course uses several additional methods to present learning material.

Videos
There are many demonstration videos to help you understand procedures, as well as an introductory video for each chapter. Unless you have a very limited bandwidth connection, we suggest you click on the HD button when viewing videos for a much improved viewing experience.  You may also want to click on the CC button to see closed captioning, or raise the playback speed to have it take less time. Click here to see additional hints.

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Try it Yourself

In these activities you are asked to perform certain tasks and your input is checked to see if it is correct, with specific feedback provided if it is not. These are not meant to replace the Lab exercises, simply to provide some interim opportunities to practice. In order to keep the underlying multimedia files from becoming overly large and complex, we used a very linear algorithm, which recognizes only the specific answer covered in the material. Do not be discouraged if you type something that you think should work, but are shown feedback on a different suggested answer. it doesn't necessarily mean that what you entered would not work in the real world. In fact, we encourage you to experiment with the exercises on your live Linux system once you've done an initial pass through the simulation; this will give you the freedom to experiment with other variations and see what works. Also note that more advanced Linux users will sometimes know other (often more complicated) ways to do things that simply can't be incorporated in these simulations. Such seasoned veterans are of course not the target audience for this course.

Check Your Understanding

In these sections you are asked to answer short (usually multiple choice) questions to see if you have grasped the previous discussion. Otherwise you may get somewhat lost as you proceed further. Once again there may be a case where you give a slightly different but correct answer and you are incorrectly told you are wrong, although we have tried to minimize fill-in-the-blank questions for exactly this reason. Remember you are not being graded!

Lab Exercise

In all Greater Life Church courses (in any format) we put a heavy emphasis on learning by doing. In live, instructor-led classes we almost always aim for a 50/50 balance between lecture and discussion, and working on laboratory exercises, or homeworks, that either perform the tasks just described in the class, or try more ambitious variations. Instructors help students figure out how to do things during these lab sessions.

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Because this course is self-paced, without a live instructor, it will be up to you to control your time budget and make sure you take enough time to do labs.  

For most labs we present the exercise description in a file you can download. In most cases, there is also an associated solution file you can download. Keep in mind that in many cases solutions are not unique, so just consider these answers as one representative method to solve the problem; you may actually have a better one!

Getting Help

The Discussion Forum feature is a great way to ask any course or content related questions (and for you to answer questions that other users have!). As with any community resource, please be mindful of the guidelines for using them (click here to download).

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This course is open enrollment, meaning that students can start at any time and move at their own pace. As a result, the Greater Life Church, along with volunteers from the Greater Life community, will periodically monitor the Discussion Boards and provide responses, but is unable to provide office hours for instructors to be in the forum.

If you ever need technical assistance, help is at your fingertips using the Help button on the left of your screen (in fact, go ahead and click on it now to see what it does!). Here you get technical help, ask general questions, or be directed to the Discussion Forum for content questions.

 

Final Thoughts

In order for you to get the most out of this course, we recommend that you have Linux installed on a machine that you can use throughout this course. You don’t need to take the course itself on a Linux machine (all you need is a browser). However, you’ll see that there is a lot of follow-along activities and labs that you’ll benefit from if you can do it on your own machine.  We have prepared a brief installation guide that helps you to select a Linux distribution to install, decide on whether you want to do a stand-alone pure Linux machine or a dual-boot one, whether do a physical or virtual install, etc. And then guides through the steps.  You can download it here. We will also discuss the installation procedure in detail in a later section.

We haven't covered everything in great detail but keep in mind most of the documentation in Linux is actually already on your system in the form of man pages, which we will discuss in great detail later.  Whenever you don't understand or want to know more about a command, program, topic, or utility you can just type man <topic> at the command line.  We'll assume you are thinking this way and not constantly repeat "For more information look at the man page for <topic>".

On a related note, throughout the course we use a shorthand that is common in the open source community. When referring to cases  where the user has to make a choice of what to enter (e.g. name of a program or file), we use the short hand 'foo' to represent <insert file name here>. So beware, we aren't actually suggesting that you manipulate files or install services called 'foo'!

One final thing, the icon which you see to the right appears at the end of every Section and Chapter, click on it to be taken to the next Section of the course. You will either be taken to the start of that Section (if it is the first time you are going through it) or to the last screen that you viewed in that Section (if you've previously accessed it). You may also use the left navigation menu at any time to
move around the course.