Using Koha? Learn Linux

  • Published: October 18, 2010 by Jared Camins-Esakov
  • Koha

Koha logoOne of the great strengths of Koha is that anyone can use it. Pretty much any reasonably high-end computer from the last five years can run an installation of Koha under Debian GNU/Linux. Unfortunately, although Linux is easy to use once you get the hang of it, administering a Linux server is not necessarily intuitive. This is not to say that learning to run a Koha server is a lost cause. In fact, learning to administer a Linux server is actually fairly easy. Here are a few of the resources I would recommend:

  • Henry McGilton, Introducing the Unix System (McGraw-Hill software series for computer professionals) - this is the book I learned about *nix from. Although this book is an introduction to UNIX and not Linux, most – if not all – of the concepts transfer nicely to Linux. Highly recommended.
  • Introduction to Linux - a general introduction to the Linux operating system. Highly recommended. Read the Introduction, and Chapters 2, 3, 6, and 7. The entire book is worth reading, but those chapters are the ones you’ll need to get the background you need to work with Koha.
  • Getting Started with Linux (this site is currently down, but will hopefully be back soon) - a hands-on introduction to using the Linux operating system. Very good. This is a little more practically-oriented than the previous one, and Lessons 1-16 cover information that you’ll probably find occasion to use when working with Koha.
  • Debian Installation Guide - guide to installing Debian. You can actually probably get away without reading this, but if you’re interested in understanding the installation process, it would be a good idea to read.
  • Debian GNU/Linux FAQ - frequently asked questions about Debian; probably no one in the Debian project will help you if you haven’t read through this. Full disclosure: I have not actually read through the entire thing. However, I will if I ever need to ask for help from members of the Debian community.
  • Debian Reference - general reference to using Debian. You may occasionally need to look things up in the Debian reference, but it’s not something you need to read all the way through. Just know where it is, for in case you need it.
  • Google - if you have a question that wasn’t answered by what you’ve already read, try searching for the answer on Google. Or just search for “learning Linux.” There are thousands more introductions to Linux on the Web. I just recommended a few that I have used.

Although that list of readings may seem rather daunting, in fact learning Linux is pretty easy. The number one rule for learning Linux is “Try it, and if it doesn’t work, try again.” If your Linux installation somehow gets so broken that it’s not usable, just backup your Koha data and start over from scratch (this is why most Koha developers have two servers- if they break something on their development server, their production server will still work fine). The second time around it will be even easier!

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