[lfs-support] The learning process

Bruce Dubbs bruce.dubbs at gmail.com
Sun Sep 2 11:18:11 PDT 2012

Mikie wrote:

> I would love to volunteer to supplement LFS with a starting place to
> help newbie's get to where they could do LFS and not get so
> frustrated and frustrate you folks. If I could get some commitment
> from at least one person I would put at least 6 month into it.


> ok ... the command to install Grub is grub-install /dev/sda ...

I agree with you.  The information you wanted is not easily found by 
google.  The only way I found it was to read code.

Actually, I first disassembled the MBR somewhere around 1988 (plain DOS 
at the time, but I wanted to split the partitions to load Minix) to 
learn how it worked and modify it.  GRUB does basically the same thing 
as the process then, but at least it is open source and you only need to 
go to the source to read the code.

There are a lot of similar questions that can be asked.  How does X 
work?  How does the kernel work?  Samba?  TCP/IP?  etc.  In some cases 
there are whole books written.  In some cases, there is only code.

> This is exactly like LFS and every Linux article I find for the most
> part. ... and there is nothing wrong with LFS it's a great thing for
> advanced people and there are lots of great things out there for
> advanced Linux people but there is this great trench between people
> at my skill level and LFS and the other great Linux sites that no one
> seems to want to touch.

It's not clear to me that you read Section vi. Prerequisites.


> There just isn't a whole lot out there to get someone from beginner
> to advanced and it's probably because all the Unix/Linux "RTFM crowd"
> don't have the patience. What irritates me is they wonder why most
> people use Windows and not Linux.

I don't wonder at all.  Windows is taught in schools from the elementary 
level up.  There is a multi-billion dollar company advertising all the 
time.  Linux has no significant advertising.

In college, the only place Linux is really taught is in the CS 
Department and maybe the Engineering Department.  The MIS school does 
Windows.  Most people don't know what a command line is or what it does.

Of course, no one shows you how to build a Windows system from scratch.

One of the most important skills (or talents) is to be able to 
visualize.  Many people can't look at code or a command line and 
visualize what it does.  For a project like LFS, that's important.

> One of the most important skills needed to teach other than patience
> is how to judge where a person's current understanding is.

Or desire to learn.  Ohh, that's math.  It's too hard.  I don't want to 
do that.  Yes, I have direct experience teaching LFS.  No matter how 
many explanations are given, the learning depends on the desire.

> For example ... someone might ask me ... "help me ... I want a
> cookie". ... and I would probably say "the cookies are on the shelf
> in the next room".
> Most people would go back to what they were doing and assume that is
> enough ... problem solved.
> ... but for many people that is not enough.
> The person may then ask, "how do I get the cookies?" "Well", you
> might say, "it's thru the door and on the shelf in the next room".
> ... and if you look at them, you can develop a skill whereby you
> sense their confusion and break it down even more.
> So you say, "walk to the door ... place your hand on the knob ...
> turn it to the left ... pull it open ... walk thru ... and look for
> the shelf to the right". "The cookie jar is red and you have to lift
> the lid to get the cookie".

That's why there is a target audience.  You need to satisfy the 
prerequisites.  You don't teach Calculus before Algebra and you don't 
teach Algebra before addition.

    -- Bruce

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