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The following resources are some of those which FreeBSD newbies have found most helpful when learning to use FreeBSD. Please send corrections and additions to FreeBSD-Newbies@FreeBSD.org.
This web site is the main source of up to date information about FreeBSD. Newbies have found the following pages particularly helpful:
Search the Handbook and FAQ, or the whole web site, or the archives of the FreeBSD-Questions mailing list.
The Documentation page has links to the Handbook and FAQ, tutorials, information about contributing to the Documentation Project, documents in languages other than English, and much more.
Support page contains a wealth of information about FreeBSD, including mailing lists, user groups, web and FTP sites, release information, and links to some sources of &unix; information.
If you haven't installed yet, look for the latest mainstream release. (See the Handbook for why you should not be tempted by any of the other branches.) Before you begin, carefully read the installation instructions, as well as each one of the *.TXT files in the FTP directory or on the installation CD. They are there because they contain information that you will need. Also pick up the latest errata file from the web site, in case it has been updated.
If you decide to download FreeBSD, check whether these illustrated and expanded download instructions for a previous version are still available before you begin. That should make the whole process a lot clearer.
A number of short articles and tutorials are available. The short tutorial, For People New to Both FreeBSD and Unix, is popular with absolute beginners. You don't have to know much about anything to enjoy this one. It can also be downloaded in postscript or RTF format for printing.
The first thing many people need to set up is ppp, and there is a lot of documentation to help. You might start with at least those parts of the Handbook that are relevant to your needs, and explore the ppp page for links to the other valuable information and the latest updates.
The Complete FreeBSD by Greg Lehey, published by BSDi. This book assumes minimal UNIX experience and takes the beginner step by step through each stage from installation to everything you need to know to set up and run a FreeBSD system. You also get to understand what you're doing and why.
The FreeBSD Handbook and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) are the main documents for FreeBSD. Essential reading, they contain a lot of material for newbies as well as some pretty advanced stuff. Don't worry if you can't understand the advanced sections. The handbook contains the installation instructions and also provides lists of books and on line resources, and the FAQ has a troubleshooting section.
Join the FreeBSD-Questions mailing list to see the questions you - were too afraid to ask, and their answers. Subscribe by sending mail - to freebsd-questions-subscribe@FreeBSD.org. + were too afraid to ask, and their answers. Subscribe by filling out + the following form: + http://lists.freebsd.org/mailman/listinfo/freebsd-questions. You can look up old questions and answers via the search page.
Man pages are good for reference but not always the best introduction for a novice. The more you work with man pages the more familiar they become. Some are very good for newbies, so always check them out. The ppp man page, for example, is more like a tutorial.
Many of the problems we have as newbies come from being unfamiliar with the UNIX commands needed to fix our FreeBSD problems. Without a UNIX background you'll be faced with two things to learn at once. Fortunately a lot of resources are available to make this easier.
There are many easy books, such as the "Dummies" guides, in any large book shop. If you want something really easy, take a look at what is available and pick one that seems to speak your language. Pretty soon you will want to move on to a book that gives more coverage.
One book mentioned frequently by newbies is UNIX for the Impatient by Paul W. Abrahams and Bruce R. Larson, published by Addison-Wesley. It is intended both as a book for learning UNIX and a reference, and includes an introduction to UNIX concepts and handy chapter on using the X Window System.
Another popular book is UNIX Power Tools by Jerry Peek, Tim O'Reilly and Mike Loukides, published by O'Reilly and Associates. It is organised as a series of short articles each of which solves a problem, and these articles are cross-referenced to other articles with related material. Though not specifically aimed at newbies, the design makes it ideal for a newbie with a burning question or the odd few minutes to browse. More elementary material is near the front of the book, but there are short easy articles throughout.
A UNIX Introductory Course from Ohio State University is available online in HTML, postscript and Acrobat PDF formats.
UNIXhelp for Users is another introductory guide which is available in HTML at a mirror site near you, or can be installed on your own system.
UNIX questions are dealt with in the newsgroup comp.unix.questions and the associated Frequently Asked Questions. You can also get a copy of the FAQ from the RMIT FTP site. Newbies are likely to be most interested in sections 1 and 2 initially.
Another interesting newsgroup is comp.unix.user-friendly which also has a FAQ. Although this newsgroup is for discussing user-friendliness, it can contain some good information for newbies. The FAQ is also available by FTP.
Many other web sites hold lists of UNIX tutorials and reference material. One of the best places to start looking is the UNIX page at Yahoo!.
The X Window System is used with a number of operating systems, including FreeBSD. The documentation for X can be found at The XFree86 Project, Inc. Beware, much of this documentation is reference material which is likely to be difficult for newcomers to digest.
For basic information about installing, configuring and using the X Window System, three of the books mentioned above have sections dealing with X at beginner level: The FreeBSD Handbook, The Complete FreeBSD, and UNIX for the Impatient.
There is an easy and informative section on using the X Window System in the Linux Users' Guide. Interesting material will be found elsewhere in that document too, but remember that Linux does not always work exactly the same as FreeBSD.
Before you can get X running exactly the way you like, you will need to choose a window manager. Visit the Window Managers for X page and follow the link to the introduction to find out about window managers, then return and read "The Basics". Then go back and compare the different types that are available. (Bonus: there's another beginners guide to UNIX there too.) Most if not all of these window managers are available to install from the FreeBSD ports collection.
Everyone has something to contribute to the FreeBSD community, even newbies! Some are busy working with the new advocacy group and some have become involved with the Documentation Project as reviewers. Other FreeBSD newbies might have particular skills and experiences to share, either computer related or not, or just want to meet new newbies and make them feel welcome. There's always people around who help others simply because they like to. Write to FreeBSD Newbies for more information.
Friends who run FreeBSD are a great resource. No book can replace chatting on the phone or across a pizza with someone who has the same interests, enjoys similar accomplishments, and faces the same challenges. If you don't have many friends who use FreeBSD, consider using your old FreeBSD CDs to create some more :-)
User groups are good places to meet other FreeBSD users. If there's not one nearby, maybe you could start one.
Before talking to real humans about your new skills, you might want to check the Pronunciation Guide and the Jargon File :-)
On line we have the FreeBSD-Newbies mailing list for non-technical discussions about matters of interest to newbies. Another mailing list, FreeBSD-Questions, answers our questions about using FreeBSD.&footer;