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Submission + - Any advice on teaching Linux to CS freshmen? 5

copb.phoenix writes: I'm a sophomore Computer Science student teaching computing labs to a freshman class, getting ready to go over the major ins and outs of the Linux terminal and GUI. While I have my own ideas and the professor over this class to lean on, I've found it difficult to get the few students that I've tried to teach in the past to connect the dots and understand how it relates to what they already know about computers. Does anybody out there have any advice on how to engage and inspire our upcoming class? (Perhaps important: Our machines are running Ubuntu Hardy.)
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Any advice on teaching Linux to CS freshmen?

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  • Put questions about Linux terminal commands on the final exam.

    • That's terrible. Of course we are, but turning it into a program of regurgitation causes them to learn what they have to. This is not engagement - this is why most people who would be worthwhile hackers drop out of high school.
  • Don't start out too theoretical. Start out with the *real* basics, like maybe showing them what a typical distro looks like running and popular software. Then, maybe work with installations, then architecture and technical details. This is going off on a real tangent, but one of my big deterrents from completing my degree the first time around was the impractical, theoretical approach to teaching that always seemed to make the most interesting topics boring.

  • Personally, I've found immersion works best when I'm trying to pick something up myself. I'd probably start with a bare machine and something much lower level than ubuntu (maybe a gentoo install?) and work their way up. Of course, that's easier said than done :)
  • some practical things like using aliases in their profile to start and stop applications. aliases to basically create short cuts to long commands ---- use of vmstat, top for system /application monitoring ---- ssh with -X command to bring up remote applications on other Ubuntu terminals (a good one is loading a bunch of songs in rhythmbox on one desktop then calling rhythmbox remotely from another desktop to play songs over a speaker on remote computer) ---- Install NX nomachine server on one box and u

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