I was trained as a Sun Solaris administrator a long time ago. The Sun network is long gone, but I still like UNIX a lot. I have installed GNU/Linux on all my home computers.

Almost all my software at home is free. Most of my personal files are stored in non-proprietary formats. My software is all legal. Software piracy is illegal, bad and unnecessary.

I wish GNU/Linux had better support for mechanical CAD. I use the 2D LibreCAD for my home carpentry projects. Serious machine design is done in 3D parametric CAD these days. I have started to play with OpenSCAD. OpenSCAD files are command text, which I find very cool. I don't know how anyone will able to sell this to mechanical and industrial designers.

[Get Adobe Acrobat here!] Most of the articles on this page are written with LaTeX. I should be able to automatically convert these to HTML format. This does not seem to be working at the moment, so I am uploading in PDF format.

Install Instructions

I document how I install all of my computer operating systems. This helps me re-install stuff. This may be useful for people who are curious about GNU/Linux.

Installing Rev Linux (Acroread PDF format)
Don't ask me why my computer is named Rev :). I installed Fedora GNU/Linux on it.
Installing Lenovi Linux (Acroread PDF format)
This is my new laptop upon which I have installed Fedora GNU/Linux. This is the machine I take to bars, coffee shops, ski club and professional events.

New Users

I have been testing GNU/Linux installations for new users. I looked for simplicity and idiot resistance. I investigated security, which must be simple too. I recognize that people have different computers and requirements. A desktop sitting at home behind a firewall, presents different problems and opportunitities than a desktop that is connected directly to the internet, or a laptop that is operated outside the protected home. I have assumed that the as-installed computer requires a web browser, email, and an office suite. I have looked quickly into programming. User accounts matter if you are sharing the computer, but not otherwise. I have rated the installations in order of simplicity and capability.

Ubuntu Standard (Acroread PDF format)
Ubuntu 16.04.5 (32bit): Ubuntu's standard behaviour is to install everything into one big partition. I don't like this, but it can be worked around easily if you have a backup drive of some sort. The install took about an hour, and it was easy. I was able to encrypt the hard drive, important if you are using a laptop. Don't encrypt desktops that stay at home. The as-installed firewall worked. I provide some sysadmin tweaks for improving security a bit. User accounts are nicely set up with what I consider to be logical file permissions. When I tried installing Ubuntu 18, it responded that it required a 64 bit processor. This is why I installed Ubuntu 16. The newer Ubuntu, tested below, works on 32 bit computers, and I strongly recommend it. Ubuntu 16 installs some programming stuff by default. Ubuntu 18 does not.
Fedora (Acroread PDF format)
Fedora 28: Fedora allows partitioning of the hard drive, and a separate /home partition from the operating system partition. I was able to encrypt everything. Fedora's installer is not as user friendly as Ubuntu's and not as idiot resistant. Again, Fedora came up with a working firewall. Again, there are ways to line your hat with aluminium foil. There were no serious problems setting up user accounts, but Fedora's directory permissions were excessively restrictive.
Ubuntu Partitioned (Acroread PDF format)
Ubuntu-18.04.1-desktop-amd64: I was determined to set up Ubuntu with a parititioned hard drive. I was able to do it fairly easily, but not with an encrypted drive. On a computer that stays at home, this is no problem. Personal laptops should be encrypted. Otherwise, this worked like Ubuntu standard, above, with an easy install, and out-of-the-box security, which you can improve a bit, depending on how paranoid you feel.
Slackware (Acroread PDF format)
Slackware 14.2: The first Linux I ever installed was Slackware 3.0, back in 1995. I thought it would be fun to try it again. Slackware is used extensively for file servers and such. I felt a warm, fuzzy feeling of nostalgia as I set this thing up. It has improved since 1995. This time, I did not have to compile the kernel! Slackware does not have user friendly support for wireless, for Bluetooth and for firewalls. For beginners, I strongly recommend not installing this.
Unix Command Line HOWTO
This article should be helpful for users GNU/Linux, and for users of other UNIXes (unices?). I have also received thank-you emails from Mac users.


I use LaTeX a lot for documents here at home. LaTeX is not particularly user friendly, but it is very good at math, and the files can be converted into other formats with command line scripts. This suits the way I build my website for uploading.

I have written some LaTeX code for editing documents.


Save this into your download directory. Copy it to your LaTeX working directory. Alternately, you can load it into your favorite text editor. The following code attaches this to your LaTeX document, and it shows a usage example.

I went to look at the beautiful fall 
\editor{colors}{colours}{Queen's English, damn your eyes!}
in the park.

The original text is shown crossed out in green. Your correction is shown in red. The smartass remark is shown in curly brackets, in italics, in dark cyan, and is optional. The code is straight LaTeX, fully commented, and you can probably figure it out and change the format if you like.

Three Hour Rule

Three hours MAX! I refuse to spend three hours trying to fix a computer operating system. If things look difficult, I reformat the operating system partition, and I re-install. My three hour rule is feasible because...

...I have the install media.
If you do not have the install CDs or DVDs, you cannot carry out the ultimate rescue procedure.
...working directories are backed up...
...and/or are on a separate partition, preferably, both. What is your backup plan? Does it work? Test it now.
...I know how to do the re-install.
I know this because I have done it at least once, and I kept the notes, above.

I have never installed Microsoft Windows. I have the Windows 95 *.cab files for my Toshiba Satellite. I have no idea of how legitimate they are, and I do not care. My Windows 95 did not survive Y2K.

I never get a new operating system right on the first try. I am pretty good now with the various flavours of Red Hat Linux. I have installed Ubuntu. My first Linux install was Slackware 3.0. I have tried Slackware since, but it is not as convenient as Fedora or Ubuntu.

GNU Foundation
Linux is Free Software. "Free" is as in "freedom of speech" as opposed to "free beer".
Linux Online
This is a central website for all things Linux.
Greater Toronto Area Linux Users Group
The GTALUG is interested in all things Linux. They meet once a month. They have a mailing list that provides help and discussion.
The Linux HOWTO Index
There is a substantial library of document telling you how to do stuff with Linux, such as setting up serial ports, connecting to the internet, etc. If you are trying to figure out Linux, it is worth a look.
VI is the text editor of choice for UNIX system administrators. It is about as unintuitive as a text editor can get, but it is powerful once you learn it, especially if you touch type. There is no need to remove your fingers from the home row of the QWERTY keyboard. I don't know about the Dvorak keyboards.

Last modified: 2018/11/27 by Howard Gibson. Valid W3C XHTML 1