Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Are 'old' tutorials for Linux still valid for today's systems?

Expand Messages
  • Pascal
    From time to time I hit upon Linux manuals, tutorials (Linux Cookbook for example or the whole O Reilly series for that matter) or someone posts a link here on
    Message 1 of 4 , Aug 21 7:27 AM
    • 0 Attachment
      From time to time I hit upon Linux manuals, tutorials (Linux Cookbook for example or the whole O'Reilly series for that matter) or someone posts a link here on the list where one can download a PDF on some Linux topic. Quite often this stuff dates back quite some years, sometimes even as far back as 2005.

      I'm wondering whether the information contained in these old documents is still applicable or to what degree to today's systems? Linux is in constant, rapid development (depending on the distribution you are using of course). Granted, tutorials on ZSH, IPv4, say, are not useless nowadays, but for other topics that might arguably be the case: file systems, workings of the kernel, init systems....

      What is your take on that? Generally I steer clear of stuff more ancient than 2 years. I work with LaTeX on a pretty regular basis and the TeX-guys not only recommend consulting the latest documentation on TeX-packages but also installing the latest TeXLive-environment of the current year. Unfortunately most Linux distributions do ship an outdated version of it. Not even Fedora or Debian Unstable are completely up to date. .-(( Probably not enough packaging manpower to build new packages.


      Pascal
    • J
      ... You d be surprised how much of that stuff is still relevant. The kernel is still the kernel, so yes, docs on specific things may not be as relevant, but
      Message 2 of 4 , Aug 21 12:04 PM
      • 0 Attachment
        On Wed, Aug 21, 2013 at 10:27 AM, Pascal <pascal.bernhard@...> wrote:
        > From time to time I hit upon Linux manuals, tutorials (Linux Cookbook for example or the whole O'Reilly series for that matter) or someone posts a link here on the list where one can
        > download a PDF on some Linux topic. Quite often this stuff dates back quite some years, sometimes even as far back as 2005.
        >
        > I'm wondering whether the information contained in these old documents is still applicable or to what degree to today's systems? Linux is in constant, rapid development (depending
        > on the distribution you are using of course). Granted, tutorials on ZSH, IPv4, say, are not useless nowadays, but for other topics that might arguably be the case: file systems, workings
        > of the kernel, init systems....

        You'd be surprised how much of that stuff is still relevant. The
        kernel is still the kernel, so yes, docs on specific things may not be
        as relevant, but the general stuff on kernel internals, writing
        modules, etc is still just as relevant as it was. Maybe there are
        minor differences, but the overall process is still similar enough.

        I think the key is that if you find an older guide, try it out and use
        it until you run into a snag. Then you can decided if you need new
        docs or can extrapolate based on what your experience is and fill in
        the missing gaps. For example, if there's a guide that talks about
        installing a certain piece of software by finding the RPM and
        installing... I can generally just skip that entire segment and do it
        using apt, or stand-alone debs on a debian system where RPMs don't
        really work (yes, there's Alien, and it's a bloody mess). Or if
        necessary, I can do it from scratch with source code if necessary then
        continue on.

        > What is your take on that? Generally I steer clear of stuff more ancient than 2 years. I work with LaTeX on a pretty regular basis and the TeX-guys not only recommend consulting the
        > latest documentation on TeX-packages but also installing the latest TeXLive-environment of the current year. Unfortunately most Linux distributions do ship an outdated version of it.
        > Not even Fedora or Debian Unstable are completely up to date. .-(( Probably not enough packaging manpower to build new packages.

        It really depends on what I'm looking for. If I'm looking for info on
        recent hardware, then I want recent docs. If I'm looking for info on
        journalling options for ext4, then I want an ext4 guide, not one on
        ext3, though they may be similar enough to work for my needs. But if
        I want something on subnetting IPv4 networks, I can use a guide that's
        20 years old just as well as I can use one written last week. Same
        for things like network capacity planning, infrastructure basics, etc.

        If I need docs on various cloud services, obviously those need to be
        as fresh and current as possible, but general texts on project
        management (not focusing on specific methods like Agile, Scrum, Etc)
        are very valuable and provide good foundational info that can be
        applied no matter what management methodology you use.

        So now that you've read that, the tl;dr is "YMMV" ;-)

        Jeff
      • C. Beck
        ... It can depend on the system in use for me. If I want to determine what I might have done to mess up the graphic environment on my Designed for Windows
        Message 3 of 4 , Aug 21 4:22 PM
        • 0 Attachment
          On Wed, Aug 21, 2013 at 9:27 AM, Pascal <pascal.bernhard@...> wrote:
          >
          >
          >
          > From time to time I hit upon Linux manuals, tutorials (Linux Cookbook for
          > example or the whole O'Reilly series for that matter) or someone posts a link
          > here on the list where one can download a PDF on some Linux topic. Quite
          > often this stuff dates back quite some years, sometimes even as far back as 2005.
          >
          > I'm wondering whether the information contained in these old documents
          > is still applicable or to what degree to today's systems?

          It can depend on the system in use for me. If I want to determine
          what I might have done to mess up the graphic environment on my
          "Designed for Windows 2000" laptop running Ubuntu 8.04, I probably
          don't want to look at anything as recent as the last two years.
          Otherwise, I generally place higher importance on the level of detail
          provided rather than how old it is (I'm assuming that I can
          discriminate against info that might be outdated).

          It seems like you could be missing out on a lot of good reads if you
          limit yourself to the last few years. If you see something
          interesting that is "OLD", It wouldn't hurt to see if there is a
          version history. Looking at the revision frequency over it's
          life-time and evaluating against the related code/OS/whatever versions
          could give you an idea of whether the infomation might be still
          supported or abandoned.

          > Linux is in constant,
          > rapid development (depending on the distribution you are using of course).
          > Granted, tutorials on ZSH, IPv4, say, are not useless nowadays, but for other
          > topics that might arguably be the case: file systems, workings of the kernel,
          > init systems....

          > What is your take on that?

          A quick review of major changes introduced and anything that has
          become obsolete since the time of writing might be in order ...

          > Generally I steer clear of stuff more ancient than 2
          > years.

          When it comes to someone in a position of providing support, to some
          extent "latest version required" can be based on actual knowledge of
          possible issues or just a default "just in case" to protect against
          chasing down a solved version-related bug -

          I see a related problem where the situation is becoming much worse
          with "the crazy" in mobile development circles. Reviews such as
          "Super Dev.! provides updates often!" appear to be the new standard
          for determining whether a program is worthwhile or not. The idea is
          this: release crap lacking any wide testing and mostly useless
          features -> convince 10-year-olds to install the program and complain
          -> reap praise as you personally respond to complaints and provide
          missing features or repair something broken. In this case, it is
          probably not worth reading a manual if it is more than a few hours
          old! :-)

          > I work with LaTeX on a pretty regular basis and the TeX-guys not only
          > recommend consulting the latest documentation on TeX-packages but also installing
          > the latest TeXLive-environment of the current year.
          > Unfortunately most Linux
          > distributions do ship an outdated version of it. Not even Fedora or Debian Unstable
          > are completely up to date. .-(( Probably not enough packaging manpower to build new packages.

          To me it is the difference between targeted reading for a specific
          application/problem versus reading to gain general information on a
          topic. If I want to make sure whatever I do is compatible with a
          publisher, or if I am having a specific problem in a program, I might
          want the same version my publisher is using, and I want the
          documentation written for that version.

          On the other hand, if I was wanting to learn the basics of something
          in particular, anything written in the last twenty years may very well
          still be pertinent information. I can somewhat verify that just about
          everything I taught myself about HTML in 1998-2000 is still
          functioning fine in the latest versions of today's most popular
          browsers. That will probably change soon with HTML 5 as things that
          were "deprecated" a decade ago become officially "obsolete" but I
          haven't stayed in that loop.


          Best, ~Chris
        • ed
          ... There s nothing wrong with tried and tested. It doesn t have to be current. However, sometimes things change, ipchains became iptables for example. Not
          Message 4 of 4 , Aug 22 2:32 PM
          • 0 Attachment
            On Wed, Aug 21, 2013 at 02:27:43PM -0000, Pascal wrote:
            > From time to time I hit upon Linux manuals, tutorials (Linux Cookbook for example or the whole O'Reilly series for that matter) or someone posts a link here on the list where one can download a PDF on some Linux topic. Quite often this stuff dates back quite some years, sometimes even as far back as 2005.
            >
            > I'm wondering whether the information contained in these old documents is still applicable or to what degree to today's systems? Linux is in constant, rapid development (depending on the distribution you are using of course). Granted, tutorials on ZSH, IPv4, say, are not useless nowadays, but for other topics that might arguably be the case: file systems, workings of the kernel, init systems....

            There's nothing wrong with tried and tested. It doesn't have to be
            current. However, sometimes things change, ipchains became iptables for
            example. Not many distros use anything else than iptables. Maybe some
            day pf will come to linux and all that will change.

            > What is your take on that? Generally I steer clear of stuff more ancient than 2 years. I work with LaTeX on a pretty regular basis and the TeX-guys not only recommend consulting the latest documentation on TeX-packages but also installing the latest TeXLive-environment of the current year. Unfortunately most Linux distributions do ship an outdated version of it. Not even Fedora or Debian Unstable are completely up to date. .-(( Probably not enough packaging manpower to build new packages.

            You get that everywhere, people don't like trying to debug non-current
            issues.

            --
            Best regards,
            Ed http://www.s5h.net/
          Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.