Caldera's New Computer Based Training

Caldera Systems release of Caldera Linux Computer Based Training (CBT) heralds a new approach in the Linux industry to breaking into the consumer and business market. The theory is to give users a platform independent, professional introduction to Linux, and Caldera products specifically -- encouraging both knowledge of Linux and confidence in it.

Series 1 is titled "Quick Start to Linux" and is aimed at people who have never used the operating system before. The training course comes as a boxed two CD set - one CD is the CBT, the other is Caldera's OpenLinux eDesktop 2.4 that includes PartitionMagic.

The course is delivered through a web browser. Attempting to test its platform independence (PC architecture, with Linux or Windows), I first inserted the CD into a (colleague's) Windows PC. Before I knew it, the default browser was automatically launched and the course had begun with full sound and Flash.

Unfortunately the same can't be said about starting it in Linux. After mounting the CD-ROM in my SuSE 6.4 machine and executing the Autorun shell script, Netscape was started but failed to find the correct files because of the different cd-rom mount point conventions between distributions. After some fiddling I managed to start the course and was underway -- just linux the Windows equivalent. Clearly, the course has been written for the Windows user which is understandable given that it is completely introductory.

Upon starting you are prompted to adjust your monitor resolution to 1024 x 768 (if this is not already the case) as the display has been optimised for that setting -- something else slightly unprofessional. Once this is done, finding your way through the interactive course is a breeze. The narrated training course always provides directions about where you are and where you are headed -- the audio-visual effect brings an interesting light to Linux, making explaination more fluid and easier to understand.

The first topic is an introduction that explains what Linux is and how it is developed. Also covered is the history of Linux and the open-source development model. The next chapter is titled "Why Linux" and explains to a prospective user what Linux has to offer. Features such as Linux's stability, customisation, low-cost and support are all mentioned.

The next section outlines a Linux pre-installation check list. Basic system issues such as RAM and hard disk requirements are discussed. The fact that you will need to partition your hard drive to make room for Linux is also covered.

Partitioning utilities mentioned are categorised as either "destructive" or "non-destructive" and an explanation is given as to why the former should be used as a last resort. For people who choose to install the included OpenLinux eDesktop 2.4, partitioning is not a problem as it has Caldera's version of PartitionMagic included. The course walks you through the entire process of partitioning with Caldera's PartitionMagic, from starting it from within Windows to assigning a partition.

Once partitioning is covered, you are then guided through the Caldera OpenLinux installation process. The step-by-step processes of language selection, device configuration and account administration are all covered. Hence by the end of this, any person will know what it is like to install Linux without having to actually get their feet wet.

A brief overview of starting, logging in, and shutting down a Linux system is given after the installation demonstration. Although it is referenced to Caldera's OpenLinux, startup and shutdown is fairly generic and is applicable to any distribution.

Once OpenLinux Installation is finsihed, the CBT attempts to familiarise users with the Linux desktop. This chapter begins with an explanation of how the Linux desktop environment is related to the window manager. From there, the focus is on getting to know the K Desktop Environment (KDE), which is the default graphical environment for OpenLinux.

This section is a good example of how far Caldera have gone to induct users into Linux. It encourages interaction with a simulated Linux desktop so that users may see what happens by clicking on different parts of the desktop.

After the Linux desktop section, the course concludes. Caldera's Quick Start to Linux CBT certainly puts a positive step forward for introducing Linux to the mainstream of Windows users -- though it performs disappointingly from Linux distributions other than Caldera's. The hour-long course can be best described as installing Linux without actually installing it. Caldera's CBT is now available through retail outlets for a recommended retail price of $79.

Caldera's CBT: Quick Start to Linux

Pros

- Good introductory guide for those who have not yet used Linux- Well directed and narrated- Includes OpenLinux eDesktop 2.4Cons- Not accompanied by printed documentation.

- If you can get it to work with Linux, you don't need this course.

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