Pure Flash content runs on Windows, Linux, and Macintosh OS
Professionally-produced multimedia material
Material is fast-paced and engaging
Content limited to very basic installation fundamentals
Content limited to the KDE desktop only
Flash in the Pan: Caldera’s Quick Start to Linux is the Flashiest training application we’ve seen, but it comes up a bit short on content.
Any computer browser that supports Macromedia Flash player
GPL version of Caldera OpenLinux eDesktop 2.4
One of the biggest complaints from Linux’s detractors is that it lacks ample training material — and for the most part, they are absolutely correct. While Windows does not lack for books, official course material, and computer-based training, Linux has been greatly deficient in educational offerings for supporting its burgeoning user base.
One of the companies that has been trying to improve this situation over the last several years is Caldera, who has set up various training centers across the country through its OpenLearning ALEC (Authorized Linux Education Center) program. While this curriculum has proven itself to be an excellent offering for serious IT professionals looking to build their Linux skill sets, it has not been a viable offering for the Linux enthusiast and typical end-user.
As an alternative to the OpenLearning program, Caldera released its first offering in what will hopefully be a series of computer-based training tools to help end-users (and computer professionals) to learn about how to use, implement, and maintain the Linux operating system. For a first offering, it is readily apparent that Caldera has taken great care to produce a quality educational product. However, its content may be only helpful to the most novice of users. If a user has already installed a Linux distribution, most of the information to be absorbed from the Quick Start CD should already be self-evident to them. Additionally, the length of the courseware comes up somewhat shorter than we expected it would.
Nevertheless, while the content lacks enough meat for most new Linux users, the Quick Start CD is one of the best examples of training material that we have seen on any computer subject — the content was produced completely in Macromedia Flash, and each clear and well illustrated slide is accompanied by voice narration and appropriately placed animation. Since Flash is a multi-platform authoring tool and is entirely browser-based, the course can be viewed from within Windows, Mac OS, or Linux itself.
For the most basic of introductions to Caldera’s Linux distribution, Quick Start is not a bad product, considering it comes with the free-software version OpenLinux eDesktop 2.4 CD; quite frankly, we’d rather see the Quick Start packaged with the full-blown eDesktop product.
The course covers the following:
A basic introduction to Linux and what its origins are
Reasons for why someone should use Linux
Pre-installation checklist for installing Caldera OpenLinux 2.4
Installing Caldera OpenLinux 2.4
Starting up and shutting down a Linux machine
A brief introduction to the KDE desktop environment
In successive training materials, we would like to see a more in-depth examination of how to use the programs that come with KDE (and hopefully some coverage of GNOME, if Caldera ever gets off its KDE-centric high horse), how to use basic command-line programs, how to perform basic system administrative tasks and how to deal with devices. Covering some of the more important server-related subjects like setting up daemon processes, Apache, bind, and SAMBA would also be helpful. School’s out!
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