Mobility

3 Android apps to help you learn Linux

If you're looking to learn the basics of Linux, but don't always have time to sit at a desk, these three Android apps can help you with the task.

learnlinuxhero.jpg
Image: Jack Wallen

Everyone learns in different ways. For some the best means is by doing, while for others it's all about reading. No matter your preference, there's an app for that.

Even for learning the Linux operating system.

That's right, Linux. If you're a systems administrator, an understanding of Linux has become unavoidable. To that end, it's time you start boning up on the platform. If you happen to have an Android device in your pocket, take it out and start learning; because I'm going to introduce you to a collection of apps that will help school you on the open source operating system.

Are you ready?

Linux Shell Script Developers Handbook

At some point in your Linux administrator experience, you're going to have to write a shell script. Be it for backup purposes, clean up, network scans—the sky's the limit with this handy Linux feature—you're going to need to be up to speed. With Linux Shell Script Developers Handbook, you have quick access to all the important concepts that go into making Linux shells scripts. This app is very basic—it's really nothing more than a Bash reference manual with a lengthy table of contents you can tap (Figure A) to learn about the various components of shell scripting.

Figure A

Figure A

The interface and feature set is very basic, but it's a great way to learn scripting.

From within the interface, you can search the contents, increase and decrease the font size, and export the contents to PDF. That's about it. There is no interactive component and no tutorials. Linux Shell Script Developers Handbook is simply a reference source to help you get up to speed on the terminology and usage of the various parts that make up Bash shell scripting.

A word of warning, the ads in this particular app can get a bit intrusive at times, so some users might prefer to simply export the information to PDF and read it in that fashion.

SEE: 20 quick tips to make Linux networking easier (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Linux Command Library

Did you ever want to carry around the equivalent of the Linux man pages on a mobile device? With the Linux Command Library, you can do just that. I would offer that the Linux Command Library app has done a great job of making the man pages presentable. Instead of just copy/pasting the contents of each man page, they are broken down into sections (Figure B) that can be tapped to open. The sections vary, depending upon the man page, and they make it quite a bit easier to consume the included information about each command.

Figure B

Figure B

The man page for the cp command.

Once you find a particular command (and there are quite a lot of included commands), tap on it from the list and then tap the section you want to read. The Linux Command Library app offers a search and bookmark feature (the search feature is handy, the bookmark feature lacks the ability to quickly view the bookmarks you've added).

But don't think this app is only about the man pages. You can also tap on the Basic tab (at the bottom of the main window (Figure C) to learn a bit more.

Figure C

Figure C

The Linux Command Library main window.

From within the basic section, you can gain an understanding of some basic concepts of Linux, such as:

  • System control
  • Users/Groups
  • Files/Folders
  • Network
  • Search/Find
  • GIT
  • SSH
  • Video/Audio

Most of what you'll learn from the above list is in the form of tips on using the commands respective to the task (such as groupadd [name]).

From the main window, you'll also notice a Tips tab. Here (Figure D), you are given quick tips that will go a long way to help you with using the Linux command line.

Figure D

Figure D

The Tip section is very handy.

Guide To Linux

Finally we have what could be one of the more complete mobile tools for learning Linux via your Android device. Guide To Linux contains four sections (Figure E):

  • Terminal
  • Commands
  • Shell Script
  • Tutorial

Figure E

Figure E

The Guide To Linux main window.

The sections you will find most helpful are Tutorial, Shell Script, and Commands. Although each section suffers from problematic broken English, they do offer some outstanding information on their respective topics. The one big downfall of Guide To Linux is the Terminal section. This could be a great tool with which to apply what you've learned, but unless you're using this app on a rooted device, it is barely functional (especially considering the app doesn't gain the necessary permissions to read the filesystem, so you can't even execute the most basic commands).

Even with that big glaring issue, Guide To Linux is still a very handy app to have, when you need to learn the basics of Linux.

What are you waiting for?

With the help of these three apps, you can get up to speed on Linux, even when you don't have a Linux box handy. No you won't be working hands-on, but having a solid understanding of these foundations, will go a long way to making it easier when you are.

Also see

About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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