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Chilean Monks Need Linux Help? 66

Inexile2002 asks: "Ok, I'm going to Chile this Xmas season, and a distant second cousin of mine, a monk in a Dominican monastary emailed me requesting that I bring copies of and set up Linux on their machines and network. I've NEVER set up a Linux network before, won't have reliable internet access when I'm there (if I have it at all) and to top it all off, would really rather set this up in Spanish for the non bi-lingual monks. (My spanish, of course, is weak and useless when discussing computers) For someone who doesn't know Linux well and won't be able to check online help, what is the best hard copy Linux help out there? Is there a Spanish Linux? Will the monks, once they do have reliable net connections, be able to seek bilingual online help?" We've all been in this position before, but the multi-lingual angle is a new twist. Do any of you have any hints, or suggestions to pass along to Inexile2002?
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Chilean Monks Need Linux Help?

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  • So, is this the Shaolinux temple, mentioned in the signature of a Slashdor poster?
  • Linux in spanish (Score:3, Informative)

    by digitalmuse ( 147154 ) on Monday December 17, 2001 @01:28PM (#2715423)
    hmmm, well, for starters you might wish to look at www.linuxdoc.org/linuxfocus/Castellano [linuxdoc.org] which I would assume is a repository of Spanish-language documentation for Linux.
    There is also the Debian translation repository at: www.debian.org/international/Spanish [debian.org]

    And if you're interested in a Red-Hat based distribution that is supposed to have a fairly complete collection of spanish instructions, check out: conectiva.com [conectiva.com]. These guys also have a spanish-language publication that you might be interested in looking into. You might even want to sign up your new admin for a year or so.

    hmmm, it's amazing what you can find in 15 seconds with Google, isn't it?
  • by MindStalker ( 22827 ) <mindstalkerNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday December 17, 2001 @01:39PM (#2715486) Journal
    Umm burn yourself copies of EVERY HOWTO you might even remotly think you need, EVERY major kernel version, EVERY driver you might think possible. I'd also contact them ahead of time and try to found out what the computers are, and as much info about the hardware as they can possibly provide. If they are old, you may have some SERIOUS headaches. You may also want to bring a few copies of BSD just in case.
    And of course pray, pray heavily, pray often. Oh yea and before you leave, practice practice, practice, practive. Oh yea did I say practice. Installing linux on most likly old computers, you havn't seen which don't have an internet connection is a job only the most brave should take. If you can accomplish this, mention this at any tech job, you will be instantly hired. Oh yea, bring a laptop if you can with linux and windows and whatever network connection and dialup equipment you can find just in case. Oh yea, and do like the monks. Pray!
  • SuSE (Score:3, Informative)

    by scotpurl ( 28825 ) on Monday December 17, 2001 @01:56PM (#2715558)
    SuSE in Brazilan: http://www.suse.de/br/
    SuSE in Spanish: http://www.suse.de/es/

    Haven't tried either, but kudos to the company in recognizing that Portugese and Spanish aren't the same language.
  • Spanish (Score:1, Interesting)

    by nadie ( 536363 )
    I have setup machines in Guatemala using SuSE. It gave me the option early in the setup process to choose the language, so I went with Spanish as there was no choice for Kiche or Mam.

    I didn't have the cd's with me, so I did a ftp install, it took overnight on their 64k connection. SuSE has pdf's of all their manuals in Spanish, so if you can print those out, the monks can learn all about Linux.

    And I recently saw a site from a Ciber Cafe in Columbia that ran everything on Linux, I seem to remember them running a support group as well.

    You might want to find out if there is a local Linux User Group.

  • Best stuff (Score:3, Informative)

    by Graymalkin ( 13732 ) on Monday December 17, 2001 @01:59PM (#2715570)
    Two of the best Liux books I've read are Running Linux and Learning GNU/Debian Linux both published by O'Reilly. Running Linux has tons of info for new Linux users, most of it is day to day stuff but is really great for somebody who isn't going to have access to alot of online resources. Learning GDL, has alot of info about installing and administering Linux (specifically Debian of course) and is the book that would be included with Debian if it included a book. Your distribution of choice isn't really so important as they offer so many of the same things. People will argue until they're blue in the face about it but thats true. I might suggest FreeBSD but the documentation that's easy to pack with you on a trip can be hard to come by and I don't know many books written about it for novice users. I suggest hitting up somewhere like Cheapbytes of LSL and getting several CDs. Learning GDL comes with a Debian 2.1 (x86) CD (the edition I have has 2.1 at least) You might even want to pick up CDs for different architectures because you never know when someone's going to find some old 68k Mac or something lying around.
  • Hmmm (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mattboston ( 537016 )
    I see two thing that could make it easier. One, you learn spanish. Two, they learn english. BTW, how do you plan on installing linux when you don't understand it, and you can't understand the monks???
    • I understand Spanish, and for most purposes I'm fluent, but I learned it from my grandmother who wouldn't recognize a computer if it tapdanced into the room singing "I'm a computer!" while accompaning itself on the kazoo. (Frankly, that would freak me out too.) Also, most of the monks who regularly use the computers speak and read english fluently. I just didn't want to shut out the few than don't. As for Linux, I set up Debian on an old system of mine a few months ago, played with it for a day or two then the machine died. So I'm not a COMPLETE neophite, just not very experienced.
    • I see two thing that could make it easier. One, you learn spanish. Two, they learn english. BTW, how do you plan on installing linux when you don't understand it, and you can't understand the monks???

      [To the original poster]

      I ran an international tech support center in Brussles. I can use a variety of national keyboards with one hand while giving demos at local trade shows. Typically American, I only speak English.

      Horrid problems handling tech support, right? Nope. I would read anything that came in before handing it out, listen in on the harder phone calls, even if it was in Greek.

      When most of the important words are technical, it's not that hard. Even the national language menus often make sense if you know how the originals worked.

      Before you go, though, practice installing and using a Spanish language setup including the keyboard. Most distributions have some level of Spanish support, and fetching or installing language packs for the apps/window manager can make up for the rest.

      Since you have at a minimum one person who you can use as a translator, you aren't stuck. Your main issue is setting up the network. Do that before you go, and copy the configuration files -- or better yet all of /etc -- to a disk for reference later.

      In a worst-case situation where some of the machines don't work as you'd like, gather the hardware details and 'fix' the problem at home. Snail mail them the resulting CD with English directions but use as few words as possible and use the exact commands.

  • So, are you going to have someone to support these machines full-time after you leave the monastery? It seems to me, that while many open-source projects put a lot of effort behind internationalization, there's an enormous wealth of information about Linux that's only in English. I think that would make things difficult for the monks...
  • Connectiva Linux would be my first suggestion as it's a distro targetted at latin american countries (Portuguese (sp) & Spanish). My second would probably be Mandrake ... but YMMV.

    As far as HOW-TO and notes and everything goes...

    Mirror http://www.linuxdoc.org/

    And burn it to a CD ROM.

    Past that ... have fun and good luck.
  • We've all been in this position before, but the multi-lingual angle is a new twist.

    Well I don't know about you Cliff, but I've never found myself in the position of having to set up a linux network for Chilean Monks, bilingual or not... (c:


  • You may send them here

    http://www.linuxdoc.org/links/nenglish.html#span is h

    Which is from The Linux Documentation Project it lists several sources for Linux info in Espanol

    As far as distro's Slackware is good as is Red Hat, I found Red Hat to be the most useful for me in my business.

    Good Luck

  • Internet access. (Score:4, Informative)

    by mfarah ( 231411 ) <miguel@@@farah...cl> on Monday December 17, 2001 @03:36PM (#2716037) Homepage
    won't have reliable internet access when I'm there (if I have it at all)

    That won't be a problem. As long as you have access to a phone line, you'll be able to get dial-up Internet access in Chile - there are many... er... "on-the-fly & no previous contract" plans from ISPs here that are charged on the phone bill. On the other hand, broadband access is expensive.

    As for distros: Conectiva would be the choice here.
  • try SuSE... (Score:3, Informative)

    by pwagland ( 472537 ) on Monday December 17, 2001 @03:40PM (#2716052) Journal
    Hi there,

    You may want to consider using SuSE. They have pretty good multilingual support (I use the dutch), you can buy it with Spanish manuals (or at least you could with 7.2, probably still can) and they also have spanish how-tos on the disk. And, assuming the program supports it, it comes with spanish translations for KDE ang GNOME programs as well.

    If you are going to be without the internet, this could be an interesting choice I think.

    Some of the intersting ones are:
    Name : howtoes
    Summary : Collection of HOWTOs from the 'Linux Documentation Project' (Spanish)

    Name : network_es
    Summary : SuSE Linux Manual: Network (spanish)

    Name : qappl_es
    Summary : SuSE Applikation Manual (spanish)

    Name : qconfig_es
    Summary : Configuration Manual (spanish)

    Name : sdb_es
    Summary : SuSE Support-Database (spanish)

    Name : susehelp_es
    Summary : SuSE Help-System (base)

    Name : suselinux-reference_es
    Summary : System and Reference Manual (es)

    Name : susetour_es
    Summary : SuSE Tour spanish

    Name : books_es
    Summary : Several Linux Books translated to spanish
  • If you take a portable with you that has a functioning network interface, then your first step could be to hook your portable to their Internet connection and then you'll be able to search the Internet for help on the other issues you come across.
  • Isn't Connectiva largely based in South America? Yup [conectiva.com.br]. I thought Brazil was founded by Portugal, but that site looks like Spanish (of course, I have no idea what Portugeuse looks like, so...)

    Oh. Here [conectiva.com] is the Spanish link. Start there. You don't have to load Debislackhat on their machines.
    • Re:Connectiva (Score:2, Interesting)

      by friscolr ( 124774 )
      I thought Brazil was founded by Portugal, but that site looks like Spanish (of course, I have no idea what Portugeuse looks like, so...)

      The default seems to be portuguese. there is a link over on the right to switch between spanish and portuguese. go click and you'll see what the differences between the languages are. I think of Portuguese as being the best parts of Spanish, French and Italian. But if you don't know anything about those languages, that doesn't help. Portuguese has more funny looking letters and accent marks than spanish does.

  • The systems you are dealing with may have special needs. Depending on the age they may not have very much memory at all. You may want to consider canabalizing some of the computers for there parts to boost ram.

    Sometimes ram can be so problematical that the installation media won't fit into ram. In this case, make one computer with enough ram (canabalize if you have to) that you can install linux on it. It should be nearly identical to all the other computers. Then use that disk image to create the other hard disks for the other machines.

    If you have problems with init running out of memory before the system is loaded, use this command at the lilo prompt

    lilo: linux init=/bin/ash

    That will just load up the ash command prompt (ash has a very tiny memory profile)

    You can remount the drives with `mount / -o rw, remount`

    Also, you may need to use an earlier kernel, as they take up less space in memory (The entire kernel must be loaded into ram)

    It'll be slow, with all the swapping but it should get the job done.

    Also read the Small Memory howto at the LDP
  • The most important thing is net access. Why? Because if you forget something, or don't know how to do something, or have a question, or run out of Bawls, or whatever, if you have net access, you can fix it. I'd suggest seeing if there is something nearby with access. I'm just guessing, but maybe a real cybercafe, or a library or whatever.
  • Red Hat 7.2 (personally, I STRONGLY recommend the SGI installer for this, as it allows you to use XFS)


    SuSE is probably the easiest to install, but I've had a hard time with trying to make it do what =I= wanted, as opposed to what =it= wanted.

    On the flip-side, Red Hat (which can handle a Spanish language installation, and probably even has the dialect you want!) is only mildly irritating to install, but is MUCH easier to upgrade & manage afterwards, IMHO.

    Others suggested d/l every HOWTO on the planet. I agree. Just don't kill off the rainforest in the process.

    Installing a network is easy. Don't sweat it. It's no different from installing a standalone box, except that each box needs its own name & IP number, and you need to have one box as a router/DNS server/Mail server. (You can use different machines, but I honestly wouldn't bother.)

    To install the network, use the IP numbers 192.168.0.x, where x is some number between 1 and 254. Use as your router & Mail/DNS machine, and tell it to do network address translation (NAT) and packet forwarding. The ISP'll supply the "visible" IP address for that computer, so you can ignore that. That'll be handled by however you're connected up to the Internet. Probably PPPd.

    Beyond that, I honestly can't think of any configuration or software you'd need. That should be enough to handle a network of up to 254 machines, with no great sweat. Oh, for e-mail, most clients will be able to pop the mail off the mail server. You're much better off doing things that way than to use fetchmail. Not because it's hard, but because it's one more thing to set up. The LESS you need to worry about, the MORE you can spend time enjoying the experience of creating the world's first Beomonk Cluster.

  • I switched to Debian a while ago, so it's been some time since I used RedHat or SuSE, but from the point of view of a native speaker of Spanish, I'm quite happy with what they provide. Of course I have a pretty good command of English, so it's tough for me to judge how it would be for a monolingual speaker...

    Personally, I'd burn CD images with all the Deian packages. You'd probably want to go with Woody, since it is almost frozen and Potato is quite outdated. Find pointers and instructions at http://cdimage.debian.org/ [debian.org]. This way, you can make the install in English yourself and then install the appropriate packages. There is a very convenient "spanish" task package containing doc-linux-es, manpages-es, ispanish, wspanish and user-es. Then, run the "castellanizar" script found in user-es to have all the possible defaults in Spanish.

    Another suggestion is for you to start to practice your Spanish now and make the same question on http://barrapunto.com [barrapunto.com], a Spanish-speaking slashdot copycat site. Best luck, anyway, I hope you make good converts...
  • Another thing you may want to add to your software list is a mini-linux, preferably something that runs from a single floppy such as
    (There's a good list of various distros at
    including various foreign language distros that may be useful)
  • just install in english than setup users such as their language is spanish ;)

    this works perfectly with SuSE...
  • Uh... Wow (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by duffbeer703 ( 177751 )

    You don't speak spanish.

    You don't know anything about Linux.

    You've evidently never heard of things like "telephones" and "modems"

    Why are you setting up a network in Chile?
  • Or if they are all the same, use DD.
    Once you get through the hellish install in another language, DO YOU WANT TO DO IT AGAIN!!???
    Hell no,
    so take ghost, it can be had "Semi-legally" on Kazaa or other services.

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