Linux Potpourri

Spring, 2006 Syllabus

The Evergreen State College - Evening and Weekend Studies

Linux Potpourri Spring 2006 Schedule | Linux Potpourri 2006 Resources

Program Information

A one-quarter (spring 2006) course; 4 credits per quarter
Divisional Emphasis:
  Scientific Inquiry and Social Science
Class Size Limit: 25
Meeting Times: Thursday evenings, 6-10 PM
Course web site:
 Faculty: Randy Groves
Alternate e-mail:
Course e-mail list

Program Description

Linux Potpourri is a one-quarter 4 credit course that will delve into the phenomenon of the computer operating system Linux. With its roots in the open source community and fueled by an enthusiastic, sometimes fanatic cadre of volunteer developers, Linux has evolved from its humble roots in the bedroom of a somewhat reclusive Finnish computer science student to a global powerhouse that has made behemoths like Microsoft sit up and take notice. Linux can be found in many interesting places, from watches to the biggest supercomputers in the world.

Why is Linux so popular and pervasive? What is this concept called Open Source? What can you do with Linux? Is it hard to use? Why does Microsoft seem to fear it? Is Linux really free? Does it have any good games? And what's up with that penguin? We'll answer these and many more questions during the course.

Students will work individually or in small groups to learn the basics of Linux, investigate its roots in Open Source, and after laying an initial groundwork, use it to strike out and explore the many aspects of this phenomenon. The course will be of necessity somewhat free-form, as there is much too much to this subject than can be exhaustively covered in the time we have available. The range of topics covered may also change, depending on the interests of the class.

While a general familiarity with computers would be beneficial, it is not a requirement.

Learning Objectives

The learning objectives for this program are:

Meeting Times

Week Meeting Time   Week Meeting Time
Week 1 Thursday April 6, 6-10 PM   Week 2 Thursday April 13, 6-10 PM
Week 3 Thursday April 20, 6-10 PM   Week 4 Thursday April 27, 6-10 PM
Week 5 Thursday May 4, 6-10 PM   Week 6 Thursday May 11, 6-10 PM
Week 7 Thursday May 18, 6-10 PM   Week 8 Thursday May 25, 6-10 PM
Week 9 Thursday June 1, 6-10 PM   Week 10 Thursday June 8, 6-10 PM


The schedule for completing the readings can be found on the web We will be reading from the following books: "Linux for Non-Geeks", by Rickford Grant. "Linux Pocket Guide", by Daniel J. Barrett. Selected readings from the Internet will also be used.


Seminars are an important part of the Evergreen educational philosophy. Everybody neeeds to be an active participant in seminars and people need also to take care to let everybody speak. It is critical for everybody to read all the readings that are expected by the time of the seminar. Beyond this, it is important to actively read the readings. This means having a dialogue with the material as you go along. Don't accept what you're reading blindly! Ask questions of the material. Mark it up. There will be a journal question (see the online schedule) that you will need to discuss in writing for each seminar. This short essay (1 - 2pages) will be turned in at the end of each of the two seminar sessions. It must be typed.