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Comic strip aims for a fun way to educate new Linux users

By Tina Gasperson on April 14, 2008 (9:00:00 PM)

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Jeremiah Gray wants to provide an interesting way to learn about Linux, so he's created a new comic strip, called Hackett and Bankwell, about the open source operating system. The strip will be published as a series of comic books that Gray hopes will appeal to new Linux users, but he says it is "more than just a comic book version of a Linux training guide."

Gray wanted to do something to help educate new Linux users and accomplish his vision of growing the acceptance and use of the Linux platform. Originally he wanted to work within a more traditional classroom experience. "I was interested in starting an organization like Free Geek, in Portland," he says. "But after visiting them a few times and helping out with their command-line classes, I shifted my focus to developing a curriculum that would make key concepts stick. I've endured enough tech manuals to know they're not very fun to read."

The first issue of the comic strip features Woody Hackett (a penguin), young hacker Jerome Bankwell, Kaori, a novice Linux user just learning how to install Ubuntu on her PC, and an unnamed sysadmin. Woody gets an early morning phone call from Jerome, who is in a different country where it is "the afternoon." Woody flies (on a jet) to an unnamed location, apparently not to meet Jerome (because we don't seem him again in this issue), but ostensibly to help Kaori and her sysadmin friend get Ubuntu installed. They talk about the particulars of GUIs, distributions, and disk partitioning, and in the last frame of the strip, there's a loud crash and we're left hanging until the next issue as to what happens next.

Gray has worked on Linux servers since 2000, but "only got into heavy admin stuff in 2003, when I took a job that entailed more responsibilities." Since then, he's migrated into a consultant role, "performing all sorts of obscure and specific tasks." He's a fan of Ubuntu for desktops and CentOS on servers. What he doesn't do is draw. "Goodness no," he says. "We worked with a few different artists in the States and abroad to develop the characters and the style."

The first issue of Hackett and Bankwell will be available "around tax day [April 15]," Gray says, and he'll have a booth at the upcoming Linuxfest Northwest in Bellingham, Wash., where you can purchase a copy of Hackett and Bankwell for $10. If you're not going to Linuxfest, you can order a copy at his site.

Tina Gasperson writes about business and technology from an open source perspective.

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on Comic strip aims for a fun way to educate new Linux users

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Comic strip aims for a fun way to educate new Linux users

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 79.84.96.32] on April 14, 2008 09:45 PM
It looks like the first comics which spoke abou STD.. Dull and subpar. :-/

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Comic strip aims for a fun way to educate new Linux users

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 80.202.245.177] on April 14, 2008 10:00 PM
That comic is made of fail.

Let me explain. First thing that struck me was "Why do people look so stupid here? And what's with the eyes of that penguin?" - Seriously, that penguin looks like its using something highly illegal for recreational purposes. Further on, the story seems really, really, really weak, mostly because they don't actually tell the story. And then, the wall of text attacked. I recognize Linux as The One True OS, but even I got bored before I got halfway down the page.

So some critical words from an anonymous bastard : Ugly, uninteresting (it doesn't capture the readers), and on top of that, if you force yourself to read on, its boring. Really boring. Like "political speech" boring.

This is of course all based on the preview pdf. I hope the author read this and don't take it as a personal insult, but rather as things he should work on and get better before the final result.

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Comic strip aims for a fun way to educate new Linux users

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 72.224.73.163] on April 14, 2008 10:49 PM
Wow, this strip comes with Poochie from the very first episode, and as a main character no less.

100% Linux since 1999 here, but come on.

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Comic strip aims for a fun way to educate new Linux users

Posted by: tomws on April 15, 2008 12:12 AM
Good job, guys. Way to beat down the dreamer. ;)

Seriously, though, take a look at Scott Adams' craptacular early work and see where he is today. Never say never.

Anyway, at least he's pimping Tux and not the Dark Side.

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Comic strip aims for a fun way to educate new Linux users

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 206.174.21.248] on April 15, 2008 03:24 AM
Idk if this is going to take off or who's going to read it. I'll read it for the sheer mediocre interest it peaks in me.Not that i'll learn anything new from it, but it might be entertaining. For a good story i can imagine that crash at the end of the first issue being ms that comes crashing (with steve ballmer) in with it's army of zombies (windows users). Which is followed by that computer they're trying to install ubuntu on also making a literal and pronounced crash with a bsd in vista and zombies lurch over to restart the machine. And woody takes out a gun guarding the poor computer, restarts, plops in ubuntu cd. Installs it much faster than windows gets installed. And also noting that the zombies no longer have any affect on the computer because windows users don't know how to use linux. Woody starts shooting the zombies off of him (headshots, they're windows zombies). And the end of that comic will have a cliffhanger ending of woody aiming a gun at a zombie, with another zombie trying to eat him, and ballmer saying "i have bankwell, you will meet our demands, you may have thwarted me this time, but i'll get you!!!!!".

Eventual later comics in the series will be tux planning an assasination of bill gates, but right after mr. gates realizes woody pulled a massive network install of debian at ms headquarters by way of hijacking an ms server.

I really want to read "that".

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Comic strip aims for a fun way to educate new Linux users

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 74.192.221.121] on April 15, 2008 05:04 AM
Woody Hackett.. would he hack it? hahaha, lololol

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Comic strip aims for a fun way to educate new Linux users

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 192.190.10.83] on April 15, 2008 10:49 AM
Thats great comic for new boos

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Comic strip aims for a fun way to educate new Linux users

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 65.196.65.250] on April 15, 2008 01:48 PM
What struck me as strange that in the world of web comics this is apparently being made as a for pay comic. I mean whose the target audience? If I'm new to linux then I'm not going to start looking around for a comic book that I have to pay for in the hopes that I learn something.

And yeah I couldn't get through the first page.

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Comic strip aims for a fun way to educate new Linux users

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 206.124.58.126] on April 15, 2008 07:45 PM
Anything that might appeal to kids and get more of them interested in linux is a good thing, IMO.

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Comic strip aims for a fun way to educate new Linux users

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 69.108.0.225] on April 15, 2008 08:02 PM
The text is far too verbose for kids, although if it were free I would make my wife read it. They want $17 PLUS SHIPPING for this piece of crap? It looks like it was made in TUXPaint FFS and they want me to spend twice what an actual good comic book would cost? I'm shocked this 'news' story made it on the front page.

Blatant attempt to cash in on what the author or parent company (intracorp, it even sounds like an evil comany) sees as a computing trend, and obviously without understanding that trend in the first place. I hope in a few months linux.com runs a story about how the massive failure of this company leads to the underage prostitution of the children of the corporate officers. Then I will point and laugh, and the balance of justice in the universe will again be restored.

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Comic strip aims for a fun way to educate new Linux users

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 89.180.213.148] on April 15, 2008 08:12 PM
Agreed, neither the (almost inexistent) story nor the drawings were even remotely captivating... That said (and it has been said a lot of times in this comments), I really cannot see someone interested in learning Linux picking this up, as it really seems it is targeted at really the very basics, and the easiest way of doing things, all of which can be read and learned for free, by only doing a simple search on a web search engine, the (apparently) non-existing story, and the big explanations will turn this into a Ubuntu manual with pictures, and who wants to read that? I'm seeing (maybe, I'm not even sure if I'm being serious here) a veteran user picking this up for curiosity, but a new user serious to learning Linux will not take such a leap, when he can 'securely' just buy a more complete book, or search the forums. It strikes as kind of funny, I'm imagining the penguin in the book talking about free of charge software and documentation, as well as users doing it for free on their spare time, then the reader seeing the price tag on the book and go "hey, what the heck", if this were a web comic, or at least free, then I could see people actually checking this out, and it appearing in blogs, and maybe some more generalistic linux news "a different approach to learning linux", but really, as it is...

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Comic strip for fun (and profit later on). License these things for growth.

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 74.233.77.99] on April 15, 2008 11:20 PM
People, comic strips are a great idea. Criticism is great, too, even if it were not balanced (hey, better to hear things now).

My view is that comic strips that are fun are lacking. They need not be educational. Some will be, but all should not. However, my only real criticism of this example, at least as far as making comics to help break Monopoly market share, is that this appears not to be licensed in a way where the community can take it and improve upon it.

Will someone not get a different comic strip sketch or something out before the month is up.. AND have it be licensed so that everyone else can jump on it? See, eventually, the better plots and the better dialog and the better characters and the better drawing ideas will come together and be refined further perhaps by a pro that will want to give back and recognize an opportunity, given that most of the work will have been done.

Anyone that wants to submit baby steps or even something advanced can post here: http://thetuxproject.com/node/182

Comic strips can turn into animations, movies, (commercials of course), and much more. There is plenty of time to profit. Don't be short-sighted. Red Hat gave up lots and lots of code and they are currently the top commercial Linux-dedicated company around and growing.

Within ten years, there will be loads of amateur commercials and stuff related to Linux being produced (in competition among groups.. for entertainment).

Make fun cartoons on a page, you know, with a real storyline, and kids will read it. Some adults will too ;-). We can eventually take the plots to the actual distro. A whole distro can cater to a particular strip and even have some parts of the story involve reader participation within the distro. Eg, one distro might be themed (w/ supporting apps) as a space ship console. The episodes might be released through that interface. There isn't too much distance between a comic strip and a video game. And "video games" can be adapted as an alternative style for interacting with a PC (ie, with the Internet and other users, with files, and with whatever else you want).

Finally, a small test. Some will write comics and what not in an attempt to demean FOSS/Linux. They are potentially much more suspect when they don't license the comics in a way others can fork it.

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Comic strip aims for a fun way to educate new Linux users

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 67.150.125.99] on April 16, 2008 07:59 AM
$18! 18! I still cannot get over the sticker shock of this thing.

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Comic strip aims for a fun way to educate new Linux users

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 74.12.181.28] on April 17, 2008 01:38 PM
can I write this for 'em
KISS would help.
packrat

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Comic strip aims for a fun way to educate new Linux users

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 74.92.253.9] on April 17, 2008 02:50 PM
I think it is a good idea, but the price is WAY too high. At 18 dollars plus 6 dollars shipping, it is definitely not accessible to the average joe wanting to learn linux. I don't think there is any argument for the price being so high. I could buy a beginner friendly linux book online for the same price.

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Comic strip aims for a fun way to educate new Linux users

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 168.244.164.254] on April 18, 2008 04:06 PM
I'd rather spend the $18 on a linux distro on DVD/CD than read about Woody handjob or whatever he's called. Un interesting, plodding plot with an outcome that is so forgone its not even worth reading the second panel.

I mean really... this is news? WOW.

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Comic strip aims for a fun way to educate new Linux users

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 12.213.224.36] on April 22, 2008 08:04 AM
Can we get a full book, or is this just a chapter at a time thing? I'd like to order a whole book with CD. Does it get into writing scripts and creating programs that do something? It would be so terrific to introduce to young teens the power of a computer put to work actually doing something other than mindless games. How about demonstrating calculating or locating planets, orbits, star clusters, etc... with planets or celestia? Just an idea. Anything that can get young minds away from games and tv and into thinking is a good idea.

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