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It is said, “A bad workman blames his tools.” To avoid excuses, this guide uses tools created by the best craftsmen of the technology community. As these programs are entirely free, tools are no excuse here.


The following system components and Internet services are used to publish this guide:

  • Konsole, the Linux KDE terminal
  • Kate text editor (but any editor will do)
  • Chrome web browser (but Firefox, Opera or Safari may be preferred)
  • Python programming language tools (python-setuptools)
  • TeX composition tools (texlive-full)
  • Sphinx Python documentation generator
  • git repository file system _[#]
  • GitHub public online repository hosting _[#]

Platform of Choice

Building a workstation platform which will create simple, elegant web documents without hassle is a challenge. For this guide, workstations used was an ASUS EeePC 1001PX runnng Linux KUbuntu 12. This machine can dual-boot with the Windows Home Starter Edition that came on it, but what is the point of using a non-working operating system when a working system is available for free?

Programmers are like that. As we go farther along, you will notice links to various developer services, and invariably the screen shots and installation instructions will be written for Linux. _[#] Hopefully by the end of this guide, you will understand why.

Install Dual-Booting Linux

Here are basic directions. First, choose an operating system to download:

Burn a DVD of from operating system file, or dd the file to a usb key.

  1. Run defrag and chkdsk on your Windows hard drive partition.
  2. Boot from CD and follow directions to partition your drive and dual-install.

If this is too difficult, look for help at a nearby Linux user group meeting.

Installing Software

There is a whole slew of software one would want on a computer for programming, writing, graphic arts, and so forth. Rather than enumerate all these packages, a script to install software is provided as part of this GitHub project repository.

Install the script as follows. First, download the script file appropriate for your system, saving it to file in your home folder:


If your browser saved this file without asking you where to put it or what to name it, then edit your browser preferences to always ask when saving downloads.

Now perform the following:

  1. Open a console (terminal) window
  2. Type the command bash <Enter>
  3. Enter your password when asked (this may happen multiple times)
  4. When asked for a mysql pasword, type mysql
  5. Wait an hour or so while over 1000 software packages are installed
  6. Restart your system to load the most recent Linux kernel

Installing Sphinx

We are not done yet. The desktop installation script did not include documentation tools, which will be installed from a separate script:

  1. Download reST script to filename
  2. Open a console (terminal) window
  3. Type the command bash <Enter>
  4. Enter your password when asked (this may happen multiple times)
  5. Wait an hour or so while packages are installed and compiled


There will be plenty of commands to type in this guide. Being a lazy lot, Linux programmers have a way to avoid the typing. Open both web browser and console windows in your workspace. Highlight text to be typed in the browser, then move to the console and click with the mouse scroll wheel at the prompt.

Congratulations. Now your computer has the tools to do documentation work.

Development Environments

A nice thing about Linux is the convenience of terminal command files, where a short script can perform hours of tedious computer work for you. Additional optional scripts are listed here for installing development environments for writing web applications.

As described previously, open a console window and type a command such as bash <Enter> to execute a script file.


[1]Scott Chacon, Pro Git (August 27, 2009, ISBN-10: 1430218339), available at Amazon, or for free on-line at
[2]Scott Chacon, Pro Git book source (written in MarkDown, not reST) repository on GitHub:
[3] presents a list of useful Linux commands.