Current distributions are approaching perfection, but some fine-tuning is still needed. Many new users are intimidated by the apparent complexity of a Linux system, and as a result I note that the same questions crop up on c.o.l.setup over and over again. To try and remedy this situation, and for my own convenience, I wrote a to--do list that eventually became this HOWTO. Here you will find configuration tips and examples for the most common applications, programs, and services, which should save you a fair amount of time and work.
I realise that this HOWTO is quite RedHat-centric. Currently, I only have access to Red Hat and Mandrake machines, kernels ranging from 2.0.36 to 2.2.15; so don't take any of my tips as gospel if you have other distributions. Previous versions of this HOWTO provided some information for SuSE, Debian and Caldera; but as I no longer have access to those machines, I can't keep the details up-to-date. No information is better that inaccurate information, so it's up to you to to adapt my tips to your distribution.
This HOWTO can't, and is not meant to, replace others. Reading docs and HOWTOs always pays, so you're strongly advised to do so if you want to know more. Also, no spoon--feeding here: if you realise you don't understand something, please refer to the relevant HOWTO. Let me remind you that the right place for seeking help with Linux configuration is Usenet, i.e. news:comp.os.linux.setup. Please, don't seek help from me because I'm quite overloaded.
The official place for this document, which also hosts all other HOWTOs I refer to and some translations, is http://www.linuxdoc.org.
There can be endless hardware configurations for a PC, but in my experience one is quite common: a PC fitted with a large HD split into three partitions (one for DOS/Windows, one for Linux, one for the swap), sound card, modem, CD--ROM drive, printer, mouse. A parallel port Zip Drive is also very common. This machine is possibly part of a mixed Windows-Linux network, where it acts as server.
This is the hardware I'll assume you want to configure, but it's easy to adapt the following tips to different configurations. It's implicitly assumed that you'll be root when editing/fixing/hacking.
And now, lads, sleeves up.