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Welcome to Linux! It’s the software that is grabbing the world’s attention as a reliable and powerful operating system (OS). At the time of this writing, Linux and Windows NT are the only OSs gaining market share. Most other OSs are either stagnant or are losing their share to Linux or Windows NT.
How to Use This Book
This book is a gentle introduction to Linux, and as such, it is not intended as a comprehensive guide. On the contrary, great effort has gone into this book to keep it from becoming yet another comprehensive reference guide. I’ve been selective about covering the topics you are most likely to use early in your Linux hacking career.
One of the interesting things about Linux, and UNIX in general, is that learning new ways and tools is almost an endless task. There are many tools—too many to cover even in several “comprehensive” volumes. Much of the comprehensive and exhaustive reference for Linux is readily available in various forms, some of which will be installed into your computer as part of the installation process.
In contrast, this book focuses on how to make you self-sufficient. It teaches you two ways of working with Linux: using the X graphical environment (with KDE) and using the shell, the command line interpreter so closely associated with UNIX. And, if you are managing your own Linux computer, there are some administrative tasks that you need to learn how to do.
So how is this book organized? Installation and first-time configuration instructions are located in Appendix A, “Linux Installation.” Appendix B, “OpenLinux Compatibility Guide,” provides you with an up-to-date list of the ever-growing and ever-changing list of hardware that is known to be compatible with Linux. While mapping your installation plan, you should verify that your hardware is listed and known to be compatible with OpenLinux.
After your initial Linux installation and configuration, start with Part 1, “Working with Linux in a Graphical Environment—The KDE Desktop,” and read the chapters in order. (We’ve structured the chapters counting on you doing so.) Part 2, “Working on the Command Line,” introduces similar concepts as Part I, this time using a shell instead of a graphical user interface.
Last, Part 3, “Essential System Tasks Under Linux,” focuses on various administration tasks that you’ll need to do occasionally. Keep in mind that while you are learning Linux, you are also learning UNIX. What you learn here will transfer with little modification into other UNIX environments.
Have fun getting to know your new operating system!