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This is a book about Linux, a freely available clone of the Unix operating system for personal computers. Linux was first developed by Linus Torvalds, who built the first Linux kernel and continues to centrally coordinate improvements. The operating system continues to grow under the dedicated cultivation of a host of other programmers and hackers all over the world, all connected through the Internet. Beyond the kernel code, Linux includes utilities and commands from the Free Software Foundation's GNU project, Berkeley Unix (BSD), and a complete port of the X Window System (XFree86) from the X Consortium, in addition to many features written specifically for Linux. Even more recent projects extend Linux in exciting ways, some through changes to the kernel -- such as real-time scheduling and RAID support -- and some through libraries and applications that radically change the user's experience; the GNOME and KDE desktops briefly covered in this book are the most prominent examples.

This book is a quick reference for the basic commands and features of the Linux operating system. As with other books in O'Reilly's "In a Nutshell" series, this book is geared toward users who know what they want to do and have some idea how to do it, but just can't remember the correct command or option. We hope this guide will become an invaluable desktop reference for the Linux user.

0.1. Other Resources

This book will not tell you how to install and maintain a Linux system. For that, you will probably want O'Reilly's Learning Red Hat Linux or Learning Debian GNU/Linux, by Bill McCarty, which contain Linux distributions on CD-ROM and provide help with installation and configuration. Alternatively, Running Linux by Matt Welsh, Matthias Kalle Dalheimer, and Lar Kaufman is an in-depth guide suitable for all major distributions. For networking information, check out Linux Network Administrator's Guide by Olaf Kirch and Terry Dawson. In addition to O'Reilly's Linux titles, our wide range of Unix, X, Perl, and Java titles may also be of interest to the Linux user.

0.1.1. Online Documentation

The Internet is also full of information about Linux. One of the best resources is the Linux Documentation Project at http://www.linuxdoc.org.It has numerous short guides called HOWTOs, along with some full manuals. For online information about the GNU utilities covered in this book, consult http://www.gnu.org(or one of the dozens of mirror sites around the world). The Free Software Foundation, which is in charge of GNU, publishes its documentation in a number of hard-copy books about various tools.

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