This is a book about Linux, a free implementation of Unix for Intel 386 (or higher), Alpha, SPARC, PowerPC, Motorola 680x0 (m68k), and other personal computer and server architectures. In this book, we want to show how you can completely change the way you work with computers by exploring the world of a powerful and free operating system--one that goes against the grain of the traditional PC world. Setting up and running a Linux system can be challenging, rewarding, and a lot of fun; we think that Linux brings a great deal of excitement back into computing. We invite you to dive in, enjoy yourself, and be the first on your block to know what it means to tweak your dot clocks and rdev your kernel image.
We aim this book at readers who are inquisitive and creative enough to delve full-tilt into the world of Linux. Linux represents something of a rebellion against commercial operating systems, and many of its users are the kind of people who like living on the edge of the latest technological trends. Sure, the casual reader can set up and run a Linux system (or hundreds of them!) without much trouble, but the purpose of this book is to dig deeper into the system and bring you completely into the Linux mentality. Rather than gloss over the messier details, we explain the concepts by which the system actually works, so that you can troubleshoot problems on your own. By sharing the accumulated expertise of several Linux experts, we hope to give you enough confidence so that one day you can call yourself a true Linux Guru.
This is the third edition of Running Linux. In this edition, we have completely updated the installation, configuration, and tutorial information to be up-to-date with the latest Linux software distributions (including Red Hat, SuSE, and Debian) and many application packages. The core of the book, however, has not changed much. This was intentional: in the first two editions we made a great effort to make the book as robust as possible, even though Linux itself is under constant development. This philosophy worked remarkably well and has been preserved in this new, updated edition. We think this book will be of use to you for a long time to come.
This book concentrates on the version of Linux for the Intel x86 family of processors (the 386/486, Pentium, Pentium Pro, and Pentium II/III chips). We have also included appendices detailing the installation and basic configuration procedures for several other architectures, including Alpha, SPARC, m68k, and PowerPC ports of Linux. However, apart from the basic installation procedures, the rest of this book, which focuses on using the system, applies to any port of Linux.
Kalle Dalheimer has joined Matt Welsh and Lar Kaufman as co-authors for this third edition. Kalle has been active in the Linux community for some time and was instrumental in the development of KDE (a popular desktop environment for Linux). Kalle has authored most of the new material in this edition, and his particular expertise has brought a fresh perspective to the technical aspects of this book.
In the preface to the first edition, we said that "Linux has the potential to completely change the face of the PC operating system world." Looking back, we think it's obvious that this has already happened. Linux has erupted into the computing mainstream with an amazing force: it has been covered by every major media channel, has helped usher in the so-called "Open Source Revolution," and is widely claimed as the most viable competitor to Microsoft's dominance in the operating systems market. Today, most estimates place the number of Linux users worldwide at over 10 million. Linux has matured to the point where many people don't need to know much about their systems: they can simply install the software and use it. So, perhaps you will find much of the detailed advice in this volume superfluous; at the very least, retain it for historical evidence.
In writing this book, we wanted to make Linux a real choice for the many personal computer users who find themselves trapped within the limitations of commercial operating systems. Because of the cooperative nature of the system, certain aspects of Linux can be confusing or apparently ad hoc. In this book, we've attempted to condense as much wisdom as possible based on correspondence with thousands of users worldwide (and far too much time playing with our own Linux systems). Linux really can change the way you think about computing--this book will show you how.
The world of Linux has changed a lot between the previous edition of Running Linux and this one. But most of these changes have been in its image rather than its substance: Forbes magazine and the Economist are excited about the growth of Linux, major computer companies like IBM, Hewlett Packard, Oracle, and Compaq are supporting Linux in various ways, and the "open source" model (originally known as free software) that Linux exemplifies is all over the news.
Linux itself has improved along the way, and the programs you run on Linux have matured impressively. Linux can now be used for massive, mission-critical servers with multiple processors, clusters, and RAID disk arrays. Since this is a getting-started book, we don't talk about those things. Rather, we concentrate on the more introductory aspects of the system, but we do cover several server-related topics (specifically, setting up Samba and web servers).
A major new development covered in this third edition is KDE. KDE (and GNOME, a similar project) has brought a new, modern look-and-feel to the Linux desktop, making the system poised to conquer the personal productivity computing market once and for all.
In addition to new sections on KDE and Samba, this edition offers introductions to PPP and to building Java programs on Linux. Of course, all the other information has been completely updated as well.
0.1. Why People Like Linux
Why on earth would you want to run Linux? Good question. What you have now works, doesn't it? Windows 98 is a good operating system, but it has a lot of limitations. Being tailored for low-end home users, Windows doesn't deliver the performance or flexibility that many people expect out of a PC operating system. Here are a few reasons why people are switching to Linux:
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