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Learning Debian GNU/Linux

Learning Debian GNU/Linux

By Bill McCarty
1st Edition September 1999
1-56592-705-2, Order Number: 7052
360 pages, $34.95 , Includes CD-ROM

Previous: F.6 VI. LICENSE OPTIONS Glossary  


Absolute Path

See Path.

Access Mode

An attribute of a file or directory, which determines what operations a user may perform on the file or directory.


An alternative name for a command.


A parameter that controls the operation of a program or command.


A background program is temporarily suspended from execution and does not interact with the user. See Foreground.

BIOS (Basic Input/Output System)

The program built into a computer to control its operation, especially the booting of an operating system. Most computers let the user configure various BIOS options by means of a special screen or set of screens.

Boot diskette

A diskette that contains the parts of an operating system needed to start the operating system.

Boot Sector

A sector that contains a loader program for starting an operating system.


A client program that operates under user control, especially a web client.


A program that makes a request (generally via a network) of a server.

Command Interpreter

A program that accepts commands and executes (interprets) them.


A program that runs in the background; that is, without user interaction.


A work environment provided by a graphical user interface, generally including a video monitor background, a screen saver, and one or more taskbars and icons.


A combination of a Linux kernel, a suite of UNIX-like command programs, and other software for installing and maintaining a Linux system.

DNS (Domain Name Server)

A computer that translates hostnames to IP addresses on behalf of requesting clients.

Dotted Quad Notation

A form of representing a 32-bit IP address, consisting of 4 numbers from 0 to 255, each separated from the others by a dot.

EIDE (Enhanced Integrated Drive Electronics)

An incremental improvement of the IDE standard for hard drives, designed to better accommodate large capacity drives.


A standard for sending data packets across networks, focused on the electronic signaling issues.


A foreground program runs and interacts with the user. See Background.

FTP (File Transfer Protocol)

A protocol for transferring data files across a TCP/IP network.


GNU stands for "GNU's not Unix," and refers generally to software distributed under the GNU Public License (GPL).

GPL (GNU Public License)

The GNU Public License provides for free access to software published under its terms. Users are allowed to copy, modify, and redistribute GPL software.

Graphical User Interface (GUI)

A graphical user interface is a program that lets the user interact with a computer system in a highly visual manner, with a minimum of typing. Graphical user interfaces usually require a high-resolution display and a pointing device, such as a computer mouse.

Hidden File

A file having a name that begins with a dot (.). Such files are not listed by the ls command unless a special argument ( -a) is specified.

Home Directory

A directory provided for the personal files and directories of a user.


A computer attached to a network.


A name by which a host is known to other hosts on a network.


Hypertext Markup Language is the form in which web documents are transmitted and interpreted by browsers.


A popular standard for internal hard drives and CD-ROM drives of IBM-compatible systems.


A relatively loose federation of computer networks that permits data to be widely transferred among computers.

IP Number

A number that identifies a host, corresponding to a network interface associated with the host.


The part of an operating system that contains the most primitive functions upon which other, more sophisticated functions depend.


To terminate a process.


A program often used to load the Linux kernel from a hard drive or boot diskette.

Man Page

A document that describes a Unix command or file, readable by using the man command.

Master Boot Record (MBR)

The first sector of a hard drive, which by convention contains a loader program for starting an operating system.


To make a filesystem available for use.

Operating System

A program that provides a user interface and an application interface (which makes it possible for application programs to run) and manages computer system resources.


A command argument that takes one of a small number of values. Command arguments that specify files (for example) are not options.


A file that contains a set of related files that can be installed as a unit.


An area of a hard disk, generally allocated to a specific operating system (though perhaps usable by multiple operating systems).


A path denotes the location of a file or directory. The path is an absolute path if it gives the complete path, beginning with the root directory and including every subdirectory. Otherwise, the path is a relative path.


Point-to-point protocol, the most popular way of connecting a computer to the Internet via a dialup modem.


An instance of a running program.


A character or series of characters displayed by a command interpreter to inform the user that execution of a command has been completed and the interpreter is ready to accept a new command.

Relative Path

See Path.


The specially privileged userid used to perform Unix system administration.

Root Directory

The unique directory that has no parent directory. All other directories are children of the root directory or its subdirectories.


A path along which data packets move from host to host across a network.

Run Level

The operating mode of a UNIX system; for example, single-user, multi-user without networking, or multi-user with networking.


A series of commands, stored in a file for subsequent or repeated execution.


A popular standard for internal and external hard drives and other peripherals.

Search Path

A series of directories automatically searched by a command interpreter in order to locate the program file that corresponds to a command to be executed.


A program that responds to client requests, which are generally transmitted over a network.


A command interpreter.

Swap File

A disk file or partition used to temporarily store information when system memory runs low.

Symbolic Link

A filesystem entity that lets you associate an alternative name with a file or directory.

System Administrator

The user who installs, configures, and otherwise maintains the software (and possibly the hardware) associated with a computer system.

TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol)

A standard method of sending data packets across a computer network, focused on the routing and connection issues.


A combination of a keyboard and monitor, which together provide the capability to interact with a computer system.

Text Editor

A program that lets you create and modify the contents of text files.


A protocol for establishing a login session via TCP/IP on a remote system.


The unique identifier associated with a system user.

Window Manager

A program that manages a graphical user interface, determining the appearance of windows (by providing standard elements such as title bars, for example) and determining the response to operations such as clicking on the desktop.

Working Directory

The directory that is implicitly combined with a relative path reference to determine the corresponding absolute path reference.

X Server

A program that implements X for some platform and type of video hardware.


A sophisticated and powerful graphical user interface implemented on a variety of computer platforms.

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