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Learning Red Hat Linux by Bill McCarty

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Lately it seems that two topics crop up in conversation after conversation: the stock market and Linux. As for the stock market, I’m something of a pessimist. When friends and even perfect strangers continually recount their recent financial successes, I conclude that a stock market correction is overdue. (I’ve shifted my investments to bonds.)

As for Linux, I’m considerably more—perhaps wildly—optimistic. When my realtor tells me about the TV feature on Linux she saw on CNN, I see it as a harbinger of Linux Spring. Like her, my cable TV repairman, and my colleague in the next office, you’ve probably heard about Linux from a magazine, radio or TV program, or a friend. You’re wondering what Linux is about and whether you should give it a try. If so, particularly if you currently use Microsoft Windows, this book was written for you.

Not long ago, Linux was the plaything of the technical elite. Today, however, Linux is much easier to use. Every day brings a new tool or feature designed for ease of use. If you work with Microsoft Windows and have dabbled a bit in MS-DOS, or are curious about what happens inside Windows, you can install and configure Linux. Thousands of people from all walks of life—even journalists, who are notorious for their technical ineptitude—have already done so.

This book will make your Linux journey easier, by giving you the big picture, providing you with step-by-step procedures, and getting you started doing useful or fun activities, such as word processing or games. This book focuses on the needs of the new Linux user and on desktop Linux applications. You’ll learn about networks and servers, but the details of those topics are left for more advanced books.

Organization of This Book

Chapter 1, is designed to introduce you to Linux and help you determine whether Linux is appropriate for you.

Chapter 2, helps you understand what’s involved in installing Linux and guides you through a procedure to gather information needed to successfully install Linux.

Chapter 3, takes you step-by-step through the installation of Linux.

Chapter 4, describes the basics of how to use the Linux command-line interface, which resembles MS-DOS but is much more powerful and sophisticated.

Chapter 5, shows you how to install and configure X. Generally, the Red Hat Linux installation program will successfully install and configure X. However, if your video hardware is unusual, you may need to refer to the procedures in this chapter.

Chapter 6, shows you how to use X, the graphical user interface included with Red Hat Linux. If you’ve used Microsoft Windows, you’ll find X familiar and easy to use.

Chapter 7, shows you how to configure your Linux system. Administering a multi-user operating system such as Linux is somewhat more complicated than administering a single-user operating system, but Linux includes tools that simplify the work.

Chapter 8, describes several of the most popular applications available for Linux, including desktop suites and word processors.

Chapter 9, describes several of the most popular games available for Linux. The chapter also shows you how to run your favorite Microsoft Windows games under Linux.

Chapter 10, shows you how to connect your Linux system to other systems on your local area network.

Chapter 11, shows you how to connect via your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to the Internet. Once connected, you can use your Linux system to surf the Web and access other familiar Internet services.

Chapter 12, shows you how to set up servers that users around the world can access via the Internet. For example, you’ll learn how to install and configure Apache, the world’s most popular web server.

Chapter 13, digs deeper into the BASH shell, the Linux command-line interface first introduced in Chapter 4. Here you’ll see firsthand just how powerful and easy to use Linux can be.

Appendix A, describes the structure of the principal Red Hat Linux directories.

Appendix B, describes the principal Red Hat Linux configuration files.

Appendix C, describes the utilities provided by Red Hat Linux for working with packages. These utilities let you install applications, uninstall applications, and query a database that describes installed applications. This appendix also includes commands for installing the applications described in this book.

Appendix D, explains how PCs boot and describes how to configure your system to conveniently boot Linux.

Appendix E, briefly describes the most useful Linux commands. It also presents Linux equivalents for common MS-DOS commands.

The glossary defines terms used in the book. Use it to spare yourself the effort of searching the index to discover the page on which a term is defined.

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