Chapter 1. Getting Acquainted with Linux

In This Chapter

  • Diving into Linux origins and features

  • Telling Linux apart from the rest of the operating system pack

  • Depending on GNU and the GPL

  • Marveling at the Linux Company (or lack thereof)

  • Checking out popular Linux distributions


Ford, you're turning into a penguin. Stop it!

 --Arthur Dent

Welcome to the world of Linux, the operating system developed by more than a thousand people around the world! In this chapter, you find out about Linux itself — what it is, where it comes from, and why it gets so much attention in the news these days. Prepare to have your assumptions challenged about how software must be developed and sold, and open your mind to new possibilities.

Is Free Really Free?

Understanding Linux requires a radical shift of thought regarding the way that you acquire and use computer software. (Note: By radical, we mean getting to the root of the matter, rather than putting on beads and camping out in the administration building.) Your first step toward shifting your mind-set is to alter your general connotation of the word free to represent freedom, rather than free lunch. That's right; you can sell "free" software for a fee . . . and you're encouraged to do so, as long as you relay the same freedom to each recipient of the software.

Don't scratch your head too hard; these concepts are tough to grasp initially, especially when you consider the conditioning you've received from the commercial software industry's marketing departments. ...

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