Objective 4: Use Streams, Pipes, and Redirects

Among the many beauties of Linux and Unix systems is the notion that everything is a file. Things such as disk drives and their partitions, tape drives, terminals, serial ports, the mouse, and even audio are mapped into the filesystem. This mapping allows programs to interact with many different devices and files in the same way, simplifying their interfaces. Each device that uses the file metaphor is given a device file, which is a special object in the filesystem that provides an interface to the device. The kernel associates device drivers with various device files, which is how the system manages the illusion that devices can be accessed as if they were files. Using a terminal as an example, a program reading from the terminal’s device file will receive characters typed at the keyboard. Writing to the terminal causes characters to appear on the screen. Although it may seem odd to think of your terminal as a file, the concept provides a unifying simplicity to Linux and Linux programming.

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