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A Beginners Guide to Linux

A Beginners Guide to Linux

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A Beginners Guide to Linux

Lungime:
420 pages
4 hours
Lansat:
Nov 19, 2016
ISBN:
9789801289210
Format:
Carte

Descriere

This books is directed towards the new Linux user or users, interested in the Operating System. It takes the reader by the hand, from the very first steps. First, the reader will have a look at Linux in general and what it is. He will learn to understand the differences between Linux and Windows, how the file system works and what makes Linux different. Next the user will learn about the different distributions and the book will introduce some of the most common ones with recommendations. The reader will be guided through the usage of a Live Version as well as through the installation.

While reading, the user will then learn more about Linux Desktop Environments, will learn about security and gaming, as well as compatibility for Windows Applications and emulation. Later on, the user will receive information about system maintenance and will go over advanced functions, such as user management and the feared console. One chapter is dedicated to help with most common issues and problems and the user will be shown some trusted links and contact information, where they may get professional help from the community and PC technicians. Finally, the reader will receive some tips and tricks to make every day use of Linux much easier. The user will be introduced to the spirit of Linux and open source and will learn how and where they can get involved, to support Linux.

This book is not meant, to make the user a Linux professional and the book certainly does not cover all of the many advanced features, desktop environments and commands, nor does it discuss every Linux version in detail. More than that, the idea is, to provide the new Linux user with a neutral and solid base of information, that applies to all Linux systems alike. The goal of this book is, to give the user a basic understanding of what Linux is and how it works, so that even a user with no clue about Linux can use and operate and Linux computer on a daily base, performing common every day operations.

Lansat:
Nov 19, 2016
ISBN:
9789801289210
Format:
Carte

Despre autor

Hello, I am a technical writer, book author and journalis for works in English, Spanish and German. I am from Caracas in Venezuela and working as an independent. In addition, I am owning an IT business, downtown Caracas. You may check me out on Facebook, Twitter or by mail benjamin.buske-at-gmail.com or by phone +58 414 100-1991

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A Beginners Guide to Linux - Benjamín Buske

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Foreword

I have been a Windows user for many years. Starting with DOS 6.0 and Windows 3.11, I have ever since used Windows, without leaving out any version. In fact, I have been always using paid Operating Systems, be it Apple’s iOS, Windows or even the Mac OS at some point. My only contact with Linux was some years ago, and it was a terrible experience. While there was a graphical user interface, it was ugly and I was overwhelmed by complicated commands and the way of management, that even made simple tasks appearing tedious and difficult. In short words it was a terrible experience and I did not like it at all. Ever since, I have not touched Linux or UNIX based Operating Systems for quite some time, until not too long ago.

I have been using Windows 8 and 8.1 and I was disappointed for it, happily awaiting Windows 10, which promised to be better. Yet I was – after being impress at first – disappointed once again. It took a long time to boot and it was prone of many issues, some of which even today, more than a year later, have not been properly fixed. I talked about this issue with a friend of mine and he recommended that I switch to Linux, saying that he was using it for quite some time. Well, me having a Linux server, which appeared difficult to manage (though I never took time to learn anything about Linux either!) and remembering my first experiences with the Operating System, I was really unsure about this move and did fear a great disappointment.

Still, one afternoon, being mad at Windows, I just downloaded a version of Kubuntu – a flavor of the famous Ubuntu Linux, using the KDE Desktop – and tried to run it from an USB Stick. It was graphically appealing and not different from Windows. In fact, I loved the way, how every single bit could be customized and everything had detailed documentation as well. The forums were full of support and help, to get used to the new system easily. Hence I decided to give the new Operating System a chance and wanted to install it on a second partition. However, during the install process, Windows 10 kept causing problems. The partitioning done by Windows was so terrible, that there was no way to arrange the system in a proper way, that would allow me to use both systems, without leaving large unpartitioned and – hence – unused space wasted. I thought for a while to just leave it be and keep going with Windows. It is well known, that sometimes it is better to keep with something bad you know, than with something you to explore.

Either way, Windows kept causing trouble starting up, taking forever and not allowing me to do what I want and, in a rush of madness and being upset, I just told the Kubuntu installer, to partition the whole hard-disk for use of Kubuntu. During the installation, which was easy and appealing, I got doubts. What if the new system was crap? What if it did not work? After all I just lost a lot of data and information, with only having some backups of files and photos, I store online. Using my laptop as a work computer as well, for my business, I must have been really crazy.

Obviously, I was happy, that my fears did not confirm themselves. I booted up the system and was presented with my brand new Kubuntu Linux KDE Desktop. I have to admit, I was really happy and for the first time in my life, I went to learn about this system and how to use it. After all I had made a decision and now I would have to start over. I have to admit, I felt stupid at first. Being an IT professional, who has spent past 20 years working on computers, I know felt like a complete beginner. Simple steps like copying or moving a file, I had to investigate, there was obviously a lot of work ahead. Wrong! Once again I was proven wrong. Linux has shown to be not even close to that complicated and hard to learn, as I first thought. Now, I am a computer professional and I use the system in a different way, than an ordinary user and – hence – had to learn a lot. Still, it has been fairly easy and most of the time it made sense and was – unlike with Windows – logically.

Image 1: Ubuntu 16.04 Installer Screen

Most users are turned away from Linux by the loads of commands and by learning something completely new. However, I have to say, that by now, with such a developed foundation, there is not much difference between Linux and Windows or other operating systems. Actually, an ordinary user could use a Linux based system without ever having to type a single command. Yet, using the command line interface or CLI, makes things faster and – at times – easier, however: it is not necessary and a user looking for an exclusively graphically driven system can have just that with Linux as well. In fact, with some customization and settings, the Linux system could look that much as a Windows system, that an average user would probably not even notice a difference or realize that they are working on a GNU / Linux system.

I have been ever since grateful for my friend, referring me to Linux and I have ever since promoted its use in many different ways. The purpose of this book has been, to not only share my personal experience with Linux / GNU as a newcomer, but to also provide easy to understand instructions, tutorials and help, so that even an inexperienced Linux user can feel comfortable with the new operating system, while at the same time learn about the history and development, etc. of it. Not important, if the user is inexperienced, using a computer or if the user is coming from a different operating system. The idea behind this book is, to make the transition as fast and smooth as possible, while also having fun about learning new things and – of course – trying them out. After all, it is proven, that we learn best by doing and this is more than true for Linux. You can read plenty of books, but you will not learn anything, if you do not end up trying it out yourself.

This said, I thank you for purchasing this product and hope that you will enjoy your new operating system and learning about all its features and possibilities, like I did. If you have any questions, comments or remarks about this work, please feel free to email me at info@benjamin-buske.com. At this same address, you can also contact me by Google Talk / Hangouts, to have a chat or make comments on my Facebook page. I will be happy to assist you and to hear what you have to say. So, with that out of the world, I suggest we get started and to work right away. Enjoy the lecture.

Yours Sincerely,

Benjamín Buske

Caracas, August 2016

Chapter 1 – What is Linux? An Introduction

Though this work is about learning Linux and about getting familiar using it, it is important, to have at least some background information about the OS and what it is. The purpose of this chapter is just that: to provide a quick and simple overview of Linux, what it is and what history it is based upon. With this knowledge, you should be all set, to head on and to actually get to learn using the system.

Linux is commonly known as an open source operating system (OS), designed to run on desktop and laptop computers, as well as on servers. However, this explication is not 100% correct, as the name Linux refers mainly to the Kernel, that is used by the operating system. What a Kernel exactly is, is not part of this book and is also not necessary to know, unless you are looking to become a computer professional. So for the ease of use, let’s say, the Kernel is the part of the system, that is responsible for the communication between the computer’s core system and the user, be it through the keyboard or graphical user interface. The Kernel used by Linux has been developed as a hobby by Thorwald Linus and is the base foundation of all Linux operating systems. That is however only one part of the system, with the other one being GNU. GNU, which stands for GNU’s not UNIX is the actual part of the operating system and while it looks and acts like Unix, it is not using any actual UNIX code.

The idea of GNU was to openly develop an operating system and provide it to the masses, free of charge and without any costs. It was with GNU, that the open source operating system was actually born. Since Linux and GNU are both part of the system and one system needs the other to work, as GNU actually did not have a Kernel before the Linux Kernel, the correct designation of the Operating System would be GNU / Linux. Up to this day, Linux / GNU remains being open source.

What does mean open source though? Well, open source means, that the source code of the product is publicly available and that it can be used and seen by anyone, who is interested in it. It does also mean, that the software is generally free of charge. Still, there are Linux versions – mostly designed for Enterprises – out there, that do charge for their service (however, not for the OS directly). The big advantage of this approach is, that Linux has a huge foundation of developers, who are voluntarily working on the development of the system, while others are working for companies, that are developing a professional Linux version.

Usually due to being open source, Linux is developed pretty quick and in the same way bugs and issues are addressed and fixed really fast. Not seldom bugs are fixed only a short time after they have been reported and many times are solved much quicker than on other operating systems. As an additional benefit, community support through forums and websites is widely available. As an additional bonus, there is also the possibility to directly talk and chat with the developers of the different applications. Be it my chat or email, the user is generally allowed and encouraged to contact the developer about new issues. Skilled computer users get the chance to help fixing the issue, while the novice or average user did a great service reporting an issue. As soon as the problem is fixed and the update is ready, it will be placed on the repositories for the community to download.

This does allow Linux a great flexibility and the advantage of a very strong and powerful resource: the human. Anybody interested and able to help, can get themselves included and work for the project, a specific application or even support the project in several other ways. On the other hand, there are some facts, people might see as a downside of being open source. Of course these points should be addressed here as well. Whether they are actually negative or not, however has to be determined by the reader himself.

Being an open source project, means that there are a lot of people working on the project. While this is not generally bad, there is a famous saying of many cooks ruining the meal and this might apply to Linux as well. While the code is generally stable, Linux is served by a lot of different applications, from lots of different users. For example the desktop is from one group, while the digital clock is from another user and the analog clock and the alarm has been designed by yet another user. This issue however has been mostly solved, as today Linux systems are stable and reliable. Only because of that, they can be used on a production system without risk and an unstable or insecure Linux would surely not be the most famous operating system on servers. Another disadvantage might be, that a lot of software, that is pre-installed on other operating systems, is missing on Linux. This refers mainly to 3rd party applications, such as codecs or programs, that are not free or require acceptance of license agreements. While these programs usually can be obtained by download or even from repositories easily, legal reasons make it necessary, to download that software manually. Still, a default Linux install comes with a lot of useful and powerful software installed on it, ready for use right after the first boot.

Overall, the advantages of Linux being open source should outweigh by far the disadvantages and compared to other operating systems, the disadvantages are not more or less, though maybe different, than those found on other operating systems. It is a matter of fact, that Linux is a very stable and secure operating system with increasing popularity.

The best way, to get a first impression of this great operating system is, to try it for yourself and make up your own mind. Linux is not only free to download, but also offers a Live Demo mode for most versions. This allows running and testing from a CD or pen drive, without installing it or making changes to the systems. Hence trying it, is not only free of charge but also free of any risks. If you do not like it, you just get rid of it and go on as if nothing would have happened.

Chapter 2 – Transition to Linux

The transition from to Linux is probably the most interesting but also the most difficult part. It refers to the actual move to Linux or to actually using it. There are several ways, to get a Linux system to run on a computer. These are generally:

• Virtual Machine

• Dual Boot System

• Single Boot System

• Live System

We will look into each of these methods in detail and find out the advantages and disadvantages that come with them. This will help you to make a choice yourself, about how you wish to run Linux and you will find out, how you can set up a Linux machine, without actually loosing any data and without having to delete your existing Windows or Mac OS system, you use.

2.1. Virtual Machine

Image 2: Ubuntu in a Virtual Machine

A virtual machine refers to a computer, that is virtually running within your computer. A program is used, to achieve virtualization. The system is installed on a virtual drive within your existing partition and afterward you can run the operating system within your actual system you are using. In this case Linux is not actually installed on your computer and no partitioning is necessary. This might be a good option, if you wish to check out Linux or get a first impression. It might also be useful, if you wish to run Linux applications from within Windows, without having to leave the actual system and without having to make any changes. However, performance and functionality might be limited this way.

2.2. Dual Boot System

Image 3: Boot Menu of Dual Boot System

A Dual Boot System is a system, where a Linux installation exists alongside a Windows installation. When booting up the system, you have to select which system you wish to start up. In this setting, both operating systems are installed on the computer, using their own partitions and both systems run normally. You do not suffer from limited functionality or performance issues, you might face in a virtual environment. However, you are using more disk-space and resources, since you have to full operating systems installed on your computer. Unlike with a virtual machine, you cannot run both systems at once, but have to choose the system you wish to use at boot time. This setting is a good choice, if you wish to make first steps on Linux, without getting rid of Windows or in cases, where you need to run a Windows environment for other reasons.

2.3. Single Boot System

Image 4: Mint Boot Screen

In a Single Boot System, you are going to install Linux as the sole operating system, without any other systems running on it. This would also mean a complete transition to Linux, as the Windows system will be deleted and no longer available for use. This should be your choice, if you are serious about learning Linux or if you have yourself familiarized with the new Operating System and are ready to use it on a daily base, without going back to Windows. With this setup, you will be able to benefit from the advanced file systems used by Linux, while also saving disk space, you would use for having another system installed. However, unless you set up a virtual machine with Windows, or use a Windows emulator, you would not be able to use a Windows system. Because of this, you should always make sure, that you really do not need your Windows anymore, before you decide to delete it.

2.4. Live Version

Image 5: Mint Live Disk Desktop

Chapter 3 – Finding the right Distribution

Most confusing for users coming from operating systems such as Windows or Mac OS, is the fact that there exist many different Linux Distributions. For example there exists Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Fedora, CentOS, Debian and openSUSE. While all of those are different distributions, they are all Linux and in its foundation the same Operating System. So, if all of those different names are Linux, what is the difference?

Since Linux / GNU is open source, anyone interested and with sufficient knowledge, can develop it or make changes to the source code. This has led to several groups and companies, dedicating themselves to the development of Linux. While the foundation of the system, using GNU as operating system and the Linux Kernel as Kernel, are the same, the distributions at times differ widely. Some distributions offer only a command line mode but not graphic interface or desktop. Those systems are mainly server based. Others offer various desktops or interfaces to choose from. Most important yet, many of the different distributions use different package managers, resulting in programs working for one Linux distribution, not being compatible with another.

Even more important to know is the fact, that even though the appear to be the same, each distributions works completely different. Some are more user friendly, while others are more directed towards computer professionals. Some distributions are running especially well on servers, while others are not recommended to run on a server at all. Going into details here and looking into all the different Linux distributions and the differences, would not only be past of what this book can offer, but also would take the reader a lot of time, before they could actually make a reasonable decision about which distribution to choose. However, this is not necessary as well. Firstly, most of the differences are taking place behind the scenes and do only have minor effects on the average home user. Secondly, if you start to learn something from the scratch, you will be familiar with it, after you have dedicated some time to it. So even if you decide to first install a more complicated Linux version, you would learn to manage and handle it and after some time you would just be used to it, not noting any difference.

Up to date, the most important points, that affect the decision of which distribution to choose are the following:

• Word of the Mouth

• Environment (Server, Home Computer, Network Computer, etc.)

• Available Software, Programs and Desktop Environments

• Hard- and Software Requirements

• Usability and Available Help and Support

The word of the mouth remains to be the most important factor in the decision regarding the Linux distribution to use. Friends or co-workers using and showing a specific Linux distribution are the most common reason for newcomers to try it out. Since those friends or co-workers usually show their Linux to the user and hence establish a first contact, those people are likely to install that recommended Linux distribution on their system. Another factor might be an already known system, maybe because it is installed already at work or has been used in a library.

Also an important role in the decision plays the environment, where the system is to be used. Generally a home user, who uses his computer to surf the web and game, is looking for an easy system, that is not too complicated and works without any issues. Frequent password prompts or security restrictions might be felt as bothering and nasty. A system intended to run in a company network, dealing with sensitive information however might be interested in exactly that amount of security and not caring about ease of use or a fancy graphic user interface. The choice for the distribution in these cases is pretty much solely practical.

Not less important for most users of all branches is the amount of available software and the desktop environments. Generally, a wider variety and bigger numbers of software available in the repositories are an advantage, as the software can be easily downloaded from the secure sources of the distribution. Manual updates or download from external websites are not necessary. In addition to that, the possible desktop environments may also play their part in the choice. While a newcomer to Linux does not usually have sufficient knowledge, to make a choice based on the desktop environments, pretty much every user is searching the web or watching videos about the different distributions. They see screen shots they like and want something similar. In addition to that, each desktop environment available, has a dedicated and loyal fan-base, that is supporting their Desktop, pretty much like the iOS and Android fans out there. For those users the actual distribution might not be as important as the available user interfaces. For an Xfce fan for example a distribution could be the best and most reliable one, but would not even be considered, if it does not offer the Xfce desktop environment. However: with today’s option, to install pretty much any desktop environment on any system, this might be not that much of importance anymore.

Hard- and Software Requirements on the other hand might be an important part of the decision. This is especially true, when an older system or a specific network structure has specific requirements, which can only be served by one or some distributions. The most important requirement here might go hand in hand with the above mentioned desktop interface. There are some Linux Distributions, that are shipped with the powerful Unity or KDE desktops. While those are an optical highlight, they are also very power hungry and hence a user on an older laptop might have to look for a system running the less powerful xfce or LXDE environment. In the business, a company deploying a pure Linux Environment has different requirements, than a company, using a mixed environment of Windows and Linux machines. All these factors play an important part, when it comes to choosing a distribution.

Last but not least, the available amount of help and support as well as usability are playing an important role. Users that are new to Linux generally prefer something similar to Windows, that is also easy to learn and use. This way the transition is easier and we don’t have to learn something completely new. If this does not work well and we run into problems – which we will do for sure! - we want quick and qualified help. Hence we are looking for a distribution, that does provide a lot of resources such as manuals, tutorials and guides. In addition to that, we look for support forums or chat groups, we can direct our request for help and desperation to. Maybe not as important as the points mentioned above, this point still plays a role when it comes to the right choice of the distribution.

3.1. Commonly used Distributions

There is a huge amount of different distributions around and looking at all of them is beyond of what this book can offer. It is also not purpose of this book and not necessary, in order to learn Linux. If you are interested in the different distributions available, be it those, mentioned in this book or those, that are generally around, you best do some research on the internet yourself. There is plenty of information, documentation and videos as well as photos about the different distributions.

This book will however give a brief insight and explanation of the most commonly used Linux distributions, in order to help you, making a

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