Introducing Linux Using the Linux user interface
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Let s begin by introducing you to the Linux operating system
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Describe the Background and History of Linux
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CERTIFICATION OBJECTIVE 101
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Describe the Background and History of Linux
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In this part of this chapter we re going to spend some time getting acquainted with Linux Specifically, we re going to discuss:
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The role and function of Linux The historical development of Linux Linux distributions Common Linux roles
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The first topic we need to review is the role Linux plays in a computer system
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The Role and Function of Linux
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Linux is an operating system All operating systems, including Linux, provide four key functions in a computer system:
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An operating system provides applications with a platform where they can run, managing their access to the CPU and system memory The operating system also serves as a mediator between running applications and the system hardware Most applications are not written to directly address a computer s hardware Instead, most operating systems include pre-written code that can be called from an application to access system hardware, such as memory, hard drives, and communication ports This feature makes life much easier for programmers Instead of having to write code for doing these tasks in each and every program, they can simply reuse this existing code provided by the operating system It also ensures that one application running on the system doesn t try to use memory already in use by another application, and that applications don t use an inordinate amount of CPU time The operating system is also responsible for providing an efficient and reliable means for storing information Usually this is done using some type of storage device, such as a hard disk drive, that has been formatted with a particular type of file system that organizes the information in an easily retrievable format
1: Introducing Linux
The operating system is responsible for providing a degree of security for the data it hosts The system administrator can create rules and grant rights that determine who can access what information Some operating systems, such as Linux and Windows 2000/XP, do this job very well Others, such as DOS or Windows 98, provide only a very minimal level of security The operating system manages connectivity between computer systems using a variety of network media and interfaces, including infrared, Ethernet, RS-232, and wireless
Believe it or not, I frequently encounter people who don t understand the role Linux plays in a computer system They are under the mistaken impression that Linux is some kind of killer application that they can run under Windows on their workstation This is mainly due to the fact that most users in recent years have grown up using Microsoft Windows on their computers Their home computer came with Windows bundled on it; their computer at work probably runs Windows as well Because of this, they perceive the operating system and the hardware of their computer as being married together in an inseparable union You may have heard someone refer to his or her computer as a Windows computer Actually, the computer hardware and the operating system are independent of each other That s because the modern PC is modular in nature The Windows operating system can be easily removed from the system and any compatible operating system can be installed in its place, including DOS, Windows, Linux, Solaris, and even Mac OS (if you install a special expansion board with the appropriate ROM chip) The Linux operating system is composed of the following components:
The Linux Kernel
This is the heart of Linux; hence it is called the kernel The kernel is the actual operating system itself It s the component that fulfills the key operating system duties discussed above
Libraries are pre-written code pieces that application programmers use in their programs As we discussed earlier, this can be a huge time saver Imagine what would happen if you were a programmer and you had to include code in your applications that would allow it to work with every type of hard disk drive interface currently on the market What a task! With libraries, the programmer doesn t care whether a SCSI or an IDE hard drive is installed in the system He or she simply calls the appropriate library and tells the operating system that data is to be written or read from the drive The operating system takes care of the rest