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FOSS: A General Introduction to Linux
wikibooks ^ | 1991 | Multiple sources

Posted on 01/14/2019 6:37:20 AM PST by ShadowAce


Welcome to Linux! GNU/Linux is descended from the UNIX operating system, but is open source software, which means that you can view its source code and change it to suit your needs. Of course since this book is geared to those new to Linux, we stay away from very technical issues that are more suited to Linux veterans. This book is going to try to be geared toward the person who has heard about Linux and might be considering trying it out or perhaps the person who has already "taken the plunge" and is looking for more information or wondering where to start now that they have Linux installed. But first, a little history lesson.

The name "Linux" technically refers to an operating system "kernel", a single but key component of a complete operating system. In everyday use, the term "Linux" is frequently used to refer to a complete operating system which consists of the kernel and some of the thousands of other programs required to make an operating system useful. Much of the important system software that is typically installed on a Linux system comes from The GNU Project, a project to build an operating system made entirely of free software.

The first Linux kernel was created by Linus Torvalds. It was first released on 5 Oct 1991. It was started as an x86-only, single-processor operating system, but grew to become one of the most ported pieces of software. Other parts of a complete GNU/Linux system come from other projects such as the GNU project, and are integrated into a complete GNU/Linux OS by your supplier. Usually your supplier will assign their own version number to the integrated whole.

The GNU Project is overseen by the Free Software Foundation, founded by Richard Stallman, who believes that the people should use the term "GNU/Linux" to refer to such an operating system, because so many of the required programs were in fact, written as part of the GNU Project.


A distribution is a type of Linux. Linux comes in a large number of distributions, some of which are designed for everyday use, and others designed with a specific task or device in mind. We'll discuss some of those differences below.

Most Linux distributions have a special type of CD, called a live CD. If you insert this CD and then restart your computer, the live CD will run Linux on the computer while avoiding changing anything on your computer as much as possible. For example it won't normally install any files on your PC, but run only from the CD. You can give the operating system a try to see if you like it without the risk of installing anything on your hard drive. You should remember that linux typically runs very fast - if the system seems slow, it is because it is running off your CD drive, not your hard drive.

Choosing a Distro

There are dozens of different Linux distributions. Here are some ways to help you narrow down the options to a short list.

How do you intend to use the system?
Desktop or server? This distinction is probably the most important. Distributions for the desktop will have a graphical user interface, while server distributions won't.
Specific hardware requirements
Try out a few LiveCDs of different distributions. Does it recognize and work properly with your hardware?
If you intend to install Linux on a low-end specification computer, or you have other peculiar hardware compatibility problems or requirements, your choice might be influenced by this need. Most linux distributions should run fine on all but the lowest end of the spectrum.
Application support
Which applications or desktop environment are important to you?
Does a given distribution install those programs by default or is it easy to install and integrate them with the rest or your system?
Does the distribution have a good package management system, and suitable software repositories?
What options will be available for getting support? Is commercial (paid) support available? Is there free community support? If the distribution has a small user base, you will have a harder time getting distribution-specific support, as compared to a more widely-used distribution.
Desktop environment
For desktop systems, you'll need to feel at home. Check out Linux Guide/Desktop environments for information on some common ones. GNOME and KDE are the two most popular.

Try a distro chooser, like Often several different distributions will meet all your requirements. Your final choice from the short list may be based on whim or personal taste.

Getting Linux

Use an Existing system

The easiest way to begin using a Linux system may be to use an already running system. For example, some systems may be available in various educational or work environments. In this case you only need to contact the appropriate administrator and obtain a user ID and password. You will only be able to explore the system to a certain extent, but the first steps can be taken without having go through the installation process.

Another trouble-free way of obtaining a Linux system is to buy a computer with Linux pre-installed. The number of vendors selling such systems is constantly increasing.

Download a Linux ISO

After choosing a distribution, you should download it. Normally this will be an ISO image. An iso is all the data on a CD - after downloading the iso file, you will burn it to either a CD/DVD or a USB flash drive so you can use it. A USB is the recommended option these days as they are more reliable than CD/DVDs and virtually all modern systems support bootable USBs.

Creating a bootable USB on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux

  1. Go to and download UNetbootin for Windows or Mac OS X and run it. Existing Linux users are recommended to download UNetbootin from their distro's repository.
  2. Once it is opened, click the ... button to browse for your iso, next choose your drive letter in the "Type" column and click OK..
  3. The image will begin to be copied to your USB. Once it is done, your USB will be made bootable. You can now reboot the computer.

Creating a bootable USB on Linux (command line method)

WARNING:This procedure will erase all data presently on the flash drive, make a backup first.
1. Launch a Terminal window.
2. Type lsblk.
3. Note that there will be an entry for your flash drive, similar to this :
sdb 8:16 1 2.0G 0 part /media/NO NAME Note down the sdX, in this example sdb, NOT sdb1 etc.
4. Unmount your USB with this command:

sudo umount /dev/sdX1

5. Browse to the directory where you downloaded the iso with the cd command and type this command. (Assuming the iso image is ubuntu-gnome-16.04.1-desktop-amd64.iso and your drive is sdb)

sudo dd if=ubuntu-gnome-16.04.1-desktop-amd64.iso of=/dev/sdb bs=1M

6. The command will work in the background, when you return to a prompt, it will be finished.

Creating a LiveCD/DVD

A live CD/DVD is not recommended, use this procedure only if you do not have a computer that can boot from USB.

Windows (7 and later)

  1. Insert a blank disc in your drive
  2. Right click on the iso file and click "Burn image"
  3. Select your drive.
  4. Click Burn
  5. Wait for it to finish
  6. Done
Mac OS X
  1. Insert a blank disc in your drive
  2. Browse to your file in Finder
  3. Click "File" -> "Burn Disk Image to Disc"

K3b, Brasero etc. all have a function to burn images to CD/DVDs.

Boot From LiveCD

Live CD distributions allow you to "get your feet wet" by running Linux on your own PC at home without worrying about installing it or losing data.

Live CDs don't need to be installed to your hard drive for you to use them. Instead, you simply load the Live CD into your CD-ROM drive, restart your computer and a complete running Linux system should boot up with little, if any, intervention. There are some difficulties for some distributions working with certain sets of hardware, but most systems will boot with little to no problems.

A system running a Live CD often tends to be a little slow. This is because information must be fetched from the CD-ROM (which is much slower than a hard drive) and because the Live CD must store a lot of information in memory that would normally stay on the hard disk. Don't let this fool you into thinking that Linux is a slow operating system though. Linux systems are normally very fast and reliable. If you try a Live CD, it is recommended (unless you are trying a MiniLinux) that the computer you use be a relatively recent one with a generous amount of memory (256MB or more). For most people, this should provide a trouble free way to begin to get to know Linux. Sometimes the entire Live CD can be loaded into RAM if a sufficient amount is available (say around 1GB) and this will offer excellent responsiveness.

Live CDs are a great way to test whether certain hardware is likely to be compatible with Linux. Just pop the disk into the CD-ROM drive of the system in question and reboot as described above. Most hardware problems (if there are any) should make themselves obvious during normal use.

If The Live CD Didn't Work

If your Live CD is ignored and you find yourself booting into your normal operating system, you may need to alter some settings in your BIOS. While this may sound daunting for some users, it's actually a lot easier than it sounds.

Begin by restarting your PC and when the boot process begins again you will need to strike a particular key on your keyboard. The key you need to strike will usually be displayed on the computer screen and is often the 'Del' key. Common alternatives are 'F1', 'F2', 'F10' and 'Esc'. The proper key will vary with your computers manufacturer. Once the proper key is struck your computer screen will display the 'BIOS' or 'Setup' editor. There are usually some simple instructions on the bottom of the screen, or off to one side, telling you how to navigate around the various choices and make changes. Be sure to read these before continuing, then look for something labeled 'Boot' or 'Boot order'. Using the instructions you read a moment ago, change this so that your CD-ROM is the first item in the boot order. If you think you've made a mistake, there is usually an option to 'Exit without saving changes'. If you don't see that option, holding down the 'Ctrl' and 'Alt' keys and pressing the 'Del' key should save the day. If all goes well 'Save and Exit' and your computer should boot up, checking the CD-ROM for your Live CD as it does so. If you have run a Linux Live CD and have rebooted to use your regular operating system and have arrived at a notice declaring "Missing Operating System" or "Error on System Disk", or any scary notice stopping you from loading up as normal, it is likely that the computer has "forgotten" that you normally load up from the hard drive and has started to look for your operating system in the CD Drive. To fix this, follow the instructions above accordingly to your system but instead of selecting your CD drive as the boot device, select your hard drive.

Install Linux

After testing the system, you'll want to install it to your hard drive permanently. This does not require you to get rid of the current operating system, even if you have only a single hard disk. We will explore this topic in more detail in the next tutorial, Installation Walkthrough.

TOPICS: Computers/Internet
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I have been thinking about this series of posts for a while--introduction to Linux, and some tutorials on how to do specific things on Linux.

Feel free to discuss/correct/explain/question things in here. Also, request any specific topics you would like to see discussed. No promises, but I will do my best to cover topics that people would like to see.

1 posted on 01/14/2019 6:37:20 AM PST by ShadowAce
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To: rdb3; Calvinist_Dark_Lord; JosephW; Only1choice____Freedom; Ernest_at_the_Beach; martin_fierro; ...

2 posted on 01/14/2019 6:37:36 AM PST by ShadowAce (Linux - The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
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To: ShadowAce


3 posted on 01/14/2019 6:45:20 AM PST by Stentor
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To: ShadowAce
Full Disclosure:

I run Fedora 29 at home. I have run Red Hat (in the 90's) and have run every version of Fedora (except for 13) since it was released. I am an RHCE (Red Hat certified Engineer), and use Red Hat exclusively at work.

This typically means that while I am pretty much an expert in Red Hat-based systems, anything debian-based (Ubuntu, etc) will not be my area of expertise when it comes to Debian-specific commands or questions regarding Debian filesystem layouts.

4 posted on 01/14/2019 6:46:59 AM PST by ShadowAce (Linux - The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
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To: ShadowAce

Thank you.

5 posted on 01/14/2019 6:53:00 AM PST by Mogger
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To: ShadowAce
Here is a good Introduction course from Linux Foundation that is Free to use.

It is self-paced, contains 60 hours of course material, has hands-on labs, video content, and discussion forums.

I recommend it--and I have zero affiliation with Linux Foundation. I have never used their courses as I get my training from Red Hat. However, I have heard a lot of good things about them.

6 posted on 01/14/2019 6:54:33 AM PST by ShadowAce (Linux - The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
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To: ShadowAce

Is there a Linux specific ping list?

7 posted on 01/14/2019 6:55:26 AM PST by whodathunkit
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To: whodathunkit

This is probably as close as FR has currently. Would you like to be added?

8 posted on 01/14/2019 6:58:03 AM PST by ShadowAce (Linux - The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
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To: ShadowAce

Did you know that 53% of all VM installations in Microsoft’s Azure cloud are Linux?

9 posted on 01/14/2019 7:01:18 AM PST by Alas Babylon! (I can always count on some FReeper to paint a dark cloud above the silver lining. --Moonman62)
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To: ShadowAce

Thank you.

I dabble some in Linux.

10 posted on 01/14/2019 7:02:57 AM PST by wally_bert (We're low on dimes in fun city.)
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To: ShadowAce

I use Red Hat every day but only command line. Our Development VM is Ubuntu.

11 posted on 01/14/2019 7:05:18 AM PST by AppyPappy (How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?)
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To: ShadowAce

They overlooked one small but important term...

FOSS: Free and Open Source Software

About six years ago we got a new IT manager who came from Amazon where they were heavily invested into Linux workstations. He wanted to introduce Linux into our Wintell environment and chose me to set up a FOSS distribution server.

The only Linux experience I had was as a hobbyist - mostly creating VM’s of various Linux distros for testing and evaluation.

I did my homework and built and configured the server but when it came time to put it online the network team had a fit. They wouldn’t allow a server that they couldn’t control to sit on their network. I offered access but not a one of them would touch it.

My manager and the manager for network services went into a meeting and when they came out the FOSS experiment was cancelled.

I never even got a chance to see it work.

12 posted on 01/14/2019 7:07:56 AM PST by rockrr ( Everything is different now...)
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To: ShadowAce

Please add me to your list.
I use Linux and am convinced that it will only grow in popularity.
Windows 7 support is scheduled to end next January and there will be a push for subscription operating systems after that.
Linux, being the FOSS that it is, will provide the best option to users who wish to maintain control of their personal information and hardware.

13 posted on 01/14/2019 7:07:58 AM PST by whodathunkit
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To: rockrr
I never even got a chance to see it work.

That's a shame. While The majority of our servers are Windows, we are approaching 2000 Linux servers in our datacenters.

14 posted on 01/14/2019 7:12:45 AM PST by ShadowAce (Linux - The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
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To: whodathunkit

You have been added. Welcome aboard!

15 posted on 01/14/2019 7:13:26 AM PST by ShadowAce (Linux - The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
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To: ShadowAce

Thanks for that ShadowAce; if I am not already please put me on the ping list for Linux

16 posted on 01/14/2019 7:17:46 AM PST by notdownwidems (Washington D.C. has become the enemy of free people everywhere!)
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To: ShadowAce

They told me it was a “division of labor” thing. You know - server people working on servers and analysts doing analysis. I knew it was sheer cowardice on the part of the Server Team manager and the Network Team manager.

My manager’s manager became disillusioned and left within a year. Although the Server Team has a “Linux guy” they keep Linux to a bare minimum in the environment - and no workstations.

17 posted on 01/14/2019 7:29:07 AM PST by rockrr ( Everything is different now...)
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To: ShadowAce
I've been a Slacker (Slackware) for 19 yrs and have to put a plug in for Jeremy over at Linux Questions. He's helped me out of more jams (Mostly self inflicted.) than I could count.
18 posted on 01/14/2019 7:33:43 AM PST by SanchoP (Why do Democrats hate Americans so much ?)
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To: ShadowAce

Please add me to the linux ping list. Thanks.

19 posted on 01/14/2019 7:39:36 AM PST by blogOps (don't bite me. i'm newbie)
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To: blogOps

You’ve been added. Welcome Aboard!

20 posted on 01/14/2019 7:48:55 AM PST by ShadowAce (Linux - The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
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