3.1 Introduction


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New users of UNIX and Linux may be a bit intimidated by the size and apparent complexity of the system before them. There are many good books on using UNIX out there, for all levels of expertise from novice to expert. However, none of these books covers, specifically, an introduction to using Linux. While 95% of using Linux is exactly like using other UNIX systems, the most straightforward way to get going on your new system is with a tutorial tailored for Linux. Herein is such a tutorial.

This chapter does not go into a large amount of detail or cover many advanced topics. Instead, it is intended to get the new Linux user running, on both feet, so that he or she may then read a more general book about UNIX and understand the basic differences between other UNIX systems and Linux.

Very little is assumed here, except perhaps some familiarity with personal computer systems, and MS-DOS. However, even if you’re not an MS-DOS user, you should be able to understand everything here. At first glance, UNIX looks a lot like MS-DOS (after all, parts of MS-DOS were modeled on the CP/M operating system, which in turn was modeled on UNIX). However, only the very superficial features of UNIX resemble MS-DOS in any way. Even if you’re completely new to the PC world, this tutorial should be of help.

And, before we begin: Don’t be afraid to experiment. The system won’t bite you. You can’t destroy anything by working on the system. UNIX has some amount of security built in, to prevent « normal » users (the role which you will now assume) from damaging files which are essential to the system. Even so, the absolute worst thing that can happen is that you’ll delete all of your files—and you’ll have to go back and re-install the system. So, at this point, you have nothing to lose.

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Matt Welsh
mdw@sunsite.unc.edu