Mastering Red Hat Linux 9


Written completely from scratch by Red Hat Certified Engineer and Linux expert Michael Jang, Mastering Red Hat Linux 8.1 covers everything from installation to networking. Comprehensive yet concise background information ensures readers are fully prepped for success. Easy to follow step-by-step instructions walk readers through tasks including installation, customization, administration, network and Internet set-up and configuration, and more. All the hottest topics are covered including Red Hat Linux's Kickstart...
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Written completely from scratch by Red Hat Certified Engineer and Linux expert Michael Jang, Mastering Red Hat Linux 8.1 covers everything from installation to networking. Comprehensive yet concise background information ensures readers are fully prepped for success. Easy to follow step-by-step instructions walk readers through tasks including installation, customization, administration, network and Internet set-up and configuration, and more. All the hottest topics are covered including Red Hat Linux's Kickstart utility, GUI tools and front ends, Internet and network security, and data back up and recovery. In addition to key topics such as the shell, X Windows and kernel recompilation, Mastering Red Hat Linux 8.1 offers advanced topics for budding power users. Readers wanting to take their skills to the next level will learn how to set up and use remote access, mail services, FTP clients and servers, the Network File System and the Network Information Service, Samba, and Web services.
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Editorial Reviews

Help Net Security Magazine
After having read various heavy titles on Red Hat Linux I can honestly say that this is a great publication. Both new and intermediate Linux users will get the most out of the book. The author did an amazing job of keeping everything very easy to follow and did not overcrowd the book with some advanced topics not adequate for new users. It's pretty simple really - you want to know a lot on Red Hat Linux? Get this book, today.
Mirko Zorz
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780782141795
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 5/6/2003
  • Edition description: Book and CD, Publisher's Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 976
  • Product dimensions: 7.50 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 2.12 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Mastering Red Hat Fedora Linux 5

By Michael Jang

John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 0-7821-4179-X

Chapter One

Introducing Red Hat Linux

Linux is a better way to run your computers. It is reliable, secure, and flexible. It's surprisingly easy to install. It's easier to use than most people think. It's highly customizable. It's built for networking. And because you can download the latest complete Linux operating system for free, the price is right.

For many people, Red Hat Linux is Linux. That isn't quite right. Linux is based on software developed by a worldwide community of volunteers. Much of the initial work was spearheaded by the Free Software Foundation ( Originally it was developed as a clone of the Unix operating system. Today, it is so much more. It's evolving to meet the needs of a wide variety of people, such as aerospace engineers, movie makers, theoretical physicists, and consumers. Yes, consumers. Even Wal-Mart is selling computers with a version of Linux.

Strictly speaking, Linux is just the kernel, the part of the operating system that allows your software and hardware to communicate. But oh, what a kernel! You can customize it in thousands of ways and update it for new features. Properly configured, it can optimize the effective speeds on your computer.

Red Hat Linux is a distribution, which includes the basic Linux operating system with a number of free applications. These include a fully featured office suite, as well as graphics and multimedia programs that can satisfy most users. Comparable Microsoft programs cost many hundreds of dollars-for each computer.

Linux is fast becoming the major alternative to Microsoft Windows. As a server, it includes all the tools that you might need to configure and administer a wide variety of networks. It has the backing of some major companies, which as of this writing includes Oracle, Dell, and Hewlett-Packard. IBM has invested over a billion dollars in Linux. More and more companies are adopting Linux: as a server, and as a desktop operating system.

Note For those who are dedicated to the Apple Macintosh, remember that the latest Mac OS X was developed from an operating system closely related to Linux, the Berkeley Standard Distribution (BSD).

There is no one company behind Linux, but you can get support. Red Hat offers a good support system; other companies do as well. If you participate in the give and take of the Linux community, there are thousands of developers who will bend over backwards to help you. This chapter covers the following topics:

* Introducing Red Hat Linux 9

* A short history of Unix and Linux

* Exploring the kernel

* Why choose Linux?

* The role of a Linux computer

Introducing Red Hat Linux 9

Red Hat Linux 9 is more than just an operating system: It is a complete distribution. It includes a wide variety of commands, utilities, and applications. Installing additional software in packages from the CDs is easy. With the right downloads from the Internet, you can always keep your version of Red Hat Linux up-to-date.

Other Red Hat Linux Products

Several versions of Red Hat Linux are available as of this writing. All include the same basic software that you'll find in Red Hat Linux 9, and you can download them using the directions you'll find in the introduction. Each version includes additional features, such as CDs and support, for a price. The features I cite were available at the time of this writing. They include:

Red Hat Linux 9.0 Personal Edition

As described in the introduction, Red Hat Linux 9.0 Personal Edition includes three installation CDs, three source CDs, and a documentation CD. It includes the software that you need to install Red Hat Linux in Personal Desktop, Workstation, Server, or Custom configurations. It also includes 30 days of web-based installation support and a 30-day subscription to the Red Hat network for the latest updates.

Red Hat Linux 9.0 Professional Edition

Red Hat Linux 9.0 Professional Edition includes the components in Red Hat Linux 9.0 Personal, plus an eighth CD with office and multimedia applications and a ninth CD with system administration tools. It also includes 60 days of web-based and telephone support as well as a 60-day subscription to the Red Hat network for the latest updates.

While you can install any version of Red Hat Linux as a server, the followoing versions of Red Hat Linux are explicitly designed for servers with more than one CPU. Their subscriptions include free updates during the subscription period.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux WS (Workstation)

Red Hat Enterprise Linux Workstation includes the components in Red Hat Linux 9.0, with features customized to work with Red Hat Enterprise Linux Servers. You can get this operating system bundled with 64-bit Itanium 2-based workstations.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux ES (Entry-level Server) Basic Edition

This version of Red Hat Linux supports basic servers, limited to 2 CPUs and 4GB of RAM. The Basic Edition includes downloads, basic installation and configuration support for 90 days, and support through the Red Hat Enterprise network for one year.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux ES (Entry-level Server) Standard Edition

This version of Red Hat Linux supports basic servers, limited to 2 CPUs and 4GB of RAM. The Standard Edition includes downloads, basic installation and configuration support as well as support through the Red Hat Enterprise network for one year.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux AS (Advanced Server) Standard Edition

Red Hat Enterprise Linux AS Standard Edition includes the components and support associated with the Red Hat Enterprise Linux ES Server, plus one year of installation support, configuration support, advanced configuration support, and systems administration support.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux AS (Advanced Server) Premium Edition

Red Hat Enterprise Linux AS Premium Edition includes the components and support associated with Red Hat Enterprise Linux AS Standard Edition, plus high availability clustering support and 24x7 emergency support for Severity 1 Issues, as defined in the associated license.

Other Red Hat Products

Red Hat has other specialty operating systems. These include the high-security Stronghold Enterprise Apache Server, and versions specifically designed for IBM's eServer platforms.

Basic Hardware Requirements

Table 1.1 shows the minimum hardware requirements associated with Red Hat Linux 9. These requirements are not absolute; for example, I've run Red Hat Linux 9 with just the command-line interface with as little as 16MB of RAM. Other hardware requirements are described in Chapter 2.

These minimums assume a stand-alone Linux computer with a minimum of services. Earlier versions of even Red Hat Linux can be installed on less RAM and Intel 386 CPUs. If you want to install additional software, configure a graphical user interface (GUI), or set up a server, the requirements go up accordingly.

New Features

Red Hat is constantly incorporating new features and updating software. Most important are updates to the latest kernel and services. The following list includes some of the major improvements that Red Hat has incorporated recently:

* Linux kernel version 2.4.20, which includes proven changes to the Linux 2.5 beta series kernels, as well as a number of updated drivers.

* The Common Unix Print System (CUPS), now the default print server, replacing LPD. For more information, see Chapter 25.

* Apache 2.0.40, now the standard Red Hat Linux web server. For more information, see Chapter 30.

* iptables, now the default firewall tool (described in Chapter 22).

* OpenOffice, a fully featured suite of Microsoft Office-style applications. For more information, see Chapter 18.

* XFree86 Version 4.3 includes support for additional graphics adapters. It also has experimental support for RandR, the X Resize, Rotate, and Reflect extension ( talks/randr/protocol.txt)

Red Hat has also configured several tools not found in other Linux distributions. You can start these tools from a command-line interface inside a GUI such as GNOME or KDE, using a redhat-config-* command. For example, redhat-config-samba lets you configure Samba, the service that allows Linux to work on a Microsoft Windows network. Samba is discussed in detail in Chapter 29.

Basic Components

Linux can be broken down into a number of modules. The modular nature of Linux allows developers to work independently and more efficiently. They can reuse and reconfigure these modules to achieve different results. At least six categories of modules are associated with Linux: kernel, network, init, daemons, shells and utilities, and the X Window.


The kernel is the most important part of any operating system. It allows Linux and any software that you install to communicate with computer hardware. The kernel communicates with your hardware through dedicated device drivers. For example, when you mount a floppy drive, a specific kernel driver sends and receives messages to and from the floppy drive.

If you install new hardware and it isn't detected when you start Linux, you can add a driver module to your kernel, as described in Chapter 11. If you have to download a driver for your new hardware, you should also add that driver module to the kernel.

Other parts of the kernel manage the Linux filesystem as well as any data stored in such areas as your disk cache. The kernel is loaded into protected-mode memory when you start Linux. You can learn how to configure and compile the kernel in Chapter 12.


Linux computers are most commonly organized in a client/server network. Some computers act as workstations, or clients, for users; others are servers, which control resources shared by multiple users on different workstations. In this type of network, clients ask servers for items they need, like files or applications. In a Linux network, clients can even ask for X Window information. In other words, you can set up terminals on Linux clients that access their GUI data from a Linux server.

The network modules of the Linux operating system are designed to keep client/server communication running as smoothly as possible. Ideally, the connection between client and server is seamless. If your network is fast enough, your users won't be able to tell the difference between local and network services.

Because network modules are loaded in the same area as the kernel, their failure may mean that you have to reboot Linux. We cover the basics of Linux networking in Chapters 20-22.


In general, the only way to start a Linux program is with another Linux program. For example, you log into the Linux terminal program, known as mingetty. But something has to start the terminal program. When you boot Linux on your computer, the kernel loads and starts init. The init program then mounts your drives, and starts your terminal programs. When you log in, the terminal program starts your command-line interface shell.

After Linux boots on your computer, init watches for anything that might shut down your computer, such as a power failure signal from an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) or a reboot command. Details of init and the governing /etc/inittab file are discussed in Chapter 11.


Linux includes a series of services. These are programs that can run in the background and start as needed. Many Linux services are known as daemons. In Linux, several dozen daemons can run simultaneously, standing at the ready to start your network, serve web pages, print your files, or connect you to other Linux or Windows computers. Typical daemons include:

* Apache, the most popular web server on the Internet, also known as httpd. Apache is covered in Chapter 30.

* Samba (also known as smbd), the network service that allows Linux to talk to Microsoft Windows computers.

* A printer daemon that manages communication with your printers. The CUPS daemon is cupsd; it's covered in more detail in Chapter 25.

We discuss various Linux daemons in detail throughout this book.

Tip Case matters in Linux. For example, the acronym for the Common Unix Print System is CUPS; the associated daemon is cupsd.

Shells and Utilities

Any Linux program or utility that talks to the kernel is a user-mode program, which consists of shells and utilities. User-mode programs don't communicate directly with your hardware (that's a job for the kernel). In other words, these programs can crash without affecting the basic operation of the Linux operating system. There are three basic types of user-mode programs:

* Login programs associate a user ID with a user's shell and other personalized settings, such as with the X Window and web browsers.

* Shell programs act as Linux command interpreters. The most common Linux shell is known as bash, short for the Bourne Again Shell.

* Utilities are small-scale commands used inside a shell.

The basics of the bash shell and associated commands are covered in Chapters 6-8.

X Window

Linux builds the GUI from different program modules. GUI window managers, such as GNOME and KDE, as well as all GUI applications are built on the foundation of the X Window. The basics of the X Window and associated applications are covered in Chapters 15-19.

A Short History of Unix and Linux

Linux was developed as a clone of Unix. In other words, the developers of Linux built their system without using the programming instructions, also known as the source code, used to build Unix. Because Linux is a Unix clone, you can use most of the same command-line commands on either operating system.

Although it would have been easier to adapt Unix for the personal computer, important historical reasons lie behind the development of Linux. And the way Linux was developed drives the way Linux developers, companies, and users work today.

Unix and the Coming Internet

Computers were once quite expensive. They were the domain of universities and larger corporations. There was a lot of demand for these early computers; to support this demand, a number of computer scientists developed the concept of time-sharing, where multiple users are connected to the same computer simultaneously.

Even though computers have become more powerful and less expensive, we have returned to this notion of time-sharing. Today, administrators are quite familiar with the concept of the time-sharing system: it is now known as the multiuser server. One network often includes multiple servers; your username may be the same across all of these servers. In fact, it's fair to say that we're all time-sharing users on the biggest network of all-the Internet.

Let's take a look at some of the developments that occurred along the road to Linux.


One of the early time-sharing projects was Multics (Multiplexed Information and Computing Service), a joint project between MIT, AT&T's Bell Labs (now Lucent Technologies), and General Electric. Although Bell Labs withdrew from the project in 1969, two of their developers, Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie, still had an itch for what would become the multiuser operating systems we know today.


Thompson and Ritchie continued development work through the early 1970s. Perhaps the key to their success was their development of the C programming language for writing the kernel and a number of basic commands, including those in the Bourne shell.

When Unix was developed in 1969, AT&T was a regulated monopoly in the United States. Various court and regulatory rulings and agreements kept AT&T out of the computer business.

In 1974, AT&T distributed Unix to the University of California for the cost of the manuals and tapes. It quickly became popular at a number of universities. Nevertheless, AT&T was not allowed to make money from it.

A Cooperative Environment

Bell Labs has a history of groundbreaking research. The company had some of the best minds in the world working on fundamental problems. Bell Labs wanted the goodwill of the academic community. Since AT&T wasn't allowed to make money from software, it kept the license for Unix and distributed the operating system with source code to universities for a nominal fee. In exchange, AT&T's lawyers insisted that the license explicitly state that Unix came with no warranty. This release technique became known as open source.


Excerpted from Mastering Red Hat Fedora Linux 5 by Michael Jang Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


Part 1 Installing Red Hat Linux
Chapter 1 Introducing Red Hat Linux
Chapter 2 Preparing Your Hardware
Chapter 3 Installing Linux Locally
Chapter 4 Installing Linux Over a Network
Chapter 5 Kickstarting Linux

Part 2 Linux Fundamentals
Chapter 6 Starting at the Command Line
Chapter 7 A Filesystem Primer
Chapter 8 Making the Shell Work for You

Part 3 Basic Linux Administration
Chapter 9 Administering Users and Groups Securely
Chapter 10 Managing Packages with RPM
Chapter 11 Configuring and Troubleshooting the Boot Process
Chapter 12 Upgrading and Recompiling Kernels
Chapter 13 The Administrative Nitty-Gritty
Chapter 14 Backing Up Your System

Part 4 X Window Management
Chapter 15 Managing X Servers and X Clients
Chapter 16 GNOME
Chapter 17 KDE
Chapter 18 GUI Applications
Chapter 19 Red Hat Graphical Front Ends

Part 5 Basic Linux Networking
Chapter 20 A TCP/IP Primer
Chapter 21 Managing Linux on Your LAN
Chapter 22 Securing Your Linux Network

Part 6 Linux Network Services
Chapter 23 Remote Access and xinetd Services
Chapter 24 DNS and DHCP
Chapter 25 Printing with CUPS and LPD
Chapter 26 Mail Services

Part 7 Linux File-Sharing Services
Chapter 27 FTP Clients and Servers
Chapter 28 Linux Sharing Services: NFS and NIS
Chapter 29 Making Samba Work for You
Chapter 30 Web Services

Appendix Linux Command Reference

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2003

    Book Review: Mastering Red Hat Linux 9

    Wow! Mastering Red Hat Linux 9 is a huge and very complete guide to Red Hat Linux 9. It's over 900 pages, and includes the 'Publisher's Edition' of RH9 on 2 CD's. It is written in a style which should accomodate Linux newcomers and more experienced users alike. There are a LOT of examples, code snippets, and screenshots throughout the book. In fact sometimes the abundance of these tend to make the material a little long to wade through. Experts should have no trouble skipping over the sections they don't need though. The book starts out with in an introduction to Linux, and has a good chapter on preparing to install, including hardware checklists. This is followed by a very detailed step by step explanation of installing Red Hat, both locally and via network. A nice part of this is a troubleshooting chapter for solving installation problems. Part Two explains the basics of using the command line, how filesystems work in Linux, and using the shell for various tasks. Part Three includes chapters for administering users and groups on your new system, and how the RPM software package management process works. Other chapters in this part explain the bootup process and how to configure it, various ways to perform system backups, and other common adminstration tasks such as cron jobs and logs. Especially useful should be Chapter 12 which explains how to update/compile your own kernel. There are very good examples of the myriad kernel options, mostly by using the xconfig utility. The next several chapters go over how to configure and use the XWindows display system, including good examples from the XF86Config file. This is followed by detailed explanations of configuring and using the Gnome and KDE desktop environments. The KDE discussion is very good, considering Red Hat is more known for it's use of Gnome as the default desktop. Chapter 18 introduces many of the more commonly used graphical applications in Linux, such as OpenOffice, Gnome Office, and the KOffice suite. Chapter 19 should be very handy for Linux/RH new users, as it outlines the Red Hat graphical configuration utilities which allow customization of the desktop look-and-feel and other system preferences. Chapters 20-22 cover basic Linux networking. The first part of this section gives a very understandable primer on TCP/IP and network terminology. This is followed up by excellent discussions on how to setup and manage networking on your Linux computer, including security recommendations and firewall/masquerading methods. Once you've got your network running safely, there are additional chapters which cover topics such as remote access and xinetd services, and various server applications installation and operation. These include DNS, DHCP, CUPS printing operations, FTP servers (and clients), NFS and NIS, and mail servers (sendmail). Some of these services are probably more than most home users would need, and the sendmail operation in particular is a little difficult to understand. Chapter 29 (using Samba) will probably be a great help for people desiring to integrate a Linux system with existing Windows computers on a network. It offers an excellent tutorial on how to share files and resources across the LAN, and includes an explanation of the SWAT configuration utility which greatly simplifies initial setup for newcomers. The final chapter in the book explains how to install and setup a basic webserver using the Apache sofware. The Appendix of the book is a relatively short section called the Linux Command Reference. There is some handy information in this, although it seems to be organized somewhat haphazardly. The book's Index seems to be very complete. Overall I found this book to be a very useful reference tool. It is basic enough for most beginners to get all the help they need, and has a good amount of usable knowledge for more advanced Linux users. One thing I have realized is that much of the infor

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