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Welcome to the world of Linux!
You're reading this introduction, so it's likely that you've heard the hype: Linux is a fast, powerful, stable operating system that is used more and more every day, in business, in government, in education, and in homes. Linux powers a large portion of the servers that form the backbone of the World Wide Web and the Internet. Linux can be found operating manufacturing equipment, point of sale equipment, automotive equipment, personal data management equipment, and even a variety of equipment at government agencies like NASA. Vendors, too, are now heavily invested in Linux; large companies such as IBM have adopted Linux as the basis for entire large-scale computing product lines.
This book will help anyone wanting to use the Fedora Core family of Linux operating systems for any of these purposes. Its real target audience, however, is somewhat more accessible: the ever-growing body of daily computer users, business owners, and network administrators who want to use Linux to do everyday work of all kinds. This book assumes that you have no previous experience working with Linux; it presents all the information you need to get acquainted and become productive with Fedora Core 4right away.
This book is organized into easy-to-digest chapters that are intended to operate as lessons. Each of these lessons begins with a list of topics you'll cover as you work your way through the chapter; each lesson is designed to instruct you in one major topic related to using Fedora Core 4. As you progress through the lessons presented here, you'll learn to install Fedora Core 4 for yourself; toperform everyday tasks, such as Web browsing, word processing, and file management at the command line and on the desktop; and to troubleshoot and administer a Linux PC or small Linux server.Fedora Core 4 and Linux
If you have studied Linux at all, you are probably aware that there are a number of popular "distributions" of Linux, each of which is an operating system in its own right. Fedora Core is a community-supported Linux operating system. Fedora Core 4 was designed from the ground up to be a powerful business or personal desktop environment.
Other names in the Linux world might sound familiar to you as well: Debian Linux, SuSE Linux, Linux Mandrake, Connectiva Linux, and Slackware Linux among them. Make no mistake: Each of these products is also Linux, built from the same rock-solid code and with many of the same goals in mind. Fedora Core and these other Linux distributions also are largely compatible with one another, both in hardware and software terms. Still, each Linux operating system maintains its own unique focus and personality as wellDebian for free software purists; Mandrake for those seeking ease of use above all else; Slackware for converts from other, more traditional Unix operating systems; and so on.
In the final analysis however, Fedora Core remains one of the most well known and well liked of the Linux operating systems for business and professional deployment. Those responsible for the creation of Fedora Core are largely responsible for bringing Linux from the marketplace of ideas to the marketplace of business and to the halls of government. Fedora Core also offers an excellent balance between power, ease of installation, and ease of administration. If you're thinking of giving Linux a try, you can't go wrong with Fedora Core 4.What You'll Learn in This Book
As a set of lessons that build on one another sequentially, this book is written to be studied one chapter at a time, in order, from beginning to end. Early lessons ground you in Linux basics, and later lessons build on the foundations laid by those earlier lessons. Taken together, all of these lessons represent a general introduction to Linux use and to the nuances of the Fedora Core desktop in particular. Again, the information in this book is targeted at readers with no prior experience with Linux or other Unix-like operating systems.
There are five major topic areas to discuss when learning to use a Unix-like operating system; an attempt has been made to present them in logical order in this book's five parts:
Chapters 13 cover basic Fedora Core 4 installation and configuration. This topic is important because so few PCs and only a relatively small number of low-end servers come bundled with Linux as a turnkey product, meaning that you'll likely be installing and configuring Linux yourself.
Chapters 47 cover the basics of the Fedora Core 4 desktop environment, such as working with icons and menus on your desktop and with application windows. You'll also learn how to find and manage files and folders on your Linux system, first by using your mouse and then by using the Linux command line.
Chapters 817 take you more deeply into the world of Fedora Core desktop applications, covering a number of business-oriented and network-oriented applications similar to those found in the Windows and Mac OS worlds. You'll use the Fedora Core 4 desktop environment to create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations; to edit your photos; to browse the Web; and to read and respond to electronic mail, among other tasks.
Chapters 1825 introduce the powerful, programmable Linux command line and a number of applications that don't require a desktop environment or a mouse to be able to operate. For all the polish you'll find on the Linux desktop, the command line still lies at the center of the Linux universe and provides one of the most flexible rapid application development and scripting environments anywhere in computing.
Chapters 2635 take you under the hood, to cover system administration and other advanced topics in Linux. The term system administration refers loosely to the set of skills necessary to tailor a Linux system to your needs and then to keep it operating securely and robustlyoften while providing varied network services to multiple users. Although understanding Linux system administration isn't always necessary to be able to perform everyday tasks such as word processing or Web browsing, system administration remains an essential skill for users hoping to deploy Linux for anything other than purely personal computing. Even casual Linux users are likely to need some system administration skillsfor example, the ability to install software or to back up important data to removable storage media.
Users with some Linux experience already might find that they want to study only particular chapters, or to study the chapters in this book in a different order. Each of these chapters should be self-contained enough to make this type of study possible. For those with no previous Linux experience, however, I prefer to repeat the sage advice of Lewis Carroll:
"Begin at the beginning, and go on till you come to the end: then stop."
Enjoy teaching yourself how to use Fedora Core 4!Conventions Used in This Book
This book uses the following conventions:
The terms Fedora Core 4, Fedora Core, Fedora, and Linux are used interchangeably.
Text that you type and text that you see onscreen appear in monospace type:
It will look like this.
Variables and placeholders (words that stand for what you will actually type) appear in italic monospace.
Each chapter ends with questions pertaining to that lesson's subject matter, with answers from the author. Most chapters also include an exercise section and a quiz designed to reinforce that lesson's concepts.
Note - A By the Way presents interesting information related to the discussion.
Tip - A Did You Know offers advice or shows you an easier way of doing something.
Caution - A Watch Out alerts you to a possible problem and gives you advice on how to avoid it.
New terms appear in bold.
When a line of code is too long to fit on one line of this book, it is broken at a convenient place and continued to the next line. The continuation is preceded by a special code continuation character (¬).
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