Linux: The Complete Reference, Sixth Edition

Linux: The Complete Reference, Sixth Edition

by Richard Petersen


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Your one-stop guide to Linux--fully revised and expanded

Get in-depth coverage of all Linux features, tools, and utilities from this thoroughly updated and comprehensive resource, designed for all Linux distributions. Written by Linux expert Richard Petersen, this book explains how to get up-and-running on Linux, use the desktops and shells, manage applications, deploy servers, implement security measures, and handle system and network administration tasks.

With full coverage of the latest platform, Linux: The Complete Reference, Sixth Edition includes details on the very different and popular Debian (Ubuntu) and Red Hat/Fedora software installation and service management tools used by most distributions. This is a must-have guide for all Linux users.

  • Install, configure, and administer any Linux distribution
  • Work with files and folders from the BASH, TCSH, and Z shells
  • Use the GNOME and KDE desktops, X Windows, and display managers
  • Set up office, database, Internet, and multimedia applications
  • Secure data using SELinux, netfilter, SSH, and Kerberos
  • Encrypt network transmissions with GPG, LUKS, and IPsec
  • Deploy FTP, Web, mail, proxy, print, news, and database servers
  • Administer system resources using HAL, udev, and virtualization (KVM and Xen)
  • Configure and maintain IPv6, DHCPv6, NIS, networking, and remote access
  • Access remote files and devices using NFSv4, GFS, PVFS, NIS, and SAMBA

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780071492478
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing
Publication date: 11/19/2007
Series: Complete Reference Series
Edition description: REV
Pages: 830
Product dimensions: 7.30(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.64(d)

About the Author

Richard Petersen, MLIS,
teaches UNIX and C/C++ courses at the University of California at Berkeley. He is the author of all previous editions of Linux:The Complete Reference and regularly writes articles for Linux World Magazine.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 8: The KDesktop Environment: KDE

The K Desktop Environment (KDE) is a network transparent desktop that includes the standard desktop features, such as a window manager and a file manager, as well as an extensive set of applications that cover most Linux tasks. KDE is an Internet- aware system that includes a full set of integrated network/Internet applications, including a mailer, a newsreader, and a Web browser. The file manager doubles as a Web and FTP client, enabling you to access Internet sites directly from your desktop. KDE aims to provide a level of desktop functionality and ease of use found in MAC/OS and Windows systems, combined with the power and flexibility of the Unix operating system.

KDE version 2.0, also known as Kopernicus, has currently superseded the earlier 1.1 version of KDE. This chapter describes version 2.0. There are many similarities with version 1.1; however, users familiar with the old KDE will find some important changes. KDE 2.0 features a new file manager and control center. It includes a new multimedia architecture based on ARTS (Analog Realtime Synthesizer) for both sound and video applications. One of the more dramatic changes is KOffice suite of office applications. The suite is part of the standard KDE 2.0 software package and includes a professional-level publishing program, an illustrator, and a spreadsheet, among other applications (see Chapter 20).

The KDE desktop is developed and distributed by the KDE project, which is a large open group of hundreds of programmers around the world. KDE is entirely free and open software provided under a GNU public license and is available free of charge along with its source code. KDE development is managed by a core group: the KDE Core Team. Anyone can apply, though membership is based on merit.

KDE applications are developed using several supporting KDE technologies. These include KIO, which offers seamless and modular access of files and directories across a network. For interprocess communication, KDE uses the Desktop Communications Protocol (DCOP). KParts is the KDE component object model used to embed an application within another, such as a spreadsheet within a word processor. The XML GUI uses XML to generate and place GUI objects such as menus and toolbars. KHTML is a rendering and drawing engine that supports a range of Internet technologies such as Java, Netscape plug-ins, and the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL).

Numerous applications written specifically for KDE are easily accessible from the desktop. These include editors, photo and paint image applications, spreadsheets, and office applications. Such applications usually have the letter k as part of their name— for example, KWord or KMail. Provided with the KDE desktop are a variety of tools. These include calculators, console windows, notepads, and even software package managers. On a system administration level, KDE provides several tools for configuring your system. With KUser, you can manage user accounts, adding new ones or removing old ones.

Kppp enables you to connect easily to remote networks with Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP) protocols using a modem. Practically all your Linux tasks can be performed from the KDE desktop. KDE applications also feature a built-in Help application. Choosing the Contents entry in the Help menu starts the KDE Help viewer, which provides a Web page–like interface with links for navigating through the Help documents. KDE version 2.0 includes an office application suite called KOffice, based on KDE's KOM/OpenParts technology.

KOffice includes a presentation application, a spreadsheet, an illustrator, and a word processor, among other components (see Chapter 20 for more details). In addition, an Interactive Development Environment (IDE), called KDevelop, is also available to help programmer's create KDE-based software.

KDE was initiated by Matthias Ettrich in October 1996, and it has an extensive list of sponsors, including SuSE, Caldera, Red Hat, O'Reilly, DLD, Delix, Live, Linux Verband, and others. KDE is designed to run on any Unix implementation, including Linux, Solaris, HP-UX, and FreeBSD. The official KDE Web site is, which provides news updates, download links, and documentation. KDE software packages can be downloaded from the KDE FTP site at and its mirror sites. Several KDE mailing lists are available for users and developers, including announcements, administration, and other topics. See the KDE Web site to subscribe. A great many software applications are currently available for KDE at Development support and documentation can be obtained at Various KDE Web sites are listed in Table 8-1.

Qt and Harmony

KDE uses as its library of GUI tools the Qt library, developed and supported by Troll Tech ( Qt is considered one of the best GUI libraries available for Unix/Linux systems. Using Qt has the advantage of relying on a commercially developed and supported GUI library. Also, using the Qt libraries drastically reduced the development time for KDE. Troll Tech provides the Qt libraries as open source software that is freely distributable. Certain restrictions exist, however: Qt-based (KDE) applications must be free and open sourced, with no modifications made to the Qt libraries. If you develop an application with the Qt libraries and want to sell it, then you have to buy a license from Troll Tech. In other words, the Qt library is free for free applications, but not for commercial ones.

The Harmony Project is currently developing a free alternative to the Qt libraries. Harmony will include all Qt functionality, as well as added features, such as multi-threading and theming. It will be entirely compatible with any KDE applications developed using Qt libraries. Harmony will be provided under the GNU library public license (LGPL). See for more information.

KDE Desktop

One of KDE's aims is to provide users with a consistent integrated desktop, where all applications use GUI interfaces (see Figure 8-1). To this end, KDE provides its own window manager (kwm), file manager (Konqueror), program manager, and desktop panel. You can run any other X Window System–compliant application, such as Netscape, in KDE, as well as any Gnome application. In turn, you can also run any KDE application, including the Konqueror file manager, with any other Linux window manager, including Blackbox, Afterstep, and even Enlightenment. You can even run KDE applications in Gnome.

When you first start KDE, the initial file manager window is displayed on your screen showing your current working directory. At the bottom of the screen is the KDE panel. Located on the panel are icons for menus and programs, as well as buttons for different desktop screens. The icon for the Applications Starter shows a large K on a cog wheel with a small arrow at the top indicating it is a menu. Click this icon to display the menu listing all the applications you can run. The Applications Starter operates somewhat like the Start menu in Windows. The standard KDE applications installed with the KDE can be accessed through this menu. You can find entries for different categories such as Internet, Systems, Multimedia, and Utilities. These submenus list KDE applications you can use. For example, to start the KDE mailer, select the Mail Client entry in the Internet submenu. To quit KDE, you can select the Logout entry in the Applications Starter menu. You can also right-click anywhere on the desktop and select the Logout entry from the pop-up menu. If you leave any KDE or X11 applications or windows open when you quit, they are automatically restored when you start up again.

Across the top of the desktop is a menu for desktop operations such as creating new shortcuts called desktop files for applications and devices (known as kdelink files in previous versions), as well as accessing open windows or changing to different virtual desktops. You can bring up the same set of menus by right-clicking anywhere on the desktop background.

Two icons are initially displayed in the upper-left corner of the desktop, a directory folder icon labeled Home and the Trash icon. The Home directory folder is a link to your home directory. Click on it to open the file manager to display the files in your home directory. The Trash icon operates like the Recycle Bin in Windows or the trash can on the Mac. Drag items to it to hold them for deletion. The panel initially shows small icons for the Applications Starter, the window list, your home directory, a terminal window, and buttons for virtual desktops, among others. The Window List icon looks like several grouped windows. It displays a list of all open windows and the desktop they are on. The Home Directory icon shows a folder with a house. Click it to open a file manager window showing your home directory. The Help Viewer icon is an image of a book. The Terminal Window icon is a picture of a two computer monitors. Click this to open a terminal window where you can enter Linux shell commands.

The desktop supports drag-and-drop operations. For example, to print a document, drag it to the Printer icon. You can place any directories on the desktop by simply dragging them from a file manager window to the desktop. With KDE 2.0, the desktop also supports copy-and-paste operations, holding text you copied from one application in a desktop clipboard that you can then use to paste to another application. For example, you can copy a Web address from a Web page and then past it into an e-mail message or a word processing document. This feature is supported by the Klipper utility located on the Panel....

Table of Contents

Part I: Introduction

Chapter 1. Introduction to Linux

Chapter 2. Getting Started

Part II: The Linux Shell and File Structure

Chapter 3. The Shell

Chapter 4. The Shell Scripts and Programming

Chapter 5. Shell Configuration

Chapter 6. Linux Files, Directories, and Archives

Part III: Desktop

Chapter 7. The X Window System, Xorg, and Display Managers

Chapter 8. GNOME

Chapter 9. KDE

Part IV: Linux Software

Chapter 10. Software Management

Chapter 11. Office and Database Applications

Chapter 12. Graphics Tools and Multimedia

Chapter 13. Mail and News Clients

Chapter 14. Web, FTP, and Java Clients

Chapter 15. Network Tools

Part V: Security

Chapter 16. Encryption, Integrity Checks, and Signatures

Chapter 17. Security-Enhanced Linux

Chapter 18. IPsec and Virtual Private Networks

Chapter 19. Secure Shell and Kerberos

Chapter 20. Firewalls

Part VI: Internet and Network Services

Chapter 21. Managing Services

Chapter 22. FTP Servers

Chapter 23. Web Servers

Chapter 24. Proxy Servers

Chapter 25. Mail Servers

Chapter 26. Print, News, Search, and Database Servers

Part VII: System Administration

Chapter 27. Basic System Administration

Chapter 28. Managing Users

Chapter 29. File Systems

Chapter 30. RAID and LVM

Chapter 31. Devices and Modules

Chapter 32. Kernel Administration

Chapter 33. Backup Management

Part VIII: Network Administration Services

Chapter 34. Administering TCP/IP Networks

Chapter 35. Network Autoconfiguration with IPv6, DHCPv6, and DHCP

Chapter 36. NFS and NIS

Chapter 37. Distributed Network File Systems

Appendix A: Where to Obtain Linux Distribution


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