Linux Administration Made Easy

Peter Kitson

ISBN : 0595154824

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Sample Chapter From Linux Administration Made Easy
     Copyright © Steve Frampton



2.1. Scope

This documentation will attempt to summarize the installation and configuration, as well as the day−to−day
administrative and maintenance procedures that should be followed to keep a Linux−based server or desktop
system up and running. It is geared to an audience of both corporate as well as home users. It is not intended
to be a full overview of Unix operations, as there are several good texts available as well as on−line
documentation which can be referred to in cases where more detailed information is required.
In general, your Linux system can operate with a minimum of user maintenance. Routine tasks, such as
rotating and discarding of system logs, are automated. Therefore, for the most part, even with very little user
intervention, Linux will hum along doing its job. However, in cases of custom needs or system failure this
documentation may prove useful.

I currently use Linux both at home and at my place of employment. It has served me well, and has worked as
a reliable Internet and file/print service for my employer for over four years now.

3.1. What is Linux?

Linux is a true 32−bit operating system that runs on a variety of different platforms, including Intel, Sparc,
Alpha, and Power−PC (on some of these platforms, such as Alpha, Linux is actually 64−bit). There are other
ports available as well, but I do not have any experience with them.

Linux was first developed back in the early 1990s, by a young Finnish then−university student named Linus
Torvalds. Linus had a \'state−of−the−art\' 386 box at home and decided to write an alternative to the
286−based Minix system (a small unix−like implementation primarily used in operating systems classes), to
take advantage of the extra instruction set available on the then−new chip, and began to write a small
bare−bones kernel.

Eventually he announced his little project in the USENET group comp.os.minix, asking for interested parties
to take a look and perhaps contribute to the project. The results have been phenomenal!
The interesting thing about Linux is, it is completely free! Linus decided to adopt the GNU Copyleft license
of the Free Software Foundation, which means that the code is protected by a copyright −− but protected in
that it must always be available to others.

Free means free −− you can get it for free, use it for free, and you are even free to sell it for a profit (this isn\'t
as strange as it sounds; several organizations, including Red Hat, have packaged up the standard Linux
kernel, a collection of GNU utilities, and put their own \'flavour\' of included applications, and sell them as
distributions. Some common and popular distributions are Slackware, Red Hat, SuSe, and Debian)! The great
thing is, you have access to source code which means you can customize the operating systems to your
own needs, not those of the \'target market\' of most commercial vendors.

Linux can and should be considered a full−blown implementation of unix. However, it can not be called
\'Unix\'; not because of incompatibilities or lack of functionality, but because the word \'Unix\' is a registered
trademark owned by AT&T, and the use of the word is only allowable by license agreement.
Linux is every bit as supported, as reliable, and as viable as any other operating system solution (well, in my
opinion, quite a bit more so!). However, due to its origin, the philosophy behind it, and the lack of a
multi−million dollar marketing campaign promoting it, there are lot of myths about it. People have a lot to
learn about this wonderful OS!