Mandrakelinux Reference Manual

Peter Kitson

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Sample Chapter From Mandrakelinux Reference Manual
     Copyright © Mandrakesoft SA

1. About Mandrakelinux

Mandrakelinux is a GNU/Linux distribution supported by Mandrakesoft S.A. which was born on the Internet in 1998. Its main goal was and still is to provide an easy-to-use and friendly GNU/Linux system. Mandrakesoft’s two pillars are open source and collaborative work.


2. Introduction

This Reference Manual is aimed at people wishing to better understand their Mandrakelinux system, and who want to exploit its huge capabilities. After reading this manual, we hope that you will be at ease with daily administration of a GNU/Linux box. Here’s an overview of the three parts which compose it, along with a brief description of each chapter it contains:

• In the first part (The Linux System), we introduce you to the command line and its various uses. We also discuss text-editing basics, which are essential under GNU/Linux.

In the first chapter ("Basic UNIX System Concepts", page 7) we introduce the UNIX® paradigm while speaking more specifically of the GNU/Linux world. It discusses the standard file-manipulation utilities as well as some useful features provided by the shell. Then comes a complementary chapter ("Disks and Partitions", page 15) which discusses how hard disks are managed under GNU/Linux, as well as partitioning. It is very important that you fully understand the concepts discussed in these chapters before going on to "Introduction to the Command Line", page 19.

The next chapter covers text editing ("Text Editing: Emacs and VI", page 27). As most UNIX® configuration files are text files, you will eventually want or need to edit them in a text editor. You will learn how to use two of the most famous text editors in the UNIX® and GNU/Linux worlds: the mighty Emacs and the good-old Vi, written in 1976 by Bill Joy.

You should then be able to perform basic maintenance on your system. The following two chapters present practical uses of the command line ("Command-Line Utilities", page 35), and process control ("Process Control", page 45) in general.

• In the part called Linux in Depth, we touch upon the Linux kernel and the file-system architecture. We explore the organization of the file tree in "File-Tree Organization", page 49. UNIX® systems tend to grow very large, but every file has its place in a specific directory. After reading this chapter, you will know where to look for files depending on their role in the system.

Then we cover the topics of file systems and mount points ("File Systems and Mount Points", page 53). We

define both of these terms as well as explain them with practical examples.

The next chapter deals with file systems ("The Linux File System", page 57). After presenting the available file systems, we discuss file types and some additional concepts and utilities such as inodes and pipes. The following chapter ("The /proc Filesystem", page 65) introduces a special GNU/Linux file system called /proc. The next chapter ("The Start-Up Files: init sysv", page 71) presents the Mandrakelinux boot-up procedure, and how to use it efficiently.

• In Advanced Uses, we finish up with topics which only brave or very skilled users will want to put into practice. We will guide you through the necessary steps to build and install free software from sources in "Building and Installing Free Software", page 73. Reading through this chapter should encourage you to try it out, even though it might look intimidating at first. Finally, the information provided in the last chapter ("Compiling and Installing New Kernels", page 87) will help you acquire total GNU/Linux autonomy. After reading and applying the theory explained in this chapter, you can start converting Windows® users to GNU/Linux (if you haven’t started yet!).