M2502 - Basic GNU/Linux operating system, February 2010
BASIC GNU/LINUX OPERATING SYSTEM
Joaquín López Sánchez-Montañés
Universitat Oberta de Catalunya
Although free software has been around for over twenty years, it only recently began to be seen as a valid alternative for many users, companies and, increasingly, institutions and governments. GNU/Linux is currently one of the most reliable and efficient operating systems available. Although the fact that it is free software led to some initial wariness among users and companies, GNU/Linux has proved itself to be in the same class as any other operating system available today.
The aim of this course is to initiate us into the world of GNU/Linux. It will explain to us the basics for understanding the open source philosophy and how to use and modify it to suit our needs, and it will teach us how the necessary tools work so that we can find our way in this new world more easily. Nonetheless, this document is not an essential reference guide for administrators and/or users; there are already hundreds of manuals, how-to guides and other reference works numbering thousands of pages that serve this purpose. Our aim here is to take our first steps in this as-yet uncharted territory for too many users and administrators, and to explain how to tackle and resolve potential problems by ourselves.
The course is not based on any particular distribution, but we need to specify certain actions for most of the examples and activities, for which we will use Debian GNU/Linux (version 3.0 –Woody). Although this distribution is not as intuitive and user-friendly as others, it will serve to explain all the characteristics of a GNU/Linux-based operating system, step by step. Moreover, its remarkable quality, stability and security make it one of the most valid options available today. We should also mention the support (Debian is developed by volunteers and there is no support for it) available for other distributions, which is essential for many companies. We have therefore included an appendix explaining the installation process and main features of RedHat Linux (version 9.0).
We hope that you enjoy the course and it serves to open the doors of the world of free software to you. The more users we are, the more software and better quality we will obtain.
Welcome to GNU/Linux!