If you are just beginning to use Linux, what you need is a practical guide that not only gets you going with the installation and set up of Linux, but also shows you how to use Linux for specific functions, such as a Web server or a software development platform.

Red Hat continues to improve its version of Linux. The recently released Red Hat Linux 9 includes many new system components, including the Linux 2.4.20 kernel, XFree86 4.3.0, GCC 3.2.2 compiler, and the glibc 2.3.2 system libraries. The X Window System is XFree86 version 4.3.0 with support for many more new and powerful graphics cards than the previous versions. Red Hat has improved the desktop experience by providing many more graphical tools to configure and manage the system. For productivity applications, Red Hat includes the Mozilla Web browser, Ximian Evolution personal information manager, and the office suite. Red Hat has also unified the look and feel of GNOME and KDE desktops, so the user feels at home regardless of the selected desktop. There are many under-the-hood improvements as well. For example, Red Hat Linux now uses the Common UNIX Printing System (CUPS) as the default printing system, and it includes the Native POSIX Thread Library, which offers performance improvements with Pentium Pro processors or better.

Red Hat Linux 9 Professional Secrets follows the successful model of the Professional Secrets series and highlights crucial, little-known facts as 'secrets.' The focus is on providing insights into the inner workings of Red Hat Linux-which configuration files control what, which commands to type in what sequence to perform a key task. In addition to these insights, the book also provides all the usual information on many of the applications-such as email, the Web, and news, plus graphics and text utilities-that are included on the book's companion CD-ROMs.

The book's companion CD-ROMs come with the Publisher's Edition of Red Hat Linux 9. The CD-ROMs are packed with all the software needed to turn your PC into a powerful Linux desktop and server. The book provides detailed technical information on installing and customizing Linux for use with various types of computers and peripherals.

The unique aspects of Red Hat Linux 9 Professional Secrets are the details of how things work behind the scenes. The book includes tips, techniques, shortcuts, and little-known facts about using Red Hat Linux in various real-world tasks that range from simply learning UNIX commands to setting up a secure, Java-capable Web server for your business.

By reading this book you can:

  • Learn how to install and set up Red Hat Linux from the CD-ROMs included with the book

  • Learn how to use various peripherals (video cards, hard disks, and network cards) in Red Hat Linux

  • Learn about dial-up networking (with SLIP and PPP) under Red Hat Linux

  • Get tips, techniques, and shortcuts for specific uses of Red Hat Linux, such as:

    • Setting up and using Internet services such as Web, Mail, News, FTP (File Transfer Protocol), NFS (Network File System), NIS (Network Information Service), and DNS (Domain Name System)

    • Setting up a Windows server using Samba

    • Learning UNIX on Red Hat Linux

    • Learning Perl, shell, and Tcl/Tk programming on Red Hat Linux

    • Learning Java programming on Red Hat Linux

  • Understand the basics of system and network security

  • Learn to perform system and network administration tasks

  • Receive many Red Hat Linux tools and utilities

  • Learn about Linux resources that can serve as continuing sources of information in the ever-changing world of Linux

Organization of the Book

Red Hat Linux 9 Professional Secrets contains 26 chapters, organized into five parts and eight appendixes covering topics such as installation and setup, routine use, networking and server setup, system administration, and programming.

Part I: Setting Up Red Hat Linux

Part I includes six chapters that introduce you to Linux, guide you through Red Hat Linux installation, and show you how to configure various types of hardware in Linux. The first chapter provides an overview of Linux in general. The second chapter takes you through the steps needed to install Red Hat Linux from this book's companion CD-ROMs. The next four chapters explain how to configure the X Window System, printers using the Common Unix Printing System (CUPS), and sound and network components.

Part II: Exploring Red Hat Linux

This part acquaints you with Red Hat Linux. The six chapters in this section describe the popular GNU utilities, the GUI desktops-GNOME and KDE, and the applications included with Red Hat Linux on the companion CD-ROMs. You will also learn how to edit text files, prepare DocBook documentation, and perform basic systems administration functions.

Part III: Internetworking with Red Hat Linux

The seven chapters in Part III focus on connecting the Red Hat Linux system to the Internet and setting up various Internet services on the system. After describing dial-up networking, the chapters in this part walk you through the setup and configuration of a number of servers including Web, FTP, SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol for mail), news, DNS, NIS, NFS, and Samba.

Part IV: Managing Red Hat Linux

The three chapters in Part IV cover systems administration and security. The first chapter in this part-Chapter 20-starts by discussing a number of advanced system administration topics. The next two chapters show you how to install and upgrade software using the Red Hat Package Manager (RPM), how to build software from source files, how to rebuild and install a new kernel, and how to secure the system and the network.

Part V: Programming Red Hat Linux

The four chapters in Part V turn to the subject of programming in Linux. The first chapter-Chapter 23-covers the basics as well as a number of software development tools and the GNU Public License that affects software developed in Linux. Then, that chapter briefly touches on C and C++ programming. The next two chapters cover scripting using the shell, Perl, and Tcl/Tk. Finally, the last chapter in this section introduces you to writing applet, servlets, and standalone applications using Java.

Part VI: Appendixes

This section includes eight appendixes:

  • Appendix A, 'Linux Commands,' presents alphabetically arranged reference entries for the many commonly used Linux commands.

  • Appendix B, 'Disk Drives,' describes IDE and SCSI disk controllers and lists driver modules needed for specific SCSI controllers.

  • Appendix C, 'CD-ROM Drives,' lists specific types of Linux-supported CD-ROM drives, categorized by interface type.

  • Appendix D, 'Ethernet Cards,' describes the physical setup of an Ethernet LAN and lists the Ethernet cards that Linux supports.

  • Appendix E, 'Modems and Terminals,' explains how to connect, set up, and use modems and terminals in Linux.

  • Appendix F, 'PC Cards,' briefly describes PC Cards that use the PCMCIA interface and the PCMCIA support package for Linux.

  • Appendix G, 'Linux Resources,' lists resources on the Internet where you can obtain the latest information about Linux.

  • Appendix H, 'About the CD-ROMs,' summarizes the contents of the book's companion CD-ROMs.

If you are a new user, you should start reading Part I, which guides you through installing Red Hat Linux from the CD-ROMs that accompany the books (see Appendix H also). If you have specific hardware questions, you should go directly to the relevant appendix (see Appendixes B through F). If you have already installed Red Hat Linux, you might want to begin with Part II, where you'll learn how to make the most of Red Hat Linux in everyday use (see Appendix G also). For questions related to Internet services, consult the appropriate chapter in Part III. Part IV gets you going with various systems administration tasks and explains how to maintain system and network security. To learn about programming in specific languages, consult the relevant chapters in Part V. When you need information on a specific Linux command, turn to Appendix A and look for that command in the alphabetically arranged reference entries.