Chapter 1: An Overview of Red Hat Linux

Chapter 1: An Overview of Red Hat Linux


Secrets in This Chapter

  • Linux as a UNIX Platform

  • Posix Compliance

  • Linux Standard Base (LSB)

  • Linux Desktop

The world of operating systems changed forever when Linus Torvalds of the University of Helsinki in Finland decided to build a UNIX-like operating system for the PC. What started as a simple task-switching example, with two processes that printed AAAA . . . and BBBB . . . on a dumb terminal, has grown into a full-fledged, multitasking, multiuser operating system that rivals commercially available UNIX systems for Intel 80x86 systems. Many programmers around the world have contributed code and collaborated to bring Linux to its current state. With the release of version 1.0 in March 1994, Linux became an operating system of choice for UNIX enthusiasts, as well as for people looking for a low-cost UNIX platform for a specific purpose, such as developing software or running an Internet host.

This chapter provides a broad-brushstroke picture of Red Hat Linux, one of several well-known Linux distributions (other well-known Linux distributions are Mandrake, Debian, Slackware, and S.u.S.E.). The chapter describes how you can get the most out of the built-in capabilities of Red Hat Linux, such as networking, developing software, and running applications.

After you overcome your initial fear of the unknown and install Linux, you will see how you can use it to turn your PC into a UNIX workstation. The best part is that you can get Linux for free-just download it from one of several Internet sites (for example, you'll find links to many Linux distributions from the Linux Online website at The best way for beginners and experts alike to get started, though, is to buy a book (such as this one) that comes with a Linux distribution on CD-ROM. This book is your guide to the inner workings of Red Hat Linux. The next chapter shows how to install Red Hat Linux, and subsequent chapters describe specific tasks (such as connecting to the Internet or developing software) that you may want to perform with your Red Hat Linux PC. In addition to many utilities with graphical user interfaces (GUIs), this book provides you the details such as what commands to use and what configuration files to edit.