After you get Linux going on your PC, you can turn your attention to the work you plan to do with it. Whether you want to develop software or set up your PC as an Internet host, you can use Linux wisely if you know its overall capabilities. Accordingly, this chapter provided an overview of various aspects of Linux, ranging from software development to networking and system administration. In the next chapter, I will show you how to install Red Hat Linux from this book’s companion CD-ROMs and get started on using Linux.
By reading this chapter, you learned the following:
Linux is a freely available UNIX-like operating system that runs on a wide variety of systems. Red Hat Linux is a specific Linux distribution—a package incorporating the Linux operating system and a huge collection of applications, together with an easy-to-use installation program.
Linux developers use a version-number scheme to help you understand what the various versions of Linux kernel—the core operating system—mean. Kernel versions 2.x.y, where x is an even number, are stable versions. The number represented by y is the patch level, which is incremented as problems are fixed. Versions 2.x.y, where x is an odd number, are beta releases for developers only, because these releases may be unstable.
POSIX stands for Portable Operating System Interface (abbreviated as POSIX to make it sound like UNIX). The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) began developing the POSIX standards to promote the portability of applications across UNIX environments.
Red Hat Linux conforms to a binary standard called Linux Standard Base (LSB), which promotes compatibility among Linux systems so that applications built for one system can run on all LSB-compliant systems with the same processor architecture.
This book’s Red Hat Linux distribution comes with XFree86 (X Window System Version 11 Release 6 or X11R6), GNOME, and KDE software. After you install XFree86 and GNOME or KDE, you have a graphical user interface (GUI) for Linux. In addition, X enables you to run applications across the network—which means that you can run applications on another system on the network and can have the output appear on your Linux PC’s display.
Linux effectively supports TCP/IP networking. TCP/IP is the networking protocol of choice on the Internet. Therefore, a Linux PC is ideal as an Internet host, providing services such as FTP and World Wide Web access. You can also use the Linux PC as your Internet ramp by connecting to an Internet service provider through a dial-up, cable, or DSL connection and running a Web browser to surf the Net. You can configure Linux to support wireless Ethernet network cards.
The Red Hat Linux distribution on the companion CD-ROM also includes Nautilus with many graphical tools that enable you to perform most system-administration and network-administration tasks from a GUI.
Red Hat Linux provides all the software development tools you need to write UNIX and X applications. You’ll find the GNU C and C++ compiler for compiling source files, make for automating the compiling, the gdb debugger for finding bugs, and Concurrent Versions System (CVS) and Revision Control System (RCS) for managing various revisions of a file. Thus, a Linux PC is the software developer’s ideal workstation.