More on Linux....
What is the best kind of computer to run Unix on? Unless you
are a wealthy hacker who thinks nothing of buying a Sun SPARC
workstation, you'll probably do best with some sort of PC. There
are almost countless variants of Unix that run on PCs, and a
few for Macs. Most of them are free for download, or inexpensively
available on CD-ROMs.
The three most common variations of Unix that run on PCs are
Sun's Solaris, FreeBSD and Linux. Solaris costs around $700.
Enough said. FreeBSD is really, really good. But you con't find
many manuals or newsgroups that cover FreeBSD.
(Note: nowadays you can get Solaris
for about $15 if you sign
up as a Solaris developer.)
Linux, however, has the advantage of being available in many
variants (so you can have fun mixing and matching programs from
different Linux offerings). Most importantly, Linux is supported
by many manuals, news groups, mail lists and Web sites. If you
have hacker friends in your area, most of them probably use Linux
and can help you out.
Historical note: Linux was created in 1991 by a group led by
Linus Torvalds of the University of Helsinki. Linux is
copyrighted under the GNU General Public License. Under this
agreement, Linux may be redistributed to anyone along with the
source code. Anyone can sell any variant of Linux and modify
it and repackage it. But even if someone modifies the source
code he or she may not claim copyright for anything created from
Linux. Anyone who sells a modified version of Linux must provide
source code to the buyers and allow them to reuse it in their
commercial products without charging licensing fees. This arrangement
is known as a "copyleft."
Under this arrangement the original creators of Linux receive
no licensing or shareware fees. Linus Torvalds and the many others
who have contributed to Linux have done so from the joy of programming
and a sense of community with all of us who will hopefully use
Linux in the spirit of good guy hacking. Viva Linux! Viva Torvalds!
Linux consists of the operating system itself (called the
"kernel") plus a set of associated programs.
The kernel, like all types of Unix, is a multitasking, multi-user
operating system. Although it uses a different file structure,
and hence is not directly compatible with DOS and Windows, it
is so flexible that many DOS and Windows programs can be run
while in Linux. So a power user will probably want to boot up
in Linux and then be able to run DOS and Windows programs from
Associated programs that come with most Linux distributions
* a shell program (Bourne Again Shell -- BASH -- is most common);
* compilers for programming languages such as Fortran-77 (my
favorite!), C, C++, Pascal, LISP, Modula-2, Ada, Basic (the best
language for a beginner), and Smalltalk.;
* X (sometimes called X-windows), a graphical user interface
* utility programs such as the email reader Pine (my favorite)