OnWorks Linux and Windows Online WorkStations


Free Hosting Online for WorkStations

< Previous | Contents | Next >


To use this book, all you will need is a working Linux installation. You can get this in one of two ways:

1. Install Linux on a (not so new) computer. It doesn't matter which distribution you choose, though most people today start out with either Ubuntu, Fedora, or OpenSUSE. If in doubt, try Ubuntu first. Installing a modern Linux distribution can be ridiculously easy or ridiculously difficult depending on your hardware. I suggest a desktop computer that is a couple of years old and has at least 256 megabytes of RAM and 6 gigabytes of free hard disk space. Avoid laptops and wireless networks if at all possible, as these are often more difficult to get work- ing.

2. Use a “Live CD” or USB flash drive. One of the cool things you can do with many Linux distributions is run them directly from a CDROM (or USB flash drive) without installing them at all. Just go into your BIOS setup and set your computer to “Boot from CDROM,” insert the live CD, and reboot. Using a live CD is a great way to test a computer for Linux compatibility prior to installation. The disadvantage of using a live CD is that it may be very slow compared to hav- ing Linux installed on your hard drive. Both Ubuntu and Fedora (among others) have live CD versions.

Regardless of how you install Linux, you will need to have occasional superuser (i.e., ad- ministrative) privileges to carry out the lessons in this book.


After you have a working installation, start reading and follow along with your own com- puter. Most of the material in this book is “hands on,” so sit down and get typing!

Why I Don't Call It “GNU/Linux”

In some quarters, it's politically correct to call the Linux operating system the “GNU/Linux operating system.” The problem with “Linux” is that there is no completely correct way to name it because it was written by many different peo- ple in a vast, distributed development effort. Technically speaking, Linux is the name of the operating system's kernel, nothing more. The kernel is very important of course, since it makes the operating system go, but it's not enough to form a complete operating system.

Enter Richard Stallman, the genius-philosopher who founded the Free Software movement, started the Free Software Foundation, formed the GNU Project, wrote the first version of the GNU C Compiler (gcc), created the GNU General Public License (the GPL), etc., etc., etc. He insists that you call it “GNU/Linux” to prop- erly reflect the contributions of the GNU Project. While the GNU Project predates the Linux kernel, and the project's contributions are extremely deserving of recog-


nition, placing them in the name is unfair to everyone else who made significant contributions. Besides, I think “Linux/GNU” would be more technically accurate since the kernel boots first and everything else runs on top of it.

In popular usage, “Linux” refers to the kernel and all the other free and open source software found in the typical Linux distribution; that is, the entire Linux ecosystem, not just the GNU components. The operating system marketplace seems to prefer one-word names such as DOS, Windows, macOS, Solaris, Irix, AIX. I have chosen to use the popular format. If, however, you prefer to use “GNU/Linux” instead, please perform a mental search-and-replace while reading this book. I won't mind.

Top OS Cloud Computing at OnWorks: