? What This Book Is About:
This book is a broad overview of “living” on the Linux command line. Unlike some
books that concentrate on just a single program, such as the shell program, bash, this
book will try to convey how to get along with the command line interface in a larger
sense. How does it all work? What can it do? What's the best way to use it?
This is not a book about Linux system administration. While any serious discussion of
the command line will invariably lead to system administration topics, this book only
touches on a few administration issues. It will, however, prepare the reader for additional
study by providing a solid foundation in the use of the command line, an essential tool for
any serious system administration task.
This book is very Linux-centric. Many other books try to broaden their appeal by in-
cluding other platforms such as generic Unix and OS X. In doing so, they “water down”
their content to feature only general topics. This book, on the other hand, only covers
contemporary Linux distributions. Ninety-five percent of the content is useful for users of
other Unix-like systems, but this book is highly targeted at the modern Linux command
? Who Should Read This Book:
This book is for new Linux users who have migrated from other platforms. Most likely
you are a “power user” of some version of Microsoft Windows. Perhaps your boss has
told you to administer a Linux server, or maybe you're just a desktop user who is tired of
all the security problems and want to give Linux a try. That's fine. All are welcome here.
That being said, there is no shortcut to Linux enlightenment. Learning the command line
is challenging and takes real effort. It's not that it's so hard, but rather it's so vast. The av-
xviierage Linux system has literally thousands of programs you can employ on the command
line. Consider yourself warned; learning the command line is not a casual endeavor.
On the other hand, learning the Linux command line is extremely rewarding. If you think
you're a “power user” now, just wait. You don't know what real power is —yet.
And, un -like many other computer skills, knowledge of the command line is long lasting. The
skills learned today will still be useful ten years from now. The command line has sur-
vived the test of time.
It is also assumed that you have no programming experience, but not to worry, we'll start
you down that path as well.
? What's In This Book:
This material is presented in a carefully chosen sequence, much like a tutor sitting next to
you guiding you along. Many authors treat this material in a “systematic” fashion, which
makes sense from a writer’s perspective, but can be very confusing to new users.
Another goal is to acquaint you with the Unix way of thinking, which is different from
the Windows way of thinking. Along the way, we'll go on a few side trips to help you un-
derstand why certain things work the way they do and how they got that way. Linux is
not just a piece of software, it's also a small part of the larger Unix culture, which has its
own language and history. I might throw in a rant or two, as well.
This book is divided into four parts, each covering some aspect of the command line ex-
● Part 1 – Learning The Shell starts our exploration of the basic language of the
command line including such things as the structure of commands, file system
navigation, command line editing, and finding help and documentation for com-
● Part 2 – Configuration And The Environment covers editing configuration
files that control the computer's operation from the command line.
● Part 3 – Common Tasks And Essential Tools explores many of the ordinary
tasks that are commonly performed from the command line. Unix-like operating
systems, such as Linux, contain many “classic” command line programs that are
used to perform powerful operations on data.
● Part 4 – Writing Shell Scripts introduces shell programming, an admittedly
rudimentary, but easy to learn, technique for automating many common comput-
ing tasks. By learning shell programming, you will become familiar with concepts
that can be applied to many other programming languages.
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