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LUG: Linux User's Group

The purpose of LUG was to promote an increased knowledge of the computer science, the right to know how the information is processed on our computers, and a greater interest in the Linux operating system and its applications.

The Linux User's Guide to Proper Attitude

1. What is Linux?

Perhaps, you've already heard. Created by Linus Torvalds, a humble computer science student from Finland in his dorm room, carefully thought over and talked about by the most talented developers worldwide while in Finnish sauna and drinking Genuine Finnish beer, Linux presents one of the toughest competitions to the largest operating system companies in the world. Linux has a history of information science behind it, dreams, ideas and aspiration of the most talented computer scientisits and engineers in the world, support from several major companies, and acceptance in education, business and government. Because of its unique distribution and support mechanism Linux does not need commercial advertisement. It is created, supported and distributed by the world-wide user community, which I am going to refer to as Linux Community from now on.

Even though Linux was created with UNIX compliance in mind, it is in no way UNIX. The distribution and copyright principle behind it called GNU stands for ``GNU is Not Unix.'' There is a long story behind such a warped acronym. I'll just say that LISP language, used mostly in artificial intelligence and, theoretically, well-suited for extra-large software projects, is great at recursion. In LISP, GNU would look like this: (defun GNU () (GNU (NOT (UNIX)))). So, Linux is not UNIX. It doesn't use any of AT&T or the University of California at Berkley code. Linux is a system of its own, it has its own personality, its own motto, and its own mascot. It is important to understand that Linux is the kernel, not the operating system itself. The Linux Operating System consists of the Linux Kernel and GNU project utilities. Linux is packaged by several distributors, of which I am going to talk a bit later.

Linus Torvalds, often called the Benevolent Dictator of the Linux Community, beleives that the way information is processed on our machines has to be up to Linux Users to decide. That is why nearly all of the Linux software comes with complete source code -- so you can decide how your computer should work. Even though the Linux trademark belongs to Linus, the Linux operating system belongs to people. No other operating system, with the exception of a few other free UNIX clones, gives you the power of choice. Users of other operating systems are limitted to what programmers gave them and dumbed down by bloated and excessive user interfaces. Linux Community, however, is an Elite group of computer users. We shape the way Linux works and looks, we decide what hardware it supports, we decide when the next version is released, we decide the proper marketting -- we have the Power. Whether you use Linux, support it, generously help your friends install it, program for it, lead a Linux Users Group, or even sell it -- you are part of the Computing Elite.

Linux was not designed to destroy a particular software monopoly. Linux was designed to give people the Power of Choice. The Linux mascot doesn't look like breaking Windows nor it represents the hatred towards Bill Gates. The Linux mascot is the penguin, or often the penguin with a mug of Finnish beer. Why Penguin? I don't know. Perhaps because the Linux Community bought a penguin in Helsinki Zoo and gave it to Linus Torvalds for his birthday.

So, now that this is settled, welcome to the Linux Community! From now on, or once you install Linux, you are the member of the Computing Elite.

Exercises 1:

1. What is Linux ?

a. Freeware UNIX b. Shareware UNIX

c. System of its own d. None of the above

2. What is GNU ?

a. A big hairy animal with horns b. Unidentified Flying Object

c. Piece of cookware d. GNU is Not UNIX

3. Who started Linux?

a. Bill Gates b. Lou Gerstner

c. Steve Jobs d. Linus Torvalds

4. Who owns Linux trademark?

a. Bill Gates b. Thomas Edison

c. Men in Black d. Linus Torvalds

5. Who owns Linux?

a. Oleg Dulin b. Jason Kurtz

c. Linus Torvalds d. Linux Community

6. What is Linux mascot?

a. Penguin with (or without) Finnish beer b. Penguin with a Budweiser

c. Linus Torvalds with Vodka d. Bill Gates in his grave

2. Linux in Comparison to Other OS's

If you are using DOS, Windows, OS/2 or a Mac, when was the last time you rebooted your computer? A week ago? An hour ago? Is it rebooting now? How many times you had to reinstall your operating system and all of your software?

I am pretty sure the above disasters are quite familiar to you. A few days ago I had to witness a person reboot her computer four times before she was able to succesfully print a PostScript file. Why is a three finger salute a fact of life nowdays? Why should we deal with low-quality software, 32-bit shells running on top of 16-bit operating systems originally written for 8-bit machines by 2-bit programmers? Why not just run a true multi-tasking, crash-protected, multi-user operating system? Wouldn't life be so much easier if everyone used a decent OS?

So, Linux is 32-bit on 32-bit hardware, 64-bit on 64-bit hardware, there are projects on porting Linux to 16-bit and 8-bit hardware. It is a true multitasking system. If a Windows user can only dream about running several programs simulatenously, such as printing, formatting a floppy, downloading a large file, running Quake, Web, and FTP servers, share files -- all at the same time, a Linux user has all this right out. So, why keep dreaming?

Linux is a multi-user network-transparent system. Can you run your Windows application on a remote machine, while your display, mouse and keyboard are used for input and output? Can you run your whole desktop across the network for that matter? Linux gives you the power to access your machine from anywhere across the Internet. It allows other people to log into your machine and run programs on it, with your permission of course. And because Linux never crashes, you can safely do something else in the meantime.

Is Linux hard to use? No. It is just different. It is not harder to use than Windows NT. Windows and other similar OS's are large and bloated, while Linux consists of small and compact components that one can combine together like LEGOs and integrate them. Such flexibility allows for high customization and the abundance of power. Linux has several GUI environments, which again give you a freedom of choice.

Exercises 2:

1. What an average PC user can do with his/her computer that keeps crashing?

a. Throw it out of the window b. Sell it to your enemy

c. Pay someone to fix it d. Get Linux!

2. How does Linux multitask?

a. Like a dream b. What is Linux?

c. It doesn't d. What is multitasking?

3. Does Linux have a GUI?

a. Linux is not gooey!!! b. It doesn't, it looks like DOS

c. It runs Windows 3.11 d. It is as GUI as I want

3. What is the Future of Linux?

I refuse to answer this question, so lets jump directly to the exercises.

Exercises 3:

1. What do you want your future to be?

a. I don't care b. I'll ask my parents

c. I'll ask Bill Gates d. I'll build my own future

4. Linux Distributions

It is important to understand that there are several different Linux distributions that are targeted to different audiences. Here I'll describe distributions that are most popular in the United States.

Red Hat Linux is a hacker's platform. It is always on the bleeding edge of the Linux Community. It is considered the best platform for peeking and poking. Based around RPM -- a power package management technology, Red Hat Linux is easy to install, maintain and upgrade. Software components can be easily added and removed. RPM takes care of installation, environment settings, compilation, and configuration for you. Red Hat Linux has a nicely done Control Panel that gives you a head start in learning how to use Linux. Red Hat Linux is maintained by a commercial company called Red Hat Software and was originally based on Slackware Linux (see below). Red Hat is also marketing an office package for Linux called ApplixWare.

Slackware Linux is probably even more of a hacker system than Red Hat. You don't get a user-friendly Control Panel, nor you get RPM support. It is possible to make all Red Hat's tools work under Slackware, however. Besides its lack of user friendliness, Slackware is extremely customizable and flexible. Slackware Linux is maintained and distribute by Walnut Creek and was originally designed by Patrick Volkerding.

Debian Linux is designed for Linux Cultists. It contains no commercial code, only pure GNU software. Just like Red Hat, it comes with a package manager. You can even use it to convert packages between RPM and Debian DPKG. Debian Linux is maintained purely by volunteers.

Linux Pro, designed and distributed by WorkGroup Solutions (our primary sponsor), is the distribution for Linux and UNIX professionals. It is based on Red Hat Linux but usually has few enhancements, bug fixes, and smoother installation procedure. Even though Linux Pro's kernel might be a version behind, Linux Pro contains the most stable components on the market. It is targeted to people who don't have time to fiddle with shell scripts and configuration files, but rather need to get their work done quickly and painlessly. Linux Pro is used by WGS for their custom packages as well as internally.

Caldera OpenLinux developed by Caldera is similar in its target audience to Linux Pro. Several different package are available, depending on your needs. The least expensive one, OpenLinux Lite is very similar to Red Hat or Linux Pro. It contains a demo version of the LookingGlass desktop environment included in OpenLinux Base. OpenLinux Standard includes server extensions, such as Netscape FastTrack. Caldera also distributes Star Division's StarOffice suite for Linux, maintains Netscape Navigator and Communicator software for Linux, and Netscape's server software for Linux.

Sorry, no exercises this time.

5. Computer Piracy

It is true that most of the Linux software is available in complete source code and can be freely redistributed under GNU philosophy. This, however, does not apply to commercial software products, such as Netscape Communicator, ApplixWare, Maple, Mathematica and other great commercial Linux software. Copying and redistributing commercial software is illegal and is discouraged. Computer piracy frustrates the developers and scares them away from a particular user community. We don't want to get a reputation of pirates. Therefore, if you like a commercial package or a shareware program you are encouraged to pay for it. Commercial Linux software is usually cheaper than the equivalent Windows software, and is of higher quality. Joining the Linux Users Group makes you eligible for monthly lotteries where you can win a piece of commercial Linux software.

You are encouraged, however, to redistribute Linux CDs as well as GNU-licensed programs. You can even resell them. For more information on GNU Public License see http://www.gnu.org/.

Exercises 4:

1. Is it OK to copy commercial software?

a. What is ``copy''? b. What is ``commercial''?

c. What is ``software''? d. No, it is not OK to copy commercial software

2. Can I copy Linux ?

a. What is Linux ? b. Yes, I can copy and redistribute Linux

c. I don't know d. I don't really care

3. Can I resell Linux ?

a. No, it is prohibited b. Yes, it is encouraged.

c. I don't know d. Only if I get paid.

6. Welcome to the Linux Community

So, join the Revolution. Welcome to Our World, where computers are dependable, where information is shared and is easily accessible, where the Power is Ours! Welcome to the Linux Community --The Computing Elite!

Oleg