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1. Introduction

1.1 Is Linux Right for You?

Let's start politically correct. Throughout this document I say ``Linux'', but I mean ``GNU/Linux''. Please go to to see why.

You want to switch from the DOS/Windows world to Linux? Good idea: Linux is technically superior to DOS, Windows 9x and even Windows NT. But beware: it might not be useful for you. These are the main differences between DOS/Windows and Linux:

It's up to you to decide what you need. Furthermore, Linux gives you power, but it takes some time to learn how to harness it. Thus, if mostly need commercial sw, or if you don't feel like learning new commands and concepts, you had better look elsewhere. Be aware that many newcomers give up because of initial difficulties.

Work is underway to make Linux simpler to use, but don't expect to be proficient with it unless you read a lot of documentation and use it at least for a few months. Linux won't give you instant results. In spite of these warnings, I'm 100% confident that if you are the right user type you'll find in Linux your computer Nirvana. By the way, Linux + DOS/Win can coexist happily on the same machine.

Prerequisites for this howto: I'll assume that

Unless specified, all information in this work is aimed at bad ol' DOS. There is information about Windows here and there, but bear in mind that Windows and Linux are totally different, unlike DOS that is sort of a UNIX poor relation.

Please also note that this work is neither a complete primer nor a configuration guide!

The latest version of this document is available in several formats on

1.2 It Is. Tell Me More

You installed Linux and the programs you needed on the PC. You gave yourself an account (if not, type adduser yourname now!) and Linux is running. You've just entered your name and password, and now you are looking at the screen thinking: ``Well, now what?''

Now, don't despair. You're almost ready to do the same things you used to do with DOS/Win, and many more. If you were running DOS/Win instead of Linux, you would be doing some of the following tasks:

You'll be glad to know that these tasks can be accomplished under Linux in a fashion similar to DOS. Under DOS, the average user uses very few of the 100+ commands available: the same, up to a point, applies to Linux.

Introductory Concepts

The best way to learn something new is to get your feet wet. You are strongly encouraged to experiment and play with Linux: unless you login as ``root'', you can't damage the system that way. A few points:

Getting Help

There are many ways to get help with Linux. The most important are:

1.3 Conventions

Throughout this work, examples will often follow the following format: <...> is a required argument, while [...] an optional one. Example:

$ tar -tf <file.tar> [> redir_file]

file.tar must be indicated, but redirection to redir_file is optional.

``RMP'' means ``please Read the Man Pages for further information''. I can't stress enough how important reading the documentation is.

When the prompt of a command example is #, the command can only be performed by root.

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