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Unix for Beginners


Why Unix/Linux Skills ?

The huge growth in the Internet has seen a great increase in the demand for Unix skills in the job market, since flavours of the Unix operating system (Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, Solaris, HP/UX, AIX,  Tru64, Irix) are the preferred operating system used by most web server sites. Therefore graduates with good Unix skills have a big advantage in the job market, and can frequently get much better starting salaries.

Many computing subjects also rely on tools which were originally developed on Unix, and run best on this operating system. Therefore good Unix skills make it easier for a student to get work done in such subjects, and this means better results for the same effort put in.

What you learn on one variety of Unix you can nearly always put to use on another. Therefore these are skills which are portable between jobs, which makes it easier for you to move to more interesting jobs once you are in industry.

Why Linux or BSD ?

Linux and FreeBSD/NetBSD are FREE operating systems, available off the Internet, or on very cheap CD-ROMs. Usually a CD-ROM will contain hundreds of precompiled tools, such as compilers, typesetters, viewers, browsers, editors, drawing packages. If you were to purchase commercial software tools to do the same job, you would have to pay thousands of dollars. Both the Linux and BSD operating system come in a wide variety of flavours, with various tools packages and extra features.

Another nice feature is that you can get versions to run not only on Intel PC hardware, but also on Apple Macintosh and other hardware. In fact, most of the software tools which run on Linux or BSD will also run on large commercial Unix machines, so that most of the skills you develop using Linux or BSD will be very useful once you are out in industry. Favourites like Netscape and Acroread, desktop packages like StarOffice (Word clone),  are available free, and many commercial tools like FrameMaker are now also becoming available for Linux, or BSD.

The Most Important Reason of All ?

Unix is simply great fun, so much so that many people use it for enjoyment alone !

How to Install and Set Up Linux or BSD ?

Dozens of websites for beginners exist on the Internet - here is small collection of links to find help. Browse them, read them, and become familiar with what is out there.

Check out....

Linux www.linux.org - the Linux Website. Linux is usually preferred by beginners, since it is the easiest free operating system to install, set up and configure. It is the most widely used of all free operating systems.

Other Linux links:
- TuCows Linux - large collection of Linux software
- Linux Kernel - the core of the Linux operating system
FreeBSD www.freebsd.org -  the FreeBSD Website FreeBSD is the most widely used free version of the BSD operating system, originally developed at Berkeley in the late 1970s. Commercial BSD was the operating system used by most commercial Unix systems during the 1980s. Now it is available free. FreeBSD is a little more demanding than Linux to set up, but runs faster.
NetBSD www.netbsd.org - the NetBSD Website  NetBSD is an alternative flavour of  BSD, and is unique since it can run on dozens of different types of computers. It is also more demanding than Linux to set up, especially for beginners.
KDE www.kde.org - the KDE Website KDE is a powerful graphical desktop environment for computers running Unix. It combines ease of use, contemporary functionality and outstanding graphical design with the technological superiority of the Unix operating system.
XFree86 www.xfree86.org - the XFree86 Website Probably the most complicated part of setting up a free Unix system is getting the X-windows server running. For more details, check out the XFree86 Website.

Documentation on UNIX software

  • Emacs - text editor and communication tool


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