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       Linux  is  a flavour of Unix, and as a first approximation
       all user commands under Unix work precisely the same under
       Linux (and FreeBSD and lots of other Unix-like systems).

       Under  Linux  there  are GUIs (graphical user interfaces),
       where you can point and click and drag, and hopefully  get
       work done without first reading lots of documentation. The
       traditional Unix environment is a CLI (command line inter­
       face),  where  you type commands to tell the computer what
       to do. That is faster  and  more  powerful,  but  requires
       finding  out what the commands are.  Below a bare minimum,
       to get started.

       In order to start working,  you  probably  first  have  to
       login,  that is, give your username and password. See also
       login(1).  The program login now starts a  shell  (command
       interpreter)  for  you.  In case of a graphical login, you
       get a screen with menus or icons and a  mouse  click  will
       start a shell in a window. See also xterm(1).

   The shell
       One  types commands to the shell, the command interpreter.
       It is not built-in, but is just  a  program  and  you  can
       change  your  shell.  Everybody has her own favourite one.
       The standard one is called sh.  See also ash(1),  bash(1),
       csh(1), zsh(1), chsh(1).

       A session might go like

              knuth login: aeb
              Password: ********
              % date
              Tue Aug  6 23:50:44 CEST 2002
              % cal
                   August 2002
              Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
                           1  2  3
               4  5  6  7  8  9 10
              11 12 13 14 15 16 17
              18 19 20 21 22 23 24
              25 26 27 28 29 30 31

              % ls
              bin  tel
              % ls -l
              total 2
              drwxrwxr-x   2 aeb       1024 Aug  6 23:51 bin
              -rw-rw-r--   1 aeb         37 Aug  6 23:52 tel
              % cat tel
              maja    0501-1136285
              % rm tel1
              % grep maja tel2
              maja    0501-1136285
       and  here  typing Control-D ended the session.  The % here
       was the command prompt - it is the shell's way of indicat­
       ing  that it is ready for the next command. The prompt can
       be customized in lots of ways, and one might include stuff
       like  user  name,  machine  name, current directory, time,
       etc.  An assignment PS1="What next, master? " would change
       the prompt as indicated.

       We  see  that there are commands date (that gives date and
       time), and cal (that gives a calendar).

       The command ls lists the contents of the current directory
       -  it  tells  you what files you have. With a -l option it
       gives a long listing, that includes the owner and size and
       date  of  the  file,  and  the permissions people have for
       reading and/or changing the file.  For example,  the  file
       "tel"  here  is  37 bytes long, owned by aeb and the owner
       can read and write it, others can only read it.  Owner and
       permissions  can  be  changed  by  the  commands chown and

       The command cat will show the contents of  a  file.   (The
       name  is  from "concatenate and print": all files given as
       parameters are concatenated and sent to "standard output",
       here the terminal screen.)

       The  command  cp  (from  "copy") will copy a file.  On the
       other hand, the command mv (from "move") only renames  it.

       The  command diff lists the differences between two files.
       Here there was no output because  there  were  no  differ­

       The  command  rm  (from "remove") deletes the file, and be
       careful! it is gone.  No wastepaper  basket  or  anything.
       Deleted means lost.

       The  command  grep  (from "g/re/p") finds occurrences of a
       string in one or more files.  Here it finds  Maja's  tele­
       phone number.

   Path names and the current directory
       Files  live in a large tree, the file hierarchy.  Each has
       a path name describing the path from the root of the  tree
       (which  is called /) to the file. For example, such a full
       path name might be /home/aeb/tel.  Always using full  path
       names would be inconvenient, and the name of a file in the
       current directory may be abbreviated by  only  giving  the
       The  command find (with a rather baroque syntax) will find
       files with given name or other  properties.  For  example,
       "find  .  -name tel" would find the file "tel" starting in
       the present directory (which is called ".").  And "find  /
       -name  tel" would do the same, but starting at the root of
       the tree. Large searches on a multi-GB disk will be  time-
       consuming, and it may be better to use locate(1).

   Disks and Filesystems
       The command mount will attach the filesystem found on some
       disk (or floppy, or CDROM or so)  to  the  big  filesystem
       hierarchy.  And  umount detaches it again.  The command df
       will tell you how much of your disk is still free.

       On a Unix system many user and system processes run simul­
       taneously.   The  one you are talking to runs in the fore­
       ground, the others in the background.  The command ps will
       show you which processes are active and what numbers these
       processes have.  The command kill allows you to get rid of
       them. Without option this is a friendly request: please go
       away. And "kill -9" followed by the number of the  process
       is  an  immediate kill.  Foreground processes can often be
       killed by typing Control-C.

   Getting information
       There are thousands of commands, each with  many  options.
       Traditionally  commands are documented on man pages, (like
       this one), so that the command "man  kill"  will  document
       the  use of the command "kill" (and "man man" document the
       command "man").  The program man sends  the  text  through
       some  pager,  usually  less.  Hit the space bar to get the
       next page, hit q to quit.

       In documentation it is custumary to refer to man pages  by
       giving  the  name  and  section number, as in man(1).  Man
       pages are terse, and allow you to find quickly  some  for­
       gotten  detail.  For  newcomers  an introductory text with
       more examples and explanations is useful.

       A lot of GNU/FSF software is  provided  with  info  files.
       Type  "info  info"  for  an introduction on the use of the
       program "info".

       Special topics  are  often  treated  in  HOWTOs.  Look  in
       /usr/share/doc/howto/en and use a browser if you find HTML
       files there.

Linux                       2002-08-06                   INTRO(1)

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