First Entry: Linux for Poets

Finally, long and overdue, the first entry in Linux for Poets:

“Once upon a time Unix used to be for geeks only — the platform of choice for godlike SysAdmins and obsessed hackers who muttered strange phrases and giggled over inside jokes, as they swigged gallon after gallon of Mountain Dew. Unix neophytes were faced with a blank screen and an uncompromising command line along with dire warnings about what not to do … or else. Extending the basic computer, adding in such esoteric devices as printers or modems, required recompilation of the kernel, ominous sounding words intimidating enough to send all but the most brave, or foolish, running for the safety of Windows.

Then a strange thing happened: Unix started to get friendlier. First, commercial versions of Linux such as Red Hat came along with easier installation instructions, integrated device support, and lovely graphical desktops (not to mention a host of fun and free games). Open source Unix developers started drinking microbrews and fancy cocktails instead of caffeine and realized that they had to make their software easier to install and well documented in addition to being powerful and freely available. Alternatives to powerhouse commercial applications, such as Openoffice’s challenge to Microsoft’s Office, minimized the cost of switching to desktop Unix platforms. Finally, that bastion of the Hide the Moving Parts Club, Apple, broke all tradition and built a lovely and sophisticated operating system, Mac OS X, on top of a Unix platform.

Today’s Unix: slicker, safer, smaller, better…but push aside the fancy graphics and built-in functionality and simple installation, and you’re still going to be faced, at one time or another, with a simple command line and dire warnings about what not to do. Before you contemplate drinking the Code Red kool-aid, take a deep breath, relax, and familiarize yourself with the Ten Basic Commands of Unux….”

Continue reading “The Ten Basic Commands of Unix” at the Linux for Poets weblog.

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