Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

'Cookbook' author serves up recipe for Linux success

Filed under
Linux

Author Michael Stutz said he has never been satisfied with existing resources for learning about Linux, which is why he wrote The Linux Cookbook. Stutz aims his book at beginners and more experienced users by presenting lessons in a format modeled after a culinary cookbook. In this interview, Stutz discusses shells and graphical versus command-line interfaces -- and why sometimes, in computers, a word is worth a thousand pictures.

For a newcomer to Linux, or someone who is mainly familiar with Windows, could you explain what the shell is and what it does?

Michael Stutz: The shell is a program that provides an interface between the user and the operating system -- it handles your input, controls the execution of other programs and coordinates their output. Those are the generic requirements. In practice, shells can be very robust environments. Most Linux distributions come with several different shells preinstalled that you can pick from. And you can run all kinds of interfaces -- graphical and otherwise -- on top of a shell, but the shell is always there at the base, mediating between you and the operating system. The shell is one of the fundamental components of the Unix operating system, of which Linux is a popular modern-day variety.

There's a good analogy for users of Windows, because I've never thought of Microsoft Windows as anything but an incompatible clone of Unix. It started out as DOS, which was a grossly stunted clone of the shell, made to run on the single-user microcomputers of the time. Then the Windows program was written as an interface to run on top of DOS, much like the X Window System in Unix.

Is one shell better than another for those starting out with Linux?

Aren't most distributions now built to be run from a graphical user interface (GUI)?

The concept of using reserved characters seems tricky to me. What are they and how do they work in the command line?

Full Interview.

More in Tux Machines

Security Leftovers

  • Linux Foundation launches badge program to boost open source security
    The Linux Foundation has released the first round of CII Best Practices badges as part of a program designed to improve the quality and security of open-source software. Announced on Tuesday, the non-profit said the Core Infrastructure Initiative (CII), a project which brings tech firms, developers and stakeholders together to create best practice specifications and improve the security of critical open-source projects, has now entered a new stage with the issue of CII badges to a select number of open-source software.
  • Free Badge Program Signals What Open Source Projects Meet Criteria for Security, Quality and Stability
  • How to Conduct Internal Penetration Testing
    The best way to establish how vulnerable your network is to a hacker attack is to subject it to a penetration test carried out by outside experts. (You must get a qualified third party to help with penetration testing, of course, and eSecurity Planet recently published an article on finding the right penetration testing company.)
  • SSH for Fun and Profit
    In May last year, a new attack on the Diffie Hellman algorithm was released, called Logjam. At the time, I was working on a security team, so it was our responsiblity to check that none of our servers would be affected. We ran through our TLS config and decided it was safe, but also needed to check that our SSH config was too. That confused me – where in SSH is Diffie Hellman? In fact, come to think of it, how does SSH work at all? As a fun side project, I decided to answer that question by writing a very basic SSH client of my own.

Open Data in Europe

  • Helsinki to enhance open democracy technologies through a hackathon
    The International Open Data Day brings together citizens and developers in major cities around the world to develop tools and applications based on Open Data. In 2016, Open Data Day took place on the 5-6 March.
  • Dutch government organisations not ready for open data requests
    Dutch government organisations are generally unable to process requests under the new 'Law for re-use of government information' in a timely and correct manner. According to inventories made by the Open State Foundation and Open Archives, government at all levels took months to decide on the requests, had problems providing the information in an open and machine-readable format, and failed to forward requests that should be handled by other organisations.
  • Hungarian Post charging high costs to frustrate right to public information
    The issue was brought before Péterfalvi Attila, President of the National Authority for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, by Tóth Bertalan, Deputy Faction Leader for the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP). Tóth argued that citizens are restricted in exercising their right of access to public information if an agency asks that much money for its data.

No Ubuntu Back Doors, Windows and Mac Migrations

Today in Linux news Microsoft's market share has dipped below 90% and Mac is disappearing from Linux conventions. Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth said in an interview today that security and encryption are a commitment of Ubuntu's. Jesse Smith reviewed the latest version of Ubuntu and OMG!Ubuntu! shared some glimpses of Ubuntu in the wild. Bryan Lunduke listed 12 "Linux geeks" all users should follow on social media and Sandra Gittlen highlighted six colleges that "immerse students in Open Source." Read more

pfSense 2.3 Open-Source BSD Firewall Gets Patch That Fixes NTP Security Issues

pfSense developer Chris Buechler announced the availability of a small update for the stable pfSense 2.3 open-source firewall platform based on the FreeBSD operating system. Introduced as pfSense 2.3 Update 1, this is a small patch that only fixes the recently discovered security issues in the Network Time Protocol (NTP) packages, upgrading them from version 4.2.8p6 to 4.2.8p7, and it shouldn't be confused with pfSense 2.3.1, which will be released in the coming weeks as the first maintenance build. Read more