Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

'Cookbook' author serves up recipe for Linux success

Filed under

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

GNOME: GitLab Migration and More

  • IMPORTANT: GitLab mass migration plan
    I know some fellows doesn’t read desktop-devel-list, so let me share here an email that it’s important for all to read: We have put in place the plan for the mass migration to GitLab and the steps maintainers needs to do.
  • ED Update – week 11
  • Reflections on Distractions in Work, Productivity and Time Usage
    For the past year or so I have mostly worked at home or remote in my daily life. Currently I’m engaged in my master thesis and need to manage my daily time and energy to work on it. It is no surprise to many of us that working using your internet-connected personal computer at home can make you prone to many distractions. However, managing your own time is not just about whipping and self-discipline. It is about setting yourself up in a structure which rewards you for hard work and gives your mind the breaks it needs. Based on reflections and experimentation with many scheduling systems and tools I finally felt I have achieved a set of principles I really like and that’s what I’ll be sharing with you today. [...] Minimizing shell notifications: While I don’t have the same big hammer to “block access to my e-mail” here, I decided to change the order of my e-mail inboxes in Geary so my more relevant (and far less activity prone) student e-mail inbox appears first. I also turned off the background e-mail daemon and turned off notification banners in GNOME Shell. [...] Lastly, I want to give two additional tips. If you like listening to music while working, consider whether it might affect your productivity. For example, I found music with vocals to be distracting me if I try to immerse myself in reading difficult litterature. I can really recommend Doctor Turtle’s acoustic instrumental music while working though (all free). Secondly, I find that different types of tasks requires different postures. For abstract, high-level or vaguely formulated tasks (fx formulating goals, reviewing something or reflecting), I find interacting with the computer whilst standing up and walking around to really help gather my thoughts. On the other hand with practical tasks or tasks which require immersion (fx programming tasks), I find sitting down to be much more comfortable.

OSS, Openwashing and FUD

Open Data (OD) for Research of Shootings

Security Leftovers

  • 7 Questions to Ask About Your DevSecOps Program
  • Developers Are Ethical But Not Responsible?
    Ask a person if he or she is a racist and the answer is almost always no. Ask a developer if they consider ethical considerations when writing code and only six percent say no. If everyone acted the way they self-report, then there would be peace and love throughout the world. Based on over a hundred thousand respondents, StackOverflow’s Developer Survey 2018 presents a more complicated reality. If they were asked to write code for an unethical purpose, 59 percent would say no, but another 37 percent of developers were non-committal about whether they would comply. In another question, only about 5 percent said they definitely not report unethical problems with code. But sounding the alarm is about as far as most people will go.
  • Cloud Security: 10 Top Tips
  • Group Policy Objects (GPOs) for Linux®