Written specifically for those new to command line, the second edition of this exceptional book includes the same material as it appears on the website (linuxcommand.org) but in much greater depth. This free digital edition, distributed under a Creative Commons license, includes chapters on many popular programs used on the command line in addition to more advanced topics.
The Linux Command line will explain and teach you in clear, easy-to-understand language, everything you need to know about the shell. You will receive a solid foundation on which to build and develop. Because the book is written in a simple but highly informative way, it is ideal for beginners making the switch to Linux.
Why Use The Command Line?
Have you ever noticed in the movies when the “super hacker,” — you know, the guy who can break into the ultra-secure military computer in under thirty seconds — sits down at the computer, he never touches a mouse? It's because movie makers realize that we, as human beings, instinctively know the only way to really get anything done on a computer is by typing on a keyboard!
Most computer users today are only familiar with the graphical user interface (GUI) and have been taught by vendors and pundits that the command line interface (CLI) is a terrifying thing of the past. This is unfortunate, because a good command line interface is a marvelously expressive way of communicating with a computer in much the same way the written word is for human beings. It's been said that “graphical user interfaces make easy tasks easy, while command line interfaces make difficult tasks possible” and this is still very true today.
Since Linux is modeled after the Unix family of operating systems, it shares the same rich heritage of command line tools as Unix. Unix came into prominence during the early 1980s (although it was first developed a decade earlier), before the widespread adoption of the graphical user interface and, as a result, developed an extensive command line interface instead. In fact, one of the strongest reasons early adopters of Linux chose it over, say, Windows NT was the powerful command line interface which made the “difficult tasks possible.”
What This Book Is About
This book is a broad overview of “living” on the Linux command line. Unlike some books that concentrate on just a single program, such as the shell program, bash, this book will try to convey how to get along with the command line interface in a larger sense. How does it all work? What can it do? What's the best way to use it?
This is not a book about Linux system administration. While any serious discussion of the command line will invariably lead to system administration topics, this book only touches on a few administration issues. It will, however, prepare the reader for additional study by providing a solid foundation in the use of the command line, an essential tool for any serious system administration task.
This book is very Linux-centric. Many other books try to broaden their appeal by including other platforms such as generic Unix and OS X. In doing so, they “water down” their content to feature only general topics. This book, on the other hand, only covers contemporary Linux distributions. Ninety-five percent of the content is useful for users of other Unix-like systems, but this book is highly targeted at the modern Linux command line user.
Who Should Read This Book
This book is for new Linux users who have migrated from other platforms. Most likely you are a “power user” of some version of Microsoft Windows. Perhaps your boss has told you to administer a Linux server, or maybe you're just a desktop user who is tired of all the security problems and want to give Linux a try. That's fine. All are welcome here.
That being said, there is no shortcut to Linux enlightenment. Learning the command line is challenging and takes real effort. It's not that it's so hard, but rather it's so vast. The average Linux system has literally thousands of programs you can employ on the command line. Consider yourself warned; learning the command line is not a casual endeavor.
On the other hand, learning the Linux command line is extremely rewarding. If you think you're a “power user” now, just wait. You don't know what real power is — yet. And, un-like many other computer skills, knowledge of the command line is long lasting. The skills learned today will still be useful ten years from now. The command line has survived the test of time.
It is also assumed that you have no programming experience, but not to worry, we'll start you down that path as well.