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Peter van der Linden's Guide to Linux

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Peter van der Linden's Guide to Linux


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Make the switch to Linux quickly, affordably, and painlessly. Use the live CD (Linspire) to do real tasks and

learn at your own pace.

° Makes it easy to test drive Linux and Open Source versions of the applications most PC users need before making a complete break from Windows.

° Takes the risk out of exploring the Linux desktop and smooths the learning curve no matter what your level of computer expertise

° Perfect for SOHO audience


  • Copyright 2006
  • Dimensions: 7x9-1/4
  • Pages: 640
  • Edition: 1st
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-13-187284-2
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-13-187284-4

“Linux software is like gold on the moon. It’s wonderful, if you have a way to get it.”
—Kevin Carmony, President and CEO, Linspire Inc.
Sick of Windows Viruses, Crashes, and Expensive Upgrades?

There’s a better alternative: Linux. It’s not just for “geeks” anymore. It’s for you—and it’s for real. With Peter van der Linden’s Guide to Linux®, Linux isn’t just powerful, it’s easy and fun.

While writing this book, the author spent an entire year helping new Linux users get started and once again demonstrated that he is flat-out brilliant at simplifying technology. He knows all the tricks and the quickest ways to help make you productive. Before demonstrating how to do something faster, easier, and better with Linux, he reminds you how it works in Windows. Along the way, he anticipates potential missteps and questions, and fills in the gaps other books ignore.

  • Get connected to the Internet, your email account, instant messaging, and your network
  • Get productive with OpenOffice, the amazing Microsoft Office clone that’s absolutely free
  • Get solutions with van der Linden’s easy, step-by-step troubleshooting help
  • Get into digital media—music, movies, DVDs, CD burning, digital photography, and more
  • Get secure and keep your data and email private with CIA-strength encryption
  • Get beyond the basics and leave Windows behind, download the best free software, and even master the command line

The book includes a Linspire 5.0 CD-ROM, the world’s easiest desktop Linux! Boot into Linux from the included CD, without installing anything or changing any Windows files at all.

Sample Content

Table of Contents



About the Author.

1. Hello Linux.

    Why Linux Now?

    Windows Woes.

    Advantages and Disadvantages of Linux.

    Linux Background.

    GNU/Linux Distributions.

    The Linspire Distro.

    The Significance of Open Source Software.

    What Next for Uncle Josh.

    What Next for You.

2. Running the Linux Live CD.

    Getting Started.

    System Requirements for Running the Live CD.

    How a Live CD Works.

    Booting and Running Linspire from the Live CD.

    Getting Help.

3. The KDE Desktop.

    Getting Started.

    Different Operating Systems, Similar GUIs.

    GUIs Are Mature Technology.

    Introduction to the KDE Desktop.

    The KDE Panel.

    How Your Folders Are Organized in KDE.

    Using the Konqueror File Manager.

    Advanced KDE Techniques.

    Making Better Use of Screen Real Estate.

    Linux and X Window.

    Help Menus and More Information.

4. Onto the Net.

    Getting Started.

    Bringing the Internet to Your Home.

    Networking Inside Your Home.

    Alternative 1: A Wired Ethernet Connection.

    Alternative 2: A Wireless Ethernet Connection.

    Alternative 3: A Dial-Up Network Connection.

5. All About Email.

    Getting Started.

    Using Web-Based Mail.

    Using a Standalone Mail Program.

    Setting Up Mozilla Email.

    Using Other Email Clients.

    Junk Mail Control.


6. Web Tools.

    Getting Started.

    Firefox Browser.

    Nvu Web Page Editor.

7. Adding Software.

    Getting Started.

    Introducing Linspire's Click-N-Run.

    Linux Packages.

    Using Debian's Advanced Packaging Tool.

    Adding a Menu Item for a New Application.

    Compiling and Installing Software from Source Code.

    Building from Source: GNU Privacy Guard Application.

8. More Applications.

    Getting Started.


    Instant Messenger.

    Lphoto and Digital Photography.

9. Filesystems and Optical Storage (CDs and DVDs).

    Getting Started.

    Filesystems and How to Mount Them.

    Reading Data CDs and Creating Device Icons.

    Burning Data CDs.

    Burning an Image or ISO File.

    Playing Music CDs.

    Rip, Mix, Burn-Creating Music CDs!

    Playing Movie DVDs.

    Making a Backup Copy of a Movie DVD.

    Sound and Burner Troubleshooting.

10. Sharing on Your Local Network.

    Introduction to Workgroup Networking.

    Shortcut: Sharing Files Without a Network.

    Setting Up Windows Workgroup Networking.

    Setting Up Windows Clients.

    Setting Up Linux Clients.

    Setting Up Print Servers.

    Remote Desktop Sharing.

11. Keeping Your Data Private.

    Why This Information Is Important.

    Who Me, Do Encryption?

    Before You Begin.

    Introducing GNU Privacy Guard.

    Basics of Public Key Encryption.

    Creating Your Own GPG Key.

    Encrypting Files.

    Using Key Management.

    Limitations of Encryption.

    Summary of Common gpg Commands.

    Encrypting Email.


12. Installation and Boot.

    Getting Started.

    Linux with Zero Effort: Buying Linux Preinstalled.

    Installation Checklist.

    Downloading Your Linux Distro and Burning It to CD.

    What Happens During an Installation.

    More About Disk Partitions.

    Choosing Whether to Dual Boot.

    Choice A-Wiping Out Windows.

    Choice B-Putting Linux on a Separate Disk.

    Choice C-Advanced Installation for Dual Boot.

    What Happens During a Boot.

    Linspire Installation.

    Post-Installation Setup.

    Troubleshooting After Installation.

    System Administration Know-How.

    The End, and the Beginning: Going Forward With Linux.

Appendix A: Malicious Windows Software.

    Windows Viruses Are Getting More Dangerous.

    More About Backdoors.

    Windows Web Servers Penetrated Worldwide.

Appendix B: Making Your Hardware Obey You-BIOS and Device Drivers.

    Troubleshooting BIOS.

    Troubleshooting Balky Devices.

    Checking Hardware for Linux Compatibility.

Appendix C: Sample Output from Wifi Network Commands.

Appendix D: Commands for the Command Line.

    Getting Started.

    About Commands Generally.

    Working with Files.

    Working with Folders.

    Working with Samba.

    Sharing Folders That Aren't Under /root.

    Filesystem Utilities.

    The Most Powerful Part of Linux (Not Included).

Appendix E: Disk Basics and Partitioning.

    Partition Overview.

    Reducing the Size of the Windows Partition.

    Creating a Linux Partition.

    Restoring the Windows MBR.

    GRUB Procedures.

Appendix F: Troubleshooting with Strace.

    Using Strace (For Experts Only).

    The Corresponding Source Code of "touchc".

    Where to Find Linux Source Code.

    Finding the Pathname for a GUI Application.


About the CD.


Untitled Document Maybe you're thinking back to the last time you tried something new, and got less than happy results.

Maybe you've been burned by technology before, like Sony's hated and costly MiniDisc format, or Dell's troubled "Movie Studio Plus" bundle from 2002, or the original Pentium from Intel with the faulty multiplier.

Whether your concerns arise from past experience, or from fear of an unknown future, it's a reasonable question: am I going to be OK with Linux?

Being OK with Linux has three components:

Will Linux run on my PC without problems?
Can I learn to use Linux easily?
Will Linux install on my PC without problems?

Running Linux. Linux runs just fine on all IBM PC-compatible computers, and on a great many more computer architectures too. Linux is a mainstream technology in the business world, and that's a place that quickly drops things that aren't cost-effective. As long as you have a PC that runs at 800 MHz or more, with at least 256 MB memory, Linux will run on it just fine.

Learning Linux. So how easy is it to learn Linux? That depends partly on you. How much interest do you have in learning a new skill? How much time can you put into it? Since you're reading this book, the answers must at least be "some" and "a bit." I don't want to trivialize the effort to master a new operating system, but it's really not that big a deal. The Linux installed base overtook the Macintosh installed base in 2003, and a large number of people taught themselves to be Mac-savvy.

All current window systems do pretty much the same things in the same ways. If you can find the "start" button in Linux (bottom left of the screen, same as in Windows, labelled Launch), you can find all the applications. If you can find the applications you can learn by doing.

With the help of this book, the Linux customer support forums, and online documentation, you don't need to have any worries about getting stuck. You can learn Linux at your own pace and with a safety net.

Installing Linux. "Ah!" I hear you ask, "What about installing Linux?" Here, I have to acknowledge, lies an area that can cause frustration. The issue is that a few peripherals on your PC may be supported only under Windows. You may find that your modem or wifi card works on Windows and not on Linux. We'll get into the remedies for this situation in due course, but prepare yourself now for the possibility.

The easiest way to make all Linux installation issues disappear entirely is to acquire Linux the same way you acquired Windows--preinstalled on a PC by the vendor. A number of mainstream vendors will sell you a Linux PC, including Walmart, OfficeMax, Staples, and MicrotelPC. Whether you buy a preinstalled Linux system, or re-use an existing PC, installation is a manageable problem, with the answers in this text.

The Bottom Line. Here's the bottom line: I know a lot of people who have successfully engaged with Linux. I don't know anyone who has tried to learn Linux, and failed.

Yes, you are going to be OK with Linux, too.


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