Harley Hahn
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A Personal Note
from Harley Hahn

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A Personal Note from Harley Hahn

This book will change your life.

That's a strange thing to say about a computer book but, as sure as you are reading this introduction, your life will be different by the time you finish the book. You will think differently and you will approach problems differently.

You see, your computer is not a lifeless piece of machinery. It is a dynamic tool that interacts with your very thought processes. Whenever you use a computer it becomes, for better or for worse, an extension of your mind. This means that, over an extended period of time, the computer system you use changes how you think. Indeed, we might classify systems as mentally "good" or "bad" depending on how they affect the minds of their users. In this sense, Unix is, without a doubt, the very best computer system ever invented (and Linux is a type of Unix).

When you use Unix, you are not working with a machine. You are working with the people who designed Unix. Every line and every picture you see on your monitor was put there by a person. Every tool you use was invented by a person. Every technical term and every concept you learn was created by a person. When you use Unix, you are interacting with these people, just as surely as you are interacting with me as you read this page.

Unix and Linux are wonderful because they were developed by bright, creative people who delighted in thinking well. These people were not only very, very smart, they knew what they were doing and they loved their work. This means that, whenever you use a Unix or Linux system, you are forging a mental relationship with some of the smartest, most accomplished (and satisfied) programmers and computer scientists who ever lived. Such a partnership can't help but have a positive effect on you.

The fact is it really doesn't matter why you want to learn Unix or Linux, or why you picked up this book. Perhaps you love computers and you have a burning desire to learn. Perhaps you are taking a class and this will be your textbook. Perhaps you have a job and you are required to use Unix or Linux. It doesn't matter.

You are about to begin a long, complex, and very rewarding journey. In the days, weeks, and months to come, you will encounter new ideas and build new skills, far beyond anything you can imagine at this moment. As you do, your mind will change for the better, your thought processes will improve, and your way of looking at the world and at yourself will change.

This is not your average computer book. (I'm sure you realize that by now.) Aside from a large amount of technical material, there are hints, jokes and a lot of plain-spoken advice. I did the very best I could to show what you really need to know. This is not a computer manual. This is not a compendium of impersonal details. This is one person (me) talking to another person (you).

I will make you a promise. As you teach yourself Unix, I will be with you, every step of the way. What you are about the read is my guide to learning Unix and Linux, and now it is yours.

Are you ready?

Good. Jump to Chapter 1 and start reading.


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