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
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
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
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
Are you ready?
Good. Jump to Chapter 1 and start reading.