Linux Basics June2012

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  • 7/31/2019 Linux Basics June2012


    Linux Fundamentals

    Courseware Designed & Written by

    P Narasimhan


    Some portions of this reference documentation has been derived from various sources including

    the HOWTO's, Guides from the Linux Documentation Project , Man & Info pages, FAQ's and

    technical articles from several other sources on the World Wide Web. We are thankful to and do

    hereby sincerely acknowledge the creators of these documents.

    This courseware is given free of cost as a reference material covering the topics dealt with during

    the training programme(s), precisely for internal circulation only and is not intended for sale


    Linux is the Trademark of Linus Torvalds and all other brand names and trademarks are

    properties of their respective owners.

    P Narasimhan

  • 7/31/2019 Linux Basics June2012


    No Warranty Clause

    The authors disclaim all warranties with regard to this document and the configurations covered

    thereto, including all implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a certain purpose. In no

    even shall the authors be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damage

    whatsoever resulting from loss of data, or profits whether in action of contract, negligence or other

    tortuous action, arising out of or in connection with the use of this document or any of the

    software mentioned therein .

    P Narasimhan

  • 7/31/2019 Linux Basics June2012


  • 7/31/2019 Linux Basics June2012


    CH A P T E R - 1 : AN O V E R V I E W O F TH E OR I G I N S O F UN I X AN D

    LI N U X

    During the early days of computing it was very difficult to interact with computers

    as many of the luxuries with which we are familiar today were not available those

    days. It was left to a few dedicated Engineers at AT&T ( Bell Laboratories) to

    initiate research to arrive at what is now known as an Operating System during the

    early 1960's. They named the project as 'MULTICS' (Multiplexed Information &

    Computing Systems) and the other organisations which formed part of this were

    General Electric Co. and MIT. As sufficient interest was not shown by the othersAT&T walked out of this project and initiated a new one, UNICS later renamed as

    Unix. The first version was created in Bell Labs in the year 1969 initially through

    assembler code( Machine Level Language) and later ported to a new high level

    programming language called B, which was co-developed by Ken Thompson and

    Dennis Ritchie. The Unix operating system thus developed was ported on to PDP

    machines which were lying unused. It is quite interesting to note that this high-end

    OS along with its' source code was given away for as low a price as US $ 15-00 by


    Further development took place and a higher and more powerful language C came

    into existence, once again at Bell Labs. The entire code of Unix was rewritten in 'C'

    by the year 1973. This version of Unix came to be known as System V with releases

    up to 4 and christened as SVR4. Moreover the AT&T Unix code was used by a

    P Narasimhan

  • 7/31/2019 Linux Basics June2012


    research group at University of California, Berkeley known as Berkeley Software

    Distribution (BSD). The BSD group made significant contribution in the area of

    development of various applications for Unix broadly referred to as BSD

    tools/utilities. However, the same AT&T code was purchased by hardware giants

    such as IBM, HP, Sun Micro Systems who made changes to suit their hardware

    architecture and sold the modified OS under different brand names as AIX, UX , and

    Sun OS(renamed later as Solaris) respectively. Thus it is recorded that Unix became

    a proprietary OS and a hand maid in the hands of the companies almost to the end of

    1970's, although the basic work was done by the dedicated researchers at Bell


    The basic beauty of the design methodology is that the output of one program can be

    the input for another. This gives the user the flexibility to combine many small

    programs together to perform a larger, more complex task instead of relying upon amonolithic single application.

    In the year 1984, Richard Stallman, a research student at MIT started the GNU

    Project (GNU's Not Unix), a recursive acronym to refer to an environment to develop

    a FREE version of a complete Unix-like operating system which is free software:

    the GNU system. Variants of the GNU operating system, which use the kernel called

    Linux, are now widely used; though these systems are often referred to as Linux,

    they are more accurately called GNU/Linux systems.

    GNU is a recursive acronym for GNU's Not Unix; it is pronounced guh-noo, like

    canoe. Many of the free software applications are under GNU's General Public

    License orGPL in short which forms the legal back bone . The current version is 2.0

    but version 3.0 is already framed and goes much beyond the terms of the older one

    offering greater freedom to the users & developers.

    What is Free Software?

    ``Free software'' is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, youshould think of ``free'' as in ``free speech,'' not as in ``free beer.''

    Free software is a matter of the users' freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change

    and improve the software. More precisely, it refers to four kinds of freedom, for the

    users of the software:

    P Narasimhan
  • 7/31/2019 Linux Basics June2012


    The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).

    The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs

    (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

    The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).

    The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the

    public, so that the whole community benefits (freedom 3). Access to the

    source code is a precondition for this.

    He wanted the GNU Project to initially develop applications ,the ultimate goal being

    the design of a new 32-bit kernel when the hardware industry would be read for such

    an eventuality. He wanted to prevent such occurrences as seizure of software in the

    future and hence created a legal basis in the form of General Public License or GPL

    as it has come to be known as. Under the GNU GPL Act, the software is first

    Copyrighted by the creator of software, thereby preventing someone else from seizing

    control of it at a later date. Rights are granted to the public to use, copy, redistribute,

    and also to modify/recreate freely under certain carefully defined conditions. These

    developments have necessarily to carry with them the source code of the originally

    created one and the modified source as well. The withholding of source code will be

    viewed as curtailment of programmer's freedom to modify & improve software. His

    goal was to recreate an environment free of restrictions with utilities and tools that are

    totally 'Free'.

    The GNU ( GNU's Not Unix )Project is being administered by Free Software

    Foundation which was established to help raise funds for making free software. FSF

    is the principal organizational sponsor of the GNU Project. The FSF receives very

    little funding from corporations or grant-making foundations, but relies on support

    from individuals. Richard Stallman a formidable programmer himself, wrote anamazing amount of software which includes the GCC (GNU 'C' Compiler) and the

    versatile 'EMACS' editor.

    The Minix (Miniature Unix on Intel 386) project was initiated by that famous

    Professor Andrew Tannenbaum in 1989 as an educational version of Unix.

    P Narasimhan

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    Unfortunately this code could not execute bsd or gnu applications on Intel 386 based

    systems as it was intended to be. The MINIX project took a new turn with the

    involvement of a 21 year-old Finnish Computer Science Student at the University of

    Helsinki, named Linus Benedict Torvalds in the year 1991. He made modifications to

    the MINIX code with which he successfully executed a few Unix programs on Intel-

    386 box. He posted the code on Minix Mail Group with a request to other

    programmers to help him build it, precisely on 25th August, 1991. The response was

    overwhelming and went beyond the wildest expectations. What began as a student

    hobby project rapidly developed into a serious efforts at developing an operating

    system within a short period of a couple of months.

    P Narasimhan

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    Torvalds found everything that is required of an OS in BSD and GNU utilities with

    which he integrated his kernel, Linux. He put all this together and wanted to name the

    OS as FREAX, perhaps to denote it's freak development. However, his friends

    persuaded him to associate the OS with himself: Linux, Linus's Unix which he did

    after much hesitation. It is interesting to note that from the very inception Linux

    development took place on a collaborative and collective basis involving thousands

    of users/developers across the net. This scenario led a prominent Unix develop