Getting Started with Linux

by David Both

I have been working with computers for over 45 years. It was not until I started working with Unix and Linux about 25 years ago, and started reading some of the articles and books about Unix, Linux, and the common philosophy they share that I understood the reasons why many things in the Linux and Unix worlds are done as they are.

I have found that the Linux Philosophy has contributed greatly to my own efficiency and effectiveness as a SysAdmin. I have always tried to follow the Linux philosophy because my experience has been that a rigorous adherence to it, regardless of the pressure applied by a legion of Pointy-Haired-Bosses, will always pay dividends in the long run.

I was very fortunate to have had some excellent mentors during my Unix and Linux careers. They helped me to gain the confidence to fail.  When I failed, I learned far more than when things went right because they made me fix the problems I had inflicted on myself. A significant part of what they taught me was the Linux Philosophy.

Over the years I have been working with Linux and Unix, I have formulated my own philosophy – one which applies directly to the everyday life and tasks of the System Administrator. My Philosophy is based in part upon the original Unix and Linux Philosophy, as well as the philosophies of my mentors. When I decided to write my own book, one that is aimed at and that addresses the needs of today's System Administrator, I started with those original tenets, but as I progressed and the structure of the book revealed itself to me, I decided to call this new philosophy the Linux Philosophy and my book is, naturally enough, The Linux Philosophy for the SysAdmins.

My book is not about learning new commands. Rather, it is about using the common and well-known commands with which you may already be familiar to illuminate the underlying structure of Linux at the command line. Think of the book and the commands you will use in its many hands-on experiments like the X-rays, CT scans, and MRI's that a doctor uses to reveal the inside of a human body. It shows everyone from the raw beginner to the seasoned SysAdmin how to use some simple Linux commands to reveal the underlying structure and elegance of Linux.

The Linux Philosophy for SysAdmins reveals and illustrates the awesome power and flexibility of the command line along with the design and usage philosophies that support those traits. This understanding of how to extract the most from the Linux command line can help you become a Linux System Administrator or help you to become a better one whether you already have years of experience or have never used Linux before.

About the Author

David Both is a Linux and Open Source advocate who resides in Raleigh, North Carolina. He has been in the IT industry for over forty years and taught OS/2 for IBM where he worked for over 20 years. While at IBM, he wrote the first training course for the original IBM PC in 1981. He has taught RHCE classes for Red Hat and has worked at MCI Worldcom, Cisco, and the State of North Carolina. He has been working with Linux and Open Source Software for 20 years. David has written articles for OS/2 Magazine, Linux Magazine, Linux Journal and OpenSource.com. His article "Complete Kickstart," co-authored with a colleague at Cisco, was ranked 9th in the Linux Magazine Top Ten Best System Administration Articles list for 2008. He has spoken at POSSCON and All Things Open (ATO).

This article was contributed by David Both, author of The Linux Philosophy for SysAdmins.