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Running Linux (Essential Guide to Linux) [School & Library Binding]

Matt Welsh , Matthias Kalle Dalheimer , Terry Dawson
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Earlier editions of O'Reilly's Running Linux served as central guides on installing, configuring and using the OS. The third edition of this guide covers the kernel through version 2.2.1 and will prove especially useful to those with high technical aptitudes and a well-tested willingness to experiment with their computing environments.

The explanation of how to rebuild the kernel--a particularly daunting task for many--deserves special praise, as do the sections on configuring network links and servers. Users will find that the informative, prose- heavy style packs maximum information into this book's pages. For example, the purpose of a Linux element is described and then the reader is shown various ways of using it, complete with explicit statements of what you type and what you get in response. Back this book up with a good command reference (Linux in a Nutshell is solid), and you'll be well on your way to Linux mastery. --David Wall,

Topics covered: KDE and Gnome windowing systems; Samba, file, and system management; shells; windowing systems and networking; installation on Alpha, PowerPC, Motorola 680x0 and Sparc boxes. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


'Running Linux' really is one of the ultimate Linux manuals. -- Russell J.T. Dyer, Linux Journal, February 09, 2003

This 730 page manual does an excellent job of making the rather complex world of Linux very understandable for an average user. -- Mary Ann Panevska, Southeastern Wisconsin Windows User Group, August 2002 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

A Distribution-Neutral Guide for Servers and Desktops --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

This book has all the information you need to understand, install, and start using the Linux operating system. It includes an installation tutorial, system maintenance tips, document development and programming tools, and guidelines for network, file, printer, and Web site administration. New topics in the third edition include KDE, Samba, PPP, and revised instructions for installation and configuration (especially for the Red Hat, SuSE and Debian distributions). --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Lar Kaufman is a documentation consultant living in Concord, Massachusetts. He began writing about UNIX in 1983 and since then has written on System V, BSD, Mach, OSF/1, and now Linux. His hobbies include interactive media as art/literature, homebuilt and antique aircraft (he's a licensed aircraft mechanic), and natural history. Formerly a BBS operator, in 1987 Lar founded the Fidonet echoes (newsgroups) Biosphere and BioNews. He is currently leading a project to establish a global biological conservation network, using a Linux host as the mail, news, and file server.

is a computer scientist with research interests spanning many aspects of complex systems, including operating systems design, distributed systems, networking, and parallel computing. Matt is a long-time Linux advocate and developer, a role in which he has fielded questions from thousands of Linux users over the years. He was the original coordinator of the Linux Documentation Project and author of the original Linux Installation and Getting Started guide. He completed his Ph.D. at UC Berkeley and is currently a researcher at Intel Research Labs in Berkeley, and will be joining the faculty of the Computer Science department at Harvard University in July 2003.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

10. Installing the X Window System

X Concepts
Hardware Requirements
Installing XFree86
Configuring XFree86
Filling in Video Card Information
Running XFree86
Running Into Trouble

We come now to the X Window System - one of the most powerful and important software packages available for Linux. If you've ever used X on a Unix system before, you're in luck; running X under Linux is almost no different from Unix systems. And, if you've never had the occasion to use it before, never fear: salvation is at hand.

It's difficult to describe the X Window System in a nutshell. X is a complete windowing graphics interface for Unix systems. It provides a huge number of options to both the programmer and the user. For instance, there are at least half a dozen window managers available for X, each one offering a different interface for manipulating windows. By customizing the attributes of the window manager, you have complete control over how windows are placed on the screen, the colors and borders used to decorate them, and so forth.

X was originally developed by Project Athena at MIT and Digital Equipment Corporation. The current version of X is Version 11 revision 6 (X11R6), which was first released in April 1994. Since the release of Version 11, X has virtually taken over as the de facto standard for Unix graphical environments. It is now developed and distributed by The Open Group, an association that is composed of many large computer manufacturers.

Despite its commercial use, the X Window System remains distributable under a liberal license from the X Consortium. As such, a complete implementation of X is freely available for Linux systems. XFree86, an implementation of X, originally for i386 Unix systems, is the version most often used by Linux. Today, this version supports not only Intel-based systems, but also Alpha AXP, MicroSPARC, PowerPC, and other architectures. Further architectures will follow. XFree86 is based on X386-1.2, which was part of the official X11R5 sources, but is no longer maintained and is therefore outdated. The current versions now have only a very little part in common with their ancestors. Support for innumerable graphics boards and many other operating systems (including Linux) has been added - and XFree86 implements the latest version X11R6.3.

In this chapter, we will tell you how to install and configure the X Window System, and in the next chapter, we will explore how to use X.

Linux distributions automatically install X (if you ask them to). If you're lucky, you won't need this chapter at all. But a large percentage of users aren't lucky - the distribution doesn't recognize some graphics hardware, writes a file to the wrong location so the X server can't start up, or has some other problem. One of the big advantages of this book is that we take you down to the depths of X configuration so you can get it running no matter what your distribution does. You may not need to read this chapter, but if you do need it, you'll appreciate everything that's here.

10.1 X Concepts
X is based on a client-server model in which the X server is a program that runs on your system and handles all access to the graphics hardware. An X client is an applications program that communicates with the server, sending it requests such as "draw a line" or "pay attention to keyboard input." The X server takes care of servicing these requests by drawing a line on the display or sending user input (via the keyboard, mouse, or whatever) to the client application. Examples of X clients are xterm (which emulates a terminal within a window) or xman (an X-based manual-page reader).

It is important to note that X is a network-oriented graphics system. That is, X clients can run either locally (on the same system that the server is running) or remotely (on a system somewhere on a TCP/IP network). The X server listens to both local and remote network sockets for requests from clients. This feature is obviously quite powerful. If you have a connection to a TCP/IP network, you can log in to another system over the network and run an X application there, directing it to display on your local X server.

Further advantages of X are security (if the user so desires), the modular separation of functions, and the support for many different architectures. All this makes the X Window System technically superior by far to all other window systems.

The X Window System makes a distinction between application behavior and window management. Clients running under X are displayed within one or more windows on your screen. However, how windows are manipulated (placed on the display, resized, and so forth) and how they are decorated (the appearance of the window frames) is not controlled by the X server. Instead, it is handled by another X client called a window manager that runs concurrently with the other X clients. Your choice of window manager will decide to some extent how X as a whole looks and feels. Most window managers are utterly flexible and configurable; the user can select the look of the window decoration, the focus policy, the meaning of the mouse buttons when the mouse is on the background part of the screen rather than on an application window, and many other things by editing the configuration files of the window manager. More modern systems even let you configure those aspects over a graphical user interface. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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