Linux, though mostly confused by many is actually a kernel, a central piece that acts as a mediator between the hardware and software applications. There is a difference between a Linux kernel and a Linux Distribution. The former is just what we have described above, a central piece that acts as a mediator between the hardware and software applications. On the other hand, a Linux Distribution is a full operating system (OS). The OS is comprised of the Kernel, a program that installs applications (installer program) and a combination of the applications that have been installed. Other software are also part of the Linux Distribution as long as they are geared towards making the computer which houses all of these into an apparatus to be used for a particular purpose. As a result of this, many Linux Distributions have been spawned including: Ubuntu, ArchLinux, Manjaro, Debian, openSUSE, Fedora, Kali Linux and many others.
Now that we have an idea of what Linux and its Distributions are, let us head into our first article. Do enjoy.
In this article, we are going to plunge ourselves into the very basics of GNU Linux by exploring some of the prominent and very essential command line tools. Let us sum it all up nice and quick.
Before anything else in the world of Linux, it is quite important to understand and have a grasp on how to go your way around the Linux Shell.
Example of a Shell
The shell is a program that enables the user to key in text-mode commands, accepts them and interprets them. Linux borrows a lot from Unix which started as a text-based OS. Therefore, to be able to administer Linux systems, it is imperative to have basic commands at your finger tips as we shall be going to learn. So let us find out more about this shell because most of our work will be done around it. First, we should understand that there are many shell variants that Linux provides typical to many software out there. The number of shells are very many but as usual, there are those that are outstanding or in common use. The following are some of the common shells that you will definitely bump into as you explore these Distributions
bash (GNU Bourne Again Shell). This the default shell you will find in many of the Linux Distributions currently.
Bsh this is a shell that the previous shell (bash) is based on. It can be seen as the parent of bash. It is not that much in use currently
Tcsh this is a shell almost similar to bash in many ways bust different in others. It originates from another shell known as the csh.
Ksh this was designed as a hybrid mixing the features of bash and csh to come up with something special
Zsh this is a further evolution of the ksh. It has more features such as themes and many more.
Starting a shell
If the system you are using is in text-mode, it is highly likely that the very first thing you will encounter after the boot-up process is the shell which accepts and interprets your commands. On the other hand, if the system you are using is Graphical User Interface (GUI) enabled, then you will have to start the shell like you would start other applications. It may be called (Terminal, xterm, Konsole or something else) depending on the Distribution you are using. Moreover, you can set the shell to be the very first application to the started after boot-up process.
Using a shell
After the shell has been started, you will see a cursor blinking as though asking you to type in something. Using the shell is just that way, you type in commands that it understands and it gives you the results. That straightforward. To make the use of the shell even easier, there are tricks we are going to learn and practice that will be very helpful to avoid errors, to improve performance and to make the work faster.