Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

'Cookbook' author serves up recipe for Linux success

Filed under
Linux

Author Michael Stutz said he has never been satisfied with existing resources for learning about Linux, which is why he wrote The Linux Cookbook. Stutz aims his book at beginners and more experienced users by presenting lessons in a format modeled after a culinary cookbook. In this interview, Stutz discusses shells and graphical versus command-line interfaces -- and why sometimes, in computers, a word is worth a thousand pictures.

For a newcomer to Linux, or someone who is mainly familiar with Windows, could you explain what the shell is and what it does?

Michael Stutz: The shell is a program that provides an interface between the user and the operating system -- it handles your input, controls the execution of other programs and coordinates their output. Those are the generic requirements. In practice, shells can be very robust environments. Most Linux distributions come with several different shells preinstalled that you can pick from. And you can run all kinds of interfaces -- graphical and otherwise -- on top of a shell, but the shell is always there at the base, mediating between you and the operating system. The shell is one of the fundamental components of the Unix operating system, of which Linux is a popular modern-day variety.

There's a good analogy for users of Windows, because I've never thought of Microsoft Windows as anything but an incompatible clone of Unix. It started out as DOS, which was a grossly stunted clone of the shell, made to run on the single-user microcomputers of the time. Then the Windows program was written as an interface to run on top of DOS, much like the X Window System in Unix.

Is one shell better than another for those starting out with Linux?

Aren't most distributions now built to be run from a graphical user interface (GUI)?

The concept of using reserved characters seems tricky to me. What are they and how do they work in the command line?

Full Interview.

More in Tux Machines

Popcorn Time Makes Watching Movies Safer with Integrated VPN

Popcorn Time, an application that lets users stream movies and TV shows directly from torrents without having to download them, has been upgraded to version 0.3.6 and is now available for download. Read more

4MRecover 11.0 Beta OS Can Help Users Recover Lost Files

4MRecover 11.0 Beta, a new distribution based on 4MLinux that is designed to be used specifically for file recovery, is now available for download and testing. Read more

Android Leftovers

Will New Google Android Live TV Outfox Apple?

Google then rolled out its $35 Chromecast dongle, a streaming device, in mid-2013. Google's new Android TV operating system is expected to make it easier for software developers to move apps from mobile devices to TVs. Read more