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    Aug 28th, 1999 Noticed that Havoc Pennington's book on Gtk+/Gnome development is available through Amazon now. Pick up a copy if you're interested in Linux GUI programming.

    Aug 11th. 1999 Found a good discussion on NT vs. Linux at Webmonkey today. You might want to read it. Webmonkey has a number of other Unix tutorials as well.

    July 18th, 1999 I will be taking over the gicq and libicq projects from Sean Heacock soon. I am in the process of documenting both more thoroughly and working especially on libicq's completeness for the sake of other clients.

    July 3rd, 1999 I have just started two new Linux related pages; my beginners' administration guide and my guide to partitioning your hard drive. Version 1.01 of my APC log analyser is now available.

    June 16th, 1999 Found a great book on inetgrating Windows and Linux servers at Amazon, check it out! It's from Specialized Systems Consultants (who have many other excellent books as well).

    April 16th, 1999 Updated the programming books section. Note: new information about Linux should be found through Freshmeat or Slashdot. This news section is only for issues relating to this page or of my personal interest.

    February 13th, 1999 Found two great Linux articles on ZDNET. The first is a benchmark of NT vs. Linux with respect to file serving. The second is a response article based on the above.

    Mike's Linux Page

    This is a brand-new addition to my many pages ... but a necessary one for me to put my thoughts together on ... and refer many people I talk to to.

    Nobody's using it, are they?

    There are lots of examples of Linux's being used out there, but here's a great article to give you my summary thoughts:

    What the <blank> is Linux?

    Linux is an Operating System. That was simple. But seriously, if you want to know more about what Linux is, don't look here. That's not the approach I'm taking. Take a look at any of the following:

    Isn't it just for servers and uber-geeks?

    Besides the fact that some of us are uber-geeks, Linux can be used by normal individuals who have some computer savvy. If you still don't know why scandisk pops up when you restart your computer without using the Shutdown option in Windows, Linux isn't ready for you ... yet. But it's getting there.

    As for Windows NT, I think a quote I saw Feb 13th, 1999 summarises it best: ( ZDNET.COM - Actual article)

    Forget Linux's hype. Forget Microsoft Corp.'s server market share. The bottom line, according to our hands-on analysis, is that commercial Linux releases can do much more with far less than Windows NT Server can.

    Yes, Linux has its problems as a desktop operating system. Yes, NT and NetWare have staggering brand recognition. But Linux is a worthy contender--both in features and performance--for your customers' file and Internet server jobs.

    I want to try it, but I have Windows.

    This is how I got started. It took me weeks to find the information I wanted. Hopefully it didn't take you weeks to find this website.

    No, you don't have to wipe Windows off your machine. It doesn't matter if you're running DOS, Windows 3.1, 95 or 98 because they can co-exist with Linux. You'll only be able to use one at a time and reboot to get into the other, but it's very useful to keep them both around. I still use Windows 95 to play alot of the new games.

    Here are the steps you'll want to take: (more detail will be provided shortly)


    Most Windows users these days have never had to deal with partitions. Your hard drive is divided into one or more partitions. These are just logical chunks of space on your drive. If your drive had 1 gigabyte (1000 megabytes), you could divide it into one partition of a gigabyte (which is probably how it would come from the shop), two partitions of 500 megabytes each, or even one of 800 megabytes and one of 200 megabytes. You could have 5 partitions, one of 500 megabytes, one of 200 and three of 100 each.

    Windows and DOS represent each partition with a drive letter. If you had two partitions in Windows, they'd be C: and D: with your CD-ROM coming up as E:, etc.. In Linux, your system isn't divided into drives. There is only a series of directories. Directories are seperated with forward slashes instead of backslashes too ... / instead of \. / is the root, /users/ would be the directory "users" under the root, similar to c:\users\ in Windows or DOS.

    What makes it interesting is that any directory can be a partition. So I could have something like:

    |     +mbabcock/
    |     |        +images/
    |     |        +documents/
    |     +bryan/
    |     +someone/

    for a directory structure ... as an example. If / were the only partition, all the files in each of the subdirectories would be stored in that partition. However, /home/ could be its own partition. Then everything in /, /documents/ and /downloads/ would be stored in the first partition, and everything in /home/, /home/mbabcock/, etc. would be stored in the second. Follow?

    But why?

    One issue is space. If you want to add a second hard drive because you've got too big of a website, you could create a big partition on the new drive and mount it as /website/docs2/ or whatever, freeing up the space on the first drive for other things.

    Safety is another reason. A common directory to get partitioned off in Linux is /var/ which is where all the log files and temporary files are often stored. If a program suddenly started spewing out garbage to its log file, it would fill up the partition the logs directory (/var/log/) is in. If /var/ is just a directory of the root ("/"), then you wouldn't be able to save any of your files because the whole drive would be filled up. But if its a seperate partition, it can only fill up that partition. It's segregated ... partitioned :).

    Security is a big reason as well, but I'll leave further discussions on this for another day.

    Where can I get instructions?

    There are two types of documents you'll come accross in your searches that bear mentionning now: HOWTOs and FAQs. Neither one is usually recently made but created a year or more ago and never updated because of the amount of work involved. However, knowing where these are and perusing them will answer many if not all of your questions. HOWTOs deal with individual subjects such as using a 3dfx card, or making partitions. FAQs often deal with individual programs.

    What can I do with Linux?

    Things you never thought of doing with Windows. Linux can be configured to do a host of things that just can't be done with Windows. Linux can do things well and easily that Windows NT wishes it could do. And the best is that it's all free and fairly well documented. Using the latest hardware and games will still require Windows ... for the time being. Linux development is becoming more mainstream with companies like Corel creating Linux Computers and WordPerfect for Linux and helping in the development of WINE.

    Isn't it just a prompt?

    (or, "What's X?")

    The quick answer is "no" and just take a look at my screen shots page for what Linux looks like on my desktop from time to time. These aren't posed shots for the camera; these are me actually working and saying "wow, I'm glad I use X."

    Linux is usually configured to come up with a login: and password: prompt at boot up. These drop you to a bash$ or other prompt. This probably isn't where you want to be if you're used to Windows. If you're an old DOS person, go ahead and type apropos a word to get commands that reference that word in their manuals. To then see one of those commands, type man command. This will help you learn most of what you need to know as you go along.

    X is an old windowing system that is designed for client-server situations. That's where there's an X-Server on your mainframe and you run an X-Client to access it and run programs. In single-user mode, which is most likely how you're running Linux if migrating from Windows, you just want both to run on your machine. There's a great HOWTO about this and you can read it at the one URL below. XFree86 is the version of X that most Linux users are running as it is completely open and free to use. There are other versions as well which you can link to from it's site.

    I'll do a little blurb on window managers, etc. some other time :)

    NT's better and more popular though, isn't it?

    NT's popularity is only from hardware manufacturers who are led (by Microsoft) to believe that everyone is using, or will be using Windows NT these days. In many surveys, Linux is the most used operating system for Internet servers. Unix-based servers are still the most secure and stable in the world. Here are two links that will help with the myths ...

    Can I run Windows apps?

    Remember OS/2 fighting to take over from Windows? The big deal was that it didn't matter if you switched because it would run Windows apps. Well, that's not yet true of Linux. Linux apps are easy to find (see FreshMeat for a daily app listing) but your favorite Windows apps may be entirely inaccessible unless you reboot into Windows.

    Wine is an attempt, however, at porting Win16 and Win32 APIs over to Linux. The idea is to provide the infrastructure of Windows to a program so that it thinks it's in Windows, and then to do what Windows would have done (it even crashes -- but at least the authors admit it's Beta). A lot of apps run under Wine now, including Word 95 and mIRC. It is growing very quickly because of a large developer base and the fact that now Corel Canada is helping out too. Watch for good things to come out of Wine.

    Better than Wine though, if you can stomach commercial software, is VMWare, a now-released program that allows a Linux box to run as many other operating systems in literal virtual machines as memory and speed permits. Each virtual machine (displayed in a window) has a file on the harddrive that it perceives to be an entire hard drive. It is given some memory and a BIOS. Windows NT, 2000, Unixware, etc. can be installed "in a window" on your computer and executed simultaneously. With the networking component enabled, they can see each other as though they were independant computers on a LAN. Try this out! A free demo license is available.

    Terms you should know

    Regular Expression

    Strange patterns of characters that function somewhat like wildcards. Read up on them in the grep man page.

    Commands you should know

    You should know some of these commands: (NB, all commands are in lower case and there are no numbers in their names, in case you thought that LS was 1s ... )

    For more command help, check out the HOWTOs and Webmonkey's Unix reference.

    Sites you should visit

    That's it ...

    That's the end of the for-everyone section of this page. From here on is just a grouping of some of my thoughts. If you've found this website at all helpful, or found that you have more questions, please E-mail me so that I can either feel encouraged or add whatever was missing for you and others.

    My personal Linux projects:


    I love the fact that developing software for Linux is so easy. All the tools you've ever needed are included in most Linux distributions and can be customised very easily. For those of you who've coded for Windows using OWL&tm; or MFC&tm; would love the ease of freely available toolkits like the GTK (Gimp Toolkit).

    For a full list of programs I'm working on as well as some ressources and brief tutorials, see my programming page.



    Just some quickies that anyone can do ...

    "Roll your own"

    If you compile your own programs (from .tar.gz distributions), set a default CFLAGS option in your ~/.login or ~/.profile (CSH / BASH respectively) that is optimal for your computer. For instance: setenv CFLAGS "-O2 -m486 -malign-loops=2 -malign-jumps=2"

    If you have at least a 486, leave that -m486 section. If you're on a pentium or higher, add the other two. If you use BASH, that line would be export CFLAGS="-O2 -m486 -malign-loops=2 -malign-jumps=2"

    Not all programs respect environment CFLAGS settings, but most do (especially those with ./configure scripts). This will add your settings to the application defaults to make your program run potentially much more efficiently when compiled. Note that precompiled programs are often not anywhere near as efficient in an attempt to make them run on any hardware.

    Scripts I've done:

    Jump over to my new scripts page for information on some of the small programs I've written to make my life easier.

    Click for complete statistics This page Copyright © 1999 Michael T. Babcock. <[email protected]>

    It was last updated on the 26st of December, 2016.