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A Web server included with most Linux distro's.


The "Bourne- A gain Shell". Used as the default shell (command line) on most Unix distributions. Bash features command and filename completion (tab key), and a searchable history of commands that have already been entered (up-down arrow keys).


The "Berkeley Internet Name Domain". A nameserver for Unix like systems, which maps IP addresses to domain names.


Similar to the dos prompt in MS windows. When you log in to Linux in text mode, you are at the console (command line).

Most distro's run the X Window System (which allows you to run GUI's such as KDE, Gnome) by default. On servers or older hardware which don't require or can't handle X, the console is the main Linux interface.


Cron is a program (daemon) that runs in the background on a Linux system, it periodically does tasks you assign to it. Cron "wakes up" every second or so and wakes up" every second or so and checks to see if there are any jobs for it to do, and does them.


This is a type of program which runs in the background, acting in response to certain events. For example, the Cron daemon can run programs every day, every hour or every 5 minutes if you want it to.


A text editor originally written by Richard Stallman of the Free Software Foundation.


This is a very common networking technology, which can normally achieve speeds of up to 10 Mbps.


This was the standard linux file system for a long time, however there are newer "journaling" file systems available for linux that allow quicker recovery from power failures or cold shutdown's like Ext3, Reiserfs etc......


This is a method of security on networks, where all traveling data is scrutinized and is then either accepted or blocked, depending on a set of rules.


File Transfer Protocol, used to send and receive files to and from a remote computer. There are many graphical clients available for Linux, such as Kbear and Gftp.


GNU C C ompiler, a very powerful development tool which is commonly used for building kernels and other programs.


The "GNU Network Object Model Environment" works with a compatible window manager to make a complete drag-n-drop desktop.


The GNU Project was launched in 1984 to develop a complete Unix-like free operating system. GNU is a recursive acronym for ``GNU's Not Unix''; it is pronounced "guh-NEW". Linux systems today are comprised of GNU tools and software with Linux as a kernel, hence the name GNU/Linux..


The GNU "General P ublic License", which requires that source code to a program is made freely available for modification. The Linux kernel is licensed under the GPL, as are most of the standard system tools and utilities.


"Graphical User Interface". This what you see when you turn on a modern pc, desktop icons, buttons, dialog boxes etc. For a graphical history of the GUI click here.


This is a compression program, similar to WinZip or Pkunzip.


A slang term for a computer enthusiast, i.e., a person who enjoys learning programming languages and computer systems and can often be considered an expert on the subject(s). Depending on how the term is used it can be either complimentary or derogatory, although it is developing an increasingly derogatory connotation. The netative sense of hacker is becoming more prominent largely because the popular press has adopted the term to refer to individuals who gain unauthorized access to computer systems for the purpose of stealing and corrupting data. Hackers, themselves, maintain that the proper term for such individuals is "cracker".


This is the directory where your personal files are stored. If you log in as johndoe, for example, your home directory will be /home/johndoe.

IP address

This is a unique number given to each computer on a network, such as ''. This is the Internet Protocol address.


Init is the first program that the kernel runs. It cycles through a series of scripts to start various processes running on your machine. Every process on the machine is given a unique process number, and the process number of init is 1.


"K Desktop Environment" built around the Qt libraries. It's a GUI, this suite of tools includes a window X11 manager, file browser and games. It's used as the default desktop for many distributions, including, Mandrake, Caldera and Suse.


This is the heart of the operating system, which communicates with hardware and shares resources between programs. The Linux kernel was originally created by Linus Torvalds and is based on Unix. The kernel is maintained by thousands of programmers all around the world, Linus Torvalds still remains in charge of kernel development.


"LInux LOader", this small program sits on your hard disk and acts as a boot manager, allowing you to boot into Linux, Windows and other operating systems.


This is a network on your computer, allowing programs to communicate with it like a remote machine. It's required for running the X Window System.


Manual page. Most command programs have a manual page with info on usage. For example, to get the manual page for "init", you would enter " man init".


This is a part of the kernel that can be loaded when required, rather than being built-in to the kernel image itself. This means that you get a considerably smaller and faster kernel.


This is the process of attaching a drive to a directory so that the files on it can be accessed. For instance, you usually mount the floppy drive device (/dev/fd0) onto the mount-point /mnt/floppy. Then you can look in the /mnt/floppy directory to see the files on the disk.


Network File System. This lets a user work with remote files as if they were local files, and NFS uses the TCP/IP networking protocol.

Open source

This is the name that is given to software which has its source code available for others to view and change. There is a range of open source licenses, the most popular of which is the GPL.


The directories that the shell searches when you enter a command.


Point-to-Point Protocol, this is the most common method of making a dial-up connection to the Internet, and an assortment of tools are available to make this process a lot easier such as Kppp.


Found at a command-line (in other words, in a terminal or logged-in at the console), and it is some text which reminds you of the directory you're in, which user you currently are and so forth.


This is the name of a toolkit developed by Troll Tech which is used for building graphical applications. The KDE desktop environment is built around Qt.


Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks, where a number of small disk drives are used together, increasing performance and being able to tolerate problems better.


In Linux root has two meanings:

When logged in as root, you are the system administrator having access to all files on the system and being responsible for creating users, installing programs and other administrative chores.

Root also stands for the root directory is ( / ), which is where the main system directories like /usr and /etc are located.


Red Hat Package Manager, which is a system for working with complete software packages. Files usually have a .rpm extension and can be installed using various tools, including KPackage and RPMDrake. The system will alert you if other packages are needed before you can install new software.

Startup Services

These are background processes; essentially another popular name for Daemon.


The command-line user interface. Various shells are available under Linux, the most popular of which is Bash. Shells create an environment for you to work in, and do this by providing shortcuts, scripting facilities and customized prompts.


Tape Archive, a Tape Archive is a program that joins together a series of files into one large file. Commonly used with the gzip utility to compress the resulting file, it's the standard way of distributing source code. Such archives typically have a .tar.gz or .tgz extension.


This is a program which enables you to work on a remote machine over a network and display the results on your local system. Use with caution, telnet is a bad security risk, ssh is a secure replacement for telnet.


Tux is the Linux mascot and was designed by Larry Ewing.


This is a multitasking, multi-user operating system which was developed by AT&T Labs in the 1960s. There are many different variations of Unix available, including FreeBSD, Solaris, MacOSX and of course, Linux.


This is a powerful and initially difficult to use text editor, although it is preferred by many technical users because in bad situations it's the only one available.

Window manager

This is a program for the X Window System, providing title bars, icons and program menus for your desktop. Lots of window managers are available, like Enlightenment, IceWM, Window Maker, Sawfish etc.... The KDE environment has its own native window manager, which is called Kwm.


Wine Is N ot an Emulator. Wine is an implementation of the Windows 3.x and Win32 API's on top of X and Linux/Unix. Think of Wine as a Windows compatibility layer. Wine has been in development by a group of voluntary programmers since 1993 and is expected to release the first non-beta version 1.0 sometime in the first quarter of 2002. Wine 1.0 is expected to allow Linux users to run such applications as Internet Explorer, Outlook, Office, etc.... Wine can be downloaded from winehq.com and wine.codeweavers.com. You can also download a version tweaked for running games from transgaming.com.


This is main open source X-Windows server for Linux, needed to be able to run a GUI in Linux such as KDE or Gnome. There are other X-Windows servers, but this is the one that ships with most Linux distributions.


This provides a command-line within the X Window System. Other variants include Konsole and GNOME-terminal.