Friday, February 26, 2010

RedHat Linux Unleashed second edition

RedHat Linux Unleashed second edition

I don’t know how many times I have been asked what Red Hat is. When I say that it is a distribution of Linux, people tend to know what I am talking about. (At least the people I hang around with do!) The follow-up question is usually something like, “Okay, if it is a distribution of Linux, why should I use it, and not Linux itself?” This introduction should start to answer that question. Red Hat also answers the question on its Web page (, which is summarized in this introduction.

Linux is a full-fledged operating system. It provides full multitasking in a multiuser environment. It gives a high quality of software for a cost far lower than other commercial versions of UNIX. Red Hat has opted to take Linux a step further.

Red Hat Software is a computer software development company that sells products and provides services related to Linux. Red Hat’s mission is to “provide professional tools to computing professionals.” Red Hat provides these professional tools by doing the following:

Building tools, which Red Hat releases as freely redistributable software available for unrestricted download off of thousands of sites on the Internet

Publishing books and software applications

Manufacturing shrink-wrapped software, versions of the Linux OS, making Linux accessible to the broadest possible range of computer users

Providing technical support

Red Hat’s customer-oriented business focus forces it to recognize that the primary benefits of the Linux OS are not any of the particular advanced and reliable features for which it is famous. The primary benefit is the availability of complete source code and its “freely distributable” GPL license. This gives any user the ability to modify the technology to his or her needs and to contribute to the on-going development of the technology to the benefit of all the users,
providing benefits such as security and reliability that commercially restricted, binary-only operating systems simply cannot match.

Linux, like UNIX itself, is a very modular operating system. The skills required to select, compile, link, and install the various components that are needed for a complete Linux OS are beyond the experience of most people who might want to use Linux. The various Linux distributions go a long way towards solving this for the average Linux user, but most don’t address the problem of how to upgrade your Linux system once you get it successfully installed. Most users found it easier to delete their whole Linux system and reinstall from scratch when they needed to upgrade.

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