Linux for Dummies

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  • Edition: 10th
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2020-09-29
  • Publisher: For Dummies
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Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?


Your step-by-step guide to the latest in Linux 

Nine previous editions of this popular benchmark guide can’t be wrong! Whether you’re new to Linux and need a step-by-step guide or are a pro who wants to catch up with recent distributions, Linux For Dummies, 10th Edition has your back. Covering everything from installation to automation, this updated edition focuses on openSUSE and Ubuntu and includes new and refreshed material—as well as chapters on building a web server and creating simple shell scripts. 

In his friendly, no-jargon style, IT professional and tech higher education instructor Richard Blum draws on more than 10 years of teaching to show you just why Linux’s open source operating systems are relied on to run a huge proportion of the world’s online infrastructure, servers, supercomputers, and NAS devices—and how you can master them too.  

  • Study the thinking behind Linux 
  • Choose the right installation approach 
  • Pick up the basics—from prepping to desktops 
  • Get fancy with music, video, movies, and games 

Whatever your Linux needs—work, fun, or just a hobby—this bestselling, evergreen guide will get you up and coding in the open source revolution in no time at all.  


Author Biography

Richard Blum holds the Linux+ and Security+ certifications and has worked in the IT industry for more than 30 years. He is an online instructor for Linux and programming courses used by colleges and universities across the U.S. With experience as both a systems and network administrator, he has written numerous books on Linux and open source.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

About This Book 1

How to Use This Book 2

Three Presumptuous Assumptions 3

Icons Used in This Book 4

Where to Go from Here 4

Part 1: Getting Your Feet Wet 5

Chapter 1: Getting Acquainted with Linux 7

Is Free Really Free? 7

Linux: Revolution or Just Another Operating System? 8

Anatomy of an Open Source Software Project 11

GNU who? 11

Who’s in charge of Linux, anyway? 13

Einstein was a volunteer 13

Packaging Linux: The Distribution 14

Core Linux distributions 14

Specialized Linux distributions 16

The Linux Live distribution 16

Chapter 2: Prepping Your Computer for Linux 19

Preparing to Use Linux and Microsoft Windows Together 22

Installing a second hard drive 22

Partitioning an existing drive 23

Double-Checking Hardware Compatibility 29

Finally, Finally, Before You Get Started 32

Disabling the secure boot feature 33

Creating a boot disk 33

Chapter 3: Installing Linux 37

Things to Consider Before You Begin Installation 38

Installing from Ubuntu Live 39

Your First Ubuntu Boot 49

Installing openSUSE 51

Chapter 4: Examining the GNOME Desktop 61

The History of GNOME 61

Breaking Down the GNOME Desktop 62

Menus, please! 63

The desktop 67

Exploring the Activities Overview 69

The dash 69

The windows overview area 73

Working with workspaces 74

Customizing Your Ride75

Background 76

Appearance 76


Mouse and touchpad 79

A Closer Look at Accessibility Features 80

Chapter 5: Examining the KDE Plasma Desktop 83

The KDE Plasma Desktop 83

More menus! 85

The panel 89

The desktop 91

Using Widgets 91

Adding widgets 91

Getting more widgets 95

Plasma System Settings 96

Desktop Folder Settings 97

Accessibility Settings 98

Chapter 6: Exploring Alternative Desktops 101

Spicing Things Up with Cinnamon 101

History of Cinnamon 102

Looking at the menu 103

Changing settings 105

Adding more spice 106

Working with MATE 107

The history of MATE 107

Looking at the menu 109

Changing desktop settings 110

Applets 111

The Xfce Desktop Interface 112

History of Xfce 112

The Whisker menu 113

Changing Xfce settings115

Applets 116

Part 2: Getting Up to Speed with Linux 119

Chapter 7: Getting to Know the Linux Filesystem 121

Pieces of the Puzzle 121

Touring the Linux Filesystem 122

The root of the tree 122

The importance of being /etc 124

Where removable media lives 124

Where the computer is the /usr 125

Managing Your Filesystem without a Net (or Mouse) 125

Viewing information about files on the command line 126

Understanding file listing information 127

Comprehending file types 129

Navigating the filesystem in Linux 130

A Permissions Prime r131

Checking out the triplets 131

Beware of owners 133

Hanging out in groups 133

Chapter 8: Using the Filesystem 135

Clicking Your Way Through the Filesystem 135

Using Files 136

Setting how much info you see 139

Creating new directories 140

Opening files and running programs 140

Copying and moving files 141

Deleting files and directories 142

Taking out the trash 142

Viewing and changing permissions 143

Swimming with Dolphin 144

Don’t Forget Xfce! 146

Using DVDs and Other Removable Media 149

Accessing Windows Drives on This Computer 150

Accessing Network Drives 150

Finding Things 151

Chapter 9: Connecting to the Internet 153

Internet Connectivity 101 153

Setting Up the Hardware 155

Selecting an Internet Service Provider (ISP) 156

Getting Information You Need from Your ISP 157

Configuring Your Connection 158

Network Manager 158

Command line tools 163

Dialin’ out 169

It’s All Fun and Games Until Something Doesn’t Work 169

After You’re Connected 171

Part 3: Getting Things Done 173

Chapter 10: Using the Internet 175

Browsing the Web with Firefox 175

Configuring Firefox 176

Expanding your universe with add-ons 180

Surfing the web 181

Communicating with Email 182

Evolving into email 183

Working with KMail 191

The amazing Thunderbird 195

Ol’ Fashion File Transfers 197

Talking with Skype 199

Working with Other Internet Tools 201

Chapter 11: Putting the X in Text 203

Viewing the Contents of a Text File 203

Editing Text Files with nano 204

Saving your work as you go205

Saving and moving on with your life 205

Going with gedit 206

Entering and editing text in gedit 207

Saving your work 207

Setting preferences 208

Editing Text in the KDE Plasma Desktop 211

Writing with KWrite 211

Meet Kate 216

Chapter 12: Word Processing and More with LibreOffice 219

Installing the LibreOffice Suite 220

Word Processing with LibreOffice Writer 221

Taking a tour of LibreOffice Writer 221

Working with Writer files 225

Spreadsheets with LibreOffice Calc 226

Taking a tour of LibreOffice Calc 226

Working with Calc files 230

Presentations with LibreOffice Impress 230

Creating a new presentation 231

Taking a tour of LibreOffice Impress 231

Working with Impress files 235

Fine Art with LibreOffice Draw 236

Taking a tour of LibreOffice Draw 236

Working with Draw files 239

Managing Data with LibreOffice Base 240

Getting help from the wizard 240

Taking a tour of LibreOffice Base 243

Sitting down at the table 245

Layout with LibreOffice Math 246

Menu bar 247

Standard toolbar 248

Document section249

Chapter 13: Messing with Audio 253

What Sound? I Don’t Hear a Thing! 253

Listening to CDs 256

GNOME 3 and Rhythmbox 256

KDE Plasma and CDs 258

VLC to the rescue 259

Listening to Downloaded Music 260

Amarok 260

Rhythmbox revisited 264

Listening to Internet Radio 264

Ripping Music Tracks from CDs 265

Burning Audio CDs and DVDs 268

Using Brasero 268

Using K3b 269

Chapter 14: Messing with Video and Graphics 273

Watchin’ Videos on the Web 273

Firefox video support 274

Getting even more video support 275

Viewing Movie Files 277

GNOME Videos 278

KDE Dragon 279

VLC 280

Watchin’ DVDs 281

Creating and Modifying Graphics 282

GIMP basic tools 283

Capturing screenshots 284

Editing an image file 285

Using GIMP scripts 287

Playing 3D Games 288

Part 4: Junior Administrator Boot Camp 291

Chapter 15: Adding Software to Linux 293

Opening Downloaded Files 293

Compressing and Packaging Files to Share 295

Keeping Up-to-Update 296

Updating Ubuntu 296

Updating openSUSE 297

Installing New Software 298

Adding applications 299

Adding packages 301

Finding More Software 303

Upgrading Your OS 304

Chapter 16: Working without the GUI 305

Playing the Shell Game 306

Getting a shell 306

The shell prompt 307

Understanding bash Command Syntax and Structure 309

Starting Programs from the Shell 311

Putting Wildcard Expansion to Good Use 311

Working with Long Commands 312

Asking Linux to complete a command or filename for you 312

Accessing your command history 313

Working with Variables 314

Variables versus environment variables 314

Checking out commonly used environment variables 314

Storing and retrieving variables’ values 315

Using Redirection and Pipes 318

Redirecting command output 318

Laying pipes 320


Clearing the screen 320

Chapter 17: Basic System Administration 323

Managing Users and Groups 324

Finding the right tool 324

Adding new users 326

Adding new groups 329

Printing 331

Printer server settings 333

Adding a new printer 334

Modifying printer properties 337

System Monitor 338

Processes 339

Resources 341

File Systems 342

Chapter 18: A Secure Linux Box Is a Happy Linux Box 343

Choosing Secure Passwords 343

Updating Software 344

Network holes 345

The secure shell game (SSH) 350

Software holes 355

Keeping an Eye on Your Log Files with the System Log Viewer 356

Locating Security Resources 358

Chapter 19: Automating Your World 359

The Basics of Shell Scripting 359

Running multiple commands 360

Redirecting output 360

Piping data 361

The shell script format 362

Running the shell script 364

Advanced Shell Scripting 365

Displaying messages 365

Using variables 366

Command line arguments 369

The exit status 370

Writing Script Programs 371

Command substitution 371

Performing math 372

Logic statements 374

Loops 378

Chapter 20: The Virtual World 381

What Is Virtualization Software? 381

Installing VirtualBox 382

Creating a Virtual Machine 384

Customizing a Virtual Machine 387

Changing settings 388

Installing an OS 390

Working with the Virtual Machine 393

The Machine menu area 393

The View menu 394

The Devices menu area 395

Part 5: The Part of Tens 397

Chapter 21: Ten Steps to Running a Web Server 399

The Required Parts 400

Step 1: Select a Web Server 400

Step 2: Select a Programming Language 401

Step 3: Select a Database Server 402

Step 4: Install the Servers 403

Installing servers in Ubuntu 404

Installing servers in openSUSE 405

Step 5: Examine the Apache Server 407

Defining the web folder location 408

Setting the default TCP port 408

Interacting with the PHP server 409

Tracking errors 410

Step 6: Examine the MySQL (or MariaDB) Server 411

The core server settings 411

Working with the InnoDB storage engine 412

Step 7: Customize the PHP Server 413

Step 8: Create the Database Environment 415

Step 9: Build Your Application 418

Step 10: Deploy and Test Your Application 419

Chapter 22: Ten Troubleshooting Tips 421

Tip #1: “The Linux Installer Froze”422

Tip #2: Checking Your Distribution Burns 423

Tip #3: “I Told the Installer to Test My Graphics, and They Failed” 424

Tip #4: “The Installer Tested My Graphics Fine, but My GUI Won’t Start” 424

Tip #5: “I Think I’m in Linux, but I Don’t Know What to Do!” 425

Tip #6: “I Don’t Want to Boot into This!” 426

Tip #7: Changing Your Boot Environment “Permanently” 427

Changing your boot environment just for now 429

Tip #8: “I Want to Change Screen Resolutions” 429

Tip #9: “My GUI Is Hung, and I’m Stuck!” 430

Tip #10: “Help, My Machine Hangs During Boot!” 431

“Aaargh! I Forgot My Root Password! What Do I Do?” 431

Appendix A: Common Linux Commands 433

Appendix B: Linux Distributions 443

Index 449

Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?

The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

The Used, Rental and eBook copies of this book are not guaranteed to include any supplemental materials. Typically, only the book itself is included. This is true even if the title states it includes any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

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