What Is Linux

Linux is a freely available UNIX-like operating system that runs on a wide variety of systems. Linus Torvalds and other programmers originally developed Linux for the Intel 80x86 processor. Nowadays, Linux is also available for systems based on other processors, such as those with AMD's 64-bit AMD64 processors, the Motorola 68000 family; Alpha AXPs; Sun SPARCs and UltraSPARCs; Hewlett-Packard's HP PA-RISC; the PowerPC and PowerPC64 processors; and the MIPS R4x00 and R5x00. More recently, IBM has released its own version of Linux for its S/390 and zSeries mainframes. This book covers Fedora Core — a Linux distribution for the Intel 80x86 and Pentium processors (these are known as the IA32 architecture processors, or i386, because they support the instruction set of the 80386 processor). Fedora Core evolved from Red Hat Linux, which was a freely available and popular Linux distribution from Red Hat.

Red Hat, Fedora Project, and Fedora Core

In late September 2003, Red Hat announced the Fedora Project—an open-source project sponsored by Red Hat where the developer community can participate and continue to evolve what used to be the Red Hat Linux product (Red Hat Linux 9 was the last version of that product line). The new Linux distribution from the Fedora Project goes by the name Fedora Core (or, simply, Fedora) and the project is expected to have Fedora Core releases every four to six months. Red Hat will continue to participate in the Fedora Project and help prepare the Fedora Core releases,

but everything will be done with the involvement of the open source community under a public release schedule. As you might expect, Fedora Core is available freely, just as Red Hat Linux used to be, and you can expect books such as this one to include Fedora Core on DVD or CDs.

Red Hat anticipates that new technologies and enhancements that first appear in Fedora Core will eventually find their way into Red Hat Enterprise Linux—the commercial Linux offering from Red Hat. In this way, the Fedora Project should serve as an incubator and testing ground for future Linux development. This means that by learning what's in Fedora Core, you can keep up with (or, more accurately, stay ahead of) the latest developments in Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

To learn more about the Fedora Project and the latest Fedora Core releases, visit the Fedora Project's home page at http://fedora.redhat.com.

Fedora Core is a specific Linux distribution. A Linux distribution is essentially a package consisting of the Linux operating system and a collection of applications, together with an easy-to-use installation program. All Linux distributions include the core Linux operating system (the kernel); the X Window System (graphical user interface); one or more graphical desktops, such as GNOME and KDE; and a large selection of applications. Everything comes in ready-to-run binary format, but the source code and documentation are also available. By now, each Linux distribution includes so much software that it comes on multiple CD-ROMs or a DVD-ROM. For example, this book comes with a DVD-ROM containing the full Fedora Core Linux distribution, including the source code.

Some Linux distributions such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SUSE Linux are commercial Linux distributions. The GNU (which stands for "GNU's Not UNIX") General Public License that applies to Linux allows for such commercial, for-profit distribution, but requires that the software be distributed in source-code form, and stipulates that anyone can copy and distribute the software in source-code form to anyone else.

Both the Linux kernel and Fedora Core Linux have gone through a number of versions. The version numbers are unrelated, but each has particular significance.

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