As OSs have grown more complex, configuration tools have become more commonplace. The average person who uses a computer to browse the Web, balance a checkbook, and send e-mail to Aunt Mathilda doesn't want to learn about dozens of configuration files, their syntax, their options, and so on. Much of the early success of Apple's Macintosh derived from the fact that it provided simple configuration tools—GUI control panels. By contrast, the Macintosh's main competitor at the time, DOS, used comparatively hard-to-configure text files such as CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT. In its early years, Linux was configured exclusively by manually editing its configuration files. Today, though, a variety of text-mode and GUI configuration tools exist. These tools enable you to configure a Linux system by answering a few relatively simple questions, clicking option buttons, and so on.

Unfortunately, these automatic configuration tools aren't perfect. They sometimes get things wrong or don't let you configure the features you need to set. They also vary substantially from one distribution to another, which can make describing them in a cross-distribution book such as this one difficult. As a result, bypassing these automatic configuration tools is often desirable or even necessary. Once you do so, you can dig into the system's text-based configuration files to make the changes that are hard or impossible to make with the supposedly user-friendly default tools.

Team LiB

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