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Bill McCarty Archive

Getting Your Disk Drive Ready for Linux
People often say that Linux is difficult to install. One reason for that view is that most lack experience installing operating systems. As those of us who have tried can testify, every operating system is difficult to install -- including Microsoft Windows. Today, few people actually install Windows, as it comes pre-installed. If most computers had Linux pre-installed, then people would complain about the difficulty of installing Windows.
Loops at Last
On a cross-country plane trip, you sometimes reach an altitude from which you can see where you've been. This month's column on the topic of loops is a high-altitude point in our exploration of the bash shell. Much of what has been explained so far is a prerequisite for understanding loops. Computers are powerful because they can quickly and accurately perform repetitive operations, and the loop is the shell construct that puts this power right into your hands.
The Case of the Matching Patterns
This month's column continues our exploration of the bash shell's scripting facilities by investigating the case statement. The case statement is particularly useful for handling the arguments of a script. It is both powerful and sophisticated, making it easy to express complex conditions that would tax your patience if you coded them using an if statement.
Ands and Ifs
In the past few months, this column has explored the intricacies of Linux's bash shell. Since we're on a roll, we're going to continue this month by looking at the shell's logical operators and conditional statements -- the ands and ifs. Along the way, we'll use conditional statements to construct a simple archive command that can help you use every available byte of disk storage space.
Shell Scripts with Multiple Arguments
In a business or personal relationship, having multiple arguments is generally unpleasant and therefore to be avoided. However, in the case of the Linux shell, having multiple arguments is downright handy. Of course, in the Linux world, the word argument does not refer to a dispute; instead, it refers to a word appearing on the command line following the name of a program or script. Shell scripts that process multiple arguments afford economy and ease of use; you can simply type a command name once and have that command operate on an entire series of arguments. So this month we'll look at incorporating this capability into a home-brew script.
On the Right PATH
If you've ever spent any time writing MS-DOS batch files, you're probably familiar with the concept of "environment variables." However, if that term makes you wonder if we are talking about the weather, then this article is for you. This month we're going to look at environment variables under Linux, and the particular environment variable PATH, which facilitates access to software programs that are installed on your Linux system.
Learning a Script
It seems that one of the skills required of an actor is the ability to memorize a script. I had assumed that learning a script is of greater importance to stage actors than film actors, because stage actors must deliver their lines and follow their stage directions correctly the first time. However, acquaintances that are in the business assure me scripts play a central role in both types of acting.
The Truth About Text — Part III
Last month's column introduced you to the venerable Unix editor vi. This month's column describes several of vi's more advanced capabilities, which set it apart from other editors. By the end of this column you'll know how to perform editing feats that are quite cumbersome without the help of vi.
The Truth About Text — Part II
Last month's column explained why text files are so important to Linux users and described how to use filters to process text. This month's column will dive a little deeper into text processing by explaining the basics of using the vi editor. If you think that knowing how to use pico or notepad is all you need to know about editors and editing, read on. You'll soon discover that vi has capabilities as wide ranging as those of a Swiss army knife, providing functions you won't find in most other editors.
The Truth About Text
Prospective Linux users often ask, "How does Linux differ from Microsoft Windows?" Depending on the background and interests of the person inquiring, there are a variety of answers to this question. However, the questioner is seldom prepared to understand what is probably the best answer to this question.
Mounting Filesystems — Part 2 of 2
In last month's column, we looked at mounting filesystems using either the mount command or Linuxconf. This month, we'll wrap up this two-part series by explaining the etc/ fstab file and how to mount filesystems by using KDE. So, let's boot up and get going.
Mounting Filesystems — Part 1 of 2
Today's Linux installation procedures are pretty slick. Even if you are installing Linux for the first time, you probably won't need to do more than take a quick glance at the installation manual, and you'll be up and running in no time. These days, the hard part is not installing Linux, it's getting Linux to do exactly what you want it to after you have installed it.
Installing Software Packages — Part III
We looked at source code and some of the basic tools used for working with source code last month. In this month's column, the last of our three-part series on dealing with source releases, we'll look at how to install a source release using the game XPilot as an example. Once you've mastered the procedure for installing a source release, you'll have access to many useful and fun programs that are not yet available in binary form. So, roll up your shirtsleeves, and let's get to it.
Installing Software Packages — Part One
If Microsoft Windows 9x has one good feature, it's the installer -- the program that helps you install and remove programs. The installer is a significant improvement over earlier program installation facilities. In the days of MS-DOS and Windows 3.x, software installation was something of a hit or miss proposition. For exam-ple, if you installed a program to a specific folder, rather than accepting the default folder, you often found that the program failed to work.
Installing Software Packages Part II
In case you missed it, last month we looked at software packages and package managers, which are tools that make it fairly easy to install new applications. However, many great applications are distributed as source code, which makes them somewhat more difficult to install. So this month we're going to look at source code and the tools used to work with it. Next month we'll take this a step further and actually go through the process of installing some software distributed as source code.
Linux Printing Basics
Linux newbies often complain -- justifiably, in my view -- of the difficulty of configuring a Linux printer. It's cold comfort to the newbie to point out the power and sophistication of Linux's printing system when nothing prints. Printing is one of those things most people would rather never have to know about. But if you've already pointed and clicked, and your printer just doesn't seem to work, this article will help you get the hard copy you need.
The Age of 2.4
Pundits are already calling it the "desktop kernel" and it may be coming to a computer near you soon: Linux 2.4.