Part I: Installation and Configuration
Chapter 1. Welcome to SUSE Linux
IN THIS CHAPTER
And a fine place it is to begin! Whether you are brand new to Linux or moving from another distribution, you will find SUSE Linux easy to use and powerful to work with. SUSE Linux Unleashed is here to help you get the most out of it. This chapter will give you a brief overview of SUSE Linux, with hints on how to use the rest of this book.
What Is SUSE Linux?
The first thing
But what is Linux? More properly known as GNU/Linux, it is an operating system born in 1991, when Linus Torvalds, then a computer science student at the University of Helsinki, wanted to run a variation of Unix on his home computer. At that time, Unix ran only on big workstations with lots of power and memory, not Intel-based personal computers. Using tools from the GNU (GNU's Not Unix) project, Torvalds was able to port a usable operating system to PCs. He then made the source code available on the Internet, licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL).
As a result of that generosity, Linux now runs on nearly every platform and architecture, from
SUSE Linux is one of dozens of distributions of Linux. What does this mean? The Linux kernel is really just the central piece of any distribution. Each distribution bundles different pieces of compatible software (most, if not all, licensed under the GPL or other free software license), an installation program, perhaps some documentation and some level of support.
Want to learn more about other distributions? See http://
SUSE offers a variety of versions of its
All these versions use the SUSE install program, YaST (Yet another Setup Tool), to install, configure, and update your Linux installation. Besides being one of the tools that makes SUSE Linux unique, YaST is such a useful and pervasive tool, you'll find mention of it in nearly every chapter in this book. YaST
SUSE has always been well known for having the biggest distribution among the "majors." Hundreds of
If your business needs change and you need some other software tool to get things done, odds are you don't have to pull out your
Both Unix and Linux began as systems oriented toward the command line (or
), and the command line is often the
Sitting on top of most copies of X these days is a desktop environment: The K Desktop Environment (KDE) or the GNU Network Object Model Environment (GNOME—pronounce the G). Both provide the same
SUSE Linux also comes with two complete office suites (OpenOffice.org and KOffice), two minisuites (GNOMEOffice, with word processor, database, and spreadsheet, and SoftMaker Office, with word processor and spreadsheet), two industrial strength open-source relational database management systems (PostgreSQL and MySQL), two financial programs (GnuCash and KMyMoney), two personal information managers (Ximian Evolution and Kontact), and just about everything you need to be productive.
When you consider that the Internet largely runs on Unix, there should be no surprise that you can find on your SUSE Linux discs just about anything you need to connect with or do work on the Internet. And many functions have a selection of tools: multiple web browsers (all the browsers you've
Programmers at all skill and experience levels will find practically all the necessary tools for their craft. Text editors galore, starting with the venerable GNU Emacs and vim and including many others of more recent
Generally, SUSE Linux is updated with point releases twice a year, but because applications get revised with bug fixes, security fixes, and feature enhancements all the time, you can stay on the cutting edge. Many developers package their applications using the Red Hat Package Management System (RPM). SUSE has always used this method to build its distribution, and many SUSE-specific RPMs have been written. Use the YaST Online Update (YOU) or the Advanced Package Tool (APT) created for Debian systems and
With SUSE Linux, you can create many types of systems: a networked file server, a Web server, a DNS server, a mail server, a router, or a plain old desktop workstation.
You can string together several machines to make your own super computer, known as a Beowulf cluster. The choice is yours.
On August 9, 2005, Novell announced the OpenSUSE project at the LinuxWorld conference in San Francisco. For the first time, the SUSE community at-large would get to participate in the testing and development process for SUSE Linux. Novell's stated goal in this venture is to make it easy for anyone to get access to "the world's most usable Linux distribution," and to welcome new open-source developers into the SUSE fold.
The OpenSUSE process offers a
To participate in the project, and get the latest installable version of SUSE Linux, visit www.opensuse.org and click the download link (see Figure 1.1).
Figure 1.1. The OpenSUSE.org website lets you participate in the SUSE Linux development process.
There is much useful content at this site, besides getting both the latest release and the latest test version. How often have you run into a problem that might be a bug, and asked yourself whether the software company is aware of the problem, and on the road to fixing it? With SUSE Linux, now you can check. Novell has opened up its SUSE bug database, Bugzilla; if you run into trouble, you can search the database, and if necessary, submit the problem directly to Bugzilla.
On the OpenSUSE.org site, you can learn more about the distribution. View official documentation, and read posted articles from the Novell website and elsewhere on the Web. View the roadmap for the next release, subscribe to the OpenSUSE discussion/support mailing list, and peruse the FAQs. One of the more interesting aspects of OpenSUSE.org is that it is a Wiki. This means that you—and every other
Users will also be the driving force in future development. Like Red Hat's Fedora Core project, OpenSUSE will be the place where new features and applications first appear. What works will then appear in the regularly updated boxed version of SUSE Linux, and, where appropriate, into the corporate Novell Linux Desktop and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES).
The SUSE Linux Install Program
There are several ways to install SUSE Linux, but the easiest is to boot from the CD-ROM that
File Systems in SUSE Linux
By default, SUSE Linux uses the ReiserFS v3 file system written by Hans Reiser and
What if you don't like ReiserFS? No problem! The install program will create volumes in ext2, ext3, the IBM Journaling File System (JFS), and XFS, originally developed for the SGI Irix. You will learn more about file systems in Chapter 18, "Managing Files,
64-Bit SUSE Linux
Personal computers have been getting ever more powerful as time goes on. A
We are now standing at the dawn of the next revolution in personal computing, as 64-bit processors have come down in price to the point where it's quite possible that your next computer will have one. Servers have been running 64-bit processors for some time now. Since September 2003, AMD has been selling 64-bit Opteron and Athlon chips for ordinary PCs, and the Apple G5is a 64-bit processor.
What does this mean? A couple of things for the average user. First, your system will (theoretically) support up to 16 million gigabytes of RAM. In practice, however, your system will probably be limited to a mere 256 terabytes or less. This means that applications can run much faster. Chances are they will also be larger, because they can now have more code running at the same speed.
The Linux kernel has supported 64-bit processors from the beginning, and SUSE Linux has run on the x86_64 architecture since version 9.0. If you install the 64-bit version of SUSE Linux (not included with this book's media), nearly all the applications you install will be the 64-bit versions. SUSE Linux will still run 32-bit applications as well, but you are a little more likely to run into problems. Some of the known problems will be mentioned in Notes in this book.