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If you are reading this book, then probably you are a Microsoft® Windows® user who is considering switching to Linux®. You may be considering this change for any number of factors. Perhaps your employer is starting to use Linux. Or it might be that you are intrigued by all the media attention Linux has received recently. Whatever your reasons for considering changing from Windows to Linux, it is likely that you are contemplating this change with a fair amount of trepidation. You have probably grown quite comfortable with Microsoft Windows, and regardless of any advantages Linux may have or how curious you may be, you probably have a lot of questions. Will the transition be difficult? Will you be able to do all the things you want to do with your computer? Will you need to be a complete computer geek in order to understand Linux?
The answers to those questions, in order, are no, yes, and no. It won’t be difficult. You will be able to do all the things you want to do. The best part about transitioning to Linux is that you don’t have to be a computer wizard or a computer professional to be able to do so. You do need to be comfortable with computers. An experienced Windows user who routinely uses a computer for work or recreation will probably suffice. In fact, this book simply assumes that you are a relatively experienced computer user with some exposure to Microsoft Windows, the Internet, and some office applications such as word processors or spreadsheets. The reader for whom this book was designed is a competent and experienced computer user, one who is comfortable with some basic configuration tasks such as changing screen resolution, finding items in the Control Panel, and perhaps even adding on some hardware. Perhaps the best description for the target audience of this book would be a Windows power user. However, you don’t need to be a computer professional to use this book.
One common misconception about Linux is that it is hard to understand and difficult to use. This simply is not true. Contrary to what you may have heard, Linux is no more difficult to use than Windows or Macintosh®. It just takes a little guidance, which this book will endeavor to provide, and some patience on your part. The purpose of this book is to answer your questions about Linux and ease you through that transition. This chapter is the beginning of your journey.
This chapter is designed to introduce you to the world of Linux. That means that this chapter is a sort of smorgasbord of Linux concepts and terminology. The concepts you see will be introduced here briefly and expounded upon in more depth later in the book. The purpose of this chapter is to give you an initial overview of Linux. That means a few advanced topics will be touched upon in this chapter. If you feel that some topic in this chapter is still not completely clear to you, don’t worry—it will be explained in much more detail in a later chapter.
The following pages will take you through the fundamental concepts of Linux. You will find out what Linux is and what it is not. You also will be introduced to a brief history of Linux and a few thoughts on its future. Some of the information in this chapter may already be familiar to you, but it is hoped that you will learn a few new things about Linux. This material will set the stage for subsequent chapters. Therefore, it is imperative that you thoroughly master the concepts of this chapter before proceeding with subsequent chapters.
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