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Course Name : Operating Systems

Course Code : TBB 2023

Lab : Week 7
Topic : Introduction to Red Hat Linux

What is Open Source?

All software is built with source code. Open source means the code can be seen and changed.
With this power comes control. It returns control to the customer. The code is open and you can
see it, change it, learn from it. Bugs are more quickly found and fixed. And when customers do
not like how one vendor is serving them, they can choose another without overhauling their
infrastructure. That means: No more arbitrary pricing. No more technology lock-in. No more
The most widely known open source software is the Linux operating system. Linux made up 25%
of all server operating systems sold in 2001 number 2 in the market according to IDC.

Linux Operating System

There are many different Linux distributions, or versions. A "distribution" is the compiled Linux
source code, usually combined with extra features and software. Each distribution has its own
purpose, and a number of factors should go into deciding which distribution is best for each user.
Some distributions are better suited to home users, others are excellent for commercial settings.
Some are better suited for Intel or Macintosh PCs, other are excellent for use on high-
performance computers.
The one that we will learn for this Lab is called Red Hat Linux. Other “distributions” include
Mandrake, SuSE, Turbo, Debian and many more.

The kernel

We should point out here that the focal point of any operating system is its 'kernel'. Without going
into great detail, the kernel is what tells the big chip that controls your computer to do what you
want the program that you're using to do. To use a metaphor, if you go to your favorite Italian
restaurant and order 'Spaghetti alla Bolognese', this dish is like your operating system. There are
a lot of things that go into making that dish like pasta, tomato sauce, meatballs and cheese. Well,
the kernel is like the pasta. Without pasta, that dish doesn't exist. You might as well find some
bread and make a sandwich. A plate of just pasta is fairly unappetizing. Without a kernel, an
operating system doesn't exist. Without programs, a kernel is useless.

Getting Started – Introductory Terms

When you learn about a new operating system, you should also learn a new terminology. This
section defines a few basics terms.

Command – An instruction given to the computer, most often with the keyboard or mouse.

Command Line – The space at the shell prompt where command are typed.

Graphical Desktop – The most visible area of GUI. The desktop is where your user Home and
Start Here icons are located. You can customize your desktop to have special backgrounds,
colors and pictures to add personal touch.

Graphical User Interface (GUI) – A general term for interactive windows, icons, menus and
panels which allow a user to initiate actions such as starting applications and opening files using
a mouse and keyboard.

Reference: Eliza Mazmee Mazlan / STB 2123 Operating Systems – Jan 2004
Icons – small images representing an application, folder, shortcut or system resource (such as a
diskette drive). Launcher icons usually refer to application shortcuts.

Man page and Info page – Man (short for manual) and Info pages give detailed information about
a command or file (man pages tend to be brief and provide less explanation than Info pages). For
example, to read the man page for the su command, type man su at the shell prompt (or type
info su for the info page). To close man or Info pages, press q.

Panel – A desktop toolbar, usually located across the bottom of your desktop. The panel contains
the Main Menu button and shortcut icons to start commonly used programs. Panel can also be
customized to suit your needs.

Root – An administrative user account created during installation and has complete access to the
system. You must be logged in as root to accomplish certain system administration tasks, such
as changing administrative passwords and running system configuration tools. User accounts are
created so that typical user tasks can be done without using the root account, which can reduce
the chance of damaging your Red Hat Linux installation or applications permanently.

RPM – Stands for RPM Package manager and is how Red Hat builds and delivers its software

Shell Prompt – A command line interface between the user and the operating system. The shell
interprets commands entered by the user and passes them on the operating system.

su and su- - It gives you access to the account or other accounts on your system. When you
type su to switch to your root account while inside your user account shell, you have access to
important system files that you can change or damage if you are not careful.

X or X Window System – Refer to the graphical user interface environments.

1.1 Logging In

When you log in, you are introducing yourself to the system (also called authentication). If you
type the wrong user name or password, you will not be allowed access to your system.
Unlike some other operating system, Red Hat system uses accounts to manage privileges,
maintain security and more. Some accounts have fewer rights to access files or services than
others. Graphical Login

When your system has booted, a graphical login screen is displayed. Your machine has its own
hostname if it used in a network setting else it will probably be called localhost.
Logging in from the graphical login screen automatically starts the graphical desktop for you. Virtual Console Login

If you selected an installation type other than Workstation or Personal Desktop and chose text as
your login type, you will see a login prompt similar to the following after booting your system:
Red Hat Linux release 9
Kernel 2.4.18 – 14 on an i686

localhost login:

After logging in, you can type the command startx to start the graphical desktop.

Reference: Eliza Mazmee Mazlan / STB 2123 Operating Systems – Jan 2004
1.2 Graphical Interface

Once you start the X Window System, you will find a graphical interface known as desktop.

1.3 Shell Prompt

Desktop offers access to shell prompt, an application that allows you to type commands instead
of using a graphical interface for all computing activities.

You can open a shell prompt by selecting

Main Menu => System Tools => Terminal

Alternatively, you can start a shell prompt by right-clicking on the desktop and choosing New
Terminal from the menu.

To exit a shell prompt, click X button on the upper right corner of the shell prompt window, or type
exit or press CTRL-D at the prompt.

1.4 Manual Pages

Applications, utilities, and shell prompt commands usually have corresponding manual pages
(also called man pages) that show the reader available options and values of file or executable.
Man Pages are structured in such a way that users can quickly scan the page for pertinent
information, which is important when dealing with commands that they have never previously

Man Pages can be accessed via shell prompt by typing the command man and the name of the
executable. For example, to access the man page for the ls command, type the following:

man ls

The NAME field shows the executable's name and a brief explanation of what function the
executable performs. The SYNOPSIS field shows the common usage of the executable, such as
what options are declared and what types of input (such as _les or values) the executable
supports. The DESCRIPTION field shows available options and values associated with a file or

To navigate the man page you can use the [Page Down] and [Page Up] keys or use the
[Spacebar] to move down one page and [B] to move up. To exit the man page, type [Q].

To search a man page for keywords type [/] and then a keyword or phrase and press [Enter]. All
instances of the keyword will be highlighted throughout the man page, allowing you to quickly
read the keyword in context.

The man Man Page

Just like other commands, man has its own man page. Type man man at the shell prompt for
more information.

Reference: Eliza Mazmee Mazlan / STB 2123 Operating Systems – Jan 2004
1.5 Logging Out

1.5.1 Graphical Logout

To log out your graphical desktop session, select:

Main Menu => Log Out

To save the configuration of your desktop and any running programs, check the Save current
setup option.

1.5.2 Virtual Console Logout

If you are not using the X Window System and you logged in at console, type exit or CTRL-D.

1.6 Shutting Down your Computer

1.6.1 Graphical Shutdown

If you are in the graphical desktop, log out of your session. From the graphical desktop logout
screen select Shutdown and click OK to confirm.

Some computers automatically turn the power off after shutting down Red Hat Linux. If you
computer does not, you can safely turn off the power to you computer after you see the message
Power down.

1.6.2 Virtual Console Shutdown

To shutdown your computer at a shell prompt, type the following command:
Some computers automatically turn the power off after shutting down Red Hat Linux. If your
computer does not, you can safely turn off the power to your computer after you see the message
System halted.

Reference: Eliza Mazmee Mazlan / STB 2123 Operating Systems – Jan 2004