Introduction to Linux

by Matt Thomas @matsinet


A Linux distribution (often abbreviated as distro) is an operating system made from a software collection, which is based upon the Linux kernel and, often, a package management system.

Per "Almost six hundred Linux distributions exist, with close to five hundred out of those in active development."

The Debian Project is an association of individuals who have made common cause to create a free operating system. This operating system that we have created is called Debian.

Debian systems currently use the Linux kernel or the FreeBSD kernel. Linux is a piece of software started by Linus Torvalds and supported by thousands of programmers worldwide. FreeBSD is an operating system including a kernel and other software.

Base of numerous distributions.

Ubuntu is an open source software platform that runs from the cloud, to the smartphone, to all your things

Target platforms

  • Cloud
  • Server
  • Desktop
  • Core
  • IoT
  • Phone
  • Tablet

Based on Debian

My personal favorite at the moment.

A lightweight and flexible Linux® distribution that tries to Keep It Simple.

Red Hat® Enterprise Linux® delivers military-grade security, 99.999% uptime, support for business-critical workloads, and so much more. Ultimately, the platform helps you reallocate resources from maintaining the status quo to tackling new challenges. It's just 1 reason why more than 90% of Fortune Global 500 companies use Red Hat products and solutions.

Variations: Enterprise, CentOS & Fedora Linux

The purpose of Linux Mint is to produce a modern, elegant and comfortable operating system which is both powerful and easy to use.

Based on Ubuntu and thus Debian


Debian variant designed for Raspberry Pi

Small in size (8Gb), runs off Micro SD card.

Mac OS X???

Mac OS X has origins in BSD

Not Linux by definition, but is a Unix variant

By default, the terminal in OS X is Bash so commands work just like Linux

Mac OS X Ancestry


"Android is Linux"... runs the Linux kernel with no GUI

Graphical Desktop Environments


Plasma (KDE)

Unity (Ubuntu)

Cinnamon (Linux Mint)


The Shell

or as you probably know it better as...


Bourne Shell (sh)

This is the oldest shell and as such is not as feature rich as many of the other shells.

C Shell (csh)

The c shell syntax is taken from the C programming language. As such it is a useful tool for anyone familiar with programming C.

Bash Shell (bash)

The Bash shell is a combination of features from the Bourne Shell and the C Shell. It's name comes from the Bourne Again SHell. It has a command-line editor that allows the use of the cursor keys in a more "user friendly" manner than the Korn shell. It also has a useful help facility allowing you to get a list of commands by typing the first few letters followed by the "TAB" key. It is the default shell on most Linux distributions.


List file & directories (DOS equivalent is dir)

* is the wildcard

ls -l

List files and directory long format and show permissions

ls -a

List files and directory including hidden files

ls -h

List files and directory using human readable file size

ls -lah

Combining them all together


Change directory

cd ~

(tilde) Change to your home directory

cd -

(dash) Change to previous directory



cp -R

Copy recursively including directories



rm -R

Remove recursively

rm -f

Remove forcefully i.e.: don't ask if this is what I really mean!

Linux Shell does NOT have a recycle bin! ... Be warned, there is no turning back.

rm -Rf

Remove recursively and forcefully.... Again be warned!


Command History, lists commands executed recently

Use the !## (Bang aka Exclamation Point) to execute a previous command

Up and down arrow keys can be used to navigate previous commands as well


Outputs the contents of a file to the terminal

cat <file(s)>


Search a file for a given pattern or regex

grep <patttern/regex> <file(s)>

  • There are various wildcards that can be used including the standard asterick *
  • Regex can be used as well. Sorry that is a whole other talk.
    Additional Information:


Taak Manager


Human readable task manager


Shuts down or restartt the computer gracefully after a given time period.

shutdown -h now

Shuts down (halts) the computer now

shutdown -r now

Restarts the computer now

shutdown -r 01:00 "The system will reboot at 1 AM"

Restarts the computer at 1:00 AM sending the message to all logged in users via terminal.

At 12:55 AM all new log in attempts will be blocked until after the reboot.

shutdown -c

Cancels a pending shutdown



Vim (VI)


GNU nano is a text editor for Unix-like computing systems or operating environments using a command line interface. It emulates the Pico text editor, part of the Pine email client, and also provides additional functionality.

There is only 1 mode in Nano, Edit.

Commands are executed using Ctrl (^) + Letter combinations i.e.: ^x to exit.




Happy 25th Birthday - Nov. 2, 1991

VI vs Vim

Vim includes most all basic features from VI. For this Intro they can be interchanged.

Vim also has numerous additional features inlcuding:

  • Vim has been ported to a much wider range of OS's than vi.
  • Vim includes support (syntax highlighting, code folding, etc) for several popular programming languages (C/C++, Python, Perl, shell, etc).
  • Vim integrates with cscope.
  • Vim can be used to edit files using network protocols like SSH and HTTP.
  • Vim includes multilevel undo/redo.
  • Vim allows the screen to be split for editing multiple files.
  • Vim can edit files inside a compressed archive (gzip, zip, tar, etc).
  • Vim includes a built in diff for comparing files (vimdiff).
  • Vim includes support for plugins, and finer control over config and startup files.
  • Vim can be scripted with vimscript, or with an external scripting language (e.g. python, perl, shell).


Command (esc)

Enter commands such as goto line, search, find and replace

Insert (i,I,a,A,o,O)

Insert new characters, Append new characters, Open a new line and then insert characters

Replace (R)

Enter insert mode while replacing characters instead of "pushing them"

Basic Command Structure


All commands are cASe SeNsiTive

Command Description
2dw Delete the next 2 words
2cw Delete the next 2 words and drop into insert mode

Basic Editing

Command Description
c Change
y Yank Character (Copy)
yy Yank Line (Copy)
x Delete Charactor (Cut)
d Delete, requires movement, quantity optional
dd Delete Line (Cut)
p Put (Paste)
. Repeat Last Command (Period)
u Undo
Ctrl-R Redo


By default Vim uses only the basic keyboard so moving the cursor is down with...

h j k l

Arrow Keys also work most of the time, which I prefer.

Movement Description
b Beginning of word
w End of word
0 Beginning of line
$ End of line
gg First line of the file
G Last line of the file
Vim Movement Shortcuts Wallpaper

Visual Mode

There are 3 types of visual mode, character, line & block

Mode Description
v Characters - Select consecutive characters
V Line - Select consecutive lines
Ctrl-V Block - Select continue block in either horizontal and/or vertical directions

We are just scratching the surface of visual mode, more details here:

The exclamation point (!)

has special meaning in Vim.

When you want to force an action regardless of the consequences use an exclamation point after the command.

A mentor told me to think of the exclaimation point as

Damb it!

Thanks Gregg

Example: To overwrite a file when it should throw a read-only error
use :w! (write damb it!)

With that being said...

Has anyone ever been trapped in Vim?

The key to your escape is...

(Quit damb it!)

Be careful as explained in the previous slide the ! has consequences, in this case all modifications to the file will be lost.





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