The netbook newbie's guide to Linux

One small step for Man...

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

Open a terminal window in whichever version of Linux you are running and type pwd. This stands for 'print working directory', and the response you get will look something like this:


This tells you that your current directory is called user, and is one level beneath the home directory, which is immediately off the topmost, 'root' directory, represented by the initial /. To get to a new directory we use the cd command we touched on last time, which stands for 'change directory', just as it does under DOS. To show the contents of the current working directory type ls, which is shorthand for 'list'.

Man man

Man Man

These commands - carried over from the original Unix on which Linux is modelled - are all characterised by brevity. Back in the day when you were having to enter all your commands from the keyboard there was an advantage to using as few keystrokes as possible. The GUI is often seen as a welcome release from this drudgery. But old hands - like Dave the Fingers - would point out that mouse excursions over the GUI can often be much more time and energy consuming, particularly when it sends you delving through layers of dialogue boxes, negotiating tabs and ticking boxes. A single command line incantation - assuming you know and can remember what it is - may get the same job done more quickly and more effectively.

But how did those old Unix guys remember all those esoteric commands? The answer: man. This three-letter command, standing for 'manual pages' gives the user systematic access to information about all the command-line operations, including the usually bewildering variety of parameters these commands accept.

Both SuSE Linux, supplied with the Wind, and the Xandros distro that comes with the Eee PC provide the man pages facility. Alas, it's missing from the AA1 . But that's very easily remedied. Last time, we saw how the yum package manager can be used to show what software is available on the machine and what can be added. It's not safe to add everything on the list, but let's see how we get on with the man pages.

Unix as Literature

Command line-averse users might do worse than read Thomas Scoville's article Unix as Literature here. It may not convert mouse-pushers, but it will at least give them some idea of where the key-tappers are coming from.

The next step in data security

More from The Register

next story
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
'Windows 9' LEAK: Microsoft's playing catchup with Linux
Multiple desktops and live tiles in restored Start button star in new vids
iOS 8 release: WebGL now runs everywhere. Hurrah for 3D graphics!
HTML 5's pretty neat ... when your browser supports it
Mathematica hits the Web
Wolfram embraces the cloud, promies private cloud cut of its number-cruncher
Google extends app refund window to two hours
You now have 120 minutes to finish that game instead of 15
Intel: Hey, enterprises, drop everything and DO HADOOP
Big Data analytics projected to run on more servers than any other app
Mozilla shutters Labs, tells nobody it's been dead for five months
Staffer's blog reveals all as projects languish on GitHub
SUSE Linux owner Attachmate gobbled by Micro Focus for $2.3bn
Merger will lead to mainframe and COBOL powerhouse
iOS 8 Healthkit gets a bug SO Apple KILLS it. That's real healthcare!
Not fit for purpose on day of launch, says Cupertino
prev story


Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.