Practicing with Unix: It Really Does Make You Perfect!
In this chapter we are going to learn to start using Unix, but before we do, a quick word about practice. It can't be said enough: Practice makes perfect. As with anything foreign to you, as long as you can read this book, follow along, and walk through the steps outlined, you will eventually develop the speed you see from an experienced Unix operator and feel comfortable using Unix.
When new learners see the speed with which experienced Unix users enter commands, they often panic and feel as if they will always be novices because they cannot recall commands as quickly as they would like. Do not think that you aren't knowledgeable because you can't type remembered commands quickly; as long as you know what you are doing, speed is not a factor. Start small and take baby steps, but practice to develop recall ability. To a new learner, Unix commands can look like a foreign language, and in a way, they are. Apply the same concept of how to learn a new language such as Spanish, English, or Chinese to learning Unix commands. Repetition builds your ability to recall. You will only be able to recall these commands and recall them quickly if you practice. When you get a copy of Unix, install it on your home PC and practice the commands; the commands will become familiar to you in no time. The more you practice the commands, the better you will remember them and the easier Unix will become. Of course, practice is not by any means mandatory for reading or completing this book. Getting a copy of Unix installed so you can practice and continue to expand your knowledge is completely up to you and for your own growth and benefit.
Another concept that is new to Unix learners is that even with the addition of graphical components to make the user experience much easier (such as the graphically based KDE), it's still imperative to remember that all the power of Unix is underneath the hood. You only have the ability to use all of what Unix has to offer if you use the command line. There are things that you cannot do from the GUI. Within the command prompt is where you will be most productive, but it is also where most people need help when it comes to Unix. Teaching you the fundamentals of unleashing the power of Unix from the command line is this book's primary mission. No fear, each step will be explained before we take it, while we are taking it, and after we take it. Many people don't understand how powerful and useful Unix can be until they know how to use it properly or are first exposed to the plethora of tools that come freely with it. Learning how to get shell access and run commands, this is essentially where we want to be, this is what we are going to work to get to, and this is what our ultimate goal is with this lesson. We want you to comfortably connect to a Unix system, and be comfortable in the Unix environment.