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Church Of The
Swimming Elephant

"What is... Unix"
More things people think you should know.

By John Holstein, Cotse Helpdesk Coordinator

Page 2 of 2

Further Understanding:

The different Unix Operating Systems are not easy to use or learn, especially for the computer beginner. There are some very complicated issues involved. This being the case, that's where Microsoft came into the picture in the early 80's. You see, being that Unix is so complicated, Bill Gates wanted to make an easier to understand Operating System that used less resources and the operators could "operate" better. Now that may have been true in 1980, but unlike MS products, the different Flavors of Unix are not bloated and they're still very functional.

With a Unix Operating System, although nothing is perfect, there is less room for malfunctions due to kernel faults, which lead in MS products to the dreaded BSOD (Blue Screen of Death). In Unix, particularly FreeBSD, you may, at the command line, enter in the command "ps -aux" to see the current "processes" being run by a particular user or yourself. If that process has screwed up and isn't responding, you simply find the corresponding identification number (pid) and "kill" it. Simply "kill pid" or for example "kill 900" will kill the non-responsive program 900 and you may continue with your work. If possible, you may even restart the program and begin anew.

Like I was saying, this all sounds so easy to do on paper, in the practical world however, Unix is a different beast and warrants the 10-15% increase in pay between an NT Admin and a Unix Admin.

I don't recommend that a computer-beginner run right out and download a copy of a colorful Unix Flavor (yes, in most cases, you may download, various Unix Operating Systems, and most of the applications associated with them, ALL FOR FREE) and begin an installation. In order to install and operate a Unix OS, you should be moderately computer literate and able to function well by the use of command line. On the otherhand, companies such as Red Hat ( have made the installation of their Unix Flavor (Redhat Linux) virtually as easy as the standard Microsoft Windows Installation.

Overall, more and more people are switching to the Unix model for their Operating System of choice. Other Operating System vendors have bloated their program code and overpriced their products. It boils down to this: Why use a high priced OS when you can get the job done more easily, with less hassle, by using a FREE OS? All it take is a bit of intelligence, a desire to learn and a little adventurous spirit and just about anyone operating a computer system right now could make the switch to Unix. Some would say I am pushing the simplicity with that statement, I say otherwise. There are many online documents that will help guide you in the setup an old computer system with a Unix flavor while you were online with another machine. If you have the ambition, you can do it.

If you decide to start from scratch and build a Unix Machine (box) of your own, I highly recommend going out and purchasing a copy. At your favorite book store, you will find copies of various Unix "how to" books. The publishers normally insert a Unix CD-Rom as a bonus. Linux Red Hat seems to be the easiest Unix Flavor to begin with (and easiest to find), but I highly recommend venturing into other avenues after you complete your first installation and get a handle for what it's all about.

Remember, the Cotse Helpdesk is always available to help out. You may stop in anytime at IRC Server, channel #helpdesk, and get real time help, for real world computer problems. If all else fails, email us!

Problems? Questions? Bugs?

Email: John Holstein,
Cotse Helpdesk/Support


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