The penguin inside
tries. You can even watch the odd VCD and record your own CDs (with a CD
Writer installed, of course). The capability is there, but it needs to be
Web development? Sure. Start by installing Apache. Most distributions
already install this as part of the default installation. To check, just
surf to http://localhost/. If you see the Apache test page, then you know
it's up and running. Install an ftp daemon and upload your CGI scripts; or
simply copy them over. Perl is available on most distributions though you
should check out CPAN for additional useful modules.
PHP, the open source server side scripting language, makes an excellent
front-end for MySQL, a popular and open source database. Java is available
for use and development. In the end, to test all this out, a variety of
browsers are available including Netscape, Opera, Mozilla and Lynx.
The strong point of Linux, as with any other Unix-like OS, is networking.
This thing is *built* for multi-user networked use. Jumping through hoops
is rarely required for connecting to a network. A full set of networking
tools is available -- traceroute and ping are just the tip of the iceberg.
Many services can be hosted off a home Linux box. A mini-server is sitting
on your desktop in the guise of a PC running Linux. With a working web
server and a good Internet connection, you can host your own web site
right off your desktop!
Security is always an issue. One becomes more aware of security because
there are so many possible users on this single machine, let alone all
those who can access the box when you're online. There is no such thing as
a perfectly secure box, but Linux will let you set up certain things so it
will be quite secure.
Another weak point is the second extended file system, ext2fs. That's how
the files are stored on disk. The FS needs to be kept consistent, which
means a proper shutdown is imperative -- you can't just hit the power
switch. Power failures are every Linux user's nightmare (literally, for
those who leave their boxes on at night). A hard reset is almost never
required, however, as Linux is very stable.
Users who wish to try out Linux are encouraged to get hold of Red Hat and
install it. Modern distributions automate installation almost to the level
to which users of the popular Windows software are accustomed. Contact