Welcome to the first class of Lessons in Linux. I will try to outline what I intend to discuss on a web page before each class.

Objectives of this class

  • Review Unix History
  • Discuss CLI vs GUI
  • What is a Shell, sh, csh, ksh, tcsh, bash
  • Introduce Sandbox Tools
  • Discuss difference between Unix, Linux, and Cygwin
  • Point out Resources
  • Home Work

Unix History

Here is a web page which discusses the The Evolution of the Unix Time-sharing System or Some Dates for Open Source or Open Source Software: A History



The common interface of the Unix system is the Command Line (CLI), where the typical interface in Windows is the Graphical User Interface (GUI). Which is better?

For an amusing article on CLI see “In the Beginning was the Command Line”. This article was written by a writer discussing the command line interface and comments about Operating Systems. It is well worth the time to read.

What is a Shell

There are several different shells used under Unix. For an overview see Linux Command. Or for a printable local version see The Linux Command Line.

Sandbox Tools

Some of you would like to start learning about Unix/Linux before you actually install Linux on a computer. For these people I have a suggestion. There is a set of Unix tools which have been ported to Windows. These toos are known as the Cygwin tools. You can find an installation program at . You down load the setup.exe program to a local hard disk. Then you can execute the program to do and installation of the tools directly from the internet. Follow the instruction in the program. This will allow you to start using Unix command under windows, before you install linux on your computer.

Unix vs Linux vs Cygwin

The original Operating system, Unix, was written by AT&T. After university’s used the software to teach their students, for many years, AT&T decided to take back the rights to the Software. this prompted a computer science professor named Andrew S. Tanenbaum to write a minimal version of Unix which he called Minix. 1. This was the system that a student in Finland was playing with when he decided to try his hand and doing better. This student was Linux Tovalds who got a basic OS running, and then posted it on the Internet. 2. Soon others started playing with this OS and communicating with Linus. From there it snowballed, building upon the work of others into todays current Kernel version 2.4.

Now let me point out that what AT&T built was a complete system with a reasonably full tool set. What Linux built was only the Kernel. He was able to adopt the tools created as part of the GNU project at MIT. 3. This project has aimed at creating a set of tools for use with Unix that were free and included their source code. This foundation was the bed rock under Linux. Together they made the current releases of Linux by companies like Redhat, Suse, and Caldera possible.

So where does Cygwin come in?

There was a company known as Cygnus which started out by selling support for Open Source programs. They allowed some businesses to start adopting tools which were not supported by a big company like IBM or DEC. Since they owed their lively hood to Open Source software, they decided to try to port some of the GNU tools to a windows environment. They built better and better tools competing with companies like MKS for the windows market of Unix tools. They were later bought out by Redhat for their skill at providing support for businesses. So Redhat has continued to fund their work at porting and the Cygwin tool box is the result.

OK now that you have had your history lesson, lets discuss the versions of Unix we have here at Bayer and how Linux relates.

The Sun systems we have here at Bayer run an OS know as Solaris or sometime Sun OS. It is based on work done at the university of California at Berkley. The release of software is often called BSD. 4. This the version which the engineers at Sun continue to develop and support. Linux on the other hand is based on both the AT&T Unix as well as the BSD version of Unix. Since it is not propriety, it borrows from both.


I am going to provide a couple of links here from my collection of information sites. These are only a sample of what is available on the Internet. I encourage you to explore on your own.

This is the help file supplied by Sun for their Solaris operating system.

Linux Documentation Project

The Linux Documentation Project is working on developing free, high quality documentation for the GNU/Linux operating system.

O’Reilly Publishing Site

The O’Reilly books are considered by many Unix people to be the best hard cover books on computing. In addition to books, the sites sponsors articles, conferences, and a wealth of other computer information.

Linux Fundamentals - A Training Manual

This is a training manual in Linux written by Philip Carinhas, Ph.D. of the Fortuitous Technologies at He wrote and placed this on the internet for others to read. Note: This is an PDF file, so you will need Adobe Acrobat to read it.

Home Work

Yes like any teacher, I am going to give you something to do outside of class. For this week I want you to setup your sandbox on your Windows computer. It will allow you to try things in an environment where you can not affect anything outside of cygwin. Don’t be fooled by this tool. The configuration created by Cygwin is a good place to experiment, even though it must deal with Window’s idiosyncrasies. Remember, this is a sand box. So try some things with it.

1. Minix Info
2. History of Linux
3. GNU project
4. Unix History

Written by John F. Moore

Last Revised: Mon Jan 16 15:37:34 EST 2017

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