Sunday, May 11, 2008 1:29 pm

New Version Of For Off-Line Viewing Released

A new version of For Off-Line Viewing has been released incorporating all the recent changes to the tutorials. It is available as both a gzip compressed tar file and a zip file. You may download it from the Script Library page.


Posted by William Shotts | Permanent Link | Categories: Site News

Tuesday, April 22, 2008 6:50 pm

Two Million Visitors

A few days ago, reached the two million visitor mark. Thanks everyone!

Posted by William Shotts | Permanent Link | Categories: Site News

Sunday, March 30, 2008 1:53 pm

Today's Site Updates

  • Added some discussion to wss0150 to clarify use of parameter expansion in the final example. Also added a warning about a weakness with the error handling and the cd command.

Posted by William Shotts | Permanent Link | Categories: Change Log

Sunday, March 23, 2008 10:25 am

Today's Site Updates

  • Modified the discussion of wildcards in lts0050 to remove references to character ranges (which have been deprecated in the POSIX standard) and replace them with POSIX character classes.

Posted by William Shotts | Permanent Link | Categories: Change Log

Sunday, March 16, 2008 7:01 am

Today's Site Updates

Posted by William Shotts | Permanent Link | Categories: Change Log

Sunday, March 9, 2008 11:56 am

On The Significance Of The Asus Eee PC

For several months now I have been thinking about the new Eee PC from Asus. In case you haven't heard, the Eee PC is small Ultra-Mobile PC (UMPC) weighing about two pounds, and costing less than $400. So far, the product has been, according to many sources, a runaway success. For me, of course, the important fact about the Eee PC is that it ships with an easy-to-use Linux OS rather than that other operating system.

While one could certainly dismiss the device as an underpowered little toy running an unpopular OS - and there are those detractors - that would be missing the point.

For those of you who have read The Innovator's Dilemma, by Clayton Christensen, you will at once recognize the Eee PC as a "disruptive technology," for it defines an entirely new class of product that expands the laptop market into the new territory of the "portable Internet device." As Christensen observed regarding disruptive technological change,

"Generally disruptive innovations were technologically straightforward, consisting of off-the-shelf components put together in a product architecture that was often simpler than prior approaches. They offered less of what customers in established markets wanted and so could rarely be initially employed there. They offered a different package of attributes valued only in emerging markets remote from, and unimportant to, the mainstream."

Think about the laptop computer market. With all the laptops available today, what's the real difference between them? Aside from a few different screen sizes, nothing. In fact, the problem of product differentiation has gotten so dire that manufacturers are now promoting case colors and textures to make their products seem different from their competitors.

Why is that? Why are all laptop computers basically the same? It's because they are all designed to run only Windows.

While MS-DOS and its decedents, along with the PC BIOS vendors, are responsible for creating today's market of ultra low-cost commodity hardware, they have also created a trap for manufacturers. As a manufacturer, the last thing you want is to be in a commodity market. In a commodity market, the only thing you can compete on is price, which is brutal. What you want is to have a product that is different, a product that can command premium pricing. Apple understands this and that's why you can't buy OS X for commodity PC hardware.

As Asus has demonstrated, once you are not tied to Windows compatibility, you can create new, exciting, and innovative products. But why is Windows a trap? Because it lacks freedom. Freedom gives you control. Whereas a manufacturer using Linux can customize the OS to fit whatever hardware design fits their vision of the market, with Windows they are given a simple choice: "take it or leave it." Where is the freedom in that choice?

Asus is also teaching the industry a lesson that in order to be successful with Linux, you have to treat it seriously. Much of the Eee PC's success can be traced to the work Asus did developing a well thought out user interface for its product. Contrast this with the Everex Cloudbook and the various attempts Wal-Mart has made with desktop Linux machines. If you put a junk Linux installation on your low-cost hardware, you get a junk product. Even Dell, whose Ubuntu systems created such excitement in the Linux community, has failed to take advantage of the opportunity that Linux provides. Rather than create a new kind of computer (that isn't forced to meet the hardware requirements for Windows) and crafting a Linux distribution that fully exploits its unique attributes, Dell settled for installing an existing (albeit high-quality) Linux on an existing laptop. This guaranteed that it could be no better than an "almost as good as Windows" computer.

I hope that the industry reflects long and hard on the significance of the Asus Eee PC, as I long for the day when a steady stream of meaningful innovations makes the computer industry exciting again.

Posted by William Shotts | Permanent Link | Categories: Rants

Saturday, February 23, 2008 8:43 am

Today's Site Updates

Posted by William Shotts | Permanent Link | Categories: Change Log

Saturday, February 9, 2008 1:48 pm

Linux Is About Imagination

The following is from my upcoming book, "The Linux Command Line" due for release in 2009.

When I am asked to explain the difference between Windows and Linux, I often use a toy analogy.

Windows is like a Game Boy. You go to the store and buy one all shiny new in the box. You take it home, turn it on and play with it. Pretty graphics, cute sounds. After a while though, you get tired of the game that came with it so you go back to the store and buy another one. This cycle repeats over and over. Finally, you go back to the store and say to the person behind the counter, "I want a game that does this!" only to be told that no such a game exists because there is no "market demand" for it. Then you say, "But I only need to change this one thing!" The person behind the counter says you can't change it. The games are all sealed up in their cartridges. You discover that your toy is limited to the games that others have decided that you need and no more.

Linux, on the other hand, is like the world's largest Erector Set. You open it up and it's just a huge collection of parts. A lot of steel struts, screws, nuts, gears, pulleys, motors, and a few suggestions on what to build. So you start to play with it. You build one of the suggestions and then another. After a while you discover that you have your own ideas of what to make. You don't ever have to go back to the store, as you already have everything you need. The Erector Set takes on the shape of your imagination. It does what you want.

Your choice of toys is, of course, a personal thing, so which toy would you find more satisfying?

Posted by William Shotts | Permanent Link | Categories: Rants

Sunday, February 3, 2008 1:27 pm

Review: Linux Phrasebook

Linux PhrasebookLinux Phrasebook by Scott Granneman

After you have learned a few basics about the command line, your next educational step is to increase your "vocabulary" of Linux commands. This book is a handy tool for that purpose. It's physically small and portable, only four and a half by seven inches, but packs a lot of useful information. It's written in a conversational style (not unlike and covers many useful topics. The design is fairly task-oriented, so it explains what command to use for what task. Each command is explained concisely but clearly. A good value for the money.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

Posted by William Shotts | Permanent Link | Categories: Reviews

Sunday, January 27, 2008 12:14 pm

Today's Site Updates

  • Changed the reference to the "set" command to the "printenv" command on wss0040 which unlike "set", limits output to only include environment variables.
  • Added a discussion of the "sudo" command on lts0070.

Posted by William Shotts | Permanent Link | Categories: Change Log