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Date:      Mon, 2 May 2011 19:37:46 -0400 (EDT)
From:      Chris Hill <>
To:        Louis Marrero <>
Subject:   Unix basics (was Re: For My Edification)
Message-ID:  <>
In-Reply-To: <000001cc091a$e041f380$a0c5da80$@com>
References:  <000001cc091a$e041f380$a0c5da80$@com>

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On Mon, 2 May 2011, Louis Marrero wrote:

> I have a number of really dumb questions that I hope you might be able 
> to shed some light on.

I shall endeavor to provide dumb answers in return :^)  For *good* 
answers, a great place to start is the Handbook, In 
addition, I'm sure some of the many smart people on this list will speak 

Also, notice that I've changed the subject line to reflect a hint of the 
message's content. This list is archived, and anyone searching later migh 
not know to use 'edification' as a search term.

> Although I am familiar with basic computer operation, I've been trying 
> to understand a very experienced programmer friend that mixes Linux/Unix 
> terminology in his vocabulary under the assumption that everyone knows 
> the language.
> Being familiar only with general knowledge on the Windows XP that I use 
> daily, I've gone on the web to find out more information on some of the 
> terms used by this programmer, such as "BSD", "shell terminal", "nc -u", 
> etc.  Since my friend knows that my computer is strictly MS Windows, 
> when my friend writes down something like "In a shell terminal type nc 
> -u 5555." it makes me wonder what I'm missing.

When he says "shell terminal", think "command prompt". nc is netcat, but I 
didn't know Windows had that. In your friend's defense, I use Windows 
every day (at work) and I can't always remember what things are called. 
Especially since MS changes terminology every now and then, evidently just 
for the hell of it.

> 1.  I know that Windows is an OS, and Linux/Unix as well as FreeBSD are 
> other Operating System.  My very basic question is this: Is it even 
> possible to install a second OS, like FreeBSD on an existing 
> Windows-based computer?

Yes. You can either set it up for dual boot - either by adding a second 
hard drive, or by partitioning your existing drive if there's space - or 
you can run another OS within a virtual machine of some sort. The latter 
would need a pretty fast machine if the guest OS is to have decent 

Having said that, I found it easier to get started using an old PC that 
was too slow to run a modern Windows, but perfectly fine for a GUI-free 
BSD. I'm typing this on an old Dell that I bought on ebay.

> 2.  Is it possible to link my Windows laptop to a web server with Unix 
> or FreeBSD and exercise Unix/Linux commands.  If so, how is that done?

The server's admin would have to give you a shell account. Most commercial 
ISPs won't do that, but maybe your friend will.

> I'd be grateful for any information.

Hope this helps, and welcome.

Chris Hill     
**                     [ Busy Expunging </> ]

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