Linux-the Family Operating System

Under Construction

Eventually I will put complete instructions and a full set of configuration files in here. Please bear with me. Feel free to send me e-mail about successes, failures, or suggestions.


This document describes how to set up the free operating system Linux to provide a separate computing environment for every member of your family.

Linux (and Unix in general) has a lot of advantages for a family:

Files and directories can be restricted to a single user or a group of users (for example, adults). All of the system's files are owned by a few special users, so that nobody can change them without authorization. Neither an active two-year-old nor a curious teen-aged proto-hacker can mess up the system.
Multiple Configurations:
Every person in the family has their own private system configuration. Their desktops, menus, files, and so on are completely separate from everyone else's. This document will eventually include configuration files for:
very young children
A safe play-space for kids who can't read yet.
You might want to set up a ``family firewall'' to keep your kids out of the rougher corners of the Internet--not to mention out of your own financial records!
You can let visitors play games and access the Internet without letting them change your configuration files.
casual users
Let's face it--not everyone is a hacker. If you or your spouse would rather interact with people than spend all night twiddling bits, you can make it easy for them.
power users
On the other hand, some people like to twiddle the bits.
Most DOS software runs on Linux, in a ``dos emulator''. A Windows emulator is being worked on, but it isn't quite ready yet. On the other hand, it's very easy to set up your computer to run either Linux or Windows, and it takes about two minutes to switch between them.
The price can't be beat: it's free. (You can spend $30 or so on a CD-ROM, another few dollars on a book, and then pass them around to all your friends without a qualm because there's no threatening license on the package.) Or you can find it on the Net and download it yourself.
All of the Linux documentation is online, right at your fingertips whenever you need it. It's also on the Web at the Linux Documentation Project site.
All the networking software you need to access the Internet and the World Wide Web is already built in to Linux. Also included is everything you need to build a local network at home. If you have an old PC or Mac, don't throw it away--put it on the network and use your Linux machine for a fileserver and Internet interface.

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