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GNU/Linux and UNIX Overview

In order to install software in GNU/Linux, you must know the administrator, or “root” password. If you are the person who installed the GNU/Linux, you had to pick an administrator password during the installation. If someone else did the installation, you'll need to get the password from them.

Normally, we never log in to GNU/Linux as root except when we are installing software. In this case, because we are going to be installing software, we need to log in as root, using the administrative password.

If you are a GNU/Linux newbie and are in the habit of logging in as root, you're going to have to get a good GNU/Linux book, create another username for yourself, and start using a proper username, not root. When you work as root, you run a terrible risk of damaging or corrupting something. When you are logged on as anyone other than root, you will find that you can't delete or alter important files.

Do You Already Have Python? Many GNU/Linux and Unix systems have Python installed. On some older Linuxes [Linuxi? Lini? Linen?] there may be an older version of Python that needs to be upgraded. Here's what you do to find out whether or not you already have Python.

You'll need to run the Terminal tool. The GNOME desktop that comes with Red Hat and Fedora has a Start Here icon which displays the applications that are configured into you GNOME environment. The System Tools icon includes the Terminal application. Double click Terminal icon, or pick it off the menu, and you'll get a window which prompts you by showing something like [[email protected] slott]$. In response to this prompt, enter env python, and see what happens.

Here's what happens when Python is not installed.


env python

tcsh: python: not found

Here's what you see when there is a properly installed, but out-of-date Python on your GNU/Linux box.

slott% env python
Python 2.3.5 (#1, Mar 20 2005, 20:38:20) 
[GCC 3.3 20030304 (Apple Computer, Inc. build 1809)] on darwin
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
>>> ^D

In this case, the version number is 2.3.5, which is good, but we need to install an upgrade.

Unix is not Linux. For non-Linux commercial Unix installations (Solaris™, AIX™, HP/UX™, etc.), check with your vendor (Sun, IBM, HP, etc.) It is very likely that they have an extensive collection of open source projects like Python pre-built for your UNIX variant. Getting a pre-built kit from your operating system vendor is the best way to install Python.

  Published under the terms of the Open Publication License Design by Interspire