4. What is the reader expected to know?

The reader is assumed to be proficient in general computer use with an operating system whose primary means of interaction with the user is through a graphical user interface (GUI), such as Microsoft® Windows® or Mac OS® X. No previous experience with UNIX® or Linux is assumed.[1]

For the discussion in Chapter 6, Programming tools, the reader is assumed to be familiar with programming and with standard programming tools, such as compilers and debuggers.

[1] A historical note: as described in Randal Bryant and David O'Hallaron's Computer Systems: A Programmer's Perspective (Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2003), the Unix operating system was first developed at Bell Laboratories from 1969 through 1974 (14). The GNU Project[19] (GNU is short for GNU's Not Unix) was established in 1984 with the "goal of developing a complete Unix-like system whose source code is unencumbered by restrictions on how it can be modified or distributed" (5) - that is, made of free software. Linux was created from the combination of GNU software with the Linux kernel, a "Unix-like operating system kernel" first developed in the early 1990s under the direction of Linus Torvalds, who at the time was a graduate student at the University of Helsinki (18).

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