Purpose: Definition of common technical terms used in the Fedora Project.
Audience: Individuals who are unfamiliar with technical vocabulary used in GNU/Linux, especially Fedora Core.
Approach: Explain basic principles; explain one principle at a time; do not assume familiarity with any Linux/UNIX-specific terminology or concepts; compare functionality where appropriate to what the reader may know from other OSes, particularly Microsoft Windows.
Assumptions: The reader has at a minimum a standard Desktop class installation of Fedora. The reader may be a beginner or an advanced user/developer. English may not be the reader's first language.
Related Documents: This is a draft rewrite of Jargon Buster, available in American English and Portuguese at http://docs.fedoraproject.org/jargon-buster/. General Fedora-specific terms are covered in FAQ/Glossary .
Lead Writer: JohnBabich
A Glossary of Technical Terms
An abbreviation for "accessibility," frequently used in programming to avoid unnecessary typing and misspelling. Accessibility is the provision of services for impaired users, such as text-to-speech translation for the visually impaired. The 11 derives from the eleven letters between the beginning a and the ending y.
The Advanced Linux Sound Architecture (ALSA) is a technology that gives Fedora the ability to mix and output multiple audio sources. ALSA supports many consumer and professional level hardware devices. Refer to http://www.alsa-project.org/ for more information.
Anaconda is the Fedora Core installation system. Anaconda identifies and configures the system's hardware, creates appropriate file systems, and installs or upgrades software packages. Anaconda runs in a fully interactive text or graphical mode, or in an automated kickstart mode. Refer to http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Anaconda for more information.
The apt (Advanced Package Tool) utility is a dependency tool developed for use with Debian Linux dpkg packages. The apt-rpm utility extends apt for use with RPM packages. Since apt has specific problems with multilib, however, it is not recommended for use with Fedora systems. Use yum instead.
ATrpms a third party RPM repository for Fedora software. Refer to http://atrpms.physik.fu-berlin.de/ for more information about ATrpms.
BitTorrent is a peer-to-peer file sharing which downloads from multiple channels at once. Refer to http://bitconjurer.org/BitTorrent/ for more information.
Use BitTorrent to download Fedora Core by downloading and opening a torrent file. The official Fedora Core torrent tracker is located at http://torrent.fedoraproject.org/. Download a torrent file there to begin downloading a release of Fedora Core.
Bluecurve™ is a theme which unifies the look and feel of the Fedora desktop. Bluecurve was introduced in Red Hat Linux 9 and was used as the default for Fedora Core through release 3. Bluecurve was replaced in Fedora Core 4 by Clearlooks. Bluecurve included icons and settings for the menu and layout of the desktop.
Bugzilla is an online database for recording flaws, or bugs, in Fedora software, documentation, and other projects. Bugzilla also tracks bugs in Red Hat software. When you encounter a problem with Fedora, you can help the community fix the problem by making a record in Bugzilla. This procedure is called "entering a bug." For more information about Bugzilla, refer to http://bugzilla.redhat.com.
An abbreviation for "Chinese, Japanese and Korean," East Asian languages which require the use of an Input method platform due to the large number of possible typographic characters.
See Also IIIMF.
Clearlooks is the default theme for a GNOME desktop environment in Fedora Core 4. The Clearlooks design is based on the original Bluecurve.
Core is a numbered release of a subset of Fedora software, and is usually called "Fedora Core." Core packages are maintained mainly by employees of Red Hat, and are made up of free and open source software produced by the Linux community.
Although the software in Fedora Core is updated regularly, the original release of Fedora Core does not change. For this reason, when users discuss the state of their Fedora system software, they might refer to "Fedora Core plus updates." When you request help from the community, this terminology is the most accurate. However, many users simply call the updated system "Fedora Core."
The Central Processing Unit, or CPU , is the "brain" of a computer. The rest of the computer is organized around the CPU, so people often refer to computer systems by the type of processor inside. Examples of CPUs include Pentium-4, Athlon64, and PowerPC.
The cron system executes automatic jobs on behalf of the system or an individual user on a schedule. An example of a system cron job might include running yum nightly to update the system.
The Common UNIX Printing System, or CUPS , is a cross-platform, modularized printing system for UNIX-type environments, including Linux and Macintosh OS X. It is based on the Internet Printing Protocol and provides facilities for managing print jobs and queues. CUPS drivers are available at http://www.cups.org/windows/ which allow Windows systems to use printers shared from Linux systems. Refer to http://www.cups.org/ for more information about CUPS.
The Desktop Switcher tool allows a user to convert the Fedora desktop between GNOME and KDE. To run the Desktop Switcher tool from the Main Menu, select Desktop → Preferences → More Preferences → Desktop Switcher. If you do not see this item in your menu, you may not have the switchdesk-gui package installed. Refer to http://docs.fedoraproject.org/ to learn how to use yum to install software packages.
The eth0 name represents the first discovered Ethernet interface in a Fedora system. If your Fedora system has more than one such interface, the others will be numbered eth1, eth2, and so on.
Ethernet is the most common type of network technology for small computer networks.
The ethtool utility is a Linux network driver diagnostic and tuning tool for a Linux 2.4 or later kernel. The ethtool utility is used for querying and changing settings of an Ethernet device.
The ext3 file system is a method of organizing data on storage devices. It is based on the older but still vital ext2 Linux file system. Most users do not need to understand file system internals because Linux translates this system into understandable concepts such as files and folders. Refer to http://e2fsprogs.sourceforge.net/, however, for more information on ext2 and ext3.
The GNU Free Documentation License, or FDL, is a means of licensing program documentation. The FDL carries both rights and responsibilities. You have the right to modify and redistribute FDL materials, or create other works based on them. You then have the responsibility of licensing any such material under the FDL as well. In this fashion the FDL guarantees that documentation cannot be made less free by a recipient.
The File Hierarchy Standard, or FHS , is a specification for the naming and organization of directories on a Linux system. The FHS sets standards for the types of files that should inhabit specific system directories. Refer to http://www.pathname.com/fhs/ for more information about the FHS.
A third-party repository of RPM software packages. FreshRPMS is soon to be subsumed into the larger RPMForge repository. Refer to http://www.freshrpms.net/ for more information.
The fsck utility is a command line tool used to test file systems for consistency and repair errors. It is normally used with Linux file systems such as ext3, but also has the ability to make repairs on other types of file systems.
The GIMP is the GNU Image Manipulation Program. The GIMP is graphics software suitable for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. The GIMP will read and write graphics files in a variety of formats, including JPG, PNG, BMP, GIF. It will also import some proprietary image formats from other graphics programs. Refer to http://www.gimp.org/ for more information about the GIMP.
The GNU C library, or glibc, is a free and open source library of C functions. Most software programs for your Fedora system rely on glibc for basic common functions. Refer to http://www.gnu.org/software/libc/libc.html for more information about glibc.
GNOME is the short name for the GNOME Desktop, a product of the GNOME Project. GNOME is at once a free desktop environment for UNIX-like operating systems such as Fedora, and a framework for software developers to develop graphical utilities and interfaces. GNOME provides a complete set of human interface guidelines, which means that GNOME strives to have a consistent look and feel for all its applications. Read more about GNOME at http://www.gnome.org/.
GNU is an acronym that stands for "GNU's Not UNIX," and is pronounced /ɡnuː/ (International Phonetic Alphabet). GNU was originally intended to be a complete UNIX-like operating system. It has become a broader term describing free software licensed under the GPL. Because the kernel and much of the other software in a Linux system are licensed under the GPL, many people call that system GNU/Linux.
GnuPG, the GNU Privacy Guard, is a complete and free replacement for PGP, Pretty Good Privacy. GnuPG software allows you to digitally sign or encrypt data using public key encryption methods. GnuPG is OpenPGP compliant, so data signed or encrypted by GnuPG can be exchanged with almost any computer user. Refer to http://www.gnupg.org/ for more information about GPG.
The GNU General Public Licence, or GPL , is a software license designed to preserve users' rights to share and modify software. The GPL does this by restricting anyone from denying you those rights. Use of software is usually subject to the terms under which it is licensed. Many software licenses restrict you from copying, sharing, or even examining the software they cover. The terms of the GPL, however, allow you very broad rights to share, modify, and redistribute software. In return the GPL requires you to give others those rights if you share the results. The GPL encourages software programmers to learn and contribute to each other's work. Refer to http://www.fsf.org/licenses/licenses/gpl.html for more information about the GPL. For a FAQ about the GPL, refer to http://www.fsf.org/licensing/licenses/gpl-faq.html.
The GNU GRand Unified Boot Loader, or GRUB , is a program which controls the boot process after basic system tests occur. It presents a menu that allows the user to select an operating system or kernel to boot. Its features include passing parameters and options to the kernel, and a minimal functional shell. Refer to http://www.gnu.org/software/grub/ for more information about GRUB.
An abbreviation for "internationalization," frequently used in programming to avoid unnecessary typing and misspellings. Internationalization is the provision of multiple translations for messages that applications produce. The 18 derives from the eighteen (18) letters between the beginning i and the ending n.
See Also l10n.
The entire set of computer processors that are compatible with the Intel x86 platform, including Intel Pentium and Celeron, AMD Athlon and Duron, and VIA C3 CPUs, are commonly referred to as i386. The i386 term is often used to refer a set of software packages that run on these processors.
The Intranet/Internet Input Method Framework, or IIIMF , is an Input method framework for handling languages such as CJK, which will not map readily to a standard keyboard device. IIIMF works by loading language engines dynamically at runtime as they are requested by clients.
Instant messaging, or IM , is a real-time, text-based form of communication. You can use IM to have conversations with individuals or groups. America Online, an Internet service provider, popularized IM in the 1990's, but many other providers such as Yahoo and Google offer similar services. Fedora has programs such as gaim that allow you to use IM to communicate with other Internet users.
Inkscape is a vector graphics illustration program. It uses SVG as the default file format. For more information about Inkscape, refer to http://www.inkscape.org/.
See Also Sodipodi.
A method used to enter text other than selecting each character directly on a keyboard or other input hardware. Input methods are widely used for entering ideographs and other characters phonetically or by component, such as in Esat Asian languages. Fedora Core uses the IIIMF platform by default, but also offers other platforms such as SCIM.
See Also CJK.
Internet Relay Chat, or IRC , is a communication protocol that allows users to type text messages to each other in approximately real time. You can use IRC to have conversations with individuals or groups. IRC is very similar to IM, and offers many of the same capabilities, but predates IM by many years.
ISO is an acronym that stands for International Standards Organization. It is also used as an abbreviation for the ISO-9660 format of a standard data CD-ROM. Fedora offers installation CDs for Fedora Core as downloadable files on the Internet, in the form of CD image files sometimes called ISO files. These files can be burned directly to CD media using a CD-Recordable drive, and the resulting CD will contain all the files on the original Fedora Core media.
KDE is a free and open desktop environment for UNIX-like operating systems such as Fedora. KDE also offers a complete development framework for writing graphical applications, as well as an office application suite. Refer to http://www.kde.org/whatiskde/ for more information about KDE.
A kernel is the core of an operating system, responsible for managing memory and conducting hardware operations. The Linux kernel used in Fedora is free and open source software, originally written by Linus Torvalds. Many computer scientists and programmers from around the world now contribute to its development.
Kickstart is a facility that allows system administrators to automate the installation of Fedora. To use Kickstart, the administrator creates a configuration file which contains all the information needed by Anaconda to complete the installation process. Refer to http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Anaconda for more information about Kickstart.
The kudzu utility usually runs at boot time. The kudzu utility detects changes in the system's hardware configuration, and configures the devices for use with Fedora software. Refer to http://fedora.redhat.com/projects/additional-projects/kudzu/ for more information about kudzu.
An abbreviation for "localization," frequently used in programming to avoid unnecessary typing and misspelling. Localization is the provision of nation-specific settings for the representation of numbers, dates, currency, and other customary symbols. The 10 derives from the ten letters between the beginning l and the ending n.
See Also i18n.
The Lightweight Directory Access Protocol, or LDAP , is a standard for hierarchically organizing and accessing collections of information. This information may be practically anything, but LDAP is most often used to collect information about organizations, including personnel and resource information. Fedora includes support for OpenLDAP, which is a free and open source implementation of LDAP. For more information about OpenLDAP, refer to http://www.openldap.org/.
The LInux LOader, or LILO , is a small program used on older Linux systems to boot the Linux kernel or some other operating systems. LILO has been superseded by GRUB in Fedora.
The Linux Standard Base, or LSB , is a project that develops and promotes a set of standards to increase compatibility among Linux distributions. For more information about LSB, refer to http://www.linuxbase.org/.
The lspci utility displays information about all PCI buses in the system and all devices connected to them. It is frequently used to diagnose problems with hardware recognition or driver compatibility.
The md5sum utility computes a 128-bit message digest hash value for any specified files. A hash value is a "fingerprint" for a given file, created by a computation that makes it very unlikely that any two files will create the same hash value.
To download an MD5 hash program for Windows operating systems, refer to http://unxutils.sourceforge.net/.
The Fedora Core Installation CD 1 includes a memory testing utility called memtest86. To perform memory testing before you install Fedora Core, or to diagnose a RAM problem, enter memtest86 at the boot: prompt. The tests continue until you press the Esc key.
A mirror is a complete copy of an online resource. System administrators of computers connected to the Internet often create and provide mirrors for public use. If a resource has one or more mirrors, many more users can access its content without overloading the original resource.
To use a disk device such as a CD, USB drive, or floppy diskette, you must first mount it. Fedora uses a single unified file system for all attached devices. Windows systems, on the other hand, use a "drive letter" for each disk device, such as A: or C:. When you mount a disk device, its file system becomes part of the unified file system on Fedora. The device is mounted on a mount point, which is a directory that points to that device, such as /media/floppy. You must also unmount the file system before you eject or remove the disk, to insure all file information is safely written to the device.
Since these functions are often handled through user-friendly helpers, you may perform all mounting, unmounting, and file browsing through the graphical desktop interface. For instance, if you use the GNOME Desktop, the Nautilus file management utility makes it easy to perform these tasks.
The Mozilla Project produces several user applications such as the Firefox web browser and the Thunderbird email client. These programs are designed for standards compliance, performance and portability. For more information about Mozilla software, refer to http://www.mozilla.org/.
The GNOME desktop environment includes a file manager called Nautilus which provides a graphical display of your system and personal files. Nautilus also allows you to configure your desktop and Fedora, browse your photo collection, access your network resources, and more, all from an integrated interface.
Users often refer to a RPM file as a package.
See Also RPM.
Pine ,short for a Program for Internet News and Email, is a tool for reading, sending, and managing electronic messages. Refer to http://www.washington.edu/pine/ for more information about Pine.
Rawhide is a package repository which contains the latest development versions of packages which will eventually be included in Fedora. These latest versions are sometimes called "bleeding edge" package, since they often include new and untested technology. You should consider the Rawhide repository "unstable," since any Rawhide package might be badly broken if the programmers are trying to add, change, or test features. If you want to develop programs for Fedora, you may want to install a system from Rawhide. If you only want to use a stable Fedora system, you should use the standard Fedora Core distribution instead.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux, or Red Hat Enterprise Linux , is a fully-supported enterprise-class operating system for open source computing. Red Hat Enterprise Linux runs on many system architectures, is certified by top enterprise software and hardware vendors, and is based on Fedora technology. Refer to http://www.redhat.com/software/rhel/ for more information about Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
Red Hat Graphical Boot, or rhgb , is an optional component of the boot process. The rhgb application produces a boot screen with a progress bar and fewer technical messages. The rhgb application allows you to click a link to see the technical boot messages if desired. Systems that have been upgraded from Red Hat Linux to Fedora Core are not configured to include rhgb.
The rhn-applet utility was originally designed for use with Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Red Hat Network. It provides a notification and user interface for system updates using up2date. It allows the user to retrieve and install system updates, but this usage is no longer recommended. Users should use yum for system updates instead.
RPM stands for RPM Package Manager. RPM is a robust database system for maintaining software on Fedora systems. Software packaged for Fedora is distributed in special package files called RPM files, or RPMs. System owners use the rpm utility to query the RPM database for information about installed software. Although some administrators use rpm to install, update, and remove software, it is recommended that you use yum for these purposes.
The rsync utility is used to perform incremental file transfers, meaning it can transfer only sections of data that have changed. Administrators frequently use rsync to create a mirror of an online resource. Refer to http://samba.anu.edu.au/rsync/ for more information about rsync.
The Smart Common Input Method platform, or SCIM , is a C++ library that abstracts input method interface into simple, independent classes. It provides a higher level and simpler interface than some other input method platforms.
See Also Input method.
SELinux is a set of extensions to the Linux kernel that provide extremely strong security. SELinux is based on role definitions, and allows very granular control over access to system resources based on those roles. These security measures limit the risk associated with computer intrusions by unauthorized persons. For more information about SELinux, refer to http://www.nsa.gov/selinux/ and http://docs.fedoraproject.org/selinux-faq.
The sha1sum utility computes a 160-bit message digest hash value for any specified files. A hash value is a "fingerprint" for a given file, created by a computation that makes it very unlikely that any two files will create the same hash value.
Download mirrors for Fedora Core ISO image files also include a related SHA1SUMS file which contains the hash values for the ISO files. Run sha1sum against the downloaded files to verify the hash value. If a file's hash value does not match, you should not use that file to burn a CD. Try downloading the file again.
To download an SHA-1 hash program for Windows operating systems, refer to http://unxutils.sourceforge.net/.
Sodipodi is a vector graphics illustration application. It uses W3C SVG as its default format. Refer to http://sourceforge.net/projects/sodipodi/ for more information.
See Also Inkscape.
A source RPM, or SRPM , contains the source code for a RPM package. To read or modify a program's source, install its SRPM. You do not need SRPM packages to use the software itself.
See Also RPM.
The system-config-packages utility is a package installation for new Fedora Core systems which have no software updates installed yet. Since most administrators and users update their system software regularly, system-config-packages is not often used. Users should instead use the yum utility to install new software.
The up2date application is a utility for managing and updating software on Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Fedora systems. The up2date application has been superseded by yum-based utilities. Refer to http://docs.fedoraproject.org/yum/ for more information on managing software on your Fedora system.
The vino utility is a variant of VNC used in Fedora Core 4 and beyond for remote assistance and control.
Virtual Network Computing, or VNC, is communication software that allows you to view and interact with another computer over the network. Fedora includes VNC server and client software, as well as the customized vino package. Refer to http://www.realvnc.com/ for more information about VNC.
An abbreviation for "Intel 80x86," the microprocessor family used in most PC systems. Users and developers tend to use this term rather broadly, since the very old 8086 and 80286 microprocessors are rarely seen and not usable with most modern Linux distributions. In Fedora terms, this abbreviation stands for Intel and Intel-compatible processors, Pentium class and above.
XFS is a scalable journaling filesystem developed by SGI and available for Fedora systems. Refer to http://oss.sgi.com/projects/xfs/faq.html#whatisxfs for more information about XFS.
X Window System
The X Window System, or simply "X," is the underlying technology for GNOME, KDE, and other graphical environments used in Fedora. X is a network-based system for displaying and communicating graphical input and output. It is very flexible and is suitable for a wide variety of configurations such as remote desktops and thin-client applications.
Xen is an open source virtual machine monitor for Intel x86 machines which supports concurrent execution of multiple guest operating systems. Using Xen, an administrator can set up many virtual machines running on a single physical computer. Any single virtual machine, while executing, performs nearly as well as the physical system without Xen. Xen may be used for testing software, providing large-scale web hosting on limited hardware, any many other applications.
The Yellow Dog Updater, or yum , is a complete software management utility for RPM-based systems such as Fedora. It automatically determines software requirements, or dependencies, and uses this data to install, update, or remove packages. Refer to http://linux.duke.edu/projects/yum/ for more information about yum.