March 16, 2001

Web review: Survival in the command line jungle

Author: JT Smith

- by Tina Gasperson - houses an interactive tutorial that teaches the absolute basics in command line navigation and file manipulation, all the way up to changing file permissions, file security, wildcards, concatenating files, and controlling the printer.Assuredly, it's not the only site or even the first site to offer a short course in the basics. What makes different is the cool Java window that simulates a Linux desktop even on a Windows computer, and even accepts commands and returns output.

It acts like a terminal, and as the student you type newly learned commands in and receive instant feedback. The tutorials are cleverly set up with a zoo and animals analogy, i.e., the zoo is your system, the animal families are directories, and each species is a file.

Currently, there are three modules that cover increasingly advanced concepts. The site creator promises a fourth soon -- probably depending on reaction to the currently available tutorials.

Linuxsurvial is nothing more than a moment's diversion for those who are already familiar with the *nix shell. It's not too difficult to imagine the site being pretty beneficial to a command line newbie thinking about making the switch from Windows. This is a gentle, game-like way to introduce the concept of typing in commands to someone who never used MSDOS. Not only that, but each module has a quiz to take at the end, so the neophyte can check newly-learned skills.

If you're uncomfortable running unsigned Java applets, or you're using pretty much any browser other than Netscape, then isn't for you. We couldn't get it running on Konqueror even with all Java options selected; and if you've used Opera in Linux you know there are some plug-in issues with that browser. offers Windows and Linux versions of the tutorials; it says that there is no difference in any of the questions or concepts, only in some of the fonts used.

That's all there is to this site. We say it's a good start, but with a domain name like, one is practically obliged to offer more in the way of Linux and in the way of survival. In the meantime, the next time one of your Windows-using friends seems to be poking in the direction of Linux, point them to's little command-line aptitude test. If they're still interested afterward, you may have a convert.

Check out and let me know what you think. As always, if you know of a site worthy of the NewsForge spotlight, email the URL and a short description.

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