This book relies on a few things that the author can't control. First of all, this book assumes that you have access to a Unix system. (Unfortunately, it's a bit hard to learn without getting wet!) More importantly, this Unix system should be an Intel PC running Linux. This requirement isn't necessary, but when versions of Unix differ, I'll be talking about how Linux acts--nothing else.
Linux is available in many forms, called distributions. It is hoped that you've found a complete distribution such as SoftLanding Linux Systems or the MCC-Interim release and have installed it. There are differences between the various distributions of Linux, but for the most part they're small and unimportant. (Occasionally in this book you'll find places that seem a little off. If you do, it's probably because you're using a different distribution from mine. The author is interested in all such cases.)
If you're the superuser (the maintainer, the installer) of the system, you also should have created a normal user account for yourself. Please consult the installation manual(s) for this information. If you aren't the superuser, you should have obtained an account from the superuser.
You should have time and patience. Learning Linux isn't easy--most people find learning the Macintosh Operating System is easier. However, many people feel that Linux is more powerful.
In addition, this book assumes that you are moderately familiar with some computer terms. Although this requirement isn't necessary, it makes reading the book easier. You should know about computer terms such as `program' and `execution'. If you don't, you might want to get someone's help with learning Unix.