This document is intended to help Linux and Internet users who are learning by doing. While this is a great way to acquire specific skills, sometimes it leaves peculiar gaps in one's knowledge of the basics -- gaps which can make it hard to think creatively or troubleshoot effectively, from lack of a good mental model of what is really going on.
I'll try to describe in clear, simple language how it all works. The presentation will be tuned for people using Unix or Linux on PC-class hardware. Nevertheless I'll usually refer simply to `Unix' here, as most of what I will describe is constant across platforms and across Unix variants.
I'm going to assume you're using an Intel PC. The details differ slightly if you're running an Alpha or PowerPC or some other Unix box, but the basic concepts are the same.
I won't repeat things, so you'll have to pay attention, but that also means you'll learn from every word you read. It's a good idea to just skim when you first read this; you should come back and reread it a few times after you've digested what you have learned.
This is an evolving document. I intend to keep adding sections in response to user feedback, so you should come back and review it periodically.