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Python is a great programming language for automating system administration tasks on Linux systems. With its wide selection of different libraries, many of them can be used to improve the efficiency of various tasks. Using the examples below, you can easily run Linux system commands, work with files and directories, perform networking tasks and automate authentication processes in just a few seconds.

What Is Python?

Python can be best described as a general-purpose programming language. It was developed by a Dutch computer scientist named Guido van Rossum in the late 1980s and early 1990s to be a dynamically-typed programming language and successor to the “ABC” programming language.

Today it is widely considered to be one of the most popular programming languages in the world, with use-cases ranging from anything in web development to complex mathematics and scientific calculations. It is also appreciated for its elegant syntax and being relatively easy to learn.

Installing Python on Linux

Many Linux distributions already have Python installed by default. To check whether or not your system has Python 3 installed, you can run the python3 command with the --version flag:

python3

--version

If Python is installed, the command will display the version of your Python configuration.

To install Python on Ubuntu and Debian systems:

sudo

apt update

&&

sudo

apt upgrade

-y

sudo

apt

install

python3.10

Alternatively, Python can also be downloaded as a “.tgz” or “.xz” file.

Using the “os” Module

One of the best Python libraries for Linux system administrators is the “os” module. You can use it for the automation of many different kinds of tasks, such as handling directories and files. It can also run system commands.

As an example, you can utilize the module to create a new directory:

#Import the OS module

import

os

#Name of the new directory

dir_name

=

"example"

try

:

#Creates the new directory

os

.

mkdir

(

dir_name

)

#Prints the result, if the directory was successfully created

print

(

f

"Directory '{dir_name}' created successfully"

)

#Prints the result, in case the directory already exists

except

FileExistsError:

print

(

f

"Directory '{dir_name}' already exists"

)

You can also delete a directory using the module:

#Import the OS module

import

os

#Name of the directory to be deleted

dir_name

=

"example"

try

:

#Deletes the directory

os

.

rmdir

(

dir_name

)

#Prints the result, if the directory was successfully deleted

print

(

f

"Directory '{dir_name}' deleted successfully"

)

#Prints the result, if the directory doesn't exist

except

FileNotFoundError:

print

(

f

"Directory '{dir_name}' doesn't exist"

)

You can rename files and directories:

#Import the OS module

import

os

#Current name of the directory or file

current_name

=

"example"

new_name

=

"example2.0"

try

:

#Renames the directory or file

content

=

os

.

rename

(

current_name

,

new_name

)

#Prints the contents of the directory

print

(

f

"Directory/File '{current_name}' was successfully renamed to '{new_name}'"

)

#Print the error message, if the directory or file doesn't exist

except

FileNotFoundError:

print

(

f

"Directory/File '{current_name}' doesn't exist"

)

Files are easily removable using the module:

#Import the OS module

import

os

#Name of the file to be deleted

file_name

=

"example.txt"

try

:

#Deletes the file

os

.

remove

(

file_name

)

#Prints the result, if the file was successfully deleted

print

(

f

"File '{file_name}' deleted successfully"

)

#Prints the result, if the file doesn't exist

except

FileNotFoundError:

print

(

f

"File '{file_name}' doesn't exist"

)

The current working directory is easily printable:

#Import the OS module

import

os

try

:

#Gets the current working directory

cwd

=

os

.

getcwd

(

)

#The name of the current working directory is printed out

print

(

cwd

)

#If an error occurs, it is printed out

except

:

print

(

"An error occurred"

)

The contents of a directory, like files and subdirectories, can be checked easily:

#Import the OS module

import

os

#Name of the directory

dir_name

=

"example"

try

:

#Gets the contents of the directory

content

=

os

.

listdir

(

dir_name

)

#Prints the contents of the directory

print

(

content

)

#Prints the error, if the directory doesn't exist

except

FileNotFoundError:

print

(

f

"Directory '{dir_name}' doesn't exist"

)

Use the module to print out the current user:

#Import the OS module

import

os

try

:

#Gets the name of the current user

user

=

os

.

getlogin

(

)

#Prints the name of the current user

print

(

user

)

#Prints an error message, in case it occurs

except

:

print

(

"An error occurred"

)

Also run Linux shell commands using the module:

#Import the OS module

import

os

#The shell command to run

command

=

"sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade -y"

try

:

#Runs the system command

result

=

os

.

system

(

command

)

#Prints the result of the command

print

(

result

)

#Prints an error message, in case an error occurs

except

:

print

(

"An error occurred"

)

Performing Networking Tasks Using the “socket” Module

Python has a module that is built to perform different networking tasks and create complex networking-related utilities, like port scanners and video game servers. It is no surprise that the “socket” module can also be used to perform common and basic networking tasks on your system.

You can, for example, check your system’s IP address and hostname:

#Import the socket module

import

socket

try

:

#Getting the hostname

host

=

socket

.

gethostname

(

)

#Getting the IP address of the host

ip

=

socket

.

gethostbyname

(

host

)

#Prints the IP address

print

(

f

"IP address: {ip}"

)

#Prints the hostname

print

(

f

"Hostname: {host}"

)

#Prints an error message, if an error occurs

except

:

print

(

"An error occurred"

)

You can also use the module to check the IP address of a website:

#Import the socket module

import

socket

try

:

#Domain to be checked

#Getting the IP address of the domain

ip

=

socket

.

gethostbyname

(

domain

)

#Prints the IP address

print

(

f

"IP address: {ip}"

)

#Prints an error message, if an error occurs

except

:

print

(

"An error occurred"

)

Using Paramiko for Logging in to an SSH Server and Running Commands

If you want to automate the process of logging in to an SSH server setup and running commands there, a “Paramiko” Python library will be extremely useful.

First download the library using Python’s pip3 package manager:

pip3

install

paramiko

Use the module to log in to an SSH server and run commands:

#Importing the Paramiko library

import

paramiko

#Specifying the IP and credentials

ip

=

'127.0.0.1'

port

=

22

user

=

'example'

password

=

'example'

command

=

"uname -a"

try

:

#Initiating the Paramiko client

ssh

=

paramiko.

SSHClient

(

)

ssh.

set_missing_host_key_policy

(

paramiko.

AutoAddPolicy

(

)

)

#Connecting to the SSH server

ssh.

connect

(

ip

,

port

,

user

,

password

)

#Running a command on the system

stdin

,

stdout

,

stderr

=

ssh.

exec_command

(

command

)

#Prints the result of the command

print

(

stdout.

read

(

)

.

decode

(

)

)

#Prints an error message, in case an error occurs

except

:

print

(

"An error occurred"

)

Frequently Asked Questions 1. Do I need Python 3 to use these modules and libraries?

While most of these libraries and modules do work with Python 2, there is a difference in syntax, and these code snippets won’t run. With some changes, you can adapt them to run in Python 2. However, Python 2 is outdated, so you should be using Python 3.

2. Do I need to install the “os” and “socket” modules?

Generally, no. Most installations of Python come with these modules straight out of the box.

3. Can I use Paramiko to log in to non-Unix systems?

According to the developer of Paramiko, at this time the library can’t be used to log in to non-Unix systems with SSH.

Severi Turusenaho

Technical Writer – Linux & Cybersecurity.

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You're reading How To Utilize Python For Basic Linux System Administration And Networking Tasks

Bcc Dynamic Tracing Tools For Linux Performance Monitoring Networking And More

If you are a Linux user or administrator, you might have heard of term “BCC tools” or “BPF Compiler Collection.” BCC is a powerful set of dynamic tracing tools that provides a simple yet effective way to monitor system performance, networking, and much more. In this article, we will discuss what BCC tools are, their benefits, and how to use them with examples.

What are BCC Tools?

BCC (BPF Compiler Collection) is a set of dynamic tracing tools built on top of eBPF (extended Berkeley Packet Filter) technology in Linux kernel. eBPF is a virtual machine that runs inside kernel and allows for efficient and flexible tracing of system events, without need for kernel modifications or recompilation.

BCC tools are designed to provide a simple, user-friendly interface for using eBPF to trace and analyze various system events. They are written in Python and C, and can be used for a wide range of tasks, including system performance monitoring, network analysis, security, and more.

Benefits of BCC Tools

BCC tools offer a number of benefits for Linux users and administrators. These include −

Low overhead

BCC tools are designed to have minimal impact on system performance. They use eBPF technology to trace events directly inside kernel, which reduces need for context switching and other overhead associated with traditional system monitoring tools.

Flexibility

BCC tools can be used for a wide range of tasks, from monitoring system performance to network analysis and more. They are highly flexible and customizable, making them a powerful tool for Linux users and administrators.

User-friendly Interface

BCC tools provide a simple, user-friendly interface for using eBPF to trace system events. They are easy to use and require no specialized knowledge of kernel internals or programming.

Active Development Community

BCC tools are actively developed and maintained by a large community of developers. This means that new features and improvements are constantly being added, and bugs are quickly addressed.

How to Use BCC Tools

BCC tools can be used for a wide range of tasks, including system performance monitoring, network analysis, security, and more. In this section, we will discuss how to use some of most commonly used BCC tools with examples.

BPFtrace

BPFtrace is a high-level tracing language for eBPF, designed to make it easy to write and read eBPF programs. It provides a simple, user-friendly interface for tracing system events and analyzing performance.

To use BPFtrace, you first need to install it on your system. You can do this using package manager for your distribution. For example, on Ubuntu, you can install BPFtrace by running following command −

sudo apt-get install bpftrace

Once you have installed BPFtrace, you can use it to write eBPF programs and trace system events. For example, following BPFtrace program will print a message every time a process is started −

tracepoint:process:process_start { }

You can save this program to a file (e.g., “process_start.bt”) and run it using following command −

sudo bpftrace process_start.bt

When you run this command, BPFtrace will start tracing process events and print a message every time a process is started.

BCC Tools

BCC tools provide a wide range of tracing and monitoring capabilities for Linux systems. Some of most commonly used BCC tools include −

Execsnoop

The execsnoop tool traces new process execution on system. It can be used to monitor which processes are running and when they were started. To use execsnoop, simply run following command −

sudo execsnoop

This will start tracing process execution events and print information about new processes as they are started.

Opensnoop sudo opensnoop

This will start tracing file system events and print information about file activity as it occurs.

Tcptracer

The tcptracer tool traces TCP connections on system, including connections to remote hosts and their associated ports. It can be used to monitor network activity and diagnose network-related problems. To use tcptracer, run following command −

sudo tcptracer

This will start tracing TCP connections and print information about connection events as they occur.

BCC Script Examples

BCC tools can also be used to write more complex scripts for monitoring and analyzing system performance. In this section, we will provide some examples of BCC scripts that can be used to monitor CPU usage, disk I/O, and network activity.

CPU Usage

The following BCC script can be used to monitor CPU usage on system −

#!/usr/bin/python from bcc import BPF # load BPF program bpf_text = """ int count_sched(struct pt_regs *ctx) { u64 ts = bpf_ktime_get_ns(); return 0; } """ # initialize BPF program bpf = BPF(text=bpf_text) # attach BPF program to sched_switch tracepoint bpf.attach_tracepoint(tp="sched:sched_switch", fn_name="count_sched") # print trace messages as they occur bpf.trace_print()

This script will print a message every time CPU scheduler switches tasks on system.

Disk I/O

The following BCC script can be used to monitor disk I/O activity on system −

#!/usr/bin/python from bcc import BPF # load BPF program bpf_text = """ int count_disk_io(struct pt_regs *ctx, const char *rwflag) { u64 ts = bpf_ktime_get_ns(); return 0; } """ # initialize BPF program bpf = BPF(text=bpf_text) # attach BPF program to blk_account_io_done tracepoint bpf.attach_tracepoint(tp="block:block_rq_complete", fn_name="count_disk_io", ctx="R") # print trace messages as they occur bpf.trace_print()

This script will print a message every time a disk I/O operation is completed on system.

Network Activity

The following BCC script can be used to monitor network activity on system −

#!/usr/bin/python from bcc import BPF # load BPF program bpf_text = """ int count_network(struct pt_regs *ctx, int protocol) { u64 ts = bpf_ktime_get_ns(); return 0; } """ # initialize BPF program bpf = BPF(text=bpf_text) # attach BPF program to tcp_v{4,6}_connect trace points bpf.attach_tracepoint(tp="tcp_v4_connect", fn_name="count_network", ctx="R") bpf.attach_tracepoint(tp="tcp_v6_connect", fn_name="count_network", ctx="R") print trace messages as they occur bpf.trace_print()

This script will print a message every time a TCP connection is established on system.

In addition to examples we have provided, BCC tools have many other use cases. For example, BCC tools can be used to monitor system calls, trace user-level events, and diagnose kernel-level issues. Some of other BCC tools that can be useful include −

csysdig − A tool that provides a graphical interface for analyzing system activity using eBPF.

funccount − A tool that counts number of times a specified function is called.

tcpconnect − A tool that traces TCP connections on system.

biosnoop − A tool that traces block I/O operations at BIOS level.

syncsnoop − A tool that traces sync events on system.

BCC tools can also be used in conjunction with other system monitoring tools, such as prometheus, grafana, and nagios, to provide a more comprehensive view of system performance.

Conclusion

In conclusion, BCC tools provide a powerful set of dynamic tracing tools for monitoring and analyzing system performance, networking, and more on Linux systems. They offer a user-friendly interface, low overhead, and high flexibility, making them an essential tool for Linux users and administrators. Whether you are a system administrator, developer, or security analyst, BCC tools can help you gain insights into your system and diagnose performance issues quickly and efficiently. So, if you haven’t already, give BCC tools a try and see how they can benefit you and your Linux system.

What Are The Basic Concepts Of Python?

Python is a general-purpose interpreted, interactive, object-oriented, and high-level programming language.

Features of Python

Following are key features of Python −

Python supports functional and structured programming methods as well as OOP.

It can be used as a scripting language or can be compiled to byte-code for building large applications.

It provides very high-level dynamic data types and supports dynamic type checking.

It supports automatic garbage collection.

Variables in Python

Variables are nothing but reserved memory locations to store values. This means that when you create a variable you reserve some space in memory. Let’s create a variable.

a = 10

Above, a is a variable assigned integer value 10.

Numeric Datatype in Python

Number data types store numeric values. They are immutable data types, means that changing the value of a number data type results in a newly allocated object.

Python supports four different numerical types.

int (signed integers) − They are often called just integers or ints, are positive or negative whole numbers with no decimal point.

long (long integers ) − Also called longs, they are integers of unlimited size, written like integers and followed by an uppercase or lowercase L.

float (floating point real values) − Also called floats, they represent real numbers and are written with a decimal point dividing the integer and fractional parts. Floats may also be in scientific notation, with E or e indicating the power of 10 (2.5e2 = 2.5 x 102 = 250).

complex (complex numbers) − are of the form a + bJ, where a and b are floats and J (or j) represents the square root of -1 (which is an imaginary number). The real part of the number is a, and the imaginary part is b. Complex numbers are not used much in Python programming.

Strings in Python

Strings are amongst the most popular types in Python. We can create them simply by enclosing characters in quotes. Python treats single quotes the same as double quotes. Creating strings is as simple as assigning a value to a variable.

Let’s see how to easily create a String in Python.

myStr

=

Thisisit!'

Lists in Python

The list is a most versatile datatype available in Python which can be written as a list of commaseparated values (items) between square bracket. Let’s see how to create lists with different types.

myList1

=

[

'abc'

,

'pq'

]

;

myList2

=

[

5

,

10

,

15

,

20

]

;

Tuples in Python

Tuples are sequences, just like lists. The differences between tuples and lists are, the tuples cannot be changed unlike lists and tuples use parentheses, whereas lists use square brackets.

Creating a tuple is as simple as putting different comma-separated values. Optionally you can put these comma-separated values between parentheses also. Let’s see how to create a Tuple.

myTuple1

=

(

'abc'

,

'pq

)

]

;

myTuple2

=

(

5

,

10

,

15

,

20

)

;

Dictionary in Python

Dictionary is a sequence in Python. In a Dictionary, each key is separated from its value by a colon (:), the items are separated by commas, and the whole thing is enclosed in curly braces. Keys are unique within a dictionary while values may not be. The values of a dictionary can be of any type, but the keys must be of an immutable data type such as strings, numbers, or tuples.

Let’s see how to create a Dictionary −

dict1

=

{

'Player'

:

[

'Jacob'

,

'Steve'

,

'David'

,

'John'

,

'Kane'

]

,

'Age'

:

[

29

,

25

,

31

,

26

,

27

]

}

dict2

=

{

'Rank'

:

[

1

,

2

,

3

,

4

,

5

]

,

'Points'

:

[

100

,

87

,

80

,

70

,

50

]

}

Classes & Objects in Python

A class is a user-defined prototype for an object that defines a set of attributes that characterize any object of the class. The attributes are data members and methods, accessed via dot notation.

An object is a unique instance of a data structure that’s defined by its class. An object comprises both data members (class variables and instance variables) and methods.

Functions in Python

function is a block of organized, reusable code that is used to perform a single, related action. Functions provide better modularity for your application and a high degree of code reusing.

Function blocks begin with the keyword def followed by the function name and parentheses ( ( ) ). Let’s create a function.

print

(

s

)

return

demo

(

“Function Called”

)

Output Function Called

25 Useful Linux Commands For System Administrators

Linux is a popular open-source operating system used by many system administrators for managing their servers and infrastructure. As a system administrator, it is essential to have a good understanding of Linux commands to manage and troubleshoot system efficiently. In this article, we will discuss 25 useful Linux commands for system administrators, along with their examples.

ls – List Directory Contents

The ls command is used to list contents of a directory. By default, it lists files and directories in current directory.

Example − To list all files and directories in current directory, use following command −

ls cd – Change Directory

The cd command is used to change current working directory.

Example − To change current directory to /usr/local/bin, use following command −

cd /usr/local/bin pwd – Print Working Directory

The pwd command is used to print current working directory.

Example − To print current working directory, use following command −

pwd mkdir – Make Directory

The mkdir command is used to create a new directory.

Example − To create a new directory called test, use following command −

mkdir test rm – Remove Files or Directories

The rm command is used to remove files or directories.

Example − To remove a file called chúng tôi use following command −

rm myfile.txt rmdir – Remove Directories

The rmdir command is used to remove directories.

Example − To remove a directory called test, use following command −

rmdir test cp – Copy Files or Directories

The cp command is used to copy files or directories.

Example − To copy a file called chúng tôi to a new location /tmp, use following command −

cp chúng tôi /tmp mv – Move or Rename Files or Directories

The mv command is used to move or rename files or directories.

Example − To rename a file called chúng tôi to chúng tôi use following command −

mv chúng tôi newfile.txt cat – Display File Contents

The cat command is used to display contents of a file.

Example − To display contents of a file called chúng tôi use following command −

cat myfile.txt tail – Display Last Part of a File

The tail command is used to display last part of a file.

Example − To display last 10 lines of a file called chúng tôi use following command −

tail -n 10 myfile.txt head – Display First Part of a File

The head command is used to display first part of a file.

Example − To display first 10 lines of a file called chúng tôi use following command −

head -n 10 myfile.txt less – Display File Contents Page by Page

The less command is used to display file contents page by page.

Example − To display contents of a file called chúng tôi page by page, use following command −

less myfile.txt top – Display System Resource Usage

The top command is used to display system resource usage, such as CPU and memory usage.

Example − To display system resource usage, use following command −

top ps – Display Running Processes

The ps command is used to display running processes.

Example − To display running processes, use following command −

ps aux kill – Terminate Processes

The kill command is used to terminate processes.

Example − To terminate a process with a process ID of 1234, use following command −

kill 1234 df – Display Disk Space Usage

The df command is used to display disk space usage.

Example − To display disk space usage for all mounted file systems, use following command −

df -h du – Display Directory Space Usage

The du command is used to display directory space usage.

Example − To display directory space usage for current directory, use following command −

du -sh . ifconfig – Configure Network Interfaces

The ifconfig command is used to configure network interfaces.

Example − To display network interface information, use following command −

ifconfig ping – Test Network Connectivity

The ping command is used to test network connectivity.

Example − To test network connectivity to a host with IP address 192.168.1.1, use following command −

ping 192.168.1.1 netstat – Display Network Connections

The netstat command is used to display network connections.

Example − To display active network connections, use following command −

netstat -an ssh – Securely Connect to a Remote System

The ssh command is used to securely connect to a remote system.

Example − To connect to a remote system with IP address 192.168.1.1, use following command −

ssh 192.168.1.1 scp – Securely Copy Files Between Systems

The scp command is used to securely copy files between systems.

Example − To copy a file called chúng tôi from local system to a remote system with IP address 192.168.1.1, use following command −

scp chúng tôi [email protected]:/path/to/destination wget – Download Files From Web

The wget command is used to download files from web.

Example − To download a file from a website, use following command −

tar – Create and Extract Compressed Archives

The tar command is used to create and extract compressed archives.

Example − To create a compressed archive of a directory called mydir, use following command −

tar -czvf chúng tôi mydir crontab – Schedule Tasks to Run at Specific Times

The crontab command is used to schedule tasks to run at specific times.

Example − To schedule a task to run every day at 2am, use following command −

0 2 * * * /path/to/command useradd – Add a New User to System

The useradd command is used to add a new user to system.

Example − To add a new user with username “john”, use following command −

useradd john passwd – Change User Password

The passwd command is used to change password of a user.

Example − To change password for user “john”, use following command −

passwd john sudo – Execute a Command with Superuser Privileges

The sudo command is used to execute a command with superuser privileges.

Example − To execute a command as a superuser, use following command −

sudo command Conclusion

In conclusion, Linux commands are essential for system administrators to manage and troubleshoot their systems efficiently. above 25 commands are just a few of many commands available in Linux. By mastering these commands, you can become more proficient in managing Linux systems. I hope this article has been useful in providing you with some useful Linux commands to help you in your role as a system administrator.

How To Play Cribbage: Basic Rules, Gameplay, And Strategy

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To play Cribbage, you’ll need a Cribbage board, pegs, and a deck of cards. The goal of Cribbage is to score 121 points before your opponent by creating different card combinations. To start the game, shuffle the deck and have each player take half of it. Whoever has the lowest card on the bottom of their half deals first. Deal 6 cards to each player. Then, each player looks at their hand and chooses 2 cards to remove from the game. Place these cards off to the side face-down. These cards are called the “crib.” Next, cut the deck and reveal the top card on the bottom half. This card is the starter card. The starter card is used to help calculate points at the end of play. If the starter card is a Jack, the dealer starts the game with 2 points automatically. After the starter card is revealed, the non-dealing player reveals a card from their hand. Then, the dealer reveals a card on their side of the table. Each card’s numeric value is added to the previous card’s numeric value to track the score up to a total of 31, with kings, queens, and jacks counting for 10, and aces counting as 1. Each player announces the running total as they play their card. For example, the non-dealing player may put a 6 down and say, “6.” The dealer then may play an 8 and say, “14.” The running total can never exceed 31. If a player cannot play a card from their hand without exceeding 31, they say, “Go,” and the other player scores 1 point. The scoring player may then play another card without exceeding 31. If a player reaches exactly 31, they get 2 points. After reaching 31 or “Go,” the running total resets to 0 and the player that failed to score plays their next card. Keep track of the score by moving your peg into the corresponding slot on the board. Move it every time you score and add your points together. You can also score points by creating combinations of cards while playing your hand out, which is called “pegging.” These points are calculated at the end of the round after all of the cards have been played. When both players have played all of the cards in their hands, the cards are counted for points in the following order: non-dealer’s hand, dealer’s hand, then the crib. The starter card is assumed to be a part of both player’s hands while they’re scoring points. If you have any 2 cards that add up to 15, you score 2 points. If you played 2 cards of the same rank, you get 2 points. You get 6 points for playing 3 of the same card in a row, and 12 points for playing 4 of the same cards in a row. You also score 1 point for every card played in an ascending or descending order. For example, if the dealing player plays a 3, followed by another 3 and a 4, they’ve earned 3 points. The dealer counts their hand first, followed by the non-dealing player. Then, the crib is counted by the dealing player. Any combinations in the crib are scored for the dealer. Scoring for the crib is counted the same way as regular play, with one adjustment. If the face-up card on top of the deck shares a suit with a jack in the crib, the dealing player is awarded an additional point. When you’re finished scoring a round, the non-dealing player from the previous round shuffles the cards and deals out a new hand. Keep playing until one player reaches 121 points and wins! For more tips, including how to score each hand and end the round, read on!

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What Is Bitcoin And How You Can Utilize It Online

It is very possible to live our entire life online. We can chat with our friends, we can obtain knowledge from ebooks and we can order food or medicines using the web. And, since 2009, we can even pay and get paid using Internet’s own currency – Bitcoin (sign: BTC).

The origin of Bitcoin

Created in 2009 by the Japanese pseudonymous developer Satoshi Nakamoto (it is not known if, behind this pseudonym, was a person or a whole group), this currency is a free open-source project based in the peer-to-peer technology, with all its issues and transactions being carried and managed by the whole network instead being centralized, as happens with the regular currencies. This means that, if you want to be paid by a friend living in the other side of the world, that payment made with Bitcoins will not involve any other entity such as banks.

How Bitcoin works

Just like Paypal where every account is associated with an email address, everyone transacting Bitcoin has at least one unique address, made by a set of regular characters. When your friend send money to you, the network adds your unique address to the Bitcoins and sends them to you; now you own that amount, while your friend is prevented from using it again by the network.

The scheme below represents this process, for a transaction of 2.00 BTC using more than one address.

Unlike Paypal that transacts in the physical currency, Bitcoin is the currency for the Web. Regardless which country you are residing, you have to own Bitcoin to transact in Bitcoin.

Managing your Bitcoin

To manage your Bitcoin and all its transaction, you have to use a software call “wallets“. There are various software available for multiple operating systems and platforms both as desktop (requiring installation) or web-based, which are required to be a part of the Bitcoin network. Your wallet generates your Bitcoin address, and through it, lets you send and receive Bitcoins from other users. It is basically your account manager – much like the regular e-banking services: you can watch your balance, the transactions you made, pay for services and goods, make transfers, and so on. Also, you don’t have to be online in order to be paid; the wallet software receives and holds your money in place until your next connection.

(There are actually 

Earning Bitcoins

(There are actually real coins made, which are basically collectibles containing codes to be redeemed by digital Bitcoins.)

At this moment, you’re probably wondering how to gain access to Bitcoins. The first and easiest way is to simply buy them , and there are many places to do this. It is also possible to generate Bitcoins. That’s right – growing money!

Mining Bitcoins

This process, however, is much harder than it seems. Mining is a way to process and monitor transactions through the creation of blocks – permanent records of Bitcoin activity and new Bitcoins. Whenever a block is created, an ever-decreasing (halving every 210K blocks) bounty (in BTC) is awarded to its creator, and that block gets in line with other blocks, thus forming a blockchain. In order to perform the mining process, you need the right software and hardware. Since the mining rewards (this is the number of Bitcoins generated per block) are always decreasing, the number of Bitcoins in existence will never exceed 21 million. In this graph, you can watch the evolution of the total Bitcoins in circulation, which is still under 11 million.

Some concerns with security might arise, like in all other online payment methods. Even though all Bitcoin transactions are stored publicly, available for anyone wanting to see them and providing information such as one’s balance and address, it is not possible to associate such data to its physical owner. This means that, unless you publicly display your Bitcoin address, no one will know that it belongs to you. However, to improve security, it is suggested that users create a new address every time they make a transaction and that they hide their computer’s IP.

There are many ways in which you can use Bitcoins, both online (art, web hosting, design, e-mail services, security services, software, and many others) and offline (auction sites, toys, clothing, electronics, consumables, books, music, and even professional services). In fact, more and more stores and professionals are accepting this currency as payment. It is safe to say that Bitcoin, like nearly every Internet-related creation, is shaking the actual society.

It was recently reported that Bitcoin value has reached $1 billion, which is too much to not take into account. Since Bitcoin is not related to any institution or government, it tends to be safer than the usual currencies that are tied to current economy in crisis. However, it is important to highlight that the Bitcoin world is still in development, so it is not possible yet to know the true potential and effects that Bitcoin might have in our lives.

Image credit: Stack of bitcoins isolated on white by BigStockPhoto

Diogo Costa

Diogo (@diogocostaweb) is a Biologist with a grip on computers and technology. Running Windows systems all his life, has a big interest in discovering new apps that increase productivity or simply make things more interesting. He lives in Portugal and has photography and music as main hobbies. He is also the author of the page chúng tôi a page for short (but useful) computer tweaks and tutorials.

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