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Linux Info/howto Info about working with linux part1

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Linux on your desktop?!


What kind of hardware do i need to run Linux?

Linux will basically run on almost all hardware you can think of. from a usb-memorystick up to a big mainframe. For modern distro's a PentiumIII/Celeron or Athlon computer with 128mb ram (256mb recommended) are good enough to use.


I thought Linux was free but there also packages for sale?

Thats correct you can get Linux for free from the internet but there is also a option to buy it at a store. When you buy (for instance) suse linux at a store you will be provided with a handbook and support from suse itself. When you get it for free on the internet you will need to use irc-channels, the site from your distro, google or irc to get your info.


Some sites (like https://www.osdisc.com/ ) also give you the option to buy linux for a small price so you don't have to download it (note the distro's bought from osdisk.com don't come with a handbook)


Where can i download linux?

A good place to start your search is http://forums.xisto.com/no_longer_exists/ which has links to almost all distro's out there and also give some info about them. You could also go directly to the website of the distro of your choice.


Can i install linux and windows on the same computer?

Sure you can that's no problem at all :angry:

You can use a partition program like Partition Magic to make some room on your harddisk (if you partition your harddisk don't forget to defragment it first). I recommend at least 5GB of space to use for your linux installation specially when you want to use a graphical interface. Most of the time when installing linux you will have the option to let the installer use the free space on your harddisk pick this option and the free space you created will be used for linux. During the installation you can also setup a boot loader (most modern distro's do the setup automatically) just make sure all other OS-es are recognized. After the installation you can use the boot loader grub (or lilo) to choose between linux or windows.


Whats the bootloader?

A bootloader is the first software program that runs when a computer starts. It is responsible for loading and transferring control to the operating system.


On linux there are two main bootloaders namely Grub (GRand Unified Bootloader) http://www.gnu.org/software/grub/

and LiLo (the Linux boot Loader). http://forums.xisto.com/no_longer_exists/


For info about howto setup grub or lilo I point you to the websites given since its allot of work to write a complete howto on that to. But perhaps in a later stadium I will do that to :D



What linux program do i use for *this* windows program?

for most windows programs there is a good alternative on linux I will hand you a few options here: (W= Windows L=Linux)


W: Winamp -> L: Xmms, Amarok

W: ICQ -> L: Licq, Gaim, Kopete

W: MSN -> L: Kopete, Gaim, Amsn

W: IE -> L: Opera. Mozilla, Firefox, Konqueror

W: Photoshop -> L: Gimp

W: Office -> L: OpenOffice, Koffice

W: outlook -> L: Evolution, Kmial, Thunderbird

W: Mediaplayer/dvd-player -> L: Mplayer, Xine, Totem-movieplayer etc



Can I access my windows partitions in Linux?

Yes you can without any problems, but you will need to mount them to be viewable and writable to you. But first some small (but important) information about partitions.


In linux you can view which partitions are available to you by typing 'cat /proc/partitions' into a terminal (in windows known as command prompt/dos box). This will provide you with info about the partitions that are on your harddisk(s). When given that command on my box for instance I get the following output:


pbrugge@mybox:~$ cat /proc/partitionsmajor minor  #blocks  name   3     0   20010312 hda   3     1   12058168 hda1   3     2          1 hda2   3     5    7952080 hda5   3    64   58633344 hdb   3    65   10241406 hdb1   3    66   20482875 hdb2   3    67     498015 hdb3   3    68          1 hdb4   3    69   17679501 hdb5   3    70    9727326 hdb6

hda is the first IDE-channels harddisk (master), hdb is the second harddisk (slave). Hdc is the first on the second IDE-channel etc..


As you can see in my output there are numbers behind it (hda1) this are the partitions on the harddisk. A drive can have up to 4 primary partitions (hdx1-4) and unlimited logical ones which go on a extended partition (hdx5 hdx?) So hda1 means the first primary partition on the first IDE disk.


Note: A extended partition acts the same as a primary partition so setting up a extended partition means you loose one primary.

Note2: Logical partitions always start @ hdx5 and up


Oke back to mounting now :)


in linux a partition gets mounted in a directory so before mounting a disk make sure you have setup a mount point where it can be mounted. Most common is to set a mount point in the '/mnt' directory. make sure its easy to remember. For instance for your windows 'c' partition you could set: '/mnt/c' this is done as root in a terminal with the command 'mkdir /mnt/c'

most pre-build kernels have support for almost all common file types.


which are:

- ext2/ext3/reiserfs/xfs for linux

- vfat en ntfs for windows

- iso9660 for cdrom


These are important to mount a partition in linux. to mount a ntfs partition that is on your C in windows the command to give is 'mount -t ntfs -o ro /dev/hda1 /mnt/c'.


Another way to mount a drive is by use of the file '/etc/fstab' you still need to make mount points but if you set the mount options in the '/etc/fstab' file you can mount a drive whit the much shorter command 'mount /mnt/c'.


An example of the '/etc/fstab' file


# /etc/fstab: static file system information.## <file system> <mount point>   <type>         <options>                    <dump>  <pass>proc            /proc           proc           defaults                       0       0/dev/hdb5       /               ext3           defaults,errors=remount-ro     0       1/dev/hdb6       /home           ext3           defaults                       0       2/dev/hdb3       none            swap           sw                             0       0/dev/hdd        /media/cdrom0   udf,iso9660    ro,user,noauto                 0       0/dev/hdc        /media/cdrom1   udf,iso9660    ro,user,noauto                 0       0/dev/fd0        /media/floppy0  auto           rw,user,noauto                 0       0/dev/hda1       /mnt/c          ntfs           rw,user,noauto umask=0000      0       0

the last line is the line we where talking about before so i will keep using it as reverence point for this section. i will explain what it all means here:


'/dev/hda1' is the partition we would like to mount on the mount point' /mnt/c' since it is a ntfs partition we need to set the ' type' to ' ntfs' we want 'read-write' access and the possibility for all users 'user'+' umask=0000' The noauto option means it wont be auto mounted at boot so you need to give the mount command to mount it. If you like to auto mount the partition during the boot just set 'auto' instead of 'noauto'.


Installing software.

Depending on what type of distro you are using there are a few options to install software on it. But notice that linux is not windows so .exe will not work on it. Linux works a little different.


Most linux distro's use a package manager to install or remove software. The best known are RPM and DPKG. Rpm or .rpm is the Redhat Package Manager and comes with Fedora, Redhat, Mandriva and Suse for instance. Dpkg or .deb is the package manager for debian based distro's like ubuntu, debian and xandros. There are also .tar files on the internet sometimes they are special pkgtool which is a installer tool on Slackware but most of the time they are just a kind of zip file with the source of the program.

Its recommended to use the package installer coming with your distro to install software since that way the decencies of a package get installed to and its easier to remove a package after installation.

.deb files almost always use Apt as there package installer. i guess most debian/ubuntu users will know the command 'apt-get install package name' or when downloaded a .deb package from the net 'dpkg -i package.deb'

.rpm is a little different there are more package installers for that like Yast (suse), Yum, red Carpet, urmpi etc. it dependence on your distro what installer you will have. Just read the info on the site of the distro you choose for info about it.

Oke and how about installing software from source with a tar file?

Well like I told before it is better to use the package manager but if you really want to install from source the best way to do it is make a directory in your root called 'opt' the reason for this is that you can remove the software when needed without problems.

After making that directory you untar (unpack) the source file (see 'man tar' for info) and instead of the default ./configure command you set a prefix to the opt directory which means the complete command will look like this:

'./configure prefix=/opt/nameoffile'


After that a 'make' and 'make install' will do the rest.


Can i run windows programs in linux?

That question is a little hard to answer since its yes and no.

You can't run windows programs directly in linux since linux does not support .exe files but there are some ways to make programs that have been written for windows work in linux.


First there is the free Wine a program that is a completely free alternative implementation of the Windows API that can use windows dll's to run programs. There are lots of programs that will work with it on linux but not all and some are hard to configure. But the site has good documentation and links to help sites to make your program work. Even allot of windows games can work with Wine. take a look at the site for more info about Wine.


Then there is VMware (payed) a program that emulates a complete system in your OS on which you can install a complete windows environment but to do so you need to install the complete OS in Vmware which takes lots of room and since it emulates a complete computer it uses lots of resources (running 2 systems @ ones) and is not really fast. But on the other site most windows only programs will run without any problems.


Also win4lin is a payed program which is faster as Vmware but also needs a copy of Windows to run.


Other players on the market (both payed) are: Cedega and Cross over Office both inspired by Wine but with some improvements and non-free libraries.


And how about games?

There are windows games that have a native installer for linux for example Doom 1-3, Unreal tournament and lots of other shooters also the game Never Winter Night runs smooth. But if a game has no native installer than you can try to make it run with Cedega or Wine.

there are also pure linux games that can be lots of fun take a look at The linux gametome and see for yourself what fun and good games there are for free :angry:


How about the Gui?

In Linux you can pick lots of different window managers and desktop environments for your desktop some look and feel like windows others are completely different in both look and feel. But because of the freedom you have you can make your system look the way you want.


Two well known desktop environments are gnome and kde but there you can also use window-managers like icewm, fluxbox, afterstep and lots of others. Just pick the one you like and start playing with it :)


I use Gnome myself:


Posted Image



Oke nice info but why don't you tell me howto install linux??

That's because every distro has a different installation process and its almost impossible to write them all down. Just follow the guidelines on the site of the distro of your choice. But trust me installing Linux is easier than most people think.

Goodluck and have fun :angry:


Pbrugge :angry:

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Very cool tutorial... I'm in the process of organizing a workshop on free and open source software in college, and I'm sure this will be very helpful. As you can imagine, Linux is a rather important example of Free and Open Source Software, so a lot of the talks are based on linux, and this information comes in handy.By the way, to the list of substitutes for application programs in windows, I'd add the following:Photoshop -> GIMPDreamweaver -> Quanta Plus, NVuVisual Basic -> HBasic (though not as good.)Nero -> K3BAnd it's worth noting that there are lots of things that run on Linux that you wouldn't find on Windows, although most s/w now-a-days have different versions for different operating systems :)I'll post a screenshot of my desktop sometime soon...Thanks again for the great tutorial. Cheers!

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Good good.. That's what people really wants to know how to get around with Linux after using Windows for years.Perhaps having screenshots on the steps to install a program in Linux will be better because that's somewhat a basic that a Linux newbie should know to get things started.

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Good good.. That's what people really wants to know how to get around with Linux after using Windows for years.


Perhaps having screenshots on the steps to install a program in Linux will be better because that's somewhat a basic that a Linux newbie should know to get things started.


Thats why this is part1 I knew there would come tips and so for improvement when part2 is done I maybe can ask a mod to merge it with this one, but on the otherhand it also can be a total new topic.


The problem with a howto about installing stuff in linux is because there are various ways to do that.


For example if I recall correctly you use gentoo?


So installing stuff on your distro is most of the time just 'emerge package' in a terminal some times with a prefix (in gentoo thats done with) 'USE="arguments" emerge package' but on apt-based distro's and rpm based ones it work totaly diferent.


Trust me I really intent to write such a howto but first I need to figure out how to do that logical and in a way its understandeble for all readers.


.tar and .sh files are installed the same way on most distro's but like I told in the TS its recommended to use the package manager of your distro instead.


But stay tunned another howto with that info is on its way, I just aint sure when its done :)

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One distro I would like to point out is DamnSmallLinux. (Damnsmalllinux.org)Its a fairly newb friendly linux distro that fits onto a business card cd (<50mb).They have an icon on the desktop called MyDSL and its a list of all the apps that have been officially released. When you're connected to the internet, you just click the button and it downloads and installs :).Also, when you bring up the directory that has the .dsl packages(if you saved them to a usb drive/cd/hard drive) in emelfm.bin (file manager), you select it, then click a button that says "MyDSL" and it automatically installs. Its really user friendly for linux, but you'll need to download some extra packages (all the libraries to run some of the files) before you dive headfirst. Their forums are _really_ helpful too.

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