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Forums Super Moderator
Feb 20, 2001
If you have useful links, hints or tips for newer linux users, please post them here. Please do not hijack this thread - it would be nice if we could keep it to the point. I have often seen the same question answered many times, and I feel that a list of links, explanations etc would be useful. If anyone would like to see something added, feel free to add it, or email/pm me and I will post a description.

www.linuxdoc.org - Linux documentation project
www.linuxnewbie.org - Great explanations for newer users
www.linuxiso.org - download linux!

Linux is an open source OS - based on the linux kernel written by Linus Torvalds as a UNIX clone. Many of the programs - such as the shell, GUI etc are totally seperate from the actual linux. The correct term for linux is in fact GNU/Linux - acknowledging that it is actually the GNU OS using the Linux kernel.

GNU - www.gnu.org
Linux - www.linux.org

Linux comes in a variety of forms, each called distributions. They differ only very slightly - in their setup programs usually.
The most popular ones are:
Redhat = www.redhat.com 9.0 is the latest
SuSE = www.suse.com 8.2 latest
Mandrake = www.linux-mandrake.com 9.1 latest.
Debian = www.debian.org 3.0 latest (I think)

All modern distros come with a GUI (pictures ) - this is XFree86, currently at 4.2 I think. This is the same is as used for Solaris and *BSD.

The best type? I personally use SuSE, but Mandrake is supposedly easier to use and debian has a far superior method of handling programs. However Mandrake, SuSE and Redhat are the best for newer users, if a little less flexible.

Some Windows apps will run under linux* - see www.winehq.org for more details. Linux comes with a vast array of its own programs:

[* Whoops. Put windows by accident :eek: :D]

Multimedia: Linux has facilities for burning CDs, making MP3s and comes with its own open source sound format (Ogg Vorbis). It can play CDs and DVDs.

Server: Funtions for file sharing. web serving, file serving, proxy serving, you name it

Internet: A variety of different web browsers and ftp clients etc.

Games: Loki games have ported a lot of windows favourites to linux - including Quake 3 and Railroad Tycoon 2. Linux also comes with many other open source games including Descent 1 and a lot of fun arcade games (tetris, etc).

Graphics: The GIMP imho is the best graphics program EVER. Moonlight 3D and Blender enable you to build 3d graphics and scenes.

Development: All linux versions come with gcc, for compiling java, C++ and C programs. Linux also comes with many editors, Development environments and HTML coding helpers.

Hope this gives you an idea of what linux is and what linux can do. If you ever have any problems feel free to PM or email me, or post in the Alternative OSes forum

As posted by Spike Speigel:

linux is an open-source operating system, which means all of the code is available to everyone, who may alter it to suit their own needs. this is unlike windows, since all of windows' code is closed-source. it is a very stable operating system and when configured correctly it will almost never crash like windows will. it is a phenomenal server operating system and desktop system too. it is very customizable (moreso that windows by far) and you can do almost anything in linux that you can do in windows. if there is not a linux version of a windows program (like AOL instant messenger for linux, made by AOL), there is an equivalent that is sometimes better (like staroffice, made by sun microsystems which is better imo than microsoft office). i recommend either redhat, mandrake, or suse linux for beginners. i use redhat and it is almost as easy to install as windows. distrobutions such as debian and slackware are for more experienced user who still aren't newbified but it is up to you which one you want to use. i also recommend buying the commercial version which helps out the companies and linux as a whole. they run between $30-$100 but that is still way cheaper than a windows distro. however if money is a problem you can go to www.linuxiso.org and download the cds to many linux distros for free. remember that's the beauty of linux: open source means cheap or free for the user-base.

as far as games go, that is where linux lacks. there are ported versions of some games, like quake 3 that were made by loki games, but sadly loki went out of business a few months ago. most people are stuck with the option of using wine (a windows emulator) to play windows games in linux. i haven't had any luck with this program and it definitely is not the same as playing the games in windows.

the bottom line: if you are willing to do without the games but want a stable alternative to windows that you can do almost anything in (for FREE!!!!), go with linux. it will be a bit of a culture shock at first being a newbie, but you'll get used to it and i believe it will be a rewarding experience for you.


As posted by Wa11y:
Linux is an operating system based off Unix. It's a GUI (Graphical User Interface) much like Windows. It's open source, which means you don't have to pay for it, but it's a good idea to buy your first distro in a store, so you can get the manual that comes with it, and also to support Linux, if you believe in supporting it.

There are quite a few different distros (distributions, essentally "flavors") of Linux. I, myself, have only ever worked with Mandrake, but there is also RedHat, Slackware, and quite a few others.

I believe some Windows applications can be modified to work under Linux, but there are also some Windows emulators for Linux so you can run your Windows apps (which I think defeats the purpose of running Linux, but that's just me.)

If you search through some older posts here you'll find a wealth of information on the subject, and some recommendations as well.
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Forums Super Moderator
Feb 20, 2001
Hints & Tips

1) Get to know the command line - this is your most useful tool when things go wrong.

/ refers to the root directory - the top of the filesytem.
~/ refers to your home directory.
../ refers to the directory containing the current directory.
./ refers to the current directory
/tmp looks in the root directory for the tmp file or directory
tmp looks in the current directory for the tmp file or directory.

To move to directories simply use cd, eg:
cd /tmp/mydir
To move directly to your home directory do:
cd ~/ (that is tilde ~, forwardslash /)
Or simply do:

pwd displays the current directory.

Deleting and changing files
To create an empty file use touch:
touch myfile

To delete a file, use rm.
rm myfile deletes the file: myfile
rm -r mydir deletes the file/directory: mydir and all files and folders in it.
rm -f myfile forces the system to delete myfile.

To create a directory use mkdir or md. For example, to create a directory mydir:
md mydir

To remove a directory use rm -r, rmdir or rd
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Forums Super Moderator
Feb 20, 2001
There are two types of user:
- root, the system admin/superuser. This should only be used when absolutely necessary - misuse could seriously damage the system - he/she has complete access to the whole system.

- other users: These users have read access to all files except the documents of other users. They have write access to only the /tmp directory and their own home directory - where they store their own files and settings.


Forums Super Moderator
Feb 20, 2001

Software for linux comes in 4 main forms:

Tarred Gzipped Source Code
This is the source code tarred and gzipped, to compress it.Not all tar.gz files are programs, it is simply a packaging method. To install sofware in this form, copy it to a directory (anywhere that you have access to) and perform the following steps:

1) Log in - as a normal user or root user - it is unimportant

2) Go to the directory where the tar.gz file is

3) Execute the following command (x=extract v=verbose z=unzip):
tar zxvf mypackage.tar.gz

4) Look for the directory created, I will assume that the above example produced a directory called mydir. Go into it.
cd mydir

5)Type the following commands, in order:

This prepares the software to use.

6) Make sure you are logged in as root, or have root privelages, and type:
make install
This installs the software.

RPM Packages
These are packages of compiled software - each item of software often relies on other software - ie you need certain KDE core elements before installing the sound bits. These are known as dependencies.

These usually come as .rpm files.
Install them by doing:
rpm -Uvh myrpm.rpm

If you need to force the rpms to install regardless (NOT reccomended, except for Vcard drivers etc):
rpm -Uvh myrpm.rpm --nodeps --force
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Forums Super Moderator
Feb 20, 2001
New to Linux? Choosing a Distro?

Linux can be obtained from www.linuxiso.org for free, but requires downloading.
I personally would reccommend buying a distro - support and manuals (and often some cool stickers :)) are included.

SuSE Linux, my personal fav. - www.suse.com www.suse.co.uk
Linux Mandrake. - www.linux-mandrake.com
Redhat - www.redhat.com

These three distros are generally considered to be the easiest to use. There is also:

Debian Linux - www.debian.org
Slackware - www.slackware.com


Forums Super Moderator
Feb 20, 2001
Folding @ Home
Many of you may have heard of the Folding at Home project - see the [email protected] section of the forums or http://folding.stanford.edu for more info. You can fold using linux - to do so, you need to do the following:

1. Copy the downloaded executable (from the [email protected] website) to an empty directory - in a directory in /tmp is a good idea.

2. Change the permissions of the [email protected] program to allow anyone to run it:
chmod +x <[email protected] file>

3. Then run the program - you will need an active net connection, but only for sending and retrieving work.
./<[email protected] program

Seti @ Home Added by SpeeDj

First browse over to here; Unix/Linux Client and download your appropriate client. Then do the following in a shell; tar xvf filename.tar

Now what follows is an excerpt from Seti @ Home's Site;
setiathome - the [email protected] client program

setiathome [options]

setiathome is the UNIX version of the [email protected] client.
It downloads radio telescope data from a network server,
analyzes the data looking for signals of extraterrestrial origin,
and uploads results to the server, repeating this cycle indefinitely.
See http://setiathome.berkeley.edu for more information.

The program generates several files with .sah extension
in the directory from which it's run.
These should not be modified.

If you want to run multiple instances of setiathome
(on a multiprocessor machine, or on multiple machines
that share a filesystem) each one must be run in a different directory.
You can use symlinks for each directory to avoid duplication
of the binary image. e.g.:
ln -s cpu0/setiathome cpu1/setiathome

setiathome uses a lock file (lock.sah) to prevent
multiple instances from running in the same directory.

To finish up your current work unit, return your result, and not
download a new work unit, while the client is running, touch
a file named "stop_after_send.txt" in the client directory.
When the processing is finished, and the result sent, the client will stop.
*** Note this one file extension is .txt, while all other files used by the client have extensions .sah ***

The file "pid.sah" contains the process ID of the current instance.

The first time you run setiathome it will interactively
ask you for email address, name, country etc.
This info is stored in a file and no interaction is
needed when you run the program subsequently.

After this you can run setiathome in the background,
and direct its output to /dev/null if you like.

setiathome can be freely stopped and restarted.
It saves its state in files, and will pick up where it left off.

If you want setiathome to be started automatically, you can
set up a cron job. Add the following line to your crontab:

0 * * * * cd <setidir>; ./setiathome -nice 19 > /dev/null 2> /dev/null

Where <setidir> is the directory where the setiathome client is installed.
This cron job will attempt to start the client at the top of every hour.
If it is already running, the next invocation will do nothing.
If the client is not running, it will be started.
For more information on cron jobs see the crontab(1) manual page.

The following script will stop all instances [email protected]:
(assuming the binary execution name is: setiathome)

#! /bin/sh
kill `ps aux | grep setia | grep -v grep | awk '{print $2}'`

(adjust the ps arguments for your system)

The following will stop the instance in the current directory:

#! /bin/sh
kill `cat pid.sah`

Please do not operate the client on machines for which you do not
have permission.


If the environment variable HTTP_PROXY is defined,
setiathome will connect through a proxy server,
specified as hostname or hostname:port.

If the environment variable SOCKS_SERVER is defined,
setiathome will connect through a SOCKS server,
specified as hostname or hostname:port.
If the environment variables SOCKS_USER and SOCKS_PASSWD
are defined, these will be used as the login name and password
for the SOCKS server. Otherwise setiathome will query you.

Login or create new account.

Show list of country codes.

Show software version

-nice N
Set "nice" priority to N (default 1);

Send email (to login email address) on errors.
Useful if you run in background directed to /dev/null.
This option is not available for all clients.

Generate a data stream for the xsetiathome graphical interface
(see README.xsetiathome)
This option is not available for all clients.

-proxy hostname:port
Connect to [email protected] server via specified HTTP proxy server and port.

-socks_server hostname:port
Connect to [email protected] server via specified SOCKS server and port.
SOCKS versions 4 and 5 are supported.

-socks_user name
SOCKS user name.

-socks_passwd password
SOCKS password.

If a work_unit.sah file is present, process this work unit
and stop after processing is complete, do not return result.
If the client is started with this option, and there is
a completed result.sah file present, the client will first
return the results, then pick up a new work unit, process
to completion, then exit.

Return results and pick up a new work unit.
This option only functions if the result.sah file is present
and complete indicating that processing is finished for this
work unit. If a work_unit.sah is present, indicating processing
is not complete, no transfer or processing will be performed,
and the client will exit.
(see also: stop_after_send.txt mentioned in FILES above)

print a running summary of the work being done.
Starting with the version 2.4 clients, the client is silent
to stdout during processing. There are messages at the start
and finish of processing a work unit, but there are no progress
messages printed during processing unless this option is used.

omit the multiple-instance check, which uses file locking
(not available on some NFS systems)

Outstanding shared memory segments and semaphores may be left
active in case of an abnormal exit of the 'setiathome -graphics'
process. These can prevent any future invocation of
'setiathome -graphics'. To resolve this problem, use 'ipcs'
and 'ipcrm' to remove shared memory segments and semaphores that
are not associated with a process. This behavior may vary
depending upon how your UNIX system handles this situation.
See also ipcs(1) and ipcrm(1)

For version 3.0 clients, the estimated progress as indicated
by the prog= line in the state.sah file in not exactly linear
in relationship to completion time. Using this value to
predict completion time may not be completely accurate.
The linear relationship will vary depending upon the characteristics
of the work unit parameters.

There is much more information to be found about the operation
of the client at the following WEB sites:
with discussions of add-on programs and scripts to control
the client in various situations.
Again if you have questions feel free to post them.
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Forums Super Moderator
Feb 20, 2001
Installing Linux

Installing Linux

You will need:
- a 200MB or so partition for swap space
- another partition, recomended 1GB or more.

The install program should allow you to format the partitions. Format the swap space as 'swap'.
For the second partition you will usually have the choice of one or more of these:

ext2 - 2nd extended file system
The main standard among linux distros - nearly every version of linux will give you this choice. It is widely supported but if the computer is shut down improperly, the file system has to be checked. (like scandisk, but for linux). Depending on the size of the partition this could take quite a time.

ext3 - 3rd extended file system
The newer ext fs - backwards compatible with ext2 (it can be used as if it was ext2, but its new capabilities will not be used in such a case). Ext3 is a journalling file system - it will log each and every change made to the file system. If the computer is shut down incorrectly, the file system knows automatically what has to be fixed - ie what files were open at the time. This makes restarting after a crash/power cut a lot quicker.

Also a journalling file system - not readable as any other file system. ReiserFS has journalling ability, saving time when rebooting after a crash. It has some issues with RAID arrays, unfortunately. Only RAID 0 is ReiserFS compatuble.

IBM JFS - Journalling File System
Not as widely used as the above three file systems, but it is also a Journalling filesystem, developed by IBM.

A journalling filesystem by SGI, it is meant to be quite fast. It is not as common as the first three file systems. Originally developed for SGIs IRIX OS.

After choosing partitions you will need to choose packages to install. You will usually be OK with the default install - you can always add new packages later.


Forums Super Moderator
Feb 20, 2001
10037762 said:
Some Windows apps will run under windows

i hope windows apps should run under windows lol, just a little mistake but i like the information you have here very helpful :)
:eek: Oops. Thanks :D


Forums Super Moderator
Feb 20, 2001

To use do:
gcc helloworld.c -o helloworld
gcc <source-name> -o <output executable>

If no output filename is specified, a.out is default.

To run the file do:
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Forums Super Moderator
Feb 20, 2001
phillyTIM said:
this is great, very useful, thanx david
Thanks ;)
I might add how to compile a kernel soon...


Nov 22, 2001
Blacksburg, Virginia, USA
I finally found why gcc wasn't working, i used gcc instead of g++, lol,
Thanks a lot David, also my insert(you know what thread made me put this here, David, man that got p***ed me off):

About Linux and Modems
A problem many people come by with linux is there modem won't work. Their first reaction is "Linux is crap!" which is wrong, like this guy said(a link to another thread). Please don't be that kind of person.
What is most likely wrong with your comp. is your modem is a winmodem, notice the prefix: win. These modems let windows do all the work a regular modem should do to save you some cash but don't work without special drivers which can be found here www.linmodems.org . A non-winmodem is hard to come by these days, I started a thread asking for one that can be found here.

Thats bout it, hey David how about teachin us how to let users other than root use kppp? I've tried everything, even chmod, etc. Thanx!


Forums Super Moderator
Feb 20, 2001
drunkmonkey said:

Thats bout it, hey David how about teachin us how to let users other than root use kppp? I've tried everything, even chmod, etc. Thanx!

I think you need to add the names of all users allowed access to PPP to certain groups. I'll have a look about and see if I can come up with the group names.


Forums Super Moderator
Feb 20, 2001
SpeeDj said:
To be fair you should really add a [email protected] how to, not everyone folds as you know.

Would only be fair to a Seti'r wanting to run some penguin loving.

J :cool:

I don't actually SETI so I don't know how to set SETI up for Linux. However, anyone who does SETI in Linux feel free to add a section on that.



Forums Super Moderator
Feb 20, 2001
Disk Imaging
In some situations you may want to image a file/partition to another file/partition. This can be done with dd, found in all Linux distros

dd can be used as follows:

dd if=<source> of=<destination>

Source/destination can be a file, or a device. Eg for the first partition on the secondary master drive to a file called backup.img:

dd if=/dev/hdc1 of=backup.img

You can also specify how much of it you want to copy over. Specify the block size, in bytes, and then how many blocks. For example to copy 100MB from the above example, try bs=1048576 to set block size to 1MB and then count = 100 to copy 100 of the blocks:

dd if=/dev/hdc1 of=backup.img bs=1048576 count=100


New Member
May 8, 2002
Thanks for all the info, David. I have played with a SuSE 7.3 a bit, and am installing it as OS#3 on my new machine. I am looking forward to more freedom from the M$ Beast.

The developers version of SuSE 7.3 retails for something like $70, and has a gazillion apps, multiple GUIs, Multiple Office suites, a lot of choices in the setup of your system. It also has an automated partitioning tool, although I am using Partiton Magic.

If more of use bite the bullet and start using Linux, maybe we can all kiss Bluescreens, reboots, and f*disk (aptly named) goodbye. Where the users go, the apps will follow.
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Forums Super Moderator
Feb 20, 2001
Audioaficionado said:
Can you dual boot Linux and windows? Since windows is famous for hunting down other residing OSes on the system and screwing with them, I'd have to install windows first. Right?

Install Windows first, yes. Then install Linux. Linux will install a bootloader, usually Syslinux, LILO or GRUB. This will give you a nice graphical menu each time you boot, which will let you choose which OS you want to boot each time you boot your PC.

You can restore LILO/GRUB/Syslinux if windows overwrites it tho.