Getting Started With Linux

72 posts in this topic

I noticed in another post that it was requested to have some sort of general document that people could view that would help them out with starting out with linux. First off YAY! for you for switching over. Below I have listed a few resources you can use that will help you get on your way. Biggest suggestion is to have some sort of burner if you want to make this totally free.

Here Are the Most Popular

Redhat -- Fedora

Click Here


Click Here


Click Here


Click Here


Click Here

One of the most commonly found would be Redhat9 and Slackware releases. These two seem to be the popular favorites.

Another resource you can look at is a place called where you can check out the isos for linux distro's.

For those of you who can't seem to make up their mind and want a larger list then go to

*** I will add more content as I go to this post that way users have a nice slab to look at.

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ok, here's a little howto on partitioning your drive for linux.

first, what you should know is that all devices in linux are listed as files, which are located in the /dev directory.

the first IDE drive is called /dev/hda, second /dev/hdb, etc

SCSI and usb drives are called /dev/sda, /dev/sdb and so on

partitions of a drive are identified by adding a number to the file, so for expample, if i sliced my first IDE drive in 3 parts, i'd have /dev/hda1 /dev/hda2 and /dev/hda3.

<insert fdisk howto here>

with 3 partitions, you can install linux(ok, the boot partition isnt really needed anymore since newer BIOSes can boot after the first 1024th cylinder, but anyways)

/dev/hda1 will be the /boot partition

/dev/hda2 will be used for swap

/dev/hda3 for / "root"

since the /boot part only holds kernel and bootloader's configs, it doesn't need to be that big, so around 16MB is fine.

a rule of thumb for swap is to make it around 2x as big as your ram size, but i recommend no less than 128MB.

the root partition will hold the rest of the stuff

ok, that isnt really the ideal partitioning scheme, so here are some changes i'd make:

-change root partition size to 256MB

-make a separate /usr partition, where all the software goes (at least 2 or 3 GB)

-make a separate /tmp partition, so that the temp files dont fill up my root partition. (64MB-256MB)

-people who run servers or log alot might also want to put /var on a seperate partition for the same reason as tmp(256MB-1024MB depending what you want to do)

-finally, make a separate /home partition, so i dont lose all my pr0n and personal stuff when i change distro :P(rest of disk space)

so lets say we had a 40GB to partition only for linux(desktop use), id partition it like this

/dev/hda1 -> /boot 16MB

/dev/hda2 -> swap 256MB

/dev/hda3 -> / 256MB

/dev/hda4 -> /tmp 256MB

/dev/hda5 -> /usr 10GB(sure you could add a little more here, but my /usr part is 8GB and i've never filled it)

/dev/hda6 -> /home Rest

alright let's add some filesystems on those partitions. you have lots of choices, but most popular are ext3 and reiserfs. formatting is pretty simple: type mkreiserfs /dev/hda1 or mkfs.ext3 /dev/hda1 at the command prompt.

about /etc/fstab

you probably won't need to write it manually when installing but it is useful to know how fstab is structured so that you can add things to it later.

a standard fstab entry looks as follow

device  mount-point  type  options frequency  pass

device is partition, such as /dev/hda1

mount point is where you want the content of the partition to be accessed on the file system, like / or /usr

type is filesystem type, like ext3

the options are used to make the partition readonly or only accessible by certain users, read the man page for more info.

frequency and pass can usually be set to 0(not quite sure what they do yet, but ill read up on it and post it here)

done for now, ill add more stuff later

Edited by psychopuppy

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i suggest you don't install your bootloader in your /boot partition, you're better off puttin it in the mbr, ive heard of ppl not being able to boot systems with the bootloader on a hdd partition (recently on the forums), so even though it says its "dangerous" ive never had a problem with it...

also make sure to edit your fstab after install and add any cdrw's/dvd's or windows partitions so you can work with em.

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if you are really a n00b to linux, try mandrake, it will do pretty much all the install stuff for you...only problem is they don't usually include the source so making modules and stuff can be a little time consuming at first.

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And the nice thing about putting the the loader on your mbr is that you can use dd to back it up! If something goes wrong or you fool around with other loaders, you can just do the following:

To back it up:

dd if=/dev/hda of=/root/backup.mbr count=1 bs=512

To update from your backup:

dd if=/root/backup.mbr of=/dev/hda count=1 bs=512


Also, you MUST be root to be able to do this.

You can really mess up your system doing this if you do it wrong, but its always good to have a backup, it doesnt take much room and once everything is patritioned to the way you like, making a backup can save you time and effort while *playing* with your system and learning its inner tweaks.

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BTW for those of you who wish to have a better chance at security involved in your partitions. Make sure you specify minimum space needed to do EXACTLY what you want. Examples below.

your /swap normally I specify to be the max size my mobo will hold in ram.

your /boot should be only able to fit what you need to boot. The smaller you can get this around your stuff the better. For those of you who do kernel mods make sure you give yourself a little extra space. Reason to srink this is because if a user wants to go to the extent of changing your configurations in your kernel or say boot you into a totally different kernel or change your grub or whatever they can do it on that. However if you limit its size.. your giving a smaller oportunity for people to play.

your /home should be limited to EXACTLY how much space you want to give all your users combined. So say if suddenly a someone gains access to one of the accounts you can limit them so they cant create a massive mp3 server out of you.

Just as a side note... check your permissions for everything... if they dont belong there then dont give them access.

Hope this helps for those who are looking for a little more.

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hey bland, how about you tell us how to configure our aterm to look as 1337 as yours? especially how to place it where we want on the desktop.....

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I'm not bland, and I don't like transparency (waste of resources) but I can tell you adding

aterm.geometry: 70x45+0+30

aterm.transparent: true

aterm.transparentscrollbar: true

aterm*foreground: whatever color you want

aterm*tinting: whatever color you want

to ~/.Xdefualts will give you a nice effect

Edit:Spelling <_<

Edited by jedibebop

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mmmmmm....some more eye candy, ever want to have dropshadows in your aterm text?! well now you can with this patch from fluxmod

the readme says to use -p0 when patching but for me only -p1 worked....

check out this screenshot i took earlier today of it:


jedibebop: btw, the aterm ppl say that its transparency uses very few if any system resources.....

Edited by hacnslash

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And if you have too much troubles with Linux, you can always try FreeBSD! I personally thought it was significantly easier to install and manage...

FreeBSD uses an ncurses install interface much like debian or slack - and a ports interface in which Gentoo's portage was modeled after, and compares somewhat to Debian's apt.

If you're comfortable with a CLI, you aren't afraid of reading, and you pay attention to what the OS tells you, you may be like me, and find FreeBSD significantly easier to get used to than most linux distros.

But then again, what could be easier than RedHat?

In the Linux world, I found debian to be pretty easy, the ncurses install interface isn't pretty, but it's detailed. If you choose debian, get to know the apt program very very well. [most problems with apt can be solved by using aptitude, it's even less likely to corrupt the apt-database]

You really only need 2 partitions, a swap and root, but if you're multi-booting, having a 3rd for /boot makes it easier if you want to switch flavors without losing your windows partition.

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I was cleaning out my notebooks and found this jotted down and decided to post it if anyone is having trouble with USB mice on a laptop using slackware 9.1

Add the following to /etc/X11/XF86config


Under Core Pointer's Input Device Section*


add this after "EndSection" of the section your current mouse is using

Section "InputDevice"

Identifier "USBmouse"

Driver "mouse"

Option "Protocol" "IMPS/2"

Option "Device" "/dev/input/mice"

Option "ZAxisMapping" "4 5"

Option "SendCoreEvents" "true"

Option "Buttons" "5" (if it has a scroll wheel)


Then at the bottom under "ServerLayout"

change the identifier from "Default Layout" to "Custom Layout"

then you will have Probably 2 InputDevice lines such as

InputDevice "Mouse1" "CorePointer"

InputDevice "Keyboard1" "CoreKeyboard"


just add the following line between the Keyboard1 line and EndSection

InputDevice "USBmouse" "SendCoreEvents"

and you're ready to rock.

I have used this under slackware 9.0 and 9.1 and they both work fine with it

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after installing slack, I couldn't get my floppy or cdrom to mount.

For the new(er then me) users, the answer to that is to:

edit your /etc/fstab

you will see the lines

/dev/cdrom /mnt/cdrom iso9660 noauto,owner,ro 0 0/dev/fd0 /mnt/floppy auto noauto,owner 0 0

just switch them to be

/dev/cdrom /mnt/cdrom iso9660 noauto,users,ro 0 0/dev/fd0 /mnt/floppy auto noauto,users 0 0

It worked for me, just switch the ownership of the drives!

Edited by phreakblaze

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So once installed and you actually are serious about learning any *nix where would you start i was told to learn command lines first but id rather take advice from 1337 people ;) . Like whats the top three things you should first learn after you installed your *nix?

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well for commands, i have a book called linux in a nutshell, has every command, great book, has helped me a lot so far.

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i was thinking of getting a book on bash shell to learn command but i got a book on perl instead. :lol: I plan on ether getting a book on linux or a book on command line such as bash.

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the nutshell book has a little of everything, like, all the commands, basic set up, kde, gnome how-to, lilo, grub, and the shells, I'm probably missing somehting.

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Linux in a nutshell 4 is 20 bucks but my friend has 3 and is letting me borrow it should i go out and buy 4? (yes 20$ is alot 4 me) :roll:

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Hey guys, I found this immensly helpful in my quest to learn linux. I even printed it all out for reference.

Question: I want to try fedora, (I've been using RedHat 6) but can't download the iso's. Can you reccomend a site where I can buy 'em? I (quickly) looked around on the fedora page, but didnt see anything.

thanx for helping out a linux newb.

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That's a sign for you to not use Fedora. download slackware mi amigo.

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dont give me that still on dial up...and lets see my count of ISOs =D


redhat(dont ask)3



college linux1

(doesnt count but windows2kpro 4-in-1)

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learn command line utilities definitely. The more that you use the GUI, the more you will hurt yourself. The commands are basically the same for every distro, w/ some distros having different commands, but all of the distros have different gui's to perform the same task, so any attempt to remember how to do this on several different distros is just dumb. I guess they're not THAT different, seeing as how most of the gui's are on KDE or gnome, but those should only be used for convenience.

Start by downloading some packages that you want to install on your system and untarring them. Compiling source is something that you'll do often in Linux, and this very routine procedure can get you comfortable w/ linux. Besides, if you happen to have a few dependencies to resolve, you'll get LOTS of practice :lol:

Edited by Grifter

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I recomed [url=""]this c.c.l. book[/url] for anyone interested in experimenting with varity of linux distros. Such as Arch, Debian 3.0, Gentoo 2004, Knoppix 3.4, Mandrake 10, MEPIS 2004, PCLinuxOS 2004, Slackware 10 SuSE 9, and more.

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Here is a howto on compiling a linux kernel:
Every Linux user reaches the point in their life where they need to upgrade to a newer kernel. There is no way to circumvent this rite of passage, and in my opinion should be mastered by all linux users.

To begin, let's make a backup of out current config:
cd /boot
cp vmlinuz vmlinuz.old
pico /etc/lilo.conf
add a new entry for the .old files that you created (just copy your original linux entry but use the .old part and give it a different name)
after this you must run lilo again:
Now it is safe to begin the actual process of compiling the new kernel

Now, get the source code for the kernel you want:

Once you get the source code unzip it into /usr/src (it will create a directory which will hold all its files)

to do this use tar -xvzf kernel.tar.gz


tar -xvzf kernel.tar.bz2

now, cd to /usr/src and remove the link called linux

rm -rf linux

Create a new link called linux, and link it to the new directory with the latest kernel source:

ln -s linux-2.(rest of directory) linux

now, cd into linux and from there type:

make mrproper

Now, it is time to configure what will be compiled into our kernel

type one of the following:

make menuconfig (menu configuration)
make xconfig (x configuration)
make oldconfig (asks you if you want to add options, I personally dislike this one)

Now, after you make your choices you need to actually compile the kernel:
if you use slackware the make file needs to be modified so that
export install path = /boot
is uncommented.
Now type in the following:
make all && make modules_install && make install && lilo && reboot
this should work for almost all distros

Now, if you are experiencing video issues, try this:
In the kernel config, make sure you are using a framebuffer kernel, and make sure you select the right video driver, or the svga video driver

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