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how to learn Linux/Unix

Santosh Maskar
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 02, 2003
Posts: 226
I am new to Unix/Linux , i need to study these Os , how i can start , i ma inrested in command prompt no mouse movenment,

Help me??
Alejandro Montenegro

Joined: Jul 05, 2004
Posts: 29
try to install gentoo that will teach you a lot, and then use the gentoo forums to get a lot of tips and tricks.
After you have installed use the man command to read how to use another command:

[ August 25, 2004: Message edited by: A Montenegro ]
Joe Ess

Joined: Oct 29, 2001
Posts: 9190

I'm a fan of Gentoo as well. It requires you to get your hands dirty, and you come out of the installation with a good idea as to how the OS works. However, there's more to *nix than compiling the kernel and setting up the boot loader. Bookmark the Linux Documentation Project. There's lots of introductory and advanced references there. Bookmark Yolinux as well. They have great tutorials and links to hundreds others. When you have a task to accomplish, Yolinux is the place to start.

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Adrian Yan
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Joined: Oct 02, 2000
Posts: 688
Normally, I would say Debian. But Knoppix would be great for begginners, it boots off the CD, gives you a taste of it before you put an O/S on your harddrive.
Santosh Maskar
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 02, 2003
Posts: 226
hi, Thaks,

Actaully i have a utility call putty and using this i am connecting to the Linux server , so i need to learn the VI and System calls

so where i need to start.
Joe Ess

Joined: Oct 29, 2001
Posts: 9190

As I said above, go to The Linux Documentation Project. It has guides like Bash for Beginners (Bash is the default Linux shell and will be what Putty interacts with via SSH) and Intro to Linux (starts with the absolute basics and contains a handy DOS command to Linux shell command reference).
And as Adrian said, having Knoppix around can't hurt. It's free, GUI-oriented, no-install-required and a little friendlier for a beginner than someone else's server through Putty.
Kay Liew
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 26, 2003
Posts: 112
Install that Linux OS and start using it like when you first start using Windows. You will start to discover stuffs as you go. It's painful in the beginning and feel good when you know how to get around this OS. Taking a beginner class for shell script would speed you up on linux. Just my personal opinion. For Linux is a little more difficult than Windows since there are a lot of things you need to tweak especially firewall and networking stuffs. Again, it just me.

Unity can only be manifested by the Binary. Unity itself and the idea of Unity are already two.
Stefan Wagner
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 02, 2003
Posts: 1923

I like to disagree.
I switched to linux because a lot of things are much easier than on windows.

A c/c++ compiler is on board.
You don't need to reboot every hour.
You can find out, how to make something work, and don't need to experiment here and there and everywhere.
You may automate part of your work with scripts.

How long do you need on windows to change your IP in the lan?
How long on linux?
Kay Liew
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 26, 2003
Posts: 112
I am sure someone will jump into this discussion I have heard people take complete stand on Macintosh. Macintosh rules every OS plaftorm and gave me full of list of Machintosh. I do not disagree. I bet if you know somethig good enough, things just works automagically for you.

Based on you response I bet you are an expert in Linux. I have been using Red Hat for about 3 years and still consider myself a newbie on this platform. Please advise on the following.

How do I change my Banshee video card gamma setting. I am running on Banshee generic driver at this point of time. That is the best I can get from linuxdriver website. The screen seems a lot more darker than when I used to install Windows on this box. Also, is there a way to have screen resolution change without logout and log back in ?

I am not able to use my Logitech and Microsoft Intelli Optical mouse middle button (not the scrolling but the clicking part of it) and I can't customize the settings. Do you know anywhere I can get a patch for this type of mouse to work on Red Hat?

I am running both version of firefox. How do I make sure my old firefox got cleaned completely from the system? All i did was removing that firefox folder where I extracted to last time. I do not have uninstall program to do that to give me a peace of mind.

In response to your post:
I think i need to do more experiment in Linux than Windows becuase I didn't use Linux as much as Windows. I can only blame that I am not as good in Linux but not the lack of functionalities of an OS platforms.

However, I definitely don't need to restart my machine every hour. Not sure what type of machine you have there. My lab has 30+ machines workstation and servers running Windows platforms and I do not think i have to restart them every hour. We also have AS400 servers and all other flavor UNIX (HP/AIX/SUN) machines. None of them require to be rebooted every hour. All these machines are heavily accessed by a few hundred people every minute, everyday and anytime.

Automating things in DOS is possible but I do have to agree that the build in functions in DOS are not as robust as any shell scripts, in fact very limited. Other scripting like VBS, Perl,WSH and native windows scheduler are also available for automating tasks. There are third parties tools you can buy to do automation on software testing such as Quick Test Pro, Rational etc. Programming wise, all those Junit and CPPUnit are widely use. Depends on what you want to automate. If you really love unix shell scripting, you can also install Cygwin into Windows. Although the behavior is a little different as far as I know.

Like I said earlier, "it just me". I like my Red Hat and Win2000. I think they are both equally good.

oh, I have co-worker tells me that AS400 is the most stable and powerful machine. And again, I agreed AS400 is really stable if you know what are doing and what to do with it.

Everything has it own pros and cons.

"I am not ashamed to confess that I am ignorant of what I do not know" - Cicero

jonas okwara
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 22, 2004
Posts: 58
If you want to be good in unix, don't lean from the gui. Linux distributions are very rich in GUI and the temptation is there for a newbie to start off from the gui. If you can resist that and stick to the shell at the console you will be fine.


Stefan Wagner
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 02, 2003
Posts: 1923

Hello Kay!

small question in advance: newer MacOs is linux-based - isn't it?

How do I change my Banshee video card gamma setting.

Don't know for linux, and don't know for any OS else.
The screen seems a lot more darker than when I used to install Windows

How do you know, that it doesn't seem much lighter on Windows, than on linux?

But that's not meant as serious remark.
Also, is there a way to have screen resolution change without logout and log back in ?

Yes. Assuming working on X with KDE, gnome or something:
Ctrl-Alt-+ and Ctrl-Alt-- will iterate through your resolutions.
If not, come again, and we talk about .

Of course I would never buy a MS-Mouse. Kind of Dogma.
But I'm a proud owner of a Logitech optical wheel-mouse.
I'm not used to use the middle-button for clicking, so I tested it out here, and - ooops - /etc/X11/XF86Config-4 opened in the browser.
Didn't knew that!

Being there, I can cut'n'paste my mouse-section:

Do you have an usb-mouse?
Perhaps your 'Device' differs - would need some ivestigation.

How do I make sure my old firefox got cleaned completely from the system?

Uninstallation isn't the best theme on linux.
That's true.
We keep it as a valuable territority of experimentation and improvement for the next generation...
Normally people are so impressed by linux-software, they don't like to uninstall

You may ask your system:

and visit the most-filled directories, to find out by the filedates, whether it belongs to an old version.
My firefox installed without version-number in paths, so I guess you will not find much - perhaps nothing from an old version, if both used the same installation-dir.

Normally executables are installed in /usr/local/bin, man-pages somewhere in the man-path, configuration in /etc/ and in /home/kay/.firefox for specific users.

I allways keep unixutils on my usbstick, which run without cygwin on win.
But I don't like unix-emulation.
Why emulate, if you can have the original?
I don't use wine too.
Same reason.

BTW: When I install Windows, I allways have to tell it not to hide files, not to eliminate well-known file-extensions, allways to show file-details for every folder, never use the web-look.
Can I save these settings somewhere and restore them, when I have to reinstall it for some reasons?

I know windows may run properly, if used by an expert.
The beginners have trouble with viruses, worms, ports wide open, dialer-software, no unzip-util on board (they find some in the web, but they are zipped ).
Notepad likes to name your (and hides the .txt to drive you insane.

Switching to another user on the fly isn't possible on w2k. XP now has such an ability.
Multiple consoles are missed on win, and working in different desktop-windows is only supported by some graphics-vendors - isn't it?

You may make a lot of things on win, if you buy this and that and download here and there.

I bought a computermagazine for 3 � which is about 3 US$, containing a dvd, containing most stuff I need, including OpenOffice, 2 stable Databases, compilers, editors and stuff for about 40 programming languages, firewalls, routers, all the networking tools, ftp- and webservers, ...
For a secretary, both are equally good.

For a programer, linux is paradise.
Kay Liew
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 26, 2003
Posts: 112
Heya .. Stefan,

Sorry .. i was offline for a bit to built a new machine (from used parts) with second Linux Red Hat 9. Cost $0 except 3 blank discs and some intangible bandwidth costs

In response to your previous post: W2K and XP both do not have switch users functionality like L/unix does ! The closest are logout and log back in, it just that XP presented it more nicely. Very unlikely you need to switch user in Windows because it was not built like unix. While user's rights been granted, the user should be able to do what s/he has been granted for. Again, you are debating between the OS archtiecture and it's usage. It's like comparing between Java and C. The debate will take years for you to find out which one is better. They are designed based on their specific usage.

True, Dos console does not have the multiple session thingy. But does not really creeper the Windows. In fact, today's OS are copying each other Pros else Linux would not be born. GAIM, OpenOffice etc . again comparing C and Java. There are tons of papers and discussion other there. I don't want to act like an expert in any of the OS or a wanna be.

If you are familiar with it, things just work out great for you

Bottom line, let's just say drop the debate on which one better and enjoy what's been provided .. While comparing between Linux distros would be an interesting debate

Answer to your previous post:
The Linux box I have was darker because there was no driver for Linux while Windows has and I can manipulte the gamma through the driver. <just want to hear you response> Anyway this is not important to me at all.

The hidden files problem. Not sure if i should call it problem. You have to check the �show hidden file� under Tools � Folder Option � View � choose the �Show hidden files� . I think you only need to do this once. By default some files (hidden files) are not shown. I think the idea is like hiding .profile in Linux . Most of the issues you have can be set from the same place i just mentioned.

Winzip question: You can download Winzip. It's free for evaluation. Hmm ... virtually free because it would not be disabled even you do not pay. I think WinXP Pro comes with its own zip utilities called compressed ?. If you are a programmer you can write your own small zip utility with C++ or Java. I know that Java has its own API for zipping

Multiple windows desktop - If you are using WinXP, I think you can download it from Microsoft website. I used it once and don't like it. There are also various individuals out there developed similar tools but i found it quite buggy. So i stop using multiple desktops . It simply drained out my memory.

Notepad question on padding txt after .java. You should do � Save As � select the drop down box as �All files� then type in . It should be good. I usually use Textpad or Wordpad � they present text better. Textpad comes with java compiler as well. It simple creates a bat file. It's free for download as well.

I have a few Linux maintance questions.

Q1: Does the L/unix has the concept of defragmentation ? What other performance things that Linux users usually do ? Are recommended for Linux users?

Q2: I have created a few users in the newly setup Linux box and one of the user keep crashing while I played around with KDE. It hung and i did a few hard reboots. From the boot in screen, it says 132546/132165877 (just thrown in some numbers) clean up. What does that means ? Are those crashed files deleted or displaced ? Are there any other way, I can make sure there are no core dump or un-wanted files located somewhere else? What is that Lost+ Found file for?

I am currently configuring the Ksim. Somehow the Temperature plugin does not works. My Bios shows temp and the fan speed. Do you know if the plugin is specific to MOBO (motherboard) ? Both of my Linux machines do not present the data. I have not done any overclocking on this machine yet, so the reading should be stable.

My only wish so far. I hope various Linux distros will unite someday and make the installation/de-installation more standardize. There are programs that use �rm -r� ,some using rpm and other methods that I do not know of. I just don't feel good while getting rid of a programs and not knowing where else should I clean them. After sometime the files will built up.

Thanks for sharing. I felt sorry to the originator of this post. Don't mean to divert it into a OS discussion.

Oh, one thing I think i definitely like about Linux .. the speed !!

Stefan Wagner
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 02, 2003
Posts: 1923

Did my hints help in some way?

No - I don't want to know, how to set 'show hidden files' and such things, because I know how to do it.
With the mouse click here and there...

I want to know, how to save these settings to an usb-stick, to restore them easily after an reinstall, without visiting these boxes all the time.

And for unzippers and real editors - yes, I know google, textpad, jcreator, scintilla/scite and some editors more.
I wanted to show, that you get many applications in every distribution on linux, while on windows you have to buy and to download everything.
What you get out of the box is adware (compuserve, aol, msn, ...) and preexisting links in the browser: my Music, my news, my headaches... (a bad habbit coming up with new linux-distros too).

I had to use win2k today for porting a script to the win-commandline.
One bluescreen, 2 times totally frozen system, three reboots in 45 mins.
On linux I don't know such reboots.
And if something is frozen, I may switch to a CLI and kill hanging processes.

Seeing winXp I got the impression, you may open an editor as admin, write a few commands, log in as user foo, download a file, login again as admin, and your editor is still open. Isn't it?

Q1: No. At least I have never seen, and never needed one.
Performance you get by learning how to do things effectively and automate them.
Good installations have logrotate, to zip old log files, delete very old log files, and keep the overall size limited that way, without userinteraction automatically. You should look at crontab, if your machines doesn't run 24/7.
updatedb shall run in short intervals, depending on the time, in which you create, delete, get and rename files.
It creates an index of files, so that a 'locate XY' will return nearly immediately the location of a file named ...XY...

If you install without a bit of care, you may get an apache-webserver running, samba- and postgresql, cups and ...
And when all these servers are running in the background, startup needs more time, and you need a firewall, which will consume additional resources.

Get carefully rid of crap, and the system will get faster.
Avoid KDE and Gnome - use fluxbox or another lean, icon-less desktop.
A small desktop-context-menu and an xterm is everything I need.

Q2 is too few information. Which filesystem? ext2, ext3, reiserfs, xfs, jfs, andrewfs, ...?

Lost+found looks like ext2 filesystem.
If there is allocated filespace, which can't be matched to a filename-entry, you get some entries there - plain numbers, and look if you may do something with the information.
In about 8 years I once had a crash, and found something in there, but nothing really valuable.
Backup regular, because hardwarefailures occur everywhere and thefts are lurking in front of your house to steel your machine .
Not to forget about fire, vulcans, thunderstorms...

Don't know Ksim.
What kernel?

With a new kernel, you would find infos in /proc/acpi I guess.
I don't use it, because it's not very stable on my laptop.
Kay Liew
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 26, 2003
Posts: 112
Just a follow up on gamma setting. Do

xgamma -gamma 1.250

By default, it runs at 1.000

Or put that into your profile.

So still tweaking necessary for Linux ! In Windows you can just adjust the video card and scroll on the gamma setting and it set after clicking ok.

Stefan Wagner
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 02, 2003
Posts: 1923

Claim this to the manufactor of the videocard.
Jeroen Wenting
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Joined: Oct 12, 2000
Posts: 5093
small question in advance: newer MacOs is linux-based - isn't it?

No it isn't.
Mac OS/X is based on FreeBSD which is another product entirely.

While both are Unix variants, they're created based on different versions of the standard (with some small but sometimes significant differences).

FreeBSD is based on BSD (doh!) from Berkeley university, Linux is based loosely on Sun OS (now Solaris) which is itself derived from SVR3 from AT&T/Bell labs.

Peter Rooke
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 21, 2004
Posts: 820

Or you could have a look at Cywin. Cywin - Redhat

It's like a Unix / Linux system that runs on windows platform.

One word of caution, Unix was designed so that the output from one command could be used as input to another. This means it does give the 'nice' messages you may be used to. But its a lot more powerful.

Regards Pete
Stefan Wagner
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 02, 2003
Posts: 1923

Cygwin under Windows allows you, to run linux-programs on windows, but it's not giving you an impression of linux.

Hit Ctrl-Alt-F2 for instance...
Jeroen Wenting
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 12, 2000
Posts: 5093
no, that's not what Cygwin was intended for.
Cygwin is a port of a Unix style shell to a Win/32 environment complete with a decent subset of Unix commandline tools.

It's if you want a hybrid environment, and will not run Unix programs without recompilation against its own libraries.
What is very useful for is as an environment to log in remotely to Unix boxes (including Linux boxes) as it contains complete ssh and telnet clients.
There's even an X server you can integrate with it which should (if I get the idea) allow you to open a remote desktop to a Unix machine set up to allow this.

p.s. try for the latest (and free) version.
[ November 09, 2004: Message edited by: Jeroen Wenting ]
Guy Allard
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Joined: Nov 24, 2000
Posts: 776
Curious. Why would you want/allow telnet if ssh is available?

Jeroen Wenting
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 12, 2000
Posts: 5093
on a LAN with a firewall to the outside world and no need to log in to the *nix machine from outside the LAN ssh is overkill.
The protocol is heavier (because of the encryption employed) than is telnet thus causing a higher load on the box.
If there's a lot of people using the box (and/or a lot of other processes running) this can be significant.

For example, on our LAN we have a single *nix box running which is the gateway (through rlogin in this case) to over a hundred other machines nationwide (with customers, desktops at the office and at employee homes, and our other servers) which are all connected through encrypted vpn (over ADSL) with the encryption provided by other means.
To use slogin instead would just increase the load on that hub box without any benefit to the organisation.
I agree. Here's the link:
subject: how to learn Linux/Unix
It's not a secret anymore!