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  1. #1
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    Post [Copy] Bonsos Newbee FAQ

    Eggs sticky contans links to a lot of good and usefull info but I thought I'd try to put together a little Newbee-FAQ based on what seems to be the most frequent questions by users new to Linux. It is by far not finished so please suggest any changes, additions and corrections you think it needs. I hope it turns out to be usefull.

    *What dist is best for me?
    There is really no way of telling because different people want different things. Now the beauty of linux (one of many...) is that you do have a choice and that you can adapt it to your own taste. If you are new to Linux a good place to start is with one of the major rpm-based dists as they are easy to install, do a lot of the legg work for you and have a nice selection of GUI tools to manage the system. These are:
    SuSE - http://www.novell.com/linux/suse/index.html
    Fedora - http://fedora.redhat.com
    Mandrake - http://www.mandrakelinux.com

    If you like to tinker and get more under the hood of linux then these might interest you:
    Gentoo - http://www.gentoo.org
    Debian - http://www.debian.org
    Arch Linux - http://www.archlinux.org
    Slackware - http://www.slackware.org

    Out of these Gentoo is the one that to my knowledge requires most tinkering and above all compiling, if you do a stage 1 install of gentoo expect it too crunsh numbers for a day or two before you get a desktop and some usefull apps installed. Now you dont have to go with these dists to poke around in the inner workings of your system its just that they require you to have, or gain (painfully in some cases...), more knowledge about your system.

    *RPM, Deb, Tar, Run??
    These are package files that most software for linux ships in.

    *How do I install appication x?
    Read the instructions. That might seem like a daft answer but not all software is created equally. Now while a lot of Tar packages will install using the "configure, make, make install" command sequence and you allways install a RPM package with rpm -i it pays of to read the requirements.

    *Application X says it needs Y and Z to work.
    Something you will encounter sooner or later in the world of Linux are dependancies. When you install a piece of software in Linux it may require some other bit of code to work, this is known as a dependancy. Some package formats checks against your system whilst RPM checks agains a database of installed packages, something that could cause problems if you are trying to install an RPM that requires another piece of software that you installed from a Tar package. Sometimes there is however no way around this and then you can force the RPM package to install ignoring the failed dependancies. If your dist supports tools like APT or Gentoos 'emerge' you then have a very neat way of downloading and installing everything the particular piece of software you are trying to install needs. That said if you install an RPM package with a RPM tool like SuSEs YaST it will try to solve any dependancies for you.

    *How do I multi-boot?
    The easiest way it to use linux bootloader to start windows. The major dists will do this for you as long as you install windows first and then then Linux. When you install linux pay attention to that it doesnt label drives and partitions like windows does. The master drive on the first IDE chain is called hda the slave hdb. Primary partitions start on the number 1 and extended on 5.

    *What filesystem should I use for Linux?
    Linux uses its own and as per usual there are loads of them to choose from . The more popular choises that many distros defaults to are Ext2/Ext3 and ReiserFS. Linux can read and write to FAT/32 filesystems (partitions) but only read NTFS with a maintained level of data integrety (ie without having you reach for your backup). I would recommend sticking with Ext3 or ReiserFS unless you need some of the specifics in for example XFS.

    *What about RAID?
    Lots of motherboards comes with RAID these days, the thing is that it is software RAID and as such Linux will most likely not support it. If you want to use RAID you can either use Linux built-in software RAID or pay for propper hardware RAID. The thing is that real HW RAID is not cheap, the cheepest SATA HW RAID cards that I've found starts at about $130 for a two channel card with 4-channel solutions around the $350 mark. If you are still interested check out http://www.3ware.com/ and http://www.adaptec.com .

    *What graphics card should I use with Linux?
    You can use pretty much any card you like for 2D but if you want to do anything involving hardware accelerated 3D you need a nVidia card, their drivers are the only ones worthy of the name.

    *Where is C?
    One of the things you have to get used to if you move over to Linux from that other OS is that there are no drive letters. Instead Linux uses a root structure that starts with the root, symbolised by a '/', and then unfolds downwards into a set of folders known as mountpoints, for example '/boot' and '/home'. A mountpoint is in essance a folder that has been told to contain a filesystem, be it local or remote. What this means is that you home folder could be on you HDD or on a server in Luxenburg and you woulndt know the differance.
    See this link for more info http://www.freeos.com/articles/3102/

    *Where is 'my documents'?
    In Linux a users playground is its 'home' folder, all documents and application settings are stored here (if you think it looks neat have a look at it showing hidden folders and files...). You can also install applications here if you dont need (or have permission) to install them system wide.

    *Can I play games in Linux?
    If you can find them yes. The only two major releases that Im aware of in 2004 for Linux was Doom 3 and Unreal Tournament 2004, the later comes with an installer on the DVD whereas you have to download a separate installer for D3. There is a way around this and it's called Cedega. The flipside to the Cedega coin is that it costs money and there is no guarantee that the game you wish to play works so check their site for a list of supported games and current prices. http://www.transgaming.com

    *What about drivers?
    Just as in the world of windows it is the hardware manufacturer that's responsible for the drivers to their products. In some cases the driver have been made open-source by the manufacturer or the comunity have whipped one up all by themselvs, such drivers might even be included in the kernel. Note that drivers in the world of Linux is refered to as modules.

    *Where do I type all these commands?
    All commands goes into the console, most of the time on a GUI driven dist you need to use the the root account to make console commands work. In Linux the administrator is known as 'root' and within that specific system that account reigns supreme. You open up a console and then 'su' or 'su -' (the dash makes you enter the root environment where as you otherwise just promote the current user to Super User) type you root password and then you are done. Be carefull though since root can go anywhere and do anything!
    Last edited by bonso; 01-18-2005 at 02:41 PM. Reason: added some stuff

  2. #2
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    Re: Bonsos Newbee FAQ

    Nice job Bonso

    I'll chip in with the first suggestion - maybe could you edit the questions into bold to make them stand out better for those just scanning the FAQ.

    Also, some links to good threads covering major topics would be nice. For example, we must have covered dual booting 1000 times, so there must be one good definative thread there somewhere

    Good work though, and I'm sure it will be well appreciated by new linux users.

    Ned

  3. #3
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    Re: Bonsos Newbee FAQ

    Bravo.
    Maybe add that drivers = modules in linux. And that a majority of them are included with the kernel. Maybe even add a kernel section...

    "Well, let's just say, 'if your VCR is still blinking 12:00,you don't want Linux.'"
    - Bruce Perens, Former Debian Project Leader

  4. #4
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    Re: Bonsos Newbee FAQ

    Just *bumping* myself up a bit, Im going to ad a section on AV later this week.
    A kernel section would be nice but I rely on default kernels

  5. #5
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    Re: Bonsos Newbee FAQ

    My original post have exceeded the maximum size for a post so the FAQ continues here.
    Its quite late so I bet the text is ripe with spelling errors, anyways I hope you all enjoy it.

    *What about Anti-Virus?
    Linux is not really affected by viruses and other mallware common on other platforms, if a Linux box carries a virus it is probably working as a mail or fileserver moving infected files about intended for another OS, this does however not mean that there are no threats to Linux box. If you would like run AV software on you Linux machine these are some of the Anti-Virus vendors that offers AV solutions for Linux. Keep in mind though that all of them are not built to hunt down Linux virus but the somewhat more frequent windows versions.
    http://www.f-prot.com
    http://www.grisoft.com
    http://www.f-secure.com
    http://www.pandasoftware.com/download/linux/linux.asp

    *So there are no Linux viruses?
    Yes there are but even if they are few and far between the more common danger to *nix systems is something known as 'rootkits'. The intention of this type of software is to elevate the status of an attacker to root on the machine. Should an attack of this kind be successfull you will no long have controll over the machine and the only viable option to secure it is to take it offline, do forensics on it, wipe it and then reinstall the system from scratch hopyfully plugging the hole that the attacker used to gain entry.
    There is a tool that checks you system for signs of a rootkit called 'chkrootkit'.
    http://www.chkrootkit.org/

    *How do I keep a Linux box secure?
    For starters never ever run the machine on the root account unless absolutely necessary and when you do 'su -' into the account. Should this not be possible then dissable all external access before login on as root.

    Just as within the world of windows there are security holes in some of the the many parts that make a Linux system run and just as with windows they are fixed with patches. So when your vendor offers a security patch its a good idea to install it. If you are worried about the patch breaking the system then check the patch documentation as it sometimes suggests a workaround for the security flaw.

    Another thing to do is shutting down any services that your machine doesnt use, if you have no intention of telneting into the machine there is not point in having the service running. If you would like to tinker with Apache, FTP or MySQL (or something else) dont allow external access to the services until they have been propperly configured and secured. Even though these may seem dist specific I think they are good all-round guides.
    Gentoo security guide: http://www.gentoo.org/doc/en/gentoo-security.xml
    Redhat 9 security guide: http://www.redhat.com/docs/manuals/l...ecurity-guide/

    Apache security
    http://www.securityfocus.com/infocus/1694

    PHP security
    http://www.linux.com/article.pl?sid=04/08/05/203238
    http://www.securityfocus.com/infocus/1706

    MySQL security
    http://www.securityfocus.com/infocus/1726
    http://www.linux.com/article.pl?sid=04/08/19/1422204

    *Can I watch DVDs?
    Yes and no. If the DVD is unencrypted you can watch it straght up in one of the popular movie/DVD players, for example Xine or Mplayer, just like in windows. Should however the DVD be "protected" you must make use of a CSS decoder, in windows these are usually baked into applications like PowerDVD, on a Linux machine this means a piece of software surrounded by much controversy, the DeCSS. I wont try to give you all the ins and outs of DeCSS but rather a brief run down of events and how things work, here goes.
    When you buy a DVD with "copy protection" part of the price goes to the DVD Copy Control Association (http://www.dvdcca.org/) for use of the Content Scrambling System that provides "copy protection", region encoding and P-UOP (prevented user operation, ie you cant fastforward past the mumbojumbo). Towards the end of 1999 various people succeded in cracking the CSS encryption and part of their work ended up being the DeCSS application that opend the field for encrypted DVD playback on Linux since there was at the time, and still isnt, an offical DVD player for Linux. Rumour has it that the dvdcca have denied applicants wanting to make a Linux DVD player. Since this is unknown legal land, the CSS was cracked but you own the DVD, the larger Linux vendors avoid shipping their dists with encoded DVD support out of the box. This is however nothing that "decss 'distname'" in your favourite search engine wont cure.

    *Can I play mp3s?
    Yes and no (sounds familiar doesnt it ). As with DVD support it isnt a clear cut case and most major Linux distributors dont ship their dists with support for mp3 to avoid possible legal issues but a quick search on the net or indeed in this forum should set you on the right path. LAME is a very good en/de-coder and should you like to stay away from mp3s alltogether you can use Ogg-Vorbis. A fun fact about ogg-vorbis is that quite a few games make use of it.

    The folk who made it happen - http://www.iis.fraunhofer.de/amm/techinf/layer3/
    A very good page with info on all things mp3 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mp3
    A good alternative - http://www.vorbis.com/
    Last edited by bonso; 02-23-2005 at 12:22 PM. Reason: spelling...

  6. #6
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    Re: Bonsos Newbee FAQ

    Nice!

    Yes, 10,000 character limit. Just keep making separate posts, maybe leave yourself some room to add. It can all be split and reassembled into a single uninterrupted set of posts later.

  7. #7
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    Re: Bonsos Newbee FAQ

    nice

    Quote Originally Posted by bonso
    *How do I keeping a Linux box secure?
    For starters never ever run the machine on the root account unless absolutely needed and when you do 'su' into the account, should that not be possible then dissable all external access before login onto the root account.
    Can you cover and distinguish between "su" and "su -" as this always seems to confuse newbies and it's a topic we've covered a fair few times in the past. Perhaps a whole subsection on the root account, why it's important and how to use it properly. I remember when I was a newbie logging out of KDE and back into kde as root just to edit a config file before I knew better.

    ^^ Like SP said, once you're finished a mod or supermod can split off your FAQ into a separate thread and we can lose all the additional posts cluttering it up. Either that, or if you keep a copy in OpenOffice or something and repost the whole lot when finished as a new thread and this thread can disappear.

    Ned

  8. #8
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    Re: Bonsos Newbee FAQ

    and the su su - sudo and kdesu.

    my suggestion for learning linux is:
    1.) use mandrake, installing as much relevent software as possible. things like gnome, kde, xfce, fluxbox, ect...
    2.) determine if you like gnome or kde better. people generally try to get all gnome apps, all kde apps, or all apps from neither.
    3.) attempt to install a few things that were not on the CD.
    4.) ok, now that you know what you like, try to install gentoo. gentoo has a CLI install. use stage 3 install to conserve some time, reduce problems.
    5.) now attempt to install some packages using emerge.
    6.) ok, now go and install debian - testing
    7.) after install try your hand at using apt-get to install synaptic or such.

    at this point you should know if you liked mandrake, an RPM distro, debian, a debian distro, or gentoo, a ports-like distro.
    if you liked mandrake and debian, you may want to check out ubuntu or mepis.
    if you liked gentoo, you may want to check out gentoo or freeBSD.
    if you liked if you liked debian and gentoo, you may want to check out arch
    If you liked mandrake, you want want to check out fedora or suse as well.

    you may want to keep a log of your errors and solutions you encounter.
    I know exactly how the PC works. I understand the OOO, superscalar and superpiplined designs. I just don't understand how the PC doesn't work as shown in so many cases.

  9. #9
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    Re: Bonsos Newbee FAQ

    Quote Originally Posted by thechris
    you may want to keep a log of your errors and solutions you encounter.
    I second this one BIG time!!!

    If you build your own FAQ, you'll both have a better chance of remembering what you did to fix what ever, and you'll also have a convenient spot to look things up.

  10. #10
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    Re: Bonsos Newbee FAQ

    most excellent information,keep it up,,I need it,,the terminology in linux always confused the sh!t outa me.

  11. #11
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    Re: Bonsos Newbee FAQ

    I'll update me wee FAQ once Im established in my new location, give me a week or so, right now Im just going to *bump* it and bring myself up to 800 posts

  12. #12
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    Re: Bonsos Newbee FAQ

    Quote Originally Posted by bonso
    I'll update me wee FAQ once Im established in my new location, give me a week or so, right now Im just going to *bump* it and bring myself up to 800 posts



    I've got some info on the DVD thing, if it's appropriate to post it.

  13. #13
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    Re: Bonsos Newbee FAQ

    Im not a mod but if you got something that will help people play DVDs then post on.

    The next update might be a bit further of than next weekend as my relocation didnt go as smooth as planed but fear not, I'll keep you posted

    You can't get banned for bad jokes right?
    Last edited by bonso; 02-06-2005 at 03:21 PM.

  14. #14
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    Re: Bonsos Newbee FAQ

    Might want to add about mounting discs, beginners always have a hard time grasping that

    "Well, let's just say, 'if your VCR is still blinking 12:00,you don't want Linux.'"
    - Bruce Perens, Former Debian Project Leader

  15. #15
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    Re: Bonsos Newbee FAQ

    Bump

    Some more suggestions of things for you to add Bonso:

    How do I access my Windows partitions on a dual boot machine:

    Here's a couple threads that deal with /etc/fstab:

    http://forums.pcper.com/showthread.php?t=365899

    http://forums.pcper.com/showthread.php?t=378058


    How do I share my linux folders with windows users on my network:

    Use Samba - perhaps someone can provide some good links for here?


    And here's a good link that covers SATA RAID, if you want to add it to what you already have:

    http://linux.yyz.us/sata/faq-sata-raid.html

    Ned
    Last edited by Ned Slider; 02-23-2005 at 07:19 AM.

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