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Introduction to Linux - A Hands on Guide
This guide was created as an overview of the Linux Operating System, geared toward new users as an exploration tour and getting started guide, with exercises at the end of each chapter.
For more advanced trainees it can be a desktop reference, and a collection of the base knowledge needed to proceed with system and network administration. This book contains many real life examples derived from the author's experience as a Linux system and network administrator, trainer and consultant. They hope these examples will help you to get a better understanding of the Linux system and that you feel encouraged to try out things on your own.
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I would go with CentOS, my friend is a technician that takes care of IT security and everything else that has a problem, and they have 12-14 servers that all run CentOS. It is very secure. If you want it really good, get another server with CentOS and have that as a portal to the net that filters all mail and packages for virus protection and crackers, and the second would contain your data. Just a suggestion...(I realize you may not be able to afford another server)
If you are not going to use the GUI then I suggest you don't install. But if you really want it, then you can prepare by downloading and burning a Live CD (I recomend knoppix).
If your GUI doesnt start or load right, and you just want to get into text mode:
1 - Boot to the knoppix disk
2 - open up a terminal (you are probably root...if not type su to become root)
3 - in the terminal type chroot /mnt/sysimage
4 - Now you are "in" you installation and not the CD's
5 - You edit your run level by typeing vi /etc/inittab (make sure your root)
6 - BE CAREFUL HERE! MAKE A BACKUP OF YOUR INITTAB FILE! Here you are looking for the line that reads id:5:initdefault: press i to enter "insert mode" and change the 5 to a 3 then press the esc button to exit insert mode.
7 - Then type : to enter command mode then type wq to save changes
8 - Now at the terminal type exit to exit "your system" now your back at the CD's system.
9 - Now reboot the machine (and take the CD out)
This should make your machine boot into Runlevel 3 (full multiuser mode without GUI). Here you can atempt to configure X for your system.
Sorry this was so long, but I hope it was helpful.