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First, type "whereis jre". It should tell you where jre is.
Next, edit ~/.bashrc. If it already contains a line beginning with PATH=<some stuff here>, just add :<the directory you found JRE in> to the end of the list (notice the colon at the beginning of you entry you're adding, this is what seperates directories in the path list). If it doesn't contain such a line, add (at the end) a line saying PATH=$PATH:<directory you found JRE in>
Last, log out and back in so ~/.bashrc will get run again with the new path.
Some background info for you, since this is in the newbie forum: PATH is a variable that tells bash (the program you're probably using for your command line) where to look for programs. It is a colon-seperated list of directories. If a program you're trying to run is in one of those directories, you can type in just the name of the program (eg. ls) rather than the whole path to the program (eg. /usr/bin/ls).
~/.bashrc is a file for things you want to set in bash when you start it. The ~ means your home directory, eg /home/<your user name> (this is where most of your files are stored). The "." at the beginning of ".bashrc" means it's a hidden file. This means it won't show up when you type "ls" (it will show up if you use "ls -a" which means "show all files"). A lot of configuration files are hidden files in your home directory, so if you ever can't find a config file, "ls -a ~" is a good command to get a list of files to look for it in.
If you don't know what program to edit .bashrc with, try pico. Type in "pico ~/.bashrc". When you are done, press ctrl+o to save and ctrl+x to exit. Remember, you have to log out and log back in before changes to .bashrc take effect.
Sorry if some of this stuff is stuff you already knew, I don't know how far along you are in Linux... hopefully you can get something useful from this.
By "X server", it doesn't mean a computer acting as a server. If you are running GNOME, you are running the software for X underneath it (it's how GNOME can make pictures on your screen). This software is called the "X server". Programs connecting to it are the clients. It all happens on your computer -- no network involved.
Start GNOME, and then run the program xterm or the program gnome-terminal or some other terminal program under GNOME. In this terminal, type in your command that was giving you the errors. What happens?
BTW, if you would rather work on this real time instead of watching for updates here on the board, I can chat with you on AIM or Yahoo. Email me at <my user name, oot, goes here>@linuxquestions.net (email address is spam-proofed. replace the section in <> with the word oot) to tell me which one you want to use and your screen name (and post here so I'll know to check my email).
well, i used the term window that i called up from my gui, that seemed to work. kind of.
now i have a file called JavaCheck.jar. not sure what to do with it! how do i unjar?
also, i have no AIM or yahoo IM on this machine, and can't set it up. the boss would not be pleased, unless there is a way to set it up so it NEVER pops up, or installs itself anywhere on the desktop, etc...