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I wish to buy a desktop computer with monitor, and would appreciate suggestions on equipment that poses no problem with linux. I initially wanted to install on my work laptop (a Toshiba Tecra 8100), but had some difficulties with the video, so I will purchase my first computer and put Linux on that.
I have about a thousand dollars to spend, but some of that may go to furniture. Any suggestions or advice?
This is just my opinion, but i'm a technician and prefer it this way. That is, to build my own. The next best thing would be to have a reputable company build you one to specs alotted for the amount of money you have. As far as Linux compatability, you really don't have a whole lot to worry about as far as a desktop system goes. Make sure you get a hardware modem or external if possible. Get a genuine SoundBlaster although the new Audigy is too new to be supported unitl Creative Labs makes a driver. Keep it bare bones and non-proprietary. You'll be safe that way and you'll be able to upgrade in the future. Look on the internet and you'll find company that build Linux specific boxes preinstalled and all. You can do quite a bit with 1K.
Well, almost any hardware will work with Linux. The biggest problems are very new hardware (SB Audigy, as above) and WinModems. These are generally PCI modems. Not true hardware modems. If you can, get yourself an external modem. Sure it will take up 1 serial port (or 1 USB), but it'll save a lot of problems, and anyway, not much uses serial these days.
I recently (over the summer) bought a brand-spanking new computer (about £850 English, and we pay way over the odds) with:
AMD 1.4GHz Athlon
ABIT KT7A MoBo (non RAID)
256Mb PC133 RAM
NVidia GeForce 2MX
41.1Gb ATA-100 HardDisk (can't remember the make/model)
Memorex 16x10x40x ATAPI CDRW
Aopen 10x40x ATAPI DVD (actually came from old computer)
Promise TX2 Ultra 100 4x PCI-IDE Controller card (non RAID)
Iomega ZIP 250Mb ATAPI
All fairly good specs, almost works a treat. The only probs I have is that the Promise card doesn't like Linux very much. I have my ZIP on it at the mo, and when I access it from under Linux, it reads fine. When I try to umount it (or eject it), the comp completely freezes! The ZIP drive works fine when not on the Promise card, tho'.
Apart from this minor setback (which does mean that I have to boot into Windows in order to copy files from the ZIP disk), Linux works very well with all the above hardware.
Whatever you go for, Linux will probably work with it. The best way is to build it yourself. It's not hard, and you can get a much better system for the price (and you know what all the components are). Just follow a few simple rules (mainly EARTH YOURSELF).
What does the Promise card do? On that note, what does a network card do? I'm interested inbuilding it myself, because I want to understand it it inside and out, but I am limited by my knowledge right now.
Basically, there are two main methods of connecting harddisks, cdrom drives, dvd drives, zip drives, tape drives (you see where this is going) to your computer: SCSI and IDE(or ATAPI, they're sort of the same thing).
Now, most computers (read: Motherboards) do not have the right hardware to connect SCSI devices, but can connect IDE devices (they're cheaper). There is almost always 2 IDE channels on your motherboard, and both of these can have 2 devices connected to them, so you can therefore have upto 4 devices. Each device must be set as either 'Master' or 'Slave':
IDE Channel 1: Master = Harddisk
IDE Channel 1: Slave = CD Rom
IDE Channel 2: Master = CD Burner
IDE Channel 2: Slave = DVD
You with me?
Here's the nasty bit: These devices can run at different speeds. Most new motherboards will support something called ATA100 (which is another name for IDE, just like Atapi is - it can get confusing to start with, just bear with me) which was designed for new harddisks to run quickly (I think it's something like 100Mb/sec - not sure though). Devices like DVDs will probably run at ATA66 and slow devices like tapes and zips will probably run at ATA33. If you connect a slow device to the same CHANNEL as a faster device, they will both run at the slower speed. So, it is strongly inadvisable to connect an ATA33 Zip drive to the same cable as your nice shiny new ATA100 harddisk. And this is precisely why I bought a new card.
Now my machine has 4 IDE Channels (the Promise card gives me another 2), supporting up to 8 devices. My computer is as follows:
IDE Channel 1: Master = ATA100 Harddisk
IDE Channel 1: Slave = None
IDE Channel 2: Master = CD Burner
IDE Channel 2: Slave = DVD
IDE Channel 3: Master = ZIP 250
IDE Channel 3: Slave = None
IDE Channel 4: Master = None
IDE Channel 4: Slave = None
You cannot burn a CD directly from files on the DVD, so I really should put my DVD drive on Ch4 Master (thus making each device it's own master and so doesn't interfer with any others), but I can cope with this current setup since I can at least still use my DVD drive under Linux like this.
My Promise card is apperently supported by Linux, but my computer completely freezes when I try to access the ZIP. This is no great problem - it works OK under Windows (and when I've got time, it'll work OK under Linux too!).
If you intend on connecting your computer directly to another (your laptop?) then this is a good idea. You can connect computers directly with a serial or parallel cable, but having a small Local Area Network (LAN) is good. Almost all companies with more than 1 computer will probably have a small LAN (which therefore requires each computer to have network cards), and I can't think of any University (in England, at least) that doesn't. They are a damn good way to connect computers. I wouldn't worry too much about it at the moment, just remember:
There are currently 3 types of LAN cards available (commonly called NICs):
10Mbits - useful if all you're going to do is play networked games, but file transfer is useless as it's quite slow.
100Mbits - This is the most common. Good for file transfer, and since it's 10x the speed of the above, it's going to be good for games.
1000Mbits - This is going to be out of your price range. They're expensive. And pointless. Only really for the seriously big networks.
It more than likely that your network card will be recognised by Linux. You shouldn't worry too much about this, just get a 100Mbit card. When you feel happy with using Linux, you can get into networking.
On building it youself. Go for it! It's the best way to learn about the components in your machine, but if you're not sure which compents are compatibly with eachother, then ask!
Thank you, your comments are very helpful. I spoke with my wife today, and look at making the purchase in the next couple weeks.
If your machine has 4 IDE channels, does that mean there are 4 physical connecting jacks/cables? What do you mean when you say "it is strongly inadvisable to connect an ATA33 Zip drive to the same cable as your nice shiny new ATA100 harddisk"?
I presume that when I own a computer, I will receive manuals that will clarify some of this. I use my laptop, but much of what you describe is hidden inside the case. We have an ethernet network at work, but I just plug the phone-jack-like-plug into the back of the docking station, without really understanding what's happening inside.
What does it mean to build it oneself? That's probably different from ordering a system in which you specify the parts. In other words, does "build it" mean plugging and assembling physical objects, as well selecting them?
"build it" usually means picking a motherboard based on it's spec's then assembling the rest of the hardware . really not all that hard, the mother boards (usually) come with good instructions. there are companies that sell "bare bone" systems which can be a good starting point. bare bone systems usually only have the M.B./cpu, case and power supply, some will come with memory, some won't. read the fine print for exact info.
I've been doing some research on Highpoint and ABIT KT7a boards, as I've just got one. It seems I need to flash the Highpoint BIOS to get it to work with Linux (I've got the RAID mobo). Maybe you need the same. It's something like www.highpoint-tech.com for the BIOS upgrade.
My experience with older Promise Ultra ATA IDE cards is that you need at least 1 hard drive connected to the card. Otherwise, you can't see any ATAPI devices like Zip or CD-ROM connected to the Promise card. This experience is with Windows 95/98.
My experience with Red Hat 7.1 was that I COULD NOT install to a hard drive connected to the Promise Ultra 100 TX2. I could install RH 7.1 to a hard drive connected to a Promise Ultra 100 (no TX2).
Various resellers such as IOMAGIC and Maxtor and others may be repackaging Promise cards. You can identify Promise Ultra cards by looking at the "PDC" number on a chip on the card.
Promise Ultra33 or PDC20246
Promise Ultra66 or PDC20262
Promise Ultra100 or PDC20265
Promise Ultra100 or PDC20267
Promise Ultra100 TX2 or PDC20268
Promise ULtra133 or PDC20269 ???
Based in my readings (not on actual tests), you can install RH 7.1 to a hard drive on any Group 1 Promise Ultra ATA adapter. You probably can't install RH 7.1 on the Group 2 adapters without taking special measures. If anybody is able to install RH 7.1 or 7.2 on a Promise Ultra 100 TX2, let me know how you did it. Thanks.
I've just purchased a Maxtor 80GB IDE drive which came with a Promise Ultra133TX. I need help on installing Red Hat Linux 7.2 on it. When I tried to install it the first time, it seems like RH does not even recognize the existence of the hard disk installed.
I planned on setting multi-boot on the hard disk. WinXP and RH7.2. I had installed WinXP on it and it is working fine. But I really need help on getting RH 7.2 to work.
RH 7.2 definitely works with a Promise Ultra-66 or Ultra-100 (without the TX designation). If you could find one of these cards and do the install, you probably wouldn't notice much speed loss (these cards have a slower speed interface than your 133 MHz Promise card). Generally, upgrading from an Ultra-33 to an Ultra-66 card will give you a noticeable speed increase, say, about 20 percent - that is, if you have an Ultra-66 or faster and 7200 rpm or faster hard drive. Upgrading from an Ultra-66 to Ultra-100 or Ultra-133 will not speed up your data transfers very much because you will then be limited by the speed of the hard drive. Remember that Ultra-66 and higher interfaces require a special 80-wire IDE cable for the 40-pin connectors.
If you still want to go with your Ultra-133 card try www.linux-ide.org for information about kernel patches. They may have something to enable RH 7.2 to recognize your Ultra-133 card.