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Old 06-24-2011, 04:59 PM   #1
Blackened Justice
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GUI-less Linux/UNIX


Hey, I'm really interested in getting to know the insides of Linux and especially how to use the Terminal. I have beside me one of my father's ~25 year old UNIX manuals, plus all of the available resources online. I want to have the full experience, so I was wondering if there was a Linux distribution with the command line interface exclusively, without a graphical interface and all of the applications that depend on it. It would be nice if it was bootable from a thumbdrive and lightweight.

BTW, has the UNIX standard evolved a lot in the last 23 years? Or should I expect the manual to be accurate enough?

Cheers
 
Old 06-24-2011, 05:01 PM   #2
MS3FGX
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I would not use any documentation that is 23 years old...it will have almost zero relevance with today's *nix systems. The spirit and general layout are the same as the original UNIX systems, but that is about it.

As for Linux without a GUI, that is really no problem; simply don't install one. Use a distribution like Slackware, Debian, Arch, or even Gentoo; all of which will give you plenty of control over what is installed and how everything is setup. If you don't want a GUI, just don't select it for install.
 
Old 06-24-2011, 06:53 PM   #3
MTK358
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And even is a distro comes with a GUI, you can uninstall it or just not start it.
 
Old 06-24-2011, 06:59 PM   #4
frieza
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if you REALLY want to know the inside outs of linux and have quite a bit of time on your hands, try Linux From Scratch, you download a livecd and the source code for a base linux system and compile everything from SOURCE.

not for the faint of heart, mind you and a bit advanced for a novice, but if you are willing to take a giant leap well, good luck.
 
Old 06-24-2011, 07:24 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MS3FGX View Post
I would not use any documentation that is 23 years old...it will have almost zero relevance with today's *nix systems. The spirit and general layout are the same as the original UNIX systems, but that is about it.
Well, I have a book about Unix which is about 20 years old. Since the book is written very well one can learn a lot from it. I think what you call the "general layout" and the "spirit" are very important to get a deeper insight.

I would also recommend to install Slackware without a GUI, or one of the BSDs.

Markus
 
Old 06-24-2011, 07:27 PM   #6
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I probably have that book ...

Try pressing Ctrl + Alt + F2 on the system you now have. If the computer drops to a terminal screen, "you're there." You will find that there are several of these, and that when you get around to F6 or some-such you'll be back into familiar GUI territory.

It is certainly commonplace for Linux systems not to have GUI software installed. (However, also note that the XWindows/XOrg system is a very interesting "client/server GUI" which allows you to run a graphic session on a computer that doesn't even have a graphics card!) It is definitely a good exercise to become familiar with how to use a Linux/Unix system with nothing more than a 24x80 "green screen." (Brings back the old times ...)

Last edited by sundialsvcs; 06-24-2011 at 07:29 PM.
 
Old 06-24-2011, 08:09 PM   #7
Blackened Justice
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sundialsvcs View Post
I probably have that book ...

Try pressing Ctrl + Alt + F2 on the system you now have. If the computer drops to a terminal screen, "you're there." You will find that there are several of these, and that when you get around to F6 or some-such you'll be back into familiar GUI territory.

It is certainly commonplace for Linux systems not to have GUI software installed. (However, also note that the XWindows/XOrg system is a very interesting "client/server GUI" which allows you to run a graphic session on a computer that doesn't even have a graphics card!) It is definitely a good exercise to become familiar with how to use a Linux/Unix system with nothing more than a 24x80 "green screen." (Brings back the old times ...)
Wow, that Ctrl+Alt+F2 command is nice! Any particular difference between pressing F2 through F6? The 'tty' number is different.

I am in the process of reading LFS, as well as various other online documentation on the Linux filesystem and terminal commands. I just finished the 'vimtutor' tutorial, for the vi and vim editors I'm also reading up on Python, to have some base knowledge on programming. I'm glad I installed Linux, it has opened up a whole new world I wasn't previously familiar with.

For the curious of you out there, the book is called 'UNIX: The Complete Reference', by Stephen Coffin.

I will read up on Arch, Slackware and Gentoo
 
Old 06-24-2011, 09:02 PM   #8
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There are several ways to get a GUI-less environment.

You can install Slackware without installing X or a window manager, or you can install the whole thing and just never enter "startx." Slackware boots the command line, not to a display manager, by default.

CentOS offers the option of installing without a GUI; it's been a while, but I think that even if you select "Server" during the install, that is still GUI-less. Then there is Arch.
 
Old 06-24-2011, 09:03 PM   #9
frieza
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackened Justice View Post
Wow, that Ctrl+Alt+F2 command is nice! Any particular difference between pressing F2 through F6? The 'tty' number is different.
yes, each one behaves as a separate 'terminal' and you can log in to each one and run a distinct command line session on each.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackened Justice View Post
I am in the process of reading LFS, as well as various other online documentation on the Linux filesystem and terminal commands. I just finished the 'vimtutor' tutorial, for the vi and vim editors I'm also reading up on Python, to have some base knowledge on programming. I'm glad I installed Linux, it has opened up a whole new world I wasn't previously familiar with.

For the curious of you out there, the book is called 'UNIX: The Complete Reference', by Stephen Coffin.

I will read up on Arch, Slackware and Gentoo
good luck
 
Old 06-24-2011, 10:52 PM   #10
jefro
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Zipslack is a neat one to start with.

Still quite a lot are offered on floppies but going by the wayside each day.

Try this one. http://jpc.sourceforge.net/home_home.html That link offers a browser based command line so you can use it almost anywhere.


As far as the manuals go, I think they are still relevant to the basis of all *nix's.

Last edited by jefro; 06-24-2011 at 10:54 PM.
 
Old 06-24-2011, 11:20 PM   #11
anomie
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackened Justice
... I was wondering if there was a Linux distribution with the command line interface exclusively, without a graphical interface and all of the applications that depend on it. It would be nice if it was bootable from a thumbdrive and lightweight.
If you want to additionally explore some alternatives (descended from BSD UNIX), try FreeBSD and/or NetBSD. While much of the userland "feels" about the same as GNU/Linux, there are a lot of differences under the hood. Both are lightweight, and a default install of either does not include X or a DE.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackened Justice
BTW, has the UNIX standard evolved a lot in the last 23 years? Or should I expect the manual to be accurate enough?
Not sure what you're (specifically) asking here. Has the terrain changed? In some ways, massively. In other ways, not so much.

Anecdote time: I recently finished reading The Unix Programming Environment, by Kernighan and Pike. It was published in 1984. Most of the principles in the book are still applicable today!
 
Old 06-25-2011, 01:40 PM   #12
Blackened Justice
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Thank you very much for your help

I downloaded some 'Micro OSs' and have tried some using VirtualBox. I wanted to put them in a USB flash drive and boot from the pen, but is it possible to put more than one OS in a single pen? Maybe with some sort of menu to select between the various OSs?
 
Old 06-25-2011, 01:44 PM   #13
markush
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Maybe you're looking for this: http://www.pendrivelinux.com/yumi-mu...t-usb-creator/

Markus
 
Old 06-25-2011, 03:36 PM   #14
jefro
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Most of those micro OS's are old kernels. It might be possible to boot them with grub4dos on a usb.

Pendrivelinux isn't always perfect but it is one of the best places to start.
 
Old 06-25-2011, 04:02 PM   #15
Blackened Justice
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Most of those micro OS's are old kernels. It might be possible to boot them with grub4dos on a usb.

Pendrivelinux isn't always perfect but it is one of the best places to start.
What do you mean with grub4dos?
 
  


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