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Old 06-07-2003, 12:30 PM   #1
Registered: May 2003
Location: New Jersey
Distribution: Red Hat 8.0 + PCLinuxOS - 2007
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Moving On In Linux

I have Mandrake 9.0 up & running to where I can play a game, listen to a CD or "surf the 'net". BUT, I can't seem to get any further to where I can install new programs or even customize my KDE desktop. [I don't remember Windows being this "hard"]

I think what I'm looking for is a manual or tutorial that shows [step-by-step] how to "do everyday/practical things".


1) Copy or move a file from a floppy into the "correct" folder. For that matter, know what the "correct" folder is ! Using Win98 I have downloaded several programs/files on to floppies or CD-Rs but don't know how to get them into Mandrake.

2) Replace my current version [it came with Mandrake] of Mozilla with the latest [1.3.1] version, I got it into /home/oldbob/ and don't know what to do next.

I could go on, but I think you get the point.
Old 06-07-2003, 12:42 PM   #2
Registered: Jun 2001
Location: UK
Distribution: Gentoo, RHEL, Fedora, Centos
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ok, I nearly always strongly recommend people:

1) search this site for information about software installation
2) search for info
3) look at a guide like the Rute guide in my signature

but what have you actaully downloaded? on mandrake you will typically use rpm files, best place to get them for mandrake is and install them with the mandrake installer, or directly on a command line using the urpmi or rpm commands directly (try urpmi first, it's quite good and automated). you can install from a number of different ways but i'd advise to stick to rpm's for now.
Old 06-07-2003, 06:06 PM   #3
Registered: May 2003
Location: New Jersey
Distribution: Red Hat 8.0 + PCLinuxOS - 2007
Posts: 160

Original Poster
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Thanks for response.

My basic problem is I bought Mdk 9.0 for 99 cents/CD with NO documentation.

I have just enough computer/Windows knowledge to get Mandrake loaded and running, BUT that's it !

I don't know if you are familiar with books that Que published for Windows. There is one operation on each page [ex. copy folders, sort files, etc...] with LOTS of pictures.

The couple of Linux books I bought [Linux by Michael Bellomo & Linux For Windows Addicts by Michael Miller] are so "broad" I can't seem to get anything out of them.

I guess what I'm looking for is a step-by-step outline. I open the Terminal Window and can't remember from the last time the steps I tried to learn.
Old 06-07-2003, 06:09 PM   #4
Registered: Feb 2003
Posts: 484

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learn linux in 24 hours is a good one to start with. it will go through the basics of linux in a step by step way. each chapter focuses on a new section of your system.

as for mandrake documentation, you should be able to find it on their site.

good luck.
Old 06-07-2003, 07:51 PM   #5
Registered: Mar 2003
Location: Parksville, BC Canada
Distribution: Ubuntu 10.04LTS, Absolute Linux,Debian 3.0, LinpusLite,
Posts: 206

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I have found Sam's Teach Yourself Linux in 10 Minutes and Sam's Teach Yourself Linux in 24 Hours [as mentioned above] to be very helpful. For learning the command-line, A Student's Guide to Unix by Harley Hahn is excellent. My used copy was published in 1993 so may not be available now. If you can find a used one, buy it! Although I am very much a newbie, Que's Special Edition Using Linux for intermediate-advanced Linux users is also good. I have the Fifth Edition but a friend bought the Sixth Edition last year.
Old 06-08-2003, 10:13 PM   #6
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Location: Calif, USA
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Mandrake Linux 9 documentation.
Old 06-08-2003, 11:06 PM   #7
LQ Guru
Registered: Feb 2003
Location: Sparta, NC USA
Distribution: Ubuntu 10.04
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Download these immediately and install Midnight Commander.

Linux Newbie Administrator Guide
Rute User's Tutorial and Exposition

# Mandrake links
Mandrake home page
Mandrake Users website
Easy urpmi config for Mandrake
urpmi mini-HOWTO
Easy software management: Red Carpet
Maximum RPM
You didn't install the developmental packages? As root, command:
urpmi gcc
Install Midnight Commander by commanding:
urpmi mc

Last edited by fancypiper; 06-08-2003 at 11:08 PM.
Old 06-09-2003, 12:04 AM   #8
Registered: May 2003
Location: New Jersey
Distribution: Red Hat 8.0 + PCLinuxOS - 2007
Posts: 160

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Hey people,

Thanks for all the responses, especially fancypiper for all the links. Which I have carefully bookmarked in Mozilla.

fancypiper to answer your question. With only Mdk 9.0 on a 10 gig HD I installed ALMOST all the packages [except network]. Didn't know if I MIGHT need them !

I am still overwhelmed by the number of sub-directories [/bin /dev /home /lib /sbin /usr "and so on"] I have no idea what's in them or where I should look for a particular file.

Just the prompt [oldbob@localhost oldbob]$ intimidates me ! When I use "SU" and the "$" changes to "#" I barely know what that means.

I use things like "tcsh" and "bash" and see the changes, BUT I don't really know what I just did.

I open a Terminal window and try all these things and they "work" BUT the next time I boot up Mandrake most of them are forgotten.

I would like to replace the original copy of Mozilla [ver 1.1 which came with MDK 9.0] with the ver. 1.3.1 that I downloaded BUT I'm afraid I'll "wipe out" Mozilla and have no browser at all.

This is starting to "ramble" so I'll close.
Old 06-09-2003, 12:15 AM   #9
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Registered: Feb 2003
Location: Sparta, NC USA
Distribution: Ubuntu 10.04
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How to learn Linux:

1. Break it.
2. Fix it.

Bash is most commonly used, so learn that first. It is a real nice shell.

Install a couple more browsers like opera or firebird and you got browsers. You might even have lynx, links and/or w3m command line browsers as well.

Use the command line browser links and mc and lose the fear of the command line. There is more power there that is easier to use and it is common to all distributions than the particular combination of window/desktop environment that a user choses to use.

# System administration
The best ways I have found to administer my computer is with basic bash commands in a virtual terminal or an xterminal, or with another powerful shell, the well kept secret of mc (Midnight Commander), with a file manager, editor, and lots more handy tools.

If you use the gui log in, you will be on virtual terminal 1 (most installs default to 6 of these terminals) and your x session will be running in virtual terminal 7.

You have mouse support in the command line with gpm unless it has been disabled, so copy and paste is just as easy in virtual terminals as it is in x.

From a virtual terminal, you can switch from one terminal to another by holding down the alt key and pressing one of the function keys F1 - F6. If you are in x, hold down the control key as well as the alt and F<N> key and you will go that terminal. The terminal that was first used to login will be busy and if x was run from that terminal, the error messages generated by x will be shown. The others will display the login prompt until it is used to log in to an account. To return to x from a virtual terminal, press alt and F7 and you are back to your x session.

To change to the root account, use these commands from your user account. Note the change in the prompt.
[phil@uilleann phil]$ su -
[root@uilleann root]#
Remember, whatever you command in root (it's the "god" mode. You can bless or destroy at your whim) usually gets done if enough system is left to carry out the command. Sit on your hands and read at least 3 times before pressing the enter key when in root.

and press return and the Midnight Commander shell should run. Type control-o and you are in bash. Type control-o and you are in mc.
man mc
info mc
will give lots of info. You can use Midnight Commander in either user or root accounts.

You can do the normal linux copy/paste with the mouse from one virtual terminal to another by left clicking and swiping text in one, alt-FN to switch to the virtual terminal you wish to paste into, and middle click will paste the text that was swiped in the first virtual terminal into the file at the blinking cursor position.

To surf the internet from the command line, I recommend installing links as it displays most pages reasonably. Also, you can use it to post your questions about Linux here using it. Remember to refresh the posting page after login.

There should be no fear of the command line as it is actually easier to use than the gui. All that is necessary is to know the commands.

If you have zgv installed, you can even view images from the console command line.

Last edited by fancypiper; 06-09-2003 at 12:20 AM.
Old 06-09-2003, 12:29 AM   #10
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Location: Sparta, NC USA
Distribution: Ubuntu 10.04
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More hints

# Linux filesystem structure
Directory Navigation Help File
Filesystems, Directories, and Devices Help File

To remember stuff, use a file. I have a text file called "newbie" that I use to paste most of my answers to questions and it has the handiest commands and things that I learned by lurking on boards like this.

All I ever learned is in that file, but I did also install the html howtos for the stuff I haven't learned or messed around with.

Some of my handy stuff:

Handy bash commands for finding out stuff in Linux:
# Find CPU specifications
cat /proc/cpuinfo

# What pci cards are installed and what irq/port is used
cat /proc/pci

# Memory and swap information
An article: Tips for Optimizing Linux Memory

# How is the hard drive partitioned
fdisk /dev/hd<X> -l

# How much free drive space
df -h

# Show disk usage by current directory and all subdirectories
du | less

# Find running kernel version
uname -r

# Find X server version
X -showconfig

# What is the distribution
cat /etc/.product
cat /etc/.issue
cat /etc/issue
cat /etc/

# For finding or locating files

# Use dmesg to view the kernel ring buffer (error messages)
dmesg | less

# Watch error messages as they happen (sysklog needed)
as root, tail -f /var/log/messages (shows last 10 lines, use a number in front of f for more lines)

# What processes are running
ps -A

# Find a process by name
ps -ef | grep -i <plain text>
For example, XCDroast
ps -ef | grep -i xcdroast
# See current environment list, or pipe to file
env | more
env > environmentvariablelist.txt

# Show current userid and assigned groups

# See all command aliases for the current user

# See rpms installed on current system
rpmquery --all | more
rpmquery --all > <filename>
rpmquery --all | grep -i <plaintext>

# What directory am I using

# What takes up so much space on your box
# Run from the directory in question and the largest chunk shows up last
find $1 -type d | xargs du -sm | sort -g

Look at man <command> or info <command> for the flags I used and for other options you can use for bash commands.

Last edited by fancypiper; 06-09-2003 at 12:33 AM.
Old 06-09-2003, 09:47 AM   #11
Registered: May 2003
Location: New Jersey
Distribution: Red Hat 8.0 + PCLinuxOS - 2007
Posts: 160

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 30
Thanks again, fancypiper,

You have given me a LOT to think about. I will have to gather the answers to your questions and get back.

I have several Linux manuals and "dozens & dozens" of web site printouts BUT I can't seem to get this "info" organized and find a "starting point". To where I have a "break-through".

P.S. "OldBob" = 72 years old
Old 06-09-2003, 10:17 AM   #12
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You got me by 10. I am 62 (but feel like 82 )
Old 06-09-2003, 02:18 PM   #13
Registered: Mar 2002
Location: Green Bay,Wisconsin US
Distribution: PCLinuxOS .9
Posts: 53

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Here are some links to websites that have really helped me: (The FAQ section on this one is great) (this one's about Red Hat but most of it still pertains)
Old 06-09-2003, 02:58 PM   #14
Registered: May 2003
Location: New Jersey
Distribution: Red Hat 8.0 + PCLinuxOS - 2007
Posts: 160

Original Poster
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The Mandrake Users board is exactly the kind of info I'm looking for.

Old 06-09-2003, 05:29 PM   #15
Registered: Mar 2003
Location: Tribeca, NYC
Distribution: Slackware 9.0, Fedora Core 1
Posts: 111

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OldBob, I have to second fancypiper's philosophy about learning Linux: 1. break it, 2. fix it. Except you may not need to break something to find something to fix.

For example, you mentioned that the prompt [oldbob@localhost oldbob]$ intimidates you. Did you know that by editing a simple text file you can change what the prompt displays, including date, time, current directory, etc? e.g. 5:20PM /home/oldbob/documents $

Where to start? Pick a simple task like that and figure out how to solve it. You'll be surprised at the things you pick up along the way. By doing this task you're going to learn about environment variables, the .bashrc file, how to edit a file and save it, the ls command and some of its options, etc.

After you've figured this one out, pick one more task and learn something new. If you want to play mp3s, see if you can figure out how to install xmms and play them. Maybe keep a notebook of your problems/tasks and how you solved them.

You will probably find that within a month you are comfortable in your surroundings. Don't be overwhelmed by the enormity of Linux as a whole. You don't need to know everything about it to use it and enjoy it. Figure out how to tweak the things that you use from day-to-day so that they're exactly how you want them. By doing that you will make your "breakthrough".

Last edited by cpv204; 06-09-2003 at 05:33 PM.


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