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More Dumb Linux Questions

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  • Linux
Last response: in Open Source Software
May 30, 2005 5:59:16 AM

Hey,
I'm hoping there are a few Linux users willing to answer some dumb questions from a Linux-curious Windows user like me.

My experience with Linux has been very limited, I've installed Mandrake (Mandriva, lol) 10.1 on a few systems now, and have farted around with the Knoppix and Ubuntu Live CD's and that's it. I really liked Mandrake but after I downloaded GIMP and Firefox, I was completely lost as how to proceed after the files had been downloaded. Could somebody explain how to:
1. Install a program or run the Linux equivalent of an ".exe".
2. How to place shortcuts from that program onto the desktop or where-ever.
3. Explain how the Linux file system works, basically in comparison to Windows.
I think if I could overcome some of these hurdles I would be less likely to nuke Linux the next time I give it a try. Any other helpful tips would be greatly appreciated.
I realize that Windows is the best choice for gaming, but other than that, I don't see a reason why I shouldn't start using Linux, unless I'm just too daft for it.

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More about : dumb linux questions

May 30, 2005 8:27:40 PM

The only dumb Linux questions are the ones that are never asked.

I haven't used Mandriva, but each distribution has a few little quirks as far as installation goes. SuSE has one of the easiest installers with YaST, but Gentoo seems to have the largest compatibility with nearly everything built from "source" or installed with a program called "apt-get".
Generally speaking, programs are distributed as .rpm files or .tar files. Tarballs (.tar and .tar.gz) are somewhat comparable to .zip files.
1. The equivalent of a .exe file is the .sh file, also known as a "shell script". These can be started in a console (text-entry similar to DOS mode), by changing to the directory the file is found in:

linux@home# cd /path/to/file/

and typing:

linux@home/path/to/file# sh filename

2. Shortcuts are called symbolic links (symlink), and if you are running the KDE or Gnome desktops in Linux (the two most common Graphical User Interfaces, or GUI), you should be able to right-click on the desktop to get an option to make the link. Right-clicking on the launch button should provide an option to manipulate the launch menu, where you can add symlinks there as well.

3. The Linux file system has directories and folders similar to Windows, but things are in different locations. One of the biggest differences you will find is in the <i>permissions</i> attached to each file and folder. The permissions determine who can see and manipulate files or even whole directories.
When you look through the file system in a console, the most useful commands will be:

cd = change directory
ls = list files (similar to dir in Windows' DOS mode), with several modifiers available
man = manual pages- man ls will tell you how to use the command ls, and several of the available modifiers.
su = login as SuperUser- be careful with this one, as it gives you root (administrator) permissions in that session.

There are several community forums available for each distribution, moderated by people who are familiar with that particular distribution's quirks. Some of the best I've found include:

<A HREF="http://www.LinuxQuestions.org" target="_new">www.LinuxQuestions.org&lt;/A>
<A HREF="http://www.suseforums.net" target="_new">SuSE Linux Community Forums</A>
<A HREF="http://slforums.typo3-factory.net/" target="_new">SuSE Linux Forums</A>

The last two used to be the same forum, but a management split happened earlier this year. The first of the two seems to me to have a more community feel, while the second focuses more on Linux questions and can be rather rude in my opinion.
I highly recommend finding one of the forums dedicated to the distribution you are interested in, and start asking questions. The three that I listed work well with most distributions and can answer most of your questions, though.
-----------------------------------

If ignorance is bliss, education will blow your mind.<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by CopperLion on 05/30/05 01:31 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
May 30, 2005 9:27:38 PM

Get Running Linux from O'Reilly! That will really help you. Heck, you do not even need ot buy it new or the must up2date version. Mybe check your used book store.
Related resources
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May 30, 2005 9:59:16 PM

I realize it's a tired topic, so thanks for the info!
Ya reckon i should do SUSE instead of Mandriva then?
<b><font color=blue>Athlon64 3200+ Winchester/MSI Neo4 Platinum SLI/MSI 6800 Ultra/1 GB Kingston HyperX (Dual Channel)/74GB WD Raptor/600Watt Enermax Noisetaker/ Dual Mitsubishi 21 Inch Monitors</b></font color=blue>
May 30, 2005 10:27:05 PM

I have used SuSE since version 8.0 came out (about three or four years ago). At the time, my brother gave me CDs for Mandrake 8.0 and I had CDs for RedHat 6.2 as well. Of the three, SuSE had the most comfortable interface for me.
I haven't tried Mandrake (Mandriva) since then. Several people on the SuSE community forums try every new distro they can get their hands on, and the general consensus is that SuSE still has the most polish, but Ubuntu is quickly making a name for itself. They have so far been somewhat unimpressed by Mandriva. I have no personal opinion on Mandriva, since I haven't tried it.
I have tried Fedora Core 3 on a friend's computer. I'd have to say that there are a few differences between FC3 and SuSE 9.2 Professional, and the only advantage SuSE really has for me is the YaST tool. The ease of updating and having a GUI to configure most things definitely gives it the edge to recommend SuSE over Fedora Core.
I doubt this post will help you decide which distro to go with, but I would have a hard time recommending one over another without knowing your specific needs. With some tweaking (every distro seems to be almost endlessly configurable) any one distro can be made to look and function like another. They can even look and function almost exactly like MacOSX or Windows, if you really want them to. :) 

If ignorance is bliss, education will blow your mind.
September 26, 2005 4:43:42 PM

A friend of mine installed SuSE 9.3 on his Windows 2000 Server. We play America's Army Online and it has no problems whatsoever. Actually it's more stable than the windows server version but it has nothing to do with the OS. The new version of AAO for the windows platform simply suck.

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