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Total n00b needs help!

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September 21, 2002 5:14:02 AM

OK, I finally decided to try Linux again. (A while ago I tried Linux 5.0 but it didn't like AMD systems back then). This time I picked up a copy of Debian Linux "Woody" 3.0 but I'm lost without documentation. I have no Linux or Unix experience.

Firstly, can anyone recommend a good book for a n00b, a good general book on linux. Also are there any decent reference books for Debian Linux 3.0?

<b>[Warning! Long rant! Questions are at the end]</b>

Now on to my trials. I've attempted to install Debian Linux 4 or 5 times with different degrees of success.

The first time I tried to load every package but I think I ran out of space. I'm temporarily using an old 3.2 GB HD.

The second time I loaded many of the packages but left out the server stuff. Linux would go through the motion of loading but the screen filled with garbage text characters that ran on continuously. Later, I learned that this was the point where the Xserver was attempting to load.

The next time I installed Debian I tried using the Vesa video driver (I was selecting ATI previously as I have a Radeon 8500). Again Linux went through the motion of loading. This time instead of garbage text characters, at what should be the login prompt, I got just an "L" followed by 01 01 01 01 01, repeating every two seconds.

At this point I remembered the startup disk. I tried it and it worked. The system gave me a graphical login screen and then a GUI (Gnome I think). I thought everything was fine when I saw this but graphics were horrendously slow (remember I selected Vesa drivers). I was trying run some of the utilities (forget which ones) but I got an error saying my User is not a "SuperUser". So I tried to login as ROOT and try to figure out how to give myself rights but a login error said I can't login as Root. I figured I probably need to exit the GUI. Unfortunately I don't know how to do this. I also couldn't figure out how to boot without the GUI. Anyway, I called it a day.

The next day I decided to give the ATI driver another go. I reloaded Debian and this time the system didn't give me garbage characters but the screen blinked a few times an eventually informed me that the XServer can't load.

I remembered someone once mentioned that ATI cards have have problems so I downloaded some Linux drivers from ATI's site and tried to load these. The drivers I downloaded were for the wrong version of something (Xfree86 I think) so I went back and downloaded an earlier version. This time the drivers matched my installation. I tried to load the drivers using the RPM program as per the instructions but was told the database can't find the files. (The files were on a CDRW disc). I can't remember the details but I got the impression that the files weren't in the correct place which was supposed to be /etc/X11/RPM. I nosed around the NET (because I could friggin figure out how to copy or move files). I came across the "tar" command but I must have been getting the syntax wrong and couldn't copy the files. Finally I used this, "mount /dev/cdrom /etc/X11/RPM" which I guess just maps the CDROM. Anyway, the RPM command now worked but with errors. The actual syntax is, "rpm -i --force <i>filename</i>". The notes said if you get a certain kind of error then use "rpm -i --force --nodeps <i>filename</i>. This seemed to work, so I went on to the next step which was to configure the display with the program fglrxconfig. This seemed to work too. However...

I rebooted but got the same thing, a few blinks of the screen, and the message that Xserver couldn't start. I think it also said to fix whatever is broken (yeah right!) and manually reload the Xserver by typing "startx". Well, I didn't fix anything but I typed "startx". The screen blinked a couple of times and again I get "Xserver couldn't start" but this time there were some diagnostic errors. I should have written it down but I rember the following "FireGL...Module R200...starting...Display default 1024x768 0x0...1280x1024 0x0...800x600 0x0..." Then it said something like "no valid frequencies" and "syntax error at line XXX" and it said something about checking the file, X86Config.

(The end - almost).

I not asking anyone to fix all my problems but I would like to know more about some of the issues I ran into.

1) Please, I need a recommendation on the aforementioned books.
2) How do I view/edit configuration files like X86Config? How do I copy files?
3) How do I give a user superuser privileges? Does this mean the same privileges as Root?
4) how do I avoid loading the GUI at boot time? alternatively, how do I exit the GUI?
5) Does anyone know if the ATI 8500 drivers work with Debian Linux (or am I just spinning my wheels)?

I'm sure I'll have a million more questions later but I've come to the conclusion that Linux really isn't for newbies.

<b>I have so many cookies I now have a FAT problem!</b><P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by phsstpok on 09/21/02 01:30 AM.</EM></FONT></P>

More about : total n00b

September 21, 2002 2:28:18 PM

1) Can't help you there... I use the net and guides available from vendors websites. Here's a good start for Debian :-) <A HREF="http://www.debian.org/doc/" target="_new">http://www.debian.org/doc/&lt;/A>
2) I use "vi" to edit, and "less" to view. "cp" is the Linux copy command.
3) You don't. You can use "su" to act as root (or just login as root), or use a helper app like sudo. Just use "su" for now.
4) You have to set the run-level to 3, by editing /etc/inittab - the line to change is commented. Better yet, just press Ctrl-Alt-F1 to get the first console screen.
5) Debian generally uses apt, not rpm, so installing those rpms might not go as smoothly as it might have, and you'd need to make sure you have the right libraries installed. But I haven't used Debian for a long time.

Also, use the "man" command to find out about specific commands (like tar).

Seriously, do yourself a favour, and get a copy of RedHat 7.3, Mandrake 8.2 or SuSE 8.0 - better yet wait a few weeks and get the upcoming Gnome 2.0 versions. It will make your life a lot easier.

Edit: Linux works fines for newbies - just maybe not Debian, or Slackware or... <insert your favourite Geek distro>. I've seen folks who haven't used Windows before get lost just trying to find C drive, so don't think it's just a Linux thing. Yes, its a little different to what you're used to, but that's not necessarily bad.

<i>Do I look like I care?</i><P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by poorboy on 09/22/02 04:34 AM.</EM></FONT></P>
September 21, 2002 6:33:15 PM

Most of the Linux Gurus have different priorties than the average user. Security with servers is much more intense than just an end user; fewer ports and services.

So remember to adapt anything anyone tells you to your own needz. There might be a better way to do something, but when you're starting out, learn any way you can so you can actually use the machine.



1) Go down to Border's or Barne's and Noble, and grab the thickest damn thing you can find. They are all hammered dog sh!t. Not a one of them is worth a damn. But after you play around with the OS for a while, and learn some really basic stuff like "emacs" and "man", then the book comes in really handy for "advanced" or "intermediate" skillz. Personally, I have Red Hat Linux: Unleashed. It was less than worthless (Red Hat wouldn't install on my laptop so I went to Mandrake) up until I actually installed the OS, and found out about the "man" command, and the "emacs" command. Then it had a lot of useful information about configuration settings and a common command reference chart.

2) You have to use a text editor. There are others, but the only one that I know how to run from the command line is "emacs". Remember, in Unix (or Linux), lower and upper case letters make a difference. Goddam is different from goddam. Go to the directory that X86Config is in and type "emacs X86Config". It will pull up the file for you. There's one called "pico" too, but it's not in all distros. There a command for copy. I don't think it's "copy", I think it's like "cp". A lot of the command are two letters, rather than the full word like msdos.

3) To give a user "super" access, you have to run the user config program. With mandrake, it's "userdrake". Then, you mark them as group "root". That gives then super user status, or "root" status. Yes, they have the same privileges as root. Be prepared though, if you use root/super access all the time if you accidently delete something, or when you run something. There are Linux Viruii out there. What I usually do is log in twice, under different "virtual terminals". One as my regular user, one as "root". Then, if I need to administer something, I just change over to the root terminal by hitting "control-alt-f8", and edit/delete whatever. You can also "su: like Poorboy said. There's about three different ways, and there's probably 2 others than I don't know about.

4) Poorboy said it. There's 6 different "run levels". Levels 2 through 4 boot to a command prompt/terminal interface. To get out of the "gui", just hit "control-alt-backspace". This shuts down your "gui/Xserver" session, and gives you a command prompt. It's possible to remove this ability by editing a text file, but it's enabled by default.

5) Dunno 'bout Ati. You'll have to do a google search, and some reading.





The only advice I can give you is, if you are unhappy with one distro or that distro just isn't working for you, try another. Mandrake 9.0, Red Hat, Slackware, Corel. There's at least 5 different ones you can download from the net. Run an MD5 sum on the .iso after you download it to make sure that disk is good.


[edit: just an extra little FYI here. If you are logged in as "root" (dunno about using "su"), there are a huge number of Linux sites that will not even send you their web page. They will lock you out of their server. If you want to try it, log in as root and browser to "www.mandrake.com". You'll get a message "you don't have authority to view this webpage". So, just another reason to use multiple logins...]

P4's @ 3600Mhz ()wNz J00 4LL!!!!!!<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by ejsmith2 on 09/22/02 11:07 AM.</EM></FONT></P>
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September 21, 2002 7:59:54 PM

<b>Ejsmith2</b>,

"Hammered dog sh!t" and "Goddam is different from goddam". Priceless! ROFL!.

D*mn, "emacs". I almost go it. I remembered "emac" but not "emacs"

<b>Ejsmith2 and Poorboy</b>,

Good useful information! It will help me a lot. Thanks.

I did find "man" but it didn't do me any good when I didn't know the name of any of the commands I wanted.

I'm trying to figure out what utilities are available to me. From my old DOS days I used a utility called "whereis" to search for files. I found this in the Linux but I am not sure it is the same. Do either of you know how to do the equivalent of "Whereis f*" where "f*" is a wildcard to find all files begining with the letter "f"?

I have a 56K connection so I won't be downloading any Linux distributions. The Debian distribution discs were cheap as were those for Mandrake, Suse and others but it never occurred to me that I should get more than one set.

I'm going to give one more shot at the ATI drivers then I'm going to put my old Geforce card in the system.

The information you gave me ought to hold me for now. Thanks again.



<b>I have so many cookies I now have a FAT problem!</b>
September 22, 2002 2:07:08 AM

The command you are looking for is "find" - you could use it something like "find / -iname "f*"" Some systems have a "locate" command which might be faster. "whereis" under Linux locates the binary, source, and manual page files for a command.

Don't get me wrong about the distro, there's nothing bad about Debian, it's just more hands-on that some of the others. For a new user, this make it harder to get going (I know - I learnt Linux on a Debian 386 laptop). The Debian docs link I posted above has a user-guide in it, and it covers most of those basics you are asking about. Maybe you'd rather buy a book, but the info is online if you'd prefer to save your cash.

[-peep-] $.02 edit: When "Linux Gurus" offer folks some advice, it's usually because they've been there before, and/or they don't like seeing people doing things the hard way for no good reason. Take it all with a grain of salt - as with everything, YMMV.

<i>Screw you guys, I'm going home.</i><P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by poorboy on 09/22/02 04:21 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
September 22, 2002 2:34:15 AM

Thanks once again.

<b>I have so many cookies I now have a FAT problem!</b>
September 22, 2002 2:55:15 PM

Poorboy:

I don't mean any offense to you. I will edit my post.

P4's @ 3600Mhz ()wNz J00 4LL!!!!!!
September 26, 2002 11:06:24 PM

1) I mainly use the Internet for Linux information. But I did buy myself a copy of "Running Linux" by Welsh, Dalhemer, & Kaufman, published by O'Reilly. It is an excellent book that teaches you how to install, configure, and setup just about everything via command lines -- which is the best way to learn instead of the GUI's click, click, click....I believe they are releasing a new edition next month, you might want to grab yourself a copy if you want to learn everything using command lines instead of using GUIs. Though you can find everything you need to know on the 'Net, it's nice to have a great book by your side when you need it.

5) Like poorboy said, Debian isn't an RPM based distrobution, so installing may or may not work the way you want it. I'm running SuSE-Linux 8.0 and a Radeon 8500, installation went smooth, but it broke a few things afterwards (which was easy to fix, so no problem). 2D performace is great, but 3D is lacking compared to ATI's Windows drivers (check out juin's <A HREF="http://forumz.tomshardware.com/software/modules.php?nam..." target="_new">"Many question simple to more complex"</A> thread).

Disregard my previous post.
September 26, 2002 11:31:03 PM

Quote:
I mainly use the Internet for Linux information. But I did buy myself a copy of "Running Linux" by Welsh, Dalhemer, & Kaufman, published by O'Reilly. It is an excellent book that teaches you how to install, configure, and setup just about everything via command lines

I'll give it a look and probably pick up the newer edition when available. Thanks.


<b>I have so many cookies I now have a FAT problem!</b>
September 27, 2002 3:01:20 AM

Hi all.

I'm making progress! Thanks everyone for your help.

I finally was able to make the necessary edits to the XF86Config-4 file. I ended up using Xemacs since Emacs seemed be installed but non-functional (maybe it's just not installed).

The problem I originally had starting the Xserver was due to an invalid parameter in the above file. the fglrxconfig utility (supplied with the ATI drivers) left "(null)" for my monitor's vertical refesh range. Looking at my monitor's owners manual I manually changed this to "50-120". (I tried this from within the fglrxconfig but it kept inserting "null").

After I fixed the above problem the Xserver hung, not being able to locate the mouse. Again the issue was traced to the fglrxconfig utility inserting the wrong value. It was associating the mouse driver to the /dev/mouse device. I looked at the original copy of XF86Config file (and besides noticing a completely different syntax) that the mouse should be configured as /dev/psaux. Once this was changed the GUI (KDE, I think) would launch.

That's as far as I got for now but it's progress!

The issues/problems I will work on next are the following:

- Mouse clicks are very sluggish.

- I have a virtual 1280x1024 desktop but have a 1024x768 resolution. I want a static 1024x768 desktop

- No sound. I think the hardware wasn't detected.

- I don't yet know how to establish a dial-up connection. (I don't have broadband).

- The ATI drivers are installed and working but I'd like to test OpenGL. I don't know if any 3D apps are available with the Debian installation. I'm still learning how to install software. Hopefully, my next installation won't be so troublesome.

The good news is the ATI drivers do work and the RPM installer seems to work with a Debian Linux installation.

Once again, thanks all. Everyone's information is greatly appreciated.

Phsstpok

<b>I have so many cookies I now have a FAT problem!</b>
September 27, 2002 4:14:40 AM

Just a few notes...

/dev/mouse would normally be a symlink to /dev/psaux (or the usb device etc)

Check the device section of XF86Config, and just remove the definitions bigger than "1024x768" (and smaller, if you wish)

glinfo, glxinfo and "gears" are normally installed. glinfo and glxinfo just let you know if things are working. gears runs a little 3d app showing spinning cogs. teapot is another similar app.

Sound should be activated by inserting the correct kernel modules. I'm not sure of the Debain way to do it, so what soundcard to you have?

Dial up stuff is handled at the low level by pppd. There are higher level apps to do this too, like wvdial. From memory, Debian has an application called ppp-config, but KDE has a GUI tool to set up dialup connections too (but for some reason it rarely works for me, esp when usign a firewall - wvdial works fine though...).





<i>Do I look like I care?</i>
September 27, 2002 7:04:14 PM

Quote:
/dev/mouse would normally be a symlink to /dev/psaux (or the usb device etc)

symlink?
Quote:
Check the device section of XF86Config, and just remove the definitions bigger than "1024x768" (and smaller, if you wish)

Fixed. Thanks.
Quote:
glinfo, glxinfo and "gears" are normally installed. glinfo and glxinfo just let you know if things are working. gears runs a little 3d app showing spinning cogs. teapot is another similar app.

Haven't tried these yet.
Quote:
Sound should be activated by inserting the correct kernel modules. I'm not sure of the Debain way to do it, so what soundcard to you have?

It's an old Turtle Beach Tropez (ISA). I'll be replacing it soon so I'm not too concerned.
Quote:
Dial up stuff is handled at the low level by pppd. There are higher level apps to do this too, like wvdial. From memory, Debian has an application called ppp-config, but KDE has a GUI tool to set up dialup connections too (but for some reason it rarely works for me, esp when usign a firewall - wvdial works fine though...).

I'll try this again later.


<b>I have so many cookies I now have a FAT problem!</b>
September 28, 2002 8:42:14 AM

symlink is short for symbolic link (made by ln -s <original> <link name>). it's kindof like a shortcut in windows, but it's more usable.

<i>Do I look like I care?</i>
!