Linux users...little help please?

Ok, I’ve decided to dive into Linux and have gotten a pretty good start on it in the last few hours. I partitioned one of my HDDs so I’m able to have both Windows and Linux. I can get on the net, I can get sound. I’m doing OK. However, three things have stumped me and one is pissing me off.

#1) How do I create scripts> I got a copy of Red Hat Linux 7 for Dummies (I hate that title, but…) and it drops the cryptic comment that it’s a good idea to create a script to be a firewall. Keen. I’m on a Cable-modem, this is important. It provides a sample script. Kewl! I’m ready to go…except…it doesn’t actually say HOW to create a script. I’m logged in as ROOT(?). Do I just go to a (wrong term…) command prompt and type? How do I save it? Help!

#2) TIN is supposed to be the best Newsreader ever. I’ve heard people raving about it for years. I can’t wait to try it. However, when I do (I’m in GNOME), a box pops up, flashes a message and vanishes before I can read it, and I read fast. I suspect I have to configure it. But unless I can get into the stupid program, I don’t see how.

#3) This one’s pissing me off. Where is LILO hiding? I want it off my system. I have a Linux boot disk that works perfectly well for when I want to boot into Linux. However, I don’t see anything in the root of my C: drive (yes, I’m looking at all files). I installed Linux to partition on another physical drive than C:. I backed up all my important files (io.sys, msdos.sys, etc) and restored them, still didn’t destroy LILO. How do I get rid of the LILO that won’t die? (It really irritates me that I didn’t have the option of not installing it.)

#4) Opinions please: KDE, GNOME or something else? Anyone want to recommend one over the other? Why?

#5) Any good book on Linux that’s more advanced than Dummies, but is still pretty basic?



Ok, first off, I’m not really a Linux user.

But my boyfriend is, and he’s just been messing around with it for the past few months. The book hes using is “Running Linux” by Matt Welsh et al. He says its pretty good.

I can’t help you with any of the other questions, but that might be a start for you :slight_smile:

Haven’t worked with Linux in particular, but for the answer to #1, look for a book or instructions on vi (the standard unix text editor). O’Reilly has a good book on vi.

Also, I would recommend creating another username, and only signing on as root when you need to do system management tasks. It’s too easy to screw up your OS when you’re signed on as root.

Thanks for the book recommendation!

And regarding the other username, I did that, but apparently this script needs to be created while logged in as “Root”. The “Dummies” books tend not to go deep into the “why” of things.


I like running linux it is a good book. But it wont answer your specific question. has lots of good stuff.

For the firewall you should donwload bastille and run it to help you set up such stuff.

You are going to get this thrown into the great debates with question #4. But my answer is kde.

A script is just a text file that you tell linux is executable. (Like a batch file (.BAT) in Windows/DOS) To create a text file, you need to use a text editor. (Think of it as the unix equivalent of Windows Notepad) As Arnold and others have mentioned, the standard unix text editor is a program called vi. There are several other ones you can also use. Your default installation of RedHat probably has them installed already. vi is very powerful, but it’s a bit cryptic at first. You might want to try “pico” first until your a little more confortable with linux.

To start pico, open a terminal and just type “pico” at the command prompt and hit enter. (If you get an error like “command not found” try typing “/usr/bin/pico” instead.) There’s a list of shortcut keys at the bottom of the screen. Type in your script and hit Crtl-O to save it. Ctrl-X will exit the program.

Then you need to tell the os that the script you created is executable. At the prompt type “chmod u+x myscript”, where myscript is the name you saved it as. In English, that means “CHange the MODe of myscript, giving the User (the person who owns it) eXecute permission”

You should then be able to type “./myscript” at the prompt to run it.

That solved #3 (which was fairly easy in retrospect). LILO fubars the MBR so an FDISK /MBR restores it and snuffs LILO. (Yay!)

Thanks for the pointer!

BTW: Why do you like KDE better? I’m hoping that if people just list features they like, we can keep this out of GD or the Pit or IMHO (given the factual questions also asked)


Creating files Gnome and KDE both have good editors that you don’t have to use cryptic commands to use like VI and EMACS. Look on the menus. VI is just a pain in the ass now that we have a GUI enviornment.

I like KDE because I have compiled it (rather one of my coworkers compiled it) for solaris (SUN unix). I use it at work so it is what I am used to.

I will say this again. Run Bastille for your firewall if you don’t know how to open and close files. You don’t want to figure out how to write a firewall ruleset. It does a good job it is recomended by people with better linux knowledge than my self.

There are about 100 million better places to ask linux questions than Straight Dope. Read the HOWTOs in the previous links they will like to other things.

And welcome to linux. Rember it is free only to the degree that your time is free.

      • I noticed this just reading the first UNIX reference book I bought. You get to set the admin password, because, um, surprise!
  • I bought Mandrake but haven’t gotten around to installing it yet. — Can I ask, aside from learning to get around in a UNIX system or needing to network with another one, what are desktop UNIX OS’s good for? The instructions in mine say USB support is spotty, and half the toys I have connected to my computer are going through USB hubs. I have heard that there is some vast quantity of free software to be had from the net, but my limited experience with free software is that it does a few things okay, and most others poorly or (usually) not at all. Security for multiple users? Multiple processor support?

Hey, my first post!


…And welcome to linux. Rember it is free only to the degree that your time is free. - gazpacho

Wow, MC, that quote is really on target.

Some comments:

#1 Others have talked about text editors. IMHO, vi is simple and easy once you get the hang of a few commands. You can learn about five to do just about everything you need to get by.

To make a script, just make a textfile starting with:


Type in your commands kinda like a batch file. Put lots of comments in (#=comment). Save the file (vi - esc,:,wq) and chmod it to executable (-700 I think).

There are some pretty fascistic ipchains and firewall rulesets out there. You’ll need a sturdy one if you are going to be connected 24x7 and/or have a static IP address. If you have a dynamically assigned IP for when you are dialed in, this is probably less important. Don’t forget to close off all those unnecessary ports! Have somebody portscan you to see what you have open.

#2 TIN is, well, horrible IMO. Clunky, old, arcane. I think that those that use it are the folks that like to brag that they can use it. TIN does have the advantage of being completely configurable. I like Gravity on a windows platform. Maybe it’ll run under wine, I don’t know.

#4 I like Gnome, but I’m hardly ever in it. I do shells almost exclusively.

#5 Any O’Rielly book. There is also Unix for System Administrators by an author I forget that was quite good.

Remember, man <name of command> is your friend.

MC asked “what is a desktop unix box good for”?

Well, for the enthusiast, it allows you to get up close and personal with your OS, learn about how your computer works, how the internet works, and how OS’s and applications in general work. I agree, however, that Linux and the other freebie OS’s and apps are not ready for primetime. There is just too much going on for the typical secretary or management person to have to deal with. If they have to call the departmental sysadmin every time something goes wrong, it will really eat into their productivity. Judging by the strides made in RH Linux, for example, in a few more years, this may no longer be true.


I had meant to post this before the thread dropped but forgot.

IMO, one of the best online resources for Linux newbies is They have a large, active, and friendly message board, and among other things, “newbieized help files”, which are essentially HOWTO’s and tutorials written in plain English.

This site has saved me tons of frustration.

Also, check out

They have the Firewall HOWTO if you really want to do it yourself.

GNOME has a couple of Notepad-esque text editors. I believe they’re in the Applications menu. If you want to do it in a terminal, I reccomend using pico to start. (It’s simple, but it really is all you need to write a simple script or config file; for more complicated programs and scripts, I prefer emacs over vi.)

When working on system configuration stuff, I generally always log in to GNOME as my regular user, open a terminal, and use the ‘su’ command to switch to root in that terminal. This saves me from ever having to log in to GNOME as root.

      • I hate to admit defeat so early, but so far, I am not impressed.
        -Can’t find how to configure a printer at all.
        -The modem don’t work. I can’t find any mention of this problem in the [rather brief] online instrucions, but “more help is available on the web”. Gee, thanks. They really should have bombproofed the modem setup, even if it meant using another whole CD. Really, really, really should have.
        -After a brief startup, it boots into Linux in 3 seconds unless you stop it. This strikes me as majorly fucking arrogant, especially considering all the other problems it has.
        -The “automatic disk partition manager” didn’t work: it “cold not do -something or other- with the existing Windows partition”, so I had to attemp “expert mode”.
        -When I did, it appeared as though I asked for a 600 meg install on the slave drive, and it took up the whole thing.
        -It wouldn’t shut down this morning. Before it seemed to do it automatically after I logged off, but not now. I had to power off.
        -And during installation, the instructions suggest setting full partitions, removing any other operating systems!
        The future does not look bright for the little penguin. - MC

Yes you can, you just haven’t tried.

Linux Printing HOWTO

Do you have one of those dinky Winmodems? If you do you need to read Linmodem HOWTO. This tells you how to set up Linux’s very new support for these pieces o’ crap. If you have a real modem, read Modem HOWTO.

I believe you can change this setting in lilo.conf. (I don’t use LILO so I’m not 100% sure.) Don’t know about your partition troubles either.

It’s a suggestion. Jeez. Lighten up.

Look. When you use Linux, you’re using an entire operating system full of software hacked together by a few college kids over a weekend. It does not have the benefit or budget of a full scale compatibility test or debugging phase. I call this “perpetual beta.”

There will be problems. Always. Part of the fun of Linux is figuring out how to fix them. The most important thing you can do as a Linux user is file bug reports. Find the websites of the programs that are giving you trouble and submit a bug report. Watch the bug get fixed. It’s neat. :slight_smile:

Try looking at the Linux Printing HOWTO. I’ve never set up printing, so I can’t be much help. Sorry.

Are you using a Winmodem (software driven modem)? If so, you probably will have trouble. They were designed to run with the windows subsystem and libraries in place. Not in any alternative operating system. This is a fault of Microsoft’s domineering business practices and the hardware industries’ efforts to suck up to them. Not the Linux developers. I understand somebody is working on Winmodem support for Linux, but I don’t know how well it works.

If you’re using a hardware driven modem, try looking at the Modem HOWTO.

This part is easy: once you’re at your root command prompt, do this:

[root@localhost] # cd /etc
[root@localhost] # pico lilo.conf

Here, you modify the line that says:


to say whatever delay you want, in [sup]1[/sup]/[sub]10[/sub]ths of a second. 50 is the default, meaning a 5 second delay. You can also change (or add if it’s not there) the line that says:


to change which boot image you want to boot by default. (I assume you would want yours to be “default=dos” depending on what your windows boot image is called) next, you run:

[root@localhost] # lilo

you’ll see a few lines like this:

added dos *
added linux

then reboot:

[root@localhost] # shutdown -r now
[root@localhost] # reboot

and it will boot to your windows partition automatically after however many tenths of a second you specified. for more info, type:

[root@localhost] # man lilo.conf

Incorrect assumption. It will not power off when you log out. You need to run a command to shut it down. It’s a multiple-user operating system. It waits for other users to log in, and it’s normal to run with nobody logged in, doing other things. The commands to shut down are:

[root@localhost] # shutdown -h now
[root@localhost] # halt

When in doubt, RTFM:

[root@localhost] # man shutdown

A suggestion is just a suggestion. This setup is no different from any other OS. Windows setup assumes you want it to be the only OS on the computer, and conveniently offers instructions on how to wipe out existing systems. It even overwrites the Master Boot Record and makes itself the only bootable OS (Linux installs are kind enough to make other partitions bootable automatically, only making itself the default boot).

I’m sorry to say this, but don’t blame the OS for your ignorance. I know it’s frustrating and there is a huge learning curve. But once you get in the right frame of mind, you’ll enjoy it. I’ve been using it for 3 years now and I’m still learning new stuff all the time.
Just remember: your best friends are: man <command> (or info <command>) and the The Linux Documentation Project.

      • Update!
        -So far I have verified that there is no Linux support for:
        —the modem I have,
        —the printer I have,
        —the scanner I have,
        —the graphics tablet I have,
        —and last but for God’s sake not least, my favorite game controller. Hmmm,
        Looking around, I did find out how to reset the boot manager, so it defaults to Windows. The Penguin lives, but it may get pretty lonely.
        ?Mystery?-Some of the help files are only there part of the time though. Sometimes they open; other times it says it can’t find them. (there are the same files I am referring to) Other help files are missing entirely, I think. They never show up.
        -And the logout seems to be working now, even though I didn’t change anything about it that I know of. This morning, after logging out, the KDE desktop leaves and a screen that says “local host” comes up, and offers the choice to log in again, or shutdown. When I complained (in the other post), the local host screen wasn’t coming up at all; there was nothing anywhere that presented any option for shutting down.
        I also found where I should be able to configure a printer, except that “Kups” says that “CUPS” isn’t installed. Somewhere else in the configuration manager it says that CUPS is installed and running. -?
        (During installation, it’s supposed to ask you if you want to install and configure a printer. When I did the installation, it skipped this step completely. And I can’t find anywhere that says how to re-install CUPS.)
        It is interesting how Linux can see “into” the Windows partition, but I dunno how much good that’s going to be.
        (Windows can’t “see” into the Linux partition; the slave drive I installed Linux on doesn’t even show up in Windows/my computer)
        If you happen to know how to fix anything here, you are free to reply. I mostly put this last post to warn anyone considering Mandrake/Linux as to what to expect. As it stands, I can’t use much of my hardware with Linux, so I’m fairly uninterested at this point. -If you were buying new hardware you could make sure the modem & scanner & printer were usable under Linux, but there’s a pretty good chance that if you just picked them normally (by their specs and price), they aren’t. - MC

Sounds like your problem, as Friedo already pointed out, is that you’re not willing to put in the time it takes to get stuff working. You can find Linux support for almost anything, if you’re willing to spend the time looking and getting it to work. It’s difficult, but the payoff is worth it.

If you just want to turn on your computer and have all your stuff recognized immediately, then maybe Linux isn’t ready for you yet. If you want a stable, almost bullet-proof OS that is secure and robust, on the other hand, it’s one of the best options (some others being Solaris, AIX, BSD, etc). But Windows and Unix are different animals. You don’t buy Windows NT to play video games and movies. It’s for work. Same with Unix. Besides, as much as I don’t like microsoft, there’s no OS like Windows 95/98 for playing games.

What modem/printer/scanner/graphics pad/joystick do you have? I’ll bet you a dollar either friedo, I, or somebody else can find support for at least two of those.