Relative newbie's experience with Linux

Relative newbie's experience with Linux

Post by acl.. » Wed, 05 Nov 1997 04:00:00



Just thought I'd share this with y'all. I've been meaning to get one of
my computers running Linux pretty-much full time for a while now;
anyways, I finally got around to upgrading it with a new second hard
drive etc, and was pleasantly surprised to find that my university has a
mirror of the latest version of Debian linux... ie, conveniently
available at ethernet speeds. Great, methought...

Although I'm writing this post in a telnet session from my eventually
successful installation, I did spend most of the day, and managed to
cause quite a bit of damage in the process. Basically, from my reading
this newsgroup, I'd somehow gotten the impression that, although Linux
and all other Unixes were pretty tricky to administer, some of the new
installation procedures for Linux had been simplified to the extent that
they're "click on OK to select default (and correct) option", and I've
heard it said that (some of them) are simpler than Win95...

Anywayz, the installation progressed; my immediate impression was
that... well, I most _definately_ wouldn't want my mother to try it, if
you know what I mean. I do a lot of programming various languages, and I
know what a partition is, how to edit script files, and so on; so I was
able to figure out the questions. A problem turned up when it tried to
configure my NE2000, the instructions were somewhat ambiguous, but I
eventually gave it the right parameters... and for some stupid reason,
the install program didn't write the amended startup sequence when it
built my Linux partition.

So I spent _ages_ looking through/editing script files with more {ugh}
and a crash course on vi {this scungy little program is taking the
unix attitude of minimalism just a bit too far, say wot? ugh!}, and
eventually found the right file and fixed it. Linux worked pretty well
after that.

The problem was, while I was mucking around with this, I got a bit
sidetracked. The install program had mentioned that to make Linux
bootable from anything bit a floppy (definate must), I had to proceed
and 'Install LILO manually'. In my as-yet-undampened enthusiasm for
'nice Linux, that won't completely * up your system without at
least telling you what it's doing first, if nothing else', I ran the
config program and let it put itself on my 1st HD, which used to DOS
boot... figuring it would be not unlike that nice program that comes
with NT (written by a company owned by Satan himself), OS-Loader or
whatever they call it... expecting to get a choice of "Do the old DOS
thing, or do the new linux thing... choose:". Not only did it load DOS,
it completely wrecked the partition by overwriting the Master Boot
Record (the acronym 'MBR' is going to haunt me for some time, methinks),
so I can't access anything at all, even with booting from a DOS floppy.

So I read all of the LILO documentation thoroughly, and I am currently
under the impression that if I can get someone else's MBR-image onto a
disk I can restore it to how it was. But I guess the m*of the story
is, Linux is still a READ THE DOCS _VERY_VERY_ CAREFULLY BEFORE DOING
ANYTHING operating system. I let my enthusiasm get the better of me, and
have suffered for it somewhat (so far!).

That's all for now. I think Linux is going to turn out to be really
cool, and I'm looking forward to learning a lot more about unix in
general. Just have to get into the habit of RTFM, instead of just
fiddling around!
--
                     .--------------------------.

--------------------+--------------------------+-------------------------.
| I'm not paranoid, everyone IS trying to kill me                         |
| I'm not a megalomaniac, I really AM the greatest person who ever lived  |
`-+---------------------------------------------------------------------.-'
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  | address, and especially may not include on mailing lists without    |
  | my request. .-----------------------------------------------------+-'
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                | slowly while his teeth are rendered to stumps with  |
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                `-------------------'

 
 
 

Relative newbie's experience with Linux

Post by T » Wed, 05 Nov 1997 04:00:00



Said Unto The Weary Masses:

Quote:>Just thought I'd share this with y'all. I've been meaning to get one of
>my computers running Linux pretty-much full time for a while now;
>anyways, I finally got around to upgrading it with a new second hard
>drive etc, and was pleasantly surprised to find that my university has a
>mirror of the latest version of Debian linux... ie, conveniently
>available at ethernet speeds. Great, methought...

(snips)

Quote:>So I read all of the LILO documentation thoroughly, and I am currently
>under the impression that if I can get someone else's MBR-image onto a
>disk I can restore it to how it was. But I guess the m*of the story
>is, Linux is still a READ THE DOCS _VERY_VERY_ CAREFULLY BEFORE DOING
>ANYTHING operating system. I let my enthusiasm get the better of me, and
>have suffered for it somewhat (so far!).

>That's all for now. I think Linux is going to turn out to be really
>cool, and I'm looking forward to learning a lot more about unix in
>general. Just have to get into the habit of RTFM, instead of just
>fiddling around!

Recently, Stoney Edwards started a "reminiscence" thread about " first
computers." There was a good turnout on that one. A similar thread
about Linux users' first installation would interesting, too.

By the time my curiosity about Linux drove me to buy a book - -
complete with an ancient release of Slackware on the inside back cover
- - I thought I was fairly competent in the MS world. Knew DOS inside
and out, could perform acts of wizardry on autoexec.bat, config.sys,
win.ini, etc. Having built a few dozen PCs for fun and profit, I'd
done the fdisk boogie any number of times and had straightened out a
few Win 3.1-to-Win 95 installation snafus. How different could Linux
be?, I reasoned.

But Linux made it all seem like sweet dreams.

I confess that nothing had prepared me for the austere world of Unix.
Sure, there were a few shell commands that were a lot like those from
DOS. But nothing - - NOTHING - - had prepared me for the sucker punch
called LILO. Boy, I plunked that sucker right onto my MBR. Bye-bye,
Win 95. (I hear the applause from the rest of the group. Okay. But I
still keep Windows around for educational purposes.)

As fate would have it, the book I purchased - - one from Que - - had
come with two Linux CDs. One was Slackware. The other was RedHat 2.0.
The Gods willed that, seemingly by chance,  I should first experience
Slackware. I was ready to abandon the project when I decided to fire
up the RedHat CD.

Voila! Clean installation, first time. I watched in amazement as a
*real* PNP installation routine found my components and set them in
motion. In less than 30 minutes, I was inside XWindow, trying a few
apps. I caught onto RPM quickly. A few weeks later, I performed an
effortless upgrade to RH 4.1.

My conclusions:  difficult though they may be to find, the ideal
situation would be to have a Linux veteran accompany the neophyte on
the first installation. How much would it be worth to have a Linux
wizard present for the first installation of a tarballed application,
or for the configuration of XFree86? In hindsight, I would have
shelled out the going rate for one or two hours of such coaching.

I can't speak for Debian, Caldera, Turbo, or any of the other
distributions I've not met - -  but it appears that RedHat has the
right idea with its RPM utility and its graphical control panel. I've
since gone back and learned the "fully manual" methodology for
installing and configuring Linux, but I'm thankful that RedHat got me
going so that I could discover how worthwhile this OS truly is.

TL
"There's a lot to learn
 from wasting time."   -Mr. Neil Young





 
 
 

Relative newbie's experience with Linux

Post by Stoney Edward » Wed, 05 Nov 1997 04:00:00


Okay.  I'm a total sucker for nostalgia.  :)

Well, when my Amiga was finally dead, and I had received money for a PC
from my parents as a college graduation present, I was about to discover
the hell that was DOS/Win3.1.

Me and one of my long time tech buddies put the thing together by
ourselves, out of carefully selected components via mail order (we always
helped each other out with building each others systems, so we could more
effectively find help for problems we might encounter).  The system was a
P90 w/8MB of RAM, and 540MB of disk space.  I *ized my Amiga
(SyQuest 88, 213MB SCSI HD, 1GB SCSI HD, etc.) of its parts, and we
carefully stuffed them into the tower casing's many drive bays.  When we
were done, we powered it up, and it fired up beautifully.

After about a week of trying to deal with half-assed 3-D applications, and
the worthless CMT of Win3.1, I was very depressed.  I was halfway tempted
to yank the parts back out of my PC, and stick 'em back into my Amiga, but
alas, my lovely Amy died a most horrid death, which fried not only the
motherboard, but also the nearly godlike Video Toaster (thanks to a faulty
capacitor on the MB).  Their deaths were marked by brown scalding marks on
their green circuitry.

Then, I kept hearing little bits and pieces of this 'Linux' thing, and I
wondered "how much memory would DOS need to run it?".  Well, after a bit
of research, I found out that Linux was a UNIX clone, and I quickly
recalled my statement to my friends, that I would forgo the Win*world,
and go straight to UNIX... they then told me that UNIX was too damn
expensive, and I would never find apps for it.  Little did I realize,
until more research, that Linux was free, and would soon have apps up the
yin yang.

On one Friday evening, it was raining outside, and I had nothing to do, so
I took it upon myself to download the entire Slackware distribution.  It
took me many hours just to DL it, and copy it onto floppies.  Once I was
finished, I dove right in.

I spent the next 2.5 days, cursing the day I was born into this cruel
world, until I finally got that magical

login:

on my console.  From there on, I would truly see how beautiful, and
wonderful a PC (or any computer for that matter) could be, and how much
worse the Windows platform was than I thought.
--
QUOTE:  <PHlaxiOR has no words of wisdom for today>

------------------------------------------------------------------
[JA207030-TRON-RAM-FLYNN] <- leave this line in your e-mail reply

 
 
 

Relative newbie's experience with Linux

Post by Joe Slo » Wed, 05 Nov 1997 04:00:00


: Although I'm writing this post in a telnet session from my eventually
: successful installation, I did spend most of the day, and managed to
: cause quite a bit of damage in the process. Basically, from my reading
: this newsgroup, I'd somehow gotten the impression that, although Linux
: and all other Unixes were pretty tricky to administer, some of the new
: installation procedures for Linux had been simplified to the extent that
: they're "click on OK to select default (and correct) option", and I've
: heard it said that (some of them) are simpler than Win95...

That has never, ever been said of debian. This was referring to the
commercial distributions such as Red Hat or Caldera.

: Anywayz, the installation progressed; my immediate impression was
: that... well, I most _definately_ wouldn't want my mother to try it

I wouldn't have a problem with my mother trying Caldera -

Cheers

jjs

 
 
 

Relative newbie's experience with Linux

Post by Anyone for thermonuclear tenni » Wed, 05 Nov 1997 04:00:00


On 4 Nov 1997 04:55:33 GMT, a small green fish snuck into
aclark's internet account in order to express the following:

Quote:> drive etc, and was pleasantly surprised to find that my university has a
> mirror of the latest version of Debian linux... ie, conveniently
> available at ethernet speeds. Great, methought...

Oh, dear.
That's supposed to be the toughest distribution for a beginner to install...

[tales of the battle chainsawed]

To restore your MBR, you have a couple of options.
In Linux, look in the directory /boot for something like

 boot.0300

If it's there and named exactly that, you can restore the MBR by

  dd if=/boot/boot.0300 of=/dev/hda

You can otherwise boot dos and do

  fdisk/mbr

Done - or it should be.
I can't fathom why your dos partition went on holiday though.

Though, if lilo was installed on the dos partition instead of the
MBR then that might explain it - dos uses part of its partition's
boot record for data that gets overwritten by lilo if you put it
there.  Look at /etc/lilo.conf.  If the line is

 boot = /dev/hda1

then it's installed not in the MBR but on the first partition
(where I presume your dos resides).  The file in /boot will
then be

 boot.0301

Restore it by,

  dd if=/boot/boot.0301 of=/dev/hda1

and you should be back in business.  If not, there's the old
desparation move of booting dos, deleting the dos partition,
and recreating it with exactly its original parameters.  I've
done this in another context and it worked.  I wouldn't want
to guarantee it though.

BIG FAT WARNING: using dd on your partitions or MBR is dangerous as hell.
Make absolutely sure of what you're about to do before doing it.  I figure
you know this anyway but I'm making sure :)  Read the man page first if
you haven't already.

I hope this is of some use...

 
 
 

Relative newbie's experience with Linux

Post by Shawn Everet » Wed, 05 Nov 1997 04:00:00


I'll play along.  I've only had Linux a short time, mid Julyish I guess.
I had a basic grasp of Linux from school, my ISP and such places and
thought of Linux as a neat OS but never thought I'd own a copy myself.  I
live in booneyville and its still hard to find a copy.

Early July I had the chance to upgrade my system to something allmost good
by Windows standards.  A P120 16m of ran and a 1G HD.  A nice improvement
over my 5yr old 486 and 120m HD :)  I was a DOS junky and still prefer it
to Windows.  I thought it would be fun to find a nice game to play on my
new system, Quake or WC2 maybe.

I was browsing through the shareware CD's at the comp store and saw Linux.
I mulled it over for a few minutes then bought the thing.  I was totally
ripped off.  Don't laugh :)  I paid $60+ for Slackware Linux 2.2  This
held kernel 1.2.1 and such programs.  Had I known 2.0.30 was out I
wouldn't have bothered.

Anyway I took it home spend a week reading and preparing mentally, and
then installed Linux.  Things were perfect.  I soon realized I was taken
and ordered Slackware 3.3.  Life is great.  I've not used DOS since, I had
a few problems but eventually fixed them.

I use emacs for my essays, XsLite as a spreadsheet when I need it and in
general am having a great time.
------
On a side note..we should start up a new thread on the cluelessness of
computer store clerks.  I was in the store and we had been talking about
Monitors and then I asked if they carried Linux, the poor guy thought
Linux was a brand name for a monitor :)
Reminds me of the time I asked an ISP for shell access and they thought it
was Shell the gas company. :)

Shawn

 
 
 

Relative newbie's experience with Linux

Post by Anyone for thermonuclear tenni » Thu, 06 Nov 1997 04:00:00


On Tue, 04 Nov 1997 17:24:58 GMT, a small green fish snuck into
TL's internet account in order to express the following:

Quote:> Recently, Stoney Edwards started a "reminiscence" thread about " first
> computers." There was a good turnout on that one. A similar thread
> about Linux users' first installation would interesting, too.

Okay, I'll go for that :)

I had just built an i386sx based box after puttering round with 286's
for a bit over a year and was *ing about Windows-3.1 being a poor
example of "multitasking" and wishing I could do something to get DOS
out of real mode.  The friend, in Russia, whom I was venting this upon
suggested I try this "Mini Lunix" (his spelling) thing out.  He uploaded
the disk set to the BBS we were using - DUBBS at Delft U. - and I grabbed
it with (NCSA Telnet) ftp in dos.  Unzipped it onto the drive, fired it
up, got a login prompt, and had the classic "now what?" reaction.

The "now what?" lasted awhile - there was little at all in the way of
documentation, including a complete lack of man pages.  I managed to
irretrievably*up the system twice before getting a book (Que's
"Using Linux) and beginning to have a clue.  The third install survived.
It still survives, now evolved almost unrecognisably from that bare
beginning of two years, four months ago.  I'm typing from it now.

I've got used to doing things at the lowest level thanks to Mini-Linux.
There were a few Slackware tools available that got me in more trouble
than they kept me out of but mostly it was a matter of thumbing through
the book, then downloading the appropriate man pages from somewhere and
puzzling over those, then trying something and learning how to fix what
I'd just broken :)

Now I don't break things any more - and I've got me one good system here.

Thanks Linus, et al.

 
 
 

Relative newbie's experience with Linux

Post by Brent Whit » Thu, 06 Nov 1997 04:00:00



Quote:

> On Tue, 04 Nov 1997 17:24:58 GMT, a small green fish snuck into
> TL's internet account in order to express the following:

> > Recently, Stoney Edwards started a "reminiscence" thread about " first
> > computers." There was a good turnout on that one. A similar thread
> > about Linux users' first installation would interesting, too.

> Okay, I'll go for that :)

> I had just built an i386sx based box after puttering round with 286's
> for a bit over a year and was *ing about Windows-3.1 being a poor
> example of "multitasking" and wishing I could do something to get DOS
> out of real mode.  The friend, in Russia, whom I was venting this upon
> suggested I try this "Mini Lunix" (his spelling) thing out.  He uploaded
> the disk set to the BBS we were using - DUBBS at Delft U. - and I grabbed
> it with (NCSA Telnet) ftp in dos.  Unzipped it onto the drive, fired it
> up, got a login prompt, and had the classic "now what?" reaction.

> The "now what?" lasted awhile - there was little at all in the way of
> documentation, including a complete lack of man pages.  I managed to
> irretrievably*up the system twice before getting a book (Que's
> "Using Linux) and beginning to have a clue.  The third install survived.
> It still survives, now evolved almost unrecognisably from that bare
> beginning of two years, four months ago.  I'm typing from it now.

> I've got used to doing things at the lowest level thanks to Mini-Linux.
> There were a few Slackware tools available that got me in more trouble
> than they kept me out of but mostly it was a matter of thumbing through
> the book, then downloading the appropriate man pages from somewhere and
> puzzling over those, then trying something and learning how to fix what
> I'd just broken :)

> Now I don't break things any more - and I've got me one good system here.

> Thanks Linus, et al.

The first distribution was on loan from a friend of mine.  It was
Infomagic (can't remember the version).  Sucked, sad to say, couldn't
get X running and the install was the most god-awful thing I've ever
dealt with.

Then I upgraded my computer 2 years later and decided to try again.  I
bought Redhat 4.0 (this was 1996, BTW).  I love Linux, but I just don't
have the time to play around with it.

Soon, very soon.  As I sit at work, using Windows 95 and hitting
ctrl-alt-del trying to bring up the task shutdown menu in a seemingly
frozen system because something didn't run right.  As I load Office 97
and wonder why Office 95'ers can't use my documents.  As I pine for the
simplicity of Paradox, but wish it had more SQL-like syntax.

As I do all this, I pine for Linux on my home system.  Soon, very soon.

Thanks, I needed that.

Brent White
With a P166 Cyrix, how can I go wrong?

 
 
 

Relative newbie's experience with Linux

Post by acl.. » Thu, 06 Nov 1997 04:00:00



>By the time my curiosity about Linux drove me to buy a book - -
>complete with an ancient release of Slackware on the inside back cover
>- - I thought I was fairly competent in the MS world. Knew DOS inside
>and out, could perform acts of wizardry on autoexec.bat, config.sys,
>win.ini, etc. Having built a few dozen PCs for fun and profit, I'd
>done the fdisk boogie any number of times and had straightened out a
>few Win 3.1-to-Win 95 installation snafus. How different could Linux
>be?, I reasoned.

My logic exactly. The complexity and idiosynchronicity of UNIX isn't an
insurmountable problem, but what really gets me is that most programs
just aren't interested in telling you what it is exactly that they do...
things like $ fhdjskfahd --help gives something like: "fhdjskfahd:
options [-xyz] filename"... handy! But of course the real killer is that
I don't seem to mention lilo mentioning "Oh, by the way, I'm going to
UTTERLY RUIN your DOS partition so nothing, not even drivers from my
operating system, can read it. Is this OK?". Bah humbug!

Quote:>But Linux made it all seem like sweet dreams.
>I confess that nothing had prepared me for the austere world of Unix.
>Sure, there were a few shell commands that were a lot like those from
>DOS. But nothing - - NOTHING - - had prepared me for the sucker punch
>called LILO. Boy, I plunked that sucker right onto my MBR. Bye-bye,
>Win 95. (I hear the applause from the rest of the group. Okay. But I
>still keep Windows around for educational purposes.)

Yup... as long as that truly spiteful program is sitting around waiting
to be run, methinks many people will not become Linux users where they
would've otherwise! When I get around to rebuilding my primary hard disk
with DOS (alas I still need it for some things like wordprocessing),
it'll be LOADLIN for evermore... I'm not about to pluck up the courage
to go through all that shit again.

Quote:>As fate would have it, the book I purchased - - one from Que - - had
>come with two Linux CDs. One was Slackware. The other was RedHat 2.0.
>The Gods willed that, seemingly by chance,  I should first experience
>Slackware. I was ready to abandon the project when I decided to fire
>up the RedHat CD.
>Voila! Clean installation, first time. I watched in amazement as a
>*real* PNP installation routine found my components and set them in
>motion. In less than 30 minutes, I was inside XWindow, trying a few
>apps. I caught onto RPM quickly. A few weeks later, I performed an
>effortless upgrade to RH 4.1.

Dang!! I had access to a RedHat 4.2 CD... I somehow managed to get the
idea that Debian was "one of the nice ones". Oh well, too late for that
now... no choice but to become a veteran Eunuch and learn how to
install/administer a Linux system in all its*detail!

--
                     .--------------------------.

--------------------+--------------------------+-------------------------.
| I'm not paranoid, everyone IS trying to kill me                         |
| I'm not a megalomaniac, I really AM the greatest person who ever lived  |
`-+---------------------------------------------------------------------.-'
  | Note: you do NOT have permission to send unsolicited Email to this  |
  | address, and especially may not include on mailing lists without    |
  | my request. .-----------------------------------------------------+-'
  `-------------+ God Damn the Spammer Man! May Hell be made to exist |
                | just for him, and may his tender bits be roasted    |
                | slowly while his teeth are rendered to stumps with  |
                | a rusty nailfile. .---------------------------------'
                `-------------------'