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Boot Linux: The very basics

Posted on 2004-03-25
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Hi all,

I don't understand head or tail of Linux! I obtained the 'Mandrake Linux 9.1' ISO from a DVD and burnt it on ONE cd. The DVD (distributed free with 'Digit' computer magazine) only contains one ISO file in the Mandrake folder (conains 3 in the Red Hat folder): so I burnt it. The cd is perfectly bootable:

Installing Linux was amazingly hard: the partioning and hardware parts were easy but I did not understand the 'software packages' and the 'boot sector' part. While installing it asked me for two other cds which I refused to supply. Then, I created one root user (which I understand is like the administrator on XP) and one normal user. The installation finished succesfully and asked me if I wanted a "graphical" representation of the Operating systems availible at startup. The first time, I clicked 'no' and ended up re-installing Linux and clicking yes because Linux did not appear on the list of Windows OS.

When Linux finally started up, I found it amazingly hard to use its GUI. I could not even find control panel (or whatever is used to detect new hardware) or even change my desktop resolution!

Frustrated, I decided to shut down: I couldn't even find 'Shut Down'! So I logged off and clicked restart > windows. When I did that, the list of my Windows OS (98 and XP) came up and Linux was missing. Now I don't know how to boot into Linux (except maybe re-installing it again). I tried inserting the cd and recreating the boot list but it returned an error: Application ended unexpectedly (Code 1)

I understand that Linux uses a different file system but as long as boot.ini stays on my active partition, it will have to rely on modifying it to startup.

Please, please help me! with clear-cut instructions.

Thanks in advance,

Ram
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Question by:ram_einstein
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by:owensleftfoot
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by:owensleftfoot
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Its for redhat but it equally applies to mandrake.
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by:gtkfreak
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The Digit computer magazine has put detailed instructions on ripping the distro onto 3 CDs on their web site www.thinkdigit.com. You may wish to have a look at that.

Software packages are software that is distributed with the distro. These are called RPM files. Installation of rpm files happens as follows:
# rpm -ivh softwarepackage.rpm

Mandrake too uses RPMs.

There are 2 kinds of bootloaders that come with RedHat. LILO and GRUB. U can also install Linux on your Windows partition, or you can create separate partitions for it. Separate partitionss give better performance and the Linux OS appears in the boot up list when you restart your computer.
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by:ram_einstein
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owensleftfoot,

Problems:

1. I don't have mcopy and don't know how to obtain it.
2. I don't know which partition Linux is on: I have a Primary dos partition with one logical drive c: containing Win98 and an extended dos partition (occupying the rest of the space with one logical drive d: that occupies 50% of the space availible on the extended dos partition containing WinXP. Linux seems to be on hda7 and hda8 (I don't know what that means)
3. I don't know how to change to my c: directory in linux console

#######################################
gtkfreak,

" has put detailed instructions on ripping the distro onto 3 CDs"

How can I rip something into 3 cds when there is only one ISO file (< 700 Mb)?

Besides, they have also included Red Hat Linux on the cd which contains 3 ISO files (each < 100 Mb) and can be ripped to 3 cds.

"2 kinds of bootloaders that come with RedHat. LILO and GRUB"

Thanks for that info. I managed to change the boot loader to GRUB which is non-graphical unlike LILO.

"Separate partitionss give better performance and the Linux OS appears in the boot up list when you restart your computer"

Yes, the boot screen did appear when I restarted my comp! As for the partitions, look above at the second comment for "owensleftfoot"
#######################################

Anyway, Linux seems to show its boot screen now:

PROBLEM 1
----------------------------------------------------------------------
That's not a problem. When I got into Linux, I was able to change the screen resolution (I changed it to a higher value than my monitor can support so my screen blanked out and I ended up restarting my comp)

Now, I can't start Linux because of a high screen resoultion setting. Is there any way I can lower the screen resoultion without having to re-install Linux? There should be: I don't know how to use its console (F1 > rescue > console)
----------------------------------------------------------------------

PROBLEM 2
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Linux doesn't seem to recognise executable files (*.exe)! It comes up with an 'open with' dialog when I try to open it!
I can't install anything at all! not even drivers.

Have I changed some setting or is it that Linux is not written to recognise exe files? If so then what format of executable files can it recognise?
----------------------------------------------------------------------

Thanking you for your time,

Ram
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by:owensleftfoot
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When you are in xwindows (your blank screen :)) you can cycle through the resolutions your card supports by pressing ctrl + alt + minus (on the numeric keypad. When you get one that allows you to see your desktop, change the resolution. As far as .exe files goes I assume these are windows programs? Linux doesnt do windows programs in general although you can get some to work with a package called wine. Just get linux versions of any software you need - freshmeat.net is a good place to look. I know its hard at the moment but stick with it - its well worth the effort.
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by:ram_einstein
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Hi owensleftfoot,

Thanks a lot for that key combo (ctrl + alt + -)! It restored my desktop.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"As far as .exe files goes I assume these are windows programs?"
Yes, they are. Then what file extensions are executable on Linux? *.exe files can't be run on Linux at all right?
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"work with a package called wine"
If I really wanted to emulate Windows I could use CrossXOver (many are availible) but what's the point? Why should I use Linux at all then?
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"I know its hard at the moment but stick with it - its well worth the effort."
I respect your opinions. Only I want to know why. What is so great about Linux?
At the moment, I feel like shredding Linux for good.

#####################################################
Anyway, I have one last question. I have an internal 'Dax' PCI 56Kbps dial-up modem (I hope I have described it as well  as possible) which I intend to use to connect to the internet on Linux.

I used the manufacturer's cd to install the driver on Win98 and XP (works perfectly). It supposedly supports Linux. It doesn't come on the autorun list (obviously because the autorun shells an exe which cannot be run on Linux). But it has a folder called "Linux 9.0" which contains 3 files:
install_Binary_RH90_oasis_beta
pctel_RH90_oasis_beta.o
ptserial_RH90_oasis_beta.o

The first file looks useless without a file extension on Windows but on Linux, it recognises the file as a script file (but upon executing does nothing visible). Doesn't Linux work on the concept of file extensions?

A documentation is also included on how to install the driver on Linux. Unfortunately, I can't make head or tail of the documentation. This is why:
************************************************************
Step-01
Copy the RedHat Linux driver to the same folder.
Step-02
Enter chmod 777 install_Binary_RH90_oasis_beta to change the file status.
Step-03
Enter ./ install_Binary_RH90_oasis_beta to install driver.
(...)
************************************************************

Please walk me through on how to intstall the driver and connect to the internet. I hope it isn't  TOO hard.

Thanks and Regards,

Ram
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by:karlwilbur
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Linux is definately a different system that Windows.  It will take a little learning.  I'll try to help a little with the drive stuff.

3. I don't know how to change to my c: directory in linux console

There is no "c:" directory.  All data in a Linux/Unix system in "mounted" under _the_ root directory or "/". There is a directory "/mnt" which if for "mounting" other file systems such as an NTFS partition.

trying to keep it simple, your hard drives are divided in to their logical location by a letter.  For example:

Primary Master     = hda
Primary Slave       = hdb
Secondary Master = hdc
Secondary Slave   = hdd

and partitions on a drive are designated by a number:

Primary Master drive partitioned as such:

partition 1 = hda1
partition 2 = hda2
partition 3 = hda3
etc.

You can find all of the hardware devices on you system in the "/dev" directory.

So if you wanted to acess you Windows XP partition from Linux you would do this:
(You'll need to make sure that your system can read a Windows XP partition and by default Red HAt cannot)

Make a new dir in the /mnt dir:
mkdir /mnt/windows (or whatever you wnat to call it)

Mount the windows partition (assuming that you WindowsXP partition is the first primary partition on the primary master drive):
mount /dev/hda1 /mnt/windows

then the contents of you "C:" drive would be found in "/mnt/windows"

This does not work the other way around though, Windows cannot read a Linux partition.

I'd be willing to help you out with learning how to use Linux.  Just email me. I can be found with a search at any search engine.

-Karl Wilbur
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by:owensleftfoot
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"Yes, they are. Then what file extensions are executable on Linux?"
Linux doesnt do it by extensions :) It does it by file permissions. The command chmod +x progname will make a file executable.

"If I really wanted to emulate Windows I could use CrossXOver (many are availible) but what's the point? Why should I use Linux at all then?"

Indeed. Wine allows you to run some windows programs on linux. Linux generally has equal or better programs which perform the same functions. But you have to be prepared to work at it - in general linux doesnt run windows programs. If you just want to run the windows programs you are running at the moment, I agree. "why should you use linux at all".

"A documentation is also included on how to install the driver on Linux. Unfortunately, I can't make head or tail of the documentation. This is why:
************************************************************
Step-01
Copy the RedHat Linux driver to the same folder.
Step-02
Enter chmod 777 install_Binary_RH90_oasis_beta to change the file status.
Step-03
Enter ./ install_Binary_RH90_oasis_beta to install driver.
(...)
************************************************************

Please walk me through on how to intstall the driver and connect to the internet. I hope it isn't  TOO hard."

The above instructions are intended to get your modem working under linux. The  install_Binary_RH90_oasis_beta is a script or installation program. As I mentioned above, running a program in linux involves file permissions. The chmod 777 install_Binary_RH90_oasis_beta command is actually changing the permissions of the file chmod 777 install_Binary_RH90_oasis_beta so that linux can run it as a program. Think of renaming myprog in windows to myprog.exe
Even if this all works, you still havent set up your inernet connection - all you have doen is install the driver for your modem. There are various setup programs such as kppp to actually set up your inet connection - kppp is a bit like microsofts internet connection wizard.
I hope you persevere. At the moment I dont really know why you want to install linux, and I think you may be  better sticking with windows. But we'll be here to answer questions if you do stick at it :) Good luck mate.
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by:owensleftfoot
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"actually changing the permissions of the file chmod 777 install_Binary_RH90_oasis_beta"  should read "changing the file permissions of the file install_Binary_RH90_oasis_beta". Its late and Ive just moved house:)
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by:ram_einstein
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Hi (all),

I'll get back to you as soon as I try out what you have said.

Thanks in advance,

Ram
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by:ram_einstein
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karlwilbur,

I can't seem to find your e-mail address. Please include it in your profile at least! Anyway, thanks a lot for explaining the directory structure of Linux. Now I am beginning to understand something.

> So if you wanted to acess you Windows XP partition from Linux you would do this:
(You'll need to make sure that your system can read a Windows XP partition and by default Red HAt cannot)

I can access Windows partitions from Linux, thank you.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
owensleftfoot,

I don't quite understand what file permissions are. Does that mean that any file can be executed?
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Doesn't anyone but the two of you know anything about Linux? Why? Is Linux that hard to use that hardly anyone uses it? ....and why does eveyone keep talking about Red Hat Linux? My friend told me that Mandrake was meant for beginners ( I'm worse than a beginner!) so I got Mandrake but Red Hat is the most popular. Should I switch to Red Hat? (The DVD also has Red Hat so that's no problem)

I searched the internet for Linux beginner's guides and found nothing. I wd appreciate it if one of you cd recommend a good online guide.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Thanks a lot for everything so far,

Ram
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by:owensleftfoot
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"I don't quite understand what file permissions are. Does that mean that any file can be executed?"

No. But it means a file without the executable flag set wont run. As I said, think of it like windows. Notepad.exe has the extension exe so windows knows it is a program. If you renamed it to notepad it wouldnt run. On the other hand, if you had say a picture file picture.jpg and renamed it picture.exe and tried to run it it wouldnt run because it isnt actually a program. Its the same thing with the executable flag in linux.
Redhat is the most popular distro. Mandrake is actually based on redhat. I use redhat myself (well actually fedora - dont ask :)) but I would just stick with mandrake if I were you. After all you have already put some effort into learning it!
You wont get a better guide/tutorial than rute! You can read it online or download it free at http://www.icon.co.za/~psheer/book/index.html
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by:owensleftfoot
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The above link uses compressed html - Im not sure if IE supports this - heres another link if that one doesnt work
http://wwwacs.gantep.edu.tr/linux/rute/
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by:ram_einstein
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There is a 10 minute gap between our comments. That means both of us at here at the same time.

...is that Rute guide awesome or what!?

Thanks again,

Ram

p.s- I increased the Q points 'cos both of u will have to share it
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by:ram_einstein
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...I use Mozilla Firefox: had no probs with the first link
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by:karlwilbur
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"I can't seem to find your e-mail address. Please include it in your profile at least!"

I thought that it was.  Sorry.

karl@karlwilbur.net
www.karlwilbur.net

or Google for "Karl Wilbur". :-)

I use something called "Linux From Scratch".  This "distro" really taught me about linux.

http://www.linuxfromscratch.org/lfs/news.html

Basically, there is a step-by-step manual that you can follow to build your own custom base linux system from current source packages.  You download all of the source packages that you'll need and build them on you system.  In doing this you become intimately familiar with the different components of a GNU/Linux system.  It takes a little longer than installing a distro from disc but  having experts drag me kicking and screaming through the process of creating my own custom distro is a learning experience that I just could not have obtained anywhere else.

The support there is great as well. There are several mailing lists which you can use to get your questions answered and help you out should you get into trouble or become stuck.

I highly recommend it.

-Karl
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by:ram_einstein
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Hi (no time to be cheerful)

You guys have to help me. I am really in a soup now.

I have (had) Windows XP installed on Primary NTFS occupying 20 GB
I used Partition Magic 8.0 to partition my HDD to allocate space for Linux. I clicked on 'install a new operating system'. My comp rebooted and churned for 1/2 an hr and when it finally created a hda2 and swapfile for Linux (3 GB), it rebooted again. To my horror, a message is displayed 'No OS found'. I figured out that PM had set Linux as the active partition so I popped in my Linux cd and installed it. When I rebooted, I found somethiong missing on LILO: Windows!

Now I can't boot Windows!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I went beserk:
I viewed Mandrake control centre's boot section to find that 17 GB of my HDD was classified as 'Hidden IFS' file system. I tried mounting it but Linux cd not read it!

I am sending this SOS message from a browsing centre so pls reply as soon as possible.
Please help me with clear-cut instructions on what to do: I want Windows back intact.

Thanking you for yr time again,

Ram
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by:karlwilbur
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Enter /etc/lilo.conf

ensure that is has the following:

other=/dev/hda1
      label=win

Assuming that Windows is installed on hda1, if not please correct the above to reflect the correct partition.

then save and exit lilo.conf and run lilo from the command line by using the following command:

lilo

-Karl
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by:ram_einstein
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Right now, a comp with only Linux (equivalent to no comp) is the main problem. I can't edit lilo.conf: I tried editing the with "vi" and "text viewer" without success. Then I opened it with KWord and found out I couldn't save it! I chose plain text format and chose to overwrite the file but it returns the error message: "Could not save /etc/lilo.conf; Reason: Not able to write maindoc.xml"

Now what? I can't find other text editing programs. I can't find gedit either. I tried installing it with software management but cd not find it.

I fired fdisk (from a boot floppy) and found out that Windows was resting on a non-dos partition! (Hidden IFS as classified by Linux). I don't think it is possible to convert the partition back to NTFS intact from Linux and boot Windows (Maybe only Partition Magic can do it). So, I suggest we look for a Partition Magic rescue disk or something like that. The idea looks farfetched so I have decided to blow the partitons (along with my data)


Thanking you once again,

Ram
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by:owensleftfoot
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Boot from your XP disk to recovery console (press F8 continuouesly (sic) as  your pc boots until you get a menu and choose recovey or rescue mode.)) When you get to a command prompt run the commands fixboot and fixmbr. This will allow you to bot back into windows. You will have to reinstall linux :(
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by:ram_einstein
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owensleftfoot,

That command fixes the boot sector and not the file system. I already tried it. XP cannot run from a "Hidden IFS" file system. It requires NTFS or FAT32. Thanks anyway...I blew my partitions off and re-istalled Windows. :(

Regards,

Ram
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karlwilbur earned 250 total points
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There are other types of partitioning software out there which can hold up besides fdisk, though I really like fdisk.  I have had great experiences using Partition Magic.  I've not had any trouble.  But keep in mind, when you are messing with drive partitions, things can go wrong and when they do, they're usually very bad.

This Hidden IFS thing...I have read about NTFS re-sizes and/or moves that result in the partition being incorrectly labeled Hidden IFS (you can too :-) , just Google for Hidden-IFS.).  I don't know why this happens and I have never experienced it my self.  What have corrrected this, from what I have read, is re-sizing or moving the partition, even just slightly.  This should correct the label.

-Karl
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