Linux: A Quick Guide

This guide is meant for experienced unix users, but are new to linux, or find a linux box and need to get going quickly. Very practical, with some buzzwords so you know what to do. I will not discuss installation, I assume somebody has already done that for you.


Linux is a very complete installation of unix. It probably 'feels' more like SunOS then Solaris, but has a BSD features as well as SYSV features. POSIX compliant, they say. You will probably find the GNU utilities (ls, mv, cp, find, grep, awk, make, ...) for all the commands you would use on a daily basis.


If you still have to boot your PC, there are several possibilities, of which I list the following common ones:


The bare login you will find on your linux box is often referred to as the console (tty1). In fact, most linux kernels are configured with a number (default: 6) virtual consoles (VCs, tty1 through tty6). Each provides you with a login shell, and you can switch between VSs using the infamous function keys: ALT-Fn (n=1..6). You can cut and paste with the mouse, if the gpm program is running. Selection is done with the left mouse button (and drag it over the section you want to cut), and paste it with the right mouse (the middle mouse button is not used in this context). Common shells are sh (actually: bash) and csh (actually: tcsh).


You can start X-windows with startx, which is actually a script that calls xinit with optional arguments (such as the ones where you select 8bit or 16bit colors). The most popular window manager is probably fvwm, controlled by a .fvwmrc file, but both twm and openwindows are available. You will find most, if not all, of your favorite X-windows features in what will appear on your screen with the following unique features:


caldera is a commercial version of linux. It's most visible aspect is the window manager, which has drop-and-drag and has a lot of the Windows96 look and feel.


Here are some common deviced (see also /dev/MAKEDEV), with their DOS counterpart, and for some an often used nickname (symlink).
     /dev/fd0        A: floppy                                      /a
     /dev/fd1        B: floppy                                      /b

     /dev/hda1       C: first partition on the first IDE drive
     /dev/hdb2       second partition on the second IDE drive
     /dev/sda1       first partition on the first SCSI drive

     /dev/scd0       first SCSI cdrom                              /dev/cdrom
     /dev/rmt0       first SCSI tape                               /dev/tape

     /dev/ttyS0      COM1:                                         /dev/mouse
     /dev/ttyS1      COM2:                                         /dev/mouse

     /dev/cua0       COM1:                                         /dev/modem
     /dev/cua1       COM2:                                         /dev/modem

     /dev/lp0        LPT1:                                         /dev/printer


There exists a rather well functioning DOS emulator (DOSEMU), that can be activated with dos in a console , and xdos. You may have to umount your DOS partition if you need write access. Use exitemu to exit.


Popular modem communication programs are minicom (a procom lookalike) and seyon (an X-windows program). Setting up a PPP or SLIP link is mostly done via a simple script (e.g. pppstart and pppkill). Alternative networking is done with the term or slirp package that emulate a TCP/IP connection.


Often printers are configured for DOS, and if you try and use lpr you will get the whole file on one line, or get the infamous staircase effect. You can try filtering your unix textfile through todos:
    todos < file | lpr
Printing postscript files is done via a script that uses ghostscript to converts postscript to your printers native format. See /etc/printcap.


You cannot simply turn the power off. You can either run shutdown or reboot, and then turn off the power when told it's safe.
Peter Teuben; 7-feb-96