New to Linux, several questions

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New to Linux, several questions

Postby Mantear » 2005-08-24 12:48

Greetings all, standard newbie to Linux here.

For any answers to these questions, please be detailed. I know virtually nothing about running Linux based OS's. I just installed Debian 3.1 and got Gnome to run. I have several questions.
1 - It seems I'm using an older kernel, 2.4-something, rather than the 2.6 kernel. I figured if I had gotten Debian 3.1 it would have automatically come with 2.6, but that doesn't seem to be the case. What's the best way for me to upgrade the kernel?
2 - I'm unsure as to which version of Debian (stabled, unstable, testing) I installed. How can I check this, and what are the main differences between them?
3 - How do I check which version of Gnome I have? How can I make sure it's up to date? How would I update it?
4 - Gnome seems rather... clunky to me, coming from WinXP. It is just a getting used to it type of thing, or are there smoother looking GUIs? I was thinking of maybe trying KDE next. Can I have both Gnome and KDE installed at the same time? (would it be safe for me to now do "apt-get install kde"?)
5 - In Gnome, I went and downloaded FireFox. The installation process was... odd. I couldn't seem to install it where I wanted it to go, and after it was installed, I couldn't figure out how to launch it (after I closed the Firefox window that popped up after install, I couldn't open it up again).
6 - Where is the standard place to put installed programs? Do installed programs not automattically get desktop icons or put into the applications menus somewhere?

If my questions are answered elsewhere, if you could provide a link I'll be more than happy to follow it and read up. Thanks for any assistance.
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Postby lacek » 2005-08-24 14:38

1. If the installer didn't install a 2.6 kernel for you, you can do this with this command:
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apt-get install kernel-image-<your_choice>

where your_choice depends on what computer architecture you use. Generally, the kernel-image-2.6.8-2-386 package is good enought for you. If you are unsure, run this command:
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apt-cache search --names-only kernel-image

then you will see what options you have.

2. By seeing the /etc/debian_version file, you can see what version of Debian you have installed. 3.1 is Sarge, the current stable release.
Testing is what intended to be the next 'stable' release, and 'unstable' contains the newest (sometimes buggy) packages.

3. You can ensure your packages are up-to-date with the
Code: Select all
apt-get upgrade

command. However, if you use the 'stable' release, no new versions will be installed, only bugfixes.

4. Sure, you can have as many desktops as you want. On login, if you use a graphical login screen, you can choose which one to start.

5. You can install the mozilla-firefox package to get the firefox browser.

6. Whether a program registers itself into the menu, is up to that program. Most programs register themselves into the "Debian" menu, but you can edit your menu (if you start using KDE) with the kmenuedit command.
In addition to this, every package is unpacked into several directories. On Linux, (almost) every directory has some "meaning". See this link for more info.
You should put your installed programs to the /usr/local directory.

If you need more info, do not hesitate to ask...
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Postby Mantear » 2005-08-24 15:21

What are the advantages/disadvantages of running stable/testing/unstable? Which do most desktop users use? This is just for tinkering right now, so it doesn't need to be 100% rock solid, but I don't want it crashing sporadically on me for unknown (unkown to me, at least) reasons.

I don't have a graphical login screen. After it boots up and I log in, I type startx at the command promt to start Gnome. What happens if I install KDE? How will I choose which one to use? How well do the GUIs play with each other? If I install an app in one, will it work in the other? (I know none of the menu/shortcuts will be there, but if I find the executable, will it run without problems?)

"You can install the mozilla-firefox package to get the firefox browser." I could use some baby-steps here. I went to the mozilla website and downloaded the compressed firefox file, and extracted it. I then installed it. (I couldn't really tell it where I wanted to install it though... it just seemed to install wherever the installer was currently located, and I couldn't change that). I figured I could delete the extracted installation files, but I think I nuked the entire program when I did that. So I did it all again. So now I have firefox, installation files and program files all sharing the same directory (which I don't really want). Also, I can't seem to figure out how to launch firefox (no shortcut/menu items were created, I can't seem to double click an executable, and I don't know how to do it from the command line).

More questions to come, I'm sure! Thanks.
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Postby Axopro » 2005-08-24 15:22

I am a noob like you.. but i can help with something..

1 - Start over booting with the setup CD, and at the prompt, type "linux26".
This will make the setup to use the kernel 2.6.
Then you also have a fresh installed system to apt-get kde after x-window.

2 - the "uname" command will tell you what version of debian you have.
I learn that Debian is supposed to be the most stable system because it uses packages tested as "Stable". So you might not get the latest and most up to date version of every package, but a version that is known to be stable.

3 - I think number 2 answers most part of this question.

4 - Being a Windows XP user too...
Forget about the stability we know about the XP GUI interface, at least in Debian (which is supposed to be among the most stable systems), and be prepared for thousands of bugs with KDE and Gnome. I invite anyone that can show me that i am wrong.
KDE does a softer job than gnome by the looks. But i am amazed with so many bugs in it, and applications crashing on me when i am using KDE.
Gnome was also very clunky to me, but i think it was a little more stable than KDE in my experience.

5 - I am in the same situation.
With firefox, i used the installer, and then had to use the search function, (wich by the way, crashes a lot in KDE), to find the executable to open the browser. I placed the shortcuts on the desktop and quick launch bar and guess what... no icons. So you must manually assign the icons to the shortcuts... the icons come in the firefox installation folder.

6 - I am not sure.. but looks like to be in the /etc directory... kinda the "program files" dir.
I have installed software using apt-get, and then i saw no icons at all anywhere... and even trying the name of the program in the command line, did not make the app to pop up. With synaptic and Kpackage, (GUI package management console), i was able to install programs, that would appear in the program's menu, but wouldn't work after clicking them.
As an example... i installed Synaptic, i think i used apt-get. Then i can see the icon was created in the KDE System submenu in the programs.. but clicking on it.. will do nothing. The only way to pop up synaptic is by typing "synaptic" at the command line.

This are answers mixed with some rant about the difficulties i am finding as a new Linux user.

I think the problem is... we are so used to the GUI stability in Windows XP. And the "everything automatic" after double clicking a setup file.
But linux is not intended to work like this in my opinion. We are looking for something that is not near what we know. "yet"

And i am not saying that Linux sucks or anything.
My final opinion is that Linux is meant to be used from the command line, and for all the other purposes that are not 100% based on GUI stability and smoothness.
In my opinion we will not find the friendly "multimedia" and "graphical" experience we found in Windows.
But we will learn that Linux can be used as a great OS for "serving" purposes, network stuff, security, free stuff, and a lot of new stuff that we do not see in windows.

I was going to open a new thread about this.. but i just couldn't wait.
Now.. i invite anyone to correct me in the things that i sound to be wrong, so we can learn something new today.

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Re: New to Linux, several questions

Postby Durandal » 2005-08-24 18:25

Mantear wrote:4 - Gnome seems rather... clunky to me, coming from WinXP. It is just a getting used to it type of thing, or are there smoother looking GUIs? I was thinking of maybe trying KDE next. Can I have both Gnome and KDE installed at the same time? (would it be safe for me to now do "apt-get install kde"?)

I'm a n00b and feel/felt the same way you guys feel about GNOME/KDE compared to the aesthetic look of the MacOS or even Win*'s. But in looking for answers to my various Debian problems I stumbled across a number of threads concerning screenshots and desktop layouts... and CHECK THIS ISH OUT!!! ... ame=debian

Tell me those don't look GREAT.


I'm sure there are more sites for customization....

Still, y not use the CLI? if u want GUI use some other media oriented OS
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Postby lacek » 2005-08-25 09:09

About the advantages(+) and disadvantages(-):
Using the 'stable' distribution:
+ it is stable ;-)
+ you may use it without a permanent internet connection, since it is available on CD/DVD, and packages doesn't change
- Some of its packages gets outdated soon, and you won't get but security upgrades

Using the 'testing' distribution:
+ Programs in it are new enough
+ It is stable enough
- You need a permanent internet connection to keep it up-to-date

Using the 'unstable' distribution:
+ You get the newest programs
- Packages sometimes broken, programs sometimes don't work
- You need a permanent internet connection to keep it up-to-date

That's my opinion, someone else may disagree with this...

If you don't use a graphical login, then create a file in your home directory called '.xinitrc' (if it is not there already). Upon starting the X server, the commands in it are executed. So writing this single line to it:
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exec startkde

will start KDE with the X server.
Gnome and KDE works nicely together, this means you can run Gnome programs from KDE and vice versa. They don't share their menu, however, so it you added a program to the KDE menu, it won't appear in Gnome. They DO use the Debian menu, however, so programs which are install themselves into it, can be used from both.

About firefox:
There is a package called mozilla-firefox, so issuing this command:
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apt-get install mozilla-firefox

will get the firefox browser for you.
If you like to have the newest firefox, then download the installer, untar it, and start the installer.
Here are the "baby-steps":
1. Install the gksu package, with it, you can run programs as root (however, sudo is a more powerful alternative to this, but it needs some configuring, so gksu is good for us now):
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apt-get install gksu

It is needed because usually (unless you use sudo), you can't run any GUI program if you started X with an other user. (Precisely, you CAN run programs after becuming root with 'su', but again, this needs some other things to do -- gksu is easier :-) )

2. Start the firefox installer:
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gksu ./firefox-installer

Choose /usr/local/firefox as the installation directory, choose yes if the installer asks if you wanted to create the directory.

3. Become root using the 'su' command, and run these commands:
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ln -s /usr/local/firefox/firefox /usr/local/bin/
ln -s /usr/local/firefox/mozilla-xremote-client /usr/local/bin/

After this, you're done. You can start firefox by typing 'firefox' to the console, or you may create a menu item for it (no, it doesn't create a menu item for itself). If you ever need to remove firefox completely, just remove the /usr/local/firefox directory, and the two symlinks from /usr/local/bin.
Be sure that you don't have the mozilla-firefox package installed if you install firefox this way. It won't cause problems, but it would be useless, since the packages programs are found first, so your brand new firefox would never run :-)

One thing: if you use KDE, there is a program called 'kappfinder', which scans the installed programs and offers menu items for them. It can come in handy.
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