[nSLUG] General Linux Question

M Taylor mctylr at privacy.nb.ca
Sun Mar 23 12:10:02 AST 2003

On Sun, Mar 23, 2003 at 10:26:12AM -0400, Mark Stevenson wrote:
> Thanks for your suggestions everyone. They were greatly appreciated.
> I have tried both Red Hat and Mandrake, not sure which one I like more out

Either should be fine, there are more Red Hat users in nslug AFAIK,
so it might have a slight advantage of more local users who can help
you. Though, don't dwell on it, Mandrake and Red Hat are really still
very very similiar once you get past the initial install.

> of the two though. What I am trying to do is migrate a website off of a
> Windows XP machine running Apache to a Linux-based box. Even though on the

May web sites are happily being served by Apache on GNU/Linux, I'm
sure that you will be enjoying the benefits soon enough.

> surface they are both very simple I am still finding it hard to setup
> certain things. For instance, sendmail (even though I know that setting this
> up is nasty at best times), I tried getting it to work correctly in Red Hat
> 8 for almost a week with no avail. I also found that the location of many

Blah, remove sendmail. Red Hat includes either postfix or exim on its
install CDs, and I would recommend you simply switch to one of them. There 
are some apps that are best left in the past and sendmail is one of them 
(telnet, rsh, and uucp are some others).

> I had used Mandrake before, but that was on a dual boot machine. I installed
> Mandrake 9 and came to the realization that my video card drivers were not
> included with its version of XFree86, so I went to the ATI website to get
> the drivers. The drivers I found did not install properly and when I tried
> to find any documentation on the install of the drivers I hit a brick wall.
> So, since my version of XFree86 wasn't up to date anyway, I thought I would
> try to install the newest version. Big mistake! Sure, it installed, but when
> I got back into KDE the interface was slower than cold molasses going up
> hill in the middle of January...with a windchill of -45 or so.

What was the vendor (Mandrake) version of XFree86? Was it a 4.x or 3.x?
Which ATI video card? So you went and got which version of XFree86 from
xfree86.org? tarball or rpm?

I've never thought of KDE as fast, so I am not sure, but I imagine if
you managed to end up with XFree86 4.x using a generic or unaccelerated
driver it could possibly be even slower. This should be possible to
rectify by changing the configuration file.

> So, I have another question for you all. How were your first experiences
> with Linux? Also, is there a good place with documentation that I can go to
> for a person like myself? Or maybe even a book or two? I am not a complete
> newbie to the world of computers, but I have been stuck in the Windows world
> ever since 3.11, and before that I was a DOS kiddy on a Tandy 1000! HELP!

It was pre linux-1.0, and I was hooked. I had limited Unix (SunOS, Ultrix,
AIX) user experience, but familiar with it enough, and it was faster than
the microVAX VMS system that it was worth learning about. The biggest
difference to my experience with those starting today it that I spent quite
some time as a normal user of a running GNU/Linux system, so I had a
decent handle on the routine tasks from the command prompt, and had learnt
the file system layout though usage. Then I installed my own system, 
quickly followed by updating a multiuser GNU/Linux system, and losing other 
people's data in the process. Learning on a system with multiple users
I ended up thinking how I could reduce risk of data lost, update software
without taking the system entirely offline, and handling update/change
failures because others wanted access to the system.

I think most people, myself included find that books about specific 
distributions become dated very quickly, and for your best value for
money more generic books tend to help more. If you want specific installation
information, get a boxed CD set from the vendor, which includes printed
manuals and technical support (though at the level you would expect of
consumer grade tech-support).

For everyone here that is new(ish) to GNU/Linux, I *strongly* recommend
you read these two essays, I would expect the time it saves you in
frustration will be paid back within 1-2 months.

How to Report Bugs Effectively
by Simon Tatham


How To Ask Questions The Smart Way
by Eric Raymond and Rick Moen

(sidenote: links to tuxedo.org/~esr don't seem to work any longer)

Heck, everyone who hasn't read them should read them, I think they
outline the essence of being a good Free/Libre Open-Source Software
(FLOSS) user.

For general GNU/Linux information _Running Linux_, 3rd ed (1999)
has good general / basic information. 

For more detailed information The Linux Documentation Project,
<http://www.tldp.org/>, I think all (major) distribution have
their manuals online, and/or in a downloadable form, and look
at the primary software source for manuals/docs/mailing-list 
archives. (e.g. sendmail -> www.sendmail.org)

Hope this is useful.

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