cvs commit: hints newbie.txt
timothy at linuxfromscratch.org
timothy at linuxfromscratch.org
Sat Oct 5 10:07:15 PDT 2002
timothy 02/10/05 10:07:15
Modified: . newbie.txt
New Author, updates.
Revision Changes Path
1.6 +174 -50 hints/newbie.txt
RCS file: /home/cvsroot/hints/newbie.txt,v
retrieving revision 1.5
retrieving revision 1.6
diff -u -r1.5 -r1.6
--- newbie.txt 1 Feb 2001 14:03:48 -0000 1.5
+++ newbie.txt 5 Oct 2002 17:07:14 -0000 1.6
@@ -1,20 +1,34 @@
TITLE: Basic help for newbies
-LFS VERSION: 2.4.3
-AUTHOR: Simon Perreault <nomis80 at videotron.ca>
+LFS VERSION: All
+AUTHOR: Nathan Ladd (nathanladd at yahoo.com),
+ (original author) Simon Perreault <nomis80 at videotron.ca>
- The LFS book has become so good that many Linux newbies successfully build an LFS system without knowing what they're doing, and when they finish the book, they just stare at the console wondering what they should do next. If you are in this situation, this hint will help you.
+ The LFS book has become so good that many Linux newbies successfully
+build an LFS system without knowing what they're doing, and when they finish
+the book, they just stare at the console wondering what they should do next.
+If you are in this situation, this hint will help you.
THIS HINT IS IN THE PROCESS OF BEING WRITTEN. IT IS NOT COMPLETE.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. Introduction to Linux
2. Basic vi commands
+9/29/02 [Nathan Ladd]: Changed wording in a few paragraphs
+9/29/02 [Nathan Ladd]: Added 'moving to lfs from distro' section
+9/29/02 [Nathan Ladd]: Added 'building packages' section
+9/29/02 [Nathan Ladd]: Replaced 'Making your prompt look good' with more
+ general 'customizing your system' section.
@@ -24,21 +38,26 @@
added to this, it must only be qualified as a "newbie" hint, that is, it must be
normally figured out easily by more experienced users.
-A newbie, having finished building his LFS system, doesn't really know how much
-he doesn't know. The knowledge involved in building a Linux system from scratch
-is advanced, but when you reduce the procedure to executing blindly commands,
-that knowledge is lost. I'm not saying that having a perfect LFS book that can
-be followed blindly is bad, because it sure isn't for non-newbies. When you
-understand the commands, following the book is in fact a learning process.
-Anyway, enough rambling.
-1.a. RELEARN EVERYTHING
-Normally, newbies are seeking a way to escape from the Microsoft prison. They
-may be very skilled at using Windows, but are completely lost in command-line
-world. The first step is relearning everything.
+A newbie, having just finished building his LFS system, doesn't realize just how
+much he doesn't know. The knowledge involved in building a Linux system from
+scratch is advanced, but when you reduce the procedure to executing blindly
+commands, that knowledge is lost. I'm not saying that having a perfect LFS book
+that can be followed blindly is bad, because it sure isn't for non-newbies. When
+you understand the commands, following the book is in fact a learning process.
+Finally, one last note: the goal here is for you to learn to use LFS without
+anyone else ever having to know that you're a "n00b," so keep that in mind when
+you consider asking for support on irc or lfs-support (don't EVER post for
+support on lfs-dev). You're goal is not just to have a great system, it is to
+be self sufficient in administering that system.
+1.a. MOVING FROM WINDOWS TO LFS
+Normally, Linux newbies are seeking a way to escape from the Microsoft prison.
+They may be very skilled at using Windows, but are completely lost in the
+command-line interface (CLI) world. The first step is relearning everything.
A common assumption is that there are configuration programs everywhere that you
must run to customize your system. Well, stop looking for *cfg*, these are very
@@ -69,12 +88,13 @@
it's the link between command line and GUI that is broken. Try the command in a
terminal, and see if it works.
-The GUI, in Linux, is intended to speed up execution of certain tasks, not to be
-easier on the user. If your goal it to get away from the command line as fast as
-you can and install a desktop environment so that you can finally be able to do
-your things, then you are wrong. The GUI is not easier. Because a tool has a
-visual front-end does not mean that it will be easier to understand. Master the
-command line and you will have mastered the GUI.
+In Linux, especially less dumbed down variants such as Debian and, of course,
+LFS, the GUI is built on top of the core OS, and is not actually the OS itself.
+As a newbie, your goal should not be to get away from the command line as fast
+as possible and then install a desktop environment. You must gain competence at
+the CLI first and foremost; LFS is about gaining mastery of your system, not
+having your system master you. After you can work on the command line
+comfortably, then you'll have gained mastery over any GUI.
A general tip: never assume that because you know how to do something in windows
it will be done in a similar way in Linux. They are two completely different
@@ -102,7 +122,36 @@
You should never need to reboot after having installed something.
-1.b. WHERE AND HOW TO GET INFORMATION
+1.b. MOVING FROM A DISTRO TO LFS
+Many Linux distros are becoming almost as easy as Windows to use. They often
+boot into a full-blown desktop environment by default, and as such being able
+to use a newer, more dumbed-down distro such as Mandrake or Lycoris no longer
+guarantees that you are qualified to handle an LFS system. Now that you have
+a working LFS system, it is time to play around with it. Go ahead and read the
+previous section if you haven't, as modern distros often emulate Windows'
+behavior, and carry with them similar problems that one encounters when booting
+into a CLI.
+Learn to use basic Unix commands to move around the filesystem (avoid rm for
+now ;) and learn how to use vim to edit configuration files. Also, gone are
+bloated help programs, wizards, and tutorials--you've more than likely had to
+edit XF86Config before at least once. There's going to be a lot of that coming
+your way in the future. Don't worry, you'll get better. The key here is to
+make sure that you learn to figure things out for yourself--sort of like if you
+were to learn the basics of French, then move to Paris. You'll be "speaking"
+Linux in no time.
+Man pages and google are your friends. I repeat: man pages and google are your
+friends. Use them all the time, because what ever your problem is, man pages
+and google usually have the answer. Basically, if you learn the commands in
+section 1.d, read the vim section and start editing your config files by hand,
+and you go to man and google for your problems, there's a good chance no one
+will ever have to know that you're a "n00b."
+1.c. WHERE AND HOW TO GET INFORMATION
Programs that work out of the box are becoming more and more common, but the
@@ -121,10 +170,13 @@
Another good place to find help is in the HOWTOs. You can find these famous
HOWTOs at www.linuxdoc.org. They can be very helpful, and are intended for
-newbies, unlike man pages.
+newbies, unlike man pages. Also, learn to use google to find answers to your
+problems. A lot of the time the links google returns will be references to
+mailing list archives and threads. These can either be gold mines or dead
+ends, learn to use your best judgement.
-1.c. USEFUL COMMANDS
+1.d. USEFUL COMMANDS
Usually, commands are in this form:
@@ -184,7 +236,7 @@
This moves a file. If you are wondering how to rename a file, you have
found your command. Just use "mv <old_filename> <new_filename>".
This creates a new directory.
@@ -266,7 +318,85 @@
Allows you to type some text which will be searched for in the file.
+3. BUILDING PACKAGES
+Generally, package building takes the following form:
+./configure && make && make install
+Numerous options can be appended to ./configure and make. One such blip is the
+PREFX= option, which is used heavily in LFS and BLFS (see RESOURCES). It lets
+you configure where you want the package to go. There are tons of options to
+use, so check the packages README files before you have a go at installing them.
+Also, check out the Software Building Howto at www.linuxdoc.org.
+When you are told to apply a patch, you are being asked to apply a set of
+changes to the source tree in order to (presumably) build the package onto LFS
+properly. There are a lot of options to patch, so check out the man page. If
+you just want to apply the thing and get on with it, cd into the top of the
+source tree and type:
+patch -Np1 -i whatever_the_patch_is.patch
+When packages fail to build, you have a great opportunity to search google and
+find out if the same problem has happened to others. If not, and you feel the
+need to resort to getting a person to donate time to you, describe the problem
+to the best of your ability. Since chances are you might come off as a newbie,
+let the console output do the talking, and paste the last 20-ish lines of
+output for them. Then tell them if you've done anything unusual (especially if
+you've deviated from the book or a howto in any way).
+4. CUSTOMIZING YOUR SYSTEM
+The /etc directory contains all of your configuration files. In the first part
+of the BLFS book (see RESOURCES), there are some tips on customizing your login
+and input device. There are also a number of hints that describe how to work
+with all sorts of files in the /etc directory, such as /etc/inittab and
+Make sure you've learned the basics of, and feel comfortable with using, vi(m).
+If you chose to install a different editor, make sure you can use that well.
+Text editors are novelties in Windows, and are seldom used in modern distros
+since GUI configuration tools are preferred.
+Many /etc config files have their own manpage. Be sure to check them out.
+Google will likely return sample files, explanations of files, and helpful tips
+for these files. Don't be afraid to get your hands wet and poke around; just
+be wary of the more critical files such as /etc/inittab. Learning by doing is
+what LFS is all about!
+The following files are covered in the BLFS book
+/etc/issue Customizes your login prompt
+ Your login prompt is what gets displayed before you type in
+ your user name/pass.
+/etc/profile LFS (and all Linux distros) use bash as the shell (like
+ COMMAND.COM in DOS). This file customizes bash.
+/etc/inputrc The keys you press like control, alt, backspace, etc., all get
+ interpreted by the shell according to this file.
+/etc/vimrc This is the configuration file for vim, your friendly UNIX text
+/etc/inittab The program init handles booting and shutting down. When the
+ kernel is finished loading, it always looks for and runs a
+ program called init. init runs bootscripts and then starts
+ virtual consoles that in turn use the /etc/issue file to
+ display a login prompt.
+ inittab can be configured to use more than six consoles, and
+ you can even run console applications in their own terminal!
+ There is a great hint for this file.
+/etc/rc.d/* The bootscripts go here; there is an excellent explanation of
+ how they work in the LFS book.
+/etc/X11/ Your X configuration file will sit here. There are other
+ XF86Config config files that live in this directory for things like font
+ rendering. Be sure to check relevant manpages.
To get info, you can always check www.linuxdoc.org. There are quality guides
@@ -275,24 +405,18 @@
Newbies often ask others where they can find software X. Almost every piece of
software written for linux can be found on freshmeat.net. If it doesn't contain
-it, you can also take a look at appwatch.com.
-If all else fails, there's always the excellent Google search engine, which has
-a linux section at http://www.google.com/linux.
-Also, don't be afraid to come see us on IRC in the #LFS channel on the
-irc.linuxfromscratch.org server. But don't ask supid questions or else we'll
-use the clever backdoor in LFS and delete all your MP3s.
-4. HOW TO MAKE YOUR PROMPT LOOK GOOD
-So you're tired of that bash-2.04$ prompt? You want one that looks like the one
-in your original distro?
- changing the bash prompt
- useful files (.bashrc, .bash_profile, .bash_logout)
+it, you can also take a look at appwatch.com. Also, check to see if there's a
+hint. Finally, Beyond Linux from Scratch book, hosted at
+is a huge help for people who want to put new packages on top of the stock LFS
+distribution. Be warned, however, that there are also copious amounts of
+copy-n-pasting in BLFS, so graduate from "newbie" status before you install a
+If all else fails, there's always that excellent Google search engine, which
+has a linux section at http://www.google.com/linux (you have been using it,
+Also, IF ALL ELSE FAILS, don't be afraid to come see us on IRC in the #LFS
+channel on the irc.linuxfromscratch.org server. But don't ask supid questions
+or else we'll use the clever backdoor in LFS and delete all your MP3s ;)
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