August 26, 2006

An Odyssey with Linux II

Progress!
Got the Ubuntu 6.06 LTS "Live/Install" CD (via Personal Computer World).
Put it in, fired it up. Eventually, it's there! Yes! With wallpaper that makes me want to go and eat a Galaxy Ripple. But it's so s–s–s–s–l–o–o–o–o–o–o–o–o–w–w–w! Reminds me of the DOS emulator on the old Acorn Archimedes, where you could actually watch the screen being painted. Thankfully my experience with Red Hat tells me this is not normal Linux speed.
OK. I have quick kip while I'm waiting for it to sort itself out (I am at home) and then start the installation. I have two 40 gig hard drives, one with Win98 on it, so I swap them to make this the Primary Slave, and put Linux on the drive which is now the Primary Master. That way I should still be able to boot to either drive, and if the Linux installation bombs it hopefully won't take out my Win98 installation with it.
About an hour later it's on. And running at a decent speed. w007!
The text is a bit small. Turns out its on 1600×1200 resolution. When I try to change to another resolution, it goes back to the sign–in screen. At 1600×1200. Is this a driver problem? Good job I've got a 21 inch monitor.
Also, there's no root account in Ubuntu. Whose bright idea was that?! It won't even let me copy files from my other hard drive or my CD ROM. How do I get round this? I've just figured out the only way to edit system files is by typing

sudo gedit

at a terminal screen. But surely there are ways other than terminal to copy loads of files over. What's the point of having a GUI otherwise?

I hardly dare say this, but it seems the horrid yellow boxes have also invaded Linux…...


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  1. Chris May

    There is a root account; it just doesn't have a password. You can access it, should you need to, by doing 'sudo bash' ; though it's better practice to just sudo the commands you need. If you really want to be able to log in as root, sudo passwd and set a root password.

    What's not working with file copying? With my ubuntu box, if I want to copy file from a CD, I just drag them off the CD and into my home directory. Of course, if you're trying to copy them somewhere like /usr or /etc then that won't work because you don't have permissions; but there's a good reason for this: Like files in /WinNT/system32 on an XP box, you're not, as a general rule, supposed to mess with that stuff, or the package manager will get confused. It's assumed that if you're smart enough to be copying files into system dirs, you're smart enough to do it the old–fashioned way :–)

    One scenario where this isn't quite true is where you've got stuff that the package manager absolutely doesn't need to care about. In my case, I use Oracle SQL–Developer and the Eclipse IDE, both of which are self–contained apps that don't need to go into /usr at all – they just need to be copied somewhere. So I did:

    sudo mkdir /opt
    sudo chown {my user} /opt

    and then copied the apps' directory trees into /opt.

    Incidentally, if you've not looked at it yet, I recommend taking a look at Synaptic (under the 'administration' menu), from where you'll be able to install almost everything you're likely to want with a single click.

    26 Aug 2006, 19:37

  2. Roger Lindley

    Well, that's good. At least I now know I should be able to copy files. But I've even tried dragging and dropping and get the message "Error while copying to "/". You do not have permissions to write to this folder".
    Is there an easy way of looking at users and what permissions they have? (Actually I'm the only user)

    27 Aug 2006, 17:10

  3. Chris May

    A normal user only has write permissions on their home directory (and /tmp, but that's not for storing stuff in as it gets regularly cleaned out by the system).

    home' (or something like that). That will open a file browser on the directory, which you should be able to drag files into, or create new directories in, or whatever.

    Only the root user has access to / , because that's a system–controlled directory. There are some good reasons for creating new directories under the root, but they're few and far between, and if you don't want to run the risk of breaking your system, you should probably stick to using your home directory for most stuff.

    27 Aug 2006, 20:40

  4. Chris May

    hmm. blogs seemed to eat half of the middle paragraph of that comment. Let's try again… :–)

    You can access your home directory in ubuntu by going to the menu bar and choosing 'places – home' (or something like that). That will open a file browser on the directory, which you should be able to drag files into, or create new directories in, or whatever.

    27 Aug 2006, 20:42

  5. Roger Lindley

    Ohhhhhh Kaaayyyy! I missed that first time 'round.
    Actually, before I read that last comment I created two new directories in / and changed the permissions using "chmod". I think I'm ok now.
    I take it "chown" changes the owner…?
    Thanks for that. Just the display thing now – before I get used to 1600×1200 (or get eye–strain….)

    28 Aug 2006, 16:25

  6. me

    sudo su –
    will give you a root prompt on a command–line
    sudo nautilus
    will give you a gui file–manager, as root.
    Be careful with both :)

    chown user:group file
    will change the user and group of a file or folder, to include the contents:
    chown –R user:group folder
    (chmod takes –R as well)
    if you go to system on the menu bar, and then preferences, there's a 'screen resolution' option that lets you choose a different resolution, and then 'save as default on this computer'

    28 Aug 2006, 22:08

  7. Roger Lindley

    Yeah, tried that. It dumps me out to the login screen, back at 1600×1200.
    How can I check I've got the correct/most up to date graphics driver? Is it more to do with X, Gnome, Ubuntu or the Kernel?
    It's an Intel 82865 integrated graphics controller.

    29 Aug 2006, 10:09

  8. Chris May

    Ubuntu should take care of keeping the drivers up–to–date; I doubt it's anything to do with that, especially for a fairly common driver like yours.

    You could try running 'sudo dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg' . This will step you through identifying your graphics card, monitor, keyboard, mouse, etc, then allow you to choose resoltions to run at - so if you know that your monitor will support a particular resolution you can force it in there. It's a bit time-consuming though, and it needs to be done with X stopped. There's details here

    29 Aug 2006, 14:13

  9. Roger Lindley

    Thanks for your tips!
    Well "dpkg–reconfigure" etc. worked, much to my amazement. I say that because most of the time when I was trying to edit the entries, it wouldn't let me delete the first character in the line, and did strange things with *s and numbers.
    Still I'm at a more readable resolution now, not my fave 1152×864 but 1280×1024 which is still much better than 1600×1200.
    [rant] also found that there is virtually no information around about my monitor (a Tektronix TX–D2162R) and Tektronix deny all knowledge of it and any other monitor they ever made – doesn't inspire me to buy any of their present products…[/rant]

    29 Aug 2006, 21:41


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