Tag Archives: distro

Today’s Featured Distribution – Sidux

Sidux is a Linux distribution based on Debian’s unstable branch, known as “sid”, along with many free and open source applications.

Sidux is a very well documented and supported distribution complete with an excellent manual and wiki. It’s a rolling release, meaning the entire installation is updated via a single command. This eliminates the need to continuously reinstall newer versions as they are released.

I installed Sidux on my system using LXDE/Openbox desktop environment and windows manager. However, Sidux can be run with your favorite desktop environment… Gnome, KDE, Xfce, etc. I found it to be extremely stable and well supported.

The package management is accomplished using the rock solid legendary Debian Advanced Package Tool (apt). You can’t go wrong here, folks. You get a top notch Linux distribution with the solidity of Debian and the additional features and apps from the Sidux maintainers. A simple command (dist-upgrade) upgrades your entire system painlessly.

Don’t confuse the name “unstable branch” with instability in the operating system. Debian’s “unstable branch” is so named because it has yet to be subjected to the rigorous testing for stability and conflicts that the main branch of Debian has been subjected to. Sidux may be based on the unstable “sid” branch of Debian, but it is enhanced with Sidux packages and thoroughly tested before release. I’ve never experienced even a small blip in operation with Sidux. It’s perfectly capable and suited to be your main operating system for home or business. Give it a shot when you get a chance.

Until next time…

~Eric

Graphical Boot-up? I Don’t Think So

It’s a Slackware thing, baby. Real Slackers don’t use a graphical boot-up screen.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve modified my /etc/inittab in every distribution I use to boot-up using runlevel 3 as the default. This gives you full multi-user with no X running. Why do I do it this way? Well… it’s COOL! Seriously though, I just prefer it and it serves some practical purposes, also.

Even though I started my Linux journey a few years ago with Ubuntu, I had Slackware up and running as my primary operating system shortly thereafter. You might even say I cut my Linux teeth on Slackware. This is the Slackware way… lightness of being, simplicity, efficient use of resources.

I do a lot from the command line in most of my distros. I just find it easier to start off with no X running in case I do have system chores that need doing, like updating or editing config files for some reason or another. Command line? Bet you thought that went out with octal machine code, huh? Well, it didn’t.

The command line still offers a FAST way to perform functions within the operating system. But hey… it’s not for everyone. It’s a great skill to have at least a passing knowledge of, but you can be perfectly content as a 100% GUI penguin. Nothing wrong with that. Linux ain’t about dictating how you do things. It’s ALL about giving you choices and options to get your work done.

If you feel the need to explore the dark side of Linux, the command line interface, you can modify your /etc/inittab configuration file to boot you into runlevel 3 as a default, as I do. Once you’re done with your stuff and want your graphic interface up and running, just type “startx” at the prompt (no quotes). This command will start the X Window System on your Linux.

In some rare cases, where you’re using certain windows managers/desktop environments, the startx command will not work. You’ll need to know the specific command to launch your graphical interface. For instance, in my Sidux installation, which uses LXDE/Openbox desktop environment/windows manager, I have to type “startlxde” (again without quotes) to fire up the graphic interface. 99% of the time, though, startx will work.

For more information in the /etc/inittab file and runlevels in Linux check out Sandra Henry-Stocker’s recent piece over at ITWorld : Unix How-To: the Linux /etc/inittab file

Have FUN while you’re learning.

Until next time, folks…

~Eric

Today’s Featured Distribution – Arch Linux

Let’s do things the “Arch Way” for a bit, OK?

As you can probably tell from this recent article, I do maintain a good sized distro farm. Sometimes, I’ll plow up one field and plant a new distro. Other times, I leave a field planted with a certain distro for long periods of time. This is the case with Arch Linux. It’s one Linux distro crop that I probably will continue to plant regularly.

You will always find two distributions on any system I have up and running for my own use; Slackware, my primary operating system and Debian, my backup operating system. Both are what you might call stable to the point of ennui. That’s why they are my operating systems of choice. I’m an old geek. Old geeks don’t like surprises. We like everything steady and familiar.

If someone were to ask me, “Hey Eric, what would you do if you couldn’t run Slackware or Debian?” I’d have to admit that Arch Linux would probably be my next choice as a primary operating system. I’ve always considered Arch to be like a secret love child of Slackware, even though they have no direct relation in the Linux Tree. I think of Arch in this light because it shares two goals with Slackware; namely, beautiful simplicity and a lightness of being.

It’s almost Zen-like, huh? Ahhhhmm! Ahhhhhmm!

Oops! Wrong kind of yogi. I meant… er, never mind.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah…

So, about Arch Linux… Oh, did I mention that Arch has an exceptional support community, excellent documentation, and a fabulous wiki? Well, it does. Visit the Arch Linux main page. Do a little reading, follow some links. There is a wealth of information at that site. The Arch Wiki has been helpful to me many times in resolving issues that were not even specific to Arch. There is a lot of compiled Linux knowledge there. When you’re visiting the wiki, be sure to check out the Beginner’s Guide… absolutely outstanding!

And lastly, if you would like to give Arch a looksee, I highly recommend securitybreach’s excellent installation tutorial available for you at Scot’s Newsletter Forums – Bruno’s All Things Linux – Bruno’s Classroom –> Installing and setting up Archlinux.

Have FUN with it!

Until next time…

~Eric

Linux Distros Are Like Lays® Potato Chips…

… you can’t have just one.

Multi-booting – My Way

I’ve been multi-booting since I first came to Linux. Originally, it was due to my transition from MS Windows to GNU/Linux. Later, it was because I wanted to try more distributions. I was still hunting for the one that fit me best. I’ve since found that distro (Slackware). However, I still have multiple operating systems on my computer for varying reasons.

My current hard drive partition and usage map looks like this:

SATA 1 – Main/Secondary OS + Linux Archive

Primary – 25Gig: /(root) Slackware on /dev/sda1 (ext3)

Primary – 50Gig: /home Slackware on /dev/sda2 (ext3)

Extended – 175Gig: /dev/sda3
Partition – 25Gig: /(root) Debian on /dev/sda5 (ext3)

Partition – 50Gig: /home Debian on /dev/sda6 (ext3)

Partition – 2Gig: /swap (common) on /dev/sda7 (swap)

Partition – 98Gig: Linux Archive on /dev/sda8 (ext2)


SATA 2 – MS Windows + Experimental Operating Systems

Primary – 25Gig: MS Windows Main on /dev/sdb1 (ntfs)

Primary – 25Gig: MS Windows Programs on /dev/sdb2 (ntfs)

Extended – 200Gig: /dev/sdb3
Partition – 2Gig: /swap (common) on /dev/sdb5 (swap)

Partition – 15Gig: /(root) CentOS on /dev/sdb6 (ext3)
Partition – 25Gig: /home CentOS on
/dev/sdb7 (ext3)

Partition – 15Gig: /(root) Arch Linux on /dev/sdb8 (ext3)
Partition – 25Gig: /home Arch Linux on /dev/sdb9 (ext3)

Partition – 15Gig: /(root)  PCLOS on /dev/sdb10 (ext3)
Partition – 25Gig: /home PCLOS on /dev/sdb11 (ext3)

Partition – 15Gig: /(root) Sidux on /dev/sdb12 (ext3)
Partition – 25Gig: /home Sidux on /dev/sdb13 (ext3)

Partition – 15Gig: /(root) Mandriva on /dev/sdb14 (ext3)
Partition – 23Gig: /home Mandriva on /dev/sdb15 (ext3)


EIDE 1 – Backups

Primary – 50Gig: Slackware Backups on /dev/hda1 (ext2)

Primary – 50Gig: Debian Backups on /dev/hda2 (ext2)

Extended – 150Gig: /dev/hda3
Partition – 50Gig: MS Windows Backups on /dev/hda5 (FAT32)

Partition – 50Gig: Other OS Backups on /dev/hda6 (ext2)

Partition – 50Gig: OS Common Storage on /dev/hda7 (FAT32)

These three drives add up to three quarters of a Terabyte of space… way more than I actually need. However, space is cheap these days. I still remember paying $100 for a 10Gig drive less than ten years ago. Previously, SATA 1 and 2 were in RAID 1 (mirrored) configuration with MS Win XP Pro on them. What a waste. I rarely ever boot that OS these days (games only), so I broke the RAID down and repartitioned/reinstalled everything on my system.

The ten partitions you see on the SATA 2 drive are my experimental Linux slots. When this partition map was made, I intended to put CentOS, Arch, and Ark back on them, with the last two saved for Gentoo and maybe FreeBSD. It didn’t work out quite that way, as you can see. What is installed on those experimental partitions tends to change often.

A few things to take note of when partitioning and multi-booting in this fashion:

1) Remember the SATA 15 partition limit. Many newer distros use the libATA kernel drivers which force drive recognition as SATA regardless of whether the drive is EIDE or SATA, so for this reason remember to place your /common partitions and /swap partitions on the lower numbered ones. A libATA distro installed anywhere else on the lower 15 partitions (or another drive) will still be able to “see” and mount them this way.

2) MS Windows is like the “Borg” when it comes to being installed on a computer with other operating systems. It seeks out and destroys other operating systems. Be sure to install MS Windows first. It needs to be on the first partition of whatever drive you’re installing it on. After which, you can install your GNU/Linux distros safely.

3) Install your MBR controlling distribution last, time-wise, regardless of which partition/drive you’re installing on. This will allow it, especially in the case of Debian’s excellent GRUB, to “see” all the other installations and write them into your menu.lst for you. Even though Slackware is my primary operating system, and since I don’t use LILO, I allow Debian to control the MBR and boot my system with its GRUB.

4) Lastly, as in the case above, if your MS Windows installation is on a different drive than your MBR controlling OS, then your BIOS may have troubles booting the correct drive. No matter what you choose in BIOS as the first device, the Windows drive will boot. The reason for this is that Windows installs a bootable flag on its own drive. This flag gets priority from the BIOS. To set a bootable flag on the drive that you want to boot will require a bit of manipulation using a Live Linux CD* and the fdisk command.

Boot your Live CD and start it. From a terminal session within the CD do the following:

# fdisk /dev/

fdisk> a (option to toggle bootable flag on drive

–partition number? 1 (first partition on the drive)

fdisk> w (command to write the new info to disk and exit fdisk)

–bootable flag reset for this drive

This will set the bootable flag to the drive you choose. Reboot, go into BIOS setup and choose your first boot drive. It should boot fine now.

*Another option to use is the way I actually did it on my own system… I used SLAX on a flash drive to perform the fdisk above. Worked like a champ!

Anyway, that’s the way my system is set up. Whenever I add or change operating systems, I just edit the Debian /boot/grub/menu.lst to reflect those changes.

Have fun with it!

Until next time…

~Eric

^This is an updated version of a previously written post on my Linux.com blog. All written material is my original output.