Question About Linux, I Think It Is?

(CubeFan973) #1

I’ve heard about the “open source” Linux OS. The idea of changing things in it sounds really good. But I have a question: Do you actually have to change the source code (the programming) or is it changable by file things or something like that?

In other words: How do you change things in it?

(Jolly Gnome) #2

Yes, you need to program if you wish to change the OS itself. But, there are about zillion different distributions, which all are a bit different, so you practically can choose whatever you wish. Most of them are free, and downloadable from the net.
You can find more info from fe., and from the numerous Linux news groups.
If you’re not very “pro” with computers, you may want to have some soert of graphic user interface (like in windows), then you’ll need to install somesort of windowing system also, XWindow being (IIRC) the most common.
I’d suggest you to install distribution called Red Hat ( It has the XWindow system and KDE and GNOME desktop environments with it.
Best way (IMHO) would be for you to loan from library or buy an installation quide which has the needed installation cd:s with it.
I myself am just starting to use Linux, and the Red Hat 7.2 I’m using seems rather good and simple to use (due to the windowing system).

(acasto) #3

There is many different ways to change things in Linux. Source code is more for the power user/developer. Bash programming is VERY easy and there is a lot used in linux for configuration. Bash is basically putting commands together in a script instead of one at a time on the command line, then you can run the scirpt at once and it will carry out the commands.

A good place to get linux CDs is . All you have to do is download the ISO image, then burn it to a CD, and you have a fully functional linux installation package. Red Hat is an excellent choice because it facillicates not only beginners, but also more advanced users. It has been used for years, and we still use it for our clustering platform. It has a wonderful GUI that makes installation a breeze, and come with both Gnome and KDE. I suggest, if hard drive space allows, installing both KDE and Gnome and give them both a try.

(Spiral Man) #4

hrm, dont see anybody giving a straigh answer (not that the answeres were bad…)

no, you do not have to modify the source code just to change things in linux. mostly, you would modify the source code to fix a bug or add a feature. however, if you need to do something like change the ip address of your machine, or change what programs are run on boot, these types of things are handeled in configuration files (most distros have a GUI for setting the options in the configuration files, so you dont actually have to manually edit the files themselves).

also, i would add that most of the things you would be changing arent actually in “linux”. linux is simply the kernel (the interface between the applications and the hardware), most of the things you interact with, or change settings for would be apps like X windows (the windowing system) or KDE/Gnome (a “desktop envirnoment”, but actually a collection of apps designed to make the GUI more user friendly), or whatever…

hrm, looks like my answer wasnt as straight as i wanted it to be…

(darkbyrd) #5

my 2 cents… mandrake linux ( I tried redat, preferred mandrake

(basse) #6

mandrake is perhaps one of the easiest to learn if you are a newcomer… but I prefer redhat… well I have been using it since 6.0, so it’s kind of “my distro” but still, I think while it’s quite easy to use, it doesn’t have too many fancy graphical configuration tools, and it’s not ALL automated… like mandrake.

so kind of, redhat prepares user more to the reality, that after awhile, you do need to have tp do some commandline, and edit text-based configuration files, and some programs dont have gui… while mandrake is trying all the time to cover up all this :slight_smile:

i dunno… it’s always linux underneath there, not matter what distro.


(darkbyrd) #7

baby steps, my mon

(CubeFan973) #8

Are there any tutorials for how to change things in it? I sound like I own it, but I’m thinking about it.

(Spiral Man) #9

the best place to find help with linux is the linux documentation project at: (try The Linux Users Guide, under the “guides” category).

the Howtos can get a little technical, but the more you read, the more the other stuff will make sense.

as far as distros, mandrake is supposed to be very good for beginners, but i recomend suse. It has tons of apps, and a very nice, and very long printed manual, which will help you out a lot when you are starting out. Its also very user friendly, and yet accessable for the power user (more than redhat, IMHO)

also, if you have the money, “Running Linux” from O’Reilly (currently 3rd edition, i believe) is probably the linux book for users.

ps It’d be nice if we could avoid a distro flamewar : )

(acasto) #10

The good thing about linux is, if you need to know something, usually a search on Google will find you an answer. It just takes a lot of courage for people to start using it, but once they do they usually love it because it’s something totally new to them and theres many things to experiment and play with. But becareful with the ‘playing’ part, especially with filesystems. I went through quite a few installations origionally.

As for which distro, Mandrake is good (origionally came from a modified Red Hat), Red Hat is widely accepted, so it’s easy to get help and find info on, Suse has the largest documentation base but Suse is German, so a lot of time seraching for help on Suse will pull you up German docs. Translation is not hard though with some browsers, it just gets a little annoying sometimes. Suse does have a ton of apps though, the last time I used it I think the full install was 10GB.

If I was to reccomend a system for a begginer who wants to learn it, I would suggest Red Hat 7.2 or 7.3, then install both KDE and Gnome. Then once it’s installed, upgrade Gnome to Ximian Gnome (which is very easy if you have a fast internet connection). Ximian has a wonderful package out now with the mail client Evolution. They also have a program called Red Carpet, which allows you to install and remove apps with the click of the mouse. It is VERY easy. If not Ximian Red Carpetn, then the Red Hat Network will allow you to udate, install, and remove packages also. I would definitely check these out. The link to Ximian is

(pannomatte) #11

For a first time Linux user I throw my vote for Mandrake. Great online tutorials and howtos that are distro specific. Another great place to check out is
my 2 cents worth

(K-Rich) #12

Mandrake is “ok” in my opinion, my issue with it is the modules (drivers in windows parlance) and gzipped (.ZIP type files) which can be annoying.

Debian is a nice distribution as things are “clean” but not really for newbies…

Redhat (my current preferance) is simple to install, easy to run, and powerful enough fro a poweruser, yet simple enough for a newbie.

Lycoris\DesktopLX seems to be a VERY nice system, i’ve had minimal experiance playing with it, but if you are new to Linux, and moving from windows, this may be a prefered path.

I would also suggest looking into LindowsOS which claims to run many Windows based programs (making the move all the smoother. Wal-Mart (in the US and Canada) now sells inexpensive systems with this OS installed (prices range between US$299 and US$799). (why so cheap? partl no damn MS licencing fees :slight_smile:

As for a site to get you started and answer a few questions, i’d point you to LinuxNewbie which has a number of usefull and frequent answers to many question asked, also, has articles for those new to linux.


(pannomatte) #13

I was at Frys Electronics a few months ago and bought a qoute “internet ready” computer than ran a striped down china brand Linux distro with nerscape and an MP3 player, and some other minimal packages. $249.00 usd. CyrixII 750mhz processor 20 gb hard drive 128 mb ram lan modem connections audio and speakers. Threw a 40.00 NVidia TNT card in it and voilla. Why so cheap. The previous post got it right. No MS$ . Haven’t turned it of f or rebooted since I pluged it in.

(digitalSlav) #14

if your a low bander like my retarded ass you can get linux distros for a couple bucks at and those are usually bundled with tons of programs like star office and the like which is like office for windows. it’s always helpful to get a book about linux as well. since linux has come along it has become MUCH easier to work with and MUCH MUCH easier to install without being the god or mother of your computer. best of luck!