How-To Recipes

Paid Support

1. FAQs of Vector Linux

This page presents frequently asked questions about Vector Linux that are of a general nature. How to accomplish specific operational tasks are in the How-To section.

A quick way to locate information is through the site search box in the upper right.

Table of Contents

1.1. What is an MD5SUM check, and how do I perform one?

Performing an MD5SUM tests the integrity of files you download, copy, etc. While this is a useful test for any downloaded file, it is especially important when dealing with a download that will become your operating system! Prior to burning your downloaded ISO to CD, perform an MD5SUM by:

  1. Opening a terminal in Linux or a Command Prompt in Windows.
  2. Navigating to the directory where you downloaded the ISO to.
  3. Typing "md5sum the_name_of_the.iso" (without the quotes).
  4. Check the output string against the md5sum file on the download site.

If they do not match exactly then something went wrong with the download and all sorts of problems could arise if you try to use this ISO. Try downloading the ISO again, and, if you used a web browser to download the ISO in your previous attempt, consider using an application designed for handling large downloads (e.g., a download manager or FTP client).

1.2. How much harddrive space do I need to install VectorLinux?

This will vary with which edition of VL you choose, the extra programs you may want to install later, and by the amount of data (documents, multimedia files, etc.) you want to keep on your hard drive. The minimum base system requirements for the system alone are as follows:

  • VL5.8 Standard: 2 GB
  • VL5.8 SOHO: 3 GB

1.3. What is swap space? How much swap space do I need?

Swap space is the Linux way of implementing virtual memory. The system uses a small, dedicated partition on your hard drive. How much space to allocate to this swap partition is not clearly defined, but a common rule suggests doubling the amount of physical RAM you have (e.g., 256 MB of RAM = 512 MB Swap), up to a maximum of 512MB for most situations.

1.4. How do I resize my NTFS/WinXP partition (without buying Partition Magic)?

You can download/burn a system rescue CD from here . It includes several useful programs, including QtParted, a free Partition Magic clone capable of creating/resizing NTFS partitions (as well as many other filesystem types). Another suggestion is the GParted Live CD, which has updated NTFS reading and writing capabilities.

1.5. Why do I get a "file not found" error during the install?

If you are using your secondary CD drive, try using your primary CD drive instead. VectorLinux will only install from the first CD detected on the IDE/SCSI channels.

1.6. Why does the screen start filling up with numbers when I reboot? Where did my LILO menu go?!

Chances are you just did a fresh install and skipped installing LILO, or you deleted a previously bootable partition and LILO is getting 'stuck' looking for it. The fix:

Boot from the Installation CD (or another rescue CD) and issue the following command to skip LILO: linux root=/dev/hda3 ro *Replace 'hda3' with the partition your installation resides on.*

Then, after the system loads, run VASM in Super-User mode, choose the FILESYSTEM option, and reinstall LILO. (Alternatively, you could edit /etc/lilo.conf by hand, as root, to ensure your LILO-config file still applies to your system/partitions. If editing by hand, you'll need to issue the "lilo -v" command after saving the file to commit the config changes.

1.7. What is VASM?

VASM is a utility which allows you to configure your system without the need to manually edit files spread across the system. Full details of VASM's capabilities can be found in the VL VASM Manual.

History of VASM: Robert Lange, aka Vector, created the original incarnation of the tool, and others have helped to refine existing and add new features over time. Development of the next generation of VASM is underway, with exciting changes in the works!

1.8. How do I Use VASM?

"VASM" is short for "Vector Administrative and Services Menu" and is Vector Linux's main system configuration tool. This document discusses VASM as implemented in VL v5.8. VASM has been available in all versions of VL since 2.0, but has been upgraded with each release with new choices and the addition of a GUI (graphical user interface) menu since VL SOHO v3.2 and above. At present, VASM is being re-written in Perl/GTK to ultimately provide a more comprehensive user interface. Nonetheless, its current menu-based structure is very user-friendly and comprehensive.

VASM is the same in both CLI (text) and GUI mode. The script automatically identifies the mode you are currently in and uses the appropriate interface.

Some special notes:

  1. For most functions VASM needs you to be logged in as root, the administration account on your VL system.
  2. Some functions accessible through the VASM require the system to be running in Text Mode and not GUI Mode. Such functions are clearly marked and cannot function in GUI mode. (See chapter 5).

1.9. How can I get a "command prompt" or a "terminal"?

Your VL Desktop have an icon (a small picture) on the taskbar (that bar at the bottom of the screen) that looks a bit like a computer monitor. Clicking on that will open up what is called a terminal window. The window will have a command prompt. Your window will have # at the end of the line. That is the command line. At that prompt, you can enter the various commands mentioned in other documents. If you chose a non-graphical login, then, as soon as you log in, you are at the command line, often known as CLI for Command Line Interface as opposed to a GUI or Graphical User Interface (GUI is usually pronounced "gooey"). In that case, you can enter any of the commands there, in the console. The commands can be entered either in the terminal while running X, or in console mode (with no graphical intereface). It doesn't make a difference.

1.10. What are those directories for?

Linux filesystem tree is large and complicated. If you are new to Linux, here you have a short description of most impotant ones. /usr filesystem contains all commands, libraries, documentation, and other files that do not change during normal operation. This will also contain major applications that come with your Linux distribution, for example Firefox. /var filesystem contains files that change: spool directories, log files, lock files, temporary files, etc. /home filesystem contains user files (users' own settings, customization files, documents, data, mail, caches, etc). The contents of this directory should be preserved on an operating system upgrade. /proc filesystem contains entirely illusionary files. They don't really exist on the disk and don't take up any space there (although ls -l will show their size). When viewing them, you really access information stored in the memory. It is used to access information about the system, and is useful if you need a proof look to your hardware.

The parts of the root filesystem are:

  • /bin -- executables (binaries) needed during bootup that might be used by normal users. /sbin -- executables (system binaries) not intended for use by general users (users may still use them, but this directory is not on their PATH). /etc -- system-wide configuration files for your operating system. /root -- the home directory of the system administrator (called super-user or root). /dev -- device files. Devices appear on Linux as files so that hardware is abstracted and it is easy to write to them or read from them. /mnt -- mount points for removable media (floppy, cdrom, zipdrive), partitions of the hard drive, partitions of other operating systems (e.g. MS Windows), network shares, and anything else that is mounted on the file system. There are no drive letters on Linux. /lib -- shared libraries for programs that reside on the root filesystem and kernel modules. /boot -- files used by the bootstrap loader (LILO or GRUB), the thing that loads first when the computer is booted and perhaps gives you the option of which operating system to boot, if you have more than one OS on your computer). It also contains the Linux kernel (compressed, file vmlinuz). /opt -- optional large applications, for example KDE, Open Office, etc. /tmp -- temporary files.

It is important to understand that all directories appear in a single directory tree, even if the directories are contained on different partitions, physical drives (including floppies, etc), or even if they are distributed over the network. Therefore, there are no DOS-type "drive letters" under Linux. What would be a "drive" under DOS or MS Windows, appears on Linux as a subdirectory in a special "mounting" location.

Users always save their files to the directory /home/user_login_name (and its subdirctories).

1.11. How can I "copy and paste"?

To copy and paste you just need to select a piece of text (this is the 'copy' part). Then, on the "destination window", click the middle button of your mouse or -if you have a two-buttons mouse- press both buttons at the same time (this is the 'paste' part).

1.12. How can I know more about my hardware?

Usually you need to know some hardware specs to solve a problem. For example, often, the hardware manufacturers offer a wide range of products, but they are made with the same "chipset". So, frequently one driver works on several makes and models of hardware, because they have all the same chipset. In this cases, you want to know the exact chipset you are using to pick the rigth driver or module. There is several commands in Linux to solve this issue. If you type lspci in a terminal as root, you will see an output with all your pci devices listed. With the lsusb command you can find a list with your usb devices. In parallel, you can have a list of the modules inserted in the Linux kernel with the lsmod command. The kernel modules are like "drivers" and many hardware pieces will not work without the proper module inserted in the kernel.

This three commands are very useful to diagnose hardware problems and find the proper solution.

1.13. Can I install Windowz programs on VL?

The quick answer is no. There is software for Linux and software made for other operating systems. Most of the times, Linux can suite the needs of every computers user by itself. But if for any reason you need to run a Windows software in VL (for example, if you are a web developer, you want to know how your pages are seen by IE users) the first thing to do is to find out if there is a Linux version of your software. Many software companies are starting to develope software for both OS (for example, Discreet). If the software of your choice has no version for Linux, you still can try Wine. Wine is an implementation of the Windows API under Linux. From the Wine web-site:

"When users think of an emulator, they tend to think of things like Super Nintendo emulators or virtualization software. This is the wrong way to think about Wine - Wine runs Windows applications in essentially the same way Windows does. There is no inherent loss of speed due to "emulation" when using Wine, nor is there a need to open Wine before running your application."

So, you can run your software without losing performance. But no all the software runs under Wine. Only a few programs can do that. You can find more info about this on the Wine web-site. You can install Wine on your VL box using Gslapt, or the command line equivalent, slapt-get.

NOTE: You still need the license to run the software under Wine.

1.14. When is it appropriate to use the '''root''' account?

The root account should be used only for administrative purposes. Though it seems convenient to have immediate access to the whole of the system's facilities, it is much safer to run with a normal user account, and switch to root only when necessary. A useful way to switch to the root account briefly is to type su at the command line and enter the root password. You can then run commands that need root privileges, then type 'exit' to leave the privileged shell.

1.15. How can I get Vector to speak my native language?

Edit the file /etc/profile.d/ as the root user. Find a line that begins 'export LANG=', and replace the code that follows the equals sign with one appropriate to your language. The codes consist of:

- A two-letter code for your language - An underscore, followed by a two-letter code for your country - A period, followed by a character encoding

The latter two are optional. For a few examples:

export LANG=es (general Spanish locale, with default encoding, Latin1)
export LANG=ar_LB.UTF-8 (Arabic locale for Lebanon, Unicode encoding)
export LANG=sv_SE.UTF-8 (country-specific Swedish locale with UTF-8 encoding)

Here are directories for the language and country codes, respectively:

1.16. Why does my web browser eat up so much memory?

In Firefox and Seamonkey in particular, two configuration settings use extra memory for cache. That feature may not be desirable for some people. If you wish to disable memory caching in either of these browsers, follow these easy steps:

  1. Point your browser to about:config in the address bar.
  2. Search for an option named browser.cache.memory.enable and set it to 'false'. You can do this by double-clicking on it, or selecting 'Toggle' from the right-click context menu.
  3. Search for an option names browser.sessionhistory.max_total_viewers and set its value to '0' in a like manner.

Those steps should reduce the memory usage of the Firefox and Seamonkey significantly.

1.17. Is there a "search" tool? How can I find a file or command?

As usual in Linux/GNU systems, there is several ways to do the same thing. For a start, the users of Xfce or KDE can use their respective graphical tools. They are very easy too use and you can find them on your menu. But, -again- as usual, there is even more powerful programs for the console. Lets see:

1. which. Which makes a search on your PATH, and returns the first match it finds and the directory path for it. For example:

# which bash


So, you know now the location for bash, which is /bin/bash. This is a limited command, it just search your path, but is quick and very useful sometimes.

2. whereis. Whereis works similar to which, but can also search for man pages and source files. A whereis search for bash should return this:

# whereis bash

bash: /bin/bash /usr/bin/bash /usr/man/man1/bash.1.gz

Now we can know a little more!

3. find. Find allows you to search the filesystem with a keyword, a lot of advanced options, you can use wildcards, search filenames and other information associated with the file. You need to use the directory to start the search as an argument.

# find / -name xorg.conf

This will search for the xorg.conf file, from the root directory. There is a lot of uses and options for find, you can check

# man find

for more information. A last note, find will take a while sometimes, because it will literally "look" everywhere to find what we want. But it will do his job finally.

4. locate. Here is my favorite. Locate will search the hole system, just like find can do, but it uses a database instead the real filesystem. The result is a very faster query. It can't be perfect though: you need to keep the database up to date. To do that run the command:

# updatedb

Once the database is updated, locate will work. You need to do this once before you can run locate for first time, and you need to update the database every week as a minimum, the command will not work if you dont.

That´s it. For quick search of a command you can use whereis or which. For bigger querys, config files and others which are not in your path you can use locate. And finally, for complex tasks and advanced scripting, the find command is the best. Just remember you can find extra info at the manpages. Just type man <name_of_the_command> at your terminal.

1.18. How can I get help about a specific command?

The man command can help you. For instance, if you want to learn more about the locate command, type this in a terminal window:

# man locate

Alternatively, you can invoke the Run Command window (by typing ALT + F2) and type this:


1.19. Why does X start up in a low resolution?

Basically the X setup just tries to use the best safe settings that the monitor reports back through the video card. Increase the resolution by running vasm as root and choosing "X setup", then "Set up screen" and choosing the resolution/colour depth you want. If this doesn't work you may need to alter settings in "Set up display" and "Set up video card" as well.

1.20. Why does my soundcard not work/exist?

This could be a power management problem, try booting with the noacpi or noapm options. E.g. at the lilo prompt type optionname noacpi where optionname is the name of your linux installation in the lilo menu. To get my laptops soundcard working I had to compile APM out of and ACPI into the kernel.

1.21. How can I find out the info on partitions on my hard drive and the space used/available on each partition ?

The "df" command at terminal displays space usage information on all mounted partitions. Mount all your partitions and they'll be included.

# df -h

1.22. How do I do a screen capture

KSnapshot is available in the Graphics menu. This is a very easy to use screen or window capture tool. Also, Kuickshow, a companion tool to view images is available in the Graphics menu.

FAQs (last edited 2015-04-20 21:40:10 by localhost)