The Florida SEO – Learning Linux One Mistake at a Time.

by Edward on January 19, 2012

A couple months ago I decided to take the leap into actually installing and running a Linux machine. After a couple of failed installs, I managed to format a disk and install my new favorite distro … Debian installed. Coming from a Windoze environment there were a lot of hurdles to overcome just to figure out how to get around on a Linux setup. First off … I’ve got to give props to the guys over at … without the hundreds of how-to posts I don’t think I would have gotten too far.

The first real hurdle for me was wrapping my tiny little brain around the way Linux ‘mounts’ work. Being used to the drive letter mentality, it was odd to understand that there really is no drive letter … it’s just a label for how Windoze mounts a partition.
I still don’t really understand it all, but I do have an idea how It works now.

While Windoze typically installs to let’s say c:\, Linux does not make a letter for a partition. As such, in Linux there is just ‘/’ which is the root directory. Nearly all the working directories are installed under the root directory … unless of course you should so choose to move them elsewhere … which, is another story.

Typically, a Linux install will have the default directories installed as follows …

/ – root = The main directory and the root of where everything else is.
/bin/ = The executable directory … where stuff that can execute goes.
/boot/ = Guess what goes here heh? Yeah, your boot loader, kernels, etc.
/dev/ = Devices … Big topic … lot’s of stuff in here … mostly disks and tty’s. Google it.
/home/ = This is where your files are … You are running as a user right and not root right? If not … Well … You’ll probably be reinstalling your system pretty soon …
/etc/= This is where the configuration files are located in a Debian distro.
/lib/ = Libraries … this is where the informational source files required by the systems’ essential binaries are …
/media/ = Mounted points for removable media … like a usb or a CD-ROM …
/opt/ = Optional applications … Now this one is interesting because sometimes it’s used for add-on applications that are not part of a typical .deb package. There may also exist sub directories under /opt too … such as /opt/bin, /opt/include, /opt/lib, etc.
/proc/ = This is a virtual file system where processes status are found … I.E. /proc/cpuinfo
/root/ = The REAL root users file. This is not the same as / root. This is the root users’ home directory … You really shouldn’t be in there if your just working as a user.
/sbin/= System binaries. This is for the root user or the system … not your stuff.
/srv/ = The serve directory … I choose this one to serve my web stuff from. Why? I don’t know … I just happen to like the sound of /srv/ instead of /var/www …
/sys/ = Supposedly the file system for kernel objects … Don’t know much about it yet.
/usr/ = The second level file system for shareable stuff … like /usr/local, /usr/bin, or /usr/sbin …
/var/ = Variable data … many Linux distros will install Apache related stuff here … Like /var/www for web docs … I moved mine though but I don’t think it really matters where it comes from …
Again … I’m new to Linux so a lot of this is well still new to me … sue me if I say the wrong thing.

The biggest hurdle was trying to figure out how to actually move around the files system. First of all … If you don’t have permission …Linux may not even let you enter a directory. Say for example you try to ‘CD’ to enter into the /root/ home directory you’ll simply get a permission denied message. This is how Linux keeps standard users from accessing places they shouldn’t. In order to access the /root/ directory you either need to be the root user (which you should never use while operating X windowed programs) or you need a special access level to get there. This access is called ‘SU’ or Substitute User. However, before being allowed to use SU … you must be given permission in a special access file called the sudoers file … Now on a Debian based Linux distro … the sudoers file is located under /etc/ … specifically /etc/sudoers …

So you need to have root access to either add yourself or someone else to the sudoers file. I don’t know exactly why, but you are supposed to only edit this file with the visudo command which, opens the file in the VI editor … At this point you can either add yourself or someone else to the file as a ‘sudoer’ so that access may be given. However, if your not familiar with getting around in VI or VIM … then well … guess what … You’ve got some more learnin’ to do … cause if you don’t know how to get around in VIM (like I didn’t) then you are going to be in for quite a surprise …

So … after literally two months of trial and error, I’ve finally gotten to the point where I can actually use Linux … it’s taken a lot of work … but if I can figure it out then I guess nearly anyone can …

Here’s a screenshot of my Debian box running with KDE 4.4

Debian Squeeze Custom


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Florida SEO February 1, 2012 at 2:27 am

I don’t know … Since I’m actually learning Linux for the ‘first time,’ I feel that the statement ‘Re-learning’ would send the message that at one time I knew Linux and am now simply going through a refresher course or something which, isn’t accurate … Sure I may have had some exposure to working in Linux … but this initiative has been more of a Linux type of learning method … So, I’ll respectfully disagree with ya here buddy 😉


Florida SEO February 1, 2012 at 2:32 am

Moreover … when you mention the /usr/share/applications directory … that’s accurate for Ubuntu – Kubuntu distros …

Debian Squeeze doesn’t have those directories populated from the initial install as that is up to the sys admin to delegate prior to having user accounts setup …

On my distro I’m using KDE so most of the desktop related stuff is there … I’m sure it’s the same with Gnome too …

Good discussion … we’ll have to pick it up later …



James Harvey January 19, 2012 at 9:36 pm

Yo Eddie!

Great Post, but I would recommend renaming it "RE-Learning Linux…" as I know guys like you and me are tired of the Windows crap, and have gone back to the good, fast stable linux platofrms.

Also for some additional pointers from a linux refresher I had myself, you might also want to look in usr/share/applications/, on debian builds that is generally where all your main stuff is located.


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