Today’s Featured Distribution – Salix OS

Salix is a GNU/Linux distribution based on Slackware that is simple, fast and easy to use.

As many of you know, I’m partial to distributions with the Slackware pedigree. Salix is one that I had not tried before. My favorites up to now have been Zenwalk, Absolute Linux, and Vector Linux. However, I haven’t had any of those on any of my systems for quite some time. I’m patiently waiting for the 64 bit versions.

Now with Salix OS, I find a nice 64 bit version all ready to go. I installed it with the Xfce desktop. Installation was fast and easy using their familiar installer. No surprises here, folks. It just works. I had to do a couple custom tweaks here and there to get the system up and running, though.

After installation, I first booted into Salix using the kernel line alone. On my main system, Arch (my secondary OS) controls the MBR, and its GRUB rules. I had to modify Arch’s menu.lst to boot Salix. Once I was in Salix, I created an initrd using the README.initrd that you can find in most Slack derivatives. Nothing new here either. For you Slack veterans, this will all look very familiar to you. I re-edited Arch’s menu.lst to include the newly created initrd.gz line and away we went. Anyway, most of you will just use the LILO boot loader provided by Salix.

Salix booted up without a burp or hiss. I updated right off using the tried and true slapt-get command line package manager. Anyone who’s ever run Vector or Absolute Linux would be familiar with slapt-get. It’s a cool PM. The GUI frontend in Salix is gslapt. You can set up auto-updates with it. Makes you feel like you’re running Ubuntu, almost. ;)

After updating, I performed my usual Xfce customizations and then took a little screenie for you to look at:

Photobucket

Salix OS has the legendary stability of its parent Slackware along with some ease-of-use features, like the GUI package manager gslapt, more often found in more graphically oriented distributions. You grizzled Slackers will feel comfortable with it. You folks who’ve always wanted to run Slackware, but were afraid to, will love Salix OS. It’s not as hardcore as Slackware. It’s perfect for someone with only minimal GNU/Linux experience. That doesn’t mean it’s a minimal or hand-holding distro. Salix OS is a full-powered GNU/Linux operating system, fully capable of running your little laptop or that business server.

Go visit the excellent Salix OS website and download a copy for yourself. Give it a try. You might be pleasantly surprised. While you’re there, check out the Salix Team of hardworking individuals whose passion and labors have made this wonderful distribution possible.

Later…

~Eric

Image credits: Salix OS logo owned by Salix OS


Multi-booting My Way (Not Necessarily the Easy Way)

The following is a brief step-by-step on how I’ve been multi-booting different operatings systems on my machines for the past few years.

It’s not necessarily the easy way to do things. It is the way I first learned and the way that I’m most comfortable with using. I’m posting it here, as I believe it may be helpful to some Linux Explorers out there. This tutorial is based on GRUB Legacy. I do not use the new GRUB2 on my machines.

Here we go…

I have multiple drives on my system, so multi-booting becomes a bit more interesting. Currently, I have three hard drives installed. They are /dev/sda, /dev/sdb, and /dev/sdc. We won’t concern ourselves at all with /dev/sdc because it is primarily used as a common storage/backup drive. My operating systems are installed on /dev/sda and /dev/sdb.

I use /dev/sda (1st boot device in my BIOS) as the drive that has my primary operating system and my secondary operating system on it. I break my drives down into numerous partitions because I always install GNU/Linux operating systems on at least two partitions; /(root) and /home. I also have a common /swap partition on each drive that I plan on installing GNU/Linux distributions on.

My /dev/sda partitions look like this:

/dev/sda1   *       16065    51215219    25599577+  83  Linux <– Slackware /(root)
/dev/sda2        51247350   153645659    51199155   83  Linux <– Slackware /home
/dev/sda3       153661725   488392064   167365170    5  Extended
/dev/sda5       153661788   204860879    25599546   83  Linux <– Arch /(root)
/dev/sda6       204877008   307275254    51199123+  83  Linux <– Arch /home
/dev/sda7       307307448   311403959     2048256   82  Linux swap / Solaris
/dev/sda8       311420088   488392064    88485988+  83  Linux <– Archives

My /dev/sdb partitions look like this:

/dev/sdb1   *       16384    51216383    25600000    7  HPFS/NTFS/exFAT <– MS Windows XP
/dev/sdb2        51232768   102432767    25600000    7  HPFS/NTFS/exFAT <– MS Windows Programs
/dev/sdb3       102453181   488270159   192908489+   5  Extended
/dev/sdb5       102453183   106550639     2048728+  82  Linux swap / Solaris
/dev/sdb6       106565823   137289599    15361888+  83  Linux <– CentOS tester 1 /(root)
/dev/sdb7       137304783   188501039    25598128+  83  Linux <– CentOS tester 1 /home
/dev/sdb8       188516223   219239999    15361888+  83  Linux <– Foresight tester 2 /(root)
/dev/sdb9       219255183   270451439    25598128+  83  Linux <– Foresight tester 2 /home
/dev/sdb10      270466623   301190399    15361888+  83  Linux <– Debian tester 3 /(root)
/dev/sdb11      301205583   352401839    25598128+  83  Linux <– Debian tester 3 /home
/dev/sdb12      352417023   383140799    15361888+  83  Linux <– vacant tester 4 /(root)
/dev/sdb13      383155983   434352239    25598128+  83  Linux <– vacant tester 5 /home
/dev/sdb14      434367423   488270159    26951368+  83  Linux <– common storage

You get the above information on your drives using the fdisk -l command as root from the command line.

Alright then, let’s say that I now want to install Fedora Core Linux on my tester 4 partitions of /dev/sdb. Here’s how I would do that step-by-step:

1) Begin the Fedora installation setting /dev/sdb5 as swap, /dev/sb12 as /(root), and /dev/sdb13 as the /home partition from Fedora’s installer.

2) When the Anaconda installer reaches the point where it asks where I want to install the GRUB bootloader, I choose to SKIP installation of GRUB.

3) Once the install is finished, I reboot my main operating system (Slackware) and from the command line I mount the newly installed Fedora /(root) partition:

root_Slackware/home/vtel57:# mount /dev/sdb12 /mnt/tmp

*Note: I have a /mnt/tmp directory in my Slackware. If you don’t have a /mnt/tmp, just mount in /mnt. You’ll be fine.

4) I list the contents of the Fedora /boot directory:

root_Slackware/home/vtel57:# ls /mnt/tmp/boot

5) I copy down the vmlinuz and initrd information. You’ll be looking for the vmlinuz-<kernel version> and the initrd-<kernel version>.img files specifically. You’ll need that information for the next step.

6) I edit my /boot/grub/menu.lst file to add the new Fedora Core entry. Note: my MBR-controlling GRUB is in my secondary OS, Arch Linux. I can still mount and modify it from within Slackware, though.

root_Slackware/home/vtel57:# mount /dev/sda5 /mnt/tmp

root_Slackware/home/vtel57:# vim /mnt/tmp/boot/grub/menu.lst

I’ll add this entry to the file:

# Fedora Core

title          fedora (t4)

root         (hd1,11)

kernel     /boot/vmlinuz-<kernel version> root=/dev/sdb12 ro

initrd       /boot/vmlinuz-<kernel version>.img

7) I reboot and choose “fedora (t4)” from the GRUB menu to boot my new Fedora installation.

That’s it, folks. Straightforward, but not necessary the easiest way to do this. That’s the beauty of GNU/Linux. You can do it your way.

Have fun!

~Eric

P.S. I’m still working on the next shell scripting lesson. It’s going to be about variables and parameters, a necessary lesson for further BASH learning. Unfortunately, it’s also kinda’ complicated, so it’s taking me a bit to figure out how to formulate a lesson and still stay loyal to my primary goal here… keeping it as simple as possible. Stay tuned…


A Little Help Here, Please…

I know that a lot of very knowledgeable gurus read this site, and I’d like to ask a favor of some assistance with an unusual issue that I’m currently having. Any help would be appreciated.

This article was originally posted as a forum submission at two different forums. You can read those threads here and here for some more info and progress.

Here’s a little background for everyone…

I am running Slackware as my primary operating system and Arch as my secondary (backup) operating system on my main computer (ericsbane05). I also have installations of MS Windows XP, CentOS, and Debian on a separate hard drive.

SATA looks like this on my system:

SATA0 channel = /dev/sda, /dev/sdb
SATA1 channel = /dev/sdc, /dev/sr1
SATA2 channel = vacant, vacant

Originally, these drives were in ericsbane03 and 04 with one exception. I only had two SATA drives and one EIDE drive then. The EIDE drive was removed when building this new system and replaced with the drive /dev/sdc that you see above on the SATA1 channel (/dev/sr1 is a DVD R/W, by the way).

Arch Linux’s GRUB controls /dev/sda’s MBR and is the main bootloader for all operating systems on this system. Here’s what my menu.lst looks like:

<snip># IMPORTANT –> Arch GRUB sees /dev/sda as hd0, but /dev/sdb as hd2 (should be hd1).
#
# (1) Slackware64-13.37
title  Slackware Primary
root   (hd0,0)
kernel /boot/vmlinuz root=/dev/sda1 ro
initrd /boot/initrd.gz
#
# (2) Arch64
title  Arch Linux Secondary
root   (hd0,4)
kernel /boot/vmlinuz26 root=/dev/sda5 ro
initrd /boot/kernel26.img

# (3) MS Windows XP/SP3
title MS WIN XP Pro
root (hd2,0)
map (hd0) (hd2)
map (hd2) (hd0)
chainloader +1

# (4) CentOS64 5.6
title    CentOS Tester01
root    (hd2,5)
kernel    /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.18-238.9.1.el5 root=/dev/sdb6 ro
initrd    /boot/initrd-2.6.18-238.9.1.el5.img<snip>

You can see that Arch’s GRUB thinks that /dev/sdb is (hd2), when in fact, it should be (hd1). This was like this originally because of the hybrid EIDE/SATA setup that I had on previous systems. Now that I’m running pure SATA, I’d like to get this fixed. Here’s what I’ve done so far:

1) I manually edited /boot/grub/device.map to look like this:

(fd0)    /dev/fd0
(hd0)    /dev/sda
(hd1)    /dev/sdb
(hd2)    /dev/sdc

It was originally incorrect, but this didn’t fix the issue. GRUB was still seeing the drives incorrectly.

2) I then deleted all files from the /boot/grub directory and used pacman to uninstall GRUB completely.

3) I then reinstalled GRUB and created a new menu.lst with the correct /dev to (hd) conversions. It looks like this now:

<snip>
# (1) Slackware64-13.37
title  Slackware Primary
root   (hd0,0)
kernel /boot/vmlinuz root=/dev/sda1 ro
initrd /boot/initrd.gz
#
# (2) Arch64
title  Arch Linux Secondary
root   (hd0,4)
kernel /boot/vmlinuz26 root=/dev/sda5 ro
initrd /boot/kernel26.img

# (3) MS Windows XP/SP3
title MS WIN XP Pro
root (hd1,0)
map (hd0) (hd1)
map (hd1) (hd0)
chainloader +1

# (4) CentOS64 5.6
title    CentOS Tester01
root    (hd1,5)
kernel    /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.18-238.9.1.el5 root=/dev/sdb6 ro
initrd    /boot/initrd-2.6.18-238.9.1.el5.img<snip>

The entries for Windows and CentOS reflect the new (and correct) device.map in /boot/grub.

4) After all this, I reinstalled GRUB to the MBR like this:

# grub-install /dev/sda

Unfortunately, GRUB is still seeing /dev/sdb as (hd2). I can get all my operating systems to boot just fine by using the wrong (hd) strings in menu.lst, but I’d really like to get GRUB to work the way it’s supposed to. I’m sure there is something simple here that I’m missing. Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks,

~Eric

Addenda: Here’s a copy of my fdisk -l output along with notations. It might be helpful:

Disk /dev/sdb: 250.0 GB, 250000000000 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 30394 cylinders, total 488281250 sectors
Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x0009e140

   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sdb1    *      16384    51216383    25600000    7  HPFS/NTFS/exFAT <– MS Windows XP C partition
/dev/sdb2        51232768   102432767    25600000    7  HPFS/NTFS/exFAT
/dev/sdb3       102453181   488270159   192908489+   5  Extended <– swap
/dev/sdb5       102453183   106550639     2048728+  82  Linux swap
/dev/sdb6       106565823   137289599    15361888+  83  Linux <– CentOS /
/dev/sdb7       137304783   188501039    25598128+  83  Linux
/dev/sdb8       188516223   219239999    15361888+  83  Linux <– Debian /
/dev/sdb9       219255183   270451439    25598128+  83  Linux
/dev/sdb10      270466623   301190399    15361888+  83  Linux <– tester /
/dev/sdb11      301205583   352401839    25598128+  83  Linux
/dev/sdb12      352417023   383140799    15361888+  83  Linux <– tester /
/dev/sdb13      383155983   434352239    25598128+  83  Linux
/dev/sdb14      434367423   488270159    26951368+  83  Linux <– storage

Disk /dev/sdc: 250.1 GB, 250059350016 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 30401 cylinders, total 488397168 sectors
Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x0002cd1d

   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sdc1           16065   102414374    51199155   83  Linux <– Slackware backups
/dev/sdc2       102430440   204828749    51199155   83  Linux <– Arch backups
/dev/sdc3       204844815   488392064   141773625    5  Extended
/dev/sdc5       204860880   307259189    51199155    b  W95 FAT32 <– MS Windows backups
/dev/sdc6       307275318   409673564    51199123+  83  Linux <– tester backups
/dev/sdc7       409689693   488392064    39351186    b  W95 FAT32 <– common storage

Disk /dev/sda: 250.1 GB, 250058268160 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 30401 cylinders, total 488395055 sectors
Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x24812481

   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sda1   *       16065    51215219    25599577+  83  Linux <– Slackware primary operating system /
/dev/sda2        51247350   153645659    51199155   83  Linux
/dev/sda3       153661725   488392064   167365170    5  Extended
/dev/sda5       153661788   204860879    25599546   83  Linux <– Arch secondary operating system /
/dev/sda6       204877008   307275254    51199123+  83  Linux
/dev/sda7       307307448   311403959     2048256   82  Linux swap <– swap
/dev/sda8       311420088   488392064    88485988+  83  Linux <– archives

Thanks again. :)


Ericsbane05 LIVES!

What is ericsbane? Well, that’s what I name some of my computers. I also have ericslaptop01 and ericsshop01 and 02.

What a strange name this ericsbane thing. Where’d that come from? you might be wondering. The definition of bane is a person or thing that ruins or destroys or the name of a deadly poison. HA! Both are accurate sometimes when it comes to my computering hobby. Computers can be my bane, but I love ‘em, anyway.

As some of you may know from reading here and here, I have been having some hardware issues with my main system. And as a sidebar to this, I’ve also been trying to put together a system for my shop. Well, it’s finally all come together. What a nightmare it’s been. Of course, if I had money to burn, this wouldn’t have been an issue at all. Unfortunately, money is very tight right now. We won’t even go into that.

So, what happened this weekend? I woke up Saturday morning jonesing to play one of my vid games on my system. S.T.A.L.K.E.R., Far Cry, Deus Ex, anything. I just wanted to frag stuff. Know what I mean? I haven’t been able to play any games on my main system due to issues with a bad PCIe socket, which has forced me to use crappy onboard graphics. Hmm… can’t play many games these days with a 2900fps framerate.

I made the mistake of going to the local CompUSA (Tiger Direct) store after seeing a really decent mobo/micro bundle advertised online. Hmm… I had spent a few bucks recently on a replacement mobo from them, but it didn’t work out, so I was given a refund. I figured that money was already spent. I had it set aside for a rainy day. Well, that day was Saturday. I went to the CompUSA and got myself a mobo/micro combo.

I came home and, after much travail and gnashing of teeth, I managed to cobble together ericsbane05. Here are the specs:

Cooler Master Chassis Mid Tower Elite 334 Nvidia Edition ATX Casing
Cooler Master Extreme Power Plus – 650watt power supply
785GTM-E45 socket AM2+ motherboard
AMD Phenom 9750 Quad-Core Processor
AMD chipset
4Gig Centon DDR2 800 PC-6400 RAM DDR 800 (slots 1 & 2)
EVGA Nvdia GeForce 450 GTS
IDE 0 Master: Master: DVD Writer 840
IDE 0 Slave: ZIP 100
SATA 0: Western Digital 250Gig
SATA 1: Western Digital 250Gig
SATA 2: Western Digital 250Gig
SATA 3: HLDS GH30N DVD±RW
Standard 3.5″ floppy
Seven (7) cooling fans
=====
HP Deskjet 842C printer
HP Scanjet 3400 flatbed scanner
HP W1907 LCD monitor
Altec Lansing (front) + Harman Kardon (rear) speakers
Dell USB keyboard
Logitech Trackball mouse

So, there ya’ have it. Here’s what the framerate on this baby looks like now:

Photobucket

So much gooder! I can play games again! I can shoot and frag away my frustrations. It’s better than religion, I’m telling you. Woo-hoo!

Oh, and as a by-product of this adventure, I also was able to salvage ericsbane04. I slapped the guts of that system into another box and changed its name to ericsshop02. It’s loaded with Slackware current and is sitting on the bench outside in my shop. I put ericsshop01 on the shelf as a backup system. We are just on a roll here, huh?

I have 99.9% of the kinks worked out of the new ericsbane05. There are always issues when you install pre-existing operating systems onto new hardware. There are issues with drivers, disk nomenclature, sensor daemons, GRUB, etc. I’ve got them all squared away but one, I think. I’m having a minor issue with Arch’s GRUB, the bootloader for my entire system (numerous operating systems installed). It has incorrectly mapped the hard drives. I’m working on it, though.

That, friends, is how I spent the last three days of my life. Bane, indeed. See what I mean?

We’ll have some new lessons coming along shortly. Stay tuned…

Until next time…

~Eric, the happy 19000fps framerate, fraggin’ Slacker!


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