3 different problems of a Linux newbie.

Charles Curley charlescurley at charlescurley.com
Thu Feb 17 22:09:52 MST 2005

On Thu, Feb 17, 2005 at 02:42:22PM -0700, david jensen wrote:
> Hello PLUGers:  Request help w/ 3 problems:

> How best to request help.? List each problem separately in different
> postings or list all at once.? I chose to list all at once due to my
> percieved need to show background data about the boxez &
> software. Replys can be on a single item basis of course.

I would say, seperate emails for each problem. This helps both those
with threaded mail readers and those who sort by subject. And thank
you for asking. Better to ask than to go ahead & get flamed for it
later. :-)

I would also suggest a wee bit of reading, starting at
http://www.charlescurley.com/netiquette.html. I refer to Eric
Raymond's famous "How to ask questions on a list" essay.

> PROB 1. "keyboard seqences=screwy results"

> "characters" typed from key board[s] work fine, but control
> sequences in VI & other apps. are screwy. I follow VI instructions
> in Linux RE: books, but don't get correct results. Unable to edit
> files to make attempt at correcting things. Tried another keyboard,
> same result. Both keyboards work OK w/ M$-98-B which is also on same
> boxen; dual boot but separate HDs. Debian Slink 1.2 came on CD-ROM
> from "VA-Linux", {gift from a Wash. DC area LUG while I was working
> in that area, 1996-2001).  Original keyboard brand was also
> DELL. Current keyboard is an "Ultra" brand clone "designed for
> Windows" according to the label.

Saying that the results "are screwy" is not exactly sufficiently
detailed for a good diagnosis. What, exactly, happens when you open a
terminal (xterm or console) and enter "echo ^g" (where ^g indicates
control-g)? Similarly in vi and emacs? And is this in a console or
xterm, and if the latter, which one?

> PROB 2. "Suspect 'install' is messed up"

> Selected "all" programs for install, however, noticed HUNDREDS of
> files that were marked "unselected" as installer loaded Linux to
> HD. I can not find lots of commands that I understand are desired
> and part of any normal Linux system. Just a few programs missing are
> the editors: "joe" & "PICO", "less", "X", etc., etc. Get "file or
> command not found" error, which is plain enough.

This could also explain problem 1 above.

I would say, try a more modern distribution if your hardware will
support it. If drive spaces is a problem, try a CD-ROM based disty
like knoppix or gnoppix. Otherwise try a single floppy disty like
tomsrtbt to exercise the hardware.

> I used a boot floppy, which I made according to the Debian install
> guide.  This is 3rd attempt to install Linux from this CD.  1.
> Could the CD be corrupted?  

Yes. Someone with deb package experience should be able to tell you
how to test the integity of deb packages. Unfortunately, that requires
a known good, working computer.

Maybe someone around here would be glad to gain a few cubic
centimeters in their back closet by giving you a known good but older
disty, say circa 2001-2002, which should run fine on the hardware you
describe. That would give you a check on the CD set you have.

> 2. I printed out the install guide from the CD I have read it over a
> few times and do not find answers to my problems.  Used "Partition
> Magic" from a CD-ROM [included w/ book "Upgrading And Repairing
> PC's: Linux Edition" from CompUSA in Orem]. Made 14 partitions for
> Linux on hdb. Do you want the list of partitions and files that are
> supposed to have been mounted on them.?

No, but why so dang many (rhetorical question)? For a test/learning
system, I'd use four partitions: /home (~1-20 GB), /boot (25-100 MB),
swap (2 x physical memory), and / (the rest).

Also, rather than use Partition Magic, I'd use the fdisk or equivalent
that comes with the installation kit. Or does a Debian disty of that
vintage expect you to partition first?

And is it possible that the install failed because you ran out of
room on one of those partitions?

> P.S. Is there a way to "pause" the install program while it is
> running so I can have time to read some of the messages that stream
> by, then tell it to resume when I am ready?
> PROB 3. More of a situation than a problem: Request comments of getting an outboard HD.

> Narrow window of opportunity for me while in SLC greater area. I
> expect to move back down to St. Geo. area sometime in late FEB. away
> from Circuit City & CompUSA, etc. Desire to find a solution for an
> external HD using USB connections on which to install Linux to be
> able to move it to different boxen. Something between 30-100+
> Gigs. Then, when I can afford a used laptop, I can hopefully just
> plug in my external Linux HD and away I go. Also is this even a good
> idea.?  Hoping to find something under $75.00, [limited funds due to
> rertired & no current employment]. Anybody got an old HD they want
> to part w/ for a few bucks?
> Dual boot machines:

> 1.  A hodgepodge of a number of upgrades, but no written history; a
> 1.  gift: 200 MMX desktop; 64 Meg RAM; 2 HDs: 2.1GB w/ M$-98-(?), &
> 1.  12.?GB saving for Linux; USB port, not tested.
> My main box: having trouble as noted above.
> 2.  DELL OptiPlex GXi; 5200 MTbr // model: MMP; IC class "B"; ICES-3; FCC class B;
> 53 Trio  640 & PCI; mfd 1997-09-05;  mid sized tower.
> 2002-07-??  DELL P-200 MMX tower: initial hardware configurations:
> 96MB RAM (128mb max) (do not know if it is parity or ECC. still need to check this out.)
> Mother board slots: 5  PCI (2 open) & 4 ISA (3 open) on a removable sub chassis.
> Ctrl-Alt-Esc. = enter BIOS Set-up (configuration) Menu. SCREWY.!
> unreliable and erratic.  [Actually this is a 4th problem, since I
> can not always get to my BIOS settings.]

This suggests a serious hardware problem, which could explain the
various problems above. I suggest 1) buy new equiptment. You can get a
reasonably good machine for ~ $200 + shipping from Walmart.com. 2) get
memtest86 & spend some time on the computer. You have mentioned that
you have a book on computer repair. Start there. I would start by
reseating everything I could pry loose, except the CPU.

> Please forgive me if I have put to much in this post for requesting
> help.

Heh. Usually, the problem is the opposite. :-)

> I felt I would try this group first, since I had attended a few of
> your (our) meetings and met some of you fellows. However,
> recognizing that most of the traffic on this site is pretty heavy
> stuff and my needs and level of involvement / understanding is very
> basic, I would be glad to try someother group if you folks think
> that would wiser.? What sayest thou?

I don't want to discourage you from posting here. Let me suggest an
additional resource, linuxchix.org. Don't let the name throw you, men
are welcome. They have an excellent reputation.

> Thanks for any and all help provided.
> LONG  LIVE  LINUX   and  Open Source
> Sincerely, David W. Jensen    73    w 0 r m v
>         ========        ========        ========        ========
> "A lie is any communication given to another with the intent to deceive."
> Elder Marvin J. Ashton of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles ( LDS ).
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