Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Learning Linux at 84

I am sure I have never encountered a person at the grand age of 84 learning Linux before today. As it turned out I sold a Fedora 10 DVD from my website ( ) to a gentleman in Auckland who needed some help. Usually I shy away from supporting Linux unless it is something related to the media I sell. In this particular case I needed to get involved because I needed to determine where the problem my customer had came from.

We got on the phone together and I ran up a fresh install of Fedora 10 on a VMWare Virtual machine so I could guide the customer through the install.

Considering the initial failure as the customer described it was most likely related to Anaconda, I decided that a text install might be more successful. Fedora keeps the text installer hidden. You have to hit the TAB key to edit the boot parameters when the DVD boots up and add the word "text" at the end of the line. After that the DVD boots into a TEXT only installer.

We had a scary moment at the partitioning stage where I wasn't 100% sure that we were not going to destroy the windows partition that the customer wanted to keep for dual booting. My customer was very understanding when I said that I wanted no responsibility for the loss of any important data... Fortunately all went well and the grub installer found the "other" OS which we changed to be Windows.

The last thing that needed to be done, which I have had to email to the customer because we have long since hung up and which I only found out after my version of the install was complete was set the run-level back to 5 and manually create a user for him to login with on the console.

Steps to complete this last process:

Log into the console as root.

# nano /etc/inittab

Scroll to the end of the file and change the line, "id:3:initdefault:" to "id:5:initdefault:"

# groupadd peter
# useradd -g peter -m -s /bin/bash peter
# passwd peter
Enter password
Confirm password

And that's about the end of it. After the machine reboots you will be able to log in as peter with the password you typed in the above commands.

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