Getting started with Linux ... but how and where?

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Re: Getting started with Linux ... but how and where?

Postby 4ofakind » Mon Feb 11, 2008 12:34 pm

No such thing as a dumb question. The cd [directory] command will move you to the directory it's in. I'm not certain which directory you downloaded the file to though.

So, here's my question. Can anyone tell me what the default download directory is for the browse activity?
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Re: Getting started with Linux ... but how and where?

Postby sambot » Mon Feb 11, 2008 1:26 pm

I have no idea what directory it's in either. I haven't the foggiest idea of how to get there. I have ordered Beginning Fedora. It's not in any library here, so it should come from another city in a few weeks. Apparently there is a tutorial somewhere in the Terminal, but I don't know how to get to it either. Unless I find, or some kind soul posts baby steps like:

open Terminal
> type tj ellskej
>press enter
> type lkj ej wpwei

the hopelessly inept, like me, will be using the laptop for basic cruising the internet, basic word processing, playing fun noises in tamtam, and so on.

I'm told midnight commander helps with finding things, but I think I should first off know the basics before I start plunking more stuff into the laptop. :|
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Re: Getting started with Linux ... but how and where?

Postby 4ofakind » Mon Feb 11, 2008 2:20 pm

You could download the file with your Windows machine, and copy it to a USB disk. Then, plug it in to the XO and type the following in terminal:

tar /media/[name of usb device] xvfz unixtut.tar.gz .

With the dot at the end, this will untar the file into home/olpc/unixtut.

Then, in browse, type


This should open it at the start.

To find out what the name of your usb device is, type ls media/

Of course, you could just follow the tutorial online... Just trying to help...
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Re: Getting started with Linux ... but how and where?

Postby winklaus » Mon Feb 11, 2008 4:45 pm

FYI: I now followed the exact (Yum) commands to de-install Libabiword and to install Abiword. I was surprised how well it worked (it just took some time and the screen went full of commands showing what the XO did) and Abiword looks great - but I did no longer find my saved files at all and there is no icon in the activities bar and worst: the write activity icon was still there and would, when activated, start blinking but could not be stopped.

So I went backwards and de-installed abiword and re-installed abiword using the same Yum commands. Too bad - the write activity did not work again.

So now I reinstalled the built 656 (by using the online update commands), but I had to go down to 653 and then up again to 656.

Lessons learned / open questions:
I would change to Abiword if I would be able to find my files and if I could make sure that the Write icon is either removed or the icon would start Abiword.

Any suggestions?
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Re: Getting started with Linux ... but how and where?

Postby herbert » Mon Feb 11, 2008 4:53 pm

This trick might be of service:

This way Abiword is accessed inside the Write program itself - when you open Write, it is still Write, but you can easily switch into a full version of Abiword, without breaking Write.

Hope this helps!


P.S. As for finding files with this method, it is fairly like any OS and Document program - you use the save/open commands within Abiword to save the file under the name and format you prefer in a chosen directory (it defaults to "file:///home/olpc" but you can create new directories, and shortcuts to them, and if you look them up in terminal, they will appear there. However, these files will not be viewable in Journal, unless you copy them there directly, but I do not think that is really necessary, personally)
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Re: Getting started with Linux ... but how and where?

Postby winklaus » Tue Feb 12, 2008 10:11 am


thanks for the link. it actually works - great. the only thing (call me stupid): i cannot figure out how to save those new text files (directly or even better: as the default solution) on my sd card. i can open my saved files with abiword and work on them, but i am too stupid to find the files on the xo so that i can move them to my sd card or usb-stick.

i guess this is a general "problem" that many are experiencing: where are all the files that i am creating and downloading and how can i access them (not to speak about removing them)?

sorry for needing help and thanks for your support

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Re: Getting started with Linux ... but how and where?

Postby herbert » Tue Feb 12, 2008 1:12 pm

Edit: for some reason I am unable to post the first half of this, which actually includes the answer to your primary question. I am working on it, and hopefully it will be up soon.

Finding a tutorial to play around with the different commands is a good idea. I've seen an online one that looks good, but I have the address on another computer. I will post it when I can access it. Also I found the book Learning Unix for Mac OS X Tiger (hey, my other computer is a Macbook, and the commands are the same) to be quite clear and useful, especially the basic sections.

As for what was is in the Journal....heh, that's a bit more obnoxious.
They are stored in file:///home/olpc/.sugar/default/datastore/store. (/.sugar is a hidden file, so to view it (though not necessary to access it), you have to use the "list all" command - ls -a) But when you go in there and hit ls, you only get strings of gibberished. My understanding is this is because they are "hashed" (no idea what that means, sorry). There are ways to identify them, mainly by using their date and size (apparently it is possible to find their file type, but I'm unclear on that), but it is quite difficult. (There are posts about it on the other forum here:

I hope this was of use and let me know if there is anything else I can help you with. ^_^

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Re: Getting started with Linux ... but how and where?

Postby herbert » Tue Feb 12, 2008 1:31 pm

Ah heck, here:

I'll try to post something a little neater when I get home.
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Re: Getting started with Linux ... but how and where?

Postby winklaus » Tue Feb 12, 2008 2:20 pm


thanks for your understanding 8)

i've looked at your latest suggestion and will try that later.

but is there no easy way to save files directly on the sd-card or usb-stick (for example when using abiword?). i found other directions (in the forum that you linked to earlier), where the "media" folder was mentioned (just as you did). i could not follow them, as my question remained: how do i find that media folder when selecting the directories to save files using abiword (no, not from the terminal. remember: i would like to save my files directly to the sd-card to get around all of this "trouble" using the journal or terminal)?

well besides that i have to admit that i could be searching and reading the forums all day long - they are an interesting read. only do i have the feeling that this kind of work is not the most efficient kind - well, it is fun, though.


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Re: Getting started with Linux ... but how and where?

Postby herbert » Tue Feb 12, 2008 2:36 pm

Huh. I thought I remembered to type that bit in. Guess it got deleted when I was trying to get the post to work.

I don't have an SD card yet, so I haven't played around with the other activities, but it is fairly easy to save directly to one of them from within abiword.

Assuming you are in the "hacked" version of Abiword, just go to the file menu and then to either "Save As" or "Save Copy" (which will save it, but not change the location where the quicksave (Ctrl+S) writes to.
If you can't see a little explorer window, click the bar that says "Browse more folders" (or something like that). On the left there will be a list of places. Go to "Filesystem". Then in the main window, click on the "media" folder. There you should see your USB stick/SD Card listed. Click on that and just save in there.

Is that what you were looking for?

Granted copying to external storage is not as easy as it should be. Hopefully this will be improved as the kinks get smoothed out.


Edit: This is the tutorial that looked promising:
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Re: Getting started with Linux ... but how and where?

Postby nlee » Tue Feb 12, 2008 7:07 pm

Random suggestion: If you want to mess around with linux but are worried that you might break something, brick your laptop, etc. you might want to try a virtual machine installation. I've had pretty good experiences with VMware player ( You can download the player for free and the site also has a lot of different VMs of various OSes (like various linux distros). The main advantage of this is that if you completely trash your VMware linux, it won't affect your computer, and reinstalling just means getting a fresh VM (which is faster than reinstalling linux on your computer).

Of course, playing around with commands on the XO is also highly recommended. :)
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Re: Getting started with Linux ... but how and where?

Postby winklaus » Wed Feb 13, 2008 4:09 am


thanks for the link to the tutorial - seems to be a good start. will work on it together with a book i ordered on linux.

you will not believe it: i actually figured it out how to save files that i work on in abiword (the full version, the main advantage being that i can save it in .doc format, i have to admit) directly onto my sd-card.

the exact steps for installing and using abiword (for those who care):

1) install abiword as described here: (very easy, takes about 20 seconds)
2) open the normal write activity and press ctrl+n to start abiword. advantage: you do not have to destroy the write activity which can be used by kids but you have the add-on abiword with more possibilities and the ability to save documents in different "normal" formats and to directories where you want to have them.
3) write something.
4) to save this directly onto an external media device such as an sd-card or usb-stick, click on file, save as.
5) in this pop up enter a name for the file at the top. click on the little triangle to open "browse for other folders", under "Places" DOUBLEclick on file system (wait, it takes some time until it opens, that was my mistake being too quick in the past), go to the folder named "media" (you probably have to scroll down a bit!)
6) DOUBLEclick on media: it will show your external media devices (mine show up not with a name but numbers like513E-525B), again double click on it and it will show you the files on the sd card/ usb stick.
7) use the "Save file as type" command to save file in different formats, such as abiword, doc, etc.
8) click on save.

now you have your newly created file on your sd-card or usb stick! when using abiword you can now access those files directly through the icon open.

problems that remain:
a) funny enough this newly created file does not show up when you now go to the journal and from there on to the sd-card icon on the bottom. it only shows up after you have either rebooted or removed and put the sd-card back in. not a real problem as you can access the file through abiword and on other computers when using the card there.

b) i would love to be able to find a way that the default saving would save my files in abiword in a certain format (for example .doc) and always on the external device. every single time i saved different files i had to go through the process of saving as .doc and telling it exactly where to save. a default setting would make live easier.

c) as for b) i would like to find a way to set a default setting for saving record activities directly on my sd-card as well.

hope this helps

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Re: Getting started with Linux ... but how and where?

Postby Sarah Elkins » Wed Feb 13, 2008 2:46 pm

Excellent; thanks, Klaus!
Sarah Elkins
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Re: Getting started with Linux ... but how and where?

Postby winklaus » Thu Feb 14, 2008 3:41 am

thanks sarah.

remember we are taking sesame street steps? now step comes step two:

i would like to find an easy and small e-mail application. why?
when travelling i would like to be able to quickly download my e-mails from 3 different accounts at the same time and then have the time to go through them and answer those mails that are important, but really leave them on the server. i guess i would NOT like to download the mails with all the attachements but rather be able to chose the ones i want to download.

i found the following discussion on e-mail clients for the xo: suggesting either "mutt" or "alpine" and then using the imap format.

any suggestions from the sesame-street thread?

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Re: Getting started with Linux ... but how and where?

Postby psikeyhackr » Fri Feb 15, 2008 10:51 pm

The annoying thing about UNIX/Linux is that so many commands have stupid names and functionally related commands have unrelated names. I really hate it when I know I used a command to do something 3 months efore and can't remember the name. I often think the problem with UNIX is that so much development occurred in universities. They are more interested in appearing smart than getting work done. LOL

This might help: ... 0130163910

Code: Select all
        /               - root

        /boot           - static files of boot loader
        /home           - user home directories
        /tmp            - temporary files
        /usr            - static data & programs
        /var            - variable data
        /srv            - data for system services
        /opt            - add-on application software
        /usr/local/     - local hierarchy

        File Management

chgrp      FilMng  changes group of file(s)
chmod      FilMng  changes permissions of file(s)
chown      FilMng  changes ownership of file(s)
cp         FilMng  file copy cmd
dd         FilMng  data dump and mod of file(s)
du         FilMng  shows usage of disk space
file       FilMng  get file type
find       FilMng  search for file
ln         FilMng  create hard and soft links
ls         FilMng  list files
mkdir      FilMng  make a directory
mkfifo     FilMng  make a named pipe
mknod      FilMng  make a special file
mv         FilMng  move or rename a file
rm         FilMng  remove, delete file(s)
touch      FilMng  change timestamp or create a file

        Text & Script manipulation

awk        Tx&scrp text processing language
basename   Tx&scrp strips path and ext from filename
cat        Tx&scrp list and combine file(s)
cmp        Tx&scrp compare binary files
cut        Tx&scrp extract columns from file
diff       Tx&scrp compares text files
dirname    Tx&scrp extract path from filename
echo       Tx&scrp prints text
ed         Tx&scrp text editor
egrep      Tx&scrp extended grep
ex         Tx&scrp text editor
expr       Tx&scrp math expression evaluator
false      Tx&scrp returns non-zero exit code
fmt        Tx&scrp formats text
grep       Tx&scrp gets lines with regular expressions
groff      Tx&scrp typesetting utility
head       Tx&scrp gets beginning lines of file
ispell     Tx&scrp spelling checker
less       Tx&scrp view text file with scroll
more       Tx&scrp view text file
nroff      Tx&scrp formats roff docs
patch      Tx&scrp patches files
perl       Tx&scrp scripting language
sed        Tx&scrp stream editor
sort       Tx&scrp sorts lines in file
split      Tx&scrp splits file into pieces
tail       Tx&scrp gets end of file
tee        Tx&scrp streams output into 2 directions
test       Tx&scrp checks some condition
tr         Tx&scrp modifies file by translating chars
true       Tx&scrp returns true, ZERO, exit code
uniq       Tx&scrp removes repeated lines
vi         Tx&scrp text editor
wc         Tx&scrp counts words, lines and chars
xargs      Tx&scrp automated execution with arguments


info       Doc     GNU-style documentation
man        Doc     traditional UNIX documentation

        Process & System Control

at         ProcSys timed program execution
chfn       ProcSys changes finger info
chsh       ProcSys change shell
crontab    ProcSys repeated scheduled executions
groups     ProcSys shows group membership
id         ProcSys shows user id
kill       ProcSys stop a process
logger     ProcSys saves message to system logger
login      ProcSys logs user into system
lsof       ProcSys shows open files and more
mount      ProcSys attaches a file system to dir tree
newgrp     ProcSys changes default group
nice       ProcSys sets process priority
passwd     ProcSys change password
printenv   ProcSys prints environment variables
ps         ProcSys process listing
renice     ProcSys change priority of a process
reset      ProcSys reset terminal
strace     ProcSys trace system calls
su         ProcSys switch users, superuser
sync       ProcSys flush buffers to disk
time       ProcSys times CPU usage of process
top        ProcSys monitors running processes
umount     ProcSys detach filesystem from dir tree

        System & Data Management

arch       SysDat  show system archetecture
df         SysDat  show disk space usage
dmesg      SysDat  show boot log
finger     SysDat  show user information
free       SysDat  show memory statistics
hostname   SysDat  show computer's name
last       SysDat  show last user to login
tty        SysDat  show current terminal name
uptime     SysDat  show system load and run time
vmstat     SysDat  show virtual memory stats
uname      SysDat  show kernel info
w          SysDat  show uptime and users
who        SysDat  show users
whoami     SysDat  show current user

        Archive & Compression

bunzip2    ArComp  decompress file
bzip2      ArComp  decompress file
cpio       ArComp  makes archives
gunzip     ArComp  decompress file
gzip       ArComp  compress data
tar        ArComp  makes archive
uncompress ArComp  decompress file
unshar     ArComp  dearchive file
uudecode   ArComp  decode binary from text
uuencode   ArComp  encode binary to text
zcat       ArComp  decompress to a stream


bc         Utils   calculator
cal        Utils   calendar
date       Utils   show current date
dc         Utils   RPN calculator
pwd        Utils   present working directory
script     Utils   starts a logging shell
sleep      Utils   pause, wait for number of seconds
strings    Utils   find text in binary file
yes        Utils   prints endless stream of lines
which      Utils   shows 1st matching file in path

        Language Development

ar         LangDev lib archiver
as         LangDev assembler
c++        LangDev C++ compiler
cc         LangDev C compiler
cpp        LangDev C preprocessor
g++        LangDev C++ compiler
gcc        LangDev C compiler
gdb        LangDev GNU debugger
install    LangDev copies file with parameter
ld         LangDev linker
ldd        LangDev show dynamic libraries
make       LangDev package building tool
perl       LangDev scripting language


bash       shell   Bourne Again Shell
csh        shell   C shell
ksh        shell   Korn shell
sh         shell   Bourne shell
tcsh       shell   TC shell

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