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Thread: HowTo: Ubuntu Command-Line Edition

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    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Sheffield, UK

    HowTo: Ubuntu Command-Line Edition

    Hello Folks! I hope all is well with you... I have been using Ubuntu for about a year now and happy (as a hippo) using it I have really enjoyed the change. What a great job the guys from Canonical are doing (I reckon!) Ubuntu is simply great. Of my particular interest is the Ubuntu derivatives which many of them exist Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Edubuntu, XUbuntu, Ubuntu Christian Edition, Ubuntu Lite, Ubuntu Ultimate Edition, Ubuntu Satanic Edition... etc. A couple of weeks ago I was thinking about the old times: MS-DOS, DR-DOS, Wordstar, lotus123, BASIC, etc avery application running from the command line with those rather difficult key-stroke combinations. Well we still have a lot of stuff like that but incorported nicely in a GUI so basically you do not have to use it if you do not want to but it is there just in case. What would happen if all the eye-candy and any graphical environment? we would end with a computer greeting us all the time with the command prompt:

    (do you know '~' stands for /home/user-name) which would be enough to scare even the most proficient Windows(TM) user... After some thinking and a bit of research I decided to reinstall Ubuntu in text-mode only. So no X, no window managers, no eye candy, just text, plain text. Then play and work with this Liinux system for a couple of weeks just to see if I could survive in this highly dependent computer world... Yes I am crazy... everybody say that... Though the Ubuntu version is completely text-based is not a light weight distribution. It is based on the Ubuntu Server installation which actually requires about 500 MB plus additional terminal based applications which will make your life easier (unlike Puppy or DSL which require about 50MB)

    Before we begin some warnings for beginners (experienced users can skip this paragraph): Since no graphics are going to be available and only a bit of mouse support is to be provided; is necessary you refresh your mind about the Unix/Linux commands. If you do not know them you are going to waste your time and it is going to be a very frustrating experience... and a Disclaimer: The information provided is as is with no guarantee that the same results will be obtained in your system. The software mentioned here is not endorsed or supported by me I did install them on the sole purpose to improve my text-based Linux console. I will not be responsible of any use of misuse which leads to a system failure or data loss or related issue. OK (A good idea would be to test on VMware)


    Computer - PC, MAC, Sun, etc.
    Processor - Any supported by Ubuntu
    Memory - The more the better
    Hard drive - I would say 3 GB (The installation is about 1.5 GB)
    Ubuntu Server Edition Installation CD
    Broadband Internet Connection

    The procedure is Install Ubuntu Server -> Replace the kernel to one suitable for your system -> Modify the screen resolution -> Install ruby -> test the internet -> Install the rest of the applications.

    Detailed procedure

    (1) Install Ubuntu Server in the usual way and set your account (login and password)
    (2) after installation the only thing you will see is the command prompt
    (3) move to /etc/apt and modify sources.list (remember to use sudo)
    (4) uncomment all the repositories
    (5) Put attention to the 'Universe' section which says something like this
    deb universe
    write multiverse at the end of that line
    deb universe multiverse
    (6) After installation I did replace the 'server' kernel with the generic-kernel (don't askme why I did this. I just did it)
    (7) Modify the resolution of the console: go to /boot/grub and modify menu.lst (sudo required)
    (eight) on the kernel line add this argument vga=0x0314 or vga=0x0317 the former is for super vga resolution and the latter for ultra vga resolution. This kernel argument activates the frame buffer which will give you a nicer appearance. more info about the frame buffer kernel argument can be found here

    Unfortunately there is no support for wide screen for the frame buffer (am I right?)
    (9) Ruby is needed since some application will require it.
    sudo apt-get install ruby irb1.8
    (10) Reestart the computer and you should see the change in the screen resolution
    (11) connect the computer to the internet
    (12) Install lynx - your new web browser:
    sudo apt-get install lynx
    (13) Try to access to the internet typing
    (14) The google web page should appear
    (15) OK we have the very basic system now to install all the applications

    Installing the applications

    (16) Picture Viewer fbida it can display virtually all the formats except HD photo from microsoft
    sudo apt-get install fbida
    a typical usage is
    fbi picture_name.jpg
    (17) Picture converter and manipulator imagemagick
    sudo apt-get install imagemagick
    (eighteen) File Manager choose from: midnight commander (similar to the old Norton Commander for DOS) or vifm which has a command structure equivalent to 'vi' (the text editor)
    For Midnight commander
    sudo apt-get install mc
    for vifm
    sudo apt-get vifm
    (19) calcurse ToDo list and calendar
    sudo apt-get install calcurse
    (20) For music the ogg support is desirable
    for the codecs
    sudo apt-get install vorbis-tools
    and for the ogg player
    sudo apt- get install ogg123
    (21) crip as a cd ripper
    sudo apt-get install crip
    (22) RSS feeds reader: raggle
    sudo apt-get install raggle
    (23) Screen Saver: cmatrix which display the falling characteres seen in 'The Matrix' movie
    sudo apt-get install cmatrix
    (24) Terminal Tools: Gnu screen which is a terminal multiplexor in other words is like having multiple desktops within a terminal screen without moving to other terminal, vlock a terminal lock so nobody can use the active terminal should you have to leave your computer alone (I am sure this is not needed because most of the people won't understand what the hell is going on. Only you) and GPM a mouse driver for terminal based applications which gives you some functionality...

    sudo apt-get install screen
    sudo apt-get install vlock
    sudo apt-get install gpm
    (25) Spreadsheet:Oleo
    sudo apt-get install oleo
    (26) Presentation: ttp
    sudo apt-get install tpp
    (27) Word and Document processing: nano, pico, vi, which are installed with the base install, LaTex a document processing markup language, antiword converts .doc files to .txt .html or .pdf files. halibut for document format anticonversion. fbgs a pdf visualisation tool. fbgs is installed at the same time as fbida
    sudo apt-get install tetex-base tetex-extra tetex-bin
    sudo apt-get install antiword
    sudo apt-get install halibut

    (twenty-eigth) Scientific calculator
    python command line already installed type 'python'
    ruby command line already installed type 'irb1.8'

    (29) Programming Languages python and ruby

    (30) c++ compiler: gcc
    sudo apt-get install build-essential
    (31) Games: nethack
    sudo apt-get install nethack-console
    (32) Videoplayer: mplayer. There is a youtube application but I haven't installed yet 'youtube-dl'
    sudo apt-get install mplayer-nogui
    (33) SendEmail Email client
    sudo apt-get install sendemail
    (34) A virtual mahine: qemu to install Freedos or the MSDOS or other Linuxes or Windows
    sudo apt-get install qemu
    (35) Print
    I moved to a place where I don't have a printer so I am not including this in the guide

    (36) And the last step: update/upgrade your system

    sudo apt-get update
    sudo apt-get upgrade
    This installation will give you a pretty useful system. You can do all the basic stuff: rip CD's listen to music, watch videos, subscribe to RSS feeds, send email, web browsing,
    document creation, calculators, spreadsheet... and a virtual machine...

    Typical usage
    The first thing you will see after booting up is the command prompt some very basic commands are

    cd change directory
    cp copy files/directories
    mkdir create a new directory
    clear will clean your screen from 'text accumulation'
    df for checking your hard drives capacity
    top show the active processes running in the system

    alt+Fkey[1-6] switch between 6 different terminals

    to create a terminal within a terminal type
    then you can create more terminal by pressing
    and to switch between those terminal

    The very first week is very strange but then you get used to it. I think now I know hundred of commands, switchs and parameters. A good way to learn a lot more about linux... finally I would love to see a Linux text-based Macbook Pro... So this is geekiest thing I've done so far. Hope you enjoy it as much as I am enyoing it now...
    Last edited by derjames; March 19th, 2007 at 05:35 PM.


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