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Distribution FAQ
Q0: After installation, my ethernet, CDROM drive, and/or other hardware that I thought Linux supported doesn't work.
Q1: How can I change (or get rid of) the color ls?
Q2: How can I install and remove software now that the Slackware Linux distribution is installed on my machine?
Q3: How do I get my sound card to work?
Q4: I can't get anything to work at all!
Q5: I just installed and now I can't login as root!
Q6: I loaded the driver for my sound card, but I can only play sounds as root.
Q7: I start X with "startx" and it works OK, but I can't switch virtual consoles.
Q8: I'm using UMSDOS and would like to use the same swapspace under Windows and Linux.
Q9: My backspace is acting strangely under X?
Q10: What does "Bus error" mean?
Q11: Why can't I cut and paste from elvis (vi) in an xterm?
Q12: Why do I get "network unreachable" under Slackware?
Q13: Why do my /etc/issue and /etc/motd keep resetting themselves at boot time?
Q14: Why do my compiles sometimes die with 'signal 11: internal compiler error'?
Q: After installation, my ethernet, CDROM drive, and/or other hardware that I thought Linux supported doesn't work. Why?

Probably because the kernel you're running doesn't contain the support. To fix the problem, you'll have to install a kernel that does. There might a suitable kernel in the /kernels directory on the CDROM, or you can compile a custom kernel for your machine. This isn't too difficult -- see the instructions below about compiling a new kernel.

You can also try loading the device driver in the form of a kernel module. There are drivers for nearly all the hardware supported by Linux in the /modules directory on the CDROM, or in your /lib/modules directory if you've installed the modules.tgz package. Take a look at your /etc/rc.d/rc.modules file for examples of how to load these.

Q: How can I change (or get rid of) the color ls?

Read the man page, and check out the file /etc/DIR_COLORS. You can configure the colors any way you like, or shut them off entirely. Also, you can copy /etc/DIR_COLORS into your home directory as '.dir_colors' to override the global defaults on a user by user basis.

Q: How can I install and remove software now that the Slackware Linux distribution is installed on my machine?

To remove packages, type "pkgtool" and follow the prompts. Pkgtool will also allow you to add packages that are in the current directory.

The preferred way to install software is with the "setup" script. When you do your initial installation, setup puts a copy of itself in your /sbin for future use. You can also add software to your machine using the boot/install disk, if you really want to.

When adding software to a running system via NFS, it is preferable to mount the partition yourself and then use the 'install from a mounted directory' feature of setup.

There are also command line utilities that allow you to create, install, and remove packages. For these, you should refer to the manpages: installpkg(8), removepkg(8), makepkg(8), explodepkg(8). A simple example of how you would install a package with installpkg:

installpkg package.tgz

Q: How do I get my sound card to work?

Look in /etc/rc.d/rc.modules under the Sound Support section. There are several examples of modprobe lines for various sound cards. Yours may be listed. If it isn't, you can look in /usr/src/linux/Documentation/sound for specific sound card information. Once you have the appropriate modprobe line or lines for your sound card, add them to /etc/rc.d/rc.modules to have the driver load at boot time.

Q: I can't get anything to work at all! What's the deal?

If you seem to suffer catastrophic failure (!), then check the file FILE_LIST on ftp.cdrom.com in /pub/linux/slackware against the contents of your disks and make sure you're not missing any files.

Also, I've noticed that most of the reports of kernel panics and system hangs have come from people with 4MB. If you're running into these types of problems I'd suggest forking over the $$$ for 4 more meg. I have 8 MB of RAM and never have crashes. (well, only when I really push my luck) If you don't want to do that, then go through your /etc/rc.d/rc.* files and get rid of any daemons you don't use, like crond, lpd, or selection.

If you've got 4 MB and you're getting 'virtual memory exceeded in new' warnings, make sure you set up and activate a swap partition before running setup. If you're really hard up on memory, you can boot a rootdisk using 'editroot' instead of one of the usual boot kernels. This will mount the floppy in the root drive, and you'll have to install from the other drive or from the hard drive. You will also not be able to create any kind of boot disk, so you'll have to install LILO and take your chances. I only suggest using this approach if a swapfile will not work.

Q: I just installed and now I can't login as root! How am I supposed to know the password?

Default installations will have no password on the root account. Just login as root and hit enter when it asks for the password. If you set the password during the setup program, you will want to use that instead of just hitting enter.

Q: I loaded the driver for my sound card, but I can only play sounds as root. How can I let all users play sounds?

The easiest way is to open up the permissions on /dev/dsp* and /dev/mixer* to all users:

chmod 666 /dev/dsp*
chmod 666 /dev/mixer*
Q: I start X with "startx" and it works OK, but I can't switch virtual consoles. Why?

On a Linux text screen, you switch virtual consoles with Alt-F1 through Alt-F8. Under XFree-86, you must use Ctrl-Alt-F1 through Ctrl-Alt-F8. Another useful 'secret' key combination is RightShift-PgUp/PgDown for scrollback. (a random amount ranging from none to a few pages, depending on the state of your video text buffer memory)

Q: I'm using UMSDOS and would like to use the same swapspace under Windows and Linux. Can this be done?

If you want to share a Linux-UMSDOS swapfile with MS-Windows, you can do the following:

  1. Create PERMANENT(!) swap file in MS-Windows with size NNNN kbytes.
  2. In /etc/rc.d/rc.local add the following lines:

    rm -f /DOS/windows/spart.par <--- Needed in order to suppress Windows complain on next start!

    mkswap /DOS/386spart.par NNNN
    sync
    swapon /DOS/386spart.par

  3. In /etc/rc.d/rc.0 add "swapoff" for this file.
Q: My backspace is acting strangely under X? How can I fix it?

Well, I've never noticed a real problem, but I occasionally hear about this. You might want to try adding this to your .Xmodmap in /usr/X11/lib/X11/xinit or :

keycode 22 = BackSpace

Q: What does "Bus error" mean?

Usually it means your machine has run out of RAM. See if you can set up some swap space or a swap file -- that should fix the problem.

Q: Why can't I cut and paste from elvis (vi) in an xterm?

Later versions of elvis use the mouse for cursor positioning instead. If you want to cut and paste, hold the left shift key down while you use the mouse.

Q: Why do I get "network unreachable" under Slackware?

There are a couple of possibilities. For most users, things work right out of the box. However, if you're running into this problem here are two workarounds you can try:

  1. Reverse the broadcast and netmask arguments (and their variables) in the call to ifconfig in /etc/rc.d/rc.inet1. Make sure you are not trying to route your own IP address - you shouldn't have to.

  2. Make sure /etc/networks is properly configured.

  3. You may want to try the 'netconfig' script. It's not perfect, but does a pretty good job.

  4. Make sure the kernel you're using supports your hardware. Most of the kernels provided with Slackware include a /boot/config file where you can look up the compilation options.
Q: Why do my /etc/issue and /etc/motd keep resetting themselves at boot time?

The /etc/rc.d/rc.S resets them out every time you boot after figuring out which kernel you're running -- otherwise the kernel version printed at login might not stay current.

If you want to write your own /etc/issue and /etc/motd, you need to comment out that part of /etc/rc.d/rc.S.

Q: Why do my compiles sometimes die with 'signal 11: internal compiler error'?

This indicates a hardware problem in about 99% of the cases. It can usually be fixed by increasing the number of wait states in the CMOS settings. It can almost always be fixed by turning off the RAM cache, but this should be your last resort since it will cause a noticeable slowdown.

Another common reason for this problem is heat, particularly in the case of an overclocked CPU. I've had some machines suffer from this over the years, especially under heavy load. If the signal 11 problem seems more common when the machine's been running for a while, it could well be heat-related. Try running the machine with the case open. If that doesn't seem to help, aim a fan at the motherboard. (I've had to run machines containing hot-running SCSI drives this way for their entire lives) A quality CPU fan helps a lot, too. If you have an underpowered fan/heatsink, consider a replacement from TennMax (www.TennMax.com). I've had excellent results with their fans. (a dual-fan model stabilized my P2-450)

For more information on causes and cures of the signal 11 problem, see the latest version of the Signal 11 FAQ at http://www.bitwizard.nl/sig11/

The French translation can be found at:

http://www.linux-france.com/article/sig11fr/

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