Linux basics - First boot into Linux terminal

After finished the Linux installation process, Linux is going to reboot to complete the installation. Slackware or Ubuntu server Linux first boot will land you in a command line terminal.

First thing to do

Now that you have Linux installed in your computer, you might wonder what to do next. The most important thing now is to know our new operating system and learn a few basic commands. First, let's see what we got after we reboot the computer. If you installed a Linux desktop such as Ubuntu desktop, you'll get graphical user interface login screen similar like the one in Windows XP. But if you install a Slackware or Ubuntu server, then you'll boot into the Linux terminal.

Now, let's see what we got before getting that login page. The first thing happened was Linux boot manager which is called a LILO (Linux Loader) if you use Slackware, some distributions use GRUB, appeared and greeted us with welcome message. We'll see a menu and a list of operating system in our system. If you installed a dual boot, then there'll be two operating systems in the menu. Don't worry if you didn't see any boot manager. Some system doesn't wait for user to select operating system if there is nothing to select, means you have only one operating system. Below is a screenshot example of a Slackware LILO menu:

Linux start up image

Select Linux with up/down key and press Enter to choose. Press Tab key if you need to enter boot parameter or login into single user mode.

First login

This tutorial example is using Slackware Linux. However it's the same if you use Ubuntu server. The startup process begins and finished at the login prompt. Now we are going to login into our new system. We have to provide a username at the login prompt. Most Linux distributions will asked to create a root user password during the installation process. Some distributions may not such as Ubuntu. That means you did create a user account but not the root user. So use that username to login into your system.

If you use a Linux distribution which allow you to create root user such as Slackware, then you can login as root. Type 'root' or whatever your username is and press Enter. Now you have to enter your password. There is nothing appear as you type your password but it's there. That's the way Linux is. Don't worry if you got 'Login incorrect', repeat again and enter the correct password.

Example of Slackware login screen:

/lib/modules/2.4.29/kernel/drivers/char/agp/agpgart.o.gz: insmod agpgart failed
scsi0 : SCSI host adapter emulation for IDE ATAPI devices
Checking non-root filesystems:
fsck 1.35 (28-Feb-2004)
devpts on /dev/pts type devpts (rw,gid=5,mode=620)
Using /etc/random-seed to initialize /dev/urandom.
INIT: Entering runlevel: 3
Going multiuser...
Starting sysklogd daemons: /usr/sbin/syslogd /usr/sbin/klogd -c 3 -x
Activating hardware detection: /etc/rc.d/rc.hotplug start
Starting Internet super-server daemon: /usr/sbin/inetd
Starting OpenSSH SSH daemon: /usr/sbin/sshd
Updating shared library links: /sbin/ldconfig
Updating X font indexes: /usr/X11R6/bin/fc-cache
Starting sendmail MTA daemon: /usr/sbin/sendmail -L sm-mta -bd -q25m
Starting sendmail MSP queue runner: /usr/sbin/sendmail -L sm-msp-queue -Ac -q2m
Starting gpm: /usr/sbin/gpm -m /dev/mouse -t imps2
gpm: oops() invoked from gpm.c(977)
/dev/mouse: No such device

Welcome to Linux 2.4.29 (tty1)

When you have successfully login into your account, you'll get a prompt like the picture below. There's a report of failure login you just did before and you have mail in your mailbox.

Example of Slackware login failure :

Welcome to Linux 2.4.29 (tty1)

hitam login: root
Login incorrect

hitam login: root
Linux 2.4.29.
1 failure since last login. Last was 10:04:01 on tty1.
Last login: Mon Jan 23 09:41:27 +0800 2006 on tty1.
You have mail.

Logging out of Linux system

For now just forget about the mail. The first Linux basic command to use is logout. This command is use to log off from current session. It is a security practice to never leave your computer or server unlocked. To use logout command, just type 'logout' and press Enter. You can see the command issued in Slackware in the example below.

Example of Slackware logout command:

hitam login: root
Linux 2.4.29.
1 failure since last login. Last was 10:04:01 on tty1.
Last login: Mon Jan 23 09:41:27 +0800 2006 on tty1.
You have mail.
[email protected]:~# logout

Welcome to Linux 2.4.29 (tty1)

The command exit also doing the same job. Another way to logout of Linux system is by using short-cut key. To use the short-cut key, hold Ctrl and press D on your keyboard.

Read mail in Linux

Login again. You wonder who sent you mail, right? Well, type'mail' and Enter. Enter to scroll down and read your mail.

Welcome to Linux 2.4.29 (tty1)
hitam login: root
Linux 2.4.29.
Last login: Mon Jan 23 10:04:10 +0800 2006 on tty1.
You have mail.

[email protected]:~# mail
Heirloom mailx version 12.3 7/15/07. Type ? for help.
"/var/spool/mail/root": 2 messages
>O 1 To root Wed Apr 23 14:16 43/1593 Register with the Linux counter project
O 2 Patrick J. Volkerd Wed Apr 23 14:16 345/16603 Welcome to Linux (Slackware 12.1)!
? Interrupt

In Slackware linux, all users' emails are stored in the /var/spool/mail directory. If you have finished reading your mail, type 'q' to exit your mailbox. Enter.

If you installed the F series, there will be lots of FAQs (lists of Frequently
Asked Questions with answers) /usr/doc/Linux-FAQs/, and HOWTOs (files
explaining how to do a particular Linux task), in /usr/doc/Linux-HOWTOs/.
These should be helpful in getting you going with Linux. They cover most
system admin tasks in a lot more detail than this little email does. Also see
the RELEASE_NOTES included with the distribution for any last-minute

Have fun!

Patrick Volkerding

? q
Held 2 messages in /var/spool/mail/root

Shutdown Linux

If you really tired now, feel like sleeping already, then you have to learn this very important command called 'shutdown'. The shutdown command, like the name suggest, is to shut the system down. In other words, shutdown command is used to power off the computer.

To use the command, type shutdown at the prompt and press Enter. Your Linux won't shutdown the system. Why? Depends on the system, if you are using Slackware, then the command syntax is not complete. What you see is a 'command info'. It tells us the command we typed was incomplete. This is a brief description on how to use the command.

Example of Slackware shutdown command info:

[email protected]:~# shutdown
Usage: shutdown [-akrhfnc] [-t secs] time [warning message]
-a: use /etc/shutdown.allow
-k: don't really shutdown, only warn.
-r: reboot after shutdown.
-h: halt after shutdown.
-f: do a 'fast' reboot (skip fsck).
-F: Force fsck on reboot.
-n: do not go through "init" but go down real fast.
-c: cancel a running shutdown.
-t secs: delay between warning and kill signal.
** the "time" argument is mandatory! (try "now")

Referring to the information, the correct command to shutdown Linux is 'shutdown -h now'.

If you are using Ubuntu, then you don't have root privilege to issue the shutdown command. Remember that you are login as a normal user? You need to add sudo command before shutdown. The complete syntax would be sudo shutdown -h now. Then you'll be prompt for password. Enter your password and your system will begin to shutdown.

How to get help in Linux

If you are ready to continue, let's try a few more commands after you login again. Because this is a new and fresh installation, we'll learn how to get help in Linux. If you have Internet connection all the times, then you can always go to the Linux distribution website or many useful Linux forums to ask for help. For those who hasn't got much times to access the Internet, don't worry because you can get help in the Linux itself. You can always check the 'manual' to better understand the command's options. For example, if you don't know how to use a 'useradd', type 'man useradd ' like the example below.

[email protected]:~#

[email protected]:~# man useradd

When you press Enter, you'll get a page similar to this:


useradd - Create a new user or update default new user

useradd [-c comment] [-d home_dir]
[-e expire_date] [-f inactive_time]
[-g initial_group] [-G group[,...]]
[-m [-k skeleton_dir]] [-o] [-p passwd]
[-s shell] [-u uid] login

useradd -D [-g default_group] [-b default_home]
[-e default_expire_date] [-f default_inactive]
[-s default_shell]

Creating New Users
When invoked without the -D option, the useradd command
creates a new user account using the values specified on
the command line and the default values from the system.
The new user account will be entered into the system files
as needed, the home directory will be created, and initial

Don't worry too much if you don't understand the manual completely. As time goes by, you'll get it.

If you wan to learn more about man command, see the Linux man command tutorial.

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