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Getting Started


Instructions for Loading floppix:

Method 1: With version 2.1r3, you can boot directly from disk 1 (this was not available in previous versons)

  1. Put disk 1 in the floppy drive and reboot the system. The linux kernel will be loaded into RAM. A screenful of messages will appear as the Linux kernel performs a set of hardware detection routines. Wait for the prompt:
    "VFS:  Insert root floppy disk to be loaded into ramdisk and press [Enter]"
  2. Insert disk 2 and press [Enter]. Wait for the prompt:
    "Please insert boot disk (disk 1); Press [enter] when ready"
  3. Switch back to disk 1 and press [Enter].

Method 2:  For systems in computer-lab environments which have Win 95/98 loaded and are configured to boot only from the hard drive.

  1. Shutdown Windows 95 and restart in ms-dos mode. Insert disk 1 and switch to the a: drive. Type: loadlin linux
  2. Wait for the prompt:
    "Insert the floppy disk for loading into RAMDISK"
  3. Insert disk 2 and press [Enter]. A screenful of messages will appear as the Linux kernel performs a set of hardware detection routines. Wait for the prompt:
    "Please insert boot disk (disk 1); Press [enter] when ready"
  4. Switch back to disk 1 and press [Enter].

Potential problems:

Answering setup questions after floppix boots:

Because floppix is not installed on your hard drive, you will have to answer some configuration questions every time you use it. This is not part of a normal linux boot process. For many of the questions, the default answer is shown in brackets; press [Enter] to accept the default. The questions are as follows:

  1. Enter your name. This is not a trick question, enter your real name (or leave it blank if you prefer to be anonymous )
  2. Enter your initials - floppix will create an account for you using your initials as the username. The initials should be in lowercase, a maximum of 5 letters and contain no special characters.
  3. Enter a password - make up a password (and don't forget it!). You will have to enter your password twice for verification. Make sure that numlock is on before you use the numeric keypad!
  4. You will be given 4 choices for TCP/IP network configuration:
    1. standalone - choose this option if you are unsure
    2. fixed IP (experts only)
    3. dhcp (server-assigned IP address)
    4. dialup connection (limited support - note: a winmodem is NOT a modem)
  5. If you configured TCP/IP networking in the previous step, you will be given 2 choices for mail configuration:
    1. practice only - this allows you to send and receive email on floppix only
    2. practice and real email - for this option, you will have to supply your email address and the names of your outgoing and incoming mail servers.
  6. There are 2 prompts for printer configuration.
    1. Do you want do print on a parallel port printer. This cannot be a winprinter.
    2. If TCP/IP networking is configured, you will be given a chance to supply the IP address of a print server. The print server must support the TCP/IP protocol and accept input from the linux printer daemon (lpd).
  7. Finally, you may choose whether or not to save your configuration data on disk 1.
    1. If you choose to save the data, you will still be asked the configuration questions the next time you load floppix but your own answers will be shown as the defaults. For example:
      Enter your name: (Apprentice Linux Guru)
      Press [enter] to use the default which in this case would be "Apprentice Linux Guru".
    2. Your passwords are NEVER saved on the diskettes. You will have to re-enter your passwords everytime you reload floppix.
  8. At the end of the system initialization stage, your should see some additional startup messages, and finally a login prompt.

Logging in:

  1. When the system initialization scripts finish, you will get a login prompt: Login:
    Type your username (in lowercase) and press [enter].
  2. The system will display a password prompt: Passwd:
    Type your password (this is the password you created while floppix was loading) and press [enter].
    Note: Nothing appears on the screen as you enter the password; this is disconcerting for Windows users who are accustomed to seeing *'s appear; however, it is more secure.
  3. If the username and/or password are incorrect, the system will display the message:  Login incorrect and then display the login prompt again. You have a chance to start again. Note that you will have to re-enter both your username and your password.
  4. Once you have successfully entered your username and password, the system will display the contents of the motd (message of the day) file. Then you will get a mail notification, informing you whether or not there are any e-mail messages. Finally, you should get a command prompt: $

Logging Out:

  1. To logout, enter the command: logout
  2. Logging out does not shut the server down, it just ends your terminal session. You can login and logout as many times as you want.

Virtual Consoles:

  1. When you are logged into a unix system, many other users will be logged in at the same time, all doing their own activities. You can completely ignore the other users, or send them messages. If the system response time is slow, you can use the who command to see how many other users are logged in and the w command to see what each user is doing. If you are working on a stand-alone floppix system, you cannot get the same multi-user experience, but you can get some sense of it by using virtual consoles.
  2. Floppix supports 3 virtual consoles: [Alt][F1] activates console 1; [Alt][F2] activates console 2; [Alt][F3] activates console 3.
  3. You have to login on each virtual console; you may login using the same username 3 times or 3 different usernames.
  4. You may use the virtual consoles for many things. For example, you can work on a different task in each console. Or you can login as a different user on each console to test various configuration options.

Shutting down:

  1. Logout on each virtual console.
  2. Press [ctrl][alt][del] to reboot. This will cause the system to shutdown in an orderly fashion.


  1. Load floppix and answer all of the startup configuration questions.
  2. Login using your own initials.
  3. Read the motd. Is this message entirely in uppercase? _____
  4. Do you have any email messages? _____
  5. What is your command prompt? _____
  6. Logout and then login as alterego (the username is alterego ; all accounts use the same password).
  7. Did alterego get the same motd? _____
  8. Does alterego have any e-mail messages? _____
  9. What is the command prompt for the alterego account? __________
  10. Are there any other differences between your account and the alterego account? __________________________________________________
  11. Logout.
  12. Try to login again as alterego but this time enter the username in uppercase (ALTEREGO) and the password correctly. This should work, although if you forgot to type ALTEREGO in uppercase the first time, you will have to wait 60 seconds until the login prompt times out and the opening screen is displayed again.
  13. Read the motd. Is this message entirely in uppercase? _____
  14. What about the login prompt. Is it in upper or lowercase? _____
  15. Type the logout command. Is it in upper or lowercase? _____
  16. Logout.
  17. Login as floopy .
  18. What differences do you notice between the floopy account and your own account? __________________________________________________
  19. Logout.
  20. Switch to console 1, then console 2 and then console 3. There is one difference in the login prompts on the 3 consoles.  What is it? ____________________
  21. Try the following:
  22. Try this:
  23. Logout on all consoles.
  24. Shutdown.

Questions and Answers:

  1. When you login, does it matter whether you type your username in upper or lower case?
    Answer: Yes. If you type your username in uppercase, the shell will assume that your terminal does not have lowercase keys and leave you in a terrible mess. If you had [CapsLock] turned on when you logged in: logout; turn [CapsLock] off; login again.
  2. When you login, what appears on the screen as you type your password?
    Answer: Nothing. The system will not display your password in case someone is looking over your shoulder. It will not even display *'s because that would give information about the length of your password.
  3. How many virtual consoles are available on floppix?
    Answer: 3. With more memory, there could be as many virtual consoles as there are function keys to select them.
  4. How do you switch to virtual console 2?
    Answer: [Alt][F2]
  5. What command ends your login session?
    Answer: logout
  6. When you logout, does the server shutdown?
    Answer: The server does not shutdown when you logout. Remember that linux is a multi-user operating system; other users may still be working.
  7. Must each account on a unix system be configured identically?
    Answer: No. For example, the user accounts on floppix each have different configuration options.
  8. Can the same user be logged in twice on floppix?
    Answer: Yes. This can be controlled by the system administrator and may not be the case on all unix systems.
  9. Can more than one user be logged in on floppix?
    Answer: Yes.
  10. What does the "who" command display?
    Answer: A list of the users who are logged in, the console they are using and the time they logged in.

Copyright © L. M. MacEwan
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