This article started out as an email article which is why the format is slightly odd. I plan on converting the TCJ/DIBs BBS to Linux one of these days (in my spare time) and I keep on asking Bill about Unix/Linux. We felt we ought to publish it for everyone. More Power Notes on upgrading to Linux In a recent Computer Corner, I discussed moving from NT back to DOS or ahead to Linux. I was rather unhappy with NT's poor performance, especially items like crashing often or incredibly poor speed when using DOS boxes. Since I do more DOS type operations than windows it seemed that maybe going back to DOS might be an appropriate change. However I use Unix at work and have come to like having many terminal screens open and being able to cut and paste between text screens and so changing to linux sounds better. It will also give me the chance to test how well linux does DOS and Windows (which it can). I had NT up and running, but tried to do my last article using PageMaker 5 and found several functions to NOT work correctly. I use version 6.5 on a NT station at work and was a bit surprised to see the difference. I think it has to do with changes to NT over Win3.1 API interfaces. The fact that it was different - sort of pushed me over the edge. For me that was the last I wanted anything to do with NT. So next up was backing off all the needed files and changing over to linux. In my setup, I already have a linux server running with a very large drive. It uses samba and thus works very well as remote DOS file system to save files off to. I started copying files over and ran into a few problems. Linux worked just fine, but first the NT DOS box locked up while trying to delete subdirectories that had been transferred. It ended up sending a prompt message to the printer, which I had to turn off to stop printing even after closing the DOS box. After dumping my D: and E: partitions, I tried to dump the main or C: drive. I copied about ten files then hit a protected file which stopped everything. The swap or pagefile.sys can not be copied, and thus so much for backing up a drive with it. I thought I could get around this by changing the configuration setup and move the pagefile to one of my other drives, and then tried, just to see how many other files will stop the backup. It didn't work since changing the pagefile location doesn't remove the old pagefile, which can leave an unused 70meg file that can't be deleted! So I just fdisk'd all away after saving some of the directories one at a time. This is of course one of the other reason I hate NT and Win95, as I was logged in as administrator and as such should be able to do anything I want or need to do. But no, Microsoft knows better and will not let you do many things that most expert users find necessary to do. As part of this ongoing discussion I will explain how to do things in Unix or linux world. This whole topic of who has control is a great place to start explaining things. In the Microsoft world, they know better than even the administators. In Unix the administrator is who is in charge, whether or not they know what they are doing. It is a two edged sword, you have full control of everything and can change or do anything - including trashing or erasing the whole file system. For those of us who have spent more than a few years working on systems, this full control is absolutely necessary if you are to properly maintain your system. Many times I have had programs, users, and just power failures cause problems that being root solved. What is "root" you say. In Unix the altimate power user is "root." This person or user has full control over the system. With this power comes the abiltiy to fix anything, setup new users, erase any files, restore file systems, and just be in charge. This also explains why all the manuals are very clear about making sure you log in as a normal user without root access. That way if you make a mistake, the system levels of protection will prevent a major disaster. Since "levels of protection" is a whole topic or article (to be done later), users normally can see or read system files, but not write or erase them (you have flags associated with all files controling who can do what with the file). To bring this start to an end, what will have happen under linux when it finds a protected file? It skips it. A very simple solution to a common problem. If I don't have authority to view the file, I can't copy it either. But copy will just step over that file and continue on, which is what makes more sense and what I wanted to happen. >From here I will blow away NT and MSDOS for good and move on to linux as a power user. Stay tuned as I keep you posted on my search for a better platform and teach you a few things about linux or Unix. Bill. P.S. After talking to Dave at TCJ he asked about the cutting and pasting between terminals that I mentioned in the first paragraph. First I need to make sure you understand that the reference is to Xwindows term sessions (mostly). These term sessions are like DOS boxes where you are running a terminal process against the host system. You have a screen or box or window that looks and feels like a terminal, in fact you can even make it emulate your favorite terminal. These are all part of the Xwindows feature, which can be found on all the releases of linux. You must install the X windows server for your hardware, and there are plenty of help files and utilities for that (more later). When you boot up linux, you are given a prompt >login: from a terminal session. After logging you in, you start your X session or can have it be started automatically as part of the login process. One of the ways is to run startx and there are others depending on which X server you have. Simply put, X is like windows on a PC only a bit more standardized and can work over a network not just on your physical PC (much more on X later). Lets take the situation where you have a very long path name to some file. In a NT DOS box you must type this in by hand, each character without mistake. Often that can be very hard. In Xwindows, you might have several term windows open, and one of which has this 60 character path name. No problem, move the mouse to the window with the path, hit left button and drag down the path name highlighting it. Move the pointer to the other term session, type "cd " then hit the middle button or both left and right at same time, and the highlighted text pops in place. Simple, straight forward and the same whether or not it is a program or a simple term session. So I tried to do this on NT and at first it couldn't be done. But I tried a few other things and discovered the pull down menu in the corner. This has the resize, edit, properties options. You select edit and see "mark" which you can click on. Now you can mark the text you want, and hit return which puts the test in the clipboard buffer. You then can go to another DOS box, program, another place in the screen and select the location to put it and select the pull down in the corner if it is a DOS box (no hot key for paste in DOS box) and the string will be pasted. So not only are DOS boxes in NT slow, but cutting and pasting is almost useless. Now we could say they want it that way, but the point is, in linux or Unix the idea is a terminal session is still the fastest and easiest way to enter data and handle lots of normal items. So the terminal sessions work very well and are easy to use. Most Unix users have several terminal sessions open at once, cutting and pasting between them, quickly and effortlessly. I almost never use graphic oriented programs and thus anything that must be used graphically, by that I mean only by using a mouse, is not very productive for me. In my column I mentioned that I like SPE, a professional editor. One of the reasons I like this program is it's abiltiy to cut and paste from text file to file without using a mouse (I have mine set up to use same keys as Wordstar). After using Unix for some time, I have found the use of the mouse for selecting just the text you need an exceptable compromise and almost as good as using my SPE which I keep planning on making a version for use under linux. I have loaded DOSEMU or the DOS emulator on my linux system (actually was there all along, just needed setting up) and given it a try, with SPE no less. SPE worked just fine and I was able to cut and paste between screens. Now I tried this in Xwindows, then tried it with a regular terminal or VC for virtual console. Linux has 6 virtual consoles (not Xwindows, but keyboard based terminals - think of them as actual terminals - only no serial cables here.. and each can be logged into as a different user as well ) you use these terminals simply by doing an alt-f2 or f3 to f6. What you have is multiple sessions or terminals available at all times. The VC's are a bit like starting Xterm session in Xwindows, and in fact a program called "gpm" is suppose to allow you to cut and paste in VC's. So far I know DOSEMU works a lot like OS2's DOS function in which you have a virtual PC platform, and must load the DOS files you want to run. If you do a DOS -A, it will boot the operating system that is on the disk in the A drive. A configuration file controls the normal DOS parameters and what file name you want loaded. You can load an entire hard drive image, much like myz80 does. I look forward to playing with the option and will keep you posted as I test more programs. bdk.