c As a collection The Linux Bible, The GNU Testament{3rd Edition is Copyright 1994-1995 Yggdrasil Computing Incorporated. The individual works that make up the Linux Bible are copyright by there respective authors and have their own copying terms and conditions. The individual copyrights are listed below. \Installation and Getting Started" \Linux Users' Guide" \Linux Kernel Hackers' Guide" \Linux Network Administrators' Guide" \System Administrators' Guide" \LILO Users' Guide" \LILO Technical Overview" \HOWTO-Index" \Bootdisk Howto" \Bus Mouse Howto" \CD-ROM Howto" \Commercial Howto" \Danish Howto" \Device List" \DOS Emulator Howto" \Distribution Howto" \ELF Howto" \Ethernet Howto" \Firewall Howto" \Ftape Howto" \Ham Howto" \Hardware Howto" \Installation Howto" \JE Howto" \Kernel Howto" \Keystroke Howto" \MGR Howto" \Mail Howto" \Net2 Howto" \NIS Howto" \News Howto" \PCI Howto" \PCMCIA Howto" \PPP Howto" \Printing Howto" \SCSI Howto" \SCSI-Programming Howto" \Serial Howto" \Sound Howto" \Term Howto" \Tips Howto" \UPS Howto" \UUCP Howto" \WINE FAQ" \XFree86 Howto" c Copyright 1992-1994 Matt Welsh c Copyright 1993-1994 Larry Green eld c Copyright 1992-1995 Michael K. Johnson c Copyright 1993-1994 Olaf Kirch c Copyright 1993-1995 Lars Wirzenius c Copyright 1994-1995 Werner Almesberger c Copyright 1994 Werner Almesberger c Copyright 1995 Greg Hankins c Copyright 1995 Graham Chapman c Copyright 1994 Mike Battersby c Copyright 1994 Je Tranter c Copyright 1995 Harald Milz c Copyright 1994 Thomas Petesen c Copyright 1995 H. Peter Avin c Copyright 1995 Mike Deisher c Copyright 1995 Erik Troan c Copyright 1995 Riccardo Facchetti c Copyright 1995 Paul Gortmaker c Copyright 1995 David Rudder c Copyright 1995 Kai Harrekilde-Petersen c Copyright 1995 Terry Dawson c Copyright 1995 FRiC c Copyright 1994 Matt Welsh c Copyright 1994 Hirondu ABE and Yasu Hiro c Copyright 1995 Brian Ward c Copyright 1995 Zenon Fortuna c Copyright 1994 Vincent Broman c Copyright 1995 Vince Skahan c Copyright 1995 Terry Dawson c Copyright 1995 Andrea Dell'Amico, Mitchum DSouza, Erwin Embsen, Peter Eriksson c Copyright 1995 Vince Skahan c Copyright 1995 Michael Will c Copyright 1995 David Hinds c Copyright 1995 Al Longyear c Copyright 1994 Grant Taylor and Brian McCauley c Copyright 1995 Drew Eckhardt c Copyright 1995 Heiko Eidfeldt c Copyright 1995 Greg Hankins c Copyright 1994 Je Tranter c Copyright 1995 Patrick Reijnen c Copyright 1994 Vince Reed c Copyright 1995 Harvey J. Stein c Copyright 1995 Vince Skahan c Copyright 1995 P. David Gardner c Copyright 1995 Matt Welsh

We would like to thank Matt Welsh, Greg Hankins, and the Linux Documentation Project for all the work they have done to help the Linux community and for making these books possible. The copyright on most of the Linux Documentation Project manuals is: Linux Documentation Project Copying License Last modi ed 30 March 1994 The following copyright license applies to all works by the Linux Documentation Project. These manuals are available via anonymous FTP from in /pub/Linux/docs/LDP. Please read the license carefully|it is somewhat like the GNU General Public License, but there are several conditions in it that di er from what you may be used to. If you have any questions, please mail Matt Welsh, the LDP coordinator, at The Linux Documentation Project manuals may be reproduced and distributed in whole or in part, subject to the following conditions: All Linux Documentation Project manuals are copyrighted by their respective authors. THEY ARE NOT IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN. * The copyright notice above and this permission notice must be preserved complete on all complete or partial copies. * Any translation or derivative work of Linux Installation and Getting Started must be approved by the author in writing before distribution. * If you distribute Linux Installation and Getting Started in part, instructions for obtaining the complete version of this manual must be included, and a means for obtaining a complete version provided. * Small portions may be reproduced as illustrations for reviews or quotes in other works without this permission notice if proper citation is given. * The GNU General Public License referenced below may be reproduced under the conditions given within it. Exceptions to these rules may be granted for academic purposes: Write to the author and ask. These restrictions are here to protect us as authors, not to restrict you as educators and learners. All source code in Linux Installation and Getting Started is placed under the GNU General Public License, available via anonymous FTP from * Publishing LDP Manuals If you're a publishing company interested in distributing any of the LDP manuals, read on. By the license given in the previous section, anyone is allowed to publish and distribute verbatim copies of the Linux Documentation Project manuals. You don't need our explicit permission for this. However, if you would like to distribute a translation or derivative work based on any of the LDP manuals, you must obtain permission from the author, in writing, before doing so. All translations and derivative works of LDP manuals must be placed under the Linux Documentation License given in the previous section. That is, if you plan to release a translation of one of the manuals, it must be freely distributable by the above terms. You may, of course, sell the LDP manuals for pro t. We encourage you to do so. Keep in mind, however, that because the LDP manuals are freely distributable, anyone may photocopy or distribute printed copies free of charge, if they wish to do so. We do not require to be paid royalties for any pro t earned from selling LDP manuals. However, we would like to suggest that if you do sell LDP manuals for pro t, that you either o er the author royalties, or donate a portion of your earnings to the author, the LDP as a whole, or to the Linux development community. You may also wish to send one or more free copies of the LDP manual that you are distributing to the author. Your show of support for the LDP and the Linux community will be very appreciated. We would like to be informed of any plans to publish or distribute LDP manuals, just so we know how they're becoming available. If you are publishing or planning to publish any LDP manuals, please send mail to Matt Welsh (address at the top of this le) either by electronic mail or telephone at +1 607 256 7372. We encourage Linux software distributors to distribute the LDP manuals (such as the Installation and Getting Started Guide) with their software. The LDP manuals are intended to be used as the "ocial" Linux documentation, and we'd like to see mail-order distributors bundling the LDP manuals with the software. As the LDP manuals mature, hopefully they will ful ll this goal more adequately.

Whenever possible the author's original copyright and distribution policy has been retained; however, we have included the distribution policy for a majority of the HOWTOS here for convenience: Unless otherwise stated, Linux HOWTO documents are copyrighted by their respective authors. Linux HOWTO documents may be reproduced and distributed in whole or in part, in any medium physical or electronic, as long as this copyright notice is retained on all copies. Commercial redistribution is allowed and encouraged; however, the author would like to be noti ed of any such distributions. All translations, derivative works, or aggregate works incorporating any Linux HOWTO documents must be covered under this copyright notice. That is, you may not produce a derivative work from a HOWTO and impose additional restrictions on its distribution. Exceptions to these rules may be granted under certain conditions; please contact the Linux HOWTO coordinator at the address given below. In short, we wish to promote dissemination of this information through as many channels as possible. However, we do wish to retain copyright on the HOWTO documents, and would like to be noti ed of any plans to redistribute the HOWTOs. If you have questions, please contact Matt Welsh, the Linux HOWTO coordinator, at You may nger this address for phone number and additional contact information.

1 Installation and Getting Started 2 Kernel Hackers Guide . . . . 3 Network Administrators Guide 4 System Administrators Guide . 5 Users Guide . . . . . . . . . 6 Lilo Users . . . . . . . . . . 7 Lilo Tech . . . . . . . . . . 8 HOWTO-INDEX . . . . . . . 9 Bootdisk Howto . . . . . . . 10 Bus Mouse Howto . . . . . . 11 CD-Rom Howto . . . . . . . 12 Commercial Howto . . . . . . 13 Danish Howto . . . . . . . . 14 Device List . . . . . . . . . 15 DOS Emulator Howto . . . . 16 Distribution Howto . . . . . . 17 ELF Howto . . . . . . . . . 18 Ethernet Howto . . . . . . . 19 Firewall Howto . . . . . . . 20 Ftape Howto . . . . . . . . 21 Ham Howto . . . . . . . . . 22 Hardware Howto . . . . . . 23 Installation Howto . . . . . . 24 Japanese Extenstion (JE) Howto 25 Kernel Howto . . . . . . . . 26 Keystroke Howto . . . . . . 27 MGR Howto . . . . . . . . . 28 Mail Howto . . . . . . . . . 29 Net2 Howto . . . . . . . . . 30 NIS Howto . . . . . . . . . 31 Usenet News Howto . . . . . 32 PCI Howto . . . . . . . . . 33 PCMCIA Howto . . . . . . . 34 PPP Howto . . . . . . . . . 35 Printing Howto . . . . . . . 36 SCSI Howto . . . . . . . . . 37 SCSI Programming Howto . . 38 Serial Howto . . . . . . . . 39 Sound Howto . . . . . . . . 40 Term Howto . . . . . . . . . 41 Tips Howto . . . . . . . . . 42 UPS Howto . . . . . . . . . 43 UUCP Howto . . . . . . . . 44 WINE FAQ . . . . . . . . . 45 XFree86 Howto . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 197 314 540 602 723 763 774 781 806 814 830 884 889 901 920 946 966 1016 1026 1041 1062 1081 1101 1114 1130 1135 1147 1159 1227 1238 1250 1275 1287 1303 1353 1400 1435 1458 1475 1508 1512 1539 1549 1560

Part I

Linux Installation and Getting Started
Copyright c 1992–1994 Matt Welsh

Version 2.2.2, 11 February 1995. This book is an installation and new-user guide for the Linux system, meant for UNIX novices and gurus alike. Contained herein is information on how to obtain Linux, installation of the software, a beginning tutorial for new UNIX users, and an introduction to system administration. It is meant to be general enough to be applicable to any distribution of the Linux software.

This book is freely distributable; you may copy and redistribute it under certain conditions. Please see the copyright and distribution statement on page 12.


I Linux Installation and Getting Started 1
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Preface Audience

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Credits and Legalese

Documentation Conventions 1 Introduction to Linux 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 About This Book

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A Brief History of Linux System Features Software Features 1.4.1 1.4.2 1.4.3 1.4.4 1.4.5 1.4.6 1.4.7 1.4.8

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Basic commands and utilities

Text processing and word processing Programming languages and utilities The X Window System : Networking

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Telecommunications and BBS software Interfacing with MS-DOS Other applications

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1.5 1.6

About Linux’s Copyright

The Design and Philosophy of Linux 1.6.1 1.6.2 Hints for UNIX novices Hints for UNIX gurus

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Differences Between Linux and Other Operating Systems 1.7.1 1.7.2 Why use Linux?

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Linux vs. MS-DOS


1.7.3 1.7.4 1.8

Linux vs. The Other Guys

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32 32 33 34 34 35 35 36 36 37 38 38 38 39 39 41 41 44 44 45 46 46 46 52 52 53 53 55 56 56 58 59 62 63 63

Other implementations of UNIX

Hardware Requirements 1.8.1 1.8.2 1.8.3 1.8.4 1.8.5 1.8.6 1.8.7

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Motherboard and CPU requirements Memory requirements

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Hard drive controller requirements : Hard drive space requirements

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Monitor and video adaptor requirements Miscellaneous hardware Ethernet cards

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Sources of Linux Information 1.9.1 1.9.2 1.9.3 1.9.4 1.9.5 Online documents

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Linux on the World Wide Web

Books and other published works USENET newsgroups Internet mailing lists

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1.10 Getting Help 2

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Obtaining and Installing Linux 2.1 Distributions of Linux 2.1.1 2.1.2 2.1.3 2.1.4 2.2
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Getting Linux from the Internet :

Getting Linux from other online sources Getting Linux via mail order Getting Slackware

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Preparing to Install Linux 2.2.1 2.2.2 2.2.3 2.2.4

Installation overview

Repartitioning concepts

Linux partition requirements Repartitioning your drives

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Installing the Linux software 2.3.1 2.3.2 2.3.3 2.3.4 2.3.5 2.3.6 Booting Linux

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Drives and partitions under Linux Creating Linux partitions Creating the swap space Creating the filesystems Installing the software

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2.3.7 2.3.8 2.4 2.5

Creating the boot floppy or installing LILO Additional installation procedures

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Postinstallation procedures Running Into Trouble 2.5.1 2.5.2 2.5.3 2.5.4

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Problems with booting the installation media Hardware problems

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Problems installing the software Problems after installing Linux

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3 Linux Tutorial 3.1 3.2 Introduction
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Basic UNIX Concepts 3.2.1 3.2.2 3.2.3 3.2.4 3.2.5 3.2.6 3.2.7 3.2.8 3.2.9

Creating an account Logging in

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Virtual consoles

Shells and commands Logging out :

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Changing your password Files and directories The directory tree

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The current working directory

3.2.10 Referring to home directories 3.3 First Steps into UNIX 3.3.1 3.3.2 3.3.3 3.3.4 3.3.5 3.3.6 3.3.7 3.3.8 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8

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Moving around :

Looking at the contents of directories Creating new directories : Copying files Moving files

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Deleting files and directories Looking at files

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Getting online help :

Summary of Basic Commands Exploring the File System Types of shells Wildcards

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UNIX Plumbing

3.8.1 3.8.2 3.8.3 3.8.4 3.9

Standard input and output

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Redirecting input and output Using pipes

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Non-destructive redirection

File Permissions 3.9.1 3.9.2 3.9.3 3.9.4

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Concepts of file permissions Interpreting file permissions Dependencies

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Changing permissions

3.10 Managing file links 3.10.1 Hard links

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3.10.2 Symbolic links 3.11 Job Control

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3.11.1 Jobs and processes

3.11.2 Foreground and background

3.11.3 Backgrounding and killing jobs 3.11.4 Stopping and restarting jobs 3.12 Using the vi Editor 3.12.1 Concepts 3.12.2 Starting vi

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3.12.3 Inserting text 3.12.4 Deleting text 3.12.5 Changing text

3.12.6 Moving commands

3.12.7 Saving files and quitting vi 3.12.8 Editing another file : 3.12.9 Including other files

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3.12.10 Running shell commands 3.12.11 Getting help

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3.13 Customizing your Environment 3.13.1 Shell scripts

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3.13.2 Shell variables and the environment 3.13.3 Shell initialization scripts

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3.14 So You Want to Strike Out on Your Own?

4 System Administration 4.1 About Root, Hats, and the Feeling of Power 4.1.1 4.1.2 4.1.3 4.1.4 4.1.5 4.2 The root account Abusing the system Dealing with users Setting the rules What it all means
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119 119 119 120 121 121 122 122 122 123 124 124 125 126 126 126 127 127 127 128 129 130 130 131 131 132 133 134 134 134 135 136 137 138 138 138

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Booting the System 4.2.1 4.2.2

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Using a boot floppy Using LILO

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4.3 4.4

Shutting Down Managing Users 4.4.1 4.4.2 4.4.3 4.4.4 4.4.5

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User management concepts Adding users Deleting users

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Setting user attributes Groups

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Archiving and Compressing Files 4.5.1 4.5.2 4.5.3 Using tar

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gzip and compress Putting them together


Using Floppies and Making Backups 4.6.1 4.6.2 Using floppies for backups

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Using floppies as filesystems


Upgrading and Installing New Software 4.7.1 4.7.2 4.7.3 4.7.4 Upgrading the kernel

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Upgrading the libraries Upgrading gcc

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Upgrading other software


Managing Filesystems 4.8.1 4.8.2

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Mounting filesystems Checking filesystems


Using a swap file

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4.10 Miscellaneous Tasks

4.10.1 System startup files

4.10.2 Setting the hostname :

4.11 What To Do In An Emergency :

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139 139 140 140 140 141 142

4.11.1 Recovering using a maintenance diskette 4.11.2 Fixing the root password 4.11.3 Fixing trashed filesystems 4.11.4 Recovering lost files

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4.11.5 Fixing trashed libraries 5 Advanced Features 5.1 The X Window System 5.1.1 5.1.2 5.1.3 5.1.4 5.1.5 5.1.6 5.2 5.3

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142 142 144 146 152 155 156 157 158 158 159 165 167 169 169 170 172 172 174 175 175 175 176 176 177 178

Hardware requirements Installing XFree86

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Configuring XFree86

Filling in video card information Running XFree86

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Running into trouble

Accessing MS-DOS Files

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Networking with TCP/IP 5.3.1 5.3.2 5.3.3 5.3.4

Hardware Requirements

Configuring TCP/IP on your system SLIP Configuration Using dip

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5.4 5.5 5.6

Networking with UUCP Electronic Mail

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News and USENET

A Sources of Linux Information A.1 Online Documents
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A.2 Linux Documentation Project Manuals A.3 Books and Other Published Works A.3.1 Using UNIX

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A.3.2 Systems Administration A.3.3 The X Window System : A.3.4 Programming

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A.3.5 Kernel Hacking B Linux Vendor List


C FTP Tutorial and Site List C.1 Starting ftp C.2 Logging In
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181 181 182 182 184 185 185 186 187 187 188 191 191 192 195

C.3 Poking Around

C.4 Downloading files C.5 Quitting FTP

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C.6 Using ftpmail

C.7 Linux FTP Site List C.8 Linux BBS List C.9 United States

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C.10 Outside of the United States

D The GNU General Public License D.1 Preamble
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D.2 Terms and Conditions for Copying, Distribution, and Modification D.3 Appendix: How to Apply These Terms to Your New Programs

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“You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike.” Before you looms one of the most complex and utterly intimidating systems ever written. Linux, the free UNIX clone for the personal computer, produced by a mishmash team of UNIX gurus, hackers, and the occasional loon. The system itself reflects this complex heritage, and although the development of Linux may appear to be a disorganized volunteer effort, the system is powerful, fast, and free. It is a true 32-bit operating system solution. My own experiences with Linux began several years ago, when I sat down to figure out how to install the only “distribution” available at the time—a couple of diskettes made available by H.J. Lu. I downloaded a slew of files and read pages upon pages of loosely-organized installation notes. Somehow, I managed to install this basic system and get everything working together. This was long before you could buy the Linux software on CD-ROM from worldwide distributors; before, in fact, Linux even knew how to access a CD-ROM drive. This was before XFree86, before Emacs, before commercial software support, and before Linux became a true rival to MS-DOS, Microsoft Windows, and OS/2 in the personal computer market. You hold in your very hands the map and guidebook to the world of Linux. It is my hope that this book will help you to get rolling with what I consider to be the fastest, most powerful operating system for the personal computer. Setting up your own Linux system can be a great deal of fun—so grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and read on. Grab a cup for me, too, while you’re at it. I’ve been up hacking Linux for days.

This book is for any personal computer user who wants to install and use Linux on their system. We assume that you have basic knowledge about personal computers and operating systems such as MS-DOS. No previous knowledge about Linux or UNIX is assumed. Despite this, we strongly suggest that UNIX novices invest in one of the many good UNIX books out there. Several of them are listed in Appendix A.

This book contains the following chapters. Chapter 1, Introduction to Linux, gives a general introduction to what Linux is, what it can do for you, and what is required to run it on your system. It also provides helpful hints for getting help and reducing overall stress. 9


Chapter 2, Obtaining and Installing Linux, explains how to obtain the Linux software, as well as how to install it—from repartitioning your drive, creating filesystems, and loading the software on the system. It contains instructions meant to be general for any distribution of Linux, and relies on the documentation provided for your particular release to fill in any gaps. Chapter 3, Linux Tutorial, is a complete introduction to using the Linux system for UNIX novices. If you have previous UNIX experience, most of this material should be familiar. Chapter 4, System Administration, introduces many of the important concepts of system administration under Linux. This will also be of interest to UNIX system administrators who want to know about the Linux-specific issues of running a system. Chapter 5, Advanced Features, introduces the reader to a number of advanced features supported by Linux, such as the X Window System and TCP/IP networking. A complete guide to configuring XFree86-3.1 is included. Appendix A, Sources of Linux Information, is a listing of other sources of information about Linux, including newsgroups, mailing lists, online documents, and books. Appendix B, Linux Vendor List, provides a short list of software vendors offering Linux software and services. Appendix C, FTP Tutorial and Site List, is a tutorial for downloading files from the Internet with FTP. This appendix also includes a listing of FTP archive sites which carry Linux software. Appendix C.8, Linux BBS List, is a listing of bulletin board systems worldwide which carry Linux software. Because most Linux users are do not have access to the Internet, it is important that information on BBS systems becomes available. Appendix D, The GNU General Public License, contains a copy of the GNU GPL, the license agreement under which Linux is distributed. It is very important that Linux users understand the GPL; many disagreements over the terms of the GPL have been raised in recent months.

This book has been long in the making, and many people are responsible for the outcome. In particular, I would like to thank Larry Greenfield and Karl Fogel for their work on the first version of Chapter 3, and to Lars Wirzenius for his work on Chapter 4. Thanks to Michael K. Johnson for his assistance with the LDP A and the L TEX conventions used in this manual, and to Ed Chi, who sent me a printed copy of the book for edition. Thanks to Melinda A. McBride at SSC, Inc., who did an excellent job completing the index for Chapters 3, 4, and 5. I would also like to thank Andy Oram, Lar Kaufman, and Bill Hahn at O’Reilly and Associates for their assistance with the Linux Documentation Project. Thanks to Linux Systems Labs, Morse Telecommunications, Yggdrasil Computing, and others for their support of the Linux Documentation Project through sales of this book and other works. Much thanks to the many activists, including (in no particular order) Linus Torvalds, Donald Becker, Alan Cox, Remy Card, Ted T’so, H.J. Lu, Ross Biro, Drew Eckhardt, Ed Carp, Eric Youngdale, Fred van Kempen, Steven Tweedie, and a score of others, for devoting so much time and energy to this project, and without whom there wouldn’t be anything to write a book about. Special thanks to the myriad of readers who have sent their helpful comments and corrections. There are far too many to list here. Who needs a spell checker, when you have an audience?


Matt Welsh 13 January 1994

Credits and Legalese
The Linux Documentation Project is a loose team of writers, proofreaders, and editors who are working on a set of definitive Linux manuals. The overall coordinator of the project is Matt Welsh, aided by Lars Wirzenius and Michael K. Johnson. This manual is but one in a set of several being distributed by the Linux Documentation Project, including a Linux User’s Guide, System Administrator’s Guide, and Kernel Hacker’s Guide. These manuals are all A available in L TEX source format and Postscript output for anonymous FTP from, in the directory /pub/Linux/docs/LDP. We encourage anyone with a penchant for writing or editing to join us in improving Linux documentation. If you have Internet e-mail access, you can join the DOC channel of the Linux-Activists mailing list by sending mail to

with the line
X-Mn-Admin: join DOC

as the first line of the message body. Feel free to get in touch with the author and coordinator of this manual if you have questions, postcards, money, or ideas. Matt Welsh can be reached via Internet e-mail at, and in real life at 205 Gray Street Wilson, N.C. 27896 U.S.A.


UNIX is a trademark of X/Open. Linux is not a trademark, and has no connection to UNIXTM or X/Open. The X Window System is a trademark of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. MS-DOS and Microsoft Windows are trademarks of Microsoft, Inc.

Copyright c 1992–1994 Matt Welsh 205 Gray Street NE, Wilson NC, 27893 USA Linux Installation and Getting Started may be reproduced and distributed, in whole or in part, subject to the following conditions: 0. The copyright notice above and this permission notice must be preserved complete on all complete or partial copies. 1. Any translation or derivative work of Linux Installation and Getting Started must be approved by the author in writing before distribution. 2. If you distribute Linux Installation and Getting Started in part, instructions for obtaining the complete version of this manual must be included, and a means for obtaining a complete version provided. 3. Small portions may be reproduced as illustrations for reviews or quotes in other works without this permission notice if proper citation is given. 4. The GNU General Public License referenced below may be reproduced under the conditions given within it. 5. Several sections of this document are held under separate copyright. When these sections are covered by a different copyright, the separate copyright is noted. If you distribute Linux Installation and Getting Started in part, and that part is, in whole, covered under a separate, noted copyright, the conditions of that copyright apply. Exceptions to these rules may be granted for academic purposes: Write to Matt Welsh, at the above address, or email, and ask. These restrictions are here to protect us as authors, not to restrict you as educators and learners. The author encourages distributors of Linux software in any medium to use the book as an installation and new user guide. Given the copyright above, you are free to print and distribute copies of this book with your software. You may either distribute this book free of charge, or for profit. If doing so, you may wish to include a short “installation supplement” for your release. The author would like to know of any plans to publish and distribute this book commercially. In this way, we can ensure that you are kept up-to-date with new revisions. And, should a new version be right around the corner, you might wish to delay your publication of the book until it is available. If you are distributing this book commercially, donations, royalties, and/or printed copies are greatly appreciated by the author. Contributing in this way shows your support for free software and the Linux Documentation Project. All source code in Linux Installation and Getting Started is placed under the GNU General Public License. See Appendix D for a copy of the GNU “GPL.”


Documentation Conventions
These conventions should be obvious, but we’ll include them here for the pedantic. Bold italics Used to mark new concepts, WARNINGS, and keywords in a language. Used for emphasis in text, and occasionally for quotes or introductions at the beginning of a section. Also used to indicate commands for the user to type when showing screen interaction (see below). Used to mark meta-variables in the text, especially in representations of the command line. For example, ls -l foo


where foo would “stand for” a filename, such as /bin/cp. Typewriter Used to represent screen interaction, as in
$ ls –l /bin/cp -rwxr-xr-x 1 root wheel 12104 Sep 25 15:53 /bin/cp

h i

h i

Also used for code examples, whether it is C code, a shell script, or something else, and to display general files, such as configuration files. When necessary for clarity’s sake, these examples or figures will be enclosed in thin boxes.

Represents a key to press. You will often see it in this form: Press return to continue.


A diamond in the margin, like a black diamond on a ski hill, marks “danger” or “caution.” Read paragraphs marked this way carefully.

Chapter 1

Introduction to Linux
Linux is quite possibly the most important achievement of free software since the original Space War, or, more recently, Emacs. It has developed into the operating system for businesses, education, and personal productivity. Linux is no longer just for UNIX wizards who sit for hours in front of the glowing console (although we assure you that quite a number of users fall into this category). This book will help you get the most out of it. Linux (pronounced with a short i, as in LIH-nucks) is a clone of the UNIX operating system that runs on Intel 80386 and 80486 computers. It supports a wide range of software, from T X to X Windows to the GNU E C/C++ compiler to TCP/IP. It’s a versatile, bona fide implementation of UNIX, freely distributed by the terms of the GNU General Public License (see Appendix D). Linux can turn any 386 or 486 PC into a workstation. It will give you the full power of UNIX at your fingertips. Businesses are installing Linux on entire networks of machines, using the operating system to manage financial and hospital records, a distributed user computing environment, telecommunications, and more. Universities worldwide are using Linux for teaching courses on operating systems programming and design. And, of course, computing enthusiasts everywhere are using Linux at home, for programming, productivity, and all-around hacking. What makes Linux so different is that it is a free implementation of UNIX. It was and still is developed by a group of volunteers, primarily on the Internet, exchanging code, reporting bugs, and fixing problems in an open-ended environment. Anyone is welcome to join in the Linux development effort: all it takes is interest in hacking a free UNIX clone and some kind of programming know-how. The book that you hold in your hands is your tour guide.

1.1 About This Book
This book is an installation and entry-level guide to the Linux system. The purpose is to get new users up and running with the system by consolidating as much important material as possible into one book. Instead of covering many of the volatile technical details, those things which tend to change with rapid development, we give you enough background to find out more on your own. Linux is not difficult to install and use. However, as with any implementation of UNIX, there is often some black magic involved to get everything working correctly. We hope that this book will get you on the Linux tour bus and show you how groovy this operating system can be. In this book, we cover the following topics. 14

1.2. A Brief History of Linux


What is Linux? The design and philosophy of this unique operating system, and what it can do for  All of the details of what is needed to run Linux, including suggestions on what kind of hardware  How to obtain and install Linux. There are many distributions of the Linux software. We present a
This edition also contains specific instructions for the Slackware distribution of Linux. configuration is recommended for a complete system. general discussion of Linux software distributions, how to obtain them, and generic instructions for installing the software (which should be applicable to any distribution). you. 

A brief introductory UNIX tutorial, for those users who have never had experience with UNIX before. 

An introduction to systems administration with Linux. This covers the most important tasks that new
ing with TCP/IP and SLIP, and the setup of electronic mail and news systems.

This tutorial should, hopefully, provide enough material for complete novices to have enough basic know-how to find their way around the system. 

Information on configuring more advanced aspects of Linux, such as the X Window System, network-

Linux administrators will need to be familiar with, such as creating users, managing filesystems, and so forth.

This book is for the personal computer user wishing to get started with Linux. We don’t assume previous UNIX experience, but do expect novices to refer to other materials along the way. For those unfamiliar with UNIX, a list of useful sources of information is given in Appendix A. In general, this book is meant to be read along with another book on basic UNIX concepts.

1.2 A Brief History of Linux
UNIX is one of the most popular operating systems worldwide because of its large support base and distribution. It was originally developed as a multitasking system for minicomputers and mainframes in the mid-1970’s, but has since grown to become one of the most widely used operating systems anywhere, despite its sometimes confusing interface and lack of central standardization. The real reason for UNIX’s popularity? Many hackers feel that UNIX is the Right Thing—the One True Operating System. Hence, the development of Linux by an expanding group of UNIX hackers who want to get their hands dirty with their own system. Versions of UNIX exist for many systems—ranging from personal computers to supercomputers such as the Cray Y-MP. Most versions of UNIX for personal computers are quite expensive and cumbersome. At the time of this writing, a one-machine version of AT&T’s System V for the 386 runs at about US$1500. Linux is a freely distributable version of UNIX developed primarily by Linus Torvalds1 at the University of Helsinki in Finland. Linux was developed with the help of many UNIX programmers and wizards across the Internet, allowing anyone with enough know-how and gumption the ability to develop and change the system. The Linux kernel uses no code from AT&T or any other proprietary source, and much of the software available for Linux is developed by the GNU project at the Free Software Foundation in Cambridge, Massachusetts. However, programmers all over the world have contributed to the growing pool of Linux software. Linux was originally developed as a hobby project by Linus Torvalds. It was inspired by Minix, a small UNIX system developed by Andy Tanenbaum, and the first discussions about Linux were on the USENET


Chapter 1. Introduction to Linux

newsgroup comp.os.minix. These discussions were concerned mostly with the development of a small, academic UNIX system for Minix users who wanted more. The very early development of Linux was mostly dealing with the task-switching features of the 80386 protected-mode interface, all written in assembly code. Linus writes, “After that it was plain sailing: hairy coding still, but I had some devices, and debugging was easier. I started using C at this stage, and it certainly speeds up development. This is also when I start to get serious about my megalomaniac ideas to make ‘a better Minix than Minix’. I was hoping I’d be able to recompile gcc under Linux some day: : : “Two months for basic setup, but then only slightly longer until I had a disk-driver (seriously buggy, but it happened to work on my machine) and a small filesystem. That was about when I made 0.01 available [around late August of 1991]: it wasn’t pretty, it had no floppy driver, and it couldn’t do much anything. I don’t think anybody ever compiled that version. But by then I was hooked, and didn’t want to stop until I could chuck out Minix.” No announcement was ever made for Linux version 0.01. The 0.01 sources weren’t even executable: they contained only the bare rudiments of the kernel source, and assumed that you had access to a Minix machine to compile and play with them. On 5 October 1991, Linus announced the first “official” version of Linux, version 0.02. At this point, Linus was able to run bash (the GNU Bourne Again Shell) and gcc (the GNU C compiler), but not very much else was working. Again, this was intended as a hacker’s system. The primary focus was kernel development—none of the issues of user support, documentation, distribution, and so on had even been addressed. Today, the Linux community still seems to treat these ergonomic issues as secondary to the “real programming”—kernel development. Linus wrote in comp.os.minix, “Do you pine for the nice days of Minix-1.1, when men were men and wrote their own device drivers? Are you without a nice project and just dying to cut your teeth on a OS you can try to modify for your needs? Are you finding it frustrating when everything works on Minix? No more all-nighters to get a nifty program working? Then this post might be just for you. “As I mentioned a month ago, I’m working on a free version of a Minix-lookalike for AT-386 computers. It has finally reached the stage where it’s even usable (though may not be depending on what you want), and I am willing to put out the sources for wider distribution. It is just version 0.02: : : but I’ve successfully run bash, gcc, gnu-make, gnu-sed, compress, etc. under it.” After version 0.03, Linus bumped the version number up to 0.10, as more people started to work on the system. After several further revisions, Linus increased the version number to 0.95, to reflect his expectation that the system was ready for an “official” release very soon. (Generally, software is not assigned the version number 1.0 until it is theoretically complete or bug-free.) This was in March of 1992. Almost a year and a half later, in late December of 1993, the Linux kernel was still at version 0.99.pl14—asymptotically approaching 1.0. As of the time of this writing, the current kernel version is 1.1 patchlevel 52, and 1.2 is right around the corner. Today, Linux is a complete UNIX clone, capable of running X Windows, TCP/IP, Emacs, UUCP, mail and news software, you name it. Almost all of the major free software packages have been ported to Linux, and commercial software is becoming available. Much more hardware is supported than in original versions of the kernel. Many people have executed benchmarks on 80486 Linux systems and found them comparable with mid-range workstations from Sun Microsystems and Digital Equipment Corporation.

1.3. System Features


Who would have ever guessed that this “little” UNIX clone would have grown up to take on the entire world of personal computing?

1.3 System Features
Linux supports most of the features found in other implementations of UNIX, plus quite a few that aren’t found elsewhere. This section is a nickel tour of the Linux kernel features. Linux is a complete multitasking, multiuser operating system (just like all other versions of UNIX). This means that many users can be logged into the same machine at once, running multiple programs simultaneously. The Linux system is mostly compatible with a number of UNIX standards (inasmuch as UNIX has standards) on the source level, including IEEE POSIX.1, System V, and BSD features. It was developed with source portability in mind: therefore, you are most likely to find commonly-used features in the Linux system which are shared across multiple implementations. A great deal of free UNIX software available on the Internet and elsewhere compiles on Linux out of the box. In addition, all source code for the Linux system, including the kernel, device drivers, libraries, user programs, and development tools, is freely distributable. Other specific internal features of Linux include POSIX job control (used by shells such as csh and bash), pseudoterminals (pty devices), and support for national or customized keyboards using dynamicallyloadable keyboard drivers. Linux also supports virtual consoles, which allow you to switch between multiple login sessions from the system console in text mode. Users of the “screen” program will find the Linux virtual console implementation familiar. The kernel is able to emulate 387-FPU instructions itself, so that systems without a math coprocessor can run programs that require floating-point math instructions. Linux supports various filesystem types for storing data. Various filesystems, such as the ext2fs filesystem, have been developed specifically for Linux. Other filesystem types, such as the Minix-1 and Xenix filesystems, are also supported. The MS-DOS filesystem has been implemented as well, allowing you to access MS-DOS files on hard drive or floppy directly. The ISO 9660 CD-ROM filesystem type, which reads all standard formats of CD-ROMs, is also supported. We’ll talk more about filesystems in Chapters 2 and 4. Linux provides a complete implementation of TCP/IP networking. This includes device drivers for many popular Ethernet cards, SLIP (Serial Line Internet Protocol, allowing you to access a TCP/IP network via a serial connection), PLIP (Parallel Line Internet Protocol), PPP (Point-to-Point Protocol), NFS (Network File System), and so on. The complete range of TCP/IP clients and services is supported, such as FTP, telnet, NNTP, and SMTP. We’ll talk more about networking in Chapter 5. The Linux kernel is developed to use the special protected-mode features of the Intel 80386 and 80486 processors. In particular, Linux makes use of the protected-mode descriptor-based memory management paradigm and many of the other advanced features of these processors. Anyone familiar with 80386 protected-mode programming knows that this chip was designed for a multitasking system such as UNIX (or, actually, Multics). Linux exploits this functionality. The Linux kernel supports demand-paged loaded executables. That is, only those segments of a program which are actually used are read into memory from disk. Also, copy-on-write pages are shared among executables, meaning that if several instances of a program are running at once, they will share pages in physical memory, reducing overall memory usage. In order to increase the amount of available memory, Linux also implements disk paging: that is, up to


Chapter 1. Introduction to Linux

256 megabytes of “swap space”2 can be allocated on disk. When the system requires more physical memory, it will swap out inactive pages to disk, thus allowing you to run larger applications and support more users at once. However, swap is no substitute for physical RAM—it is much slower due to drive access latency times. The kernel also implements a unified memory pool for user programs and disk cache. In this way, all free memory is used for caching, and the cache is reduced when running large programs. Executables use dynamically linked shared libraries, meaning that executables share common library code in a single library file found on disk, not unlike the SunOS shared library mechanism. This allows executable files to occupy much less space on disk, especially those that use many library functions. There are also statically-linked libraries for those who wish to use object debugging or maintain “complete” executables without the need for shared libraries to be in place. Linux shared libraries are dynamically linked at run-time, allowing the programmer to replace modules of the libraries with their own routines. To facilitate debugging, the Linux kernel does core dumps for post-mortem analysis. Using a core dump and an executable linked with debugging support, it is possible to determine what caused a program to crash.

1.4 Software Features
In this section, we’ll introduce you to many of the software applications available for Linux, and talk about a number of common computing tasks. After all, the most important part of the system is the wide range of software available for it. The fact that most of this software is freely distributable is even more impressive.


Basic commands and utilities

Virtually every utility that you would expect to find on standard implementations of UNIX has been ported to Linux. This includes basic commands such as ls, awk, tr, sed, bc, more, and so on. You name it, Linux has it. Therefore, you can expect your familiar working environment on other UNIX systems to be duplicated on Linux. All of the standard commands and utilities are there. (Novice Linux users should see Chapter 3 for an introduction to these basic UNIX commands.) Many text editors are available, including vi, ex, pico, jove, as well as GNU Emacs and variants such as Lucid Emacs (which incorporates extensions for use under X Windows) and joe. Whatever text editor you’re accustomed to using has more than likely been ported to Linux. The choice of a text editor is an interesting one. Many UNIX users still use “simple” editors such as vi (in fact, the author wrote this book using vi under Linux). However, vi has many limitations, due to its age, and more modern (and complex) editors such as Emacs are gaining popularity. Emacs supports a complete LISP-based macro language and interpreter, a powerful command syntax, and other fun-filled extensions. Emacs macro packages exist to allow you to read electronic mail and news, edit the contents of directories, and even engage in an artificially intelligent psychotherapy session (indispensible for stressed-out Linux hackers). One interesting note is that most of the basic Linux utilities are GNU software. These GNU utilities support advanced features not found in the standard versions from BSD or AT&T. For example, GNU’s version of the vi editor, elvis, includes a structured macro language which differs from the original AT&T
2 Swap space is inappropriately named: entire processes are not swapped, but rather individual pages. Of course, in many cases entire processes will be swapped out, but this is not necessarily always the case.

1.4. Software Features


implementation. However, the GNU utilities strive to remain compatible with their BSD and System V counterparts. Many people consider the GNU versions of these programs superior to the originals. The most important utility to many users is the shell. The shell is a program which reads and executes commands from the user. In addition, many shells provide features such as job control (allowing the user to manage several running processes at once—not as Orwellian as it sounds), input and output redirection, and a command language for writing shell scripts. A shell script is a file containing a program in the shell command language, analogous to a “batch file” under MS-DOS. There are many types of shells available for Linux. The most important difference between shells is the command language. For example, the C Shell (csh) uses a command language somewhat like the C programming language. The classic Bourne Shell uses a different command language. One’s choice of a shell is often based on the command language that it provides. The shell that you use defines, to some extent, your working environment under Linux. No matter what shell you’re accustomed to, some version of it has probably been ported to Linux. The most popular shell is the GNU Bourne Again Shell (bash), a Bourne shell variant which includes many advanced features, such as job control, command history, command and filename completion, an Emacs-like interface for editing the command line, and powerful extensions to the standard Bourne shell language. Another popular shell is tcsh, a version of the C Shell with advanced functionality similar to that found in bash. Other shells include zsh, a small Bourne-like shell; the Korn shell (ksh); BSD’s ash; and rc, the Plan 9 shell. What’s so important about these basic utilities? Linux gives you the unique opportunity to tailor a custom system to your needs. For example, if you’re the only person who uses your system, and you prefer to exclusively use the vi editor, and bash as your shell, there’s no reason to install other editors or shells. The “do it yourself” attitude is prevalent among Linux hackers and users.


Text processing and word processing

Almost every computer user has a need for some kind of document preparation system. (How many computer enthusiasts do you know who still use pen and paper? Not many, we’ll wager.) In the PC world, word processing is the norm: it involves editing and manipulating text (often in a “What-You-See-Is-WhatYou-Get” environment) and producing printed copies of the text, complete with figures, tables, and other garnishes. In the UNIX world, text processing is much more common, which is quite different than the classical concept of word processing. With a text processing system, text is entered by the author using a “typesetting language”, which describes how the text should be formatted. Instead of entering the text within a special word processing environment, the source may be modified with any text editor such as vi or Emacs. Once the source text (in the typesetting language) is complete, the user formats the text with a separate program, which converts the source to a format suitable for printing. This is somewhat analogous to programming in a language such as C, and “compiling” the document into a printable form. There are many text processing systems available for Linux. One is groff, the GNU version of the classic nroff text formatter originally developed by Bell Labs and still used on many UNIX systems worldwide. Another modern text processing system is T X, developed by Donald Knuth of computer science fame. E A Dialects of T X, such as L TEX, are also available. E Text processors such as T X and groff differ mostly in the syntax of their formatting languages. The E choice of one formatting system over another is also based upon what utilities are available to satisfy your needs, as well as personal taste. For example, some people consider the groff formatting language to be a bit obscure, so they use T X, E


Chapter 1. Introduction to Linux

which is more readable by humans. However, groff is capable of producing plain ASCII output, viewable on a terminal, while T X is intended primarily for output to a printing device. However, various programs E exist to produce plain ASCII from T X-formatted documents, or to convert T X to groff, for example. E E Another text processing system is texinfo, an extension to T X used for software documentation by the E Free Software Foundation. texinfo is capable of producing a printed document, or an online-browsable hypertext “Info” document from a single source file. Info files are the main format of documentation used by GNU software such as Emacs. Text processors are used widely in the computing community for producing papers, theses, magazine A articles, and books (in fact, this book was produced using LTEX). The ability to process the source language as a plain text file opens the door to many extensions to the text processor itself. Because source documents are not stored in an obscure format, readable only by a particular word processor, programmers are able to write parsers and translators for the formatting language, extending the system. What does such a formatting language look like? In general, the formatting language source consists mostly of the text itself, along with “control codes” to produce a particular effect, such as changing fonts, setting margins, creating lists, and so on. As an example, take the following text: Mr. Torvalds: We are very upset with your current plans to implement post-hypnotic suggestion in the Linux terminal driver code. We feel this way for three reasons: 1. Planting subliminal messages in the terminal driver is not only immoral, it is a waste of time; 2. It has been proven that “post-hypnotic suggestions” are ineffective when used upon unsuspecting UNIX hackers; 3. We have already implemented high-voltage electric shocks, as a security measure, in the code for login. We hope you will reconsider.
A This text would appear in the L TEX formatting language as the following:

\begin{quote} Mr. Torvalds: We are very upset with your current plans to implement {\em post-hypnotic suggestion\/} in the {\bf Linux} terminal driver code. We feel this way for three reasons: \begin{enumerate} \item Planting subliminal messages in the kernel driver is not only immoral, it is a waste of time; \item It has been proven that ‘‘post-hypnotic suggestions’’ are ineffective when used upon unsuspecting UNIX hackers; \item We have already implemented high-voltage electric shocks, as a security measure, in the code for {\tt login}. \end{enumerate} We hope you will reconsider. \end{quote}

1.4. Software Features


The author enters the above “source” text using any text editor, and generates the formatted output by A processing the source with L TEX. At first glance, the typesetting language may appear to be obscure, but it’s actually quite easy to learn. Using a text processing system enforces typographical standards when writing. For example, all enumerated lists within a document will look the same, unless the author modifies the definition of the enumerated list “environment”. The primary goal is to allow the author to concentrate on writing the actual text, instead of worrying about typesetting conventions. WYSIWYG word processors are attractive for many reasons; they provide a powerful (and sometimes complex) visual interface for editing the document. However, this interface is inherently limited to those aspects of text layout which are accessible to the user. For example, many word processors provide a special “format language” for producing complicated expressions such as mathematical formulae. This is identical text processing, albeit on a much smaller scale. The subtle benefit of text processing is that the system allows you to specify exactly what you mean. Also, text processing systems allow you to edit the source text with any text editor, and the source is easily converted to other formats. The tradeoff for this flexibility and power is the lack of a WYSIWYG interface. Many users of word processors are used to seeing the formatted text as they edit it. On the other hand, when writing with a text processor, one generally does not worry about how the text will appear when formatted. The writer learns to expect how the text should look from the formatting commands used in the source. There are programs which allow you to view the formatted document on a graphics display before printing. For example, the xdvi program displays a “device independent” file generated by the T X system E under the X Windows environment. Other software applications, such as xfig, provide a WYSIWYG graphics interface for drawing figures and diagrams, which are subsequently converted to the text processing language for inclusion in your document. Admittedly, text processors such as nroff were around long before word processing was available. However, many people still prefer to use text processing, because it is more versatile and independent of a graphics environment. In either case, the idoc word processor is also available for Linux, and before long we expect to see commercial word processors becoming available as well. If you absolutely don’t want to give up word processing for text processing, you can always run MS-DOS, or some other operating system, in addition to Linux. There are many other text-processing-related utilities available. The powerful METAFONT system, used for designing fonts for T X, is included with the Linux port of T X. Other programs include ispell, an E E A interactive spell checker and corrector; makeindex, used for generating indexes in LTEX documents; as well as many groff and TEX-based macro packages for formatting many types of documents and mathematical texts. Conversion programs to translate between T X or groff source to a myriad of other formats are E available.


Programming languages and utilities

Linux provides a complete UNIX programming environment, including all of the standard libraries, programming tools, compilers, and debuggers that you would expect to find on other UNIX systems. Within the UNIX software development world, applications and systems programming is usually done in C or C++. The standard C and C++ compiler for Linux is GNU’s gcc, which is an advanced, modern compiler supporting many options. It is also capable of compiling C++ (including AT&T 3.0 features) as well as Objective-C, another object-oriented dialect of C. Besides C and C++, many other compiled and interpreted programming languages have been ported to Linux, such as Smalltalk, FORTRAN, Pascal, LISP, Scheme, and Ada (if you’re masochistic enough to


Chapter 1. Introduction to Linux

program in Ada—we’re not going to stop you). In addition, various assemblers for writing protected-mode 80386 code are available, as are UNIX hacking favorites such as Perl (the script language to end all script languages) and Tcl/Tk (a shell-like command processing system including support for developing simple X Windows applications). The advanced gdb debugger has been ported, which allows you to step through a program to find bugs, or examine the cause for a crash using a core dump. gprof, a profiling utility, will give you performance statistics for your program, letting you know where your program is spending most of its time executing. The Emacs text editor provides an interactive editing and compilation environment for various programming languages. Other tools include GNU make and imake, used to manage compilation of large applications; and RCS, a system for source locking and revision control. Linux implements dynamically-linked shared libraries, which allow binaries to be much smaller as the subroutine code is linked at run-time. These DLL libraries also allow the applications programmer to override function definitions with their own code. For example, if a programmer wished to write her own version of the malloc() library routine, the linker would use the programmer’s new routine instead of the one found in the libraries. Linux is ideal for developing UNIX applications. It provides a modern programming environment with all of the bells and whistles. Various standards such as POSIX.1 are supported, allowing software written for Linux to be easily ported to other systems. Professional UNIX programmers and system administrators can use Linux to develop software at home, and then transfer the software to UNIX systems at work. This not only can save a great deal of time and money, but will also let you work in the comfort of your own home.3 Computer Science students can use Linux to learn UNIX programming and to explore other aspects of the system, such as kernel architecture. With Linux, not only do you have access to the complete set of libraries and programming utilities, but you also have the complete kernel and library source code at your fingertips.


The X Window System

The X Window System is the standard graphics interface for UNIX machines. It is a powerful environment supporting many applications. Using X Windows, the user can have multiple terminal windows on the screen at once, each one containing a different login session. A pointing device such as a mouse is often used with the X interface, although it isn’t required. Many X-specific applications have been written, such as games, graphics utilities, programming and documentation tools, and so on. With Linux and X, your system is a bona fide workstation. Coupled with TCP/IP networking, you can even display X applications running on other machines on your Linux display, as is possible with other systems running X. The X Window System was originally developed at MIT, and is freely distributable. However, may commercial vendors have distributed proprietary enhancements to the original X Windows software. The version of X Windows available for Linux is known as XFree86, a port of X11R5 made freely distributable for 80386-based UNIX systems such as Linux. XFree86 supports a wide range of video hardware, including VGA, Super VGA, and a number of accelerated video adaptors. This is a complete distribution of the X Windows software, containing the X server itself, many applications and utilities, programming libraries, and documentation. Standard X applications include xterm (a terminal emulator used for most text-based applications within an X window); xdm (the X Session Manager, which handles logins); xclock (a simple clock display);
3 The author uses his Linux system to develop and test X Windows applications at home, which can be directly compiled on workstations elsewhere.

1.4. Software Features


xman (an X-based man page reader), and more. The many X applications available for Linux are too numerous to mention here, but the base XFree86 distribution includes the “standard” applications found in the original MIT release. Many others are available separately, and theoretically any application written for X Windows should compile cleanly under Linux. The look and feel of the X Windows interface is controlled to a large extent by the window manager. This friendly program is in charge of the placement of windows, the user interface for resizing, iconifying, and moving windows, the appearance of window frames, and so on. The standard XFree86 distribution includes twm, the classic MIT window manager, although more advanced window managers such as the Open Look Virtual Window Manager (olvwm) are available as well. One window manager that is popular among Linux users is fvwm. This is a small window manager, requiring less than half of the memory used by twm. It provides a 3-D appearance for windows, as well a virtual desktop—if the user moves the mouse to the edge of the screen, the entire desktop is shifted as if the display were much larger than it actually is. fvwm is greatly customizable, and allows all functions to be accessed from the keyboard as well as the mouse. Many Linux distributions use fvwm as the standard window manager. The XFree86 distribution contains programming libraries and include files for those wily programmers who wish to develop X applications. Various widget sets, such as Athena, Open Look, and Xaw3D are supported. All of the standard fonts, bitmaps, man pages, and documentation are included. PEX (a programming interface for 3-D graphics) is also supported. Many X applications programmers use the proprietary Motif widget set for development. Several vendors sell single and multiple-user licenses for a binary version of Motif for Linux. Because Motif itself is relatively expensive, not many Linux users own it. However, binaries statically linked with Motif routines may be freely distributed. Therefore, if you write a program using Motif and wish to distribute it freely, you may provide a binary so that users without Motif can use the program. The only major caveats with X Windows are the hardware and memory requirements. A 386 with 4 megabytes of RAM is capable of running X, but 8 megabytes or more of physical RAM are needed to use it comfortably. A faster processor is nice to have as well, but having enough physical RAM is much more important. In addition, to achieve really slick video performance, an accelerated video card (such as a local bus S3-chipset card) is strongly recommended. Performance ratings in excess of 140,000 xstones have been achieved with Linux and XFree86. With sufficient hardware, you’ll find that running X and Linux is as fast, or faster, than running X on other UNIX workstations. In Chapter 5 we’ll discuss how to install and use X on your system.



Interested in communicating with the world? Yes? No? Maybe? Linux supports the two primary networking protocols for UNIX systems: TCP/IP and UUCP. TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol, for acronym aficionados) is the set of networking paradigms that allow systems all over the world to communicate on a single network known as the Internet. With Linux, TCP/IP, and a connection to the network, you can communicate with users and machines across the Internet via electronic mail, USENET news, file transfers with FTP, and more. There are many Linux systems currently on the Internet. Most TCP/IP networks use Ethernet as the physical network transport. Linux supports many popular Ethernet cards and interfaces for personal computers, including the D-Link pocket Ethernet adaptor for laptops. However, because not everyone has an Ethernet drop at home, Linux also supports SLIP (Serial Line Internet Protocol), which allows you to connect to the Internet via modem. In order to use SLIP, you’ll need to have access to a SLIP server, a machine connected to the network which allows dial-in access.


Chapter 1. Introduction to Linux

Many businesses and universities provide such SLIP servers. In fact, if your Linux system has an Ethernet connection as well as a modem, you can configure it as a SLIP server for other hosts. NFS (Network File System) allows your system to seamlessly share files with other machines on the network. FTP (File Transfer Protocol) allows you to transfer files between other machines. Other applications include sendmail, a system for sending and receiving electronic mail using the SMTP protocol; NNTPbased electronic news systems such as C-News and INN; telnet, rlogin, and rsh, which allow you to login and execute commands on other machines on the network; and finger, which allows you to get information on other Internet users. There are literally tons of TCP/IP-based applications and protocols out there. The full range of mail and news readers are available for Linux, such as elm, pine, rn, nn, and tin. Whatever your preference, you can configure your Linux system to send and receive electronic mail and news from all over the world. If you have experience with TCP/IP applications on other UNIX systems, Linux will be very familiar to you. The system provides a standard socket programming interface, so virtually any program which uses TCP/IP can be ported to Linux. The Linux X server also supports TCP/IP, allowing you to display applications running on other systems on your Linux display. In Chapter 5 we’ll discuss configuration and setup of TCP/IP, including SLIP, for Linux. UUCP (UNIX-to-UNIX Copy) is an older mechanism used to transfer files, electronic mail, and electronic news between UNIX machines. Classically, UUCP machines connected to each other over the phone lines via modem, but UUCP is able to transport over a TCP/IP network as well. If you do not have access to a TCP/IP network or a SLIP server, you can configure your system to send and receive files and electronic mail using UUCP. See Chapter 5 for more information.


Telecommunications and BBS software

If you have a modem, you will be able to communicate with other machines using one of the telecommunications packages available for Linux. Many people use telecommunications software to access bulletin board systems (BBSs), as well as commercial online services such as Prodigy, CompuServe, and America On-Line. Other people use their modems to connect to a UNIX system at work or school. You can even use your modem and Linux system to send and receive facsimiles. Telecommunications software under Linux is very similar to that found under MS-DOS or other operating systems. Anyone who has ever used a telecommunications package will find the Linux equivalent familiar. One of the most popular communications packages for Linux is Seyon, an X application providing a customizable, ergonomic interface, with built-in support for various file transfer protocols such as Kermit, ZModem, and so on. Other telecommunications programs include C-Kermit, pcomm, and minicom. These are similar to communications programs found on other operating systems, and are quite easy to use. If you do not have access to a SLIP server (see the previous section), you can use term to multiplex your serial line. term will allow you to open multiple login sessions over the modem connection to a remote machine. term will also allow you to redirect X client connections to your local X server, through the serial line, allowing you to display remote X applications on your Linux system. Another software package, KA9Q, implements a similar SLIP-like interface. Running a bulletin board system (BBS) is a favorite hobby (and means of income) for many people. Linux supports a wide range of BBS software, most of which is more powerful than what is available for other operating systems. With a phone line, a modem, and Linux, you can turn your system into a BBS, providing dial-in access to your system to users worldwide. BBS software for Linux includes XBBS and the UniBoard BBS packages.

1.4. Software Features


Most BBS software locks the user into a menu-based system where only certain functions and applications are available. An alternative to BBS access is full UNIX access, which would allow users to dial into your system and login as a regular user. While this would require a fair amount of maintenance on the part of the system administrator, it can be done, and providing public UNIX access from your Linux system is not difficult to do. Along with a TCP/IP network, you can provide electronic mail and news access to users on your system. If you do not have access to a TCP/IP network or UUCP feed, Linux will also allow you to communicate with a number of BBS networks, such as FidoNet, with which you can exchange electronic news and mail via the phone line. More information on telecommunications and BBS software under Linux can be found in Chapter 5.


Interfacing with MS-DOS

Various utilities exist to interface with the world of MS-DOS. The most well-known application is the Linux MS-DOS Emulator, which allows you to run many MS-DOS applications directly from Linux. Although Linux and MS-DOS are completely different operating systems, the 80386 protected-mode environment allows certain tasks to behave as if they were running in 8086-emulation mode, as MS-DOS applications do. The MS-DOS emulator is still under development, yet many popular applications run under it. Understandably, however, MS-DOS applications which use bizarre or esoteric features of the system may never be supported, because it is only an emulator. For example, you wouldn’t expect to be able to run any programs which use 80386 protected-mode features, such as Microsoft Windows (in 386 enhanced mode, that is). Applications which run successfully under the Linux MS-DOS Emulator include 4DOS (a command interpreter), Foxpro 2.0, Harvard Graphics, MathCad, Stacker 3.1, Turbo Assembler, Turbo C/C++, Turbo Pascal, Microsoft Windows 3.0 (in real mode), and WordPerfect 5.1. Standard MS-DOS commands and utilities (such as PKZIP, and so on) work with the emulator as well. The MS-DOS Emulator is meant mostly as an ad hoc solution for those people who need MS-DOS only for a few applications, but use Linux for everything else. It’s not meant to be a complete implementation of MS-DOS. Of course, if the Emulator doesn’t satisfy your needs, you can always run MS-DOS as well as Linux on the same system. Using the LILO boot loader, you can specify at boot time which operating system to start. Linux can coexist with other operating systems, such as OS/2, as well. Linux provides a seamless interface for transferring files between Linux and MS-DOS. You can mount an MS-DOS partition or floppy under Linux, and directly access MS-DOS files as you would any other. Currently under development is a project known as WINE—a Microsoft Windows emulator for the X Window System under Linux. Once WINE is complete, users will be able to run MS-Windows applications directly from Linux. This is similar to the proprietary WABI Windows emulator from Sun Microsystems. At the time of this writing, WINE is still in the early stages of development, but the outlook is good. In Chapter 5 we’ll talk about the MS-DOS tools available for Linux.


Other applications

A host of miscellany is available for Linux, as one would expect from such a hodgepodge operating system. Linux’s primary focus is currently for personal UNIX computing, but this is rapidly changing. Business and scientific software is expanding, and commercial software vendors are beginning to contribute to the growing pool of applications.


Chapter 1. Introduction to Linux

Several relational databases are available for Linux, including Postgres, Ingres, and Mbase. These are full-featured, professional client/server database applications similar to those found on other UNIX platforms. /rdb, a commercial database system, is available as well. Scientific computing applications include FELT (a finite element analysis tool); gnuplot (a plotting and data analysis application); Octave (a symbolic mathematics package, similar to MATLAB); xspread (a spreadsheet calculator); xfractint, an X-based port of the popular Fractint fractal generator; xlispstat (a statistics package), and more. Other applications include Spice (a circuit design and analysis tool) and Khoros (an image/digital signal processing and visualization system). Of course, there are many more such applications which have been, and can be, ported to run on Linux. Whatever your field, porting UNIX-based applications to Linux should be quite straightforward. Linux provides a complete UNIX programming interface, sufficient to serve as the base for any scientific application. As with any operating system, Linux has its share of games. These include classic text-based dungeon games such as Nethack and Moria; MUDs (multi-user dungeons, which allow many users to interact in a text-based adventure) such as DikuMUD and TinyMUD; as well as a slew of X games such as xtetris, netrek, and Xboard (the X11 version of gnuchess). The popular shoot-em-up arcade-style Doom has also been ported to Linux. For audiophiles, Linux has support for various sound cards and related software, such as CDplayer (a program which can control a CD-ROM drive as a conventional CD player, surprisingly enough), MIDI sequencers and editors (allowing you to compose music for playback through a synthesizer or other MIDIcontrolled instrument), and sound editors for digitized sounds. Can’t find the application you’re looking for? The Linux Software Map, described in Appendix A, contains a list of many software packages which have been written and ported to Linux. While this list is far from complete, it contains a great deal of software. Another way to find Linux applications is to look at the INDEX files found on Linux FTP sites, if you have Internet access. Just by poking around you’ll find a great deal of software just waiting to be played with. If you absolutely can’t find what you need, you can always attempt to port the application from another platform to Linux. Most freely distributable UNIX-based software will compile on Linux with few problems. Or, if all else fails, you can write the application yourself. If it’s a commercial application you’re looking for, there may be a free “clone” available. Or, you can encourage the software company to consider releasing a Linux binary version. Several individuals have contacted software companies, asking them to port their applications to Linux, and have met with various degrees of success.

1.5 About Linux’s Copyright
Linux is covered by what is known as the GNU General Public License, or GPL. The GPL was developed for the GNU project by the Free Software Foundation. It makes a number of provisions for the distribution and modification of “free software”. “Free” in this sense refers to freedom, not just cost. The GPL has always been subject to misinterpretation, and we hope that this summary will help you to understand the extent and goals of the GPL and its effect on Linux. A complete copy of the GPL is included in Appendix D. Originally, Linus Torvalds released Linux under a license more restrictive than the GPL, which allowed the software to be freely distributed and modified, but prevented any money changing hands for its distribution and use. On the other hand, the GPL allows people to sell and make profit from free software, but does not allow them to restrict the right for others to distribute the software in any way. First, it should be explained that “free software” covered by the GPL is not in the public domain. Public

1.6. The Design and Philosophy of Linux


domain software is software which is not copyrighted, and is literally owned by the public. Software covered by the GPL, on the other hand, is copyrighted to the author or authors. This means that the software is protected by standard international copyright laws, and that the author of the software is legally defined. Just because the software may be freely distributed does not mean that it is in the public domain. GPL-licensed software is also not “shareware”. Generally, “shareware” software is owned and copyrighted by the author, but the author requires users to send in money for its use after distribution. On the other hand, software covered by the GPL may be distributed and used free of charge. The GPL also allows people to take and modify free software, and distribute their own versions of the software. However, any derived works from GPL software must also be covered by the GPL. In other words, a company could not take Linux, modify it, and sell it under a restrictive license. If any software is derived from Linux, that software must be covered by the GPL as well. The GPL allows free software to be distributed and used free of charge. However, it also allows a person or organization to distribute GPL software for a fee, and even to make a profit from its sale and distribution. However, in selling GPL software, the distributor cannot take those rights away from the purchaser; that is, if you purchase GPL software from some source, you may distribute the software for free, or sell it yourself as well. This might sound like a contradiction at first. Why sell software for profit when the GPL allows anyone to obtain it for free? As an example, let’s say that some company decided to bundle a large amount of free software on a CD-ROM and distribute it. That company would need to charge for the overhead of producing and distributing the CD-ROM, and the company may even decide to make profit from the sales of software. This is allowed by the GPL. Organizations which sell free software must follow certain restrictions set forth in the GPL. First, they cannot restrict the rights of users who purchase the software. This means that if you buy a CD-ROM of GPL software, you can copy and distribute that CD-ROM free of charge, or resell it yourself. Secondly, distributors must make it obvious to users that the software is indeed covered by the GPL. Thirdly, distributors must provide, free of charge, the complete source code for the software being distributed. This will allow anyone who purchases GPL software to make modifications of that software. Allowing a company to distribute and sell free software is a very good thing. Not everyone has access to the Internet to download software, such as Linux, for free. The GPL allows companies to sell and distribute software to those people who do not have free (cost-wise) access to the software. For example, many organizations sell Linux on diskette, tape, or CD-ROM via mail order, and make profit from these sales. The developers of Linux may never see any of this profit; that is the understanding that is reached between the developer and the distributor when software is licensed by the GPL. In other words, Linus knew that companies may wish to sell Linux, and that he may not see a penny of the profits from those sales. In the free software world, the important issue is not money. The goal of free software is always to develop and distribute fantastic software and to allow anyone to obtain and use it. In the next section, we’ll discuss how this applies to the development of Linux.

1.6 The Design and Philosophy of Linux
When new users encounter Linux, they often have a few misconceptions and false expectations of the system. Linux is a unique operating system, and it is important to understand its philosophy and design in order to use it effectively. Time enough for a soapbox. Even if you are an aged UNIX guru, what follows is probably of interest to you. In commercial UNIX development houses, the entire system is developed with a rigorous policy of


Chapter 1. Introduction to Linux

quality assurance, source and revision control systems, documentation, and bug reporting and resolution. Developers are not allowed to add features or to change key sections of code on a whim: they must validate the change as a response to a bug report and consequently “check in” all changes to the source control system, so that the changes can be backed out if necessary. Each developer is assigned one or more parts of the system code, and only that developer may alter those sections of the code while it is “checked out”. Internally, the quality assurance department runs rigorous regression test suites on each new pass of the operating system, and reports any bugs. It is the responsibility of the developers to fix these bugs as reported. A complicated system of statistical analysis is employed to ensure that a certain percentage of bugs are fixed before the next release, and that the operating system as a whole passes certain release criteria. In all, the process used by commercial UNIX developers to maintain and support their code is very complicated, and quite reasonably so. The company must have quantitative proof that the next revision of the operating system is ready to be shipped; hence, the gathering and analysis of statistics about the operating system’s performance. It is a big job to develop a commercial UNIX system, often large enough to employ hundreds (if not thousands) of programmers, testers, documentors, and administrative personnel. Of course, no two commercial UNIX vendors are alike, but you get the general picture. With Linux, you can throw out the entire concept of organized development, source control systems, structured bug reporting, or statistical analysis. Linux is, and more than likely always will be, a hacker’s operating system.4 Linux is primarily developed as a group effort by volunteers on the Internet from all over the world. Across the Internet and beyond, anyone with enough know-how has the opportunity to aid in developing and debugging the kernel, porting new software, writing documentation, or helping new users. There is no single organization responsible for developing the system. For the most part, the Linux community communicates via various mailing lists and USENET newsgroups. A number of conventions have sprung up around the development effort: for example, anyone wishing to have their code included in the “official” kernel should mail it to Linus Torvalds, which he will test and include in the kernel (as long as it doesn’t break things or go against the overall design of the system, he will more than likely include it). The system itself is designed with a very open-ended, feature-minded approach. While recently the number of new features and critical changes to the system have diminished, the general rule is that a new version of the kernel will be released about every few months (sometimes even more frequently than this). Of course, this is a very rough figure: it depends on a several factors including the number of bugs to be fixed, the amount of feedback from users testing pre-release versions of the code, and the amount of sleep that Linus has had this week. Let it suffice to say that not every single bug has been fixed, and not every problem ironed out between releases. As long as the system appears to be free of critical or oft-manifesting bugs, it is considered “stable” and new revisions will be released. The thrust behind Linux development is not an effort to release perfect, bug-free code: it is to develop a free implementation of UNIX. Linux is for the developers, more than anyone else. Anyone who has a new feature or software application to add to the system generally makes it available in an “alpha” stage—that is, a stage for testing by those brave or unwary users who want to bash out problems with the initial code. Because the Linux community is largely based on the Internet, alpha software is usually uploaded to one or more of the various Linux FTP sites (see Appendix C) and a message posted to one of the Linux USENET newsgroups about how to get and test the code. Users who download and test alpha software can then mail results, bug fixes, or questions to the author.
4 What I mean by “hacker” is a feverishly dedicated programmer, a person who enjoys exploiting computers and generally doing interesting things with them. This is in contrast to the common denotation of “hacker” as a computer wrongdoer or outlaw.

1.6. The Design and Philosophy of Linux


After the initial problems in the alpha code have been fixed, the code enters a “beta” stage, in which it is usually considered stable but not complete (that is, it works, but not all of the features may be present). Otherwise, it may go directly to a “final” stage in which the software is considered complete and usable. For kernel code, once it is complete the developer may ask Linus to include it in the standard kernel, or as an optional add-on feature to the kernel. Keep in mind that these are only conventions—not rules. Some people feel so confident with their software that they don’t need to release an alpha or test version. It is always up to the developer to make these decisions. You might be amazed that such a nonstructured system of volunteers, programming and debugging a complete UNIX system, could get anything done at all. As it turns out, it is one of the most efficient and motivated development efforts ever employed. The entire Linux kernel was written from scratch, without employing any code from proprietary sources. A great deal of work was put forth by volunteers to port all of the free software under the sun to the Linux system. Libraries were written and ported, filesystems developed, and hardware drivers written for many popular devices. The Linux software is generally released as a distribution, which is a set of pre-packaged software making up an entire system. It would be quite difficult for most users to build a complete system from the ground up, starting with the kernel, adding utilities, and installing all of the necessary software by hand. Instead, there are a number of software distributions including everything that you need to install and run a complete system. Again, there is no standard distribution—there are many, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. We’ll talk more about the various available Linux distributions in Section 2.1. Despite the completeness of the Linux software, you will still need a bit of UNIX know-how to install and run a complete system. No distribution of Linux is completely bug-free, so you may be required to fix small problems by hand after installation. Running a UNIX system is not an easy task, not even for commercial versions of UNIX. If you’re serious about Linux, bear in mind that it will take a considerable amount of effort and attention on your part to keep the system running and take care of things: this is true of any UNIX system, and Linux is no exception. Because of the diversity of the Linux community and the many needs which the software is attempting to meet, not eveything can be taken care of for you all of the time.


Hints for UNIX novices

Installing and using your own Linux system does not require a great deal of background in UNIX. In fact, many UNIX novices successfully install Linux on their systems. This is a worthwhile learning experience, but keep in mind that it can be very frustrating to some. If you’re lucky, you will be able to install and start using your Linux system without any UNIX background. However, once you are ready to delve into the more complex tasks of running Linux—installing new software, recompiling the kernel, and so forth—having background knowledge in UNIX is going to be a necessity. Fortunately, by running your own Linux system you will be able to learn the essentials of UNIX necessary for these tasks. This book contains a good deal of information to help you get started—Chapter 3 is a tutorial covering UNIX basics, and Chapter 4 contains information on Linux system administration. You may wish to read these chapters before you attempt to install Linux at all—the information contained therein will prove to be invaluable should you run into problems. Nobody can expect to go from being a UNIX novice to a UNIX system administrator overnight. No implementation of UNIX is expected to run trouble- and maintenance-free. You must be aptly prepared for the journey which lies ahead. Otherwise, if you’re new to UNIX, you may very well become overly frustrated with the system.


Chapter 1. Introduction to Linux


Hints for UNIX gurus

Even those people with years of UNIX programming and systems administration experience may need assistance before they are able to pick up and install Linux. There are still aspects of the system that UNIX wizards will need to be familiar with before diving in. For one thing, Linux is not a commercial UNIX system. It does not attempt to uphold the same standards as other UNIX systems you have may have come across. To be more specific, while stability is an important factor in the development of Linux, it is not the only factor. More important, perhaps, is functionality. In many cases, new code will make it into the standard kernel even though it is still buggy and not functionally complete. The assumption is that it is more important to release code which users can test and use than delay a release until it is “complete”. As an example, WINE (the Microsoft Windows Emulator for Linux) had an “official” alpha release before it was completely tested. In this way, the Linux community at large had a chance to work with the code, test it, and help develop it, while those who found the alpha code “good enough” for their needs could use it. Commercial UNIX vendors rarely, if ever, release software in this manner. If you have been a UNIX systems administrator for more than a decade, and have used every commercial UNIX system under the Sun (no pun intended), Linux may take some getting used to. The system is very modern and dynamic. A new kernel release is made approximately every few months. New software is constantly being released. One day your system may be completely up-to-date with the current trend, and the next day the same system is considered to be in the Stone Age. With all of this dynamic activity, how can you be expected to keep up with the ever-changing Linux world? For the most part, it is best to upgrade incrementally; that is, upgrade only those parts of the system that need upgrading, and then only when you think an upgrade is necessary. For example, if you never use Emacs, there is little reason to continuously install every new release of Emacs on your system. Furthermore, even if you are an avid Emacs user, there is usually no reason to upgrade it unless you find that some feature is missing that is in the next release. There is little or no reason to always be on top of the newest version of software. We hope that Linux will meet or exceed your expectations of a homebrew UNIX system. At the very core of Linux is the spirit of free software, of constant development and growth. The Linux community favors expansion over stability, and that is a difficult concept to swallow for many people, especially those so steeped in the world of commercial UNIX. You cannot expect Linux to be perfect; nothing ever is in the free software world. However, we believe that Linux really is as complete and useful as any other implementation of UNIX.

1.7 Differences Between Linux and Other Operating Systems
It is important to understand the differences between Linux and other operating systems, such as MS-DOS, OS/2, and other implementations of UNIX for the personal computer. First of all, it should be made clear that Linux will coexist happily with other operating systems on the same machine: that is, you can run MS-DOS and OS/2 along with Linux on the same system without problems. There are even ways to interact between the various operating systems, as we’ll see.


Why use Linux?

Why use Linux instead of a well-known, well-tested, and well-documented commercial operating system? We could give you a thousand reasons. One of the most important, however, is that Linux is an excellent

1.7. Differences Between Linux and Other Operating Systems


choice for personal UNIX computing. If you’re a UNIX software developer, why use MS-DOS at home? Linux will allow you to develop and test UNIX software on your PC, including database and X Windows applications. If you’re a student, chances are that your university computing systems run UNIX. With Linux, you can run your own UNIX system and tailor it to your own needs. Installing and running Linux is also an excellent way to learn UNIX if you don’t have access to other UNIX machines. But let’s not lose sight. Linux isn’t just for personal UNIX users. It is robust and complete enough to handle large tasks, as well as distributed computing needs. Many businesses—especially small ones—are moving to Linux in lieu of other UNIX-based workstation environments. Universities are finding Linux to be perfect for teaching courses in operating systems design. Larger commercial software vendors are starting to realize the opportunities that a free operating system can provide. The following sections should point out the most important differences between Linux and other operating systems. We hope that you’ll find that Linux can meet your computing needs, or (at least) enhance your current computing environment. Keep in mind that they best way to get a taste for Linux is just to try it out—you needn’t even install a complete system to get a feel for it. In Chapter 2, we’ll show you how.


Linux vs. MS-DOS

It’s not uncommon to run both Linux and MS-DOS on the same system. Many Linux users rely on MS-DOS for applications such as word processing. While Linux provides its own analogues for these applications (for example, T X), there are various reasons why a particular user would want to run MS-DOS as well as E Linux. If your entire dissertation is written using WordPerfect for MS-DOS, you may not be able to easily convert it to TEX or some other format. There are many commercial applications for MS-DOS which aren’t available for Linux, and there’s no reason why you can’t use both. As you might know, MS-DOS does not fully utilize the functionality of the 80386 and 80486 processors. On the other hand, Linux runs completely in the processor’s protected mode, and exploits all of the features of the processor. You can directly access all of your available memory (and beyond, using virtual RAM). Linux provides a complete UNIX interface not available under MS-DOS—developing and porting UNIX applications under Linux is easily done, while under MS-DOS you are limited to a small subset of the UNIX programming functionality. Because Linux is a true UNIX system, you do not have these limitations. We could debate the pros and cons of MS-DOS and Linux for pages on end. However, let it suffice to say that Linux and MS-DOS are completely different entities. MS-DOS is inexpensive (compared to other commercial operating systems), and has a strong foothold in the PC computing world. No other operating system for the PC has reached the level of popularity of MS-DOS—largely because the cost of these other operating systems is unapproachable to most personal computer users. Very few PC users can imagine spending $1000 or more on the operating system alone. Linux, however, is free, and you finally have the chance to decide. We will allow you to make your own judgments of Linux and MS-DOS based on your expectations and needs. Linux is not for everybody. If you have always wanted to run a complete UNIX system at home, without the high cost of other UNIX implementations for the PC, Linux may be what you’re looking for. There are tools available to allow you to interact between Linux and MS-DOS. For example, it is easy to access MS-DOS files from Linux. There is also an MS-DOS emulator available, which allows you to run many popular MS-DOS applications. A Microsoft Windows emulator is currently under development.


Chapter 1. Introduction to Linux


Linux vs. The Other Guys

A number of other advanced operating systems are on the rise in the PC world. Specifically, IBM’s OS/2 and Microsoft’s Windows NT are becoming very popular as more users move away from MS-DOS. Both OS/2 and Windows NT are full multitasking operating systems, much like Linux. Technically, OS/2, Windows NT, and Linux are quite similar: they support roughly the same features in terms of user interface, networking, security, and so forth. However, the real difference between Linux and The Other Guys is the fact that Linux is a version of UNIX, and hence benefits from the contributions of the UNIX community at large. What makes UNIX so important? Not only is it the most popular operating system for multiuser machines, it is also the foundation for the majority of the free software world. If you have access to the Internet, nearly all of the free software available there is written specifically for UNIX systems. (The Internet itself is largely UNIX-based.) There are many implementations of UNIX, from many vendors, and no single organization is responsible for distribution. There is a large push in the UNIX community for standardization in the form of open systems, but no single corporation controls this design. Hence, any vendor (or, as it turns out, any hacker) may implement these standards in an implementation of UNIX. OS/2 and Windows NT, on the other hand, are proprietary systems. The interface and design are controlled by a single corporation, and only that corporation may implement that design. (Don’t expect to see a free version of OS/2 anytime in the near future.) In one sense, this kind of organization is beneficial: it sets a strict standard for the programming and user interface unlike that found even in the open systems community. OS/2 is OS/2 wherever you go—the same holds for Windows NT. However, the UNIX interface is constantly developing and changing. Several organizations are attempting to standardize the programming model, but the task is very difficult. Linux, in particular, is mostly compliant with the POSIX.1 standard for the UNIX programming interface. As time goes on, it is expected that the system will adhere to other such standards, but standardization is not the primary issue in the Linux development community.


Other implementations of UNIX

There are several other implementations of UNIX for the 80386 and 80486. The 80386 architecture lends itself to the UNIX design, and a number of vendors have taken advantage of this. Feature-wise, other implementations of UNIX for the PC are quite similar to Linux. You will see that almost all commercial versions of UNIX support roughly the same software, programming environment, and networking features. However, there are some strong differences between Linux and commercial versions of UNIX. First of all, Linux supports a different range of hardware from commercial implementations. In general, Linux supports the most well-known hardware devices, but support is still limited to that hardware which developers actually have access to. However, commercial UNIX vendors generally have a wider support base, and tend to support more hardware, although Linux is not far behind. We’ll cover the hardware requirements for Linux in Section 1.8. Secondly, commercial implementations of UNIX usually come bundled with a complete set of documentation as well as user support from the vendor. In contrast, most of the documentation for Linux is limited to documents available on the Internet—and books such as this one. In Section 1.9 we’ll list sources of Linux documentation and other information.

1.8. Hardware Requirements


As far as stability and robustness are concerned, many users have reported that Linux is at least as stable as commercial UNIX systems. Linux is still under development, and certain features (such TCP/IP networking) are less stable but improve as time goes by. The most important factor to consider for many users is price. The Linux software is free, if you have access to the Internet (or another computer network) and can download it. If you do not have access to such a network, you may need to purchase it via mail order on diskette, tape, or CD-ROM (see Appendix B). Of course, you may copy Linux from a friend who may already have the software, or share the cost of purchasing it with someone else. If you are planning to install Linux on a large number of machines, you need only purchase a single copy of the software—Linux is not distributed on a “single machine” license. The value of commercial UNIX implementations should not be demeaned: along with the price of the software itself, one usually pays for documentation, support, and assurance of quality. These are very important factors for large institutions, but personal computer users may not require these benefits. In any case, many businesses and universities are finding that running Linux on a lab of inexpensive personal computers is preferrable to running a commercial version of UNIX in a lab of workstations. Linux can provide the functionality of a workstation on PC hardware at a fraction of the cost. As a “real-world” example of Linux’s use within the computing community, Linux systems have traveled the high seas of the North Pacific, managing telecommunications and data analysis for an oceanographic research vessel. Linux systems are being used at research stations in Antarctica. As a more mundane example, perhaps, several hospitals are using Linux to maintain patient records. It is proving to be as reliable and useful as other implementations of UNIX. There are other free or inexpensive implementations of UNIX for the 386 and 486. One of the most well-known is 386BSD, an implementation and port of BSD UNIX for the 386. 386BSD is comparable to Linux in many ways, but which one is “better” depends on your own personal needs and expectations. The only strong distinction that we can make is that Linux is developed openly (where any volunteer can aid in the development process), while 386BSD is developed within a closed team of programmers who maintain the system. Because of this, serious philosophical and design differences exist between the two projects. The goals of the two projects are entirely different: the goal of Linux is to develop a complete UNIX system from scratch (and have a lot of fun in the process), and the goal of 386BSD is in part to modify the existing BSD code for use on the 386. NetBSD is another port of the BSD NET/2 distribution to a number of machines, including the 386. NetBSD has a slightly more open development structure, and is comparable to 386BSD in many respects. Another project of note is HURD, an effort by the Free Software Foundation to develop and distribute a free version of UNIX for many platforms. Contact the Free Software Foundation (the address is given in Appendix D) for more information about this project. At the time of this writing, HURD is still in early stages of development. Other inexpensive versions of UNIX exist as well, such as Coherent (available for about $99) and Minix (an academic but useful UNIX clone upon which early development of Linux was based). Some of these implementations are of mostly academic interest, while others are full-fledged systems for real productivity. Needless to say, however, many personal UNIX users are moving to Linux.

1.8 Hardware Requirements
Now you must be convinced of how wonderful Linux is, and all of the great things that it can do for you. However, before you rush out and install the software, you need to be aware of the hardware requirements and limitations that Linux has.


Chapter 1. Introduction to Linux

Keep in mind that Linux was developed by its users. This means, for the most part, that the hardware which is supported by Linux is only the hardware which the users and developers actually have access to. As it turns out, most of the popular hardware and peripherals for 80386/80486 systems are supported (in fact, Linux supports more hardware than some commercial implementations of UNIX). However, some of the more obscure and esoteric devices aren’t supported yet. As time goes on, a wider range of hardware is supported, so if your favorite devices aren’t listed here, chances are that support for them is forthcoming. Another drawback for hardware support under Linux is that many companies have decided to keep the hardware interface proprietary. The upshot of this is that volunteer Linux developers simply can’t write drivers for those devices (if they could, those drivers would be owned by the company that owned the interface, which would violate the GPL). The companies that maintain proprietary interfaces write their own drivers for operating systems such as MS-DOS and Microsoft Windows; the end user (that’s you) never needs to know about the interface. Unfortunately, this does not allow Linux developers to write drivers for those devices. There is very little that can be done about the situation. In some cases, programmers have attempted to write hackish drivers based on assumptions about the interface. In other cases, developers will work with the company in question and attempt to obtain information about the device interface, with varying degrees of success. In the following sections, we’ll attempt to summarize the hardware requirements for Linux. The Linux Hardware HOWTO (see Section 1.9) contains a more complete listing of hardware supported by Linux. Disclaimer: a good deal of hardware support for Linux is currently in the development stage. Some distributions may or may not support these experimental features. This section primarily lists hardware which has been supported for some time and is known to be stable. When in doubt, consult the documentation for the distribution of Linux you are using (see Section 2.1 for more information on Linux distributions).


Motherboard and CPU requirements

Linux currently supports systems with an Intel 80386, 80486, or Pentium CPU. This includes all variations on this CPU type, such as the 386SX, 486SX, 486DX, and 486DX2. Non-Intel “clones”, such as AMD and Cyrix processors, work with Linux as well. If you have a 80386 or 80486SX, you may also wish to use a math coprocessor, although one isn’t required (the Linux kernel can do FPU emulation if you do not have a math coprocessor). All standard FPU couplings are supported, such as IIT, Cyrix FasMath, and Intel coprocessors. The system motherboard must use ISA or EISA bus architecture. These terms define how the system interfaces with peripherals and other components on the main bus. Most systems sold today are either ISA or EISA bus. IBM’s MicroChannel (MCA) bus, found on machines such as the IBM PS/2, is not currently supported. Systems which use a local bus architecture (for faster video and disk access) are supported as well. It is suggested that you have a standard local bus architecture such as the VESA Local Bus (“VLB”).


Memory requirements

Linux requires very little memory to run compared to other advanced operating systems. You should have at the very least 2 megabytes of RAM; however, it is strongly suggested that you have 4 megabytes. The more memory you have, the faster the system will run.

1.8. Hardware Requirements


Linux can support the full 32-bit address range of the 386/486; in other words, it will utilize all of your RAM automatically. Linux will run happily with only 4 megabytes of RAM, including all of the bells and whistles such as X Windows, Emacs, and so on. However, having more memory is almost as important as having a faster processor. 8 megabytes is more than enough for personal use; 16 megabytes or more may be needed if you are expecting a heavy user load on the system. Most Linux users allocate a portion of their hard drive as swap space, which is used as virtual RAM. Even if you have a great deal of physical RAM in your machine, you may wish to use swap space. While swap space is no replacement for actual physical RAM, it can allow your system to run larger applications by swapping out inactive portions of code to disk. The amount of swap space that you should allocate depends on several factors; we’ll come back to this question in Section 2.2.3.


Hard drive controller requirements

You do not need to have a hard drive to run Linux; you can run a minimal system completely from floppy. However, this is slow and very limited, and many users have access to hard drive storage anyway. You must have an AT-standard (16-bit) controller. There is support in the kernel for XT-standard (8 bit) controllers; however, most controllers used today are AT-standard. Linux should support all MFM, RLL, and IDE controllers. Most, but not all, ESDI controllers are supported—only those which do ST506 hardware emulation. The general rule for non-SCSI hard drive and floppy controllers is that if you can access the drive from MS-DOS or another operating system, you should be able to access it from Linux. Linux also supports a number of popular SCSI drive controllers, although support for SCSI is more limited because of the wide range of controller interface standards. Supported SCSI controllers include the Adaptec AHA1542B, AHA1542C, AHA1742A (BIOS version 1.34), AHA1522, AHA1740, AHA1740 (SCSI-2 controller, BIOS 1.34 in Enhanced mode); Future Domain 1680, TMC-850, TMC-950; Seagate ST-02; UltraStor SCSI; Western Digital WD7000FASST. Clones which are based on these cards should work as well.


Hard drive space requirements

Of course, to install Linux, you’ll need to have some amount of free space on your hard drive. Linux will support multiple hard drives in the same machine; you can allocate space for Linux across multiple drives if necessary. The amount of hard drive space that you will require depends greatly on your needs and the amount of software that you’re installing. Linux is relatively small as UNIX implementations go; you could run a complete system in 10 to 20 megabytes of space on your drive. However, if you want to have room for expansion, and for larger packages such as X Windows, you will need more space. If you plan to allow multiple users to use the machine, you will need to allocate storage for their files. Also, unless you have a large amount of physical RAM (16 megabytes or more), you will more than likely want to allocate swap space, to be used as virtual RAM. We will discuss all of the details of installing and using swap space in Section 2.2.3. Each distribution of Linux usually comes with some literature that should help you to gauge the precise amount of required storage depending on the amount of software you plan to install. You can run a minimal system with less than 20 megabytes; a complete system with all of the bells and whistles in 80 megabytes or less; and a very large system with room for many users and space for future expansion in the range of


Chapter 1. Introduction to Linux

100-150 megabytes. Again, these figures are meant only as a ballpark approximation; you will have to look at your own needs and goals in order to determine your specific storage requirements.


Monitor and video adaptor requirements

Linux supports all standard Hercules, CGA, EGA, VGA, IBM monochrome, and Super VGA video cards and monitors for the default text-based interface. In general, if the video card and monitor coupling works under another operating system such as MS-DOS, it should work fine with Linux. Original IBM CGA cards suffer from “snow” under Linux, which is not pleasant to use. Graphical environments such as the X Window System have video hardware requirements of their own. Instead of listing these requirements here, we relegate the discussion to Section 5.1.1. In short, to run the X Window System on your Linux machine, you will need one of the video cards listed in that section.


Miscellaneous hardware

The above sections described the hardware which is required to run a Linux system. However, most users have a number of “optional” devices such as tape and CD-ROM storage, sound boards, and so on, and are interested in whether or not this hardware is supported by Linux. Read on.

Mice and other pointing devices

For the most part, you will only be using a mouse under a graphical environment such as the X Window System. However, several Linux applications not associated with a graphics environment do make use of the mouse. Linux supports all standard serial mice, including Logitech, MM series, Mouseman, Microsoft (2-button) and Mouse Systems (3-button). Linux also supports Microsoft, Logitech, and ATIXL busmice. The PS/2 mouse interface is supported as well. All other pointing devices, such as trackballs, which emulate the above mice, should work as well.

CD-ROM storage

Almost all CD-ROM drives use the SCSI interface. As long as you have a SCSI adaptor supported by Linux, then your CD-ROM drive should work. A number of CD-ROM drives have been verified to work under Linux, including the NEC CDR-74, Sony CDU-541, and Texel DM-3024. The Sony internal CDU-31a and the Mitsumi CD-ROM drives are supported by Linux as well. Linux supports the standard ISO-9660 filesystem for CD-ROMs.

Tape drives

There are several types of tape drives available on the market. Most of them use the SCSI interface, all of which should be supported by Linux. Among the verified SCSI tape drives are the Sanyo CP150SE; Tandberg 3600; Wangtek 5525ES, 5150ES, and 5099EN with the PC36 adaptor. Other QIC-02 drives should be supported as well. Drivers are currently under development for various other tape devices, such as Colorado drives which hang off of the floppy controller.

1.8. Hardware Requirements



Linux supports the complete range of parallel printers. If you are able to access your printer via the parallel port from MS-DOS or another operating system, you should be able to access it from Linux as well. The Linux printing software consists of the UNIX standard lp and lpr software. This software also allows you to print remotely via the network, if you have one available.


As with printer support, Linux supports the full range of serial modems, both internal and external. There is a great deal of telecommunications software available for Linux, including Kermit, pcomm, minicom, and Seyon. If your modem is accessible from another operating system on the same machine, you should be able to access it from Linux with no difficulty.


Ethernet cards

Many popular Ethernet cards and LAN adaptors are supported by Linux. These include: 

3com 3c503, 3c503/16  Novell NE1000, NE2000  Western Digital WD8003, WD8013  Hewlett Packard HP27245, HP27247, HP27250  D-Link DE-600
The following clones are reported to work: 

LANNET LEC-45  Alta Combo  Artisoft LANtastic AE-2  Asante Etherpak 2001/2003,  D-Link Ethernet II  LTC E-NET/16 P/N 8300-200-002  Network Solutions HE-203,  SVEC 4 Dimension Ethernet  4-Dimension FD0490 EtherBoard 16
Clones which are compatible with any of the above cards should work as well.


Chapter 1. Introduction to Linux

1.9 Sources of Linux Information
As you have probably guessed, there are many sources of information about Linux available apart from this book. In particular, there are a number of books, not specific to Linux but rather about UNIX in general, that will be of importance, especially to those readers without previous UNIX experience. If you are new to the UNIX world, we seriously suggest that you take the time to peruse one of these books before you attempt to brave the jungles of Linux. Specifically, the book Learning the UNIX Operating System, by Grace Todino and John Strang, is a good place to start. Many of the following sources of information are available online in some electronic form. That is, you must have access to an online network, such as the Internet, USENET, or Fidonet, in order to access the information contained therein. If you do not have online access to any of this material, you might be able to find someone kind enough to give you hardcopies of the documents in question. Read on.


Online documents

If you have access to the Internet, there are many Linux documents available via anonymous FTP from archive sites all over the world. If you do not have direct Internet access, these documents may still be available to you: many Linux distributions on CD-ROM contain all of the documents mentioned here. Also, they are distributed on many other networks, such as Fidonet and CompuServe. If you are able to send mail to Internet sites, you may be able to retrieve these files using one of the ftpmail servers which will electronically mail you the documents or files from FTP archive sites. See Appendix C for more information on using ftpmail. There is a great number of FTP archive sites which carry Linux software and related documents. A list of well-known Linux archive sites is given in Appendix C. In order to reduce network traffic, you should always use the FTP site which is geographically (network-wise) closest to you. Appendix A contains a listing of some of the Linux documents which are available via anonymous FTP. The filenames will differ depending on the archive site in question; most sites keep Linux-related documents in the docs subdirectory of their Linux archive space. For example, on the FTP site, Linux files are stored in the directory /pub/Linux, with Linux-related documentation being found in /pub/Linux/docs. Examples of available online documents are the Linux FAQ, a collection of frequently asked questions about Linux; the Linux HOWTO documents, each describing a specific aspect of the system—including the Installation HOWTO, the Printing HOWTO, and the Ethernet HOWTO; and, the Linux META-FAQ, a list of other sources of Linux information on the Internet. Most of these documents are also regularly posted to one or more Linux-related USENET newsgroups; see Section 1.9.4 below.


Linux on the World Wide Web

The Linux Documentation Home Page is available for World Wide Web users at the URL

This page contains many HOWTOs and other documents in HTML format, as well as pointers to other sites of interest to Linux users.

1.9. Sources of Linux Information



Books and other published works

At this time, there are few published works specifically about Linux. Most noteworthy are the books from the Linux Documentation Project, a project carried out over the Internet to write and distribute a bona fide set of “manuals” for Linux. These manuals are analogues to the documentation sets available with commercial versions of UNIX: they cover everything from installing Linux, to using and running the system, programming, networking, kernel development, and more. The Linux Documentation Project manuals are available via anonymous FTP from the Internet, as well as via mail order from several sources. Appendix A lists the manuals which are available and covers means of obtaining them in detail. There are not many books specifically about Linux currently available. However, there are a large number of books about UNIX in general which are certainly applicable to Linux—as far as using and programming the system is concerned, Linux does not differ greatly from other implementations of UNIX. In short, almost everything you want to know about using and programming Linux can be found in sources meant for a general UNIX audience. In fact, this book is meant to be complemented by the large library of UNIX books currently available; here, we present the most important Linux-specific details and hope that you will look to other sources for more in-depth information. Armed with a number of good books about using UNIX, as well as the book you hold in your hands, you should be able to tackle just about anything. Appendix A includes a list of highly-recommended UNIX books, both for UNIX newcomers and UNIX wizards alike. There is also a monthly magazine about Linux, called the Linux Journal. It is distributed worldwide, and is an excellent way to keep in touch with the many goings-on in the Linux community—especially if you do not have access to USENET news (see below). See Appendix A for information on subscribing to the Linux Journal.


USENET newsgroups

USENET is a worldwide electronic news and discussion forum with a heavy contingent of so-called “newsgroups”—discussion areas devoted to a particular topic. Much of the development of Linux has been done over the waves of the Internet and USENET, and not suprisingly there are a number of USENET newsgroups available for discussions about Linux. The original Linux newsgroup was alt.os.linux, and was created to move some of the discussions about Linux out of comp.os.minix and the various mailing lists. Soon, the traffic on alt.os.linux grew to be large enough that a newsgroup in the comp hierarchy was warranted; a vote was taken in February of 1992, and comp.os.linux was created. comp.os.linux quickly became one of the most popular (and loudest) USENET groups; more popular than any other comp.os group. In December of 1992, a vote was taken to split the newsgroup in order to reduce traffic; only comp.os.linux.announce passed this vote. In July of 1993, the group was finally split into the new hierarchy. Almost 2000 people voted in the comp.os.linux reorganization, making it one of the largest USENET Call For Votes ever. If you do not have direct USENET access, but are able to send and receive electronic mail from the Internet, there are mail-to-news gateways available for each of the newsgroups below. comp.os.linux.announce comp.os.linux.announce is a moderated newsgroup for announcements and important postings about the Linux system (such as bug reports, important patches to software,


Chapter 1. Introduction to Linux

and so on). If you read any Linux newsgroups at all, read this one. Often, the important postings in this group are not crossposted to other groups. This group also contains many periodic postings about Linux, including many of the online documents described in the last section and listed in Appendix A. Postings to this newsgroup must be approved by the moderators, Matt Welsh and Lars Wirzenius. If you wish to submit and article to this group, in most cases you can simply post the article as you normally would (using Pnews or whatever posting software that you have available); the news software will automatically forward the article to the moderators for approval. However, if your news system is not set up correctly, you may need to mail the article directly; the submission address is The rest of the Linux newsgroups listed below are unmoderated. This is the most popular Linux newsgroup. It is for questions and answers about using, setting up, or otherwise running a Linux system. If you are having problems with Linux, you may post to this newsgroup, and hopefully receive a reply from someone who might be able to help. However, it is strongly suggested that you read all of the available Linux documentation before posting questions to this newsgroup. comp.os.linux.admin This newsgroup is for questions and discussion about running a Linux system, most commonly in an active, multi-user environment. Any discussion about administrative issues of Linux (such as packaging software, making backups, handling users, and so on) is welcome here. comp.os.linux.development This is a newsgroup for discussions about development of the Linux system. All issues related to kernel and system software development should be discussed here. For example, if you are writing a kernel driver and need help with certain aspects of the programming, this would be the place to ask. This newsgroup is also for discussions about the direction and goals behind the Linux development effort, as described (somewhat) in Section 1.6. It should be noted that this newsgroup is not (technically) for discussions about development of software for Linux, but rather for discussions of development of Linux. That is, issues dealing with applications programming under Linux should be discussed in another Linux newsgroup; comp.os.linux.development is about developing the Linux system itself, including the kernel, system libraries, and so on. comp.os.linux.misc This newsgroup is for all discussion which doesn’t quite fit into the other available Linux groups. In particular, advocacy wars (the incessant “Linux versus Windows NT” thread, for example), should be waged here, as opposed to in the technical Linux groups. Any nontechnical or metadiscourse about the Linux system should remain in comp.os.linux.misc.

It should be noted that the newsgroup comp.os.linux, which was originally the only Linux group, has been superseded by the new hierarchy of groups. If you have access to comp.os.linux, but not to the newer Linux groups listed above, encourage your news administrator to create the new groups on your system.

1.10. Getting Help



Internet mailing lists

If you have access to Internet electronic mail, you can participate in a number of mailing lists even if you do not have USENET access. Note that if you are not directly on the Internet, you can join one of these mailing lists as long as you are able to exchange electronic mail with the Internet (for example, UUCP, FidoNET, CompuServe, and other networks all have access to Internet mail). The “Linux Activists” mailing list is primarily for Linux developers and people interested in aiding the development process. This is a “multi-channel” mailing list, in which you join one or more “channels” based on your particular interests. Some of the available channels include: NORMAL, for general Linux-related issues; KERNEL, for kernel development; GCC, for discussions relating to the gcc compiler and library development; NET, for discussions about the TCP/IP networking code; DOC, for issues relating to writing and distributing Linux documentation; and more. For more information about the Linux Activists mailing list, send mail to

You will receive a list of currently available channels, including information on how to subscribe and unsubscribe to particular channels on the list. Quite a few special-purpose mailing lists about and for Linux exist as well. The best way to find out about these is to watch the Linux USENET newsgroups for announcements, as well as to read the list of publicly-available mailing lists, periodically posted to the USENET group news.answers.

1.10 Getting Help
You will undoubtedly require some degree of assistance during your adventures in the Linux world. Even the most wizardly of UNIX wizards occasionally is stumped by some quirk or feature of Linux, and it’s important to know how and where to find help when you need it. The primary means of getting help in the Linux world are via Internet mailing lists and USENET newsgroups, as discussed in Section 1.9. If you don’t have online access to these sources, you might be able to find comparable Linux discussion forums on other online services, such as on local BBS’s, CompuServe, and so on. A number of businesses are providing commercial support for Linux. This will allow you to pay a “subscription fee” which will allow you to call the consultants for help with your Linux problems. Appendix B contains a list of Linux vendors, some of which provide commercial support. However, if you have access to USENET and Internet mail, you may find the free support found there to be just as useful. Keeping the following suggestions in mind will greatly improve your experiences with Linux and will guarantee you more success in finding help to your problems. Consult all available documentation: : : first! The first thing you should do when encountering a problem is consult the various sources of information listed in Section 1.9 and Appendix A. These documents were laboriously written for people like you—people who need help with the Linux system. Even books written for UNIX in general are applicable to Linux, and you should take advantage of them. More than likely, you will find the answer to your problems somewhere in this documentation, as impossible as it may seem. If you have access to USENET news or any of the Linux-related mailing lists, be sure to actually read the information there before posting for help with your problem. Many times, solutions to common problems are not easy to find in documentation, and instead are well-covered in the newsgroups and mailing lists devoted to Linux. If you only post to these groups, and don’t actually read them, you are asking for trouble.


Chapter 1. Introduction to Linux

Learn to appreciate self-maintenance. In most cases, it is preferable to do as much independent research and investigation into the problem as possible before seeking outside help. After all, you asked for it, by running Linux in the first place! Remember that Linux is all about hacking and fixing problems yourself. It is not a commercial operating system, nor does it try to look like one. Hacking won’t kill you. In fact, it will teach you a great deal about the system to investigate and solve problems yourself—maybe even enough to one day call yourself a Linux guru. Learn to appreciate the value of hacking the system, and how to fix problems yourself. You can’t expect to run a complete, homebrew Linux system without some degree of handiwork. Remain calm. It is vital to refrain from getting frustrated with the system, at all costs. Nothing is earned by taking an axe—or worse, a powerful electromagnet—to your Linux system in a fit of anger. The authors have found that a large punching bag or similar inanimate object is a wonderful way to relieve the occasional stress attack. As Linux matures and distributions become more reliable, we hope that this problem will go away. However, even commercial UNIX implementations can be tricky at times. When all else fails, sit back, take a few deep breaths, and go after the problem again when you feel relaxed. Your mind and conscience will be clearer. Refrain from posting spuriously. Many people make the mistake of posting or mailing messages pleading for help prematurely. When encountering a problem, do not—we repeat, do not—rush immediately to your nearest terminal and post a message to one of the Linux USENET newsgroups. Often, you will catch your own mistake five minutes later and find yourself in the curious situation of defending your own sanity in a public forum. Before posting anything any of the Linux mailing lists or newsgroups, first attempt to resolve the problem yourself and be absolutely certain what the problem is. Does your system not respond when switched on? Perhaps the machine is unplugged. If you do post for help, make it worthwhile. If all else fails, you may wish to post a message for help in any of the number of electronic forums dedicated to Linux, such as USENET newsgroups and mailing lists. When posting, remember that the people reading your post are not there to help you. The network is not your personal consulting service. Therefore, it is important to remain as polite, terse, and informative as possible. How can one accomplish this? First, you should include as much (relevant) information about your system and your problem as possible. Posting the simple request, “I cannot seem to get e-mail to work” will probably get you nowhere unless you include information on your system, what software you are using, what you have attempted to do so far and what the results were. When including technical information, it is usually a good idea to include general information on the version(s) of your software (Linux kernel version, for example), as well as a brief summary of your hardware configuration. However, don’t overdo it—including information on the brand and type of monitor that you have probably is irrelevant if you’re trying to configure networking software. Secondly, remember that you need to make some attempt—however feeble—at solving your problem before you go to the Net. If you have never attempted to set up electronic mail, for instance, and first decide to ask folks on the Net how to go about doing it, you are making a big mistake. There are a number of documents available (see the Section 1.9) on how to get started with many common tasks under Linux. The idea is to get as far along as possible on your own and then ask for help if and when you get stuck. Also remember that the people reading your message, however helpful, may occasionally get frustrated by seeing the same problem over and over again. Be sure to actually read the Linux newsgroups and mailing lists before posting your problems. Many times, the solution to your problem has been discussed repeatedly, and all that’s required to find it is to browse the current messages. Lastly, when posting to electronic newsgroups and mailing lists, try to be as polite as possible. It is much more effective and worthwhile to be polite, direct, and informative—more people will be willing to help you if you master a humble tone. To be sure, the flame war is an art form across many forms of electronic

1.10. Getting Help


communication, but don’t allow that to preoccupy your and other people’s time. Save the network undue wear and tear by keeping bandwidth as low as possible, and by paying as much attention to other sources of information which are available to you. The network is an excellent way to get help with your Linux problems—but it is important to know how to use the network effectively.

Chapter 2

Obtaining and Installing Linux
In this chapter, we’ll describe how to obtain the Linux software, in the form of one of the various prepackaged distributions, and how to install the distribution that you choose. As we have mentioned, there is no single “official” distribution of the Linux software; there are, in fact, many distributions, each of which serves a particular purpose and set of goals. These distributions are available via anonymous FTP from the Internet, on BBS systems worldwide, and via mail on diskette, tape, and CD-ROM. Here, we present a general overview of the installation process. Each distribution has its own specific installation instructions, but armed with the concepts presented here you should be able to feel your way through any installation. Appendix A lists sources of information for installation instructions and other help, if you’re at a total loss. This book contains additional sections detailing the Slackware distribution of Linux.

2.1 Distributions of Linux
Because Linux is free software, no single organization or entity is responsible for releasing and distributing the software. Therefore, anyone is free to put together and distribute the Linux software, as long as the restrictions in the GPL are observed. The upshot of this is that there are many distributions of Linux, available via anonymous FTP or via mail order. You are now faced with the task of deciding upon a particular distribution of Linux which suits your needs. Not all distributions are alike. Many of them come with just about all of the software you’d need to run a complete system—and then some. Other Linux distributions are “small” distributions intended for users without copious amounts of diskspace. Many distributions contain only the core Linux software, and you are expected to install larger software packages, such as the X Window System, yourself. (In Chapter 4 we’ll show you how.) The Linux Distribution HOWTO (see Appendix A) contains a list of Linux distributions available via the Internet as well as mail order. Appendix B also lists contact addresses for a number of Linux mail-order vendors. If you purchased this book in printed the form, the publisher should also be able to provide you with a Linux distribution or tell you who can. How can you decide among all of these distributions? If you have access to USENET news, or another computer conferencing system, you might want to ask there for personal opinions from people who have installed Linux. Even better, if you know someone who has installed Linux, ask them for help and advice. 44

2.1. Distributions of Linux


There are many factors to consider when choosing a distribution, however, everyone’s needs and opinions are different. In actuality, most of the popular Linux distributions contain roughly the same set of software, so the distribution that you select is more or less arbitrary. This book contains information on installing the popular Slackware and Slackware Pro distributions of Linux.


Getting Linux from the Internet

If you have access to the Internet, the easiest way to obtain Linux is via anonymous FTP.1 Appendix C lists a number of FTP archive sites which carry Linux software. One of these is, and the various Linux distributions can be found in the directory

there. Many distributions are released via anonymous FTP as a set of disk images. That is, the distribution consists of a set of files, and each file contains the binary image of a floppy. In order to copy the contents of the image file onto the floppy, you can use the RAWRITE.EXE program under MS-DOS. This program 2 copies, block-for-block, the contents of a file to a floppy, without regard for disk format. RAWRITE.EXE is available on the various Linux FTP sites, including in the directory

Therefore, in many cases, you simply download the set of diskette images, and use RAWRITE.EXE with each image in turn to create a set of diskettes. You boot from the so-called “boot diskette” and you’re ready to roll. The software is usually installed directly from the floppies, although some distributions allow you to install from an MS-DOS partition on your hard drive. Some distributions allow you to install over a TCP/IP network. The documentation for each distribution should describe these installation methods if they are available. Other Linux distributions are installed from a set of MS-DOS format floppies. For example, the Slackware distribution of Linux requires only the boot and root diskettes to be created using RAWRITE.EXE. The rest of the diskettes are copied to MS-DOS format diskettes using the MS-DOS COPY command. The system installs the software directly from the MS-DOS floppies. This saves you the trouble of having to use RAWRITE.EXE for many image files, although it requires you to have access to an MS-DOS system to create the diskettes. Each distribution of Linux available via anonymous FTP should include a README file describing how to download and prepare the diskettes for installation. Be sure to read all of the available documentation for the release that you are using. When downloading the Linux software, be sure to use binary mode for all file transfers (with most FTP clients, the command “binary” enables this mode). See Section 2.1.4, below, for information on obtaining the Slackware distribution from the Internet.
1 If you do not have direct Internet access, you can obtain Linux via the ftpmail service, provided that you have the ability to exchange e-mail with the Internet. See Appendix C for details. 2 If you have access to a UNIX workstation with a floppy drive, you can also use the dd command to copy the file image directly to the floppy. A command such as “dd of=/dev/rfd0 if=foo bs=18k” will “raw write” the contents of the file foo to the floppy device on a Sun workstation. Consult your local UNIX gurus for more information on your system’s floppy devices and the use of dd.


Chapter 2. Obtaining and Installing Linux


Getting Linux from other online sources

If you have access to another computer network such as CompuServe or Prodigy, there may be a means to download the Linux software from these sources. In addition, many bulletin board (BBS) systems carry Linux software. A list of Linux BBS sites is given in Appendix C.8. Not all Linux distributions are available from these computer networks, however—many of them, especially the various CD-ROM distributions, are only available via mail order.


Getting Linux via mail order

If you don’t have Internet or BBS access, many Linux distributions are available via mail order on diskette, tape, or CD-ROM. Appendix B lists a number of these distributors. Many of them accept credit cards as well as international orders, so if you’re not in the United States or Canada you still should be able to obtain Linux in this way. Linux is free software, although distributors are allowed by the GPL to charge a fee for it. Therefore, ordering Linux via mail order might cost you between US$30 and US$150, depending on the distribution. However, if you know someone who has already purchased or downloaded a release of Linux, you are free to borrow or copy their software for your own use. Linux distributors are not allowed to restrict the license or redistribution of the software in any way. If you are thinking about installing an entire lab of machines with Linux, for example, you only need to purchase a single copy of one of the distributions, which can be used to install all of the machines.


Getting Slackware

Slackware is a popular distribution of Linux maintained by Patrick Volkerding.3 It is easy to install and fairly complete, and may be obtained both from the Internet as well as on CD-ROM from a number of vendors (see Appendix B). The Slackware distribution consists of a number of “disk sets”, each one containing a particular type of software (for example, the d disk set contains development tools such as the gcc compiler, and the x disk set contains the X Window System software). You can elect to install whatever disk sets you like, and can install new ones later. The version of Slackware described here is 2.0.0, of 25 June 1994. Installation of later versions of Slackware should be very similar to the information given here.

Slackware disk sets

Unfortunately, Slackware does not maintain a complete list of diskspace requirements for each disk set. You need at least 7 megabytes to install just the “A” series of disks; a very rough estimate of the required diskspace would be 2 or 2.5 megabytes per disk. The following disk sets are available: A The base system. Enough to get up and running and have elvis and comm programs available. Based around the 1.0.9 Linux kernel, and the new filesystem standard (FSSTND).
3 Patrick

Volkerding can be reached on the Internet at

2.1. Distributions of Linux


These disks are known to fit on 1.2M disks, although the rest of Slackware won’t. If you have only a 1.2M floppy, you can still install the base system, download other disks you want and install them from your hard drive. AP Various applications and add ons, such as the manual pages, groff, ispell (GNU and international versions), term, joe, jove, ghostscript, sc, bc, and the quota patches. Program development. GCC/G++/Objective C 2.5.8, make (GNU and BSD), byacc and GNU bison, flex, the 4.5.26 C libraries, gdb, kernel source for 1.0.9, SVGAlib, ncurses, clisp, f2c, p2c, m4, perl, rcs. GNU Emacs 19.25. A collection of FAQs and other documentation. Info pages for GNU software. Documentation for various programs readable by info or Emacs. Networking. TCP/IP, UUCP, mailx, dip, deliver, elm, pine, smail, cnews, nn, tin, trn. Object Oriented Programming. GNU Smalltalk 1.1.1, and the Smalltalk Interface to X (STIX). Alpha kernel source and images (currently contains Linux 1.1.18). Tcl, Tk, TclX, blt, itcl. Games. The BSD games collection, and Tetris for terminals. The base XFree86 2.1.1 system, with libXpm, fvwm 1.20, and xlock added. X applications: X11 ghostscript, libgr13, seyon, workman, xfilemanager, xv 3.01, GNU chess and xboard, xfm 1.2, ghostview, and various X games. X11 program development. X11 libraries, server linkkit, PEX support. XView 3.2 release 5. XView libraries, and the Open Look virtual and non-virtual window managers. Interviews libraries, include files, and the doc and idraw apps. ParcPlace’s Object Builder 2.0 and Object Interface Library 4.0, generously made available for Linux developers according to the terms in the "copying" notice found in these directories. Note that these only work with libc-4.4.4, but a new version may be released once gcc 2.5.9 is available.
A The TEX and L TEX text formatting systems.









You must get the “A” disk set; the rest are optional. We suggest installing the A, AP, and D sets, as well as the X set if you plan to run the X Window System.


Chapter 2. Obtaining and Installing Linux

Getting Slackware from the Internet

The Slackware release of Linux may be found on any number of FTP sites worldwide. Appendix C lists several of the Linux FTP sites; we suggest that you try to find the software on the FTP site nearest you, to reduce net traffic. However, two of the major Linux FTP archives are and The Slackware release may be found at least on the following sites: is Slackware’s home site. Downloading the files You should download the following files using FTP. Be sure to use binary mode when transferring. Appendix C contains a complete tutorial on using FTP. 

The various README files, as well as SLACKWARE FAQ. Be sure to read these files before attempting to
install the software, to get any updates or changes to this document. 

A bootdisk image. This is a file that you will write to a floppy to create the Slackware boot disk. If
you have a 1.44 megabyte boot floppy (3.5"), look in the directory bootdsks.144. If you have a 1.2 megabyte boot floppy (5.25"), look in the directory bootdsks.12. You need one of the following bootdisk files. – bare.gz. This is a boot floppy that has only IDE hard drive drivers. (No SCSI, CD-ROM, or networking support.) Use this if you only have an IDE hard drive controller and aren’t going to be installing over the network or from CD-ROM. – cdu31a.gz. Contains IDE, SCSI, and the Sony CDU31A/33A driver. – mitsumi.gz. Contains IDE, SCSI, and the Mitsumi CD-ROM driver. – modern.gz. An experimental boot disk with a newer kernel, and all drivers except those for network cards and the Sony 535 CD-ROM. – net.gz. Contains IDE and network drivers. – sbpcd.gz. Contains IDE, SCSI, and SoundBlaster Pro/Panasonic CD-ROM drivers. – scsi.gz. Contains IDE, SCSI, and SCSI CD-ROM drivers. – scsinet.gz. Contains IDE, SCSI, SCSI CD-ROM, and network drivers. – sony535.gz. Contains IDE, SCSI, and Sony 535/531 CD-ROM drivers. – xt.gz. Contains IDE and XT hard drive drivers. You need only one of the above bootdisk images, depending on the hardware that you have in your system. The issue here is that some hardware drivers conflict with each other in strange ways, and instead of attempting to debug hardware problems on your system it’s easier to use a boot floppy image with only certain drivers enabled. Most users should try scsi.gz or bare.gz.

2.1. Distributions of Linux


A rootdisk image. This is a file that you will write to a floppy to create the Slackware installation disk.
As with the bootdisk image, look in rootdsks.144 or rootdsks.12 depending on the type of boot floppy drive that you have. You need one of the following files: – color144.gz. The menu-based color installation disk for 1.44 megabyte drives. Most users should use this rootdisk. – umsds144.gz. A version of the color144 disk for installing with the UMSDOS filesystem, which allows you to install Linux onto a directory of an MS-DOS filesystem. This installation method is not discussed in detail here, but it will prevent you from having to repartition your drive. More on this later. – tty144.gz. The terminal-based installation disk for 1.44 megabyte drives. If color144.gz doesn’t work for you, try tty144.gz instead. – colrlite.gz. The menu-based color installation disk for 1.2 megabyte drives. – umsds12.gz. A version of the colrlite disk for installing with the UMSDOS filesystem. See the description of umsds144.gz, above. – tty12.gz. The terminal-based installation disk for 1.2 megabyte drives. Use this rootdisk if you have a 1.2 megabyte boot floppy and colrlite.gz doesn’t work for you. Again, you need only one of the above rootdisk images, depending on the type of boot floppy drive that you have. boot and rootdisk files (the .gz extension on the filenames indicates this). This can be found in the install directory. 

GZIP.EXE. This is an MS-DOS executable of the gzip compression program used to compress the  RAWRITE.EXE. This is an MS-DOS program that will write the contents of a file (such as the boot and
rootdisk images) directly to a floppy, without regard to format. You will use RAWRITE.EXE to create the boot and root floppies. This can be found in the install directory as well. 

The files in the directories slakware/a1, slakware/a2, and slakware/a3.

You only need RAWRITE.EXE and GZIP.EXE if you plan to create the boot and root floppies from an MS-DOS system. If you have access to a UNIX workstation with a floppy drive instead, you can create the floppies from there, using the dd command. See the man page for dd and ask your local UNIX administrators for assistance. These files make up the “A” disk set of the Slackware distribution. They are required. Later, you will copy these files to MS-DOS floppies for installation (or, you can install from your hard drive). Therefore, when you download these files, keep them in separate directories; don’t mix the a1 files with the a2 files, and so on. Be sure that you get the files without periods in the filenames as well. That is, within FTP, use the command “mget *” instead of “mget *.*”. 

The files in the directories ap1, ap2, etc., depending on what disk sets you are installing. For example,
if you are installing the “X” disk series, get the files in the directories x1 through x5. As with the “A” disk set, above, be sure to keep the files in separate directories when you download them. Getting Slackware on CD-ROM

Slackware is also available on CD-ROM. Most Slackware CD-ROMs simply contain a copy of the files as they appear on the FTP archive sites, as described above. Therefore, if you have a Slackware CD-ROM, you have all of the files that you need.


Chapter 2. Obtaining and Installing Linux

You will have to create a boot and root floppy from the files on the CD-ROM. See Section, above, for a discussion on the available boot and root disk images. First, decide which boot and root disk images you will use. They should all be on the CD-ROM. Below, we will describe how to create these floppies. Installation methods

Slackware provides several different means of installing the software. The most popular is installing from an MS-DOS partition on your hard drive; another is to install from a set of MS-DOS floppies created from the disk sets that you downloaded. If you have Slackware on a CD-ROM, you can install the files directly from there. The Slackware Pro distribution, from Morse Telecommunications, allows you to install Slackware so that many files are accessed directly on the CD-ROM. This can save a great deal of space on your hard drive, with the tradeoff that running certain applications will be slower. Creating the boot and root floppies You must create floppies from the bootdisk and rootdisk images that you downloaded (or have on CD-ROM), no matter what type of installation you will be doing. On an MS-DOS system, you must uncompress the bootdisk and rootdisk images using GZIP.EXE. For example, if you’re using the bare.gz bootdisk image, issue the MS-DOS command:

which will uncompress bare.gz and leave you with the file bare. If you are installing from CD-ROM, you can copy the bootdisk image (such as bare.gz) to you hard drive, and run GZIP.EXE from the CD-ROM to uncompress it. You must similarly uncompress the rootdisk image. color144.gz, issue the command:

For example, if you are using the rootdisk

which will uncompress the file and leave you with color144. Next, you must have two high-density MS-DOS formatted floppies. (They must be of the same type; that is, if your boot floppy drive is a 3.5" drive, both floppies must be high-density 3.5" disks.) You will use RAWRITE.EXE to write the boot and rootdisk images to the floppies. Issue the command:

Answer the prompts for the name of the file to write (such as bare, or color144) and the floppy to write it to (such as A:). RAWRITE will copy the file, block-by-block, directly to the floppy. Also use RAWRITE for the root disk image. When you’re done, you’ll have two floppies: one containing the boot disk, the other containing the root disk. Note that these two floppies will no longer be readable by MS-DOS (they are “Linux format” floppies, in some sense). Be sure that you’re using brand-new, error-free floppies. The floppies must have no bad blocks on them. Note that you do not need to be running MS-DOS in order to install Slackware. However, running MS-DOS makes it easier to create the boot and root floppies, and it makes it easier to install the software

2.1. Distributions of Linux


(as you can install directly from an MS-DOS partition on your system). If you are not running MS-DOS on your system, you can use someone else’s MS-DOS system just to create the floppies, and install from there. It is not necessary to use GZIP.EXE and RAWRITE.EXE under MS-DOS to create the boot and root floppies, either. You can use the gzip and dd commands on a UNIX system to do the same job. (For this, you will need a UNIX workstation with a floppy drive, of course.) For example, on a Sun workstation with the floppy drive on device /dev/rfd0, you can use the commands:
$ gunzip bare.gz $ dd if=bare of=/dev/rfd0 obs=18k

You must provide the appropriate block size argument (the obs argument) on some workstations (e.g., Suns) or this will fail. If you have problems the man page for dd will be instructive. Preparing for installation from hard drive If you’re planning on installing the Slackware software directly from the hard drive (which is often faster and more reliable than a floppy installation), you will need an MS-DOS partition on the system that you’re installing Slackware to. Note: If you plan to install Slackware from an MS-DOS partition, that partition must NOT be compressed with DoubleSpace, Stacker, or any other MS-DOS drive compression utility. Linux currently cannot read DoubleSpace/Stacker MS-DOS partitions directly. (You can access them via the MS-DOS Emulator, but that is not an option when installing the Linux software.) To prepare for hard drive installation, simply create a directory on the hard drive to store the Slackware files. For example,

will create the directory C:\SLACKWAR to hold the Slackware files. Under this directory, you should create subdirectories A1, A2, and so on, for each disk set that you downloaded, using the MKDIR command. All of the files from the A1 disk should go into the directory SLACKWAR\A1, and so forth. Preparing for floppy installation If you wish to install Slackware from floppies instead of the hard drive, you’ll need to have one blank, MS-DOS formatted floppy for each Slackware disk that you downloaded. These disks must be high-density format. The A disk set (disks A1 through A3) may be either 3.5" or 5.25" floppies. However, the rest of the disk sets must be 3.5" disks. Therefore, if you only have a 5.25" floppy drive, you’ll need to borrow a 3.5" drive from someone in order to install disk sets other than A. (Or, you can install from the hard drive, as explained in the previous section.) To make the disks, simply copy the files from each Slackware directory onto an MS-DOS formatted floppy, using the MS-DOS COPY command. As so:
C:\> COPY A1\*.* A:

will copy the contents of the A1 disk to the floppy in drive A:. You should repeat this for each disk that you downloaded. You do not need to modify or uncompress the files on the disks in any way; you merely need to copy them to MS-DOS floppies. The Slackware installation procedure takes care of uncompressing the files for you.


Chapter 2. Obtaining and Installing Linux Preparing for CD-ROM installation If you have Slackware on a CD-ROM, you are ready to install the software once you have created the boot and root floppies. The software will be installed directly from CD.

2.2 Preparing to Install Linux
After you have obtained a distribution of Linux, you’re ready to prepare your system for installation. This takes a certain degree of planning, especially if you’re already running other operating systems. In the following sections we’ll describe how to plan for the Linux installation.


Installation overview

While each release of Linux is different, in general the method used to install the software is as follows: 1. Repartition your hard drive(s). If you have other operating systems already installed, you will need to repartition the drives in order to allocate space for Linux. This is discussed in Section 2.2.4, below. 2. Boot the Linux installation media. Each distribution of Linux has some kind of installation media— usually a “boot floppy”—which is used to install the software. Booting this media will either present you with some kind of installation program, which will step you through the Linux installation, or allow you to install the software by hand. 3. Create Linux partitions. After repartitioning to allocate space for Linux, you create Linux partitions on that empty space. This is accomplished with the Linux fdisk program, covered in Section 2.3.3. 4. Create filesystems and swap space. At this point, you will create one or more filesystems, used to store files, on the newly-created partitions. In addition, if you plan to use swap space, you will create the swap space on one of your Linux partitions. This is covered in Sections 2.3.4 and 2.3.5. 5. Install the software on the new filesystems. Finally, you will install the Linux software on your newlycreated filesystems. After this, it’s smooth sailing—if all goes well. This is covered in Section 2.3.6. Later, in Section 2.5, we describe what to do if anything goes wrong. Many distributions of Linux provide an installation program which will step you through the installation process, and automate one or more of the above steps for you. Keep in mind throughout this chapter that any number of the above steps may be automated for you, depending on the distribution. The Slackware distribution of Linux, covered in this book, only requires you to repartition your drive, using fdisk, and use the setup program to accomplish the other steps. Important hint: While preparing to install Linux, the best advice that we can give is to take notes during the entire procedure. Write down everything that you do, everything that you type, and everything that you see that might be out of the ordinary. The idea here is simple: if (or when!) you run into trouble, you want to be able to retrace your steps and find out what went wrong. Installing Linux isn’t difficult, but there are many details to remember. You want to have a record of all of these details so that you can experiment with other methods if something goes wrong. Also, keeping a notebook of your Linux installation experience is useful when you want to ask other people for help, for example, when posting a message to one of the Linux-related USENET groups. Your notebook is also something that you’ll want to show to your grandchildren someday.4
4 The author shamefully admits that he kept a notebook of all of his tribulations with Linux for the first few months of working with the system. It is now gathering dust on his bookshelf.

2.2. Preparing to Install Linux



Repartitioning concepts

In general, hard drives are divided into partitions, where a single partition is devoted to a single operating system. For example, on one hard drive, you may have several separate partitions—one devoted to, say, MS-DOS, another to OS/2, and another to Linux. If you already have other software installed on your system, you may need to resize those partitions in order to free up space for Linux. You will then create one or more Linux partitions on the resulting free space for storing the Linux software and swap space. We call this process repartitioning. Many MS-DOS systems utilize a single partition inhabiting the entire drive. To MS-DOS, this partition is known as C:. If you have more than one partition, MS-DOS names them D:, E:, and so on. In a way, each partition acts like a separate hard drive. On the first sector of the disk is a master boot record along with a partition table. The boot record (as the name implies) is used to boot the system. The partition table contains information about the locations and sizes of your partitions. There are three kinds of partitions: primary, extended, and logical. Of these, primary partitions are used most often. However, because of a limit in the size of the partition table, you can only have four primary partitions on any given drive. The way around this four-partition limit is to use an extended partition. An extended partition doesn’t hold any data by itself; instead, it acts as a “container” for logical partitions. Therefore, you could create one extended partition, covering the entire drive, and within it create many logical partitions. However, you may have only one extended partition per drive.


Linux partition requirements

Before we explain how to repartition your drives, you need to have an idea of how much space you will be allocating for Linux. We will be discussing how to create these partitions later, in Section 2.3.3. On UNIX systems, files are stored on a filesystem, which is essentially a section of the hard drive (or other medium, such as CD-ROM or diskette) formatted to hold files. Each filesystem is associated with a specific part of the directory tree; for example, on many systems, there is a filesystem for all of the files in the directory /usr, another for /tmp, and so on. The root filesystem is the primary filesystem, which corresponds to the topmost directory, /. Under Linux, each filesystem lives on a separate partition on the hard drive. For instance, if you have a filesystem for / and another for /usr, you will need two partitions to hold the two filesystems. Before you install Linux, you will need to prepare filesystems for storing the Linux software. You must have at least one filesystem (the root filesystem), and therefore one partition, allocated to Linux. Many Linux users opt to store all of their files on the root filesystem, which is in most cases easier to manage than several filesystems and partitions. However, you may create multiple filesystems for Linux if you wish—for example, you may want to use separate filesystems for /usr and /home. Those readers with UNIX system administration experience will know how to use multiple filesystems creatively. In Chapter 4 we discuss the use of multiple partitions and filesystems. Why use more than one filesystem? The most commonly stated reason is safety; if, for some reason, one of your filesystems is damaged, the others will (usually) be unharmed. On the other hand, if you store all of your files on the root filesystem, and for some reason the filesystem is damaged, then you may lose all of


Chapter 2. Obtaining and Installing Linux

your files in one fell swoop. This is, however, rather uncommon; if you backup the system regularly you should be quite safe.5 Another reason to use multiple filesystems is to divvy up storage between multiple hard drives. If you have, say, 40 megabytes free on one hard drive, and 50 megabytes free on another, you might want to create a 40-megabyte root filesystem on the first drive and a 50-megabyte /usr filesystem on the other. Currently it is not possible for a single filesystem to span multiple drives; if your free hard drive storage is fragmented between drives you will need to use multiple filesystems to utilize it all. In summary, Linux requires at least one partition, for the root filesystem. If you wish to create multiple filesystems, you will need a separate partition for each additional filesystem. Some distributions of Linux automatically create partitions and filesystems for you, so you may not need to worry about these issues at all. Another issue to consider when planning your partitions is swap space. If you wish to use swap space with Linux, you have two options. The first is to use a swap file which exists on one of your Linux filesystems. You will create the swap file for use as virtual RAM after you install the software. The second option is to create a swap partition, an individual partition to be used only as swap space. Most people use a swap partition instead of a swap file. A single swap file or partition may be up to 16 megabytes in size. If you wish to use more than 16 megabytes of swap, you can create multiple swap partitions or files—up to eight in all. For example, if you need 32 megabytes of swap, you can create two 16-megabyte swap partitions. Setting up a swap partition is covered in Section 2.3.4, and setting up a swap file in Chapter 4. Therefore, in general, you will create at least two partitions for Linux: one for use as the root filesystem, and the other for use as swap space. There are, of course, many variations on the above, but this is the minimal setup. You are not required to use swap space with Linux, but if you have less than 16 megabytes of physical RAM it is strongly suggested that you do. Of course, you need to be aware of how much space these partitions will require. The size of your Linux filesystems (containing the software itself) depends greatly on how much software you’re installing and what distribution of Linux you are using. Hopefully, the documentation that came with your distribution will give you an approximation of the space requirements. A small Linux system can use 20 megabytes or less; a larger system anywhere from 80 to 100 megabytes, or more. Keep in mind that in addition to the space required by the software itself, you need to allocate extra space for user directories, room for future expansion, and so forth. The size of your swap partition (should you elect to use one) depends on how much virtual RAM you require. A rule of thumb is to use a swap partition that is twice the space of your physical RAM; for example, if you have 4 megabytes of physical RAM, an 8-megabyte swap partition should suffice. Of course, this is mere speculation—the actual amount of swap space that you require depends on the software which you will be running. If you have a great deal of physical RAM (say, sixteen megabytes or more), you may not wish to use swap space at all. Important note: Because of BIOS limitations, it is usually not possible to boot from partitions using cylinders numbered over 1023. Therefore, when setting aside space for Linux, keep in mind that you may not want to use a partition in the >1023-cylinder range for your Linux root filesystem. Linux can still use partitions with cylinders numbered over 1023, however, you may not be able to boot Linux from such a partition. This advice may seem premature, but it is important to know while planning your drive layout. If you absolutely must use a partition with cylinders numbered over 1023 for your Linux root filesystem, you can always boot Linux from floppy. This is not so bad, actually—it only takes a few seconds longer to
5 The

author uses a single 200-megabyte filesystem for all of his Linux files, and hasn’t had any problems (so far).

2.2. Preparing to Install Linux


boot than from the hard drive. At any rate, it’s always an option.


Repartitioning your drives

In this section, we’ll describe how to resize your current partitions (if any) to make space for Linux. If you are installing Linux on a “clean” hard drive, you can skip this section and proceed to Section 2.3, below. The usual way to resize an existing partition is to delete it (thus destroying all of the data on that partition) and recreate it. Before repartitioning your drives, backup your system. After resizing the partitions, you can reinstall your original software from the backup. However, there are several programs available for MS-DOS which are able to resize partitions nondestructively. One of these is known as “FIPS”, and can be found on many Linux FTP sites. Also, keep in mind that because you’ll be shrinking your original partitions, you may not have space to reinstall everything. In this case, you need to delete enough unwanted software to allow the rest to fit on the smaller partitions. The program used to repartition is known as fdisk. Each operating system has its own analogue of this program; for example, under MS-DOS, it is invoked with the FDISK command. You should consult your documentation for whatever operating systems you are currently running for information on repartitioning. Here, we’ll discuss how to resize partitions for MS-DOS using FDISK, but this information should be easily extrapolated to other operating systems. Please consult the documentation for your current operating systems before repartitioning your drive. This section is meant to be a general overview of the process; there are many subtleties that we do not cover here. You can lose all of the software on your system if you do not repartition the drive correctly. A warning: Do not modify or create partitions for any other operating systems (including Linux) using FDISK under MS-DOS. You should only modify partitions for a particular operating system with the version of fdisk included with that operating system; for example, you will create Linux partitions using a version of fdisk for Linux. Later, in Section 2.3.3, we describe how to create Linux partitions, but for now we are concerned with resizing your current ones. Let’s say that you have a single hard drive on your system, currently devoted entirely to MS-DOS. Hence, your drive consists of a single MS-DOS partition, commonly known as “C:”. Because this repartitioning method will destroy the data on that partition, you need to create a bootable MS-DOS “system disk” which contains everything necessary to run FDISK and restore the software from backup after the repartitioning is complete. In many cases, you can use the MS-DOS installation disks for this purpose. However, if you need to create your own system disk, format a floppy with the command

Copy onto this floppy all of the necessary MS-DOS utilities (usually most of the software in the directory \DOS on your drive), as well as the programs FORMAT.COM and FDISK.EXE. You should now be able to boot this floppy, and run the command

to start up FDISK. Use of FDISK should be self-explanatory, but consult the MS-DOS documentation for details. When you start FDISK, use the menu option to display the partition table, and write down the information displayed


Chapter 2. Obtaining and Installing Linux

there. It is important to keep a record of your original setup in case you want to back out of the Linux installation. To delete an existing partition, choose the FDISK menu option “Delete an MS-DOS Partition or Logical DOS Drive”. Specify the type of partition that you wish to delete (primary, extended, or logical) and the number of the partition. Verify all of the warnings. Poof! To create a new (smaller) partition for MS-DOS, just choose the FDISK option “Create an MS-DOS Partition or Logical DOS Drive”. Specify the type of partition (primary, extended, or logical), and the size of the partition to create (specified in megabytes). FDISK should create the partition and you’re ready to roll. After you’re done using FDISK, you should exit the program and reformat any new partitions. For example, if you resized the first DOS partition on your drive (C:) you should run the command

You may now reinstall your original software from backup.

2.3 Installing the Linux software
After you have resized your existing partitions to make space for Linux, you are ready to install the software. Here is a brief overview of the procedure: 

Boot the Linux installation media;  Run fdisk under Linux to create Linux partitions;  Run mke2fs and mkswap to create Linux filesystems and swap space;  Install the Linux software;  Finally, either install the LILO boot loader on your hard drive, or create a boot floppy in order to boot
your new Linux system. As we have said, one (or more) of these steps may be automated for you by the installation procedure, depending on the distribution of Linux which you are using. Please consult the documentation for your distribution for specific instructions.


Booting Linux

The first step is to boot the Linux installation media. In most cases, this is a “boot floppy” which contains a small Linux system. Upon booting the floppy, you will be presented with an installation menu of some kind which will lead you through the steps of installing the software. On other distributions, you will be presented with a login prompt when booting this floppy. Here, you usually login as root or install to begin the installation process. The documentation which came with your particular distribution will explain what is necessary to boot Linux from the installation media. If you are installing the Slackware distribution of Linux, all that is required is to boot the boot floppy which you created in the previous section.

2.3. Installing the Linux software


Most distributions of Linux use a boot floppy which allows you to enter hardware parameters at a boot prompt, to force hardware detection of various devices. For example, if your SCSI controller is not detected when booting the floppy, you will need to reboot and specify the hardware parameters (such as I/O address and IRQ) at the boot prompt. Likewise, IBM PS/1, ThinkPad, and ValuePoint machines do not store drive geometry in the CMOS, and you must specify it at boot time. The boot prompt is often displayed automatically when booting the boot floppy. This is the case for the Slackware distribution. Other distributions require you to hold down shift or ctrl while booting the floppy. If successful, you should see the prompt

and possibly other messages. To try booting without any special parameters, just press enter at the boot prompt. Watch the messages as the system boots. If you have a SCSI controller, you should see a listing of the SCSI hosts detected. If you see the message
SCSI: 0 hosts

then your SCSI controller was not detected, and you will have to use the following procedure. Also, the system will display information on the drive partitions and devices detected. If any of this information is incorrect or missing, you will have to force hardware detection. On the other hand, if all goes well and you hardware seems to be detected, you can skip to the following section, Section 2.3.2. To force hardware detection, you must enter the appropriate parameters at the boot prompt, using the following syntax:
ramdisk hparameters: : : i

There are a number of such parameters available; here are some of the most common. hd= cylinders , heads , sectors Specify the hard drive geometry. Required for systems such as the IBM PS/1, ValuePoint, and ThinkPad. For example, if your drive has 683 cylinders, 16 heads, and 32 sectors per track, enter
ramdisk hd=683,16,32





tmc8xx= memaddr , irq Specify address and IRQ for BIOS-less Future Domain TMC-8xx SCSI controller. For example,
ramdisk tmc8xx=0xca000,5


ih i

Note that the 0x prefix must be used for all values given in hexadecimal. This is true for all of the following options. st0x= memaddr , irq Specify address and IRQ for BIOS-less Seagate ST02 controller.


ih i


Chapter 2. Obtaining and Installing Linux

t128= memaddr , irq Specify address and IRQ for BIOS-less Trantor T128B controller. ncr5380= port , irq , dma Specify port, IRQ, and DMA channel for generic NCR5380 controller. aha152x= port , irq , scsi id ,1 Specify port, IRQ, and SCSI ID for BIOS-less AIC-6260 controllers. This includes Adaptec 1510, 152x, and Soundblaster-SCSI controllers. For each of these, you must enter ramdisk followed by the parameter that you wish to use. If you have questions about these boot-time options, please read the Linux SCSI HOWTO, which should be available on any Linux FTP archive site (or from wherever you obtained this book), as well as the Linux CD-ROM HOWTO. These documents describe hardware compatibility in much more detail.


ih i

h ih ih i i

h ih ih


Drives and partitions under Linux

Many distributions require you to create Linux partitions by hand using the fdisk program. Others may automatically create partitions for you. Either way, you should know the following information about Linux partitions and device names. Drives and partitions under Linux are given different names than their counterparts under other operating systems. Under MS-DOS, floppy drives are referred to as A: and B:, while hard drive partitions are named C:, D:, and so on. Under Linux, the naming convention is quite different. Device drivers, found in the directory /dev, are used to communicate with devices on your system (such as hard drives, mice, and so on). For example, if you have a mouse on your system, you access it through the driver /dev/mouse. Floppy drives, hard drives, and individual partitions are all given individual device drivers of their own. Don’t worry about the device driver interface for now; it is important only to understand how the various devices are named in order to use them. Table 2.1 lists the names of these various device drivers. A few notes about this table. Note that /dev/fd0 corresponds to the first floppy drive (A: under MS-DOS) and /dev/fd1 corresponds to the second floppy (B:). Also, SCSI hard drives are named differently than other drives. IDE, MFM, and RLL drives are accessed through the devices /dev/hda, /dev/hdb, and so on. The individual partitions on the drive /dev/hda are /dev/hda1, /dev/hda2, and so on. However, SCSI drives are named /dev/sda, /dev/sdb, etc., with partition names such as /dev/sda1 and /dev/sda2. Here’s an example. Let’s say that you have a single IDE hard drive, with 3 primary partitions. The first two are set aside for MS-DOS, and the third is an extended partition which contains two logical partitions, both for use by Linux. The devices referring to these partitions would be:
First MS-DOS partition (C:) Second MS-DOS partition (D:) Extended partition First Linux logical partition Second Linux logical partition /dev/hda1 /dev/hda2 /dev/hda3 /dev/hda5 /dev/hda6

Note that /dev/hda4 is skipped; it corresponds to the fourth primary partition, which we don’t have in this example. Logical partitions are named consecutively starting with /dev/hda5.

2.3. Installing the Linux software


Device First floppy (A:) Second floppy (B:) First hard drive (entire drive) First hard drive, primary partition 1 First hard drive, primary partition 2 First hard drive, primary partition 3 First hard drive, primary partition 4 First hard drive, logical partition 1 First hard drive, logical partition 2 . . . Second hard drive (entire drive) Second hard drive, primary partition 1 . . . First SCSI hard drive (entire drive) First SCSI hard drive, primary partition 1 . . . Second SCSI hard drive (entire drive) Second SCSI hard drive, primary partition 1 . . .

Name /dev/fd0 /dev/fd1 /dev/hda /dev/hda1 /dev/hda2 /dev/hda3 /dev/hda4 /dev/hda5 /dev/hda6

/dev/hdb /dev/hdb1

/dev/sda /dev/sda1

/dev/sdb /dev/sdb1

Table 2.1: Linux partition names


Creating Linux partitions

Now you are ready to create Linux partitions with the fdisk command. As described in Section 2.2.3, in general you will need to create at least one partition for the Linux software itself, and another partition for swap space. After booting the installation media, run fdisk by typing
fdisk hdrivei

where drive is the Linux device name of the drive you plan to add partitions to (see Table 2.1). For instance, if you want to run fdisk on the first SCSI disk in your system, use the command fdisk /dev/sda. /dev/hda (the first IDE drive) is the default if you don’t specify one. If you are creating Linux partitions on more than one drive, run fdisk once for each drive.
# fdisk /dev/hda Command (m for help):



Here fdisk is waiting for a command; you can type m to get a list of options.
Command (m for help): m Command action a toggle a bootable flag d delete a partition l list known partition types m print this menu


Chapter 2. Obtaining and Installing Linux

n p q t u v w x

add a new partition print the partition table quit without saving changes change a partition’s system id change display/entry units verify the partition table write table to disk and exit extra functionality (experts only)

Command (m for help):

The n command is used to create a new partition. Most of the other options you won’t need to worry about. To quit fdisk without saving any changes, use the q command. To quit fdisk and write the changes to the partition table to disk, use the w command. The first thing you should do is display your current partition table and write the information down, for later reference. Use the p command.
Command (m for help): p Disk /dev/hda: 16 heads, 38 sectors, 683 cylinders Units = cylinders of 608 * 512 bytes Device Boot /dev/hda1 * Begin 1 Start 1 End 203 Blocks 61693 Id 6 System DOS 16-bit >=32M

Command (m for help):
6 In this example, we have a single MS-DOS partition on /dev/hda1, which is 61693 blocks (about 60 megs). This partition starts at cylinder number 1, and ends on cylinder 203. We have a total of 683 cylinders in this disk; so there are 480 cylinders left to create Linux partitions on.

To create a new partition, use the n command. In this example, we’ll create two primary partitions (/dev/hda2 and /dev/hda3) for Linux.
Command (m for help): Command action e extended p primary partition (1-4) p n

Here, fdisk is asking the type of the partition to create: extended or primary. In our example, we’re creating only primary partitions, so we choose p.
Partition number (1-4):

fdisk will then ask for the number of the partition to create; since partition 1 is already used, our first Linux partition will be number 2.
Partition number (1-4): 2

First cylinder (204-683):

block, under Linux, is 1024 bytes.

2.3. Installing the Linux software


Now enter the starting cylinder number of the partition. Since cylinders 204 through 683 are unused, we’ll use the first available one (numbered 204). There’s no reason to leave empty space between partitions.
First cylinder (204-683): 204

Last cylinder or +size or +sizeM or +sizeK (204-683):

fdisk is asking for the size of the partition to create. We can either specify an ending cylinder number, or a size in bytes, kilobytes, or megabytes. Since we want our partition to be 80 megs in size, we specify +80M. When specifying a partition size in this way, fdisk will round the actual partition size to the nearest number of cylinders.
Last cylinder or +size or +sizeM or +sizeK (204-683): Warning: +80M

Linux cannot currently use 33090 sectors of this partition

If you see a warning message such as this, it can be ignored. fdisk prints the warning because it’s an older program, and dates before the time that Linux partitions were allowed to be larger than 64 megabytes. Now we’re ready to create our second Linux partition. For sake of demonstration, we’ll create it with a size of 10 megabytes.
Command (m for help): Command action e extended p primary partition (1-4) p Partition number (1-4): 3 474 +10M First cylinder (474-683): n

Last cylinder or +size or +sizeM or +sizeK (474-683):

At last, we’ll display the partition table. Again, write down all of this information—especially the block sizes of your new partitions. You’ll need to know the sizes of the partitions when creating filesystems, later. Also, verify that none of your partitions overlap.
Command (m for help): p

Disk /dev/hda: 16 heads, 38 sectors, 683 cylinders Units = cylinders of 608 * 512 bytes Device Boot /dev/hda1 * /dev/hda2 /dev/hda3 Begin 1 204 474 Start 1 204 474 End 203 473 507 Blocks 61693 82080 10336 Id 6 81 81 System DOS 16-bit >=32M Linux/MINIX Linux/MINIX

As you can see, /dev/hda2 is now a partition of size 82080 blocks (which corresponds to about 80 megabytes), and /dev/hda3 is 10336 blocks (about 10 megs). Note that many distributions (such as Slackware) require you to use the t command in fdisk to change the type of the swap partition to “Linux swap”, which is usually numbered 82. You can use the L command to print a list of known partition type codes, and then use t to set the type of the swap partition to that which corresponds to “Linux swap”. In this way, the installation software will be able to automatically find your swap partitions based on type. If the installation software doesn’t seem to recognize your swap partition, you might want to re-run fdisk and use the t command on the partition in question.


Chapter 2. Obtaining and Installing Linux

In the example above, the remaining cylinders on the disk (numbered 508 to 683) are unused. You may wish to leave unused space on the disk, in case you wish to create additional partitions later. Finally, we use the w command to write the changes to disk and exit fdisk.
Command (m for help): # w

Keep in mind that none of the changes you make while running fdisk will take effect until you give the w command, so you can toy with different configurations and save them when you’re done. Also, if you want to quit fdisk at any time without saving the changes, use the q command. Remember that you shouldn’t modify partitions for operating systems other than Linux with the Linux fdisk program. Remember that you may not be able to boot Linux from a partition using cylinders numbered over 1023. Therefore, you should try to create your Linux root partition within the sub-1024 cylinder range. Again, if this is impossible, you can simply boot Linux from floppy. Some Linux distributions require you to reboot the system after running fdisk. This is to allow the changes to the partition table to take effect before installing the software. Newer versions of fdisk automatically update the partition information in the kernel, so rebooting isn’t necessary. To be on the safe side, after running fdisk you should reboot the installation media, as before, before proceeding.


Creating the swap space

If you are planning to use a swap partition for virtual RAM, you’re ready to prepare it for use.7 In Chapter 4 we will discuss the preparation of a swap file in case you don’t want to use an individual partition. Many distributions require you to create and activate swap space before installing the software. If you have a small amount of physical RAM, the installation procedure may not be successful unless you have some amount of swap space enabled. The Slackware distribution requires you to create swap space, before installation, if you have 4 megabytes of RAM or less. If this is not the case, the Slackware installation procedure can be used to prepare swap space automatically. If in doubt, go ahead and follow the procedure described here; it can’t hurt. The command used to prepare a swap partition is mkswap, and it takes the form
mkswap -c hpartitioni hsizei
8 where partition is the name of the swap partition, and size is the size of the partition, in blocks. For example, if your swap partition is /dev/hda3 and is 10336 blocks in size, use the command



h i

# mkswap –c /dev/hda3 10336

The -c option tells mkswap to check for bad blocks on the partition when creating the swap space. If you are using multiple swap partitions, you will need to execute the appropriate mkswap command for each partition. After formatting the swap space, you need to enable it for use by the system. Usually, the system automatically enables swap space at boot time. However, because you have not yet installed the Linux software, you need to enable it by hand. The command to enable swap space is swapon, and it takes the form
7 Again, 8 This

some distributions of Linux will prepare the swap space automatically for you, or via an installation menu option. is the size as reported by fdisk, using the p menu option. A block under Linux is 1024 bytes.

2.3. Installing the Linux software


swapon hpartitioni

In the example above, to enable the swap space on /dev/hda3, we use the command
# swapon /dev/hda3


Creating the filesystems

Before you can use your Linux partitions to store files, you must create filesystems on them. Creating a filesystem is analogous to formatting a partition under MS-DOS or other operating systems. We discussed filesystems briefly in Section 2.2.3. There are several types of filesystems available for Linux. Each filesystem type has its own format and set of characteristics (such as filename length, maximum file size, and so on). Linux also supports several “third-party” filesystem types such as the MS-DOS filesystem. The most commonly used filesystem type is the Second Extended Filesystem, or ext2fs. The ext2fs is one of the most efficient and flexible filesystems; it allows filenames up to 256 characters and filesystem sizes of up to 4 terabytes. In Chapter 4, we’ll discuss the various filesystem types available for Linux. Initially, however, we suggest that you use the ext2fs filesystem. If you are installing the Slackware distribution, filesystems are created automatically for you by the installation procedure described in the next section. If you wish to create your filesystems by hand, however, follow the procedure described here. To create an ext2fs filesystem, use the command
mke2fs -c hpartitioni hsizei

where partition is the name of the partition, and size is the size of the partition in blocks. For example, to create a 82080-block filesystem on /dev/hda2, use the command
# mke2fs –c /dev/hda2 82080



h i

If you’re using multiple filesystems for Linux, you’ll need to use the appropriate mke2fs command for each filesystem. If you have encountered any problems at this point, see Section 2.5 at the end of this chapter.


Installing the software

Finally, you are ready to install the software on your system. Every distribution has a different mechanism for doing this. Many distributions have a self-contained program which will step you through the installation. On other distributions, you will have to mount your filesystems in a certain subdirectory (such as /mnt) and copy the software to them by hand. On CD-ROM distributions, you may be given the option to install a portion of the software on your hard drives, and leave most of the software on the CD-ROM. Some distributions offer several different ways to install the software. For example, you may be able to install the software directly from an MS-DOS partition on your hard drive, instead of from floppies. Or, you may be able to install over a TCP/IP network via FTP or NFS. See your distribution’s documentation for details.


Chapter 2. Obtaining and Installing Linux

For example, the Slackware distribution only requires you to create partitions with fdisk, optionally create swap space with mkswap and swapon (if you have 4 megs or less of RAM), and then run the setup program. setup leads you through a very self-explanatory menu system to install the software. Use of setup is described in detail below. The exact method used to install the Linux software differs greatly with each distribution. We’re hoping that installing the Linux software should be self-explanatory, as it is with most distributions. Installing Slackware with setup

If you are installing Slackware, after creating partitions (and possibly swap space), use the command
# setup

This will present you will a menu-based procedure to walk you through the remaining steps of installation. The procedure described here corresponds to that found on the color144 and colrlite root disks; the other root disks may have slightly different procedures. The setup menu consists of the following items. Use the arrow keys to move over the items, and press
enter or spacebar to select an item.

Help Keymap

View the setup help file. This option allows you to specify the keyboard mapping for your system if you do not have a US keyboard. A list of keymaps will be presented; select the appropriate item from the list. This allows you to select between “quick” and “verbose” installation modes. “Verbose” is the default, and is recommended for most installations (unless you’ve installed Slackware a dozen times, in which case you already know this). This allows Slackware installation experts to create customized “tag files” for preselecting packages. This is only necessary for customizing the installation procedure in some way; you shouldn’t have to concern yourself with this. This will be the first item that most users will select to install Slackware. A list of available swap partitions will be displayed (those partitions with type “Linux swap” as set in fdisk). You will be able to specify which partitions you wish to use for swap space. You will then be asked if you wish to run mkswap on these partitions. If you have already executed mkswap and swapon (as described in Section 2.3.4) on your swap partitions, then you should not allow setup to execute mkswap on these partitions. Even if you have already executed mkswap and swapon, it is necessary to use the Addswap menu item: This ensures that your swap partitions will be available once you have the system installed.


Make tags



Be warned! Creating swap space on a partition will destroy data on that partition. Be sure that you’re not wiping out data that you want to keep. If you select this menu item, you will be automatically prompted if you wish to proceed with the following items. In general, you should do this. Target This item allows you to specify the partitions upon which Linux is to be installed. A list of available partitions (those with type “Linux native”, as specified by fdisk) will be

2.3. Installing the Linux software


displayed, and you will be asked to enter the name of your Linux root partition, such as /dev/hda2. You will then be prompted for the type of filesystem that you wish to create; we suggest using the ext2fs filesystem type as described in Section 2.3.5. This will create a filesystem on the named partition—somewhat analogous to “formatting” the partition under MS-DOS. You will also be prompted for any other partitions that you might wish to use for Linux. For example, if you created a separate partition for /usr (see Section 2.2.3), you will be able to specify the name of the partition and the location where it should be mounted (as in /usr or /usr/bin).


Be warned! Creating a filesystem on a partition will destroy all data on that partition. Be sure that you’re not wiping out data that you want to keep. Even if you already created your filesystems using mke2fs (see Section 2.3.5), you must use the Target menu item to specify the partitions where Linux will be installed. Source This menu item allows you to specify where you will be installing Slackware from, such as floppy, hard drive, or CD-ROM. If you are installing from hard drive, you will be asked what partition the Slackware files are found on, as well as the type of partition. For example, if you have the Slackware files on an MS-DOS partition, enter the name of the partition (such as /dev/hda1) and select MS-DOS FAT as the type. You will then be asked what directory the files may be found under on this partition. For example, if you have the Slackware files stored under the directory C:\SLACK on your MS-DOS partition, enter

as the location. Note that you should use forward slashes, not backslashes, in the pathname. If you are installing from CD-ROM, you will be asked the type of CD-ROM device that you are using, as well as what directory on the CD-ROM the files may be found in. Many CD-ROMs have the files contained within the directory /slakware, but this depends on the release. If you are installing Slackware Professional,9 two directories are used on the CD-ROM. slakware is used for the standard system which will install the files directly to your hard drive. slackpro is used for the CD-ROM-based system where many files are accessed directly from the CD-ROM. This can save diskspace, but accessing many files is also noticeably slower. Several other Slackware vendors provide the ability to run the software from the CD-ROM as well. However, if you have the diskspace to spare, we recommend not running Slackware from the CD-ROM itself. Performance is generally slower. If you are attempting a hard drive or CD-ROM install, Slackware may report that there is a mount error at this point. This is usually an indication that there was a problem accessing the hard drive or CD-ROM. See Section 2.5.3 for more information if you see such an error message. Disk sets This menu option allows you to select the disk sets that you wish to install. You must install at least the A disk set. Simply use the arrow keys and spacebar to select which disk sets you wish to install. Note that selecting a particular disk set does not mean that all packages on the disk set will be installed; you will be prompted before installing packages on the disk set marked as
9 Slackware

Professional is a version of Slackware available from Morse Telecommunications.


Chapter 2. Obtaining and Installing Linux

“optional” or “recommended.” Install At long last, this menu item will install the software on your system. You will be prompted for the prompting method; most users should select “normal.” For each disk set that you selected, the “required” packages will be installed, and you will be prompted when installing the “optional” and “recommended” packages. If you are installing from floppy you will be asked to insert each floppy in succession. As each package is installed a short description will be printed. Unless you have background in UNIX or Linux, many of these descriptions will not mean much to you. Take note of which packages are being installed, so you know what’s there, but don’t worry about trying to jot down everything that’s printed on the display. The most common error encountered here is that a file cannot be found on a floppy, or an I/O error when attempting to read the floppy. The former is an indication that the files on your floppy might be corrupted or incomplete; the latter that the floppy itself is bad. Any floppies which give these errors should be replaced, and you should re-install the disk set containing those floppies. See Section 2.5.3 for suggestions. You may also have read errors when attempting to access a CD-ROM; be sure that the CD-ROM is clean, has no fingerprints, etc. Configure This menu item performs some post-installation configuration of your system. This is covered in the following section.


Creating the boot floppy or installing LILO

Every distribution provides some means of booting your new Linux system after you have installed the software. In many cases, the installation procedure will create a “boot floppy” which contains a Linux kernel configured to use your newly-created root filesystem. In order to boot Linux, you would boot from this floppy, and control would be transferred to your hard drive after booting. On other distributions, this “boot floppy” is the installation floppy itself. Many distributions give you the option of installing LILO on your hard drive. LILO is a program that is installed on your drive’s master boot record. It is able to boot a number of operating systems, including MS-DOS and Linux, and allows you to select at startup time which to boot. For the Slackware distribution, the Configure item in the setup menu will allow you to create a boot floppy as well as install LILO. These options should be fairly self-explanatory. The Configure menu item also allows you to specify your modem, mouse, and timezone information. In order for LILO to be installed successfully, it needs to know a good deal of information about your drive configuration—for example, which partitions contain which operating systems, how to boot each operating system, and so on. Many distributions, when installing LILO, attempt to “guess” at the appropriate parameters for your configuration. Although it’s not often, the automated LILO installation provided by some distributions can fail, and leave your master boot record in shambles (although it’s very doubtful that any damage to the actual data on your hard drive will take place). In particular, if you use OS/2’s Boot Manager, you should not install LILO using the automated procedure—there are special instructions for using LILO with the Boot Manager, which will be covered later. In many cases, it is best to use a boot floppy, until you have a chance to configure LILO yourself, by hand. If you’re feeling exceptionally trustworthy, though, you can go ahead with the automated LILO installation if it is provided with your distribution.

2.4. Postinstallation procedures


In Chapter 4, we’ll cover in detail how to configure and install LILO for your particular setup. If everything goes well, then congratulations! You have just installed Linux on your system. Go have a Diet Coke or something—you deserve it. In case you did run into any trouble, the next section will describe the most common sticking points for Linux installations, and how to get around them.


Additional installation procedures

Some distributions of Linux provide a number of additional installation procedures, allowing you to configure various software packages such as TCP/IP networking, the X Window System, and so on. If you are provided with these configuration options during installation, you may wish to read ahead in this book for more information on how to configure this software. Otherwise, you should put off these installation procedures until you have a complete understanding of how to configure the software. It’s up to you; if all else fails, just go with the flow and see what happens. It’s very doubtful that anything that you do incorrectly now cannot be undone in the future. (Knock on wood.)

2.4 Postinstallation procedures
After you have completed installing the Linux software, there should be very little left to do before you can begin to use the system. In most cases, you should be able to reboot the system, login as root, and begin exploring the system. (Each distribution has a slightly different method for doing this.) At this point it’s a good idea to explain how to reboot and shutdown the system as you’re using it. You should never reboot or shutdown your Linux system by pressing the reset switch or with the old “Vulcan Nerve Pinch”—that is, by pressing ctrl-alt-del in unison.10 You shouldn’t simply switch off the power, either. As with most UNIX systems, Linux caches disk writes in memory. Therefore, if you suddenly reboot the system without shutting down “cleanly”, you can corrupt the data on your drives, causing untold damage. The easiest way to shut down the system is with the shutdown command. As an example, to shutdown and reboot the system immediately, use the following command as root:
# shutdown –r now

This will cleanly reboot your system. The man page for shutdown describes the other command-line arguments that are available.11 Note, however, that many Linux distributions do not provide the shutdown command on the installation media. This means that the first time you reboot your system after installation, you may need to use the ctrl-alt-del combination after all. Thereafter, you should always use the shutdown command. After you have a chance to explore and use the system, there are several configuration chores that you should undertake. The first is to create a user account for yourself (and, optionally, for any other users that might have access to the system). Creating user accounts is described in Section 4.4. Usually, all that you have to do is login as root, and run the adduser (sometimes useradd) program. This will lead you through several prompts to create a new user account.
10 On

most Linux systems, however, ctrl-alt-del will cause the system to shutdown gracefully, as if you had used the

shutdown command. 11 Use the command man shutdown to see the manual page for shutdown.


Chapter 2. Obtaining and Installing Linux

If you created more than one filesystem for Linux, or if you’re using a swap partition, you may need to edit the file /etc/fstab in order for those filesystems to be available automatically after rebooting. (For example, if you’re using a separate filesystem for /usr, and none of the files that should be in /usr appear to be present, you may simply need to mount that filesystem.) Section 4.8 describes this procedure. Note that the Slackware distribution of Linux automatically configures your filesystems and swap space at installation time, so this usually isn’t necessary.

2.5 Running Into Trouble
Almost everyone runs into some kind of snag or hangup when attempting to install Linux the first time. Most of the time, the problem is caused by a simple misunderstanding. Sometimes, however, it can be something more serious, such as an oversight by one of the developers, or a bug. This section will describe some of the most common installation problems, and how to solve them. If your installation appears to be successful, but you received unexpected error messages during the installation, these are described here as well.


Problems with booting the installation media

When attempting to boot the installation media for the first time, you may encounter a number of problems. These are listed below. Note that the following problems are not related to booting your newly-installed Linux system. See Section 2.5.4 for information on these kinds of pitfalls. 

Floppy or media error when attempting to boot.
The most popular cause for this kind of problem is a corrupt boot floppy. Either the floppy is physically damaged, in which case you should re-create the disk with a brand new floppy, or the data on the floppy is bad, in which case you should verify that you downloaded and transferred the data to the floppy correctly. In many cases, simply re-creating the boot floppy will solve your problems. Retrace your steps and try again. If you received your boot floppy from a mail order vendor or some other distributor, instead of downloading and creating it yourself, contact the distributor and ask for a new boot floppy—but only after verifying that this is indeed the problem. 

System “hangs” during boot or after booting.
After the installation media boots, you will see a number of messages from the kernel itself, indicating which devices were detected and configured. After this, you will usually be presented with a login prompt, allowing you to proceed with installation (some distributions instead drop you right into an installation program of some kind). The system may appear to “hang” during several of these steps. During all of these steps, be patient; loading software from floppy is very slow. In many cases, the system has not hung at all, but is merely taking a long time. Verify that there is no drive or system activity for at least several minutes before assuming that the system is hung. 1. After booting from the LILO prompt, the system must load the kernel image from floppy. This may take several seconds; you will know that things are going well if the floppy drive light is still on. 2. While the kernel boots, SCSI devices must be probed for. If you do not have any SCSI devices installed, the system will “hang” for up to 15 seconds while the SCSI probe continues; this usually occurs after the line

2.5. Running Into Trouble


lp init:

lp1 exists (0), using polling driver

appears on your screen. 3. After the kernel is finished booting, control is transferred to the system bootup files on the floppy. Finally, you will be presented with a login prompt, or be dropped into an installation program. If you are presented with a login prompt such as
Linux login:

you should then login (usually as root or install—this varies with each distribution). After entering the username, the system may pause for 20 seconds or more while the installation program or shell is being loaded from floppy. Again, the floppy drive light should be on. Don’t assume that the system is hung. Any of the above items may be the source of your problem. However, it is possible that the system actually may “hang” while booting, which can be due to several causes. First of all, you may not have enough available RAM to boot the installation media. (See the following item for information on disabling the ramdisk to free up memory.) The cause of many system hangs is hardware incompatibility. Section 1.8 in the last chapter presented an overview of supported hardware under Linux. Even if your hardware is supported, you may run into problems with incompatible hardware configurations which are causing the system to hang. See Section 2.5.2, below, for a discussion of hardware incompatibilities. 

System reports out of memory errors while attempting to boot or install the software.

This item deals with the amount of RAM that you have available. On systems with 4 megabytes of RAM or less, you may run into trouble booting the installation media or installing the software itself. This is because many distributions use a “ramdisk”, which is a filesystem loaded directly into RAM, for operations while using the installation media. The entire image of the installation boot floppy, for example, may be loaded into a ramdisk, which may require more than a megabyte of RAM. The solution to this problem is to disable the ramdisk option when booting the install media. Each release has a different procedure for doing this; on the SLS release, for example, you type “floppy” at the LILO prompt when booting the a1 disk. See your distribution’s documentation for details. You may not see an “out of memory” error when attempting to boot or install the software; instead, the system may unexpectedly hang, or fail to boot. If your system hangs, and none of the explanations in the previous section seem to be the cause, try disabling the ramdisk. Keep in mind that Linux itself requires at least 2 megabytes of RAM to run at all; some distributions of Linux require 4 megabytes or more. denied” or “file not found” while booting. 

The system reports an error such as “permission 

The system reports the error “VFS:

This is an indication that your installation bootup media is corrupt. If you attempt to boot from the installation media (and you’re sure that you’re doing everything correctly), you should not see any errors such as this. Contact the distributor of your Linux software and find out about the problem, and perhaps obtain another copy of the boot media if necessary. If you downloaded the bootup disk yourself, try re-creating the bootup disk, and see if this solves your problem. Unable to mount root” when booting.

This error message means that the root filesystem (found on the boot media itself), could not be found. This means that either your boot media is corrupt in some way, or that you are not booting the system correctly. For example, many CD-ROM distributions require that you have the CD-ROM in the drive when booting. Also be sure that the CD-ROM drive is on, and check for any activity. It’s also possible that the system is not locating your CD-ROM drive at boot time; see Section 2.5.2 for more information.


Chapter 2. Obtaining and Installing Linux

If you’re sure that you are booting the system correctly, then your bootup media may indeed be corrupt. This is a very uncommon problem, so try other solutions before attempting to use another boot floppy or tape.


Hardware problems

The most common form of problem when attempting to install or use Linux is an incompatibility with hardware. Even if all of your hardware is supported by Linux, a misconfiguration or hardware conflict can sometimes cause strange results—your devices may not be detected at boot time, or the system may hang. It is important to isolate these hardware problems if you suspect that they may be the source of your trouble. In the following sections we will describe some common hardware problems and how to resolve them.

Isolating hardware problems

If you experience a problem that you believe to be hardware-related, the first thing that you should to do is attempt to isolate the problem. This means eliminating all possible variables and (usually) taking the system apart, piece-by-piece, until the offending piece of hardware is isolated. This is not as frightening as it may sound. Basically, you should remove all nonessential hardware from your system, and then determine which device is actually causing the trouble—possibly by reinserting each device, one at a time. This means that you should remove all hardware other than the floppy and video controllers, and of course the keyboard. Even innocent-looking devices such as mouse controllers can wreak unknown havoc on your peace of mind unless you consider them nonessential. For example, let’s say that the system hangs during the Ethernet board detection sequence at boot time. You might hypothesize that there is a conflict or problem with the Ethernet board in your machine. The quick and easy way to find out is to pull the Ethernet board, and try booting again. If everything goes well, then you know that either (a) the Ethernet board is not supported by Linux (see Section 1.8 for a list of compatible boards), or (b) there is an address or IRQ conflict with the board. “Address or IRQ conflict?” What on earth does that mean? All devices in your machine use an IRQ, or interrupt request line, to tell the system that they need something done on their behalf. You can think of the IRQ as a cord that the device tugs when it needs the system to take care of some pending request. If more than one device is tugging on the same cord, the kernel won’t be able to detemine which device it needs to service. Instant mayhem. Therefore, be sure that all of your installed devices are using unique IRQ lines. In general the IRQ for a device can be set by jumpers on the card; see the documentation for the particular device for details. Some devices do not require the use of an IRQ at all, but it is suggested that you configure them to use one if possible (the Seagate ST01 and ST02 SCSI controllers being good examples). In some cases, the kernel provided on your installation media is configured to use a certain IRQ for certain devices. For example, on some distributions of Linux, the kernel is preconfigured to use IRQ 5 for the TMC-950 SCSI controller, the Mitsumi CD-ROM controller, and the bus mouse driver. If you want to use two or more of these devices, you’ll need to first install Linux with only one of these devices enabled, then recompile the kernel in order to change the default IRQ for one of them. (See Chapter 4 for information on recompiling the kernel.) Another area where hardware conflicts can arise is with DMA (direct memory access) channels, I/O addresses, and shared memory addresses. All of these terms describe mechanisms through which the system

2.5. Running Into Trouble


interfaces with hardware devices. Some Ethernet boards, for example, use a shared memory address as well as an IRQ to interface with the system. If any of these are in conflict with other devices, then the system may behave unexpectedly. You should be able to change the DMA channel, I/O or shared memory addresses for your various devices with jumper settings. (Unfortunately, some devices don’t allow you to change these settings.) The documentation for your various hardware devices should specify the IRQ, DMA channel, I/O address, or shared memory address that the devices use, and how to configure them. Again, the simple way to get around these problems is just to temporarily disable the conflicting devices until you have time to determine the cause of the problem. Table 2.2 is a list of IRQ and DMA channels used by various “standard” devices found on most systems. Almost all systems will have some of these devices, so you should avoid setting the IRQ or DMA of other devices in conflict with these values.
Device ttyS0 (COM1) ttyS1 (COM2) ttyS2 (COM3) ttyS3 (COM4) lp0 (LPT1) lp1 (LPT2) fd0, fd1 (floppies 1 and 2) fd2, fd3 (floppies 3 and 4) I/O address 3f8 2f8 3e8 2e8 378 - 37f 278 - 27f 3f0 - 3f7 370 - 377 IRQ 4 3 4 3 7 5 6 10 DMA n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 2 3

Table 2.2: Common device settings

Problems recognizing hard drive or controller

When Linux boots, you should see a series of messages on your screen such as:
Console: colour EGA+ 80x25, 8 virtual consoles

Serial driver version 3.96 with no serial options enabled tty00 at 0x03f8 (irq = 4) is a 16450 tty03 at 0x02e8 (irq = 3) is a 16550A lp init:

lp1 exists (0), using polling driver

Here, the kernel is detecting the various hardware devices present on your system. At some point, you should see the line
Partition check:

followed by a list of recognized partitions, for example:
Partition check: hda: hdb: hda1 hda2 hdb1 hdb2 hdb3

If, for some reason, your drives or partitions are not recognized, then you will not be able to access them in any way.


Chapter 2. Obtaining and Installing Linux

There are several things that can cause this to happen: 

Hard drive or controller not supported.

If you are using a hard drive controller (IDE, SCSI, or otherwise) that is not supported by Linux, the kernel will not recognize your partitions at boot time. 

Drive or controller improperly configured. Even if your controller is supported by Linux, it may not
Refer to the documentation for your hard drive and/or controller for information on solving these kinds of problems. In particular, many hard drives will need to have a jumper set if they are to be used as a “slave” drive (for example, as the second hard drive). The acid test for this kind of condition is to boot up MS-DOS, or some other operating system, known to work with your drive and controller. If you can access the drive and controller from another operating system, then it is not a problem with your hardware configuration. See Section, above, for information on resolving possible device conflicts, and Section, below, for information on configuring SCSI devices.

be configured correctly. (This is particularly a problem for SCSI controllers; most non-SCSI controllers should work fine without any additional configuration). 

Controller properly configured, but not detected. Some BIOS-less SCSI controllers require the user  Hard drive geometry not recognized. Some systems, such as the IBM PS/ValuePoint, do not store
hard drive geometry information in the CMOS memory, where Linux expects to find it. Also, certain SCSI controllers need to be told where to find drive geometry in order for Linux to recognize the layout of your drive. Most distributions provide a bootup option to specify the drive geometry. In general, when booting the installation media, you can specify the drive geometry at the LILO boot prompt with a command such as:
boot: linux hd=hcylindersi,hheadsi,hsectorsi

to specify information about the controller at boot time. Section, below, describes how to force hardware detection for these controllers.

where cylinders , heads , and sectors correspond to the number of cylinders, heads, and sectors per track for your hard drive. After installing the Linux software, you will be able to install LILO, allowing you to boot from the hard drive. At that time, you can specify the drive geometry to the LILO installation procedure, making it unnecessary to enter the drive geometry each time you boot. See Chapter 4 for more about LILO.






Problems with SCSI controllers and devices

Presented here are some of the most common problems with SCSI controllers and devices such as CD-ROMs, hard drives, and tape drives. If you are having problems getting Linux to recognize your drive or controller, read on. The Linux SCSI HOWTO (see Appendix A) contains much useful information on SCSI devices in addition to that listed here. SCSI can be particularly tricky to configure at times. 

A SCSI device is detected at all possible ID’s.

This is caused by strapping the device to the same address as the controller. You need to change the jumper settings so that the drive uses a different address from the controller itself.

2.5. Running Into Trouble


Linux reports sense errors, even if the devices are known to be error-free. This can be caused by bad
addresses. Also check that interrupts are enabled correctly on your controller.

cables, or by bad termination. If your SCSI bus is not terminated at both ends, you may have errors accessing SCSI devices. When in doubt, always check your cables. 

SCSI devices report timeout errors. This is usually caused by a conflict with IRQ, DMA, or device  SCSI controllers using BIOS are not detected.
Detection of controllers using BIOS will fail if the BIOS is disabled, or if your controller’s “signature” is not recognized by the kernel. See the Linux SCSI HOWTO for more information about this. 

Controllers using memory mapped I/O do not work. This is caused when the memory-mapped I/O
ports are incorrectly cached. Either mark the board’s address space as uncacheable in the XCMOS settings, or disable cache altogether. 

When partitioning, you get a warning that “cylinders 

CD-ROM drive or other removeable media devices are not recognized at boot time.
with a CD-ROM (or disk) in the drive. This is necessary for some devices.

> 1024”, or you are unable to boot from a partition using cylinders numbered above 1023. BIOS limits the number of cylinders to 1024, and any partition using cylinders numbered above this won’t be accessible from the BIOS. As far as Linux is concerned, this affects only booting; once the system has booted you should be able to access the partition. Your options are to either boot Linux from a boot floppy, or boot from a partition using cylinders numbered below 1024. See Section 2.3.7 for information on creating a boot diskette or installing LILO.

Try booting

If your SCSI controller is not recognized, you may need to force hardware detection at boot time. This is particularly important for BIOS-less SCSI controllers. Most distributions allow you to specify the controller IRQ and shared memory address when booting the installation media. For example, if you are using a TMC-8xx controller, you may be able to enter
boot: linux tmx8xx=hinterrupti,hmemory-addressi

at the LILO boot prompt, where interrupt is the IRQ of controller, and memory-address is the shared memory address. Whether or not you will be able to do this depends on the distribution of Linux you are using; consult your documentation for details.






Problems installing the software

Actually installing the Linux software should be quite trouble-free, if you’re lucky. The only problems that you might experience would be related to corrupt installation media or lack of space on your Linux filesystems. Here is a list of these common problems. 

System reports “Read

error”, “file not found”, or other errors while attempting to install the software. This is indicative of a problem with your installation media. If you are installing from floppy, keep in mind that floppies are quite succeptible to media errors of this type. Be sure to use brand-new, newly-formatted floppies. If you have an MS-DOS partition on your drive, many Linux distributions allow you to install the software from the hard drive. This may be faster and more reliable than using floppies. If you are using a CD-ROM, be sure to check the disc for scratches, dust, or other problems which might cause media errors.


Chapter 2. Obtaining and Installing Linux

The cause of the problem may be that the media is in the incorrect format. For example, if using floppies, many Linux distributions require that the floppies be formatted in high-density MS-DOS format. (The boot floppy is the exception; it is not in MS-DOS format in most cases.) If all else fails, either obtain a new set of floppies, or recreate the floppies (using new diskettes) if you downloaded the software yourself. 

System reports errors such as “tar:

read error” or “gzip: not in gzip format”. This problem is usually caused by corrupt files on the installation media itself. In other words, your floppy may be error-free, but the data on the floppy is in some way corrupted. For example, if you downloaded the Linux software using text mode, rather than binary mode, then your files will be corrupt, and unreadable by the installation software. full” while installing. This is a clear-cut sign that you have run out of space when installing the software. Not all Linux distributions will be able to cleanly pick up the mess; you shouldn’t be able to abort the installation and expect the system to work. The solution is usually to re-create your filesystems (with the mke2fs command) which will delete the partially-installed software. You can then attempt to re-install the software, this time selecting a smaller amount of software to install. In other cases, you may need to start completely from scratch, and rethink your partition and filesystem sizes. 

System reports errors such as “device 

System reports errors such as “read intr:

0x10” while accessing the hard drive. This is usually an indication of bad blocks on your drive. However, if you receive these errors while using mkswap or mke2fs, the system may be having trouble accessing your drive. This can either be a hardware problem (see Section 2.5.2), or it might be a case of poorly specified geometry. If you used the

option at boot time to force detection of your drive geometry, and incorrectly specified the geometry, you could be prone to this problem. This can also happen if your drive geometry is incorrectly specified in the system CMOS. 

System reports errors such as “file

not found” or “permission denied”. This problem can occur if not all of the necessary files are present on the installation media (see the next paragraph) or if there is a permissions problem with the installation software. For example, some distributions of Linux have been known to have bugs in the installation software itself. These are usually fixed very rapidly, and are quite infrequent. If you suspect that the distribution software contains bugs, and you’re sure that you have not done anything wrong, contact the maintainer of the distribution to report the bug.

If you have other strange errors when installing Linux (especially if you downloaded the software yourself), be sure that you actually obtained all of the necessary files when downloading. For example, some people use the FTP command
mget *.*

when downloading the Linux software via FTP. This will download only those files that contain a “.” in their filenames; if there are any files without the “.”, you will miss them. The correct command to use in this case is
mget *

2.5. Running Into Trouble


The best advice is to retrace your steps when something goes wrong. You may think that you have done everything correctly, when in fact you forgot a small but important step somewhere along the way. In many cases, just attempting to re-download or re-install the Linux software can solve the problem. Don’t beat your head against the wall any longer than you have to! Also, if Linux unexpectedly hangs during installation, there may be a hardware problem of some kind. See Section 2.5.2 for hints.


Problems after installing Linux

You’ve spent an entire afternoon installing Linux. In order to make space for it, you wiped your MS-DOS and OS/2 partitions, and tearfully deleted your copies of SimCity and Wing Commander. You reboot the system, and nothing happens. Or, even worse, something happens, but it’s not what should happen. What do you do? In Section 2.5.1, we covered some of the most common problems that can occur when booting the Linux installation media—many of those problems may apply here. In addition, you may be victim to one of the following maladies. Problems booting Linux from floppy

If you are using a floppy to boot Linux, you may need to specify the location of your Linux root partition at boot time. This is especially true if you are using the original installation floppy itself, and not a custom boot floppy created during installation. While booting the floppy, hold down shift or ctrl . This should present you with a boot menu; press tab to see a list of available options. For example, many distributions allow you to type
boot: linux hd=hpartitioni

at the boot menu, where partition is the name of the Linux root partition, such as /dev/hda2. Consult the documentation for your distribution for details. Problems booting Linux from the hard drive



If you opted to install LILO, instead of creating a boot floppy, then you should be able to boot Linux from the hard drive. However, the automated LILO installation procedure used by many distributions is not always perfect. It may make incorrect assumptions about your partition layout, in which case you will need to re-install LILO to get everything right. Installing LILO is covered in Chapter 4. 

System reports “Drive

not bootable---Please insert system disk.” You will get this error message if the hard drive’s master boot record is corrupt in some way. In most cases, it’s harmless, and everything else on your drive is still intact. There are several ways around this: 1. While partitioning your drive using fdisk, you may have deleted the partition that was marked as “active”. MS-DOS and other operating systems attempt to boot the “active” partition at boot time (Linux pays no attention to whether the partition is “active” or not). You may be able to boot MS-DOS from floppy and run FDISK to set the active flag on your MS-DOS paritition, and all will be well. Another command to try (with MS-DOS 5.0 and higher) is


Chapter 2. Obtaining and Installing Linux


This command will attempt to rebuild the hard drive master boot record for booting MS-DOS, overwriting LILO. If you no longer have MS-DOS on your hard drive, you’ll need to boot Linux from floppy and attempt to install LILO later. 2. If you created an MS-DOS partition using Linux’s version of fdisk, or vice versa, you may get this error. You should create MS-DOS partitions only using MS-DOS’s version FDISK. (The same applies to operating systems other than MS-DOS.) The best solution here is either to start from scratch and repartition the drive correctly, or to merely delete and re-create the offending partitions using the correct version of fdisk. 3. The LILO installation procedure may have failed. In this case, you should either boot from your Linux boot floppy (if you have one), or from the original installation media. Either of these should provide options for specifying the Linux root partition to use when booting. Hold down shift or ctrl at boot time, and press tab from the boot menu for a list of options. 

When booting the system from the hard drive, MS-DOS (or another operating system) starts instead
of Linux. First of all, be sure that you actually installed LILO when installing the Linux software. If not, then the system will still boot MS-DOS (or whatever other operating system you may have) when you attempt to boot from the hard drive. In order to boot Linux from the hard drive, you will need to install LILO (see Chapter 4).

On the other hand, if you did install LILO, and another operating system boots instead of Linux, then you have LILO configured to boot that other operating system by default. While the system is booting, hold down shift or ctrl , and press tab at the boot prompt. This should present you with a list of possible operating systems to boot; select the appropriate option (usually just “linux”) to boot Linux. If you wish to select Linux as the default operating system to boot, you will need to re-install LILO. See Chapter 4. It also may be possible that you attempted to install LILO, but the installation procedure failed in some way. See the previous item. Problems logging in

After booting Linux, you should be presented with a login prompt, like so:
linux login:

At this point, either the distribution’s documentation or the system itself will tell you what to do. For many distributions, you simply login as root, with no password. Other possible usernames to try are guest or test. Most newly-installed Linux systems should not require a password for the initial login. However, if you are asked to enter a password, there may be a problem. First, try using a password equivalent to the username; that is, if you are logging in as root, use “root” as the password. If you simply can’t login, there may be a problem. First, consult your distribution’s documentation; the username and password to use may be buried in there somewhere. The username and password may have been given to you during the installation procedure, or they may be printed on the login banner. One cause of this may be a problem with installing the Linux login and initialization files. If this is the case, you may need to reinstall (at least parts of) the Linux software, or boot your installation media and attempt to fix the problem by hand—see Chapter 4 for hints.

2.5. Running Into Trouble


Problems using the system

If login is successful, you should be presented with a shell prompt (such as “#” or “$”) and can happily roam around your system. However, there are some initial problems with using the system that sometimes creep up. The most common initial configuration problem is incorrect file or directory permissions. This can cause the error message
Shell-init: permission denied

to be printed after logging in (in fact, any time you see the message “permission denied” you can be fairly certain that it is a problem with file permissions). In many cases, it’s a simple matter of using the chmod command to fix the permissions of the appropriate files or directories. For example, some distributions of Linux once used the (incorrect) file mode 0644 for the root directory (/). The fix was to issue the command
# chmod 755 /

as root. However, in order to issue this command, you needed to boot from the installation media and mount your Linux root filesystem by hand—a hairy task for most newcomers. As you use the system, you may run into places where file and directory permissions are incorrect, or software does not work as configured. Welcome to the world of Linux! While most distributions are quite trouble-free, very few of them are perfect. We don’t want to cover all of those problems here. Instead, throughout the book we help you to solve many of these configuration problems by teaching you how to find them and fix them yourself. In Chapter 1 we discussed this philosophy in some detail. In Chapter 4, we give hints for fixing many of these common configuration problems.

Chapter 3

Linux Tutorial
3.1 Introduction
New users of UNIX and Linux may be a bit intimidated by the size and apparent complexity of the system before them. There are many good books on using UNIX out there, for all levels of expertise from novice to expert. However, none of these books covers, specifically, an introduction to using Linux. While 95% of using Linux is exactly like using other UNIX systems, the most straightforward way to get going on your new system is with a tutorial tailored for Linux. Herein is such a tutorial. This chapter does not go into a large amount of detail or cover many advanced topics. Instead, it is intended to get the new Linux user running, on both feet, so that he or she may then read a more general book about UNIX and understand the basic differences between other UNIX systems and Linux. Very little is assumed here, except perhaps some familiarity with personal computer systems, and MSDOS. However, even if you’re not an MS-DOS user, you should be able to understand everything here. At first glance, UNIX looks a lot like MS-DOS (after all, parts of MS-DOS were modeled on the CP/M operating system, which in turn was modeled on UNIX). However, only the very superficial features of UNIX resemble MS-DOS in any way. Even if you’re completely new to the PC world, this tutorial should be of help. And, before we begin: Don’t be afraid to experiment. The system won’t bite you. You can’t destroy anything by working on the system. UNIX has some amount of security built in, to prevent “normal” users (the role which you will now assume) from damaging files which are essential to the system. Even so, the absolute worst thing that can happen is that you’ll delete all of your files—and you’ll have to go back and re-install the system. So, at this point, you have nothing to lose.

3.2 Basic UNIX Concepts
UNIX is a multitasking, multiuser operating system. This means that there can be many people using one computer at the same time, running many different applications. (This differs from MS-DOS, where only one person can use the system at any one time.) Under UNIX, for users to identify themselves to the system, they must log in, which entails two steps: Entering your login name (the name which the system identifies you as), and entering your password, which is your personal secret key to logging into your account. Because only you know your password, no one else can login to the system under your username. On traditional UNIX systems, the system administrator will assign you a username and an initial 78

3.2. Basic UNIX Concepts


password when you are given an account on the system. However, because you are the system administrator, you must set up your own account before you can login—see Section 3.2.1, below. For the following discussions, we’ll use the imaginary username “larry”. In addition, each UNIX system has a hostname assigned to it. It is this hostname that gives your machine a name, gives it character and charm. The hostname is used to identify individual machines on a network, but even if your machine isn’t networked, it should have a hostname. In Section 4.10.2 we’ll cover setting your system’s hostname. For our examples, below, the system’s hostname is “mousehouse”.


Creating an account

Before you can use the system, you must set up a user account for yourself. This is because it’s usually not a good idea to use the root account for normal use. The root account should be reserved for running privileged commands and for maintaining the system, as discussed in Section 4.1. In order to create an account for yourself, you need to login as root and use the useradd or adduser command. See Section 4.4 for information on this procedure.


Logging in

At login time, you’ll see a prompt resembling the following on your screen:
mousehouse login:

Here, enter your username, and press the Return key. Our hero, larry, would type the following:
mousehouse login: Password: larry

Now, enter your password. It won’t be echoed to the screen when you login, so type carefully. If you mistype your password, you’ll see the message
Login incorrect

and you’ll have to try again. Once you have correctly entered the username and password, you are officially logged into the system, and are free to roam.


Virtual consoles

The system’s console is the monitor and keyboard connected directly to the system. (Because UNIX is a multiuser operating system, you may have other terminals connected to serial ports on your system, but these would not be the console.) Linux, like some other versions of UNIX, provides access to virtual consoles (or VC’s), which allow you to have more than one login session from your console at a time. To demonstrate this, login to your system (as demonstrated above). Now, press alt-F2 . You should see the login: prompt again. You’re looking at the second virtual console—you logged into the first. To switch back to the first VC, press alt-F1 . Voila! You’re back to your first login session.


Chapter 3. Linux Tutorial

A newly-installed Linux system probably allows you to access the first four VC’s, using alt-F1 through
alt-F4 . However, it is possible to enable up to 12 VC’s—one for each function key on your keyboard. As

you can see, use of VC’s can be very powerful—you can be working on several different VC’s at once. While the use of VC’s is somewhat limiting (after all, you can only be looking at one VC at a time), it should give you a feel for UNIX’s multiuser capabilities. While you’re working on VC #1, you can switch over to VC #2 and start working on something else.


Shells and commands

For most of your explorations in the world of UNIX, you’ll be talking to the system through the use of a shell. A shell is just a program which takes user input (e.g., commands which you type) and translates them into instructions. This can be compared to the COMMAND.COM program under MS-DOS, which does essentially the same thing. The shell is just one interface to UNIX. There are many possible interfaces—such as the X Window System, which lets you run commands by using the mouse and keyboard in conjunction. As soon as you login, the system starts the shell, and you can type commands to it. Here’s a quick example. Here, Larry logs in, and is left sitting at the shell prompt.
mousehouse login: Password: larry

larry’s password

Welcome to Mousehouse! /home/larry#

“/home/larry#” is the shell’s prompt, indicating that it’s ready to take commands. (More on what the prompt itself means later.) Let’s try telling the system to do something interesting:
/home/larry# make love make: *** No way to make target ‘love’. Stop. /home/larry#

Well, as it turns out make was the name of an actual program on the system, and the shell executed this program when given the command. (Unfortunately, the system was being unfriendly.) This brings us to one burning question: What are commands? What happens when you type “make love”? The first word on the command line, “make”, is the name of the command to be executed. Everything else on the command line is taken as arguments to this command. Examples:
/home/larry# cp foo bar

Here, the name of the command is “cp”, and the arguments are “foo” and “bar”. When you type a command, the shell does several things. First of all, it looks at the command name, and checks to see if it is a command which is internal to the shell. (That is, a command which the shell knows how to execute itself. There are a number of these commands, and we’ll go into them later.) The shell also checks to see if the command is an alias, or substitute name, for another command. If neither of these conditions apply, the shell looks for a program, on the disk, with the command’s name. If it finds such a program, the shell runs it, giving the program the arguments specified on the command line. In our example, the shell looks for the program called make, and runs it with the argument love. Make is a program often used to compile large programs, and it takes as arguments the name of a “target” to

3.2. Basic UNIX Concepts


compile. In the case of “make love”, we instructed make to compile the target love. Because make can’t find a target by this name, it fails with a humorous error message, and we are returned to the shell prompt. What happens if we type a command to a shell, and the shell can’t find a program with the command name to run? Well, we can try it:
/home/larry# eat dirt eat: command not found /home/larry#

Quite simply, if the shell can’t find a program with the name given on the command line (here, “eat”), it prints an error message which should be self-explanatory. You’ll often see this error message if you mistype a command (for example, if you had typed “mkae love” instead of “make love”).


Logging out

Before we delve much further, we should tell you how to log out of the system. At the shell prompt, use the command
/home/larry# exit

to logout. There are other ways of logging out as well, but this is the most foolproof one.


Changing your password

You should also be aware of how to change your password. The command passwd will prompt you for your old password, and your new password. It will ask you to reenter the new password for validation. Be careful not to forget your password—if you do, you will have to ask the system administrator to reset it for you. (If you’re the system administrator, see Section 4.4.)


Files and directories

Under most operating systems (UNIX included), there is the concept of a file, which is just a bundle of information which is given a name (called a filename). Examples of files would be your history term paper, an e-mail message, or an actual program which can be executed. Essentially, anything which is saved on disk is saved in an individual file. Files are identified by their filenames. For example, the file containing your history paper might be saved with the filename history-paper. These names usually identify the file and its contents in some form which is meaningful to you. There is no standard format for filenames as there is under MS-DOS and other operating systems; in general, filenames may contain any character (except /—see the discussion of pathnames, below), and are limited to 256 characters in length. With the concept of files comes the concept of directories. A directory is just a collection of files. It can be thought of as a “folder” which contains many different files. Directories themselves are given names, with which you can identify them. Furthermore, directories are maintained in a tree-like structure; that is, directories may contain other directories. A file may be referred to by its pathname, which is made up of the filename, preceded by the name of the directory which contains the file. For example, let’s say that Larry has a directory called papers, which contains three files: history-final, english-lit, and masters-thesis. (Each of these three files


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contains information for three of Larry’s ongoing projects.) To refer to the file english-lit, Larry can specify the file’s pathname:

As you can see, the directory and file names are separated by a single slash (/). For this reason, filenames themselves cannot contain the / character. MS-DOS users will find this convention familiar, although in the MS-DOS world, the backslash (\) is used instead. As mentioned, directories can be nested within each other as well. For example, let’s say that Larry has another directory, within papers, called notes. This directory contains the files math-notes and cheat-sheet. The pathname of the file cheat-sheet would be

Therefore, the pathname really is a “path” which you take to locate a certain file. The directory above a given subdirectory is known as the parent directory. Here, the directory papers is the parent of the notes directory.


The directory tree

Most UNIX systems have a standard layout for files, so that system resources and programs can be easily located. This layout forms a directory tree, which starts at the “/” directory, also known as “the root directory”. Directly underneath / are some important subdirectories: /bin, /etc, /dev, and /usr, among others. These directories in turn contain other directories which contain system configuration files, programs, and so on. In particular, each user has a home directory, which is the directory set aside for that user to store his or her files. In the examples above, all of Larry’s files (such as cheat-sheet and history-final) were contained in Larry’s home directory. Usually, user home directories are contained under /home, and are named for the user who owns that directory. Therefore, Larry’s home directory is /home/larry. In Figure 3.2.8 a sample directory tree is represented. It should give you some idea of how the directory tree on your system is organized.


The current working directory

At any given time, commands that you type to the shell are given in terms of your current working directory. You can think of your working directory as the directory in which you are currently “located”. When you first login, your working directory is set to your home directory—/home/larry in our case. Whenever you reference a file, you may refer to it in relationship to your current working directory, instead of specifying the full pathname of the file. Here’s an example. Larry has the directory papers, and papers contains the file history-final. If Larry wants to look at this file, he can use the command
/home/larry# more /home/larry/papers/history-final

The more command simply displays a file, one screen at a time. However, because Larry’s current working directory is /home/larry, he can instead refer to the file relative to his current location. The command would be

3.2. Basic UNIX Concepts



bin dev etc home lib proc tmp usr

larry sam

X386 bin emacs etc g++-include include lib local bin emacs etc lib man spool src tmp Figure 3.1: A typical (abridged) Unix directory tree. linux

/home/larry# more papers/history-final

Therefore, if you begin a filename (such as papers/final) with a character other than “/”, the system assumes that you’re referring to the file in terms relative to your current working directory. This is known as a relative pathname. On the other hand, if you begin a filename with a “/”, the system interprets this as a full pathname—that is, a pathname including the entire path to the file, starting from the root directory, /. This is known as an absolute pathname.


Referring to home directories

Under both tcsh and bash,1 your home directory can be referred to using the tilde character (“˜”). For example, the command
/home/larry# more ˜/papers/history-final

is equivalent to
1 tcsh and bash are two shells running under Linux. The shell is the program which reads user commands and executes them; most Linux systems enable either tcsh or bash for new user accounts.


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/home/larry# more /home/larry/papers/history-final

The “˜” character is simply replaced with the name of your home directory by the shell. In addition, you can specify other user’s home directories with the tilde as well. The pathname “˜karl/letters” translates to “/home/karl/letters” by the shell (if /home/karl is karl’s home directory). The use of the tilde is simply a shortcut; there is no directory named “˜”—it’s just syntactic sugar provided by the shell.

3.3 First Steps into UNIX
Before we begin, it is important to note that all file and command names on a UNIX system are case-sensitive (unlike operating systems such as MS-DOS). For example, the command make is very different than Make or MAKE. The same hold for file and directory names.


Moving around

Now that we can login, and know how to refer to files using pathnames, how can we change our current working directory, to make life easier? The command for moving around in the directory structure is cd, short for “change directory”. You’ll notice that many often-used Unix commands are two or three letters. The usage of the cd command is:
cd hdirectoryi

where directory is the name of the directory which you wish to change to. As we said, when you login, you begin in your home directory. If Larry wanted to move down into the papers subdirectory, he’d use the command
/home/larry# cd papers /home/larry/papers#



As you can see, Larry’s prompt changes to reflect his current working directory (so he knows where he is). Now that he’s in the papers directory, he can look at his history final with the command
/home/larry/papers# more history-final

Now, Larry is stuck in the papers subdirectory. To move back up to the parent directory, use the command
/home/larry/papers# cd .. /home/larry#

(Note the space between the “cd” and the “..”.) Every directory has an entry named “..” which refers to the parent directory. Similarly, every directory has an entry named “.” which refers to itself. Therefore, the command
/home/larry/papers# cd .

3.3. First Steps into UNIX


gets us nowhere. You can also use absolute pathnames in the cd command. To cd into Karl’s home directory, we can use the command
/home/larry/papers# cd /home/karl /home/karl#

Also, using cd with no argument will return you to your own home directory.
/home/karl# cd /home/larry#


Looking at the contents of directories

Now that you know how to move around directories you probably think, “So what?” The basic skill of moving around directories is fairly useless, so let’s introduce a new command, ls. ls prints a listing of files and directories, by default from your current directory. For example:
/home/larry# ls Mail letters papers /home/larry#

Here we can see that Larry has three entries in his current directory: Mail, letters, and papers. This doesn’t tell us much—are these directories or files? We can use the -F option on the ls command to tell us more.
/home/larry# ls –F Mail/ letters/ papers/ /home/larry#

From the / appended to each filename, we know that these three entries are in fact subdirectories. Using ls -F may also append “*” to the end of a filename. This indicates that the file is an executable, or a program which can be run. If nothing is appended to the filename using ls -F, the file is a “plain old file”, that is, it’s neither a directory, or an executable. In general, each UNIX command may take a number of options in addition to other arguments. These options usually begin with a “-”, as demonstrated above with ls -F. The -F option tells ls to give more information about the type of the files involved—in this case, printing a / after each directory name. If you give ls a directory name, it will print the contents of that directory.
/home/larry# ls –F papers english-lit history-final masters-thesis notes/ /home/larry#


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Or, for a more interesting listing, let’s see what’s in the system’s /etc directory.
/home/larry# ls /etc Images adm bcheckrc brc brc˜ csh.cshrc csh.login default disktab fdprm fstab ftpaccess /home/larry# ftpusers getty gettydefs group inet init init.d initrunlvl inittab inittab.old issue lilo lpc magic motd mount mtab mtools pac passwd printcap profile psdatabase rc rc0.d rc1.d rc2.d rc3.d rc4.d rc5.d rmt rpc rpcinfo securetty services shells startcons swapoff swapon syslog.conf syslogd.reload termcap umount update utmp wtmp

(For those MS-DOS users out there, notice how the filenames can be longer than 8 characters, and can contain periods in any position. It is even possible to have more than one period in a filename.) Let’s cd up to the top of the directory tree, using “cd ..”, and then down to another directory: /usr/bin.
/home/larry# cd .. /home# cd .. /# cd usr /usr# cd bin /usr/bin#

You can also move into directories in multiple steps, as in cd /usr/bin. Try moving around various directories, using ls and cd. In some cases, you may run into a foreboding “Permission denied” error message. This is simply the concept of UNIX security kicking in: in order to ls or to cd into a directory, you must have permission to do so. We’ll talk more about this in Section 3.9.


Creating new directories

It’s time to learn how to create directories. This involves the use of the mkdir command. Try the following:
/home/larry# mkdir foo /home/larry# ls -F Mail/ foo/ letters/ papers/ /home/larry# cd foo /home/larry/foo# ls /home/larry/foo#

Congrats! You’ve just made a new directory and moved into it. Since there aren’t any files in this new directory, let’s learn how to copy files from one place to another.

3.3. First Steps into UNIX



Copying files

Copying files is done with the command cp:
/home/larry/foo# cp /etc/termcap . /home/larry/foo# cp /etc/shells . /home/larry/foo# ls –F shells termcap /home/larry/foo# cp shells bells /home/larry/foo# ls –F bells shells termcap /home/larry/foo#

The cp command copies the files listed on the command line to the file or directory given as the last argument. Notice how we use the directory “.” to refer to the current directory.


Moving files

A new command named mv moves files, instead of copying them. The syntax is very straightforward.
/home/larry/foo# mv termcap sells /home/larry/foo# ls -F bells sells shells /home/larry/foo#

Notice how termcap no longer exists, but in its place is the file sells. This can be used to rename files, as we have just done, but also to move a file to a completely new directory.


Note: mv and cp will overwrite the destination file (if it already exists) without asking you. Be careful when you move a file into another directory: there may already be a file with the same name in that directory, which you’ll overwrite!


Deleting files and directories

You now have an ugly rhyme developing with the use of the ls command. To delete a file, use the rm command. (“rm” stands for “remove”).
/home/larry/foo# rm bells sells /home/larry/foo# ls -F shells /home/larry/foo#

We’re left with nothing but shells, but we won’t complain. Note that rm by default won’t prompt you before deleting a file—so be careful. A related command to rm is rmdir. This command deletes a directory, but only if the directory is empty. If the directory contains any files or subdirectories, rmdir will complain.


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Looking at files

The commands more and cat are used for viewing the contents of files. more displays a file, one screenful at a time, while cat displays the whole file at once. To look at the file shells, we can use the command
/home/larry/foo# more shells

In case you’re interested what shells contains, it’s a list of valid shell programs on your system. On most systems, this includes /bin/sh, /bin/bash, and /bin/csh. We’ll talk about these different types of shells later. While using more, press Space to display the next page of text, and b to display the previous page. There are other commands available in more as well, these are just the basics. Pressing q will quit more. Quit more and try cat /etc/termcap. The text will probably fly by much too quickly for you to read it. The name “cat” actually stands for “concatenate”, which is the real use of the program. The cat command can be used to concatenate the contents of several files and save the result to another file. This will be discussed later.


Getting online help

Almost every UNIX system, Linux included, provides a facility known as “manual pages”, or “man pages” for short. These man pages contain online documentation for all of the various system commands, resources, configuration files, and so on. The command used to access man pages is man. For example, if you’re interested in finding out about the other options of the ls command, you can type
/home/larry# man ls

and the man page for ls will be displayed. Unfortunately, most of the man pages out there are written for those who already have some idea of what the command or resource does. For this reason, man pages usually only contain the hardcore technical details of the command, without a lot of tutorial. However, man pages can be an invaluable resource for jogging your memory if you forget the syntax of a command. Man pages will also tell you a lot about the commands which we won’t tell you in this book. I suggest that you try man for the commands we’ve already gone over, and whenever I introduce a new command. You’ll notice some of these commands won’t have man pages. This could be for several reasons. For one, the man pages haven’t been written yet (the Linux Documentation Project is responsible for man pages under Linux as well. We are gradually accumulating most of the man pages available for the system). Secondly, the the command might be an internal shell command, or an alias (as discussed in Section 3.2.4), in which case it would not have a man page of its own. One example is cd, which is a shell internal command. The shell actually processes the cd—there is no separate program which contains this command.

3.4 Summary of Basic Commands
This section introduces some of the most useful basic commands on a UNIX system, including those covered in the last section.

3.4. Summary of Basic Commands


Note that options usually begin with a “-”, and in most cases multiple one-letter options may be combined using a single “-”. For example, instead of using the command ls -l -F, it is adequate to use ls -lF. Instead of listing all of the options available for each of these commands, we’ll only talk about those which are useful or important at this time. In fact, most of these commands have a large number of options (most of which you’ll never use). You can use man to see the manual pages for each command, which list all of the available options. Also note that many of these commands take a list of files or directories as arguments, denoted by “ file1 : : : fileN ”. For example, the cp command takes as arguments a list of files to copy, followed by the destination file or directory. When copying more than one file, the destination must be a directory.

h i h



Change the current working directory. Syntax: cd directory directory is the directory to change to. (“.” refers to the current directory, “..” the parent directory.) Example: cd ../foo sets the current directory to ../foo.






Displays information about the named files and directories. Syntax: ls file1 file2 : : : fileN Where file1 through fileN are the filenames or directories to list. Options: There are more options than you want to think about. The most commonly used are -F (used to display some information about the type of the file), and -l (gives a “long” listing including file size, owner, permissions, and so on. This will be covered in detail later.) Example: ls -lF /home/larry will display the contents of the directory /home/larry.

h ih i h h i h i



Copies file(s) to another file or directory. Syntax: cp file1 file2 : : : fileN destination Where file1 through fileN are the files to copy, and destination is the destination file or directory. Example: cp ../frog joe copies the file ../frog to the file or directory joe.

h ih i h h i h i






Moves file(s) to another file or directory. This command does the equivalent of a copy followed by the deletion of the original. This can be used to rename files, as in the MS-DOS command RENAME. Syntax: mv file1 file2 : : : fileN destination Where file1 through fileN are the files to move, and destination is the destination file or directory. Example: mv ../frog joe moves the file ../frog to the file or directory joe.

h ih i h h i h i






Deletes files. Note that when files are deleted under UNIX, they are unrecoverable (unlike MS-DOS, where you can usually “undelete” the file). Syntax: rm file1 file2 : : : fileN Where file1 through fileN are the filenames to delete. Options: -i will prompt for confirmation before deleting the file. Example: rm -i /home/larry/joe /home/larry/frog deletes the files joe and frog in /home/larry.

h ih i h h i h i



Creates new directories. Syntax: mkdir dir1 dir2 : : : dirN Where dir1 through dirN are the directories to create.

h i

h ih i h h i



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Example: mkdir /home/larry/test creates the directory test under /home/larry. rmdir This command deletes empty directories. When using rmdir, your current working directory must not be within the directory to be deleted. Syntax: rmdir dir1 dir2 : : : dirN Where dir1 through dirN are the directories to delete. Example: rmdir /home/larry/papers deletes the directory /home/larry/papers, if it is empty.

h i

h ih i h h i



Displays the manual page for the given command or resource (that is, any system utility which isn’t a command, such as a library function.) Syntax: man command Where command is the name of the command or resource to get help on. Example: man ls gives help on the ls command.






Displays the contents of the named files, one screenful at a time. Syntax: more file1 file2 : : : fileN Where file1 through fileN are the files to display. Example: more papers/history-final displays the file papers/history-final.

h i

h ih i h h i



Officially used to concatenate files, cat is also used to display the entire contents of a file at once. Syntax: cat file1 file2 : : : fileN Where file1 through fileN are the files to display. Example: cat letters/from-mdw displays the file letters/from-mdw.

h i

h ih i h h i



Simply echoes the given arguments. Syntax: echo arg1 arg2 : : : argN Where arg1 through argN are the arguments to echo. Example: echo "Hello world" displays the string “Hello world”.

h i h

h ih i h h i h i



Display all of the lines in the named file(s) matching the given pattern. Syntax: grep pattern file1 file2 : : : fileN Where pattern is a regular expression pattern, and file1 through fileN are the files to search. Example: grep loomer /etc/hosts will display all lines in the file /etc/hosts which contain the pattern “loomer”.

ih ih i h


h i



3.5 Exploring the File System
The file system is the collection of files and the hierarchy of directories on your system. I promised before to escort you around the filesystem and the time has come. You have the skills and the knowledge to make sense out of what I’m saying, and you have a roadmap. (Refer to Figure 3.2.8 on page 83). First, change to the root directory (cd /), and do an ls -F. You’ll probably see these directories2 : bin, dev, etc, home, install, lib, mnt, proc, root, tmp, user, usr, and var. Let’s take a look at each of these directories.
2 You

may see others, and you might not see all of them. Don’t worry. Every release of Linux differs in some respects.

3.5. Exploring the File System



/bin is short for “binaries”, or executables. This is where many essential system programs reside. Use the command “ls -F /bin” to list the files here. If you look down the list you may see a few commands that you recognize, such as cp, ls, and mv. These are the actual programs for these commands. When you use the cp command, you’re running the program /bin/cp. Using ls -F, you’ll see that most (if not all) of the files in /bin have an asterisk (“*”) appended to their filenames. This indicates that the files are executables, as described in Section 3.3.2.


Next on our stop is /dev. Take a look, again with ls -F. The “files” in /dev are known as device drivers—they are used to access system devices and resources, such as disk drives, modems, memory, and so on. For example, just as you can read data from a file, you can read input from the mouse by accessing /dev/mouse. The filenames beginning with fd are floppy disk devices. fd0 is the first floppy disk drive, fd1 the second. Now, the astute among you will notice that there are more floppy disk devices then just the two I’ve listed above: they represent specific types of floppy disks. For example, fd1H1440 will access high-density, 3.5" diskettes in drive 1. Here is a list of some of the most commonly used device files. Note that even though you may not have some of the devices listed below, the chances are that you’ll have entries in /dev for them anyway. 


/dev/console refers to the system’s console—that is, the monitor connected directly to your system. The various /dev/ttyS and /dev/cua devices are used for accessing serial ports. For example, /dev/ttyS0 refers to “COM1” under MS-DOS. The /dev/cua devices are “callout” devices, which are used in conjunction with a modem. The device names beginning with hd access hard drives. /dev/hda refers to the whole first hard disk, while hda1 refers to the first partition on /dev/hda. The device names beginning with sd are SCSI drives. If you have a SCSI hard drive, instead of accessing it through /dev/hda, you would access /dev/sda. SCSI tapes are accessed via st devices, and SCSI CD-ROM via sr devices. The device names beginning with lp access parallel ports. /dev/lp0 refers to “LPT1” in the MS-DOS world. /dev/null is used as a “black hole”—any data sent to this device is gone forever. Why is this useful? Well, if you wanted to suppress the output of a command appearing on your screen, you could send that output to /dev/null. We’ll talk more about this later. The device names beginning with /dev/tty refer to the “virtual consoles” on your system (accessed via by pressing alt-F1 , alt-F2 , and so on). /dev/tty1 refers to the first VC, /dev/tty2 refers to the second, and so on. The device names beginning with /dev/pty are “pseudo-terminals”. They are used to provide a “terminal” to remote login sessions. For example, if your machine is on a network, incoming telnet logins would use one of the /dev/pty devices.

/etc contains a number of miscellaneous system configuration files. These include /etc/passwd (the user database), /etc/rc (the system initialization script), and so on.


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/sbin /home

sbin is used for storing essential system binaries, to be used by the system administrator. /home contains user’s home directories. For example, /home/larry is the home directory for the user “larry”. On a newly-installed system, there may not be any users in this directory. /lib contains shared library images. These files contain code which many programs share in common. Instead of each program containing its own copy of these shared routines, they are all stored in one common place, in /lib. This makes executable files smaller, and saves space on your system. /proc is a “virtual filesystem”, the files in which are stored in memory, not on the drive. They refer to the various processes running on the system, and allow you to get information about what programs and processes are running at any given time. We’ll go into more detail in Section 3.11.1. Many programs have a need to generate some information and store it in a temporary file. The canonical location for these files is in /tmp. /usr is a very important directory. It contains a number of subdirectories which in turn contain some of the most important and useful programs and configuration files used on the system. The various directories described above are essential for the system to operate, but most of the things found in /usr are optional for the system. However, it is those optional things which make the system useful and interesting. Without /usr, you’d more or less have a boring system, only with programs like cp and ls. /usr contains most of the larger software packages and the configuration files which accompany them.






/usr/X386 contains The X Window System, if you installed it. The X Window System is a large, powerful graphical environment which provides a large number of graphical utilities and programs, displayed in “windows” on your screen. If you’re at all familiar with the Microsoft Windows or Macintosh environments, X Windows will look very familiar. The /usr/X386 directory contains all of the X Windows executables, configuration files, and support files. This will be covered in more detail in Section 5.1. /usr/bin is the real warehouse for software on any UNIX system. It contains most of the executables for programs not found in other places, such as /bin. Just as /etc contained miscellaneous system programs and configuration files, /usr/etc contains even more of these utilities and files. In general, the files found in /usr/etc are not essential to the system, unlike those found in /etc, which are.



/usr/include /usr/include contains include files for the C compiler. These files (most of which end in .h, for “header”) declare data structure names, subroutines, and constants used when writing programs in C. Those files found in /usr/include/sys are generally used when programming on the UNIX system level. If you are familiar with the C programming language, here you’ll find header files such as stdio.h, which declares functions such as printf(). /usr/g++-include /usr/g++-include

contains include files for the C++ compiler (much like

3.6. Types of shells


/usr/include). /usr/lib /usr/lib contains the “stub” and “static” library equivalents to the files found in /lib. When compiling a program, the program is “linked” with the libraries found in /usr/lib, which then directs the program to look in /lib when it needs the actual code in the library. In addition, various other programs store configuration files in /usr/lib. /usr/local is a lot like /usr—it contains various programs and files not essential to the system, but which make the system fun and exciting. In general, those programs found in /usr/local are specialized for your system specifically—that is, /usr/local differs greatly between UNIX systems. Here, you’ll find large software packages such as T X (a document formatting system) and E Emacs (a large and powerful editor), if you installed them. /usr/man This directory contains the actual man pages. There are two subdirectories for every man page “section” (use the command man man for details). For example, /usr/man/man1 contains the source (that is, the unformatted original) for man pages in section 1, and /usr/man/cat1 contains the formatted man pages for section 1. /usr/src contains the source code (the uncompiled program) for various programs on your system. The most important thing here is /usr/src/linux, which contains the source code for the Linux kernel. /var holds directories that often change in size or tend to grow. Many of those directories used to reside in /usr, but since we are trying to keep it relatively unchangeable, the directories that change often have been moved to /var. Some of those directories are: /var/adm contains various files of interest to the system administrator, specifically system logs, which record any errors or problems with the system. Other files record logins to the system, as well as failed login attempts. This will be covered in Chapter 4. /var/spool contains files which are to be “spooled” to another program. For example, if your machine is connected to a network, incoming mail will be stored in /var/spool/mail, until you read it or delete it. Outgoing or incoming news articles may be found in /var/spool/news, and so on.






3.6 Types of shells
As I have mentioned too many times before, UNIX is a multitasking, multiuser operating system. Multitasking is very useful, and once you get used to it, you’ll use it all of the time. Before long, you’ll be able to run programs in the “background”, switch between multiple tasks, and “pipeline” programs together to achieve complicated results with a single command. Many of the features we’ll be covering in this section are features provided by the shell itself. Be careful not to confuse UNIX (the actual operating system) with the shell—the shell is just an interface to the underlying system. The shell provides a great deal of functionality on top of UNIX itself. The shell is not only an interpreter for your interactive commands, which you type at the prompt. It is also a powerful programming language, which allows you to write shell scripts, to “batch” several shell commands together in a file. MS-DOS users will recognize the similarity to “batch files”. Use of shell scripts is a very powerful tool, which will allow you to automate and expand your usage of UNIX. See


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Section 3.13.1 for more information. There are several types of shells in the UNIX world. The two major types are the “Bourne shell” and the “C shell”. The Bourne shell uses a command syntax like the original shell on early UNIX systems, such as System III. The name of the Bourne shell on most UNIX systems is /bin/sh (where sh stands for “shell”). The C shell (not to be confused with sea shell) uses a different syntax, somewhat like the programming language C, and on most UNIX systems is named /bin/csh. Under Linux, there are several variations of these shells available. The two most commonly used are the Bourne Again Shell, or “Bash” (/bin/bash), and Tcsh (/bin/tcsh). Bash is a form of the Bourne shell with many of the advanced features found in the C shell. Because Bash supports a superset of the Bourne shell syntax, any shell scripts written in the standard Bourne shell should work with Bash. For those who prefer to use the C shell syntax, Linux supports Tcsh, which is an expanded version of the original C shell. The type of shell that you decide to use is mostly a religious issue. Some folks prefer the Bourne shell syntax with the advanced features of Bash, and some prefer the more structured C shell syntax. As far as normal commands, such as cp and ls, are concerned, the type of shell you’re using doesn’t matter—the syntax is the same. Only when you start to write shell scripts or use some of the advanced features of the shell do the differences between shell types begin to matter. As we’re discussing some of the features of the shell, below, we’ll note those differences between Bourne and C shells. However, for the purposes of this manual, most of those differences are minimal. (If you’re really curious at this point, read the man pages for bash and tcsh).

3.7 Wildcards
A key feature of most Unix shells is the ability to reference more than one filename using special characters. These so-called wildcards allow you to refer to, say, all filenames which contain the character “n”. The wildcard “*” refers to any character or string of characters in a filename. For example, when you use the character “*” in a filename, the shell replaces it with all possible substitutions from filenames in the directory which you’re referencing. Here’s a quick example. Let’s suppose that Larry has the files frog, joe, and stuff in his current directory.
/home/larry# ls frog joe stuff /home/larry#

To access all files with the letter “o” in the filename, we can use the command
/home/larry# ls *o* frog joe /home/larry#

As you can see, the use of the “*” wildcard was replaced with all substitutions which matched the wildcard from filenames in the current directory. The use of “*” by itself simply matches all filenames, because all characters match the wildcard.
/home/larry# ls * frog joe stuff /home/larry#

3.7. Wildcards


Here are a few more examples.
/home/larry# ls f* frog /home/larry# ls *ff stuff /home/larry# ls *f* frog stuff /home/larry# stuff /home/larry# ls s*f

The process of changing a “*” into filenames is called wildcard expansion and is done by the shell. This is important: the individual commands, such as ls, never see the “*” in their list of parameters. The shell expands the wildcard to include all of the filenames which match. So, the command
/home/larry# ls *o*

is expanded by the shell to actually be
/home/larry# ls frog joe

One important note about the “*” wildcard. Using this wildcard will not match filenames which begin with a single period (“.”). These files are treated as “hidden” files—while they are not really hidden, they don’t show up on normal ls listings, and aren’t touched by the use of the “*” wildcard. Here’s an example. We already mentioned that each directory has two special entries in it: “.” refers to the current directory, and “..” refers to the parent directory. However, when you use ls, these two entries don’t show up.
/home/larry# ls frog joe stuff /home/larry#

If you use the -a switch with ls, however, you can display filenames which begin with “.”. Observe:
/home/larry# ls -a . .. .bash profile .bashrc frog joe stuff /home/larry#

Now we can see the two special entries, “.” and “..”, as well as two other “hidden” files—.bash profile and .bashrc. These two files are startup files used by bash when larry logs in. More on them in Section 3.13.3. Note that when we use the “*” wildcard, none of the filenames beginning with “.” are displayed.
/home/larry# ls * frog joe stuff /home/larry#

This is a safety feature: if the “*” wildcard matched filenames beginning with “.”, it would also match the directory names “.” and “..”. This can be dangerous when using certain commands.


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Another wildcard is “?”. The “?” wildcard will only expand a single character. Thus, “ls ?” will display all one character filenames, and “ls termca?” would display “termcap” but not “termcap.backup”. Here’s another example:
/home/larry# ls j?e joe /home/larry# ls f??g frog /home/larry# ls ????f stuff /home/larry#

As you can see, wildcards allow you to specify many files at one time. In the simple command summary, in Section 3.4, we said that the cp and mv commands actually can copy or move multiple files at one time. For example,
/home/larry# cp /etc/s* /home/larry

will copy all filenames in /etc beginning with “s” to the directory /home/larry. Therefore, the format of the cp command is really
cp hfile1i hfile2i hfile3i

hfileNi hdestinationi

where file1 through fileN is a list of filenames to copy, and destination is the destination file or directory to copy them to. mv has an identical syntax. Note that if you are copying or moving more than one file, the destination must be a directory. You can only copy or move a single file to another file.

h i







3.8 UNIX Plumbing
3.8.1 Standard input and output

Many UNIX commands get input from what is known as standard input and send their output to standard output (often abbreviated as “stdin” and “stdout”). Your shell sets things up so that standard input is your keyboard, and standard output is the screen. Here’s an example using the command cat. Normally, cat reads data from all of the filenames given on the command line and sends this data directly to stdout. Therefore, using the command
/home/larry/papers# cat history-final masters-thesis

will display the contents of the file history-final followed by masters-thesis. However, if no filenames are given to cat as parameters, it instead reads data from stdin, and sends it back to stdout. Here’s an example.
/home/larry/papers# cat Hello there. Hello there. Bye.

3.8. UNIX Plumbing


Bye. ctrl-D /home/larry/papers#

As you can see, each line that the user types (displayed in italics) is immediately echoed back by the cat command. When reading from standard input, commands know that the input is “finished” when they receive an EOT (end-of-text) signal. In general, this is generated by pressing ctrl-D . Here’s another example. The command sort reads in lines of text (again, from stdin, unless files are given on the command line), and sends the sorted output to stdout. Try the following.
/home/larry/papers# sort bananas carrots apples ctrl-D apples bananas carrots /home/larry/papers#

Now we can alphabetize our shopping list... isn’t UNIX useful?


Redirecting input and output

Now, let’s say that we wanted to send the output of sort to a file, to save our shopping list elsewhere. The shell allows us to redirect standard output to a filename, using the “>” symbol. Here’s how it works.
/home/larry/papers# sort > shopping-list bananas carrots apples ctrl-D /home/larry/papers#

As you can see, the result of the sort command isn’t displayed, instead it’s saved to the file shopping-list. Let’s look at this file.
/home/larry/papers# cat shopping-list apples bananas carrots /home/larry/papers#

Now we can sort our shopping list, and save it, too! But let’s suppose that we were storing our unsorted, original shopping list in the file items. One way of sorting the information and saving it to a file would be to give sort the name of the file to read, in lieu of standard input, and redirect standard output as we did above. As so:
/home/larry/papers# sort items > shopping-list /home/larry/papers# cat shopping-list


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apples bananas carrots /home/larry/papers#

However, there’s another way of doing this. Not only can we redirect standard output, but we can redirect standard input as well, using the “<” symbol.
/home/larry/papers# sort < items apples bananas carrots /home/larry/papers#

Technically, sort < items is equivalent to sort items, but the former allows us to demonstrate the point: sort < items behaves as if the data in the file items was typed to standard input. The shell handles the redirection. sort wasn’t given the name of the file (items) to read; as far as sort is concerned, it was still reading from standard input as if you had typed the data from your keyboard. This introduces the concept of a filter. A filter is a program which reads data from standard input, processes it in some way, and sends the processed data to standard output. Using redirection, standard input and/or standard output can be referenced from files. sort is a simple filter: it sorts the incoming data and sends the result to standard output. cat is even simpler: it doesn’t do anything with the incoming data, it simply outputs whatever was given to it.


Using pipes

We’ve already demonstrated how to use sort as a filter. However, these examples assumed that you had data in a file somewhere, or were willing to type the data to standard input yourself. What if the data you wanted to sort came from the output of another command, such as ls? For example, using the -r option with sort sorts the data in reverse-alphabetical order. If you wanted to list the files in your current directory in reverse order, one way to do it would be:
/home/larry/papers# ls english-list history-final masters-thesis notes /home/larry/papers# ls > file-list /home/larry/papers# sort -r file-list notes masters-thesis history-final english-list /home/larry/papers#

Here, we saved the output of ls in a file, and then ran sort -r on that file. But this is unwieldy and causes us to use a temporary file to save the data from ls. The solution is to use pipelining. Pipelining is another feature of the shell which allows you to connect a string of commands in a “pipe”, where the stdout of the first command is sent directly to the stdin of the

3.8. UNIX Plumbing


second command, and so on. Here, we wish to send the stdout of ls to the stdin of sort. The “|” symbol is used to create a pipe:
/home/larry/papers# ls j sort -r notes masters-thesis history-final english-list /home/larry/papers#

This command is much shorter, and obviously easier to type. Another useful example—using the command
/home/larry/papers# ls /usr/bin

is going to display a long list a files, most of which will fly past the screen too quickly for you to read them. Instead, let’s use more to display the list of files in /usr/bin.
/home/larry/papers# ls /usr/bin j more

Now you can page down the list of files at your own leisure. But the fun doesn’t stop here! We can pipe more than two commands together. The command head is a filter which displays the first lines from an input stream (here, input from a pipe). If we wanted to display the last filename in alphabetical order in the current directory, we can use:
/home/larry/papers# ls j sort -r j head -1 notes /home/larry/papers#

where head -1 simply displays the first line of input that it receives (in this case, the stream of reversesorted data from ls).


Non-destructive redirection

Using “>” to redirect output to a file is destructive: in other words, the command
/home/larry/papers# ls > file-list

overwrites the contents of the file file-list. If, instead, you redirect with the symbol “>>”, the output will be appended to the named file, instead of overwriting it.
/home/larry/papers# ls >> file-list

will append the output of the ls command to file-list. Just keep in mind that redirection and using pipes are features provided by the shell—the shell provides this handy syntax using “>” and “>>” and “|”. It has nothing to do with the commands themselves, but the shell.


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3.9 File Permissions
3.9.1 Concepts of file permissions

Because there are multiple users on a UNIX system, in order to protect individual user’s files from tampering by other users, UNIX provides a mechanism known as file permissions. This mechanism allows files and directories to be “owned” by a particular user. As an example, because Larry created the files in his home directory, Larry owns those files, and has access to them. UNIX also allows files to be shared between users and groups of users. If Larry so desired, he could cut off access to his files, such that no other user could access them. However, on most systems the default is to allow other users to read your files, but not modify or delete them in any way. As explained above, every file is owned by a particular user. However, files are also owned by a particular group, which is a system-defined group of users. Every user is placed into at least one group when that user is created. However, the system administrator may also grant the user access to more than one group. Groups are usually defined by the type of users which access the machine. For example, on a university UNIX system, users may be placed into the groups student, staff, faculty or guest. There are also a few system-defined groups (such as bin and admin) which are used by the system itself to control access to resources—very rarely do actual users belong to these system groups. Permissions fall into three main divisions: read, write, and execute. These permissions may be granted to three classes of users: the owner of the file, the group to which the file belongs, and to all users, regardless of group. Read permission allows a user to read the contents of the file, or in the case of directories, to list the contents of the directory (using ls). Write permission allows the user to write to and modify the file. For directories, write permission allows the user to create new files or delete files within that directory. Finally, execute permission allows the user to run the file as a program or shell script (if the file happens to be a program or shell script, that is). For directories, having execute permission allows the user to cd into the directory in question.


Interpreting file permissions

Let’s look at an example to demonstrate file permissions. Using the ls command with the -l option will display a “long” listing of the file, including file permissions.
/home/larry/foo# ls -l stuff -rw-r--r-1 larry users 505 Mar 13 19:05 stuff


The first field printed in the listing represents the file permissions. The third field is the owner of the file (larry), and the fourth field is the group to which the file belongs (users). Obviously, the last field is the name of the file (stuff), and we’ll cover the other fields later. This file is owned by larry, and belongs to the group users. Let’s look at the file permissions. The string -rw-r--r-- lists, in order, the permissions granted to the file’s owner, the file’s group, and everybody else.

3.9. File Permissions


The first character of the permissions string (“-”) represents the type of file. A “-” just means that this is a regular file (as opposed to a directory or device driver). The next three letters (“rw-”) represent the permissions granted to the file’s owner, larry. The “r” stands for “read” and the “w” stands for “write”. Thus, larry has read and write permission to the file stuff. As we mentioned, besides read and write permission, there is also “execute” permission—represented by an “x”. However, there is a “-” here in place of the “x”, so Larry doesn’t have execute permission on this file. This is fine, the file stuff isn’t a program of any kind. Of course, because Larry owns the file, he may grant himself execute permission for the file if he so desires. This will be covered shortly. The next three characters, r--, represent the group’s permissions on the file. The group which owns this file is users. Because only an “r” appears here, any user which belongs to the group users may read this file. The last three characters, also r--, represent the permissions granted to every other user on the system (other than the owner of the file and those in the group users). Again, because only an “r” is present, other users may read the file, but not write to it or execute it. Here are some other examples of group permissions. -rwxr-xr-x The owner of the file may read, write, and execute the file. Users in the file’s group, and all other users, may read and execute the file. The owner of the file may read and write the file. No other user can access the file. All users may read, write, and execute the file.




It is important to note that the permissions granted to a file also depend on the permissions of the directory in which the file is located. For example, even if a file is set to -rwxrwxrwx, other users cannot access the file unless they have read and execute access to the directory in which the file is located. For example, if Larry wanted to restrict access to all of his files, he could simply set the permissions on his home directory /home/larry to -rwx------. In this way, no other user has access to his directory, and all files and directories within it. Larry doesn’t need to worry about the individual permissions on each of his files. In other words, to access a file at all, you must have execute access to all directories along the file’s pathname, and read (or execute) access to the file itself. Usually, users on a UNIX system are very open with their files. The usual set of permissions given to files is -rw-r--r--, which will allow other users to read the file, but not change it in any way. The usual set of permissions given to directories is -rwxr-xr-x, which will allow other users to look through your directories, but not create or delete files within them. However, many users wish to keep other users out of their files. Setting the permissions of a file to -rw------- will not allow any other user to access the file. Likewise, setting the permissions of a directory to -rwx------ will keep other users out of the directory in question.


Changing permissions

The command chmod is used to set the permissions on a file. Only the owner of a file may change the permissions on that file. The syntax of chmod is:
chmod fa,u,g,ogf+,-gfr,w,xg hfilenamesi


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Briefly, you supply one or more of all, user, group, or other. Then you specify whether you are adding rights (+) or taking them away (-). Finally, you specify one or more of read, write, and execute. Some examples of legal commands are: chmod a+r stuff Gives all users read access to the file. chmod +r stuff Same as above—if none of a, u, g, or o is specified, a is assumed. chmod og-x stuff Remove execute permission from users other than the owner. chmod u+rwx stuff Allow the owner of the file to read, write, and execute the file. chmod o-rwx stuff Remove read, write, and execute permission from users other than the owner and users in the file’s group.

3.10 Managing file links
Links allow you to give a single file multiple names. Files are actually identified to the system by their inode number, which is just the unique filesystem identifier for the file3 . A directory is actually a listing of inode numbers with their corresponding filenames. Each filename in a directory is a link to a particular inode.


Hard links

The ln command is used to create multiple links for one file. For example, let’s say that you have the file foo in a directory. Using ls -i, we can look at the inode number for this file.
# ls -i foo 22192 foo #

Here, the file foo has an inode number of 22192 in the filesystem. We can create another link to foo, named bar:
# ln foo bar

With ls -i, we see that the two files have the same inode.
# ls -i foo bar 22192 bar #
3 The

22192 foo

command ls -i will display file inode numbers.

3.10. Managing file links


Now, accessing either foo or bar will access the same file. If you make changes to foo, those changes will be made to bar as well. For all purposes, foo and bar are the same file. These links are known as hard links because they directly create a link to an inode. Note that you can only hard-link files on the same filesystem; symbolic links (see below) don’t have this restriction. When you delete a file with rm, you are actually only deleting one link to a file. If you use the command
# rm foo

then only the link named foo is deleted; bar will still exist. A file is only actually deleted on the system when it has no links to it. Usually, files have only one link, so using the rm command deletes the file. However, if a file has multiple links to it, using rm will only delete a single link; in order to delete the file, you must delete all links to the file. The command ls -l will display the number of links to a file (among other information).
# ls -l foo bar -rw-r--r--rw-r--r-# 2 root 2 root root root 12 Aug 12 Aug 5 16:51 bar 5 16:50 foo

The second column in the listing, “2”, specifies the number of links to the file. As it turns out, a directory is actually just a file containing information about link-to-inode translations. Also, every directory has at least two hard links in it: “.” (a link pointing to itself), and “..” (a link pointing to the parent directory). The root directory (/) “..” link just points back to /.


Symbolic links

Symbolic links are another type of link, which are somewhat different than hard links. A symbolic link allows you to give a file another name, but it doesn’t link the file by inode. The command ln -s will create a symbolic link to a file. For example, if we use the command
# ln -s foo bar

we will create the symbolic link bar pointing to the file foo. If we use ls -i, we will see that the two files have different inodes, indeed.
# ls -i foo bar 22195 bar # 22192 foo

However, using ls -l, we see that the file bar is a symlink pointing to foo.
# ls -l foo bar lrwxrwxrwx -rw-r--r-# 1 root 1 root root root 3 Aug 12 Aug 5 16:51 bar -> foo 5 16:50 foo

The permission bits on a symbolic link are not used (they always appear as rwxrwxrwx). Instead, the permissions on the symbolic link are determined by the permissions on the target of the symbolic link (in our example, the file foo).


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Functionally, hard links and symbolic links are similar, but there are some differences. For one thing, you can create a symbolic link to a file which doesn’t exist; the same is not true for hard links. Symbolic links are processed by the kernel differently than hard links are, which is just a technical difference but sometimes an important one. Symbolic links are helpful because they identify what file they point to; with hard links, there is no easy way to determine which files are linked to the same inode. Links are used in many places on the Linux system. Symbolic links are especially important to the shared library images in /lib. See Section 4.7.2 for more information.

3.11 Job Control
3.11.1 Jobs and processes

Job control is a feature provided by many shells (Bash and Tcsh included) which allows you to control multiple running commands, or jobs, at once. Before we can delve much further, we need to talk about processes. Every time you run a program, you start what is known as a process—which is just a fancy name for a running program. The command ps displays a list of currently running processes. Here’s an example:
/home/larry# ps PID TT STAT 24 3 S 161 3 R /home/larry# TIME COMMAND 0:03 (bash) 0:00 ps

The PID listed in the first column is the process ID, a unique number given to every running process. The last column, COMMAND, is the name of the running command. Here, we’re only looking at the processes which Larry is currently running4. These are bash (Larry’s shell), and the ps command itself. As you can see, bash is running concurrently with the ps command. bash executed ps when Larry typed the command. After ps is finished running (after the table of processes is displayed), control is returned to the bash process, which displays the prompt, ready for another command. A running process is known as a job to the shell. The terms process and job are interchangeable. However, a process is usually referred to as a “job” when used in conjunction with job control—a feature of the shell which allows you to switch between several independent jobs. In most cases users are only running a single job at a time—that being whatever command they last typed to the shell. However, using job control, you can run several jobs at once, switching between them as needed. How might this be useful? Let’s say that you’re editing a text file and need to suddenly interrupt your editing and do something else. With job control, you can temporarily suspend the editor, and back at the shell prompt start to work on something else. When you’re done, you can start the editor back up, and be back where you started, as if you never left the editor. This is just one example. There are many practical uses for job control.


Foreground and background

Jobs can either be in the foreground or in the background. There can only be one job in the foreground at any one time. The foreground job is the job which you interact with—it receives input from the keyboard
4 There

are many other processes running on the system as well—“ps -aux” lists them all.

3.11. Job Control


and sends output to your screen. (Unless, of course, you have redirected input or output, as described in Section 3.8). On the other hand, jobs in the background do not receive input from the terminal—in general, they run along quietly without need for interaction. Some jobs take a long time to finish, and don’t do anything interesting while they are running. Compiling programs is one such job, as is compressing a large file. There’s no reason why you should sit around being bored while these jobs complete their tasks; you can just run them in the background. While the jobs are running in the background, you are free to run other programs. Jobs may also be suspended. A suspended job is a job that is not currently running, but is temporarily stopped. After you suspend a job, you can tell the job to continue, in the foreground or the background as needed. Resuming a suspended job will not change the state of the job in any way—the job will continue to run where it left off. Note that suspending a job is not equal to interrupting a job. When you interrupt a running process (by hitting your interrupt key, which is usually ctrl-C )5 , it kills the process, for good. Once the job is killed, there’s no hope of resuming it; you’ll have to re-run the command. Also note that some programs trap the interrupt, so that hitting ctrl-C won’t immediately kill the job. This is to allow the program to perform any necessary cleanup operations before exiting. In fact, some programs simply don’t allow you to kill them with an interrupt at all.


Backgrounding and killing jobs

Let’s begin with a simple example. The command yes is a seemingly useless command which sends an endless stream of y’s to standard output. (This is actually useful. If you piped the output of yes to another command which asked a series of yes and no questions, the stream of y’s would confirm all of the questions.) Try it out.
/home/larry# yes y y y y y

The y’s will continue ad infinitum. You can kill the process by hitting your interrupt key, which is usually ctrl-C . So that we don’t have to put up with the annoying stream of y’s, let’s redirect the standard output of yes to /dev/null. As you may remember, /dev/null acts as a “black hole” for data. Any data sent to it will disappear. This is a very effective method of quieting an otherwise verbose program.
/home/larry# yes > /dev/null

Ah, much better. Nothing is printed, but the shell prompt doesn’t come back. This is because yes is still running, and is sending those inane y’s to /dev/null. Again, to kill the job, hit the interrupt key. Let’s suppose that we wanted the yes command to continue to run, but wanted to get our shell prompt back to work on other things. We can put yes into the background, which will allow it to run, but without need for interaction. One way to put a process in the background is to append an “&” character to the end of the command.
5 The

interrupt key can be set using the stty command. The default on most systems is ctrl-C , but we can’t guarantee the

same for your system.


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/home/larry# yes > /dev/null & [1] 164 /home/larry#

As you can see, we have our shell prompt back. But what is this “[1] 164”? And is the yes command really running? The “[1]” represents the job number for the yes process. The shell assigns a job number to every running job. Because yes is the one and only job that we’re currently running, it is assigned job number 1. The “164” is the process ID, or PID, number given by the system to the job. Either number may be used to refer to the job, as we’ll see later. You now have the yes process running in the background, continuously sending a stream of y’s to /dev/null. To check on the status of this process, use the shell internal command jobs.
/home/larry# jobs [1]+ Running yes >/dev/null & /home/larry#

Sure enough, there it is. You could also use the ps command as demonstrated above to check on the status of the job. To terminate the job, use the command kill. This command takes either a job number or a process ID number as an argument. This was job number 1, so using the command
/home/larry# kill %1

will kill the job. When identifying the job with the job number, you must prefix the number with a percent (“%”) character. Now that we’ve killed the job, we can use jobs again to check on it:
/home/larry# jobs [1]+ Terminated yes >/dev/null


The job is in fact dead, and if we use the jobs command again nothing should be printed. You can also kill the job using the process ID (PID) number, which is printed along with the job ID when you start the job. In our example, the process ID is 164, so the command
/home/larry# kill 164

is equivalent to
/home/larry# kill %1

You don’t need to use the “%” when referring to a job by its process ID.

3.11. Job Control



Stopping and restarting jobs

There is another way to put a job into the background. You can start the job normally (in the foreground), stop the job, and then restart it in the background. First, start the yes process in the foreground, as you normally would:
/home/larry# yes > /dev/null

Again, because yes is running in the foreground, you shouldn’t get your shell prompt back. Now, instead of interrupting the job with ctrl-C , we’ll suspend the job. Suspending a job doesn’t kill it: it only temporarily stops the job until you restart it. To do this, you hit the suspend key, which is usually ctrl-Z .
/home/larry# yes > /dev/null ctrl-Z [1]+ Stopped yes >/dev/null /home/larry#

While the job is suspended, it’s simply not running. No CPU time is used for the job. However, you can restart the job, which will cause the job to run again as if nothing ever happened. It will continue to run where it left off. To restart the job in the foreground, use the command fg (for “foreground”).
/home/larry# fg yes >/dev/null

The shell prints the name of the command again so you’re aware of which job you just put into the foreground. Stop the job again, with ctrl-Z . This time, use the command bg to put the job into the background. This will cause the command to run just as if you started the command with “&” as in the last section.
/home/larry# bg [1]+ yes >/dev/null & /home/larry#

And we have our prompt back. jobs should report that yes is indeed running, and we can kill the job with kill as we did before. How can we stop the job again? Using ctrl-Z won’t work, because the job is in the background. The answer is to put the job in the foreground, with fg, and then stop it. As it turns out you can use fg on either stopped jobs or jobs in the background. There is a big difference between a job in the background and a job which is stopped. A stopped job is not running—it’s not using any CPU time, and it’s not doing any work (the job still occupies system memory, although it may be swapped out to disk). A job in the background is running, and using memory, as well as completing some task while you do other work. However, a job in the background may try to display text on to your terminal, which can be annoying if you’re trying to work on something else. For example, if you used the command
/home/larry# yes &


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without redirecting stdout to /dev/null, a stream of y’s would be printed to your screen, without any way of interrupting it (you can’t use ctrl-C to interrupt jobs in the background). In order to stop the endless y’s, you’d have to use the fg command, to bring the job to the foreground, and then use ctrl-C to kill it. Another note. The fg and bg commands normally foreground or background the job which was last stopped (indicated by a “+” next to the job number when you use the command jobs). If you are running multiple jobs at once, you can foreground or background a specific job by giving the job ID as an argument to fg or bg, as in
/home/larry# fg %2

(to foreground job number 2), or
/home/larry# bg %3

(to background job number 3). You can’t use process ID numbers with fg or bg. Furthermore, using the job number alone, as in
/home/larry# %2

is equivalent to
/home/larry# fg %2

Just remember that using job control is a feature of the shell. The commands fg, bg and jobs are internal to the shell. If for some reason you use a shell which does not support job control, don’t expect to find these commands available. In addition, there are some aspects of job control which differ between Bash and Tcsh. In fact, some shells don’t provide job control at all—however, most shells available for Linux support job control.

3.12 Using the vi Editor
A text editor is simply a program used to edit files which contain text, such as a letter, C program, or a system configuration file. While there are many such editors available for Linux, the only editor which you are guaranteed to find on any UNIX system is vi— the “visual editor”. vi is not the easiest editor to use, nor is it very self-explanatory. However, because it is so common in the UNIX world, and at times you may be required to use it, it deserves some documentation here. Your choice of an editor is mostly a question of personal taste and style. Many users prefer the baroque, self-explanatory and powerful Emacs—an editor with more features than any other single program in the UNIX world. For example, Emacs has its own built-in dialect of the LISP programming language, and has many extensions (one of which is an “Eliza”-like AI program). However, because Emacs and all of its support files are relatively large, you may not have access to it on many systems. vi, on the other hand, is small and powerful, but more difficult to use. However, once you know your way around vi, it’s actually very easy. It’s just the learning curve which is sometimes difficult to cross. This section is a coherent introduction to vi—we won’t discuss all of its features, just the ones you need to know to get you started. You can refer to the man page for vi if you’re interested in learning about more of this editor’s features. Or, you can read the book Learning the vi Editor from O’Reilly and Associates. See Appendix A for information.

3.12. Using the vi Editor




While using vi, at any one time you are in one of three modes of operation. These modes are known as command mode, insert mode, and last line mode. When you start up vi, you are in command mode. This mode allows you to use certain commands to edit files or to change to other modes. For example, typing “x” while in command mode deletes the character underneath the cursor. The arrow keys move the cursor around the file which you’re editing. Generally, the commands used in command mode are one or two characters long. You actually insert or edit text within insert mode. When using vi, you’ll probably spend most of your time within this mode. You start insert mode by using a command such as “i” (for “insert”) from command mode. While in insert mode, you are inserting text into the document from your current cursor location. To end insert mode and return to command mode, press esc . Last line mode is a special mode used to give certain extended commands to vi. While typing these commands, they appear on the last line of the screen (hence the name). For example, when you type “:” from command mode, you jump into last line mode, and can use commands such as “wq” (to write the file and quit vi), or “q!” (to quit vi without saving changes). Last line mode is generally used for vi commands which are longer than one character. In last line mode, you enter a single-line command and press enter to execute it.


Starting vi

The best way to understand these concepts is to actually fire up vi and edit a file. In the example “screens” below, we’re only going to show a few lines of text, as if the screen was only six lines high (instead of twenty-four). The syntax for vi is
vi hfilenamei

where filename is the name of the file that you wish to edit. Start up vi by typing
/home/larry# vi test



which will edit the file test. You should see something like
˜ ˜ ˜ ˜ ˜ ˜ "test" [New file]

The column of “˜” characters indicates that you are the end of the file.


Inserting text

You are now in command mode; in order to insert text into the file, press i (which will place you into insert mode), and begin typing.


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Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party. ˜ ˜ ˜ ˜ ˜

While inserting text, you may type as many lines as you wish (pressing return after each, of course), and you may correct mistakes using the backspace key. To end insert mode, and return to command mode, press esc . While in command mode, you can use the arrow keys to move around the file. Here, because we only have one line of text, trying to use the up- or down-arrow keys will probably cause vi to beep at you. There are several ways to insert text, other than using the i command. For example, the a command inserts text beginning after the current cursor position, instead of on the current cursor position. For example, use the left arrow key to move the cursor between the words “good” and “men”.
Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party. ˜ ˜ ˜ ˜ ˜

Press a , to start insert mode, type “wo”, and then hit esc to return to command mode.
Now is the time for all good women to come to the aid of the party. ˜ ˜ ˜ ˜ ˜

To begin inserting text at the line below the current one, use the o command. For example, press o and type another line or two:
Now is the time for all good women to come to the aid of the party. Afterwards, we’ll go out for pizza and beer. ˜ ˜ ˜ ˜

Just remember that at any time you’re either in command mode (where commands such as i, a, or o are valid), or in insert mode (where you’re inserting text, followed by esc to return to command mode), or last line mode (where you’re entering extended commands, as discussed below).


Deleting text

From command mode, the x command deletes the character under the cursor. If you press x five times, you’ll end up with:

3.12. Using the vi Editor


Now is the time for all good women to come to the aid of the party. Afterwards, we’ll go out for pizza and ˜ ˜ ˜ ˜

Now press a , insert some text, followed by esc :
Now is the time for all good women to come to the aid of the party. Afterwards, we’ll go out for pizza and Diet Coke. ˜ ˜ ˜ ˜

You can delete entire lines using the command dd (that is, press d twice in a row). If your cursor is on the second line, and you type dd,
Now is the time for all good women to come to the aid of the party. ˜ ˜ ˜ ˜ ˜

To delete the word which the cursor is on, use the dw command. Place the cursor on the word “good”, and type dw.
Now is the time for all women to come to the aid of the party. ˜ ˜ ˜ ˜ ˜


Changing text

You can replace sections of text using the R command. Place the cursor on the first letter in “party”, press R , and type the word “hungry”.
Now is the time for all women to come to the aid of the hungry. ˜ ˜ ˜ ˜ ˜

Using R to edit text is much like the i and a commands, but R overwrites text, instead of inserting it. The r command replaces the single character under the cursor. For example, move the cursor to the beginning of the word “Now”, and type r followed by C, you’ll have:


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Cow is the time for all women to come to the aid of the hungry. ˜ ˜ ˜ ˜ ˜

The “˜” command changes the case of the letter under the cursor from upper- to lower-case, and vise versa, For example, if you place the cursor on the “o” in “Cow”, above, and repeatedly press ˜ , you’ll end up with:


Moving commands

You already know how to use the arrow keys to move around the document. In addition, you can use the h, j, k, and l commands to move the cursor left, down, up, and right, respectively. This comes in handy when (for some reason) your arrow keys aren’t working correctly. The w command moves the cursor to the beginning of the next word; the b moves it to the beginning of the previous word. The 0 (that’s a zero) command moves the cursor to the beginning of the current line, and the $ command moves it to the end of the line. When editing large files, you’ll want to move forwards or backwards through the file a screenful at a time. Pressing ctrl-F moves the cursor one screenful forward, and ctrl-B moves it a screenful back. In order to move the cursor to the end of the file, type G. You can also move to an arbitrary line; for example, typing the command 10G would move the cursor to line 10 in the file. To move to the beginning of the file, use 1G. You can couple moving commands with other commands, such as deletion. For example, the command d$ will delete everything from the cursor to the end of the line; dG will delete everything from the cursor to the end of the file, and so on.


Saving files and quitting vi

To quit vi without making changes to the file, use the command :q!. When you type the “:”, the cursor will move to the last line on the screen; you’ll be in last line mode.

3.12. Using the vi Editor


In last line mode, certain extended commands are available. One of them is q!, which quits vi without saving. The command :wq saves the file and then exits vi. The command ZZ (from command mode, without the “:”) is equivalent to :wq. Remember that you must press enter after a command entered in last line mode. To save the file without quitting vi, just use :w.


Editing another file

To edit another file, use the :e command. For example, to stop editing test, and edit the file foo instead, use the command

If you use :e without saving the file first, you’ll get the error message
No write since last change (":edit!" overrides)

which simply means that vi doesn’t want to edit another file until you save the first one. At this point, you can use :w to save the original file, and then use :e, or you can use the command

The “!” tells vi that you really mean it—edit the new file without saving changes to the first.


Including other files

If you use the :r command, you can include the contents of another file in the current file. For example, the command
:r foo.txt

would insert the contents of the file foo.txt in the text at the current cursor location.


Running shell commands

You can also run shell commands from within vi. The :r! command works like :r, but instead of reading a file, it inserts the output of the given command into the buffer at the current cursor location. For example, if you use the command


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ls -F

you’ll end up with

You can also “shell out” of vi, in other words, run a command from within vi, and return to the editor when you’re done. For example, if you use the command
:! ls -F

the ls -F command will be executed, and the results displayed on the screen, but not inserted into the file which you’re editing. If you use the command

vi will start an instance of the shell, allowing you to temporarily put vi “on hold” while you execute other commands. Just logout of the shell (using the exit command) to return to vi.


Getting help

vi doesn’t provide much in the way of interactive help (most UNIX programs don’t), but you can always read the man page for vi. vi is a visual front-end to the ex editor; it is ex which handles many of the last-line mode commands in vi. So, in addition to reading the man page for vi, see ex as well.

3.13 Customizing your Environment
The shell provides many mechanisms to customize your work environment. As we’ve mentioned before, the shell is more than a command interpreter—it is also a powerful programming language. While writing shell scripts is an extensive subject, we’d like to introduce you to some of the ways that you can simplify your work on a UNIX system by using these advanced features of the shell. As we have mentioned before, different shells use different syntaxes when executing shell scripts. For example, Tcsh uses a C-like syntax, while Bourne shells use another type of syntax. In this section, we won’t be running into many of the differences between the two, but we will assume that shell scripts are executed using the Bourne shell syntax.


Shell scripts

Let’s say that you use a series of commands often, and would like to shorten the amount of required typing by grouping all of them together into a single “command”. For example, the commands
/home/larry# cat chapter1 chapter2 chapter3 > book /home/larry# wc -l book /home/larry# lp book

3.13. Customizing your Environment


would concatenate the files chapter1, chapter2, and chapter3 and place the result in the file book. Then, a count of the number of lines in book would be displayed, and finally book would be printed with the lp command. Instead of typing all of these commands, you could group them into a shell script. We described shell scripts briefly in Section 3.13.1. The shell script used to run all of these commands would look like
#!/bin/sh # A shell script to create and print the book cat chapter1 chapter2 chapter3 > book wc -l book lp book

If this script was saved in the file makebook, you could simply use the command
/home/larry# makebook

to run all of the commands in the script. Shell scripts are just plain text files; you can create them with an editor such as emacs or vi 6 . Let’s look at this shell script. The first line, “#!/bin/sh”, identifies the file as a shell script, and tells the shell how to execute the script. It instructs the shell to pass the script to /bin/sh for execution, where /bin/sh is the shell program itself. Why is this important? On most UNIX systems, /bin/sh is a Bournetype shell, such as Bash. By forcing the shell script to run using /bin/sh, we are ensuring that the script will run under a Bourne-syntax shell (instead of, say, a C shell). This will cause your script to run using the Bourne syntax even if you use Tcsh (or another C shell) as your login shell. The second line is a comment. Comments begin with the character “#” and continue to the end of the line. Comments are ignored by the shell—they are commonly used to identify the shell script to the programmer. The rest of the lines in the script are just commands, as you would type them to the shell directly. In effect, the shell reads each line of the script and runs that line as if you had typed it at the shell prompt. Permissions are important for shell scripts. If you create a shell script, you must make sure that you have execute permission on the script in order to run it7 . The command
/home/larry# chmod u+x makebook

can be used to give yourself execute permission on the shell script makebook.


Shell variables and the environment

The shell allows you to define variables, as most programming languages do. A variable is just a piece of data which is given the name.


Note that Tcsh, as well as other C-type shells, use a different mechanism for setting variables than is described here. This discussion assumes the use of a Bourne shell, such as Bash (which you’re probably using). See the Tcsh man page for details. When you assign a value to a variable (using the “=” operator), you can access the variable by prepending a “$” to the variable name, as demonstrated below.
6 vi 7 When

is covered in Section 3.12. you create text files, the default permissions usually don’t include execute permission.


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/home/larry# foo=“hello there”

The variable foo is given the value “hello there”. You can now refer to this value by the variable name, prefixed with a “$” character. The command
/home/larry# echo $foo hello there /home/larry#

produces the same results as
/home/larry# echo “hello there” hello there /home/larry#

These variables are internal to the shell. This means that only the shell can access these variables. This can be useful in shell scripts; if you need to keep track of a filename, for example, you can store it in a variable, as above. Using the command set will display a list of all defined shell variables. However, the shell allows you to export variables to the environment. The environment is the set of variables which all commands that you execute have access to. Once you define a variable inside the shell, exporting it makes that variable part of the environment as well. The export command is used to export a variable to the environment.


Again, here we differ between Bash and Tcsh. If you’re using Tcsh, another syntax is used for setting environment variables (the setenv command is used). See the Tcsh man page for more information. The environment is very important to the UNIX system. It allows you to configure certain commands just by setting variables which the commands know about. Here’s a quick example. The environment variable PAGER is used by the man command. It specifies the command to use to display man pages one screenful at a time. If you set PAGER to be the name of a command, it will use that command to display the man pages, instead of more (which is the default). Set PAGER to “cat”. This will cause output from man to be displayed to the screen all at once, without breaking it up into pages.
/home/larry# PAGER=“cat”

Now, export PAGER to the environment.
/home/larry# export PAGER

Try the command man ls. The man page should fly past your screen without pausing for you. Now, if we set PAGER to “more”, the more command will be used to display the man page.
/home/larry# PAGER=“more”

Note that we don’t have to use the export command after we change the value of PAGER. We only need to export a variable once; any changes made to it thereafter will automatically be propagated to the environment. The man pages for a particular command will tell you if the command uses any environment variables; for example, the man man page explains that PAGER is used to specify the pager command. Some commands

3.13. Customizing your Environment


share environment variables; for example, many commands use the EDITOR environment variable to specify the default editor to use when one is needed. The environment is also used to keep track of important information about your login session. An example is the HOME environment variable, which contains the name of your home directory.
/home/larry/papers# echo $HOME /home/larry

Another interesting environment variable is PS1, which defines the main shell prompt. For example,
/home/larry# PS1=“Your command, please: ” Your command, please:

To set the prompt back to our usual (which contains the current working directory followed by a “#” symbol),
Your command, please: /home/larry# PS1=“\w# ”

The bash man page describes the syntax used for setting the prompt.

The PATH environment variable

When you use the ls command, how does the shell find the ls executable itself? In fact, ls is found in /bin/ls on most systems. The shell uses the environment variable PATH to locate executable files for commands which you type. For example, your PATH variable may be set to:

This is a list of directories for the shell to search, each directory separated by a “:”. When you use the command ls, the shell first looks for /bin/ls, then /usr/bin/ls, and so on. Note that the PATH has nothing to do with finding regular files. For example, if you use the command
/home/larry# cp foo bar

The shell does not use PATH to locate the files foo and bar—those filenames are assumed to be complete. The shell only uses PATH to locate the cp executable. This saves you a lot of time; it means that you don’t have to remember where all of the command executables are stored. On many systems, executables are scattered about in many places, such as /usr/bin, /bin, or /usr/local/bin. Instead of giving the command’s full pathname (such as /usr/bin/cp), you can simply set PATH to the list of directories that you want the shell to automatically search. Notice that PATH contains “.”, which is the current working directory. This allows you to create a shell script or program and run it as a command from your current directory, without having to specify it directly (as in ./makebook). If a directory isn’t on your PATH, then the shell will not search it for commands to run—this includes the current directory.


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Shell initialization scripts

In addition to shell scripts that you create, there are a number of scripts that the shell itself uses for certain purposes. The most important of these are your initialization scripts, scripts automatically executed by the shell when you login. The initialization scripts themselves are simply shell scripts, as described above. However, they are very useful in setting up your environment by executing commands automatically when you login. For example, if you always use the mail command to check your mail when you login, you place the command in your initialization script so it will be executed automatically. Both Bash and Tcsh distinguish between a login shell and other invocations of the shell. A login shell is a shell invoked at login time; usually, it’s the only shell which you’ll use. However, if you “shell out” of another program, such as vi, you start another instance of the shell, which isn’t your login shell. In addition, whenever you run a shell script, you automatically start another instance of the shell to execute the script. The initialization files used by Bash are: /etc/profile (set up by the system administrator, executed by all Bash users at login time), $HOME/.bash profile (executed by a login Bash session), and $HOME/.bashrc (executed by all non-login instances of Bash). If .bash profile is not present, .profile is used instead. Tcsh uses the following initialization scripts: /etc/csh.login (executed by all Tcsh users at login time), $HOME/.tcshrc (executed a login time and by all new instances of Tcsh), and $HOME/.login (executed at login time, following .tcshrc). If .tcshrc is not present, .cshrc is used instead. To fully understand the function of these files, you’ll need to learn more about the shell itself. Shell programming is a complicated subject, far beyond the scope of this book. See the man pages for bash and/or tcsh to learn more about customizing your shell environment.

3.14 So You Want to Strike Out on Your Own?
Hopefully we have provided enough information to give you a basic idea of how to use the system. Keep in mind that most of the interesting and important aspects of Linux aren’t covered here—these are the very basics. With this foundation, before long you’ll be up and running complicated applications and fulfilling the potential of your system. If things don’t seem exciting at first, don’t despair—there is much to be learned. One indispensable tool for learning about the system is to read the man pages. While many of the man pages may appear confusing at first, if you dig beneath the surface there is a wealth of information contained therein. We also suggest reading a complete book on using a UNIX system. There is much more to UNIX than meets the eye—unfortunately, most of it is beyond the scope of this book. Some good UNIX books to look at are listed in Appendix A.

Chapter 4

System Administration
This chapter is an overview to Linux system administration, including a number of advanced features which aren’t necessarily for system administrators only. Just as every dog has its day, every system has its administrator, and running the system is a very important and sometimes time-consuming job, even if you’re the only user on your system. We have tried to cover here the most important things about system administration you need to know when you use Linux, in sufficient detail to get you comfortably started. In order to keep it short and sweet, we have only covered the very basics, and have skipped many an important detail. You should read the Linux System Administrator’s Guide if you are serious about running Linux. It will help you understand better how things work, and how they hang together. At least skim through it so that you know what it contains and know what kind of help you can expect from it.


About Root, Hats, and the Feeling of Power

As you know, UNIX differentiates between different users, so that what they do to each other and to the system can be regulated (one wouldn’t want anybody to be able to read one’s love letters, for instance). Each user is given an account, which includes a username, home directory, and so on. In addition to accounts given to real people, there are special system-defined accounts which have special privileges. The most important of these is the root account, for the username root.


The root account

Ordinary users are generally restricted so that they can’t do harm to anybody else on the system, just to themselves. File permissions on the system are arranged such that normal users aren’t allowed to delete or modify files in directories shared by all users (such as /bin and /usr/bin. Most users also protect their own files with the appropriate file permissions so that other users can’t access or modify those files. There are no such restrictions on root. The user root can read, modify, or delete any file on the system, change permissions and ownerships on any file, and run special programs, such as those which partition the drive or create filesystems. The basic idea is that the person or persons who run and take care of the system logs in as root whenever it is necessary to perform tasks that cannot be executed as a normal user. Because root can do anything, it is easy to make mistakes that have catastrophic consequences when logged in using this account. 119


Chapter 4. System Administration

For example, as a normal user, if you inadvertently attempt to delete all of the files in /etc, the system will not permit you to do so. However, when logged in as root, the system won’t complain at all. It is very easy to trash your system when using root. The best way to prevent accidents is to: 

Sit on your hands before you press

return on a command which may cause damage. For example, if you’re about to clean out a directory, before hitting return , re-read the entire command and make sure that it is correct. 

Don’t get accustomed to using root. The more comfortable you are in the role of the root user, the  Use a different prompt for the root account. You should change root’s .bashrc or .login file to

more likely you are to confuse your privileges with those of a normal user. For example, you might think that you’re logged in as larry, when you’re really logged in as root.

set the shell prompt to something other than your regular user prompt. For example, many people use the character “$” in prompts for regular users, and reserve the character “#” for the root user prompt. 

Only login as root when absolutely necessary. And, as soon as you’re finished with your work as

root, log out. The less you use the root account, the less likely you’ll be to do damage on your system.

Of course, there is a breed of UNIX hackers out there who use root for virtually everything. But every one of them has, at some point, made a silly mistake as root and trashed the system. The general rule is, until you’re familiar with the lack of restrictions on root, and are comfortable using the system without such restrictions, login as root sparingly. Of course, everyone makes mistakes. Linus Torvalds himself once accidentally deleted the entire kernel directory tree on his system. Hours of work were lost forever. Fortunately, however, because of his knowledge of the filesystem code, he was able to reboot the system and reconstruct the directory tree by hand on disk. Put another way, if you picture using the root account as wearing a special magic hat that gives you lots of power, so that you can, by waving your hand, destroy entire cities, it is a good idea to be a bit careful about what you do with your hands. Since it is easy to move your hand in a destructive way by accident, it is not a good idea to wear the magic hat when it is not needed, despite the wonderful feeling.


Abusing the system

Along with the feeling of power comes the tendency to do harm. This is one of the grey areas of UNIX system administration, but everyone goes through it at some point in time. Most users of UNIX systems never have the ability to wield this power—on university and business UNIX systems, only the highly-paid and highly-qualified system administrators ever login as root. In fact, at many such institutions, the root password is a highly guarded secret: it is treated as the Holy Grail of the institution. A large amount of hubbub is made about logging in as root; it is portrayed as a wise and fearsome power, given only to an exclusive cabal. This kind of attitude towards the root account is, quite simply, the kind of thing which breeds malice and contempt. Because root is so fluffed-up, when some users have their first opportunity to login as root (either on a Linux system or elsewhere), the tendency is to use root’s privileges in a harmful manner. I have known so-called “system administrators” who read other user’s mail, delete user’s files without warning, and generally behave like children when given such a powerful “toy”.

4.1. About Root, Hats, and the Feeling of Power


Because root has such privilege on the system, it takes a certain amount of maturity and self-control to use the account as it was intended—to run the system. There is an unspoken code of honor which exists between the system administrator and the users on the system. How would you feel if your system administrator was reading your e-mail or looking over your files? There is still no strong legal precedent for electronic privacy on time-sharing computer systems. On UNIX systems, the root user has the ability to forego all security and privacy mechanisms on the system. It is important that the system administrator develop a trusting relationship with the users on the system. I can’t stress that enough.


Dealing with users

UNIX security is rather lax by design. Security on the system was an afterthought—the system was originally developed in an environment where users intruding upon other users was simply unheard of. Because of this, even with security measures, there is still the ability for normal users to do harm. System administrators can take two stances when dealing with abusive users: they can be either paranoid or trusting. The paranoid system administrator usually causes more harm than he or she prevents. One of my favorite sayings is, “Never attribute to malice anything which can be attributed to stupidity.” Put another way, most users don’t have the ability or knowledge to do real harm on the system. 90% of the time, when a user is causing trouble on the system (by, for instance, filling up the user partition with large files, or running multiple instances of a large program), the user is simply unaware that what he or she is doing is a problem. I have come down on users who were causing a great deal of trouble, but they were simply acting out of ignorance—not malice. When you deal with users who are causing potential trouble, don’t be accusative. The old rule of “innocent until proven guilty” still holds. It is best to simply talk to the user, and question about the trouble, instead of causing a confrontation. The last thing you want to do is be on the user’s bad side. This will raise a lot of suspicion about you—the system administrator—running the system correctly. If a user believes that you distrust or dislike them, they might accuse you of deleting files or breaching privacy on the system. This is certainly not the kind of position that you want to be in. If you do find that a user has been attempting to “crack” the system, or was intentionally doing harm to the system, don’t return the malicious behavior with malice of your own. Instead, simply provide a warning—but be flexible. In many cases, you may catch a user “in the act” of doing harm to the system— give them a warning. Tell them not to let it happen again. However, if you do catch them causing harm again, be absolutely sure that it is intentional. I can’t even begin to describe the number of cases where it appeared as though a user was causing trouble, when in fact it was either an accident or a fault of my own.


Setting the rules

The best way to run a system is not with an iron fist. That may be how you run the military, but UNIX was not designed for such discipline. It makes sense to lay down a simple and flexible set of guidelines for users—but remember, the fewer rules you have, the less chance there is of breaking them. Even if your rules for using the system are perfectly reasonable and clear, users will always at times break these rules without intending to. This is especially true in the case of new UNIX users, who are just learning the ropes of the system. It’s not patently obvious, for example, that you shouldn’t download a gigabyte of files and mail them to everyone on the system. Users need help understanding the rules, and why they are there. If you do specify usage guidelines for your system, make sure that the reason behind a particular guideline is made clear. If you don’t, then users will find all sorts of creative ways to get around the rule, and not know that they are in fact breaking it.


Chapter 4. System Administration


What it all means

We can’t tell you how to run your system to the last detail. Most of the philosophy depends on how you’re using the system. If you have many users, things are much different than if you only have a few users, or if you’re the only user on the system. However, it’s always a good idea—in any situation—to understand what being the system administrator really means. Being the system administrator doesn’t make you a UNIX wizard. There are many system admins out there who know very little about UNIX. Likewise, there are many “normal” users out there who know more about UNIX than any system administrator could. Also, being the system administrator does not allow you to use malice against your users. Just because the system gives you the privilege to mess with user files does not mean that you have any right to do so. Lastly, being the system administrator is really not a big deal. It doesn’t matter if your system is a little 386 or a Cray supercomputer. Running the system is the same, regardless. Knowing the root password isn’t going to earn you money or fame. It will allow you to maintain the system, and keep it running. That’s it.


Booting the System

There are several ways to boot the system, either from floppy or from the hard drive.


Using a boot floppy

Many people boot Linux using a “boot floppy” which contains a copy of the Linux kernel. This kernel has the Linux root partition coded into it, so it will know where to look on the hard drive for the root filesystem. (The rdev command can be used to set the root partition in the kernel image; see below.) This is the type of floppy created by Slackware during installation, for example. To create your own boot floppy, first locate the kernel image on your hard disk. It should be in the file /Image or /etc/Image. Some installations use the file /vmlinux for the kernel. You may instead have a compressed kernel. A compressed kernel uncompresses itself into memory at boot time, and takes up much less space on the hard drive. If you have a compressed kernel, it may be found in the file /zImage or /etc/zImage. Once you know where the kernel is, set the root device in the kernel image to the name of your Linux root partition with the rdev command. The format of the command is
rdev hkernel-namei hroot-devicei

where kernel-name is the name of the kernel image, and root-device is the name of the Linux root partition. For example, to set the root device in the kernel /etc/Image to /dev/hda2, use the command
# rdev /etc/Image /dev/hda2





rdev can set other options in the kernel as well, such as the default SVGA mode to use at boot time. Just use “rdev -h” to get a help message. After setting the root device, you can simply copy the kernel image to the floppy. Whenever copying data to a floppy, it’s a good idea to MS-DOS format the floppy first. This lays down the sector and track information on the floppy, so it can be detected as either high or low density.

4.2. Booting the System


For example, to copy the kernel in the file /etc/Image to the floppy in /etc/fd0, use the command
# cp /etc/Image /dev/fd0

This floppy should now boot Linux.


Using LILO

Another method of booting is to use LILO, a program which resides in the boot sector of your hard disk. This program is executed when the system is booted from the hard disk, and can automatically boot up Linux from a kernel image stored on the hard drive itself. LILO can also be used as a first-stage boot loader for several operating systems, allowing you to select at boot time which operating system (such as Linux or MS-DOS) to boot. When you boot using LILO, the default operating system is booted unless you press ctrl , alt , or shift during the bootup sequence. If you press any of these keys, you will be provided with a boot prompt, at which you type the name of the operating system to boot (such as “linux” or “msdos”). If you press tab at the boot prompt, a listing of available operating systems will be provided. The easy way to install LILO is to edit the configuration file, /etc/lilo.conf, and then run the command
# /sbin/lilo

The LILO configuration file contains a “stanza” for each operating system that you want to boot. The best way to demonstrate this is with an example LILO config file. The below setup is for a system which has a Linux root partition on /dev/hda1, and an MS-DOS partition on /dev/hda2.
# Tell LILO to modify the boot record on /dev/hda (the first # non-SCSI hard drive). If you boot from a drive other than /dev/hda, # change the following line. boot = /dev/hda # Name of the boot loader. No reason to modify this unless you’re doing # some serious hacking on LILO. install = /boot/boot.b # Have LILO perform some optimization. compact # Stanza for Linux root partition on /dev/hda1. image = /etc/Image # Location of kernel label = linux # Name of OS (for the LILO boot menu) root = /dev/hda1 # Location of root partition vga = ask # Tell kernel to ask for SVGA modes at boot time # Stanza for MSDOS partition on /dev/hda2. other = /dev/hda2 # Location of partition table = /dev/hda # Location of partition table for /dev/hda2 label = msdos # Name of OS (for boot menu)

The first operating system stanza in the config file will be the default OS for LILO to boot. You can select another OS to boot at the LILO boot prompt, as discussed above.


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Remember that every time you update the kernel image on disk, you should rerun /sbin/lilo in order for the changes to be reflected on the boot sector of your drive. Also note that if you use the “root =” line, above, there’s no reason to use rdev to set the root partition in the kernel image. LILO sets it for you at boot time. The Linux FAQ (see Appendix A) provides more information on LILO, including how to use LILO to boot with OS/2’s Boot Manager.

4.3 Shutting Down
Shutting down a Linux system is a bit tricky. Remember that you should never just turn off the power or hit the reset switch while the system is running. The kernel keeps track of disk I/O in memory buffers. If you reboot the system without giving the kernel the chance to write its buffers to disk, you can corrupt your filesystems. Other precautions are taken at shutdown time as well. All processes are sent a signal, which allows them to die gracefully (writing and closing all files, and so on). Filesystems are unmounted for safety. If you wish, the system can also alert users that the system is going down and give them a change to log off. The easiest way to shutdown is with the shutdown command. The format of the command is
shutdown htimei hwarning-messagei

The time argument is the time to shutdown the system (in the format hh:mm:ss), and warning-message is a message displayed on all user’s terminals before shutdown. Alternately, you can specify the time as “now”, to shutdown immediately. The -r option may be given to shutdown to reboot the system after shutting down.







For example, to shutdown the system at 8:00pm, use the command
# shutdown -r 20:00

The command halt may be used to force an immediate shutdown, without any warning messages or grace period. halt is useful if you’re the only one using the system, and want to shut down the system and turn it off.


Don’t turn off the power or reboot the system until you see the message:
The system is halted

It is very important that you shutdown the system “cleanly” using the shutdown or halt commands. On some systems, pressing ctrl-alt-del will be trapped and cause a shutdown; on other systems, however, using the “Vulcan nerve pinch” will reboot the system immediately and may cause disaster.

4.4 Managing Users
Whether or not you have many users on your system, it’s important to understand the aspects of user management under Linux. Even if you’re the only user, you should presumably have a separate account for yourself (an account other than root to do most of your work).

4.4. Managing Users


Each person using the system should have his or her own account. It is seldom a good idea to have several people share the same account. Not only is security an issue, but accounts are used to uniquely identify users to the system. You need to be able to keep track of who is doing what.


User management concepts

The system keeps track of a number of pieces of information about each user. They are summarized below. username The username is the unique identifier given to every user on the system. Examples of usernames are larry, karl, and mdw. Letters and digits may be used, as well as the characters “ ” (underscore) and “.” (period). Usernames are usually limited to 8 characters in length. The user ID, or UID, is a unique number given to every user on the system. The system usually keeps track of information by UID, not username. The group ID, or GID, is the ID of the user’s default group. In Section 3.9 we discussed group permissions; each user belongs to one or more groups defined by the system administrator. More about this below. The system also stores the user’s encrypted password. The passwd command is used to set and change user passwords. The user’s “real name” or “full name” is stored along with the username. For example, the user schmoj may have the name “Joe Schmo” in real life.

user ID

group ID


full name

home directory The home directory is the directory in which the user is initially placed at login time. Every user should have his or her own home directory, usually found under /home. login shell The user’s login shell is the shell which is started for the user at login time. Examples are /bin/bash and /bin/tcsh.

The file /etc/passwd contains this information about users. Each line in the file contains information about a single user; the format of each line is
username:encrypted password:UID:GID:full name:home directory:login shell

An example might be:
kiwi:Xv8Q981g71oKK:102:100:Laura Poole:/home/kiwi:/bin/bash

As we can see, the first field, “kiwi”, is the username. The next field, “Xv8Q981g71oKK”, is the encrypted password. Passwords are not stored on the system in any human-readable format. The password is encrypted using itself as the secret key. In other words, you need to know the password to decrypt it. This form of encryption is fairly secure. Some systems use “shadow password” in which password information is relegated to the file /etc/shadow. Because /etc/passwd is world-readable, /etc/shadow provides some degree of extra security because it is not. Shadow password provides some other features such as password expiration and so on; we will not go into these features here.


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The third field, “102”, is the UID. This must be unique for each user. The fourth field, “100”, is the GID. This user belongs to the group numbered 100. Group information, like user information, is stored in the file /etc/group. See Section 4.4.5 for more information. The fifth field is the user’s full name, “Laura Poole”. The last two fields are the user’s home directory (/home/kiwi) and login shell (/bin/bash), respectively. It is not required that the user’s home directory be given the same name as the username. It does help identify the directory, however.


Adding users

When adding a user, there are several steps to be taken. First, the user must be given an entry in /etc/passwd, with a unique username and UID. The GID, fullname, and other information must be specified. The user’s home directory must be created, and the permissions on the directory set so that the user owns the directory. Shell initialization files must be provided in the new home directory and other system-wide configuration must be done (for example, setting up a spool for incoming e-mail for the new user). While it is not difficult to add users by hand (I do), when you are running a system with many users it is easy to forget something. The easiest way to add users is to use an interactive program which asks you for the required information and updates all of the system files automatically. The name of this program is useradd or adduser, depending on what software was installed. The man pages for these commands should be fairly self-explanatory.


Deleting users

Similarly, deleting users can be accomplished with the commands userdel or deluser depending on what software was installed on the system. If you’d like to temporarily “disable” a user from logging into the system (without deleting the user’s account), you can simply prepend an asterisk (“*”) to the password field in /etc/passwd. For example, changing kiwi’s /etc/passwd entry to
kiwi:*Xv8Q981g71oKK:102:100:Laura Poole:/home/kiwi:/bin/bash

will restrict kiwi from logging in.


Setting user attributes

After you have created a user, you may need to change attributes for that user, such as home directory or password. The easiest way to do this is to change the values directly in /etc/passwd. To set a user’s password, use the passwd command. For example,
# passwd larry

will change larry’s password. Only root may change other user’s password in this manner. Users can change their own passwords with passwd as well. On some systems, the commands chfn and chsh will be available to allow users to set their own fullname and login shell attributes. If not, they will have to ask the system administrator to change these attributes for them.

4.5. Archiving and Compressing Files




As we have mentioned, each user belongs to one or more groups. The only real importance of group relationships pertains to file permissions, as you’ll recall from Section 3.9, each file has a “group ownership” and a set of group permissions which defines how users in that group may access the file. There are several system-defined groups such as bin, mail, and sys. Users should not belong to any of these groups; they are used for system file permissions. Instead, users should belong to an individual group such as users. If you want to be cute, you can maintain several groups of users such as student, staff, and faculty. The file /etc/group contains information about groups. The format of each line is
group name:password:GID:other members

Some example groups might be:
root:*:0: users:*:100:mdw,larry guest:*:200: other:*:250:kiwi

The first group, root, is a special system group reserved for the root account. The next group, users, is for regular users. It has a GID of 100. The users mdw and larry are given access to this group. Remember that in /etc/passwd each user was given a default GID. However, users may belong to more than one group, by adding their usernames to other group lines in /etc/group. The groups command lists what groups you are given access to. The third group, guest, is for guest users, and other is for “other” users. The user kiwi is given access to this group as well. As you can see, the “password” field of /etc/group is rarely used. It is sometimes used to set a password on group access. This is seldom necessary. To protect users from changing into privileged groups (with the newgroup command), set the password field to “*”. The commands addgroup or groupadd may be used to add groups to your system. Usually, it’s easier just to add entries in /etc/group yourself, as no other configuration needs to be done to add a group. To delete a group, simply delete its entry in /etc/group.

4.5 Archiving and Compressing Files
Before we can talk about backups, we need to introduce the tools used to archive files and software on UNIX systems.


Using tar

The tar command is most often used to archive files. The format of the tar command is
tar hoptionsi hfile1i hfile2i



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where options is the list of commands and options for tar, and file1 through fileN is the list of files to add or extract from the archive. For example, the command
# tar cvf backup.tar /etc



h i



would pack all of the files in /etc into the tar archive backup.tar. The first argument to tar—“cvf”— is the tar “command”. “c” tells tar to create a new archive file. The “v” option forces tar into verbose mode—printing each filename as it is archived. The “f” option tells tar that the next argument— backup.tar—is the name of the archive to create. The rest of the arguments to tar are the file and directory names to add to the archive. The command
# tar xvf backup.tar

will extract the tar file backup.tar in the current directory. This can sometimes be dangerous—when extracting files from a tar file, old files are overwritten. Furthermore, before extracting tar files it is important to know where the files should be unpacked. For example, let’s say you archived the following files: /etc/hosts, /etc/group, and /etc/passwd. If you use the command
# tar cvf backup.tar /etc/hosts /etc/group /etc/passwd

the directory name /etc/ is added to the beginning of each filename. In order to extract the files to the correct location, you would need to use the following commands:
# cd / # tar xvf backup.tar

because files are extracted with the pathname saved in the archive file. If, however, you archived the files with the command
# cd /etc # tar cvf hosts group passwd

the directory name is not saved in the archive file. Therefore, you would need to “cd /etc” before extracting the files. As you can see, how the tar file is created makes a large difference in where you extract it. The command
# tar tvf backup.tar

may be used to display an “index” of the tar file before unpacking it. In this way you can see what directory the filenames in the archive are stored relative to, and can extract the archive from the correct location.


gzip and compress

Unlike archiving programs for MS-DOS, tar does not automatically compress files as it archives them. Therefore, if you are archiving two 1-megabyte files, the resulting tar file will be two megabytes in size. The gzip command may be used to compress a file (the file to compress need not be a tar file). The command

4.5. Archiving and Compressing Files


# gzip -9 backup.tar

will compress backup.tar and leave you with backup.tar.gz, the compressed version of the file. The -9 switch tells gzip to use the highest compression factor. The gunzip command may be used to uncompress a gzipped file. Equivalently, you may use “gzip -d”. gzip is a relatively new tool in the UNIX community. For many years, the compress command was used instead. However, because of several factors1 , compress is being phased out. compressed files end in the extension .Z. For example, backup.tar.Z is the compressed version of backup.tar, while backup.tar.gz is the gzipped version2 . The uncompress command is used to expand a compressed file; gunzip knows how to handle compressed files as well.


Putting them together

Therefore, to archive a group of files and compress the result, you can use the commands:
# tar cvf backup.tar /etc # gzip -9 backup.tar

The result will be backup.tar.gz. To unpack this file, use the reverse set of commands:
# gunzip backup.tar.gz # tar xvf backup.tar

Of course always make sure that you are in the correct directory before unpacking a tar file. You can use some UNIX cleverness to do all of this on one command line, as in the following:
# tar cvf - /etc j gzip -9c > backup.tar.gz

Here, we are sending the tar file to “-”, which stands for tar’s standard output. This is piped to gzip, which compresses the incoming tar file, and the result is saved in backup.tar.gz. The -c option to gzip tells gzip to send its output to stdout, which is redirected to backup.tar.gz. A single command used to unpack this archive would be:
# gunzip -c backup.tar.gz j tar xvf -

Again, gunzip uncompresses the contents of backup.tar.gz and sends the resulting tar file to stdout. This is piped to tar, which reads “-”, this time referring to tar’s standard input. Happily, the tar command also includes the z option to automatically compress/uncompress files on the fly, using the gzip compression algorithm. For example, the command
# tar cvfz backup.tar.gz /etc
factors include a software patent dispute against the compress algorithm and the fact that gzip is much more efficient than compress. 2 To add further confusion, for some time the extension .z (lowercase “z”) was used for gzipped files. The official gzip extension is now .gz.
1 These


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is equivalent to
# tar cvf backup.tar /etc # gzip backup.tar

Just as the command
# tar xvfz backup.tar.Z

may be used instead of
# uncompress backup.tar.Z # tar xvf backup.tar

Refer to the man pages for tar and gzip for more information.

4.6 Using Floppies and Making Backups
Floppies are usually used as backup media. If you don’t have a tape drive connected to your system, floppy disks can be used (although they are slower and somewhat less reliable). You may also use floppies to hold individual filesystems—in this way, you can mount the floppy to access the data on it.


Using floppies for backups

The easiest way to make a backup using floppies is with tar. The command
# tar cvfzM /dev/fd0 /

will make a complete backup of your system using the floppy drive /dev/fd0. The “M” option to tar allows the backup to be a multivolume backup; that is, when one floppy is full, tar will prompt for the next. The command
# tar xvfzM /dev/fd0

can be used to restore the complete backup. This method can also be used if you have a tape drive (/dev/rmt0) connected to your system. Several other programs exist for making multiple-volume backups; the backflops program found on may come in handy. Making a complete backup of the system can be time- and resource-consuming. Most system administrators use a incremental backup policy, in which every month a complete backup is taken, and every week only those files which have been modified in the last week are backed up. In this case, if you trash your system in the middle of the month, you can simply restore the last full monthly backup, and then restore the last weekly backups as needed. The find command can be useful in locating files which have changed since a certain date. Several scripts for managing incremental backups can be found on

4.7. Upgrading and Installing New Software



Using floppies as filesystems

You can create a filesystem on a floppy just as you would on a hard drive partition. For example,
# mke2fs /dev/fd0 1440

creates a filesystem on the floppy in /dev/fd0. The size of the filesystem must correspond to the size of the floppy. High-density 3.5" disks are 1.44 megabytes, or 1440 blocks, in size. High-density 5.25" disks are 1200 blocks. In order to access the floppy, you must mount the filesystem contained on it. The command
# mount -t ext2 /dev/fd0 /mnt

will mount the floppy in /dev/fd0 on the directory /mnt. Now, all of the files on the floppy will appear under /mnt on your drive. The “-t ext2” specifies an ext2fs filesystem type. If you created another type of filesystem on the floppy, you’ll need to specify its type to the mount command. The “mount point” (the directory where you’re mounting the filesystem) needs to exist when you use the mount command. If it doesn’t exist, simply create it with mkdir. See Section 4.8 for more information on filesystems, mounting, and mount points.


Note that any I/O to the floppy is buffered just as hard disk I/O is. If you change data on the floppy, you may not see the drive light come on until the kernel flushes its I/O buffers. It’s important that you not remove a floppy before you unmount it; this can be done with the command
# umount /dev/fd0

Do not simply switch floppies as you would on an MS-DOS system; whenever you change floppies, umount the first one and mount the next.

4.7 Upgrading and Installing New Software
Another duty of the system administrator is upgrading and installing new software. The Linux community is very dynamic. New kernel releases come out every few weeks, and other software is updated almost as often. Because of this, new Linux users often feel the need to upgrade their systems constantly to keep up the the rapidly changing pace. Not only is this unnecessary, it’s a waste of time: to keep up with all of the changes in the Linux world, you would be spending all of your time upgrading and none of your time using the system. So, when should you upgrade? Some people feel that you should upgrade when a new distribution release is made—for example, when Slackware comes out with a new version. Many Linux users completely reinstall their system with the newest Slackware release every time. This, also, is a waste of time. In general, changes to Slackware releases are small. Downloading and reinstalling 30 disks when only 10% of the software has been actually modified is, of course, pointless. The best way to upgrade your system is to do it by hand: only upgrade those software packages which you know that you should upgrade. This scares a lot of people: they want to know what to upgrade, and how, and what will break if they don’t upgrade. In order to be successful with Linux, it’s important to overcome your fears of “doing it yourself”— which is what Linux is all about. In fact, once you have your system working and all software correctly configured, reinstalling with the newest release will no doubt


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wipe all of your configuration and things will be broken again, just as they were when you first installed your system. Setting yourself back in this manner is unnecessary—all that is needed is some know-how about upgrading your system, and how to do it right. You’ll find that when you upgrade one component of your system, other things should not break. For example, most of the software on my system is left over from an ancient 0.96 MCC Interim installation. Yet, I run the newest version of the kernel and libraries with this software with no problem. For the most part, senselessly upgrading to “keep up with the trend” is not important at all. This isn’t MS-DOS or Microsoft Windows. There is no important reason to run the newest version of all of the software. If you find that you would like or need features in a new version, then upgrade. If not, then don’t. In other words, only upgrade what you have to, and when you have to. Don’t just upgrade for the sake of upgrading. That will waste a lot of time and effort trying to keep up. The most important software to upgrade on your system is the kernel, the libraries, and the gcc compiler. These are the three essential parts of your system, and in some cases they all depend on each other for everything to work successfully. Most of the other software on your system does not need to be upgraded periodically.


Upgrading the kernel

Upgrading the kernel is simply a matter of getting the sources and compiling them yourself. You must compile the kernel yourself in order to enable or disable certain features, as well as to ensure that the kernel will be optimized to run on your machine. The process is quite painless. The kernel sources may be retrieved from any of the Linux FTP sites (see Section C for a list). On, for instance, the kernel sources are found in /pub/Linux/kernel. Kernel versions are numbered using a version number and a patchlevel. For example, kernel version 0.99 patchlevel 11 is usually written as 0.99.pl11, or just 0.99.11. The kernel sources are released as a gzipped tar file3 . For example, the file containing the 0.99.pl11 kernel sources is linux-0.99.11.tar.gz. Unpack this tar file from the directory /usr/src; it creates the directory /usr/src/linux which contains the kernel sources. You should delete or rename your existing /usr/src/linux before unpacking the new version. Once the sources are unpacked, you need to make sure that two symbolic links in /usr/include are correct. To create these links, use the commands
# ln -sf /usr/src/linux/include/linux /usr/include/linux # ln -sf /usr/src/linux/include/asm /usr/include/asm

Once you have created these links once, there is no reason to create them again when you install the next version of the kernel sources. (See Section 3.10 for more about symbolic links.) Note that in order to compile the kernel, you must have the gcc and g++ C and C++ compilers installed on your system. You may need to have the most recent versions of these compilers: see Section 4.7.3, below, for more information. To compile the kernel, first cd to /usr/src/linux. Run the command make config. This command will prompt you for a number of configuration options, such as what filesystem types you wish to include in the new kernel.
3 Often, a patch file is also released for the current kernel version which allows you to patch your current kernel sources from the last patchlevel to the current one (using the program patch). In most cases, however, it’s usually easier to install the entire new version of the kernel sources.

4.7. Upgrading and Installing New Software


Next, edit /usr/src/linux/Makefile. Be sure that the definition for ROOT DEV is correct—it defines the device used as the root filesystem at boot time. The usual definition is

Unless you are changing your root filesystem device, there is no reason to change this. Next, run the command make dep to fix all of the source dependencies. This is a very important step. Finally, you’re ready to compile the kernel. The command make Image will compile the kernel and leave the new kernel image in the file /usr/src/linux/Image. Alternately, the command make zImage will compile a compressed kernel image, which uncompresses itself at boot time and uses less drive space. Once you have the kernel compiled, you need to either copy it to a boot floppy (with a command such as “cp Image /dev/fd0”) or install it using LILO to boot from your hard drive. See Section 4.2.2 for more information.


Upgrading the libraries

As mentioned before, most of the software on the system is compiled to use shared libraries, which contain common subroutines shared among different programs. If you see the message
Incompatible library version

when attempting to run a program, then you need to upgrade to the version of the libraries which the program requires. Libraries are back-compatible; that is, a program compiled to use an older version of the libraries should work with the new version of the libraries installed. However, the reverse is not true. The newest version of the libraries can be found on the Linux FTP sites. On, they are located in /pub/Linux/GCC. The “release” files there should explain what files you need to download and how to install them. Briefly, you should get the files image-version.tar.gz and inc-version.tar.gz where version is the version of the libraries to install, such as 4.4.1. These are gzipped tar files; the image file contains the library images to install in /lib and /usr/lib. The inc file contains include files to install in /usr/include The release-version.tar.gz should explain the installation procedure in detail (the exact instructions vary for each release). In general you need to install the library .a and .sa files in /usr/lib. These are the libraries used at compilation time. In addition, the shared library image files, are installed in /lib. These are the shared library images loaded at runtime by programs using the libraries. Each library has a symbolic link using the major version number of the library in /lib. For example, the libc library version 4.4.1 has a major version number of 4. The file containing the library is A symbolic link of the name is also in /lib pointing to this file. You need to change this symbolic link when upgrading the libraries. For example, when upgrading from to, you need to change the symbolic link to point to the new version.


It is very important that you change the symbolic link in one step, as given below. If you somehow delete the symbolic link, then programs which depend on the link (including basic utilities like ls and cat) will stop working. Use the following command to update the symbolic link to point to the file


Chapter 4. System Administration

# ln -sf /lib/ /lib/

You also need to change the symbolic link in the same manner. If you are upgrading to a different version of the libraries substitute to appropriate filenames above. The library release notice should explain the details. (See Section 3.10 for more information about symbolic links.)


Upgrading gcc

The gcc C and C++ compiler is used to compile software on your system, most importantly the kernel. The newest version of gcc is found on the Linux FTP sites. On, it is found in the directory /pub/Linux/GCC (along with the libraries). There should be a release file for the gcc distribution detailing what files you need to download and how to install them.


Upgrading other software

Upgrading other software is usually just a matter of downloading the appropriate files and installing them. Most software for Linux is distributed at gzipped tar files, including either sources or binaries or both. If binaries are not included in the release, you may need to compile them yourself; usually, this means typing make in the directory where the sources are held. Reading the USENET newsgroup comp.os.linux.announce for announcements of new software releases is the easiest way to find out about new software. Whenever you are looking for software on an FTP site, downloading the ls-lR index file from the FTP site and using grep to find the files in question 4 is the easiest way to locate software. If you have archie available to you, it can be of assistance as well . See Appendix A for more details. One handy source of Linux software is the Slackware distribution disk images. Each disk contains a number of .tgz files which are simply gzipped tar files. Instead of downloading the disks, you can download the desired .tgz files from the Slackware directories on the FTP site and install them directly. If you run the Slackware distribution, the setup command can be used to automatically load and install a complete series of disks. Again, it’s usually not a good idea to upgrade by reinstalling with the newest version of Slackware, or another distribution. If you reinstall in this way, you will no doubt wreck your current installation, including user directories and all of your customized configuration. The best way to upgrade software is piecewise; that is, if there is a program that you use often that has a new version, upgrade it. Otherwise, don’t bother. Rule of thumb: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If your current software works, there’s no reason to upgrade.

4.8 Managing Filesystems
Another task of the system administrator is taking care of filesystems. Most of this job entails periodically checking the filesystems for damage or corrupted files; many systems automatically check the filesystems at boot time.
4 If you don’t have archie, you can telnet to an archie server such as, login as “archie” and use the command “help”

4.8. Managing Filesystems



Mounting filesystems

First, a few concepts about filesystems. Before a filesystem is accessible to the system, it must be mounted on some directory. For example, if you have a filesystem on a floppy, you must mount it under some directory, say /mnt, in order to access the files on it (see Section 4.6.2). After mounting the filesystem, all of the files in the filesystem appear in that directory. After unmounting the filesystem, the directory (in this case, /mnt) will be empty. The same is true of filesystems on the hard drive. The system automatically mounts filesystems on your hard drive for you at bootup time. The so-called “root filesystem” is mounted on the directory /. If you have a separate filesystem for /usr, for example, it is mounted on /usr. If you only have a root filesystem, all files (including those in /usr) exist on that filesystem. The command mount is used to mount a filesystem. The command
mount -av

is executed from the file /etc/rc (which is the system initialization file executed at boot time; see Section 4.10.1). The mount -av command obtains information on filesystems and mount points from the file /etc/fstab. An example fstab file appears below.
# device /dev/hda2 /dev/hda3 /dev/hda4 /proc directory / /usr none /proc type ext2 ext2 swap proc options defaults defaults sw none

The first field is the device—the name of the partition to mount. The second field is the mount point. The third field is the filesystem type—such as ext2 (for ext2fs) or minix (for Minix filesystems). Table 4.1 lists the various filesystem types available for Linux.5 Not all of these filesystem types may be available on your system; your kernel must have support for them compiled in. See Section 4.7 for information on building the kernel.
Filesystem Second Extended Filesystem Extended Filesystem Minix Filesystem Xia Filesystem UMSDOS Filesystem MS-DOS Filesystem /proc Filesystem ISO 9660 Filesystem Xenix Filesystem System V Filesystem Coherent Filesystem HPFS Filesystem Type name ext2 ext minix xia umsdos msdos proc iso9660 xenix sysv coherent hpfs Comment Most common Linux filesystem. Superseded by ext2. Original Minix filesystem; rarely used. Like ext2, but rarely used. Used to install Linux on an MS-DOS partition. Used to access MS-DOS files. Provides process information for ps, etc. Format used by most CD-ROMs. Used to access files from Xenix. Used to access files from System V variants for the x86. Used to access files from Coherent. Read-only access for HPFS partitions (DoubleSpace).

Table 4.1: Linux Filesystem Types

The last field of the fstab file contains mount options—usually, this is set to “defaults”.
5 This

table is current as of kernel version 1.1.37.


Chapter 4. System Administration

As you can see, swap partitions are included in /etc/fstab as well. They have a mount directory of none, and type swap. The swapon -a command, executed from /etc/rc as well, is used to enable swapping on all swap devices listed in /etc/fstab. The fstab file contains one special entry—for the /proc filesystem. As mentioned in Section 3.11.1, the /proc filesystem is used to store information about system processes, available memory, and so on. If /proc is not mounted, commands such as ps will not work.


The mount command may only be used by root. This is to ensure security on the system; you wouldn’t want regular users mounting and unmounting filesystems on a whim. There are several software packages available which allow regular users to mount and unmount filesystems (floppies in particular) without compromising system security. The mount -av command actually mounts all filesystems other than the root filesystem (in the table above, /dev/hda2). The root filesystem is automatically mounted at boot time by the kernel. Instead of using mount -av, you can mount a filesystem by hand. The command
# mount -t ext2 /dev/hda3 /usr

is equivalent to mounting the filesystem with the entry /dev/hda3 in the fstab example file above. In general, you should never have to mount or unmount filesystems by hand. The mount -av command in /etc/rc takes care of mounting the filesystems at boot time. Filesystems are automatically unmounted by the shutdown or halt commands before bringing the system down.


Checking filesystems

It is usually a good idea to check your filesystems for damage or corrupt files every now and then. Some systems automatically check their filesystems at boot time (with the appropriate commands in /etc/rc). The command used to check a filesystem depends on the type of the filesystem in question. For ext2fs filesystems (the most commonly used type), this command is e2fsck. For example, the command
# e2fsck -av /dev/hda2

will check the ext2fs filesystem on /dev/hda2 and automatically correct any errors. It is usually a good idea to unmount a filesystem before checking it. For example, the command
# umount /dev/hda2

will unmount the filesystem on /dev/hda2, after which you can check it. The one exception is that you cannot unmount the root filesystem. In order to check the root filesystem when it’s unmounted, you should use a maintenance boot/root diskette (see Section 4.11.1). You also cannot unmount a filesystem if any of the files in it are “busy”—that is, being used by a running process. For example, you cannot unmount a filesystem if any user’s current working directory is on that filesystem. You will receive a “Device busy” error if you attempt to unmount a filesystem which is in use. Other filesystem types use different forms of the e2fsck command, such as efsck and xfsck. On some systems, you can simply use the command fsck, which will determine the filesystem type and execute the appropriate command.


It is important that you reboot your system immediately after checking a mounted filesystem if any corrections were made to that filesystem. (However, in general, you shouldn’t check filesystems while

4.9. Using a swap file


they are mounted.) For example, if e2fsck reports that it corrected any errors with the filesystem, you should immediately shutdown -r in order to reboot the system. This is to allow the system to re-sync its information about the filesystem when e2fsck modifies it. The /proc filesystem never needs to be checked in this manner. /proc is a memory filesystem, managed directly by the kernel.

4.9 Using a swap file
Instead of reserving an individual partition for swap space, you can use a file. However, to do so you’ll need install the Linux software and get everything going before you create the swap file. If you have a Linux system installed, you can use the following commands to create a swap file. Below, we’re going to create a swap file of size 8208 blocks (about 8 megs).
# dd if=/dev/zero of=/swap bs=1024 count=8208

This command creates the swap file itself. Replace the “count=” with the size of the swap file in blocks.
# mkswap /swap 8208

This command will initialize the swapfile; again, replace the name and size of the swapfile with the appropriate values.
# /etc/sync # swapon /swap

Now we are swapping on the file /swap which we have created, after syncing, which ensures that the file has been written to disk. The one major drawback to using a swapfile in this manner is that all access to the swap file is done through the filesystem. This means that the blocks which make up the swap file may not be contiguous. Therefore, performance may not be as great as using a swap partition, for which blocks are always contiguous and I/O requests are done directly to the device. Another drawback in using a swapfile is the chance to corrupt your filesystem data—when using large swap files, there is the chance that you can corrupt your filesystem if something goes wrong. Keeping your filesystems and swap partitions separate will prevent this from happening. Using a swap file can be very useful if you have a temporary need for more swap space. For example, if you’re compiling a large program and would like to speed things up somewhat, you can temporarily create a swap file and use it in addition to your regular swap space. To get rid of a swap file, first use swapoff, as in
# swapoff /swap

And you can safely delete the file.
# rm /swap

Remember that each swap file (or partition) may be as large as 16 megabytes, but you may use up to 8 swap files or partitions on your system.


Chapter 4. System Administration

4.10 Miscellaneous Tasks
Believe it or not, there are a number of housekeeping tasks for the system administrator which don’t fall into any major category.


System startup files

When the system boots, a number of scripts are executed automatically by the system before any user logs in. Here is a description of what happens. At bootup time, the kernel spawns the process /etc/init. init is a program which reads its configuration file, /etc/inittab, and spawns other processes based on the contents of this file. One of the important processes started from inittab is the /etc/getty process started on each virtual console. The getty process grabs the VC for use, and starts a login process on the VC. This allows you to login on each VC; if /etc/inittab does not contain a getty process for a certain VC, you will not be able to login on that VC. Another process executed from /etc/inittab is /etc/rc, the main system initialization file. This file is a simple shell script which executes any initialization commands needed at boot time, such as mounting the filesystems (see Section 4.8) and initializing swap space. Your system may execute other initialization scripts as well, such as /etc/rc.local. /etc/rc.local usually contains initialization commands specific to your own system, such as setting the hostname (see the next section). rc.local may be started from /etc/rc or from /etc/inittab directly.


Setting the hostname

In a networked environment, the hostname is used to uniquely identify a particular machine, while in a standalone environment the hostname just gives the system personality and charm. It’s like naming a pet: you can always address to your dog as “The dog,” but it’s much more interesting to assign the dog a name such as Spot or Woofie. Setting the system’s hostname is a simple matter of using the hostname command. If you are on a network, your hostname should be the full hostname of your machine, such as If you are not on a network of any kind, you can choose an arbitrary host and domainname, such as,, or When setting the hostname, the hostname must appear in the file /etc/hosts, which assigns an IP address to each host. Even if your machine is not on a network, you should include your own hostname in /etc/hosts. For example, if you are not on a TCP/IP network, and your hostname is, simply include the following line in /etc/hosts: localhost

This assigns your hostname,, to the loopback address (used if you’re not on a network). The localhost alias is also assigned to this address. If you are on a TCP/IP network, however, your real IP address and hostname should appear in /etc/hosts. For example, if your hostname is, and your IP address is, add the following line to /etc/hosts:

4.11. What To Do In An Emergency


If your hostname does not appear in /etc/hosts, you will not be able to set it. To set your hostname, simply use the hostname command. For example, the command
# hostname -S

sets the hostname to In most cases, the hostname command is executed from one of the system startup files, such as /etc/rc or /etc/rc.local. Edit these two files and change the hostname command found there to set your own hostname; upon rebooting the system the hostname will be set to the new value.

4.11 What To Do In An Emergency
On some occasions, the system administrator will be faced with the problem of recovering from a complete disaster, such as forgetting the root password or trashing filesystems. The best advice is, don’t panic. Everyone makes stupid mistakes—that’s the best way to learn about system administration: the hard way. Linux is not an unstable version of UNIX. In fact, I have had fewer problems with system hangs than with commercial versions of UNIX on many platforms. Linux also benefits from a strong complement of wizards who can help you get out of a bind. The first step in investigating any problem is to attempt to fix it yourself. Poke around, see how things work. Too much of the time, a system administrator will post a desperate plea for help before looking into the problem at all. Most of the time, you’ll find that fixing problems yourself is actually very easy. It is the path to guruhood. There are very few cases where reinstalling the system from scratch is necessary. Many new users accidentally delete some essential system file, and immediately reach for the installation disks. This is not a good idea. Before taking such drastic measures, investigate the problem and ask others to help fix things up. In almost all cases, you can recover your system from a maintenance diskette.


Recovering using a maintenance diskette

One indispensable tool for the system administrator is the so called “boot/root disk”—a floppy which can be booted for a complete Linux system, independent of your hard drive. Boot/root disks are actually very simple—you create a root filesystem on the floppy, place all of the necessary utilities on it, and install LILO and a bootable kernel on the floppy. Another technique is to use one floppy for the kernel and another for the root filesystem. In any case, the result is the same: you are running a Linux system completely from floppy. The canonical example of a boot/root disk is the Slackware boot disks6 . These diskettes contain a bootable kernel and a root filesystem, all on floppy. They are intended to be used to install the Slackware distribution, but come in very handy when doing system maintenance. The H.J Lu boot/root disk, available from /pub/Linux/GCC/rootdisk on, is another example of such a maintenance disk. Or, if you’re ambitious, you can create your own. In most cases, however, using a pre-made boot/root disk is much easier and will probably be more complete.
6 See Section 2.1.1 for information on downloading these from the Internet. For this procedure, you don’t need to download the entire Slackware release—only the boot and root diskettes.


Chapter 4. System Administration

Using a boot/root disk is very simple. Just boot the disk on your system, and login as root (usually no password). In order to access the files on your hard drive, you will need to mount your filesystems by hand. For example, the command
# mount -t ext2 /dev/hda2 /mnt

will mount an ext2fs filesystem on /dev/hda2 under /mnt. Remember that / is now on the boot/root disk itself; you need to mount your hard drive filesystems under some directory in order to access the files. Therefore, /etc/passwd on your hard drive is now /mnt/etc/passwd if you mount your root filesystem on /mnt.


Fixing the root password

If you forget your root password, no problem. Just boot the boot/root disk, mount your root filesystem on /mnt, and blank out the password field for root in /mnt/etc/passwd, as so:

Now root has no password; when you reboot from the hard drive you should be able to login as root and reset the password using passwd. Aren’t you glad you learned how to use vi? On your boot/root disk, other editors such as Emacs probably aren’t available, but vi should be.


Fixing trashed filesystems

If you somehow trash your filesystems, you can run e2fsck (if you use the ext2fs filesystem type, that is) to correct any damaged data on the filesystems from floppy. Other filesystem types use different forms of the fsck command; see Section 4.8 for details. When checking your filesystems from floppy, it’s best for the filesystems to not be mounted. One common cause of filesystem damage is superblock corruption. The superblock is the “header” of the filesystem that contains information on the filesystem status, size, free blocks, and so forth. If you corrupt your superblock (for example, by accidentally writing data directly to the filesystem’s partition), the system may not recognize the filesystem at all. Any attempt to mount the filesystem could fail, and e2fsck won’t be able to fix the problem. Happily, the ext2fs filesystem type saves copies of the superblock at “block group” boundaries on the drive—usually, every 8K blocks. In order to tell e2fsck to use a copy of the superblock, you can use a command such as
# e2fsck -b 8193 hpartitioni

where partition is the partition on which the filesystem resides. The -b 8193 option tells e2fsck to use the copy of the superblock stored at block 8193 in the filesystem.




Recovering lost files

If you accidentally deleted important files on your system, there’s no way to “undelete” them. However, you can copy the relevant files from the floppy to your hard drive. For example, if you deleted /bin/login

4.11. What To Do In An Emergency


on your system (which allows you to login), simply boot the boot/root floppy, mount the root filesystem on /mnt, and use the command
# cp -a /bin/login /mnt/bin/login

The -a option tells cp to preserve the permissions on the file(s) being copied. Of course, if the files you deleted weren’t essential system files which have counterparts on the boot/root floppy, you’re out of luck. If you made backups, you can always restore from them.


Fixing trashed libraries

If you accidentally trashed your libraries or symbolic links in /lib, more than likely commands which depended on those libraries will no longer run (see Section 4.7.2). The easiest solution is to boot your boot/root floppy, mount your root filesystem, and fix the libraries in /mnt/lib.

Chapter 5

Advanced Features
This chapter will introduce you to some of the more interesting features of Linux. This assumes that you have at least basic UNIX experience, and understand the information contained in the previous chapters. The most important aspect of Linux that distinguishes it from other implementations of UNIX is its open design and philosophy. Linux was not developed by a small team of programmers headed by a marketing committee with a single goal in mind. It was developed by an ever-increasing group of hackers, putting what they wanted into a homebrew UNIX system. The types of software and diversity of design in the Linux world is large. Some people dislike this lack of uniformity and conformity—however, some call it one of the strongest qualities of Linux.

5.1 The X Window System
The X Window System is a large and powerful (and somewhat complex) graphics environment for UNIX systems. The original X Window System code was developed at MIT; commercial vendors have since made X the industry standard for UNIX platforms. Virtually every UNIX workstation in the world runs some variant of the X Window system. A free port of the MIT X Window System version 11, release 6 (X11R6) for 80386/80486/Pentium UNIX 1 systems has been developed by a team of programmers originally headed by David Wexelblat . The release, 2 , is available for System V/386, 386BSD, and other x86 UNIX implementations, including known as XFree86 Linux. It includes all of the required binaries, support files, libraries, and tools. Configuring and using the X Window System is far beyond the scope of this book. You are encouraged to read The X Window System: A User’s Guide—see Appendix A for information on this book. In this section, we’ll give a step-by-step description of how to install and configure XFree86 for Linux, but you will have to fill in some of the details yourself by reading the documentation released with XFree86 itself. (This documentation is discussed below.) The Linux XFree86 HOWTO is another good source of information.


Hardware requirements

As of XFree86 version 3.1, released in September 1994, the following video chipsets are supported. The documentation included with your video adaptor should specify the chipset used. If you are in the market for a new video card, or are buying a new machine that comes with a video card, have the vendor find
1 David 2 XFree86

may be reached on the Internet at is a trademark of The XFree86 Project, Inc.


5.1. The X Window System


out exactly what the make, model, and chipset of the video card is. This may require the vendor to call technical support on your behalf; in general vendors will be happy to do this. Many PC hardware vendors will state that the video card is a “standard SVGA card” which “should work” on your system. Explain that your software (mention Linux and XFree86!) does not support all video chipsets and that you must have detailed information. You can also determine your videocard chipset by running the SuperProbe program included with the XFree86 distribution. This is covered in more detail below. The following standard SVGA chipsets are supported: 

Tseng ET3000, ET4000AX, ET4000/W32  Western Digital/Paradise PVGA1  Western Digital WD90C00, WD90C10, WD90C11, WD90C24, WD90C30, WD90C31, WD90C33  Genoa GVGA  Trident TVGA8800CS, TVGA8900B, TVGA8900C, TVGA8900CL, TVGA9000, TVGA9000i,
TVGA9100B, TVGA9200CX, TVGA9320, TVGA9400CX, TVGA9420 

ATI 18800, 18800-1, 28800-2, 28800-4, 28800-5, 28800-6, 68800-3, 68800-6, 68800AX, 68800LX, 88800  NCR 77C22, 77C22E, 77C22E+  Cirrus Logic CLGD5420, CLGD5422, CLGD5424, CLGD5426, CLGD5428, CLGD5429, CLGD5430,
CLGD5434, CLGD6205, CLGD6215, CLGD6225, CLGD6235, CLGD6420 

Compaq AVGA  OAK OTI067, OTI077  Avance Logic AL2101  MX MX68000, MX680010  Video 7/Headland Technologies HT216-32
The following SVGA chipsets with accelerated features are also supported: 

8514/A (and true clones)  ATI Mach8, Mach32  Cirrus CLGD5420, CLGD5422,

CLGD5424, CLGD5426, CLGD5428, CLGD5429, CLGD5430, CLGD5434, CLGD6205, CLGD6215, CLGD6225, CLGD6235 

S3 86C911, 86C924, 86C801, 86C805, 86C805i, 86C928, 86C864, 86C964  Western Digital WD90C31, WD90C33  Weitek P9000  IIT AGX-014, AGX-015, AGX-016  Tseng ET4000/W32, ET4000/W32i, ET4000/W32p


Chapter 5. Advanced Features

Video cards using these chipsets are supported on all bus types, including VLB and PCI. All of the above are supported in both 256 color and monochrome modes, with the exception of the Avance Logic, MX and Video 7 chipsets, which are only supported in 256 color mode. If your video card has enough DRAM installed, many of the above chipsets are supported in 16 and 32 bits-per-pixel mode (specifically, some Mach32, P9000, S3 and Cirrus boards). The usual configuration is 8 bits per pixel (that is, 256 colors). The monochrome server also supports generic VGA cards, the Hercules monochrome card, the Hyundai HGC1280, Sigma LaserView, and Apollo monochrome cards. On the Compaq AVGA, only 64k of video memory is supported for the monochrome server, and the GVGA has not been tested with more than 64k. This list will undoubtedly expand as time passes. The release notes for the current version of XFree86 should contain the complete list of supported video chipsets. One problem faced by the XFree86 developers is that some video card manufacturers use non-standard mechanisms for determining clock frequencies used to drive the card. Some of these manufacturers either don’t release specifications describing how to program the card, or they require developers to sign a nondisclosure statement to obtain the information. This would obviously restrict the free distribution of the XFree86 software, something that the XFree86 development team is not willing to do. For a long time, this has been a problem with certain video cards manufactured by Diamond, but as of release 3.1 of XFree86, Diamond has started to work with the development team to release free drivers for these cards. The suggested setup for XFree86 under Linux is a 486 machine with at least 8 megabytes of RAM, and a video card with a chipset listed above. For optimal performance, we suggest using an accelerated card, such as an S3-chipset card. You should check the documentation for XFree86 and verify that your particular card is supported before taking the plunge and purchasing expensive hardware. Benchmark ratings comparisons for various video cards under XFree86 are posted routinely to the USENET newsgroups and comp.os.linux.misc. As a side note, my personal Linux system is a 486DX2-66, 20 megabytes of RAM, and is equipped with a VLB S3-864 chipset card with 2 megabytes of DRAM. I have run X benchmarks on this machine as well as on Sun Sparc IPX workstations. The Linux system is roughly 7 times faster than the Sparc IPX (for the curious, XFree86-3.1 under Linux, with this video card, runs at around 171,000 xstones; the Sparc IPX at around 24,000). In general, XFree86 on a Linux system with an accelerated SVGA card will give you much greater performance than that found on commercial UNIX workstations (which usually employ simple framebuffers for graphics). Your machine will need at least 4 megabytes of physical RAM, and 16 megabytes of virtual RAM (for example, 8 megs physical and 8 megs swap). Remember that the more physical RAM that you have, the less that the system will swap to and from disk when memory is low. Because swapping is inherently slow (disks are very slow compared to memory), having 8 megabytes of RAM or more is necessary to run XFree86 comfortably. A system with 4 megabytes of physical RAM could run much (up to 10 times) more slowly than one with 8 megs or more.


Installing XFree86

The Linux binary distribution of XFree86 can be found on a number of FTP sites. On, it is found in the directory /pub/Linux/X11. (As of the time of this writing, the current version is 3.1; newer versions are released periodically). It’s quite likely that you obtained XFree86 as part of a Linux distribution, in which case downloading the software separately is not necessary.

5.1. The X Window System


If you are downloading XFree86 directly, This table lists the files in the XFree86-3.1 distribution. One of the following servers is required:
File XF86-3.1-8514.tar.gz XF86-3.1-AGX.tar.gz XF86-3.1-Mach32.tar.gz XF86-3.1-Mach8.tar.gz XF86-3.1-Mono.tar.gz XF86-3.1-P9000.tar.gz XF86-3.1-S3.tar.gz XF86-3.1-SVGA.tar.gz XF86-3.1-VGA16.tar.gz XF86-3.1-W32.tar.gz Description Server for 8514-based boards. Server for AGX-based boards. Server for Mach32-based boards. Server for Mach8-based boards. Server for monochrome video modes. Server for P9000-based boards. Server for S3-based boards. Server for Super VGA-based boards. Server for VGA/EGA-based boards. Server for ET4000/W32-based boards.

All of the following files are required:
File XF86-3.1-bin.tar.gz XF86-3.1-cfg.tar.gz XF86-3.1-doc.tar.gz XF86-3.1-inc.tar.gz XF86-3.1-lib.tar.gz XF86-3.1-fnt.tar.gz Description The rest of the X11R6 binaries. Config files for xdm, xinit and fs. Documentation and man pages. Include files. Shared X libraries and support files. Basic fonts.

The following files are optional:
File XF86-3.1-ctrb.tar.gz XF86-3.1-extra.tar.gz XF86-3.1-lkit.tar.gz XF86-3.1-fnt75.tar.gz XF86-3.1-fnt100.tar.gz XF86-3.1-fntbig.tar.gz XF86-3.1-fntscl.tar.gz XF86-3.1-man.tar.gz XF86-3.1-pex.tar.gz XF86-3.1-slib.tar.gz XF86-3.1-usrbin.tar.gz XF86-3.1-xdmshdw.tar.gz Description Selected contrib programs. Extra XFree86 servers and binaries. Server linkkit for customization. 75-dpi screen fonts. 100-dpi screen fonts. Large Kanji and other fonts. Scaled fonts (Speedo, Type1). Manual pages. PEX binaries, includes and libraries. Static X libraries and support files. Daemons which reside in /usr/bin. Shadow password version of xdm.

The XFree86 directory should contain README files and installation notes for the current version. All that is required to install XFree86 is to obtain the above files, create the directory /usr/X11R6 (as root), and unpack the files from /usr/X11R6 with a command such as:
# gzip –dc XF86-3.1-bin.tar.gz j tar xfB –

Remember that these tar files are packed relative to /usr/X11R6, so it’s important to unpack the files there. After unpacking the files, you first need to link the file /usr/X11R6/bin/X to the server that you’re using. For example, if you wish to use the SVGA color server, /usr/bin/X11/X should be linked to /usr/X11R6/bin/XF86 SVGA. If you wish to use the monochrome server instead, relink this file to XF86 MONO with the command


Chapter 5. Advanced Features

# ln –sf /usr/X11R6/bin/XF86 MONO /usr/X11R6/bin/X

The same holds true if you are using one of the other servers. If you aren’t sure which server to use, or don’t know your video card chipset, you can run the SuperProbe program found in /usr/X11R6/bin (included in the XF86-3.1-bin listed above). This program will attempt to determine your video chipset type and other information; write down its output for later reference. You need to make sure that /usr/X11R6/bin is on your path. This can be done by editing your system default /etc/profile or /etc/csh.login (based on the shell that you, or other users on your system, use). Or you can simply add the directory to your personal path by modifying /etc/.bashrc or /etc/.cshrc, based on your shell. You also need to make sure that /usr/X11R6/lib can be located by, the runtime linker. To do this, add the line

to the file /etc/, and run /sbin/ldconfig, as root.


Configuring XFree86

Setting up XFree86 is not difficult in most cases. However, if you happen to be using hardware for which drivers are under development, or wish to obtain the best performance or resolution from an accelerated graphics card, configuring XFree86 can be somewhat time-consuming. In this section we will describe how to create and edit the XF86Config file, which configures the XFree86 server. In many cases it is best to start out with a “basic” XFree86 configuration, one which uses a low resolution, such as 640x480, which should be supported on all video cards and monitor types. Once you have XFree86 working at a lower, standard resolution, you can tweak the configuration to exploit the capabilities of your video hardware. The idea is that you want to know that XFree86 works at all on your system, and that something isn’t wrong with your installation, before attempting the sometimes difficult task of setting up XFree86 for real use. In addition to the information listed here, you should read the following documentation: 


XFree86 documentation in /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/doc (contained within the XFree86-3.1-doc package). You should especially see the file README.Config, which is an XFree86 configuration tutorial. 

Several video chipsets have separate README files in the above directory (such as README.Cirrus
and README.S3). Read one of these if applicable. 

The man page for XFree86.  The man page for XF86Config.  The man page for the particular server that you are using (such as XF86 SVGA or XF86 S3).
The main XFree86 configuration file is /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/XF86Config. This file contains information on your mouse, video card parameters, and so on. The file is provided with the XFree86 distribution as an example. Copy this file to XF86Config and edit it as a starting point.

5.1. The X Window System


The XF86Config man page explains the format of this file in detail. Read this man page now, if you have not done so already. We are going to present a sample XF86Config file, piece by piece. This file may not look exactly like the sample file included in the XFree86 distribution, but the structure is the same.

3 3

Note that the XF86Config file format may change with each version of XFree86; this information is only valid for XFree86 version 3.1. Also, you should not simply copy the configuration file listed here to your own system and attempt to use it. Attempting to use a configuration file which doesn’t correspond to your hardware could drive the monitor at a frequency which is too high for it; there have been reports of monitors (especially fixedfrequency monitors) being damaged or destroyed by using an incorrectly configured XF86Config file. The bottom line is this: Make absolutely sure that your XF86Config file corresponds to your hardware before you attempt to use it. Each section of the XF86Config file is surrounded by the pair of lines Section " sectionname ": : : EndSection. The first part of the XF86Config file is Files, which looks like this:



Section "Files" RgbPath "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/rgb" FontPath "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/misc/" FontPath "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/75dpi/" EndSection

The RgbPath line sets the path to the X11R6 RGB color database, and each FontPath line sets the path to a directory containing X11 fonts. In general you shouldn’t have to modify these lines; just be sure that there is a FontPath entry for each font type that you have installed (that is, for each directory in /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts). The next section is ServerFlags, which specifies several global flags for the server. In general this section is empty.
Section "ServerFlags" # Uncomment this to cause a core dump at the spot where a signal is # received. This may leave the console in an unusable state, but may # provide a better stack trace in the core dump to aid in debugging # NoTrapSignals # Uncomment this to disable the <Crtl><Alt><BS> server abort sequence # DontZap EndSection

Here, we have all lines within the section commented out. The next section is Keyboard. This should be fairly intuitive.
Section "Keyboard" Protocol "Standard" AutoRepeat 500 5 ServerNumLock EndSection

Other options are available as well—see the XF86Config file if you wish to modify the keyboard configuration. The above should work for most systems. The next section is Pointer which specifies parameters for the mouse device.


Chapter 5. Advanced Features

Section "Pointer" Protocol Device "MouseSystems" "/dev/mouse"

# Baudrate and SampleRate are only for some Logitech mice # BaudRate 9600 # SampleRate 150 # Emulate3Buttons is an option for 2-button Microsoft mice # Emulate3Buttons # ChordMiddle is an option for some 3-button Logitech mice # ChordMiddle EndSection

The only options that you should concern yourself with now are Protocol and Device. Protocol specifies the mouse protocol that your mouse uses (not the make or brand of mouse). Valid types for Protocol (under Linux—there are other options available for other operating systems) are: 

BusMouse  Logitech  Microsoft  MMSeries  Mouseman  MouseSystems  PS/2  MMHitTab
BusMouse should be used for the Logitech busmouse. Note that older Logitech mice should use Logitech, but newer Logitech mice use either Microsoft or Mouseman protocols. This is a case in which the protocol doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the make of the mouse. Device specifies the device file where the mouse can be accessed. On most Linux systems, this is /dev/mouse. /dev/mouse is usually a link to the appropriate serial port (such as /dev/cua0) for serial mice, or to the appropriate busmouse device for busmice. At any rate, be sure that the device file listed in Device exists. The next section is Monitor, which specifies the characteristics of your monitor. As with other sections in the XF86Config file, there may be more than one Monitor section. This is useful if you have multiple monitors connected to a system, or use the same XF86Config file under multiple hardware configurations. In general, though, you will need a single Monitor section.
Section "Monitor" Identifier "CTX 5468 NI"

# These values are for a CTX 5468NI only! Don’t attempt to use

5.1. The X Window System


# them with your monitor (unless you have this model) Bandwidth HorizSync VertRefresh 60 30-38,47-50 50-90 dotclock horiz 640 664 760 800 800 824 896 1024 1024 1088 1200 1328 vert 480 491 493 525 600 601 603 625 768 783 789 818

# Modes: Name

ModeLine "640x480" 25 ModeLine "800x600" 36 ModeLine "1024x768" 65 EndSection

The Identifier line is used to give an arbitrary name to the Monitor entry. This can be any string; you will use it to refer to the Monitor entry later in the XF86Config file. they are listed below. HorizSync specifies the valid horizontal sync frequencies for your monitor, in kHz. If you have a multisync monitor, this can be a range of values (or several comma-separated ranges), as seen above. If you have a fixed-frequency monitor, this will be a list of discrete values, such as:
HorizSync 31.5, 35.2, 37.9, 35.5, 48.95

Your monitor manual should list these values in the technical specifications section. If you do not have this information available, you should either contact the manufacturer or vendor of your monitor to obtain it. There are other sources of information, as well; VertRefresh specifies the valid vertical refresh rates (or vertical synchronization frequencies) for your monitor, in Hz. Like HorizSync this can be a range or a list of discrete values; your monitor manual should list them. HorizSync and VertRefresh are used only to double-check that the monitor resolutions that you specify are in valid ranges. This is to reduce the chance that you will damage your monitor by attempting to drive it at a frequency for which it was not designed. The ModeLine directive is used to specify a single resolution mode for your monitor. The format of ModeLine is
ModeLine hnamei hclocki hhoriz-valuesi hvert-valuesi

name is an arbitrary string, which you will use to refer to the resolution mode later in the file. dot-clock is the driving clock frequency, or “dot clock” associated with the resolution mode. A dot clock is usually specified in MHz, and is the rate at which the video card must send pixels to the monitor at this resolution. horiz-values and vert-values are four numbers each which specify when the electron gun of the monitor should fire, and when the horizontal and vertical sync pulses fire during a sweep.









How can you determine the ModeLine values for your monitor? The file VideoModes.doc, included with the XFree86 distribution, describes in detail how to determine these values for each resolution mode that your monitor supports. First of all, clock must correspond to one of the dot clock values that your video card can produce. Later in the XF86Config file you will specify these clocks; you can only use video modes which have a clock value supported by your video card.





There are two files included in the XFree86 distribution which may include ModeLine data for your monitor. These files are modeDB.txt and Monitors, both of which are found in /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/doc.


Chapter 5. Advanced Features

You should start with ModeLine values for the VESA standard monitor timings, which most monitors support. modeDB.txt includes timing values for VESA standard resolutions. In that file, you will see entries such as
# # # # # 640x480@60Hz Non-Interlaced mode Horizontal Sync = 31.5kHz Timing: H=(0.95us, 3.81us, 1.59us), V=(0.35ms, 0.064ms, 1.02ms) name "640x480" clock horizontal timing 25.175 640 664 760 800 vertical timing 480 491 493 525 flags

This is a VESA standard timing for a 640x480 video mode. It uses a dot clock of 25.175, which your video card must support to use this mode (more on this later). To include this entry in the XF86Config file, you’d use the line
ModeLine "640x480" 25.175 640 664 760 800 480 491 493 525

Note that the name argument to ModeLine (in this case "640x480") is an arbitrary string—the convention is to name the mode after the resolution, but name can technically be anything descriptive which describes the mode to you.





For each ModeLine used the server will check that the specifications for the mode fall within the range of values specified with Bandwidth, HorizSync and VertRefresh. If they do not, the server will complain when you attempt to start up X (more on this later). For one thing, the dot clock used by the mode should not be greater than the value used for Bandwidth. (However, in many cases it is safe to use modes with a slightly higher bandwidth than your monitor can support.) If the VESA standard timings do not work for you (you’ll know after trying to use them later) then the files modeDB.txt and Monitors include specific mode values for many monitor types. You can create ModeLine entries from the values found in those two files as well. Be sure to only use values for the specific model of monitor that you have. Note that many 14 and 15-inch monitors cannot support higher resolution modes, and often resolutions of 1024x768 at low dot clocks. This means that if you can’t find high resolution modes for your monitor in these files, then your monitor probably does not support those resolution modes. If you are completely at a loss, and can’t find working ModeLine values for your monitor, you can follow the instructions in the VideoModes.doc file included in the XFree86 distribution to generate ModeLine values from the specifications listed in your monitor’s manual. While your mileage will certainly vary when attempting to generate ModeLine values by hand, this is a good place to look if you can’t find the values that you need. VideoModes.doc also describes the format of the ModeLine directive and other aspects of the XFree86 server in gory detail. Lastly, if you do obtain ModeLine values which are almost, but not quite, right, then it may be possible to simply modify the values slightly to obtain the desired result. For example, if while running XFree86 the image on the monitor is shifted slightly, or seems to “roll”, you can follow the instructions in the VideoModes.doc file to try to fix these values. Also, be sure to check the knobs and controls on the monitor itself! In many cases it is necessary to change the horizontal or vertical size of the display after starting up XFree86 in order for the image to be centered and be of the appropriate size. Having these controls on the front of the monitor can certainly make life easier.


You shouldn’t use monitor timing values or ModeLine values for monitors other than the model that you own. If you attempt to drive the monitor at a frequency for which it was not designed, you can damage or even destroy it. The next section of the XF86Config file is Device, which specifies parameters for your video card. Here is an example.

5.1. The X Window System


Section "Device" Identifier "#9 GXE 64" # Nothing yet; we fill in these values later. EndSection

This section defines properties for a particular video card. Identifier is an arbitrary string describing the card; you will use this string to refer to the card later. Initially, you don’t need to include anything in the Device section, except for Identifier. This is because we will be using the X server itself to probe for the properties of the video card, and entering them into the Device section later. The XFree86 server is capable of probing for the video chipset, clocks, RAMDAC, and amount of video RAM on the board. Before we do this, however, we need to finish writing the XF86Config file. The next section is Screen, which specifies the monitor/video card combination to use for a particular server.
Section "Screen" Driver "Accel" Device "#9 GXE 64" Monitor "CTX 5468 NI" Subsection "Display" Depth 16 Modes "1024x768" "800x600" "640x480" ViewPort 0 0 Virtual 1024 768 EndSubsection EndSection

The Driver line specifies the X server that you will be using. The value values for Driver are: 


For the XF86 S3, XF86 Mach32, XF86 Mach8, XF86 8514, XF86 P9000, XF86 AGX, and XF86 W32 servers; 

SVGA: For the XF86 SVGA server;  VGA16: For the XF86 VGA16 server;  VGA2: For the XF86 Mono server;  Mono: For the non-VGA monochrome drivers in the XF86 Mono and XF86 VGA16 servers.
You should be sure that /usr/X11R6/bin/X is a symbolic link to the server that you are using. The Device line specifies the Identifier of the Device section corresponding to the video card to use for this server. Above, we created a Device section with the line
Identifier "#9 GXE 64"

Therefore, we use "#9 GXE 64" on the Device line here. Similarly, the Monitor line specifies the name of the Monitor section to be used with this server. Here, "CTX 5468 NI" is the Identifier used in the Monitor section described above.


Chapter 5. Advanced Features

Subsection "Display" defines several properties of the XFree86 server corresponding to your monitor/video card combination. The XF86Config file describes all of these options in detail; most of them are icing on the cake and not necessary to get the system working. The options that you should know about are: 

Depth. Defines the number of color planes—the number of bits per pixel. Usually, Depth is set to 8.
For the VGA16 server, you would use a depth of 4, and for the monochrome server a depth of 1. If you are using an accelerated video card with enough memory to support more bits per pixel, you can set Depth to 16, 24, or 32. If you have problems with depths higher than 8, set it back to 8 and attempt to debug the problem later. 

Modes. This is the list of video mode names which have been defined using the ModeLine directive in
the Monitor section. In the above section, we used ModeLines named "1024x768", "800x600", and "640x48"0. Therefore, we use a Modes line of
Modes "1024x768" "800x600" "640x480"

The first mode listed on this line will be the default when XFree86 starts up. After XFree86 is running, you can switch between the modes listed here using the keys ctrl - alt - numeric + and ctrl alt - numeric - . It might be best, when initially configuring XFree86, to use lower resolution video modes, such as 640x480, which tend to work on most systems. Once you have the basic configuration working you can modify XF86Config to support higher resolutions. 


Sets the virtual desktop size. XFree86 has the ability to use any additional memory on your video card to extend the size of your desktop. When you move the mouse pointer to the edge of the display, the desktop will scroll, bringing the additional space into view. Therefore, even if you are running at a lower video resolution such as 800x600, you can set Virtual to the total resolution which your video card can support (a 1-megabyte video card can support 1024x768 at a depth of 8 bits per pixel; a 2-megabyte card 1280x1024 at depth 8, or 1024x768 at depth 16). Of course, the entire area will not be visible at once, but it can still be used. The Virtual feature is a nice way to utilize the memory of your video card, but it is rather limited. If you want to use a true virtual desktop, we suggest using fvwm, or a similar window manager, instead. fvwm allows you to have rather large virtual desktops (implemented by hiding windows, and so forth, instead of actually storing the entire desktop in video memory at once). See the man pages for fvwm for more details about this; most Linux systems use fvwm by default. 


If you are using the Virtual option described above, ViewPort sets the coordinates of the upper-left-hand corner of the virtual desktop when XFree86 starts up. Virtual 0 0 is often used; if this is unspecified then the desktop is centered on the virtual desktop display (which may be undesirable to you).

Many other options for this section exist; see the XF86Config man page for a complete description. In practice these other options are not necessary to get XFree86 initially working.


Filling in video card information

Your XF86Config file is now ready to go, with the exception of complete information on the video card. What we’re going to do is use the X server to probe for the rest of this information, and fill it into XF86Config.

5.1. The X Window System


Instead of probing for this information with the X server, the XF86Config values for many cards are listed in the files modeDB.txt, AccelCards, and Devices. These files are all found in /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/doc. In addition, there are various README files for certain chipsets. You should look in these files for information on your video card, and use that information (the clock values, chipset type, and any options) in the XF86Config file. If any information is missing, you can probe for it as described here. In these examples we will demonstrate configuration for a #9 GXE 64 video card, which uses the XF86 S3 chipset. This card happens to be the one which the author uses, but the discussion here applies to any video card. The first thing to do is to determine the video chipset used on the card. Running SuperProbe (found in /usr/X11R6/bin) will tell you this information, but you need to know the chipset name as it is known to the X server. To do this, run the command
X -showconfig

This will give the chipset names known to your X server. (The man pages for each X server list these as well.) For example, with the accelerated XF86 S3 server, we obtain:
XFree86 Version 3.1 / X Window System (protocol Version 11, revision 0, vendor release 6000) Operating System: Linux Configured drivers: S3: accelerated server for S3 graphics adaptors (Patchlevel 0) mmio_928, s3_generic

The valid chipset names for this server are mmio 928 and s3 generic. The XF86 S3 man page describes these chipsets and which videocards use them. In the case of the #9 GXE 64 video card, mmio 928 is appropriate. If you don’t know which chipset to use, the X server can probe it for you. To do this, run the command
X -probeonly > /tmp/x.out 2>&1

if you use bash as your shell. If you use csh, try:
X -probeonly &> /tmp/x.out

You should run this command while the system is unloaded, that is, while no other activity is occurring on the system. This command will also probe for your video card dot clocks (as seen below), and system load can throw off this calculation. The output from the above (in /tmp/x.out should contain lines such as the following:
XFree86 Version 3.1 / X Window System (protocol Version 11, revision 0, vendor release 6000) Operating System: Linux Configured drivers: S3: accelerated server for S3 graphics adaptors (Patchlevel 0) mmio_928, s3_generic Several lines deleted: : :


Chapter 5. Advanced Features

(--) S3: card type: 386/486 localbus (--) S3: chipset: 864 rev. 0 (--) S3: chipset driver: mmio_928

Here, we see that the two valid chipsets for this server (in this case, XF86 S3) are mmio 928 and s3 generic. The server probed for and found a video card using the mmio 928 chipset. In the Device section of the XF86Config file, add a Chipset line, containing the name of the chipset as determined above. For example,
Section "Device" # We already had Identifier here... Identifier "#9 GXE 64" # Add this line: Chipset "mmio_928" EndSection

Now we need to determine the driving clock frequencies used by the video card. A driving clock frequency, or dot clock, is simply a rate at which the video card can send pixels to the monitor. As we have seen, each monitor resolution has a dot clock associated with it. Now we need to determine which dot clocks are made available by the video card. First you should look into the files (modeDB.txt, and so forth) mentioned above and see if your card’s clocks are listed there. The dot clocks will usually be a list of 8 or 16 values, all of which are in MHz. For example, when looking at modeDB.txt we see an entry for the Cardinal ET4000 video board, which looks like this:
# chip ET4000 ram 1024 virtual 1024 768 clocks 25 28 default-mode "1024x768" flags







As we can see, the dot clocks for this card are 25, 28, 38, 36, 40, 45, 32, and 0 MHz. In the Devices section of the XF86Config file, you should add a Clocks line containing the list of dot clocks for your card. For example, for the clocks above, we would add the line
Clocks 25 28 38 36 40 45 32 0

to the Devices section of the file, after Chipset. Note that the order of the clocks is important! Don’t resort the list of clocks or remove duplicates. If you cannot find the dot clocks associated with your card, the X server can probe for these as well. Using the X -probeonly command described above, the output should contain lines which look like the following:
(--) S3: clocks: 25.18 28.32 38.02 36.15 40.33 45.32 32.00 00.00

We could then add a Clocks line containing all of these values, as printed. You can use more than one Clocks line in XF86Config should all of the values (sometimes there are more than 8 clock values printed) not fit onto one line. Again, be sure to keep the list of clocks in order as they are printed. Be sure that there is no Clocks line (or that it is commented out) in the Devices section of the file when using X -probeonly to probe for the clocks. If there is a Clocks line present, the server will not probe for the clocks—it will use the values given in XF86Config.

5.1. The X Window System


Note that some accelerated video boards use a programmable clock chip. (See the XF86 Accel man page for details; this generally applies to S3, AGX, and XGA-2 boards.) This chip essentially allows the X server to tell the card which dot clocks to use. If this is the case, then you may not find a list of dot clocks for the card in any of the above files. Or, the list of dot clocks printed when using X -probeonly will only contain one or two discrete clock values, with the rest being duplicates or zero. For boards which use a programmable clock chip, you would use a ClockChip line, instead of a Clocks line, in your XF86Config file. ClockChip gives the name of the clock chip as used by the video card; the man pages for each server describe what these are. For example, in the file README.S3, we see that several S3-864 video cards use an “ICD2061A” clock chip, and that we should use the line
ClockChip "icd2061a"

instead of Clocks in the XF86Config file. As with Clocks, this line should go in the Devices section, after Chipset. Similarly, some accelerated cards require you to specify the RAMDAC chip type in the XF86Config file, using a Ramdac line. The XF86 Accel man page describes this option. Usually, the X server will correctly probe for the RAMDAC. Some video card types require you to specify several options in the Devices section of XF86Config. These options will be described in the man page for your server, as well as in the various files (such as README.cirrus or README.S3. These options are enabled using the Option line. For example, the #9 GXE 64 card requires two options:
Option "number_nine" Option "dac_8_bit"

Usually, the X server will work without these options, but they are necessary to obtain the best performance. There are too many such options to list here, and they each depend on the particular video card being used. If you must use one of these options, fear not—the X server man pages and various files in /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/doc will tell you what they are. So, when you’re finished, you should end up with a Devices section which looks something like this:
Section "Device" # Device section for the #9 GXE 64 only ! Identifier "#9 GXE 64" Chipset "mmio_928" ClockChip "icd2061a" Option "number_nine" Option "dac_8_bit" EndSection

Most video cards will require a Clocks line, instead of ClockChip, as described above. The above Device entry is only valid for a particular video card, the #9 GXE 64. It is given here only as an example. There are other options that you can include in the Devices entry. Check the X server man pages for the gritty details, but the above should suffice for most systems.


Running XFree86

With your XF86Config file configured, you’re ready to fire up the X server and give it a spin. First, be sure that /usr/X11R6/bin is on your path.


Chapter 5. Advanced Features

The command to start up XFree86 is

This is a front-end to xinit (in case you’re used to using xinit on other UNIX systems). This command will start the X server and run the commands found in the file .xinitrc in your home directory. .xinitrc is just a shell script containing X clients to run. If this file does not exist, the system default /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/xinit/xinitrc will be used. A standard .xinitrc file looks like this:
#!/bin/sh xterm -fn 7x13bold -geometry 80x32+10+50 & xterm -fn 9x15bold -geometry 80x34+30-10 & oclock -geometry 70x70-7+7 & xsetroot -solid midnightblue & exec twm

This script will start up two xterm clients, an oclock, and set the root window (background) color to midnightblue. It will then start up twm, the window manager. Note that twm is executed with the shell’s exec statement; this causes the xinit process to be replaced with twm. Once the twm process exits, the X server will shut down. You can cause twm to exit by using the root menus: depress mouse button 1 on the desktop background—this will display a pop up menu which will allow you to Exit Twm. Be sure that the last command in .xinitrc is started with exec, and that it is not placed into the background (no ampersand on the end of the line). Otherwise the X server will shut down as soon as it has started the clients in the .xinitrc file. Alternately, you can exit X by pressing ctrl - alt - backspace in combination. This will kill the X server directly, exiting the window system. The above is a very, very simple desktop configuration. Many wonderful programs and configurations are available with a bit of work on your .xinitrc file. For example, the fvwm window manager will provide a virtual desktop, and you can customize colors, fonts, window sizes and positions, and so forth to your heart’s content. Although the X Window System might appear to be simplistic at first, it is extremely powerful once you customize it for yourself. If you are new to the X Window System environment, we strongly suggest picking up a book such as The X Window System: A User’s Guide. Using and configuring X is far too in-depth to cover here. See the man pages for xterm, oclock, and twm for clues on getting started.


Running into trouble

Often, something will not be quite right when you initially fire up the X server. This is almost always caused by a problem in your XF86Config file. Usually, the monitor timing values are off, or the video card dot clocks set incorrectly. If your display seems to roll, or the edges are fuzzy, this is a clear indication that the monitor timing values or dot clocks are wrong. Also be sure that you are correctly specifying your video card chipset, as well as other options for the Device section of XF86Config. Be absolutely certain that you are using the right X server and that /usr/X11R6/bin/X is a symbolic link to this server. If all else fails, try to start X “bare”; that is, use a command such as:

5.2. Accessing MS-DOS Files


X > /tmp/x.out 2>&1

You can then kill the X server (using the ctrl - alt - backspace key combination) and examine the contents of /tmp/x.out. The X server will report any warnings or errors—for example, if your video card doesn’t have a dot clock corresponding to a mode supported by your monitor. The file VideoModes.doc included in the XFree86 distribution contains many hints for tweaking the values in your XF86Config file. Remember that you can use ctrl - alt - numeric + and ctrl - alt - numeric - to switch between the video modes listed on the Modes line of the Screen section of XF86Config. If the highest resolution mode doesn’t look right, try switching to lower resolutions. This will let you know, at least, that those parts of your X configuration are working correctly. Also, check the vertical and horizontal size/hold knobs on your monitor. In many cases it is necessary to adjust these when starting up X. For example, if the display seems to be shifted slightly to one side, you can usually correct this using the monitor controls. The USENET newsgroup is devoted to discussions about XFree86. It might be a good idea to watch that newsgroup for postings relating to your video configuration—you might run across someone with the same problems as your own.

5.2 Accessing MS-DOS Files
If, for some twisted and bizarre reason, you would have need to access files from MS-DOS, it’s quite easily done under Linux. The usual way to access MS-DOS files is to mount an MS-DOS partition or floppy under Linux, allowing you to access the files directly through the filesystem. For example, if you have an MS-DOS floppy in /dev/fd0, the command
# mount -t msdos /dev/fd0 /mnt

will mount it under /mnt. See Section 4.6.2 for more information on mounting floppies. You can also mount an MS-DOS partition of your hard drive for access under Linux. If you have an MS-DOS partition on /dev/hda1, the command
# mount -t msdos /dev/hda1 /mnt

will mount it. Be sure to umount the partition when you’re done using it. You can have your MS-DOS partitions automatically mounted at boot time if you include entries for them in /etc/fstab; see Section 4.8 for details. For example, the following line in /etc/fstab will mount an MS-DOS partition on /dev/hda1 on the directory /dos.
/dev/hda1 /dos msdos defaults

The Mtools software may also be used to access MS-DOS files. For example, the commands mcd, mdir, and mcopy all behave as their MS-DOS counterparts. If you installed Mtools, there should be man pages available for these commands. Accessing MS-DOS files is one thing; running MS-DOS programs from Linux is another. There is an MS-DOS Emulator under development for Linux; it is widely available, and even distributed with SLS. It


Chapter 5. Advanced Features

can be retrieved from a number of locations, including the various Linux FTP sites (see Appendix C for details). The MS-DOS Emulator is reportedly powerful enough to run a number of applications, including WordPerfect, from Linux. However, Linux and MS-DOS are vastly different operating systems. The power of any MS-DOS emulator under UNIX is somewhat limited. In addition, work is underway on a Microsoft Windows emulator to run under X Windows. Watch the newsgroups and FTP sites for more information.

5.3 Networking with TCP/IP
Linux supports a full implementation of the TCP/IP (Transport Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) networking protocols. TCP/IP has become the most successful mechanism for networking computers worldwide. With Linux and an Ethernet card, you can network your machine to a local area network, or (with the proper network connections), to the Internet—the worldwide TCP/IP network. Hooking up a small LAN of UNIX machines is easy. It simply requires an Ethernet controller in each machine and the appropriate Ethernet cables and other hardware. Or, if your business or university provides access to the Internet, you can easily add your Linux machine to this network. The current implementation of TCP/IP and related protocols for Linux is called “NET-2”. This has no relationship to the so-called NET-2 release of BSD UNIX; instead, “NET-2” in this context means the second implementation of TCP/IP for Linux. Linux NET-2 also supports SLIP—Serial Line Internet Protocol. SLIP allows you to have dialup Internet access using a modem. If your business or university provides SLIP access, you can dial in to the SLIP server and put your machine on the Internet over the phone line. Alternately, if your Linux machine also has Ethernet access to the Internet, you can set up your Linux box as a SLIP server. For complete information on setting up TCP/IP under Linux, we encourage you to read the Linux NET-2 HOWTO, available via anonymous FTP from The NET-2 HOWTO is a complete guide to configuring TCP/IP, including Ethernet and SLIP connections, under Linux. The Linux Ethernet HOWTO is a related document that describes configuration of various Ethernet card drivers for Linux. The Linux Network Administrator’s Guide, from the Linux Documentation Project, is also available. See Appendix A for more information on these documents. Also of interest is the book TCP/IP Network Administration, by Craig Hunt. It contains complete information on using and configuring TCP/IP on UNIX systems.


Hardware Requirements

You can use Linux TCP/IP without any networking hardware at all—configuring “loopback” mode allows you to talk to yourself. This is necessary for some applications and games which use the “loopback” network device. However, if you want to use Linux with an Ethernet TCP/IP network, you need one of the following Ethernet cards: 3com 3c503, 3c503/16; Novell NE1000, NE2000; Western Digital WD8003, WD8013; Hewlett Packard HP27245, HP27247, HP27250. The following clones are reported to work: WD-80x3 clones: LANNET LEC-45; NE2000 clones: Alta Combo, Artisoft LANtastic AE-2, Asante Etherpak 2001/2003, D-Link Ethernet II, LTC E-NET/16 P/N 8300-200-002, Network Solutions HE-203, SVEC 4 Dimension Ethernet, 4-Dimension FD0490 EtherBoard 16, and D-Link DE-600, SMC Elite 16.

5.3. Networking with TCP/IP


See the Linux Ethernet HOWTO for a more complete discussion of Linux Ethernet hardware compatibility. Linux also supports SLIP, which allows you to use a modem to access the Internet over the phone line. In this case, you’ll need a modem compatible with your SLIP server—most servers require a 14.4bps V.32bis modem.


Configuring TCP/IP on your system

In this section we’re going to discuss how to configure an Ethernet TCP/IP connection on your system. Note that this method should work for many systems, but certainly not all. This discussion should be enough to get you on the right path to configuring the network parameters of your machine, but there are numerous caveats and fine details not mentioned here. We direct you to the Linux Network Administrators’ Guide and the NET-2-HOWTO for more information.3 First of all, we assume that you have a Linux system that has the TCP/IP software installed. This includes basic clients such as telnet and ftp, system administration commands such as ifconfig and route (usually found in /etc), and networking configuration files (such as /etc/hosts). The other Linuxrelated networking documents described above explain how to go about installing the Linux networking software if you do not have it already. We also assume that your kernel has been configured and compiled with TCP/IP support enabled. See Section 4.7 for information on compiling your kernel. To enable networking, you must answer “yes” to the appropriate questions during the make config step, and rebuild the kernel. Once this has been done, you must modify a number of configuration files used by NET-2. For the most part this is a simple procedure. Unfortunately, however, there is wide disagreement between Linux distributions as to where the various TCP/IP configuration files and support programs should go. Much of the time, they can be found in /etc, but in other cases may be found in /usr/etc, /usr/etc/inet, or other bizarre locations. In the worst case you’ll have to use the find command to locate the files on your system. Also note that not all distributions keep the NET-2 configuration files and software in the same location—they may be spread across several directories. The following information applies primarily to Ethernet connections. If you’re planning to use SLIP, read this section to understand the concepts, and follow the SLIP-specific instructions in the following section.

Your network configuration

Before you can configure TCP/IP, you need to determine the following information about your network setup. In most cases, your local network administrator can provide you with this information. 

IP address.

This is the unique machine address in dotted-decimal format. Your network admins will provide you with this number.

An example is

If you’re only configuring loopback mode (i.e. no SLIP, no ethernet card, just TCP/IP connections to your own machine) then your IP address is 

Your network mask (“netmask”). This is a dotted quad, similar to the IP address, which determines
which portion of the IP address specifies the subnetwork number, and which portion specifies the host on that subnet. (If you’re shaky on these TCP/IP networking terms, we suggest reading some introductory material on network administration.) The network mask is a pattern of bits, which when
of this information is adapted from the NET-2-HOWTO by Terry Dawson and Matt Welsh.
3 Some


Chapter 5. Advanced Features

overlayed onto an address on your network, will tell you which subnet that address lives on. This is very important for routing, and if you find, for example, that you can happily talk to people outside your network, but not to some people within your network, there is a good chance that you have an incorrect mask specified. Your network administrators will have chosen the netmask when the network was designed, and therefore they should be able to supply you with the correct mask to use. Most networks are class C subnetworks which use as their netmask. Other Class B networks use The NET-2 code will automatically select a mask that assumes no subnetting as a default if you do not specify one. This applies as well to the loopback port. Since the loopback port’s address is always, the netmask for this port is always You can either specify this explicitly or rely on the default mask. 

Your network address. This is your IP address masked bitwise-ANDed the netmask. For example,
if your netmask is, and your IP address is, your network address is With a netmask of, this would be If you’re only using loopback, you don’t have a network address. 

Your broadcast address. The broadcast address is used to broadcast packets to every machine on your

subnet. Therefore, if the host number of machines on your subnet is given by the last byte of the IP address (netmask, your broadcast address will be your network address ORed with For example, if your IP address is, and your netmask is, your broadcast address is Note that for historical reasons, some networks are setup to use the network address as the broadcast address, if you have any doubt, check with your network administrators. (In many cases, it will suffice to duplicate the network configuration of other machines on your subnet, substituting your own IP address, of course.) 

Your gateway address.

If you’re only using loopback, you don’t have a broadcast address. This is the address of the machine which is your “gateway” to the outside world (i.e. machines not on your subnet). In many cases the gateway machine has an IP address identical to yours but with a “.1” as its host address; e.g., if your IP address is, your gateway might be Your network admins will provide you with the IP address of your gateway. In fact, you may have multiple gateways. A gateway is simply a machine that lives on two different networks (has IP addresses on different subnets), and routes packets between them. Many networks have a single gateway to “the outside world” (the network directly adjacent to your own), but in some cases you will have multiple gateways—one for each adjacent network. If you’re only using loopback, you don’t have a gateway address. The same is true if your network is isolated from all others. 

Your nameserver address. Most machines on the net have a name server which translates hostnames

into IP addresses for them. Your network admins will tell you the address of your name server. You can also run a server on your own machine by running named, in which case the nameserver address is Unless you absolutely must run your own name server, we suggest using the one provided to you on the network (if any). Configuration of named is another issue altogether; our priority at this point is to get you talking to the network. You can deal with name resolution issues later. If you’re only using loopback, you don’t have a nameserver address.

5.3. Networking with TCP/IP


SLIP users: You may or may not require any of the above information, except for a nameserver address. When using SLIP, your IP address is usually determined in one of two ways: Either (a) you have a “static” IP address, which is the same every time you connect to the network, or (b) you have a “dynamic” IP address, which is allocated from a pool available addresses when you connect to the server. In the following section on SLIP configuration this is covered in more detail. NET-2 supports full routing, multiple routes, subnetworking (at this stage on byte boundaries only), the whole nine yards. The above describes most basic TCP/IP configurations. Yours may be quite different: when in doubt, consult your local network gurus and check out the man pages for route and ifconfig. Configuring TCP/IP networks is very much beyond the scope of this book; the above should be enough to get most people started. The networking rc files

rc files are systemwide configuration scripts executed at boot time by init, which start up all of the basic system daemons (such as sendmail, cron, etc.) and configure things such as the network parameters, system hostname, and so on. rc files are usually found in the directory /etc/rc.d but on other systems may be in /etc. Here, we’re going to describe the rc files used to configure TCP/IP. There are two of them: rc.inet1 and rc.inet2. rc.inet1 is used to configure the basic network parameters (such as IP addresses and routing information) and rc.inet2 fires up the TCP/IP daemons (telnetd, ftpd, and so forth). Many systems combine these two files into one, usually called rc.inet or The names given to your rc files doesn’t matter, as long as they perform the correct functions and are executed at boot time by init. To ensure this, you may need to edit /etc/inittab and uncomment lines to execute the appropriate rc file(s). In the worst case you will have to create the rc.inet1 and rc.inet2 files from scratch and add entries for them to /etc/inittab. As we said, rc.inet1 configures the basic network interface. This includes your IP and network address, and the routing table information for your network. The routing tables are used to route outgoing (and incoming) network datagrams to other machines. On most simple configurations, you have three routes: One for sending packets to your own machine, another for sending packets to other machines on your network, and another for sending packets to machines outside of your network (through the gateway machine). Two programs are used to configure these parameters: ifconfig and route. Both of these are usually found in /etc. ifconfig is used for configuring the network device interface with the parameters that it requires to function, such as the IP address, network mask, broadcast address and the like. route is used to create and modify entries in the routing table. For most configurations, an rc.inet1 file that looks like the following should work. You will, of course, have to edit this for your own system. Do not use the sample IP and network addresses listed here for your own system; they correspond to an actual machine on the Internet.
#!/bin/sh # This is /etc/rc.d/rc.inet1 -- Configure the TCP/IP interfaces # First, configure the loopback device HOSTNAME=‘hostname‘ /etc/ifconfig lo /etc/route add # uses default netmask # a route to point to the loopback device


Chapter 5. Advanced Features

# Next, configure the ethernet device. If you’re only using loopback or # SLIP, comment out the rest of these lines. # Edit for your setup. IPADDR="" NETMASK="" NETWORK="" BROADCAST="" GATEWAY=""

# # # # # #

REPLACE with REPLACE with REPLACE with REPLACE with have one. If REPLACE with


IP address netmask network address broadcast address, if you leave blank and edit below. gateway address!

/etc/ifconfig eth0 ${IPADDR} netmask ${NETMASK} broadcast ${BROADCAST} # If you don’t have a broadcast address, change the above line to just: # /etc/ifconfig eth0 ${IPADDR} netmask ${NETMASK} /etc/route add ${NETWORK} # The following is only necessary if you have a gateway; that is, your # network is connected to the outside world. /etc/route add default gw ${GATEWAY} metric 1 # End of Ethernet Configuration

Again, you may have to tweak this file somewhat to get it to work. The above should be sufficient for the majority of simple network configurations, but certainly not all. rc.inet2 starts up various servers used by the TCP/IP suite. The most important of these is inetd. inetd sits in the background and listens to various network ports. When a machine tries to make a connection to a certain port (for example, the incoming telnet port), inetd forks off a copy of the appropriate daemon for that port (in the case of the telnet port, inetd starts in.telnetd). This is simpler than running many separate, standalone daemons (e.g., individual copies of telnetd, ftpd, and so forth)—inetd starts up the daemons only when they are needed. syslogd is the system logging daemon—it accumulates log messages from various applications and stores them into log files based on the configuration information in /etc/syslogd.conf. routed is a server used to maintain dynamic routing information. When your system attempts to send packets to another network, it may require additional routing table entries in order to do so. routed takes care of manipulating the routing table without the need for user intervention. Our example rc.inet2, below, only starts up the bare minimum of servers. There are many other servers as well—many of which have to do with NFS configuration. When attempting to setup TCP/IP on your system, it’s usually best to start with a minimal configuration and add more complex pieces (such as NFS) when you have things working. Note that in the below file, we assume that all of the network daemons are held in /etc. As usual, edit this for your own configuration.
#! /bin/sh # Sample /etc/rc.d/rc.inet2 # Start syslogd if [ -f /etc/syslogd ]

5.3. Networking with TCP/IP


then /etc/syslogd fi # Start inetd if [ -f /etc/inetd ] then /etc/inetd fi # Start routed if [ -f /etc/routed ] then /etc/routed -q fi # Done!

Among the various additional servers that you may want to start in rc.inet2 is named. named is a name server—it is responsible for translating (local) IP addresses to names, and vice versa. If you don’t have a nameserver elsewhere on the network, or want to provide local machine names to other machines in your domain, it may be necessary to run named. (For most configurations it is not necessary, however.) named configuration is somewhat complex and requires planning; we refer interested readers to a good book on TCP/IP network administration.


/etc/hosts contains a list of IP addresses and the hostnames that they correspond to. In general, /etc/hosts only contains entries for your local machine, and perhaps other “important” machines (such as your nameserver or gateway). Your local name server will provide address-to-name mappings for other machines on the network, transparently. For example, if your machine is with the IP address, your /etc/hosts would look like: localhost loomer

If you’re only using loopback, the only line in /etc/hosts should be for, with both localhost and your hostname after it.


The /etc/networks file lists the names and addresses of your own, and other, networks. It is used by the route command, and allows you to specify a network by name, should you so desire. Every network you wish to add a route to using the route command (generally called from rc.inet1— see above) must have an entry in /etc/networks. As an example,
default # default route - mandatory


Chapter 5. Advanced Features

loopnet # loopback network - mandatory mynet # Modify for your own network address


This file is used to specify how your system will resolve hostnames. It should contain the two lines:
order hosts,bind multi on

These lines tell the resolve libraries to first check the /etc/hosts file for any names to lookup, and then ask the nameserver (if one is present). The multi entry allows you to have multiple IP addresses for a given machine name in /etc/hosts.


This file configures the name resolver, specifying the address of your name server (if any) and your domain name. Your domain name is your fully-qualified hostname (if you’re a registered machine on the Internet, for example), with the hostname chopped off. That is, if your full hostname is, your domain name is just For example, if your machine is, and has a nameserver at the address, your /etc/resolv.conf would look like:
domain nameserver

You can specify more than one nameserver—each must have a nameserver line of its own in resolv.conf. Setting your hostname

You should set your system hostname with the hostname command. This is usually called from /etc/rc or /etc/rc.local; simply search your system rc files to determine where it is invoked. For example, if your (full) hostname is, edit the appropriate rc file to execute the command:

Note that the hostname executable may not be found in /bin on your system. Trying it out

Once you have all of these files set up, you should be able to reboot your new kernel and attempt to use the network. There are many places where things can go wrong, so it’s a good idea to test individual aspects of the network configuration (e.g., it’s probably not a good idea to test your network configuration by firing up Mosaic over a network-based X connection). You can use the netstat command to display your routing tables; this is usually the source of the most trouble. The netstat man page describes the exact syntax of this command in detail. In order to test network connectivity, we suggest using a client such as telnet to connect to machines both on your local subnetwork and external networks. This will help to narrow down the source of the problem. (For

5.3. Networking with TCP/IP


example, if you’re unable to connect to local machines, but can connect to machines on other networks, more than likely there is a problem with your netmask and routing table configuration). You can also invoke the route command directly (as root) to play with the entries in your routing table. You should also test network connectivity by specifying IP addresses directly, instead of hostnames. For example, if you have problems with the command
$ telnet

the cause may be incorrect nameserver configuration. Try using the actual IP address of the machine in question; if that works, then you know that your basic network setup is (more than likely) correct, and the problem lies in your specification of the name server address. Debugging network configurations can be a difficult task, and we can’t begin to cover it here. If you are unable to get help from a local guru we strongly suggest reading the Linux Network Administrators’ Guide from the LDP.


SLIP Configuration

SLIP (Serial Line Internet Protocol) allows you to use TCP/IP over a serial line, be that a phone line, with a dialup modem, or a leased asynchronous line of some sort. Of course, to use SLIP you’ll need access to a dial-in SLIP server in your area. Many universities and businesses provide SLIP access for a modest fee. There are two major SLIP-related programs available—dip and slattach. Both of these programs are used to initiate a SLIP connection over a serial device. It is necessary to use one of these programs in order to enable SLIP—it will not suffice to dial up the SLIP server (with a communications program such as kermit) and issue ifconfig and route commands. This is because dip and slattach issue a special ioctl() system call to seize control of the serial device to be used as a SLIP interface. dip can be used to dial up a SLIP server, do some handshaking to login to the server (exchanging your username and password, for example) and then initate the SLIP connection over the open serial line. slattach, on the other hand, does very little other than grab the serial device for use by SLIP. It is useful if you have a permanent line to your SLIP server and no modem dialup or handshaking is necessary to initiate the connection. Most dialup SLIP users should use dip, on the other hand. dip can also be used to configure your Linux system as a SLIP server, where other machines can dial into your own and connect to the network through a secondary Ethernet connection on your machine. See the documentation and man pages for dip for more information on this procedure. SLIP is quite unlike Ethernet, in that there are only two machines on the “network”—the SLIP host (that’s you) and the SLIP server. For this reason, SLIP is often referred to as a “point-to-point” connection. A generalization of this idea, known as PPP (Point to Point Protocol) has also been implemented for Linux. When you initiate a connection to a SLIP server, the SLIP server will give you an IP address based on (usually) one of two methods. Some SLIP servers allocate “static” IP addresses—in which case your IP address will be the same every time you connect to the server. However, many SLIP servers allocate IP addresses dynamically—in which case you receive a different IP address each time you connect. In general, the SLIP server will print the values of your IP and gateway addresses when you connect. dip is capable of reading these values from the output of the SLIP server login session and using them to configure the SLIP device. Essentially, configuring a SLIP connection is just like configuring for loopback or ethernet. The main differences are discussed below. Read the previous section on configuring the basic TCP/IP files, and apply the changes described below.


Chapter 5. Advanced Features

Static IP address SLIP connections using dip

If you are using a static-allocation SLIP server, you may want to include entries for your IP address and hostname in /etc/hosts. Also, configure these files listed in the above section: rc.inet2, host.conf, and resolv.conf. Also, configure rc.inet1, as described above. However, you only want to execute ifconfig and route commands for the loopback device. If you use dip to connect to the SLIP server, it will execute the appropriate ifconfig and route commands for the SLIP device for you. (If you’re using slattach, on the other hand, you will need to include ifconfig/route commands in rc.inet1 for the SLIP device—see below.) dip should configure your routing tables appropriately for the SLIP connection when you connect. In some cases, however, dip’s behavior may not be correct for your configuration, and you’ll have to run ifconfig or route commands by hand after connecting to the server with dip (this is most easily done from within a shell script that runs dip and immediately executes the appropriate configuration commands). Your gateway is, in most cases, the address of the SLIP server. You may know this address before hand, or the gateway address will be printed by the SLIP server when you connect. Your dip chat script (described below) can obtain this information from the SLIP server. ifconfig may require use of the pointopoint argument, if dip doesn’t configure the interface correctly. For example, if your SLIP server address is, and your IP address is, you may need to run the command
ifconfig sl0 pointopoint

as root, after connecting with dip. The man pages for ifconfig will come in handy. Note that SLIP device names used with the ifconfig and route commands are sl0, sl1 and so on (as opposed to eth0, eth1, etc. for Ethernet devices). In Section 5.3.4, below, we explain how to configure dip to connect to the SLIP server.

Static IP address SLIP connections using slattach

If you have a leased line or cable running directly to your SLIP server, then there is no need to use dip to initiate a connection. slattach can be used to configure the SLIP device instead. In this case, your /etc/rc.inet1 file should look something like the following:
#!/bin/sh IPADDR="" # Replace with your IP address REMADDR="" # Replace with your SLIP server address # Modify the following for the appropriate serial device for the SLIP # connection: slattach -p cslip -s 19200 /dev/ttyS0 /etc/ifconfig sl0 $IPADDR pointopoint $REMADDR up /etc/route add default gw $REMADDR

slattach allocates the first unallocated SLIP device (sl0, sl1, etc.) to the serial line specified. Note that the first parameter to slattach is the SLIP protocol to use. At present the only valid values are slip and cslip. slip is regular SLIP, as you would expect, and cslip is SLIP with datagram header

5.3. Networking with TCP/IP


compression. In most cases you should use cslip; however, if you seem to be having problems with this, try slip. If you have more than one SLIP interface then you will have routing considerations to make. You will have to decide what routes to add, and those decisions can only be made on the basis of the actual layout of your network connections. A book on TCP/IP network configuration, as well as the man pages to route, will be of use. Dynamic IP address SLIP connections using dip

If your SLIP server allocates an IP address dynamically, then you certainly don’t know your address in advance—therefore, you can’t include an entry for it in /etc/hosts. (You should, however, include an entry for your host with the loopback address, Many SLIP servers print your IP address (as well as the server’s address) when you connect. For example, one type of SLIP server prints a string such as,
Your IP address is Server address is

dip can capture these numbers from the output of the server and use them to configure the SLIP device. See Section, above, for information on configuring your various TCP/IP files for use with SLIP. Below, we explain how to configure dip to connect to the SLIP server.


Using dip

dip can simplify the process of connecting to a SLIP server, logging in, and configuring the SLIP device. Unless you have a leased line running to your SLIP server, dip is the way to go. To use dip, you’ll need to write a “chat script” which contains a list of commands used to communicate with the SLIP server at login time. These commands can automatically send your username/password to the server, as well as get information on your IP address from the server. Here is an example dip chat script, for use with a dynamic IP address server. For static servers, you will need to set the variables $local and $remote to the values of your local IP address and server IP address, respectively, at the top of the script. See the dip man page for details.
main: # Set Maximum Transfer Unit. This is the maximum size of packets # transmitted on the SLIP device. Many SLIP servers use either 1500 or # 1006; check with your network admins when in doubt. get $mtu 1500 # Make the SLIP route the default route on your system. default # Set the desired serial port and speed. port cua03 speed 38400 # Reset the modem and terminal line. If this causes trouble for you, # comment it out.


Chapter 5. Advanced Features

reset # Prepare for dialing. Replace the following with your # modem initialization string. send ATT&C1&D2\\N3&Q5%M3%C1N1W1L1S48=7\r wait OK 2 if $errlvl != 0 goto error # Dial the SLIP server dial 2546000 if $errlvl != 0 goto error wait CONNECT 60 if $errlvl != 0 goto error # We are connected. Login to the system. login: sleep 3 send \r\n\r\n # Wait for the login prompt wait login: 10 if $errlvl != 0 goto error # Send your username send USERNAME\n # Wait for password prompt wait ord: 5 if $errlvl != 0 goto error # Send password. send PASSWORD\n # Wait for SLIP server ready prompt wait annex: 30 if $errlvl != 0 goto error # Send commands to SLIP server to initate connection. send slip\n wait Annex 30 # Get the remote IP address from the SLIP server. The ‘get...remote’ # command reads text in the form, and assigns it # to the variable given as the second argument (here, $remote). get $remote remote if $errlvl != 0 goto error wait Your 30 # Get local IP address from SLIP server, assign to variable $local. get $local remote if $errlvl != 0 goto error # Fire up the SLIP connection done: print CONNECTED to $remote at $rmtip print GATEWAY address $rmtip

5.4. Networking with UUCP


print LOCAL address $local mode SLIP goto exit error: print SLIP to $remote failed. exit:

dip automatically executes ifconfig and route commands based on the values of the variables $local and $remote. Here, those variables are assigned using the get: : : remote command, which obtains text from the SLIP server and assigns it to the named variable. If the ifconfig and route commands that dip runs for you don’t work, you can either run the correct commands in a shell script after executing dip, or modify the source for dip itself. Running dip with the -v option will print debugging information while the connection is being set up, which should help you to determine where things might be going awry. Now, in order to run dip and open the SLIP connection, you can use a command such as:
/etc/dip/dip -v /etc/dip/mychat 2>&1

Where the various dip files, and the chat script (mychat.dip), are stored in /etc/dip. The above discussion should be enough to get you well on your way to talking to the network, either via Ethernet or SLIP. Again, we strongly suggest looking into a book on TCP/IP network configuration, especially if your network has any special routing considerations, other than those mentioned here.

5.4 Networking with UUCP
UUCP (UNIX-to-UNIX Copy) is an older mechanism used to transfer information between UNIX systems. Using UUCP, UNIX systems dial each other up (using a modem) and transfer mail messages, news articles, files, and so on. If you don’t have TCP/IP or SLIP access, you can use UUCP to communicate with the world. Most of the mail and news software (see Sections 5.5 and 5.6) can be configured to use UUCP to transfer information to other machines. In fact, if there is an Internet site nearby, you can arrange to have Internet mail sent to your Linux machine via UUCP from that site. The Linux Network Administrator’s Guide contains complete information on configuring and using UUCP under Linux. Also, the Linux UUCP HOWTO, available via anonymous FTP from, should be of help. Another source of information on UUCP is the book Managing UUCP and USENET, by Tim O’Reilly and Grace Todino. See Appendix A for more information.

5.5 Electronic Mail
Like most UNIX systems, Linux provides a number of software packages for using electronic mail. E-mail on your system can either be local (that is, you only mail other users on your system), or networked (that is, you mail, using either TCP/IP or UUCP, users on other machines on a network). E-mail software usually consists of two parts: a mailer and a transport. The mailer is the user-level software which is used to actually compose and read e-mail messages. Popular mailers include elm and mailx. The transport is the low-level software which actually takes care of delivering the mail, either locally or remotely. The user never sees the


Chapter 5. Advanced Features

transport software; they only interact with the mailer. However, as the system administrator, it is important to understand the concepts behind the transport software and how to configure it. The most popular transport software for Linux is Smail. This software is easy to configure, and is able to send both local and remote TCP/IP and UUCP e-mail. The more powerful sendmail transport is used on most UNIX systems, however, because of its complicated setup mechanism, many Linux systems don’t use it. The Linux Mail HOWTO gives more information on the available mail software for Linux and how to configure it on your system. If you plan to send mail remotely, you’ll need to understand either TCP/IP or UUCP, depending on how your machine is networked (see Sections 5.3 and 5.4). The UUCP and TCP/IP documents listed in Appendix A should be of help there. Most of the Linux mail software can be retrieved via anonymous FTP from in the directory /pub/Linux/system/Mail.

5.6 News and USENET
Linux also provides a number of facilities for managing electronic news. You may choose to set up a local news server on your system, which will allow users to post “articles” to various “newsgroups” on the system: : : a lively form of discussion. However, if you have access to a TCP/IP or UUCP network, then you will be able to participate in USENET—a worldwide network news service. There are two parts to the news software—the server and the client. The news server is the software which controls the newsgroups and handles delivering articles to other machines (if you are on a network). The news client, or newsreader, is the software which connects to the server to allow users to read and post news. There are several forms of news servers available for Linux. They all follow the same basic protocols and design. The two primary versions are “C News” and “INN”. There are many types of newsreaders, as well, such as rn and tin. The choice of newsreader is more or less a matter of taste; all newsreaders should work equally well with different versions of the server software. That is, the newsreader is independent of the server software, and vice versa. If you only want to run news locally (that is, not as part of USENET), then you will need to run a server on your system, as well as install a newsreader for the users. The news server will store the articles in a directory such as /usr/spool/news, and the newsreader will be compiled to look in this directory for news articles. However, if you wish to run news over the network, there are several options open to you. TCP/IP network-based news uses a protocol known as NNTP (Network News Transmission Protocol). NNTP allows a newsreader to read news over the network, on a remote machine. NNTP also allows news servers to send articles to each other over the network—this is the software upon which USENET is based. Most businesses and universities have one or more NNTP servers set up to handle all of the USENET news for that site. Every other machine at the site runs an NNTP-based newsreader to read and post news over the network via the NNTP server. This means that only the NNTP server actually stores the news articles on disk. Here are some possible scenarios for news configuration. 

You run news locally.

That is, you have no network connection, or no desire to run news over the network. In this case, you need to run C News or INN on your machine, and install a newsreader to read the news locally.

5.6. News and USENET


You have access to a TCP/IP network and an NNTP server. If your organization has an NNTP news

server set up, you can read and post news from your Linux machine by simply installing an NNTPbased newsreader. (Most newsreaders available can be configured to run locally or use NNTP). In this case, you do not need to install a news server or store news articles on your system. The newsreader will take care of reading and posting news over the network. Of course, you will need to have TCP/IP configured and have access to the network (see Section 5.3). 

You have access to a TCP/IP network but have no NNTP server. In this case, you can run an NNTP

news server on your Linux system. You can install either a local or an NNTP-based newsreader, and the server will store news articles on your system. In addition, you can configure the server to communicate with other NNTP news servers to transfer news articles. 

You want to transfer news using UUCP. If you have UUCP access (see Section 5.4), you can participate

in USENET as well. You will need to install a (local) news server and a news reader. In addition, you will need to configure your UUCP software to periodically transfer news articles to another nearby UUCP machine (known as your “news feed”). UUCP does not use NNTP to transfer news; simply, UUCP provides its own mechanism for transferring news articles.

The one downside of most news server and newsreader software is that it must be compiled by hand. Most of the news software does not use configuration files; instead, configuration options are determined at compile time. Most of the “standard” news software (available via anonymous FTP from in the directory /news) will compile out-of-the box on Linux. Necessary patches can be found on in /pub/Linux/system/Mail (which is, incidentally, also where mail software for Linux is found). Other news binaries for Linux may be found in this directory as well. For more information, refer to the Linux News HOWTO from in /pub/Linux/docs/HOWTO. Also, the LDP’s Linux Network Administrator’s Guide contains complete information on configuring news software for Linux. The book Managing UUCP and Usenet, by Tim O’Reilly and Grace Todino, is an excellent guide to setting up UUCP and news software. Also of interest is the USENET document “How to become a USENET site,” available from, in the directory /usenet/news.announce.newusers.

Appendix A

Sources of Linux Information
This appendix contains information on various sources of Linux information, such as online documents, books, and more. Many of these documents are available either in printed form, or electronically from the Internet or BBS systems. Many Linux distributions also include much of this documentation in the distribution itself, so after you have installed Linux these files may be present on your system.

A.1 Online Documents
These documents should be available on any of the Linux FTP archive sites (see Appendix C for a list). If you do not have direct access to FTP, you may be able to locate these documents on other online services (such as CompuServe, local BBS’s, and so on). If you have access to Internet mail, you can use the ftpmail service to receive these docucments. See Appendix C for more information. In particular, the following documents may be found on in the directory /pub/Linux/docs. Many sites mirror this directory; however, if you’re unable to locate a mirror site near you, this is a good one to fall back on. You can also access Linux files and documentation using gopher. Just point your gopher client to port 70 on, and follow the menus to the Linux archive. This is a good way to browse Linux documentation interactively. The Linux Frequently Asked Questions List The Linux Frequently Asked Questions list, or “FAQ”, is a list of common questions (and answers!) about Linux. This document is meant to provide a general source of information about Linux, common problems and solutions, and a list of other sources of information. Every new Linux user should read this document. It is available in a number of formats, including plain ASCII, PostScript, and Lout typesetter format. The Linux FAQ is maintained by Ian Jackson, The Linux META-FAQ The META-FAQ is a collection of “metaquestions” about Linux; that is, sources of information about the Linux system, and other general topics. It is a good starting place for the Internet user wishing to find more information about the system. It is maintained by Michael K. Johnson, The Linux INFO-SHEET 172

A.1. Online Documents


The Linux INFO-SHEET is a technical introduction to the Linux system. It gives an overview of the system’s features and available software, and also provides a list of other sources of Linux information. The format and content is similar in nature to the META-FAQ; incidentally, it is also maintained by Michael K. Johnson. The Linux Software Map The Linux Software Map is a list of many applications available for Linux, where to get them, who maintains them, and so forth. It is far from complete—to compile a complete list of Linux software would be nearly impossible. However, it does include many of the most popular Linux software packages. If you can’t find a particular application to suit your needs, the LSM is a good place to start. It is maintained by Lars Wirzenius, The Linux HOWTO Index The Linux HOWTOs are a collection of “how to” documents, each describing in detail a certain aspect of the Linux system. They are maintained by Matt Welsh, The HOWTO Index lists the HOWTO documents which are available (several of which are listed below). The Linux Installation HOWTO The Linux Installation HOWTO describes how to obtain and install a distribution of Linux, similar to the information presented in Chapter 2. The Linux Distribution HOWTO This document is a list of Linux distributions available via mail order and anonymous FTP. It also includes information on other Linux-related goodies and services. Appendix B contains a list of Linux vendors, many of which are listed in the Distribution HOWTO. The Linux XFree86 HOWTO This document describes how to install and configure the X Window System software for Linux. See the section “5.1” for more about the X Window System. The Linux Mail, News, and UUCP HOWTOs These three HOWTO documents describe configuration and setup of electronic mail, news, and UUCP communications on a Linux system. Because these three subjects are often intertwined, you may wish to read all three of these HOWTOs together. The Linux Hardware HOWTO This HOWTO contains an extensive list of hardware supported by Linux. While this list is far from complete, it should give you a general picture of which hardware devices should be supported by the system. The Linux SCSI HOWTO The Linux SCSI HOWTO is a complete guide to configuration and usage of SCSI devices under Linux, such as hard drives, tape drives and CD-ROM. The Linux NET-2-HOWTO The Linux NET-2-HOWTO describes installation, setup, and configuration of the “NET-2” TCP/IP software under Linux, including SLIP. If you want to use TCP/IP on your Linux system, this document is a must read. The Linux Ethernet HOWTO


Appendix A. Sources of Linux Information

Closely related to the NET-2-HOWTO, the Ethernet HOWTO describes the various Ethernet devices supported by Linux, and explains how to configure each of them for use by the Linux TCP/IP software. The Linux Printing HOWTO This document describes how to configure printing software under Linux, such as lpr. Configuration of printers and printing software under UNIX can be very confusing at times; this document sheds some light on the subject. Other online documents If you browse the docs subdirectory of any Linux FTP site, you’ll see many other documents which are not listed here: A slew of FAQ’s, interesting tidbits, and other important information. This miscellany is difficult to categorize here; if you don’t see what you’re looking for on the list above, just take a look at one of the Linux archive sites listed in Appendix C.

A.2 Linux Documentation Project Manuals
The Linux Documentation Project is working on developing a set of manuals and other documentation for Linux, including man pages. These manuals are in various stages of development, and any help revising and updating them is greatly appreciated. If you have questions about the LDP, please contact Matt Welsh ( These books are available via anonymous FTP from a number of Linux archive sites, including in the directory /pub/Linux/docs/LDP. A number of commercial distributors are selling printed copies of these books; in the future, you may be able to find the LDP manuals on the shelves of your local bookstore. Linux Installation and Getting Started, by Matt Welsh A new user’s guide for Linux, covering everything the new user needs to know to get started. You happen to hold this book in your hands. The Linux System Administrators’ Guide, by Lars Wirzenius This is a complete guide to running and configuring a Linux system. There are many issues relating to systems administration which are specific to Linux, such as needs for supporting a user community, filesystem maintenance, backups, and more. This guide covers them all. The Linux Network Administrators’ Guide, by Olaf Kirch An extensive and complete guide to networking under Linux, including TCP/IP, UUCP, SLIP, and more. This book is a very good read; it contains a wealth of information on many subjects, clarifying the many confusing aspects of network configuration. The Linux Kernel Hackers’ Guide, by Michael Johnson The gritty details of kernel hacking and development under Linux. Linux is unique in that the complete kernel source is available. This book opens the doors to developers who wish to add or modify features within the kernel. This guide also contains comprehensive coverage of kernel concepts and conventions used by Linux.

A.3. Books and Other Published Works


A.3 Books and Other Published Works
Linux Journal is a monthly magazine for and about the Linux community, written and produced by a number of Linux developers and enthusiasts. It is distributed worldwide, and is an excellent way to keep in touch with the dynamics of the Linux world, especially if you don’t have access to USENET news. At the time of this writing, subscriptions to Linux Journal are US$19/year in the United States, US$24 in Canada, and US$29 elsewhere. To subscribe, or for more information, write to Linux Journal, PO Box 85867, Seattle, WA, 98145-1867, USA, or call +1 206 527-3385. Their FAX number is +1 206 527-2806, and e-mail address is You can also find a Linux Journal FAQ and sample articles via anonymous FTP on in /pub/Linux/docs/linux-journal. As we have said, not many books have been published dealing with Linux specifically. However, if you are new to the world of UNIX, or want more information than is presented here, we suggest that you take a look at the following books which are available.

Title: Author:

Using UNIX
Learning the UNIX Operating System Grace Todino & John Strang O’Reilly and Associates, 1987 0-937175-16-1, $9.00

Publisher: ISBN:

A good introductory book on learning the UNIX operating system. Most of the information should be applicable to Linux as well. I suggest reading this book if you’re new to UNIX and really want to get started with using your new system.

Title: Author: Publisher: ISBN:

Learning the vi Editor Linda Lamb O’Reilly and Associates, 1990 0-937175-67-6, $21.95

This is a book about the vi editor, a powerful text editor found on every UNIX system in the world. It’s often important to know and be able to use vi, because you won’t always have access to a “real” editor such as Emacs.

Title: Author:

Systems Administration
Essential System Administration Æleen Frisch O’Reilly and Associates, 1991 0-937175-80-3, $29.95

Publisher: ISBN:

From the O’Reilly and Associates Catalog, “Like any other multi-user system, UNIX requires some care and feeding. Essential System Administration tells you how. This book strips away the myth and confusion surrounding this important topic and provides a compact, manageable


Appendix A. Sources of Linux Information

introduction to the tasks faced by anyone responsible for a UNIX system.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Title: Author: Publisher: ISBN:

TCP/IP Network Administration Craig Hunt O’Reilly and Associates, 1990 0-937175-82-X, $24.95

A complete guide to setting up and running a TCP/IP network. While this book is not Linuxspecific, roughly 90% of it is applicable to Linux. Coupled with the Linux NET-2-HOWTO and Linux Network Administrator’s Guide, this is a great book discussing the concepts and technical details of managing TCP/IP.

Title: Author: Publisher: ISBN:

Managing UUCP and Usenet Tim O’Reilly and Grace Todino O’Reilly and Associates, 1991 0-937175-93-5, $24.95

This book covers how to install and configure UUCP networking software, including configuration for USENET news. If you’re at all interested in using UUCP or accessing USENET news on your system, this book is a must-read.

Title: Author:

The X Window System
The X Window System: A User’s Guide Niall Mansfield Addison-Wesley 0-201-51341-2, ??

Publisher: ISBN:

A complete tutorial and reference guide to using the X Window System. If you installed X windows on your Linux system, and want to know how to get the most out of it, you should read this book. Unlike some windowing systems, a lot of the power provided by X is not obvious at first sight.

Title: Author:

The C Programming Language Brian Kernighan and Dennis Ritchie Prentice-Hall, 1988 0-13-110362-8, $25.00

Publisher: ISBN:

This book is a must-have for anyone wishing to do C programming on a UNIX system. (Or any system, for that matter.) While this book is not obstensibly UNIX-specific, it is quite

A.3. Books and Other Published Works


applicable to programming C under UNIX.

Title: Author: Publisher: ISBN:

The Unix Programming Environment Brian Kernighan and Bob Pike Prentice-Hall, 1984 0-13-937681-X, ??

An overview to programming under the UNIX system. Covers all of the tools of the trade; a good read to get acquainted with the somewhat amorphous UNIX programming world.

Title: Author: Publisher: ISBN:

Advanced Programming in the UNIX Environment W. Richard Stevens Addison-Wesley 0-201-56317-7, $50.00

This mighty tome contains everything that you need to know to program UNIX at the system level—file I/O, process control, interprocess communication, signals, terminal I/O, the works. This book focuses on various UNI standards, including POSIX.1, which Linux mostly adheres to.

Title: Author:

Kernel Hacking
The Design of the UNIX Operating System Maurice J. Bach Prentice-Hall, 1986 0-13-201799-7, ??

Publisher: ISBN:

This book covers the algorithms and internals of the UNIX kernel. It is not specific to any particular kernel, although it does lean towards System V-isms. This is the best place to start if you want to understand the inner tickings of the Linux system.

Title: Author: Publisher: ISBN:

The Magic Garden Explained Berny Goodheart and James Cox Prentice-Hall, 1994 0-13-098138-9, ??

This book describes the System V R4 kernel in detail. Unlike Bach’s book, which concentrates heavily on the algorithms which make the kernel tick, this book presents the SVR4 implementation on a more technical level. Although Linux and SVR4 are distant cousins, this book can give you much insight into the workings of an actual UNIX kernel implementation. This is also a very modern book on the UNIX kernel—published in 1994.

Appendix B

Linux Vendor List
This appendix lists contact information for a number of vendors which sell Linux on diskette, tape, and CD-ROM. Many of them provide Linux documentation, support, and other services as well. This is by no means a complete listing; if you purchased this book in printed form, it’s very possible that the vendor or publishing company also provides Linux software and services. The author makes no guarantee as to the accuracy of any of the information listed in this Appendix. This information is included here only as a service to readers, not as an advertisement for any particular organization. Fintronic Linux Systems 1360 Willow Rd., Suite 205 Menlo Park, CA 94025 USA Tel: +1 415 325-4474 Fax: +1 415 325-4908 InfoMagic, Inc. PO Box 30370 Flagstaff, AZ 86003-0370 USA Tel: +1 800 800-6613, +1 602 526-9565 Fax: +1 602 526-9573 Lasermoon Ltd 2a Beaconsfield Road, Fareham, Hants, England. PO16 0QB. Tel: +44 (0) 329 826444. Fax: +44 (0) 329 825936. Linux Journal P.O. Box 85867 Seattle, WA 98145-1867 USA Tel: +1 206 527-3385 Fax: +1 206 527-2806 178


Linux Systems Labs 18300 Tara Drive Clinton Twp, MI 48036 USA Tel: +1 313 954-2829, +1 800 432-0556 Fax: +1 313 954-2806 Morse Telecommunication, Inc. 26 East Park Avenue, Suite 240 Long Beach, NY 11561 USA Tel: +1 800 60-MORSE Fax: +1 516 889-8665 Nascent Technology Linux from Nascent CDROM P.O. Box 60669 Sunnyvale CA 94088-0669 USA Tel: +1 408 737-9500 Fax: +1 408 241-9390 Red Hat Software P.O. Box 4325 Chapel Hill, NC 27515 USA Tel: +1 919 309-9560 SW Technology 251 West Renner Suite 229 Richardson, TX 75080 USA Tel: +1 214 907-0871 Takelap Systems Ltd. The Reddings, Court Robin Lane, Llangwm, Usk, Gwent, United Kingdom NP5 1ET. Tel: +44 (0)291 650357 Fax: +44 (0)291 650500 Trans-Ameritech Enterprises, Inc. 2342A Walsh Ave Santa Clara, CA 95051 USA Tel: +1 408 727-3883 Unifix Software GmbH Postfach 4918


Appendix B. Linux Vendor List

D-38039 Braunschweig Germany Tel: +49 (0)531 515161 Fax: +49 (0)531 515162 Yggdrasil Computing, Incorporated 4880 Stevens Creek Blvd., Suite 205 San Jose, CA 95129-1034 USA Tel: +1 800 261-6630, +1 408 261-6630 Fax: +1 408 261-6631

Appendix C

FTP Tutorial and Site List
FTP (“File Transfer Protocol”) is the set of programs that are used for transferring files between systems on the Internet. Most UNIX, VMS, and MS-DOS systems on the Internet have a program called ftp which you use to transfer these files, and if you have Internet access, the best way to download the Linux software is by using ftp. This appendix covers basic ftp usage—of course, there are many more functions and uses of ftp than are given here. At the end of this appendix there is a listing of FTP sites where Linux software can be found. Also, if you don’t have direct Internet access but are able to exchange electronic mail with the Internet, information on using the ftpmail service is included below. If you’re using an MS-DOS, UNIX, or VMS system to download files from the Internet, then ftp is a command-driven program. However, there are other implementations of ftp out there, such as the Macintosh version (called Fetch) with a nice menu-driven interface, which is quite self-explanatory. Even if you’re not using the command-driven version of ftp, the information given here should help. ftp can be used to both upload (send) or download (receive) files from other Internet sites. In most situations, you’re going to be downloading software. On the Internet there are a large number of publiclyavailable FTP archive sites, machines which allow anyone to ftp to them and download free software. One such archive site is, which has a lot of Sun Microsystems software, and acts as one of the main Linux sites. In addition, FTP archive sites mirror software to each other—that is, software uploaded to one site will be automatically copied over to a number of other sites. So don’t be surprised if you see the exact same files on many different archive sites.


Starting ftp

Note that in the example “screens” printed below I’m only showing the most important information, and what you see may differ. Also, commands in italics represent commands that you type; everything else is screen output. To start ftp and connect to a site, simply use the command
ftp hhostnamei

where hostname is the name of the site you are connecting to. For example, to connect to the mythical site we can use the command 181




Appendix C. FTP Tutorial and Site List


C.2 Logging In
When ftp starts up we should see something like
Connected to 220 FTPD ready at 15 Dec 1992 08:20:42 EDT Name (

Here, ftp is asking us to give the username that we want to login as on The default here is mdw, which is my username on the system I’m using FTP from. Since I don’t have an account on I can’t login as myself. Instead, to access publicly-available software on an FTP site you login as anonymous, and give your Internet e-mail address (if you have one) as the password. So, we would type
Name ( Password: Download pizza in 30 cycles or less anonymous

331-Guest login ok, send e-mail address as password. 230- Welcome to 230- Virtual Pizza Delivery[tm]: 230- or you get it FREE! ftp>

Of course, you should give your e-mail address, instead of mine, and it won’t echo to the screen as you’re typing it (since it’s technically a “password”). ftp should allow us to login and we’ll be ready to download software.

C.3 Poking Around
Okay, we’re in. ftp> is our prompt, and the ftp program is waiting for commands. There are a few basic commands you need to know about. First, the commands
ls hfilei

dir hfilei

both give file listings (where file is an optional argument specifying a particular filename to list). The difference is that ls usually gives a short listing and dir gives a longer listing (that is, with more information on the sizes of the files, dates of modification, and so on). The command
cd hdirectoryi

h i

will move to the given directory (just like the cd command on UNIX or MS-DOS systems). You can use the command

C.3. Poking Around



to change to the parent directory1 . The command
help hcommandi

will give help on the given ftp command (such as ls or cd). If no command is specified, ftp will list all of the available commands. If we type dir at this point we’ll see an initial directory listing of where we are.
ftp> dir 200 PORT command successful. 150 Opening ASCII mode data connection for /bin/ls. total 1337



dr-xr-xr-x 2 root drwxr-xr-x 2 root drwxr-xr-x 2 root drwxr-xr-x 19 root drwxrwx-wx 4 root drwxr-xr-x 3 root 226 Transfer complete.

wheel wheel wheel wheel ftp-admi wheel

512 512 512 1024 1024 512

Aug Aug Jan Jan Feb Mar

13 13 25 27 6 11

13:55 13:58 17:35 21:39 22:10 1992

bin dev etc pub uploads usr

921 bytes received in 0.24 seconds (3.7 Kbytes/s) ftp>

Each of these entries is a directory, not an individual file which we can download (specified by the d in the first column of the listing). On most FTP archive sites, the publicly available software is under the directory /pub, so let’s go there.
ftp> cd pub ftp> dir 200 PORT command successful. 150 ASCII data connection for /bin/ls (,4525) (0 bytes). total 846

-rw-r--r--r--r--r--rw-r--r--r--r--r--rw-r--r--rw-r--r--rw-rw-rw-r--r--r--rw-r--r-drwxr-xr-x -rw-r--r-1 The

1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 1

root 3807 539 65534 root 432 615 root root 2195 root

staff staff staff 65534 other staff staff wheel staff staff staff

1433 15586 52664 56456 2013041 41831 50315 12168 7035 512 5593

Jul May Feb Dec Jul Jan Apr Dec Aug Mar Jul

12 1988 README 13 1991 US-DOMAIN.TXT.2 20 1991 altenergy.avail 17 1990 ataxx.tar.Z 3 1991 gesyps.tar.Z 30 1989 gnexe.arc 16 1992 linpack.tar.Z 25 1990 localtime.o 27 1986 manualslist.tblms 10 00:48 mdw 19 1988 t.out.h

directory above the current one.


Appendix C. FTP Tutorial and Site List

226 ASCII Transfer complete. 2443 bytes received in 0.35 seconds (6.8 Kbytes/s) ftp>

Here we can see a number of (interesting?) files, one of which is called README, which we should download (most FTP sites have a README file in the /pub directory).

C.4 Downloading files
Before downloading files, there are a few things that you need to take care of. 

Turn on hash mark printing. Hash marks are printed to the screen as files are being transferred; they
To turn on hash mark printing, give the command hash.
ftp> hash Hash mark printing on (8192 bytes/hash mark). ftp>

let you know how far along the transfer is, and that your connection hasn’t hung up (so you don’t sit for 20 minutes, thinking that you’re still downloading a file). In general, a hash mark appears as a pound sign (#), and one is printed for every 1024 or 8192 bytes transferred, depending on your system. 

Determine the type of file which you are downloading.

As far as FTP is concerned, files come in two flavors: binary and text. Most of the files which you’ll be downloading are binary files: that is, programs, compressed files, archive files, and so on. However, many files (such as READMEs and so on) are text files. Why does the file type matter? Only because on some systems (such as MS-DOS systems), certain characters in a text file, such as carriage returns, need to be converted so that the file will be readable. While transferring in binary mode, no conversion is done—the file is simply transferred byte after byte. The commands bin and ascii set the transfer mode to binary and text, respectively. When in doubt, always use binary mode to transfer files. If you try to transfer a binary file in text mode, you’ll corrupt the file and it will be unusable. (This is one of the most common mistakes made when using FTP.) However, you can use text mode for plain text files (whose filenames often end in .txt). For our example, we’re downloading the file README, which is most likely a text file, so we use the command
ftp> ascii 200 Type set to A. ftp> 

Set your local directory.

Your local directory is the directory on your system where you want the downloaded files to end up. Whereas the cd command changes the remote directory (on the remote machine which you’re FTPing to), the lcd command changes the local directory. For example, to set the local directory to /home/db/mdw/tmp, use the command
ftp> lcd /home/db/mdw/tmp Local directory now /home/db/mdw/tmp ftp>

C.5. Quitting FTP


Now you’re ready to actually download the file. The command
get hremote-namei hlocal-namei

is used for this, where remote-name is the name of the file on the remote machine, and local-name is the name that you wish to give the file on your local machine. The local-name argument is optional; by default, the local filename is the same as the remote one. However, if for example you’re downloading the file README, and you already have a README in your local directory, you’ll want to give a different local-filename so that the first one isn’t overwritten.









For our example, to download the file README, we simply use
ftp> get README 200 PORT command successful. 150 ASCII data connection for README (,4527) (1433 bytes). # 226 ASCII Transfer complete. local: ftp> README remote: README 1493 bytes received in 0.03 seconds (49 Kbytes/s)


Quitting FTP

To end your FTP session, simply use the command

The command

can be used to close the connection with the current remote FTP site; the open command can then be used to start a session with another site (without quitting the FTP program altogether).
ftp> close 221 Goodbye. ftp> quit


Using ftpmail

ftpmail is a service which allows you to obtain files from FTP archive sites via Internet electronic mail. If you don’t have direct Internet access, but are able to send mail to the Internet (from a service such as CompuServe, for example), ftpmail is a good way to get files from FTP archive sites. Unfortunately, ftpmail can be slow, especially when sending large jobs. Before attempting to download large amounts of software using ftpmail, be sure that your mail spool will be able to handle the incoming traffic. Many systems keep quotas on incoming electronic mail, and may delete your account if your mail exceeds this quota. Just use common sense., one of the major Linux FTP archive sites, is home to an ftpmail server. To use this service, send electronic mail to


Appendix C. FTP Tutorial and Site List

with a message body containing only the word:

This will send you back a list of ftpmail commands and a brief tutorial on using the system. For example, to get a listing of Linux files found on, send mail to the above address containing the text
open cd /pub/Linux dir quit

You may use the ftpmail service to connect to any FTP archive site; you are not limited to The next section lists a number of Linux FTP archives.

C.7 Linux FTP Site List
Table C.1 is a listing of the most well-known FTP archive sites which carry the Linux software. Keep in mind that many other sites mirror these, and more than likely you’ll run into Linux on a number of sites not on this list.
Site name IP Address Directory /pub/linux /pub/Linux /pub/OS/Linux /pub/linux /pub/linux /pub/Linux /pub/linux /pub/Linux /pub/linux /pub/OS/Linux /systems/unix/linux /systems/linux /pub/linux /pub/os/linux /pub/OS/linux

Table C.1: Linux FTP Sites,, and are the “home sites” for the Linux software, where most of the new software is uploaded. Most of the other sites on the list mirror some combination of these three. To reduce network traffic, choose a site that is geographically closest to you.

C.8. Linux BBS List



Linux BBS List

Printed here is a list of bulletin board systems (BBS) which carry Linux software. Zane Healy ( maintains this list. If you know of or run a BBS which provides Linux software which isn’t on this list, you should get in touch with him. The Linux community is no longer an Internet-only society. In fact, it is now estimated that the majority of Linux users don’t have Internet access. Therefore, it is especially important that BBSs continue to provide and support Linux to users worldwide.


United States

Citrus Grove Public Access, 916-381-5822. ZyXEL 16.8/14.4 Sacramento, CA. Internet: Higher Powered BBS, 408-737-7040. ? CA. RIME ->HIGHER hip-hop, 408-773-0768. 19.2k Sunnyvale, CA. USENET access hip-hop, 408-773-0768. 38.4k Sunnyvale, CA. Unix Online, 707-765-4631. 9600 Petaluma, CA. USENET access The Outer Rim, 805-252-6342. Santa Clarita, CA. Programmer’s Exchange, 818-444-3507. El Monte, CA. Fidonet Programmer’s Exchange, 818-579-9711. El Monte, CA. Micro Oasis, 510-895-5985. 14.4k San Leandro, CA. Test Engineering, 916-928-0504. Sacramento, CA. Slut Club, 813-975-2603. USR/DS 16.8k HST/14.4K Tampa, FL. Fidonet 1:377/42 Lost City Atlantis, 904-727-9334. 14.4k Jacksonville, FL. FidoNet Aquired Knowledge, 305-720-3669. 14.4k v.32bis Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Internet, UUCP The Computer Mechanic, 813-544-9345. 14.4k v.32bis St. Petersburg, FL. Fidonet, Sailnet, MXBBSnet AVSync, 404-320-6202. Atlanta, GA. Information Overload, 404-471-1549. 19.2k ZyXEL Atlanta, GA. Fidonet 1:133/308 Atlanta Radio Club, 404-850-0546. 9600 Atlanta, GA. Rebel BBS, 208-887-3937. 9600 Boise, ID. Rocky Mountain HUB, 208-232-3405. 38.4k Pocatello, ID. Fionet, SLNet, CinemaNet EchoMania, 618-233-1659. 14.4k HST Belleville, IL. Fidonet 1:2250/1, f’req LINUX UNIX USER, 708-879-8633. 14.4k Batavia, IL. USENET, Internet mail PBS BBS, 309-663-7675. 2400 Bloomington, IL. Third World, 217-356-9512. 9600 v.32 IL. Digital Underground, 812-941-9427. 14.4k v.32bis IN. USENET The OA Southern Star, 504-885-5928. New Orleans, LA. Fidonet 1:396/1 Channel One, 617-354-8873. Boston, MA. RIME ->CHANNEL VWIS Linux Support BBS, 508-793-1570. 9600 Worcester, MA. WayStar BBS, 508-481-7147. 14.4k V.32bis USR/HST Marlborough, MA. Fidonet 1:333/14 WayStar BBS, 508-481-7293. 14.4k V.32bis USR/HST Marlborough, MA. Fidonet 1:333/15 WayStar BBS, 508-480-8371. 9600 V.32bis or 14.4k USR/HST Marlborough, MA. Fidonet 1:333/16 Programmer’s Center, 301-596-1180. 9600 Columbia, MD. RIME Brodmann’s Place, 301-843-5732. 14.4k Waldorf, MD. RIME ->BRODMANN, Fidonet Main Frame, 301-654-2554. 9600 Gaithersburg, MD. RIME ->MAINFRAME 1 Zero Cybernet BBS, 301-589-4064. MD. WaterDeep BBS, 410-614-2190. 9600 v.32 Baltimore, MD. Harbor Heights BBS, 207-663-0391. 14.4k Boothbay Harbor, ME.


Appendix C. FTP Tutorial and Site List

Part-Time BBS, 612-544-5552. 14.4k v.32bis Plymouth, MN. The Sole Survivor, 314-846-2702. 14.4k v.32bis St. Louis, MO. WWIVnet, WWIVlink, etc MAC’s Place, 919-891-1111. 16.8k, DS modem Dunn, NC. RIME ->MAC Digital Designs, 919-423-4216. 14.4k, 2400 Hope Mills, NC. Flite Line, 402-421-2434. Lincoln, NE. RIME ->FLITE, DS modem Legend, 402-438-2433. Lincoln, NE. DS modem MegaByte Mansion, 402-551-8681. 14.4 V,32bis Omaha, NE. Mycroft QNX, 201-858-3429. 14.4k NJ. Steve Leon’s, 201-886-8041. 14.4k Cliffside Park, NJ. Dwight-Englewood BBS, 201-569-3543. 9600 v.42 Englewood, NJ. USENET The Mothership Cnection, 908-940-1012. 38.4k Franklin Park, NJ. The Laboratory, 212-927-4980. 16.8k HST, 14.4k v.32bis NY. FidoNet 1:278/707 Valhalla, 516-321-6819. 14.4k HST v.32 Babylon, NY. Fidonet (1:107/255), UseNet ( Intermittent Connection, 503-344-9838. 14.4k HST v.32bis Eugene, OR. 1:152/35 Horizon Systems, 216-899-1086. USR v.32 Westlake, OH. Horizon Systems, 216-899-1293. 2400 Westlake, OH. Centre Programmers Unit, 814-353-0566. 14.4k V.32bis/HST Bellefonte, PA. Allentown Technical, 215-432-5699. 9600 v.32/v.42bis Allentown, PA. WWIVNet 2578 Tactical-Operations, 814-861-7637. 14.4k V32bis/V42bis State College, PA. Fidonet 1:129/226, tac ops.UUCP North Shore BBS, 713-251-9757. Houston, TX. The Annex, 512-575-1188. 9600 HST TX. Fidonet 1:3802/217 The Annex, 512-575-0667. 2400 TX. Fidonet 1:3802/216 Walt Fairs, 713-947-9866. Houston, TX. FidoNet 1:106/18 CyberVille, 817-249-6261. 9600 TX. FidoNet 1:130/78 splat-ooh, 512-578-2720. 14.4k Victoria, TX. splat-ooh, 512-578-5436. 14.4k Victoria, TX. alaree, 512-575-5554. 14.4k Victoria, TX. Ronin BBS, 214-938-2840. 14.4 HST/DS Waxahachie (Dallas), TX. RIME, Intelec, Smartnet, etc. VTBBS, 703-231-7498. Blacksburg, VA. MBT, 703-953-0640. Blacksburg, VA. NOVA, 703-323-3321. 9600 Annandale, VA. Fidonet 1:109/305 Rem-Jem, 703-503-9410. 9600 Fairfax, VA. Enlightend, 703-370-9528. 14.4k Alexandria, VA. Fidonet 1:109/615 My UnKnown BBS, 703-690-0669. 14.4k V.32bis VA. Fidonet 1:109/370 Georgia Peach BBS, 804-727-0399. 14.4k Newport News, VA. Top Hat BBS, 206-244-9661. 14.4k WA. Fidonet 1:343/40, 206-838-7456. 19.2k Federal Way, WA. USENET

C.10 Outside of the United States
Galaktische Archive, 0043-2228303804. 16.8 ZYX Wien, Austria. Fidonet 2:310/77 (19:00-7:00) Linux-Support-Oz, +61-2-418-8750. v.32bis 14.4k Sydney, NSW, Australia. Internet/Usenet, E-Mail/News 500cc Formula 1 BBS, +61-2-550-4317. V.32bis Sydney, NSW, Australia. Magic BBS, 403-569-2882. 14.4k HST/Telebit/MNP Calgary, AB, Canada. Internet/Usenet Logical Solutions, 299-9900 through 9911. 2400 AB, Canada. Logical Solutions, 299-9912, 299-9913. 14.4k Canada.

C.10. Outside of the United States


Logical Solutions, 299-9914 through 9917. 16.8k v.32bis Canada. V.A.L.I.S., 403-478-1281. 14.4k v.32bis Edmonton, AB, Canada. USENET The Windsor Download, (519)-973-9330. v32bis 14.4 ON, Canada. r-node, 416-249-5366. 2400 Toronto, ON, Canada. USENET Synapse, 819-246-2344. 819-561-5268 Gatineau, QC, Canada. RIME->SYNAPSE Radio Free Nyongwa, 514-524-0829. v.32bis ZyXEL Montreal, QC, Canada. USENET, Fidonet DataComm1, +49.531.132-16. 14.4 HST Braunschweig, NDS, Germany. Fido 2:240/550, LinuxNet DataComm2, +49.531.132-17. 14.4 HST Braunschweig, NDS, Germany. Fido 2:240/551, LinuxNet Linux Server /Braukmann, +49.441.592-963. 16.8 ZYX Oldenburg, NDS, Germany. Fido 2:241/2012, LinuxNet MM’s Spielebox, +49.5323.3515. 14.4 ZYX Clausthal-Zfd., NDS, Germany. Fido 2:241/3420 MM’s Spielebox, +49.5323.3516. 16.8 ZYX Clausthal-Zfd., NDS, Germany. Fido 2:241/3421 MM’s Spielebox, +49.5323.3540. 9600 Clausthal-Zfd., NDS, Germany. Fido 2:241/3422 Bit-Company / J. Bartz, +49.5323.2539. 16.8 ZYX MO Clausthal-Zfd., NDS, Germany. Fido 2:241/3430 Fractal Zone BBS /Maass, +49.721.863-066. 16.8 ZYX Karlsruhe, BW, Germany. Fido 2:241/7462 Hipposoft /M. Junius, +49.241.875-090. 14.4 HST Aachen, NRW, Germany. Fido 2:242/6, 4:30-7,8-23:30 UB-HOFF /A. Hoffmann, +49.203.584-155. 19.2 ZYX+ Duisburg, Germany. Fido 2:242/37 FORMEL-Box, +49.4191.2846. 16.8 ZYX Kaltenkirchen, SHL, Germany. Fido 2:242/329, LinuxNet (6:0020:00) BOX/2, +49.89.601-96-77. 16.8 ZYX Muenchen, BAY, Germany. Fido 2:246/147, info magic: LINUX (2224,0:30-2,5-8) Die Box Passau 2+1, +49.851.555-96. 14.4 V32b Passau, BAY, Germany. Fido 2:246/200 (8:00-3:30) Die Box Passau Line 1, +49.851.753-789. 16.8 ZYX Passau, BAY, Germany. Fido 2:246/2000 (8:00-3:30) Die Box Passau Line 3, +49.851.732-73. 14.4 HST Passau, BAY, Germany. Fido 2:246/202 (5:00-3:30) Die Box Passau ISDN, +49.851.950-464. 38.4/64k V.110/X.75 Passau, BAY, Germany. Fido 2:246/201 (8:0024:00,1:00-3:30) Public Domain Kiste, +49.30.686-62-50. 16.8 ZYX BLN, Germany. Fido 2:2403/17 CS-Port / C. Schmidt, +49.30.491-34-18. 19.2 Z19 Berlin, BLN, Germany. Fido 2:2403/13 BigBrother / R. Gmelch, +49.30.335-63-28. 16.8 Z16 Berlin, BLN, Germany. Fido 2:2403/36.4 (16-23:00) CRYSTAL BBS, +49.7152.240-86. 14.4 HST Leonberg, BW, Germany. Fido 2:2407/3, LinuxNet Echoblaster BBS #1, +49.7142.213-92. HST/V32b Bietigheim, BW, Germany. Fido 2:2407/4, LinuxNet (7-19,23-01h Echoblaster BBS #2, +49.7142.212-35. V32b Bietigheim, BW, Germany. Fido 2:2407/40, LinuxNet (20h-6h) LinuxServer / P. Berger, +49.711.756-275. 16.8 HST Stuttgart, BW, Germany. Fido 2:2407/34, LinuxNet (8:3-17:5,19-2) Rising Sun BBS, +49.7147.3845. 16.8 ZYX Sachsenheim, BW, Germany. Fido 2:2407/41, LinuxNet (5:302:30), +49.421.870-532. 14.4 D 2800 Bremen, HB, Germany., +49.421.396-57-62. ZYX HB, Germany., login as gast Fiffis Inn BBS, +49-89-5701353. 14.4-19.2 Munich, Germany. FidoNet 2:246/69,Internet,USENET,LinuxNet The Field of Inverse Chaos, +358 0 506 1836. 14.4k v32bis/HST Helsinki, Finland. USENET; Modula BBS, +33-1 4043 0124. HST 14.4 v.32bis Paris, France. Modula BBS, +33-1 4530 1248. HST 14.4 V.32bis Paris, France. STDIN BBS, +33-72375139. v.32bis Lyon, Laurent Cas, France. FidoNet 2:323/8 Le Lien, +33-72089879. HST 14.4/V32bis Lyon, Pascal Valette, France. FidoNet 2:323/5 Basil, +33-1-44670844. v.32bis Paris, Laurent Chemla, France. Cafard Naum, +33-51701632. v.32bis Nantes, Yann Dupont, France. DUBBS, +353-1-6789000. 19.2 ZyXEL Dublin, Ireland. Fidonet 2:263/167 Galway Online, +353-91-27454. 14.4k v32b Galway, Ireland. RIME,


Appendix C. FTP Tutorial and Site List

Nemesis’ Dungeon, +353-1-324755 or 326900. 14.4k v32bis Dublin, Ireland. Fidonet 2:263/150 nonsolosoftware, +39 51 6140772. v.32bis, v.42bis Italy. Fidonet 2:332/407 nonsolosoftware, +39 51 432904. ZyXEL 19.2k Italy. Fidonet 2:332/417 Advanced Systems, +64-9-379-3365. ZyXEL 16.8k Auckland, New Zealand. Singet, INTLnet, Fidonet Thunderball Cave, 472567018. Norway. RIME ->CAVE DownTown BBS Lelystad, +31-3200-48852. 14.4k Lelystad, Netherlands. Fido 2:512/155, UUCP MUGNET Intl-Cistron BBS, +31-1720-42580. 38.4k Alphen a/d Rijn, Netherlands. UUCP The Controversy, (65)560-6040. 14.4k V.32bis/HST Singapore. Fidonet 6:600/201 Pats System, +27-12-333-2049. 14.4k v.32bis/HST Pretoria, South Africa. Fidonet 5:71-1/36 Gunship BBS, +46-31-693306. 14.4k HST DS Gothenburg Sweden. Baboon BBS, +41-62-511726. 19.2k Switzerland. Fido 2:301/580 and /581 The Purple Tentacle, +44-734-590990. HST/V32bis Reading, UK. Fidonet 2:252/305 A6 BBS, +44-582-460273. 14.4k Herts, UK. Fidonet 2:440/111 On the Beach, +444-273-600996. 14.4k/16.8k Brighton, UK. Fidonet 2:441/122

Appendix D

The GNU General Public License
Printed below is the GNU General Public License (the GPL or copyleft), under which Linux is licensed. It is reproduced here to clear up some of the confusion about Linux’s copyright status—Linux is not shareware, and it is not in the public domain. The bulk of the Linux kernel is copyright c 1993 by Linus Torvalds, and other software and parts of the kernel are copyrighted by their authors. Thus, Linux is copyrighted, however, you may redistribute it under the terms of the GPL printed below.

Copyright c 1989, 1991 Free Software Foundation, Inc. 675 Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies of this license document, but changing it is not allowed.

Version 2, June 1991



The licenses for most software are designed to take away your freedom to share and change it. By contrast, the GNU General Public License is intended to guarantee your freedom to share and change free software– to make sure the software is free for all its users. This General Public License applies to most of the Free Software Foundation’s software and to any other program whose authors commit to using it. (Some other Free Software Foundation software is covered by the GNU Library General Public License instead.) You can apply it to your programs, too. When we speak of free software, we are referring to freedom, not price. Our General Public Licenses are designed to make sure that you have the freedom to distribute copies of free software (and charge for this service if you wish), that you receive source code or can get it if you want it, that you can change the software or use pieces of it in new free programs; and that you know you can do these things. To protect your rights, we need to make restrictions that forbid anyone to deny you these rights or to ask you to surrender the rights. These restrictions translate to certain responsibilities for you if you distribute copies of the software, or if you modify it. For example, if you distribute copies of such a program, whether gratis or for a fee, you must give the recipients all the rights that you have. You must make sure that they, too, receive or can get the source code. And you must show them these terms so they know their rights. We protect your rights with two steps: (1) copyright the software, and (2) offer you this license which gives you legal permission to copy, distribute and/or modify the software. 191


Appendix D. The GNU General Public License

Also, for each author’s protection and ours, we want to make certain that everyone understands that there is no warranty for this free software. If the software is modified by someone else and passed on, we want its recipients to know that what they have is not the original, so that any problems introduced by others will not reflect on the original authors’ reputations. Finally, any free program is threatened constantly by software patents. We wish to avoid the danger that redistributors of a free program will individually obtain patent licenses, in effect making the program proprietary. To prevent this, we have made it clear that any patent must be licensed for everyone’s free use or not licensed at all. The precise terms and conditions for copying, distribution and modification follow.

D.2 Terms and Conditions for Copying, Distribution, and Modification
0. This License applies to any program or other work which contains a notice placed by the copyright holder saying it may be distributed under the terms of this General Public License. The “Program”, below, refers to any such program or work, and a “work based on the Program” means either the Program or any derivative work under copyright law: that is to say, a work containing the Program or a portion of it, either verbatim or with modifications and/or translated into another language. (Hereinafter, translation is included without limitation in the term “modification”.) Each licensee is addressed as “you”. Activities other than copying, distribution and modification are not covered by this License; they are outside its scope. The act of running the Program is not restricted, and the output from the Program is covered only if its contents constitute a work based on the Program (independent of having been made by running the Program). Whether that is true depends on what the Program does. 1. You may copy and distribute verbatim copies of the Program’s source code as you receive it, in any medium, provided that you conspicuously and appropriately publish on each copy an appropriate copyright notice and disclaimer of warranty; keep intact all the notices that refer to this License and to the absence of any warranty; and give any other recipients of the Program a copy of this License along with the Program. You may charge a fee for the physical act of transferring a copy, and you may at your option offer warranty protection in exchange for a fee. 2. You may modify your copy or copies of the Program or any portion of it, thus forming a work based on the Program, and copy and distribute such modifications or work under the terms of Section 1 above, provided that you also meet all of these conditions: a. You must cause the modified files to carry prominent notices stating that you changed the files and the date of any change. b. You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third parties under the terms of this License. c. If the modified program normally reads commands interactively when run, you must cause it, when started running for such interactive use in the most ordinary way, to print or display an announcement including an appropriate copyright notice and a notice that there is no warranty (or else, saying that you provide a warranty) and that users may redistribute the program under these conditions, and telling the user how to view a copy of this License. (Exception: if the Program itself is interactive but does not normally print such an announcement, your work based on the Program is not required to print an announcement.)

D.2. Terms and Conditions for Copying, Distribution, and Modification


These requirements apply to the modified work as a whole. If identifiable sections of that work are not derived from the Program, and can be reasonably considered independent and separate works in themselves, then this License, and its terms, do not apply to those sections when you distribute them as separate works. But when you distribute the same sections as part of a whole which is a work based on the Program, the distribution of the whole must be on the terms of this License, whose permissions for other licensees extend to the entire whole, and thus to each and every part regardless of who wrote it. Thus, it is not the intent of this section to claim rights or contest your rights to work written entirely by you; rather, the intent is to exercise the right to control the distribution of derivative or collective works based on the Program. In addition, mere aggregation of another work not based on the Program with the Program (or with a work based on the Program) on a volume of a storage or distribution medium does not bring the other work under the scope of this License. 3. You may copy and distribute the Program (or a work based on it, under Section 2) in object code or executable form under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above provided that you also do one of the following: a. Accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable source code, which must be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or, b. Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete machinereadable copy of the corresponding source code, to be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or, c. Accompany it with the information you received as to the offer to distribute corresponding source code. (This alternative is allowed only for noncommercial distribution and only if you received the program in object code or executable form with such an offer, in accord with Subsection b above.) The source code for a work means the preferred form of the work for making modifications to it. For an executable work, complete source code means all the source code for all modules it contains, plus any associated interface definition files, plus the scripts used to control compilation and installation of the executable. However, as a special exception, the source code distributed need not include anything that is normally distributed (in either source or binary form) with the major components (compiler, kernel, and so on) of the operating system on which the executable runs, unless that component itself accompanies the executable. If distribution of executable or object code is made by offering access to copy from a designated place, then offering equivalent access to copy the source code from the same place counts as distribution of the source code, even though third parties are not compelled to copy the source along with the object code. 4. You may not copy, modify, sublicense, or distribute the Program except as expressly provided under this License. Any attempt otherwise to copy, modify, sublicense or distribute the Program is void, and will automatically terminate your rights under this License. However, parties who have received copies, or rights, from you under this License will not have their licenses terminated so long as such parties remain in full compliance. 5. You are not required to accept this License, since you have not signed it. However, nothing else grants you permission to modify or distribute the Program or its derivative works. These actions


Appendix D. The GNU General Public License

are prohibited by law if you do not accept this License. Therefore, by modifying or distributing the Program (or any work based on the Program), you indicate your acceptance of this License to do so, and all its terms and conditions for copying, distributing or modifying the Program or works based on it. 6. Each time you redistribute the Program (or any work based on the Program), the recipient automatically receives a license from the original licensor to copy, distribute or modify the Program subject to these terms and conditions. You may not impose any further restrictions on the recipients’ exercise of the rights granted herein. You are not responsible for enforcing compliance by third parties to this License. 7. If, as a consequence of a court judgment or allegation of patent infringement or for any other reason (not limited to patent issues), conditions are imposed on you (whether by court order, agreement or otherwise) that contradict the conditions of this License, they do not excuse you from the conditions of this License. If you cannot distribute so as to satisfy simultaneously your obligations under this License and any other pertinent obligations, then as a consequence you may not distribute the Program at all. For example, if a patent license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Program by all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to refrain entirely from distribution of the Program. If any portion of this section is held invalid or unenforceable under any particular circumstance, the balance of the section is intended to apply and the section as a whole is intended to apply in other circumstances. It is not the purpose of this section to induce you to infringe any patents or other property right claims or to contest validity of any such claims; this section has the sole purpose of protecting the integrity of the free software distribution system, which is implemented by public license practices. Many people have made generous contributions to the wide range of software distributed through that system in reliance on consistent application of that system; it is up to the author/donor to decide if he or she is willing to distribute software through any other system and a licensee cannot impose that choice. This section is intended to make thoroughly clear what is believed to be a consequence of the rest of this License. 8. If the distribution and/or use of the Program is restricted in certain countries either by patents or by copyrighted interfaces, the original copyright holder who places the Program under this License may add an explicit geographical distribution limitation excluding those countries, so that distribution is permitted only in or among countries not thus excluded. In such case, this License incorporates the limitation as if written in the body of this License. 9. The Free Software Foundation may publish revised and/or new versions of the General Public License from time to time. Such new versions will be similar in spirit to the present version, but may differ in detail to address new problems or concerns. Each version is given a distinguishing version number. If the Program specifies a version number of this License which applies to it and “any later version”, you have the option of following the terms and conditions either of that version or of any later version published by the Free Software Foundation. If the Program does not specify a version number of this License, you may choose any version ever published by the Free Software Foundation. 10. If you wish to incorporate parts of the Program into other free programs whose distribution conditions are different, write to the author to ask for permission. For software which is copyrighted by the Free Software Foundation, write to the Free Software Foundation; we sometimes make exceptions for this. Our decision will be guided by the two goals of preserving the free status of all derivatives of our free software and of promoting the sharing and reuse of software generally.

D.3. Appendix: How to Apply These Terms to Your New Programs




Appendix: How to Apply These Terms to Your New Programs

If you develop a new program, and you want it to be of the greatest possible use to the public, the best way to achieve this is to make it free software which everyone can redistribute and change under these terms. To do so, attach the following notices to the program. It is safest to attach them to the start of each source file to most effectively convey the exclusion of warranty; and each file should have at least the “copyright” line and a pointer to where the full notice is found. c hone line to give the program’s name and a brief idea of what it does.i Copyright 19yy hname of authori This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version. This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details. You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this program; if not, write to the Free Software Foundation, Inc., 675 Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA. Also add information on how to contact you by electronic and paper mail. If the program is interactive, make it output a short notice like this when it starts in an interactive mode:
Gnomovision version 69, Copyright (C) 19yy name of author Gnomovision comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY; for details type ‘show w’. type ‘show c’ for details. This is free software, and you are welcome to redistribute it under certain conditions;


Appendix D. The GNU General Public License

The hypothetical commands ‘show w’ and ‘show c’ should show the appropriate parts of the General Public License. Of course, the commands you use may be called something other than ‘show w’ and ‘show c’; they could even be mouse-clicks or menu items–whatever suits your program. You should also get your employer (if you work as a programmer) or your school, if any, to sign a “copyright disclaimer” for the program, if necessary. Here is a sample; alter the names: Yoyodyne, Inc., hereby disclaims all copyright interest in the program ‘Gnomovision’ (which makes passes at compilers) written by James Hacker.

signature of Ty Coon , 1 April 1989 Ty Coon, President of Vice
This General Public License does not permit incorporating your program into proprietary programs. If your program is a subroutine library, you may consider it more useful to permit linking proprietary applications with the library. If this is what you want to do, use the GNU Library General Public License instead of this License.



Part II

The Linux Kernel Hackers’ Guide

c Copyright 1992–1995 Michael K. Johnson Alpha version 0.6

A hodgepodge collection of information, speculation, and ramblings about the Linux kernel. This is only a draft. Please mail any corrections, amplifications, suggestions, etc. to Michael K. Johnson,, Editor. Editorial comments look like this: [This is an editorial comment.] I invite answers to any questions in these comments. The more help I get on these, the fewer of these ugly comments newer versions of the guide will have. Some of these are merely large notices to myself to finish some task I started. If you would like to help by working on a section that has notes like this, please contact me to see what help I need. This work is currently rather fragmented, and will remain in that state until most of the sections have been written, so that revision combining those sections can be done intelligently. Substantial revision to occur at that time should address the problems with unnecessarily duplicated information and lack of structure, and make the guide easier to follow and more succinct. However, the section on device drivers should be helpful to some. Other sections are mostly a little out of date and in need of revision anyway. Please bear with me, or better yet, help.



c Copyright 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995 Michael K. Johnson 201 Howell Street, Apt. 1C, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27514-4818

The Linux Kernel Hackers’ Guide may be reproduced and distributed in whole or in part, subject to the following conditions: 0. The copyright notice above and this permission notice must be preserved complete on all complete or partial copies. 1. Any translation or derivative work of The Linux Kernel Hackers’ Guide must be approved by the author in writing before distribution. 2. If you distribute The Linux Kernel Hackers’ Guide in part, instructions for obtaining the complete version of The Linux Kernel Hackers’ Guide must be included, and a means for obtaining a complete version provided. 3. Small portions may be reproduced as illustrations for reviews or quotes in other works without this permission notice, if proper citation is given. 4. The GNU General Public License referenced below may be reproduced under the conditions given within it. 5. Several sections of this document are held under separate copyright. When these sections are covered by a different copyright, the separate copyright is noted. If you distribute The Linux Kernel Hackers’ Guide in part, and that part is, in whole, held under a separate copyright, the conditions of that copyright apply. Exceptions to these rules may be granted for academic purposes: Write to Michael K. Johnson, at the above address, or email, and ask. These restrictions are here to protect the authors, not to restrict you as educators and learners. All source code in The Linux Kernel Hackers’ Guide is placed under the GNU General Public License. See Appendix C for a copy of the GNU “GPL.” Source code for all full example programs is available on-line as and a copy of the GPL is available in that file as COPYING. [O.K., so it will be available when there is some source to distribute: : : ]


UNIX is a trademark of X/Open MS-DOS is a trademark of Microsoft Corporation. Linux is not a trademark, and has no connection to UNIXTM or X/Open. If any trademarks have been unintentionally unacknowledged, please inform the editor, Michael K. Johnson, 201 Howell Street, Apt. 1C, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27514-4818, email


The The Linux Kernel Hackers’ Guide is inspired by all of us “kernel hacker wannabees” who just did not know enough about Unix systems to hack the Linux kernel when it first came out, and had to learn slowly. This guide is designed to help you get up to speed on the concepts that are not intuitively obvious, and to document the internal structures of Linux so that you don’t have to read the whole kernel source to figure out what is happening with one variable, or to discover the purpose of one function call. Why Linux? Well, Linux is the first free Unix clone for the 386 to be freely available. It is a complete re-write, and has been kept small, so it does not have a lot of the time-honored baggage that other free operating systems (like 386BSD) carry, and so is easier to understand and modify. Unix has been around for over twenty years, but only in the last few years have microcomputers become powerful enough to run a modern protected, multiuser, multitasking operating system. Furthermore, Unix implementations have not been free. Because of this, very little free documentation has been written, at least for the kernel internals. Unix, though simple at first, has grown more and more appendages, and has become a very complex system, which only “wizards” understand. With Linux, however, we have a chance to change this, for a few reasons: 


Linux has a simple kernel, with well-structured interfaces. One person, Linus Torvalds, has control of what code is added to Linux, and he does this work gratis. This means that random pieces of code are not forced into the kernel by some company’s politics, and the kernel interfaces stay relatively clean. The source is free, so many people can study it and learn to understand it, becoming “wizards” in their own right, and eventually contribute code to the effort.

It is our hope that this book will help the nascent kernel hacker learn how to hack the Linux kernel, by giving an understanding of how the kernel is structured.


Thanks to: : :
Linus Torvalds, of course, for starting this whole time sink, and for gently providing explanations whenever necessary. He has done a wonderful job of keeping the kernel source code understandable and neat. I can’t imagine having learned so much in the past few years without Linux. Krishna Balasubramanian and Douglas Johnson, for writing much of the section on memory management, and helping with the rest. Stanley Scalsky, for helping document the system call interface. Rik Faith, for writing the section on how to write a SCSI device driver. Robert Baruch, for the review of Writing UNIX Device Drivers and for his help with the section on writing device drivers. Linux Journal, for providing me with a Linux-related job, and for allowing me to do work on the KHG on their time. Kim Johnson, my wife, for tolerating and encouraging me even when I spend my time on crazy stuff like Linux.

Copyright Acknowledgements:
c Linux Memory Management: The original version of this document is copyright 1993 Krishna Balasubc ramanian. Some changes copyright 1993 Michael K. Johnson and Douglas R. Johnson. c How System Calls Work: The original version of this document is copyright 1993 Stanley Scalsky. Some c changes copyright 1993 Michael K. Johnson c Writing a SCSI Device Driver The original version of this document is copyright 1993 Rickard E. Faith. c Some modifications are copyright 1993 Michael K. Johnson. The author has approved the inclusion of this material, despite the slightly more restrictive copyright on this whole document. The original copyright restrictions, which still apply to any work derived solely from this work, are: c Copyright 1993 Rickard E. Faith ( All rights reserved. Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this paper provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are preserved on all copies. If you wish to make a derived work, please start from the original document. To do so, please contact Rickard E. Faith, The original is available for anonymous ftp as

II The Linux Kernel Hackers’ Guide 197
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0 Before You Begin: : : 0.1 0.2 0.3 Typographical Conventions Assumptions

205 205 206 208

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Hacking Wisdom

1 Device Drivers 1.1 1.2 What is a Device Driver? User-space device drivers 1.2.1 1.2.2 1.3 Example: vgalib
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208 209 209 211 211 211 211 212 213 213 215 220 220 221 223 223 223 224 225 225 225

Example: mouse conversion

Device Driver Basics 1.3.1 1.3.2 1.3.3 1.3.4 1.3.5 1.3.6 Namespace

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Allocating memory

Character vs. block devices Interrupts vs. Polling

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The sleep-wakeup mechanism The VFS

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Character Device Drivers 1.4.1 1.4.2 1.4.3 Initialization

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Interrupts vs. Polling TTY drivers

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Block Device Drivers 1.5.1 1.5.2 1.5.3 1.5.4 Initialization

The Buffer Cache

The Strategy Routine : Example Drivers

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Supporting Functions

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Writing a SCSI Device Driver 1.7.1 1.7.2 1.7.3 1.7.4 1.7.5 1.7.6 1.7.7 1.7.8

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236 236 236 239 240 240 241 241 250 253 253 254

Why You Want to Write a SCSI Driver What is SCSI?

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SCSI Commands Getting Started

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Before You Begin: Gathering Tools The Linux SCSI Interface The Scsi Host Structure The Scsi Cmnd Structure

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1.8 1.9 2


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Network Device Drivers

The /proc filesystem 2.1 2.2 2.3 /proc Directories and Files
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Structure of the /proc filesystem

Programming the /proc filesystem


The Linux scheduler 3.1 The code
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How System Calls Work 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 What Does the 386 Provide?
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How Linux Uses Interrupts and Exceptions

How Linux Initializes the system call vectors How to Add Your Own System Calls

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Linux Memory Management 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Overview
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Physical memory

A user process’ view of memory

Memory Management data in the process table Memory initialization 5.5.1

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Processes and the Memory Manager

5.6 5.7 5.8 5.9

Acquiring and Freeing Memory: Paging Policy The page fault handlers Paging

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80386 Memory Management 5.9.1 Paging on the 386

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5.9.2 5.9.3 5.9.4 5.9.5

Segments in the 80386 Selectors in the 80386 Segment descriptors

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Macros used in setting up descriptors

A Bibliography A.1 Normal Bibliography
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292 293 298 298 299 300 301 301 302 303 304 304 305 305 306 306 306 307 308 308 309 312

A.2 Annotated Bibliography

B Tour of the Linux kernel source B.1 Booting the system B.2 Spinning the wheel
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B.3 How the kernel sees a process

B.4 Creating and destroying processes B.5 Executing programs B.6 Accessing filesystems

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B.7 Quick Anatomy of a Filesystem Type B.8 The console driver B.8.1 B.8.2 B.8.3 B.8.4 B.8.5 B.8.6 B.8.7

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How file operations are dispatched to the console Writing to the console Reading the console

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Keyboard management

Switching the current console The selection mechanism ioctl()ling the device

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C The GNU General Public License C.1 Preamble
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C.2 Terms and Conditions

C.3 How to Apply These Terms

Chapter 0

Before You Begin: : :
0.1 Typographical Conventions
Bold italics Used to mark new concepts, WARNINGS, and keywords in a language. Used for emphasis in text, and occasionally for quotes or introductions at the beginning of a section. Used to mark meta-variables in the text, especially in representations of the command line. For example, ls -l foo where foo would “stand for” a filename, such as /bin/cp. Sometimes, this might be difficult to see, and so the text is put in angle brackets, like this: hslantedi. Typewriter Used to represent screen interaction, as in
ls -l /bin/cp -rwxr-xr-x 1 root



12104 Sep 25 15:53 /bin/cp

Also used for code examples, whether it is “C” code, a shell script, or something else, and to display general files, such as configuration files. When necessary for clarity’s sake, these examples or figures will be enclosed in thin boxes. Key Represents a key to press. You will often see it in this form: Press return to continue.


A diamond in the margin, like a black diamond on a ski hill, marks “danger” or “caution.” Read paragraphs marked this way carefully.

0.2 Assumptions
To read The Linux Kernel Hackers’ Guide, you should have a reasonably good understanding of C. That is, you should be able to read C code without having to look up everything. You should be able to write simple C programs, and understand struct’s, pointers, macros, and ANSI C prototyping. You do not have to have 205


Chapter 0. Before You Begin: : :

a thorough knowledge of the standard I/O library, because the standard libraries are not available in the kernel. Some of the more often used standard I/O functions have been rewritten for use within the kernel, but these are explained in this book where necessary. You should be able to use a good text editor, recompile the Linux kernel, and do basic system administration tasks, such as making new device entries in /dev/. You should also be able to read, as I do not offer support for this book: : : “Hello, sir, I’m having some problems with this book you wrote.” “Yes?” “I can’t read it.” “Is it plugged in?” “Yes. I also tried a lamp in that socket, so I know it is getting power. But I really don’t think that’s the problem.” “Why not?” “I can’t read.” “ Oh. Well, let’s start here. See this? Repeat after me: The cat sat on the rat: : : ”

0.3 Hacking Wisdom
This is a collection of little things that you need to know before you start hacking. It is rather rambling, and almost resembles a glossary in form, but it is not a reference, but rather a hacker’s narrative, a short course in kernel hacking.

Static variables
Always initialize static variables. I cannot overemphasize this. Many seemingly random bugs have been caused by not initializing static variables. Because the kernel is not really a standard executable, the bss segment may or may not be zeroed, depending on the method used for booting.

libc unavailable
Much of libc is unavailable. That is, all of libc is unavailable, but many of the most common functions are duplicated. See the section [not here yet] for simple documentation of these functions. Most of the documentation for these are the section 3 and section 9 man pages.

Linux is not UNIXTM
However, it is close. It is not plan 9, nor is it Mach. It is not primarily intended to be a great commercial success. People will not look kindly upon suggestions to change it fundamentally to attain any of these goals. It has been suggested that part of the reason that the quality of the Linux kernel is so high is the unbending devotion of the Linux kernel hackers to having fun playing with their new kernel.

Useful references
You will encounter certain references that you will need to understand. For instance, “Stevens” and “Bach”. Read the annotated bibliography (Appendix A) for a list of books that you should at least recognize

0.3. Hacking Wisdom


references to, even if you have not read them.

Read the FAQ

Chapter 1

Device Drivers
1.1 What is a Device Driver?
Making hardware work is tedious. To write to a hard disk, for example, requires that you write magic numbers in magic places, wait for the hard drive to say that it is ready to receive data, and then feed it the data it wants, very carefully. To write to a floppy disk is even harder, and requires that the program supervise the floppy disk drive almost constantly while it is running. Instead of putting code in each application you write to control each device, you share the code between applications. To make sure that that code is not compromised, you protect it from users and normal programs that use it. If you do it right, you will be able to add and remove devices from your system without changing your applications at all. Furthermore, you need to be able to load your program into memory and run it, which the operating system also does. So, an operating system is essentially a privileged, general, sharable library or low-level hardware and memory and process control functions and routines. All versions of UN?X have an abstract way of reading and writing devices. By making the devices act as much as possible like regular files, the same calls (read(), write(), etc.) can be used for devices and files. Within the kernel, there are a set of functions, registered with the filesystem, which are called to handle requests to do I/O on “device special files,” which are those which represent devices.1 All devices controlled by the same device driver are given the same major number, and of those with the same major number, different devices are distinguished by different minor numbers.2 This chapter explains how to write any type of Linux device driver that you might need to, including character, block, SCSI, and network drivers. [Well, it will when it is done: : : ] It explains what functions you need to write, how to initialize your drivers and obtain memory for them efficiently, and what function are built in to Linux to make your job easier. Creating device drivers for Linux is easier than you might think. It merely involves writing a few functions and registering them with the Virtual Filesystem Switch (VFS), so that when the proper device special files are accessed, the VFS can call your functions. However, a word of warning is due here: Writing a device driver is writing a part of the Linux kernel. This means that your driver runs with kernel permissions, and can do anything it wants to: write to any memory, reformat your hard drive, damage your monitor or video card, or even break your dishes, if your
mknod(1,2) for an explanation of how to make these files. is not strictly true, but is close enough. If you understand where it is not true, you don’t need to read this section, and if you don’t but want to learn, read the code for the tty devices, which uses up 2 major numbers, and may use a third and possibly fourth by the time you read this.
2 This 1 See


1.2. User-space device drivers


dishwasher is controlled by your computer. Be careful. Also, your driver will run in kernel mode, and the Linux kernel, like most UN?X kernels, is not preemptible. This means that if you driver takes a long time to work without giving other programs a chance to work, your computer will appear to “freeze” when your driver is running. Normal user-mode preemptive scheduling does not apply to your driver. If you choose to write a device driver, you must take everything written here as a guide, and no more. I cannot guarantee that this chapter will be free of errors, and I cannot guarantee that you will not damage your computer, even if you follow these instructions exactly. It is highly unlikely that you will damage it, but I cannot guarantee against it. There is only one “infallible” direction I can give you: Back up! Back up before you test your new device driver, or you may regret it later.

1.2 User-space device drivers
It is not always necessary to write a device driver for a device, especially in applications where no two applications will compete for the device. The most useful example of this is a memory-mapped device, but you can also do this with devices in I/O space (devices accessed with inb() and outb(), etc.). If your process is running as superuser (root), you can use the mmap() call to map some of your process memory to actual memory locations, by mmap()’ing a section of /dev/mem. When you have done this mapping, it is pretty easy to write and read from real memory addresses just as you would read and write any variables. If your driver needs to respond to interrupts, then you really need to be working in kernel space, and need to write a real device driver, as there is no good way at this time to deliver interrupts to user processes. Although the DOSEMU project has created something called the SIG (Silly Interrupt Generator) which allows interrupts to be posted to user processes (I believe through the use of signals), the SIG is not particularly fast, and should be thought of as a last resort for things like DOSEMU. An interrupt (for those who don’t know) is an asynchronous notification posted by the hardware to alert the device driver of some condition. You have likely dealt with ‘IRQ’s when setting up your hardware; an IRQ is an “Interrupt ReQuest line,” which is triggered when the device wants to talk to the driver. This may be because it has data to give to the drive, or because it is now ready to receive data, or because of some other “exceptional condition” that the driver needs to know about. It is similar to user-level processes receiving a signal, so similar that the same sigaction structure is used in the kernel to deal with interrupts as is used in user-level programs to deal with signals. Where the user-level has its signals delivered to it by the kernel, the kernel has interrupt delivered to it by hardware. If your driver must be accessible to multiple processes at once, and/or manage contention for a resource, then you also need to write a real device driver at the kernel level, and a user-space device driver will not be sufficient or even possible.


Example: vgalib

A good example of a user-space driver is the vgalib library. The standard read() and write() calls are really inadequate for writing a really fast graphics driver, and so instead there is a library which acts conceptually like a device driver, but runs in user space. Any processes which use it must run setuid root, because it uses the ioperm() system call. It is possible for a process that is not setuid root to write to /dev/mem if you have a group mem or kmem which is allowed write permission to /dev/mem and the process is properly setgid, but only a process running as root can execute the ioperm() call. There are several I/O ports associated with VGA graphics. vgalib creates symbolic names for this


Chapter 1. Device Drivers

with #define statements, and then issues the ioperm() call like this to make it possible for the process to read and write directly from and to those ports:
if (ioperm(CRT_IC, 1, 1)) { printf("VGAlib: can’t get I/O permissions \n"); exit (-1); } ioperm(CRT_IM, 1, 1); ioperm(ATT_IW, 1, 1);

[: : : ]

It only needs to do error checking once, because the only reason for the ioperm() call to fail is that it is not being called by the superuser, and this status is not going to change.


After making this call, the process is allowed to use inb and outb machine instructions, but only on the specified ports. These instructions can be accessed without writing directly in assembly by including <linux/asm>, but will only work if you compile with optimization on, by giving the -O? to gcc. Read <linux/asm> for details. After arranging for port I/O, vgalib arranges for writing directly to kernel memory with the following code:
/* open /dev/mem */ if ((mem_fd = open("/dev/mem", O_RDWR) ) < 0) { printf("VGAlib: can’t open /dev/mem \n"); exit (-1); } /* mmap graphics memory */ if ((graph_mem = malloc(GRAPH_SIZE + (PAGE_SIZE-1))) == NULL) { printf("VGAlib: allocation error \n"); exit (-1); } if ((unsigned long)graph_mem % PAGE_SIZE) graph_mem += PAGE_SIZE - ((unsigned long)graph_mem % PAGE_SIZE); graph_mem = (unsigned char *)mmap( (caddr_t)graph_mem, GRAPH_SIZE, PROT_READ|PROT_WRITE, MAP_SHARED|MAP_FIXED, mem_fd, GRAPH_BASE ); if ((long)graph_mem < 0) { printf("VGAlib: mmap error \n"); exit (-1); }

It first opens /dev/mem, then allocates memory enough so that the mapping can be done on a page (4 KB) boundary, and then attempts the map. GRAPH SIZE is the size of VGA memory, and GRAPH BASE is the first address of VGA memory in /dev/mem. Then by writing to the address that is returned by mmap(), the process is actually writing to screen memory.

1.3. Device Driver Basics



Example: mouse conversion

If you want a driver that acts a bit more like a kernel-level driver, but does not live in kernel space, you can also make a FIFO, or named pipe. This usually lives in the /dev/ directory (although it doesn’t need to) and acts substantially like a device once set up. However, FIFOs are one-directional only — they have one reader and one writer. For instance, it used to be that if you had a PS/2-style mouse, and wanted to run XFree86, you had to create a FIFO called /dev/mouse, and run a program called mconv which read PS/2 mouse “droppings” from /dev/psaux, and wrote the equivalent microsoft-style “droppings” to /dev/mouse. Then XFree86 would read the “droppings” from /dev/mouse, and it would be as if there were a microsoft mouse connected to /dev/mouse.3

1.3 Device Driver Basics
We will assume that you decide that you do not wish to write a user-space device, and would rather implement your device in the kernel. You will probably be writing writing two files, a .c file and a .h file, and possibly modifying other files as well, as will be described below. We will refer to your files as foo.c and foo.h, and your driver will be the foo driver. [Should I include at the beginning of this section an example of chargen and charsink? Many writers do, but I don’t know that it is the best way. I’d like people’s opinions on this.]



One of the first things you will need to do, before writing any code, is to name your device. This name should be a short (probably two or three character) string. For instance, the parallel device is the “lp” device, the floppies are the “fd” devices, and SCSI disks are the “sd” devices. As you write your driver, you will give your functions names prefixed with your chosen string to avoid any namespace confusion. We will call your prefix foo, and give your functions names like foo read(), foo write(), etc.


Allocating memory

Memory allocation in the kernel is a little different from memory allocation in normal user-level programs. Instead of having a malloc() capable of delivering almost unlimited amounts of memory, there is a kmalloc() function that is a bit different: 

Memory is provided in pieces whose size is a power of 2, except that pieces larger than 128 bytes are allocated in blocks whose size is a power of 2 minus some small amount for overhead. You can request any odd size, but memory will not be used any more efficiently if you request a 31-byte piece than it will if you request a 32 byte piece. Also, there is a limit to the amount of memory that can be allocated, which is currently 131056 bytes. kmalloc() takes a second argument, the priority. This is used as an argument to the get free page() function, where it is used to determine when to return. The usual priority is GFP KERNEL. If it may be called from within an interrupt, use GFP ATOMIC and be truly prepared for it to fail (i.e. don’t panic). This is because if you specify GFP KERNEL, kmalloc() may sleep, which 

3 Even though XFree86 is now able to read PS/2 style “droppings”, the concepts in this example still stand. If you have a better example, I’d be glad to see it.


Chapter 1. Device Drivers

cannot be done on an interrupt. The other option is GFP BUFFER, which is used only when the kernel is allocating buffer space, and never in device drivers. To free memory allocated with kmalloc(), use one of two functions: kfree() or kfree s(). These differ from free() in a few ways as well: 

kfree() is a macro which calls kfree s() and acts like the standard free() outside the kernel. If you know what size object you are freeing, you can speed things up by calling kfree s() directly. It takes two arguments: the first is the pointer that you are freeing, as in the single argument to kfree(), and the second is the size of the object being freed.

See section 1.6 for more information on kmalloc(), kfree(), and other useful functions. The other way to acquire memory is to allocate it at initialization time. Your initialization function, foo init(), takes one argument, a pointer to the current end of memory. It can take as much memory as it wants to, save a pointer or pointers to that memory, and return a pointer to the new end of memory. The advantage of this over statically allocating large buffers (char bar[20000]) is that if the foo driver detects that the foo device is not attached to the computer, the memory is not wasted. The init() function is discussed in Section 1.3.6. Be gentle when you use kmalloc. Use only what you have to. Remember that kernel memory is unswappable, and thus allocating extra memory in the kernel is a far worse thing to do in the kernel than in a user-level program. Take only what you need, and free it when you are done, unless you are going to use it right away again. [I believe that it is possible to allocate swappable memory with the vmalloc function, but that will be documented in the VMM section when it gets written. In the meantime, enterprising hackers are encouraged to look it up themselves.]


Character vs. block devices

There are two main types of devices under all UN?X systems, character and block devices. Character devices are those for which no buffering is performed, and block devices are those which are accessed through a cache. Block devices must be random access, but character devices are not required to be, though some are. Filesystems can only be mounted if they are on block devices. Character devices are read from and written to with two function: foo read() and foo write(). The read() and write() calls do not return until the operation is complete. By contrast, block devices do not even implement the read() and write() functions, and instead have a function which has historically been called the “strategy routine.” Reads and writes are done through the buffer cache mechanism by the generic functions bread(), breada(), and bwrite(). These functions go through the buffer cache, and so may or may not actually call the strategy routine, depending on whether or not the block requested is in the buffer cache (for reads) or on whether or not the buffer cache is full (for writes). A request may be asynchronous: breada() can request the strategy routine to schedule reads that have not been asked for, and to do it asynchronously, in the background, in the hopes that they will be needed later. A more complete explanation of the buffer cache is presented below in Section ?? [When that section is written: : : ] The sources for character devices are kept in : : : /kernel/chr drv/, and the sources for block devices are kept in : : : /kernel/blk drv/. They have similar interfaces, and are very much alike, except for reading and writing. Because of the difference in reading and writing, initialization is different, as block devices have to register a strategy routine, which is registered in a different way than the foo read() and foo write() routines of a character device driver. Specifics are dealt with in Section 1.4.1 and Section 1.5.1

1.3. Device Driver Basics



Interrupts vs. Polling

Hardware is slow. That is, in the time it takes to get information from your average device, the CPU could be off doing something far more useful than waiting for a busy but slow device. So to keep from having to busy-wait all the time, interrupts are provided which can interrupt whatever is happening so that the operating system can do some task and return to what it was doing without losing information. In an ideal world, all devices would probably work by using interrupts. However, on a PC or clone, there are only a few interrupts available for use by your peripherals, so some drivers have to poll the hardware: ask the hardware if it is ready to transfer data yet. This unfortunately wastes time, but it sometimes needs to be done. Also, some hardware (like memory-mapped displays) is as fast as the rest of the machine, and does not generate output asynchronously, so an interrupt-driven driver would be rather silly, even if interrupts were provided. In Linux, many of the drivers are interrupt-driven, but some are not, and at least one can be either, and can be switched back and forth at runtime. For instance, the lp device (the parallel port driver) normally polls the printer to see if the printer is ready to accept output, and if the printer stays in a not ready phase for too long, the driver will sleep for a while, and try again later. This improves system performance. However, if you have a parallel card that supplies an interrupt, the driver will utilize that, which will usually make performance even better. There are some important programming differences between interrupt-driven drivers and polling drivers. To understand this difference, you have to understand a little bit of how system calls work under UN?X. The kernel is not a separate task under UN?X. Rather, it is as if each process has a copy of the kernel. When a process executes a system call, it does not transfer control to another process, but rather, the process changes execution modes, and is said to be “in kernel mode.” In this mode, it executes kernel code which is trusted to be safe. In kernel mode, the process can still access the user-space memory that it was previously executing in, which is done through a set of macros: get fs *() and memcpy fromfs() read user-space memory, and put fs *() and memcpy tofs() write to user-space memory. Because the process is still running, but in a different mode, there is no question of where in memory to put the data, or where to get it from. However, when an interrupt occurs, any process might currently be running, so these macros cannot be used — if they are, they will either write over random memory space of the running process or cause the kernel to panic. [Explain how to use verify area(), which is only used on CPUs that don’t provide write protection while operating in kernel mode, to check whether the area is safe to write to.] Instead, when scheduling the interrupt, a driver must also provide temporary space in which to put the information, and then sleep. When the interrupt-driven part of the driver has filled up that temporary space, it wakes up the process, which copies the information from that temporary space into the process’ user space and returns. In a block device driver, this temporary space is automatically provided by the buffer cache mechanism, but in a character device driver, the driver is responsible for allocating it itself.


The sleep-wakeup mechanism

[Begin by giving a general description of how sleeping is used and what it does. This should mention things like all processes sleeping on an event are woken at once, and then they contend for the event again, etc: : : ] Perhaps the best way to try to understand the Linux sleep-wakeup mechanism is to read the source for the sleep on() function, used to implement both the sleep on() and interruptible sleep on()


Chapter 1. Device Drivers

static inline void __sleep_on(struct wait_queue **p, int state) { unsigned long flags; struct wait_queue wait = { current, NULL }; if (!p) return; if (current == task[0]) panic("task[0] trying to sleep"); current->state = state; add_wait_queue(p, &wait); save_flags(flags); sti(); schedule(); remove_wait_queue(p, &wait); restore_flags(flags); }

A wait queue is a circular list of pointers to task structures, defined in <linux/wait.h> to be
struct wait_queue { struct task_struct * task; struct wait_queue * next; };

state is either TASK INTERRUPTIBLE or TASK UNINTERRUPTIBLE, depending on whether or not the sleep should be interruptible by such things as system calls. In general, the sleep should be interruptible if the device is a slow one; one which can block indefinitely, including terminals and network devices or pseudodevices. add wait queue() turns off interrupts, if they were enabled, and adds the new struct wait queue declared at the beginning of the function to the list p. It then recovers the original interrupt state (enabled or disabled), and returns. save flags() is a macro which saves the process flags in its argument. This is done to preserve the previous state of the interrupt enable flag. This way, the restore flags() later can restore the interrupt state, whether it was enabled or disabled. sti() then allows interrupts to occur, and schedule() finds a new process to run, and switches to it. Schedule will not choose this process to run again until the state is changed to TASK RUNNING by wake up() called on the same wait queue, p, or conceivably by something else. The process then removes itself from the wait queue, restores the original interrupt condition with restore flags(), and returns. Whenever contention for a resource might occur, there needs to be a pointer to a wait queue associated with that resource. Then, whenever contention does occur, each process that finds itself locked out of access to the resource sleeps on that resource’s wait queue. When any process is finished using a resource for which there is a wait queue, it should wake up and processes that might be sleeping on that wait queue, probably by calling wake up(), or possibly wake up interruptible(). If you don’t understand why a process might want to sleep, or want more details on when and how to structure this sleeping, I urge you to buy one of the operating systems textbooks listed in Appendix A and look up mutual exclusion and deadlock.

1.3. Device Driver Basics


[This is a cop-out. I should take the time to explain and give examples, but I am not trying to write an OS text, and I want to keep this under 1000 pages: : : ]

More advanced sleeping

If the sleep on()/wake up() mechanism in Linux does not satisfy your device driver needs, you can code your own versions of sleep on() and wake up() that fit your needs. For an example of this, look at the serial device driver (: : : /kernel/chr drv/serial.c) in function block til ready(), where quite a bit has to be done between the add wait queue() and the schedule().



The Virtual Filesystem Switch, or VFS, is the mechanism which allows Linux to mount many different filesystems at the same time. In the first versions of Linux, all filesystem access went straight into routines which understood the minix filesystem. To make it possible for other filesystems to be written, filesystem calls had to pass through a layer of indirection which would switch the call to the routine for the correct filesystem. This was done by some generic code which can handle generic cases and a structure of pointers to functions which handle specific cases. One structure is of interest to the device driver writer; the file operations structure. From /usr/include/linux/fs.h:
struct file_operations { int (*lseek) (struct inode *, struct file *, off_t, int); int (*read) (struct inode *, struct file *, char *, int); int (*write) (struct inode *, struct file *, char *, int); int (*readdir) (struct inode *, struct file *, struct dirent *, int count); int (*select) (struct inode *, struct file *, int, select_table *); int (*ioctl) (struct inode *, struct file *, unsigned int, unsigned int); int (*mmap) (struct inode *, struct file *, unsigned long, size_t, int, unsigned long); int (*open) (struct inode *, struct file *); void (*release) (struct inode *, struct file *); };

Essentially, this structure constitutes a partial list of the functions that you may have to write to create your driver. This section details the actions and requirements of the functions in the file operations structure. It documents all the arguments that these functions take. [It should also detail all the defaults, and cover more carefully the possible return values.

The lseek() function

This function is called when the system call lseek() is called on the device special file representing your device. An understanding of what the system call lseek() does should be sufficient to explain this function, which moves to the desired offset. It takes these four arguments:


Chapter 1. Device Drivers

struct inode * inode Pointer to the inode structure for this device. struct file * file Pointer to the file structure for this device. off t offset Offset from origin to move to. int origin 0 = take the offset from absolute offset 0 (the beginning). 1 = take the offset from the current position. 2 = take the offset from the end.

lseek() returns -errno on error, or  0 the absolute position after the lseek. If there is no lseek(), the kernel will take the default action, which is to modify the file->f pos element. For an origin of 2, the default action is to return -EINVAL if file->f inode is NULL, otherwise it sets file->f pos to file->f inode->i size + offset. Because of this, if lseek() should return an error for your device, you must write an lseek() function which returns that error.

The read() and write() functions

The read and write functions read and write a character string to the device. If there is no read() or write() function in the file operations structure registered with the kernel, and the device is a character device, read() or write() system calls, respectively, will return -EINVAL. If the device is a block device, these functions should not be implemented, as the VFS will route requests through the buffer cache, which will call your strategy routine. See Section 1.5.2 for details on how the buffer cache does this. The read and write functions take these arguments: struct inode * inode This is a pointer to the inode of the device special file which was accessed. From this, you can do several things, based on the struct inode declaration about 100 lines into /usr/include/linux/fs.h. For instance, you can find the minor number of the file by this construction: unsigned int minor = MINOR(inode->i rdev); The definition of the MINOR macro is in <linux/fs.h>, as are many other useful definitions. Read fs.h and a few device drivers for more details, and see section 1.6 for a short description. inode->i mode can be used to find the mode of the file, and there are macros available for this, as well. struct file * file Pointer to file structure for this device. char * buf This is a buffer of characters to read or write. It is located in user-space memory, and therefore must be accessed using the get fs*(), put fs*(), and memcpy*fs() macros detailed in section 1.6. User-space memory is inaccessible during an interrupt, so if your driver is interrupt driven, you will have to copy the contents of your buffer into a queue. This is a count of characters in buf to be read or written. It is the size of buf, and is how you know that you have reached the end of buf, as buf is not guaranteed to be null-terminated.

int count

1.3. Device Driver Basics


The readdir() function

This function is another artifact of file operations being used for implementing filesystems as well as device drivers. Do not implement it. The kernel will return -ENOTDIR if the system call readdir() is called on your device special file.

The select() function

The select() function is generally most useful with character devices. It is usually used to multiplex reads without polling — the application calls the select() system call, giving it a list of file descriptors to watch, and the kernel reports back to the program on which file descriptor has woken it up. It is also used as a timer. However, the select() function in your device driver is not directly called by the system call select(), and so the file operations select() only needs to do a few things. Its arguments are: struct inode * inode Pointer to the inode structure for this device. struct file * file Pointer to the file structure for this device. int sel type The select type to perform: SEL IN read SEL OUT write SEL EX exception select table * wait If wait is not NULL and there is no error condition caused by the select, select() should put the process to sleep, and arrange to be woken up when the device becomes ready, usually through an interrupt. If wait is NULL, then the driver should quickly see if the device is ready, and return even if it is not. The select wait() function does this already. If the calling program wants to wait until one of the devices upon which it is selecting becomes available for the operation it is interested in, the process will have to be put to sleep until one of those operations becomes available. This does not require use of a sleep on*() function, however. Instead the select wait() function is used. (See section 1.6 for the definition of the select wait() function). The sleep state that select wait() will cause is the same as that of sleep on interruptible(), and, in fact, wake up interruptible() is used to wake up the process. However, select wait() will not make the process go to sleep right away. It returns directly, and the select() function you wrote should then return. The process isn’t put to sleep until the system call sys select(), which originally called your select() function, uses the information given to it by the select wait() function to put the process to sleep. select wait() adds the process to the wait queue, but do select() (called from sys select()) actually puts the process to sleep by changing the process state to TASK INTERRUPTIBLE and calling schedule(). The first argument to select wait() is the same wait queue that should be used for a sleep on(), and the second is the select table that was passed to your select() function. After having explained all this in excruciating detail, here are two rules to follow: 1. Call select wait() if the device is not ready, and return 0.


Chapter 1. Device Drivers

2. Return 1 if the device is ready. If you provide a select() function, do not provide timeouts by setting current->timeout, as the select() mechanism uses current->timeout, and the two methods cannot co-exist, as there is only one timeout for each process. Instead, consider using a timer to provide timeouts. See the description of the add timer() function in section 1.6 for details.

The ioctl() function

The ioctl() function processes ioctl calls. The structure of your ioctl() function will be: first error checking, then one giant (possibly nested) switch statement to handle all possible ioctls. The ioctl number is passed as cmd, and the argument to the ioctl is passed as arg. It is good to have an understanding of how ioctls ought to work before making them up. If you are not sure about your ioctls, do not feel ashamed to ask someone knowledgeable about it, for a few reasons: you may not even need an ioctl for your purpose, and if you do need an ioctl, there may be a better way to do it than what you have thought of. Since ioctls are the least regular part of the device interface, it takes perhaps the most work to get this part right. Take the time and energy you need to get it right. struct inode * inode Pointer to the inode structure for this device. struct file * file Pointer to the file structure for this device. unsigned int cmd This is the ioctl command. It is generally used as the switch variable for a case statement. unsigned int arg This is the argument to the command. This is user defined. Since this is the same size as a (void *), this can be used as a pointer to user space, accessed through the fs register as usual. Returns: -errno on error Every other return is user-defined.

If the ioctl() slot in the file operations structure is not filled in, the VFS will return -EINVAL. However, in all cases, if cmd is one of FIOCLEX, FIONCLEX, FIONBIO, or FIOASYNC, default processing will be done: FIOCLEX 0x5451 Sets the close-on-exec bit. 0x5450 Clears the close-on-exec bit. 0x5421 If arg is non-zero, set O NONBLOCK, otherwise clear O NONBLOCK. 0x5452 If arg is non-zero, set O SYNC, otherwise clear O SYNC. O SYNC is not yet implemented, but it is documented here and parsed in the kernel for completeness.




1.3. Device Driver Basics


Note that you have to avoid these four numbers when creating your own ioctls, since if they conflict, the VFS ioctl code will interpret them as being one of these four, and act appropriately, causing a very hard to track down bug.

The mmap() function

struct inode * inode Pointer to inode structure for device. struct file * file Pointer to file structure for device. unsigned long addr Beginning of address in main memory to mmap() into. size t len int prot Length of memory to mmap(). One of: PROT READ PROT WRITE PROT EXEC PROT NONE

region can be read. region can be written. region can be executed. region cannot be accessed.

unsigned long off Offset in the file to mmap() from. This address in the file will be mapped to address addr. [Here, give a pointer to the documentation for the new vmm (Virtual Memory Management) interface, and show how the functions can be used by a device mmap() function. Krishna should have the documentation for the vmm interface in the memory management section.]

The open() and release() functions

struct inode * inode Pointer to inode structure for device. struct file * file Pointer to file structure for device. open() is called when a device special files is opened. It is the policy mechanism responsible for ensuring consistency. If only one process is allowed to open the device at once, open() should lock the device, using whatever locking mechanism is appropriate, usually setting a bit in some state variable to mark it as busy. If a process already is using the device (if the busy bit is already set) then open() should return -EBUSY. If more than one process may open the device, this function is responsible to set up any necessary queues that would not be set up in write(). If no such device exists, open() should return -ENODEV to indicate this. Return 0 on success. release() is called only when the process closes its last open file descriptor on the files. If devices have been marked as busy, release() should unset the busy bits if appropriate. If you need to clean up kmalloc()’ed queues or reset devices to preserve their sanity, this is the place to do it. If no release() function is defined, none is called.


Chapter 1. Device Drivers

The init() function

This function is not actually included in the file operations structure, but you are required to implement it, because it is this function that registers the file operations structure with the VFS in the first place — without this function, the VFS could not route any requests to the driver. This function is called when the kernel first boots and is configuring itself. init() is passed a variable holding the address of the current end of used memory. The init function then detects all devices, allocates any memory it will want based on how many devices exist (this is often used to hold such things as queues, for interrupt driven devices), and then, saving the addresses it needs, it returns the new end of memory. You will have to call your init() function from the correct place: for a character device, this is chr dev init() in : : : /kernel/chr dev/mem.c. In general, you will only pass the memory start variable to your init() function. While the init() function runs, it registers your driver by calling the proper registration function. For character devices, this is register chrdev().4 register chrdev() takes three arguments: the major device number (an int), the “name” of the device (a string), and the address of the device fops file operations structure. When this is done, and a character or block special file is accessed, the VFS filesystem switch automagically routes the call, whatever it is, to the proper function, if a function exists. If the function does not exist, the VFS routines take some default action. The init() function usually displays some information about the driver, and usually reports all hardware found. All reporting is done via the printk() function.

1.4 Character Device Drivers
[Write appropriate blurb here]



Besides functions defined by the file operations structure, there is at least one other function that you will have to write, the foo init() function. You will have to change chr dev init() in chr drv/mem.c to call your foo init() function. foo init() will take one argument, long mem start, which will be the address of the current end of allocated memory. If your driver needs to allocate more than 4K of contiguous space at runtime, here is the place. Simply save mem start in an appropriate variable, add however much space you need to mem start, and return the new value. Your driver will now have exclusive access to the memory between the old and new values of mem start. foo init() should first call register chrdev() to register itself and avoid device number contention. register chrdev() takes three arguments: int major char *name This is the major number which the driver wishes to allocate. This is the symbolic name of the driver. It is currently not used for anything, but this may change in the future.

struct file operations *f ops This is the address of your file operations structure defined in Section ??
4 See


1.4. Character Device Drivers



0 if no other character device has registered with the same major number. non-0 if the call fails, presumably because another character device has already allocated that major number.

Generally, the foo init() routine will then attempt to detect the hardware that it is supposed to be driving. It should make sure that all necessary data structures are filled out for all present hardware, and have some way of ensuring that non-present hardware does not get accessed. [detail different ways of doing this.]


Interrupts vs. Polling

In a polling driver, the foo read() and foo write() functions are pretty easy to write. Here is an example of foo write():
static int foo_write(struct inode * inode, struct file * file, char * buf, int count) { unsigned int minor = MINOR(inode->i_rdev); char ret; while (count > 0) { ret = foo_write_byte(minor); if (ret < 0) { foo_handle_error(WRITE, ret, minor); continue; } buf++ = ret; count-} return count; }

foo write byte() and foo handle error() are either functions defined elsewhere in foo.c or pseudocode. WRITE would be a constant or #define. It should be clear from this example how to code the foo read() function as well. Interrupt-driven drivers are a little more difficult. Here is an example of a foo write() that is interruptdriven:
static int foo_write(struct inode * inode, struct file * file, char * buf, int count) { unsigned int minor = MINOR(inode->i_rdev); unsigned long copy_size; unsigned long total_bytes_written = 0; unsigned long bytes_written; struct foo_struct *foo = &foo_table[minor]; do { copy_size = (count <= FOO_BUFFER_SIZE ? count : FOO_BUFFER_SIZE); memcpy_fromfs(foo->foo_buffer, buf, copy_size); while (copy_size) {


Chapter 1. Device Drivers

/* initiate interrupts */ if (some_error_has_occurred) { /* handle error condition */ } current->timeout = jiffies + FOO_INTERRUPT_TIMEOUT; /* set timeout in case an interrupt has been missed */ interruptible_sleep_on(&foo->foo_wait_queue); bytes_written = foo->bytes_xfered; foo->bytes_written = 0; if (current->signal & ˜current->blocked) { if (total_bytes_written + bytes_written) return total_bytes_written + bytes_written; else return -EINTR; /* nothing was written, system call was interrupted, try again */ } } total_bytes_written += bytes_written; buf += bytes_written; count -= bytes_written; } while (count > 0); return total_bytes_written; } static void foo_interrupt(int irq) { struct foo_struct *foo = &foo_table[foo_irq[irq]]; /* Here, do whatever actions ought to be taken on an interrupt. Look at a flag in foo_table to know whether you ought to be reading or writing. */ /* Increment foo->bytes_xfered by however many characters were read or written */ if (buffer too full/empty) wake_up_interruptible(&foo->foo_wait_queue); }

Again, a foo read() function is written analogously. foo table[] is an array of structures, each of which has several members, some of which are foo wait queue and bytes xfered, which can be used for both reading and writing. foo irq[] is an array of 16 integers, and is used for looking up which entry in foo table[] is associated with the irq generated and reported to the foo interrupt() function. To tell the interrupt-handling code to call foo interrupt(), you need to use either request irq() or irqaction(). This is either done when foo open() is called, or if you want to keep things simple, when foo init() is called. request irq() is the simpler of the two, and works rather like an old-style

1.5. Block Device Drivers


signal handler. It takes two arguments: the first is the number of the irq you are requesting, and the second is a pointer to your interrupt handler, which must take an integer argument (the irq that was generated) and have a return type of void. request irq() returns -EINVAL if irq > 15 or if the pointer to the interrupt handler is NULL, -EBUSY if that interrupt has already been taken, or 0 on success. irqaction() works rather like the user-level sigaction(), and in fact reuses the sigaction structure. The sa restorer() field of the sigaction structure is not used, but everything else is the same. See the entry for irqaction() in Section 1.6, Supporting Functions, for further information about irqaction().


TTY drivers

[The reasons that this section has not been written are that I don’t know enough about TTY stuff yet. Ted re-wrote the tty devices for the 1.1 series, but I haven’t studied them yet.]

1.5 Block Device Drivers
To mount a filesystem on a device, it must be a block device driven by a block device driver. This means that the device must be a random access device, not a stream device. In other words, you must be able to seek to any location on the physical device at any time. You do not provide read() and write() routines for a block device. Instead, your driver uses block read() and block write(), which are generic functions, provided by the VFS, which will call the strategy routine, or request() function, which you write in place of read() and write() for your driver. This strategy routine is also called by the buffer cache (See section ??), which is called by the VFS routines (See chapter ??) which is how normal files on normal filesystems are read and written. Requests for I/O are given by the buffer cache to a routine called ll rw block(), which constructs lists of requests ordered by an elevator algorithm, which sorts the lists to make accesses faster and more efficient. It, in turn, calls your request() function to actually do the I/O. Note that although SCSI disks and CDROMs are considered block devices, they are handled specially 5 (as are all SCSI devices). Refer to section 1.7, Writing a SCSI Driver, for details.



Initialization of block devices is a bit more complex than initialization of character devices, especially as some “initialization” has to be done at compile time. There is also a register blkdev() call that corresponds to the character device register chrdev() call, which the driver must call to say that it is present, working, and active.

The file blk.h

At the top of your driver code, after all other included header files, you need to write two lines of code:
#define MAJOR NR DEVICE MAJOR #include "blk.h"
5 Although

SCSI disks and CDROMs are block devices, SCSI tapes, like other tapes, are generally used as character devices.


Chapter 1. Device Drivers

where DEVICE MAJOR is the major number of your device. drivers/block/blk.h requires the use of the MAJOR NR define to set up many other defines and macros for your driver. Now you need to edit blk.h. Under #ifdef MAJOR NR, there is a section of defines that are conditionally included for certain major numbers, protected by #elif (MAJOR NR == DEVICE MAJOR). At the end of this list, you will add another section for your driver. In that section, the following lines are required:
#define DEVICE NAME "device" #define DEVICE REQUEST do dev request #define DEVICE ON(device) /* usually blank, see below */ #define DEVICE OFF(device) /* usually blank, see below */ #define DEVICE NR(device) (MINOR(device))

DEVICE NAME is simply the device name. See the other entries in blk.h for examples. DEVICE REQUEST is your strategy routine, which will do all the I/O on the device. See section 1.5.3 for more details on the strategy routine. DEVICE ON and DEVICE OFF are for devices that need to be turned on and off, like floppies. In fact, the floppy driver is currently the only device driver which uses these defines. DEVICE NR(device) is used to determine the number of the physical device from the minor device number. For instance, in the hd driver, since the second hard drive starts at minor 64, DEVICE NR(device) is defined to be (MINOR(device)>>6). If your driver is interrupt-driven, you will also set
#define DEVICE INTR do dev

which will become a variable automatically defined and used by the remainder of blk.h, specifically by the SET INTR() and CLEAR INTR macros. You might also consider setting these defines:

where n is the number of jiffies (clock ticks; hundredths of a second on Linux/386) to time out after if no interrupt is received. These are used if your device can become “stuck”: a condition where the driver waits indefinitely for an interrupt that will never arrive. If you define these, they will automatically be used in SET INTR to make your driver time out. Of course, your driver will have to be able to handle the possibility of being timed out by a timer. See section ?? for an explanation of how to do this. Recognizing PC standard partitions

[Inspect the routines in genhd.c and include detailed, correct instructions on how to use them to allow your device to use the standard dos partitioning scheme.]


The Buffer Cache

[Here, it should be explained briefly how ll rw block() is called, about getblk() and bread() and breada() and bwrite(), etc. A real explanation of the buffer cache is reserved for the VFS reference section, where something on the complexity order of Bach’s treatment of the buffer cache should exist.

1.6. Supporting Functions


For now, we assume that the reader understands the concepts behind the buffer cache. If you are a reader and don’t, please email me and I’ll help you, which will also help me put my thoughts together for that section.]


The Strategy Routine

All reading and writing of blocks is done through the strategy routine. This routine takes no arguments and returns nothing, but it knows where to find a list of requests for I/O (CURRENT, defined by default as blk dev[MAJOR NR].current request), and knows how to get data from the device into the blocks. It is called with interrupts disabled so as to avoid race conditions, and is responsible for turning on interrupts with a call to sti() before returning. The strategy routine first calls the INIT REQUEST macro, which makes sure that requests are really on the request list and does some other sanity checking. add request() will have already sorted the requests in the proper order according to the elevator algorithm (using an insertion sort, as it is called once for every request), so the strategy routine “merely” has to satisfy the request, call end request(1), which will take the request off the list, and then if there is still another request on the list, satisfy it and call end request(1), until there are no more requests on the list, at which time it returns. If the driver is interrupt-driven, the strategy routine need only schedule the first request to occur, and have the interrupt-handler call end request(1) and the call the strategy routine again, in order to schedule the next request. If the driver is not interrupt-driven, the strategy routine may not return until all I/O is complete. If for some reason I/O fails permanently on the current request, end request(0) must be called to destroy the request. A request may be for a read or write. The driver determines whether a request is for a read or write by examining CURRENT->cmd. If CURRENT->cmd == READ, the request is for a read, and if CURRENT->cmd == WRITE, the request is for a write. If the device has separate interrupt routines for handling reads and writes, SET INTR(n) must be called to assure that the proper interrupt routine will be called. [Here I need to include samples of both a polled strategy routine and an interrupt-driven one. The interrupt-driven one should provide separate read and write interrupt routines to show the use of SET INTR.]


Example Drivers

[I’m not sure this belongs here — we’ll see. I’ll leave the stub here for now.]

1.6 Supporting Functions
Here is a list of many of the most common supporting functions available to the device driver writer. If you find other supporting functions that are useful, please point them out to me. I know this is not a complete list, but I hope it is a helpful one.

add request() static void add_request(struct blk_dev_struct *dev, struct request * req)


Chapter 1. Device Drivers

This is a static function in ll rw block.c, and cannot be called by other code. However, an understanding of this function, as well as an understanding of ll rw block(), may help you understand the strategy routine. If the device that the request is for has an empty request queue, the request is put on the queue and the strategy routine is called. Otherwise, the proper place in the queue is chosen and the request is inserted in the queue, maintaining proper order by insertion sort. Proper order (the elevator algorithm) is defined as: a. Reads come before writes. b. Lower minor numbers come before higher minor numbers. c. Lower block numbers come before higher block numbers. The elevator algorithm is implemented by the macro IN ORDER(), which is defined in drivers/block/blk.h Defined in: drivers/block/ll rw block.c See also: make request(), ll rw block(). add timer() void add timer(struct timer list * timer) #include <linux/timer.h> Installs the timer structures in the list timer in the timer list. The timer list structure is defined by:
struct timer_list { struct timer_list *next; struct timer_list *prev; unsigned long expires; unsigned long data; void (*function)(unsigned long); };

In order to call add timer(), you need to allocate a timer list structure, and then call init timer(), passing it a pointer to your timer list. It will nullify the next and prev elements, which is the correct initialization. If necessary, you can allocate multiple timer list structures, and link them into a list. Do make sure that you properly initialize all the unused pointers to NULL, or the timer code may get very confused. For each struct in your list, you set three variables: expires The number of jiffies (100ths of a second in Linux/86) after which to time out. Kernel-space function to run after timeout has occurred. Passed as the argument to function when function is called.

function data

Having created this list, you give a pointer to the first (usually the only) element of the list as the argument to add timer(). Having passed that pointer, keep a copy of the pointer handy, because you will need to use it to modify the elements of the list (to set a new timeout when you need a function called again, to change the function to be called, or to change the data that is passed to the function) and to delete the timer, if necessary.

1.6. Supporting Functions


Note: This is not process-specific. Therefore, if you want to wake a certain process at a timeout, you will have to use the sleep and wake primitives. The functions that you install through this mechanism will run in the same context that interrupt handlers run in. Defined in: kernel/sched.c See also: timer table in include/linux/timer.h, init timer(), del timer(). cli() #define cli() asm volatile ("cli"::)

#include <asm/system.h> Prevents interrupts from being acknowledged. cli stands for “CLear Interrupt enable”. See also: sti() del timer void del timer(struct timer list * timer) #include <linux/timer.h> Deletes the timer structures in the list timer in the timer list. The timer list that you delete must be the address of a timer list you have earlier installed with add timer(). Once you have called del timer() to delete the timer from the kernel timer list, you may deallocate the memory used in the timer list structures, as it is no longer referenced by the kernel timer list. Defined in: kernel/sched.c See also: timer table in include/linux/timer.h, init timer(), add timer(). end request() static void end request(int uptodate) #include "blk.h" Called when a request has been satisfied or aborted. Takes one argument: uptodate If not equal to 0, means that the request has been satisfied. If equal to 0, means that the request has not been satisfied.

If the request was satisfied (uptodate != 0), end request() maintains the request list, unlocks the buffer, and may arrange for the scheduler to be run at the next convenient time (need resched = 1; this is implicit in wake up(), and is not explicitly part of end request()), before waking up all processes sleeping on the wait for request event, which is slept on in make request(), ll rw page(), and ll rw swap file(). Note: This function is a static function, defined in drivers/block/blk.h for every non-SCSI device that includes blk.h. (SCSI devices do this differently; the high-level SCSI code itself provides this functionality to the low-level device-specific SCSI device drivers.) It includes several defines dependent on static device information, such as the device number. This is marginally faster than a more generic normal C function. Defined in: kernel/blk drv/blk.h See also: ll rw block(), add request(), make request(). free irq() void free irq(unsigned int irq) #include <linux/sched.h>


Chapter 1. Device Drivers

Frees an irq previously acquired with request irq() or irqaction(). Takes one argument: irq interrupt level to free.

Defined in: kernel/irq.c See also: request irq(), irqaction(). get user*() inline unsigned char get user byte(const char * addr) inline unsigned short get user word(const short * addr) inline unsigned long get user long(const int *addr) #include <asm/segment.h> Allows a driver to access data in user space, which is in a different segment than the kernel.


Note: these functions may cause implicit I/O, if the memory being accessed has been swapped out, and therefore preemption may occur at this point. Do not include these functions in critical sections of your code even if the critical sections are protected by cli()/sti() pairs, because that implicit I/O will violate the integrity of your cli()/sti() pair. If you need to get at user-space memory, copy it to kernel-space memory before you enter your critical section. These functions take one argument: addr Returns: Address to get data from. Data at that offset in user space.

Defined in: include/asm/segment.h See also: memcpy *fs(), put user*(), cli(), sti(). inb(), inb p() inline unsigned int inb(unsigned short port) inline unsigned int inb p(unsigned short port) #include <asm/io.h> Reads a byte from a port. inb() goes as fast as it can, while inb p() pauses before returning. Some devices are happier if you don’t read from them as fast as possible. Both functions take one argument: port Returns: Port to read byte from. The byte is returned in the low byte of the 32-bit integer, and the 3 high bytes are unused, and may be garbage.

Defined in: include/asm/io.h See also: outb(), outb p(). init timer() Inline function for initializing timer list structures for use with add timer(). Defined in: include/linux/timer.h See also: add timer().

1.6. Supporting Functions


irqaction() int irqaction(unsigned int irq, struct sigaction *new) #include <linux/sched.h> Hardware interrupts are really a lot like signals. Therefore, it makes sense to be able to register an interrupt like a signal. The sa restorer() field of the struct sigaction is not used, but otherwise it is the same. The int argument to the sa.handler() function may mean different things, depending on whether or not the IRQ is installed with the SA INTERRUPT flag. If it is not installed with the SA INTERRUPT flag, then the argument passed to the handler is a pointer to a register structure, and if it is installed with the SA INTERRUPT flag, then the argument passed is the number of the IRQ. For an example of handler set to use the SA INTERRUPT flag, look at how rs interrupt() is installed in : : : /kernel/chr drv/serial.c The SA INTERRUPT flag is used to determine whether or not the interrupt should be a “fast” interrupt. Normally, upon return from the interrupt, need resched, a global flag, is checked. If it is set (6= 0), then schedule() is run, which may schedule another process to run. They are also run with all other interrupts still enabled. However, by setting the sigaction structure member sa flags to SA INTERRUPT, “fast” interrupts are chosen, which leave out some processing, and very specifically do not call schedule(). irqaction() takes two arguments: irq new Returns: The number of the IRQ the driver wishes to acquire. A pointer to a sigaction struct. -EBUSY if the interrupt has already been acquired, -EINVAL if sa.handler() is NULL, 0 on success.

Defined in: kernel/irq.c See also: request irq(), free irq() IS *(inode) IS IS IS IS IS RDONLY(inode) ((inode)->i flags & MS RDONLY) NOSUID(inode) ((inode)->i flags & MS NOSUID) NODEV(inode) ((inode)->i flags & MS NODEV) NOEXEC(inode) ((inode)->i flags & MS NOEXEC) SYNC(inode) ((inode)->i flags & MS SYNC)

#include <linux/fs.h> These five test to see if the inode is on a filesystem mounted the corresponding flag. kfree*() #define kfree(x) kfree s((x), 0) void kfree s(void * obj, int size) #include <linux/malloc.h> Free memory previously allocated with kmalloc(). There are two possible arguments: obj size Pointer to kernel memory to free. To speed this up, if you know the size, use kfree s() and provide the correct size. This way, the kernel memory allocator knows which bucket cache the object belongs to, and doesn’t have to search all of the buckets.


Chapter 1. Device Drivers

(For more details on this terminology, read mm/kmalloc.c.) Defined in: mm/kmalloc.c, include/linux/malloc.h See also: kmalloc(). kmalloc() void * kmalloc(unsigned int len, int priority) #include <linux/kernel.h> kmalloc() used to be limited to 4096 bytes. It is now limited to 131056 bytes (32  4096 16). Buckets, which used to be all exact powers of 2, are now a power of 2 minus some small number, except for numbers less than or equal to 128. For more details, see the implementation in mm/kmalloc.c. kmalloc() takes two arguments: len Length of memory to allocate. If the maximum is exceeded, kmalloc will log an error message of “kmalloc of too large a block (%d bytes).” and return NULL. GFP KERNEL or GFP ATOMIC. If GFP KERNEL is chosen, kmalloc() may sleep, allowing preemption to occur. This is the normal way of calling kmalloc(). However, there are cases where it is better to return immediately if no pages are available, without attempting to sleep to find one. One of the places in which this is true is in the swapping code, because it could cause race conditions, and another in the networking code, where things can happen at much faster speed that things could be handled by swapping to disk to make space for giving the networking code more memory. The most important reason for using GFP ATOMIC is if it is being called from an interrupt, when you cannot sleep, and cannot receive other interrupts. NULL on failure. Pointer to allocated memory on success.



Defined in: mm/kmalloc.c See also: kfree() ll rw block() void ll rw block(int rw, int nr, struct buffer head *bh[]) #include <linux/fs.h> No device driver will ever call this code: it is called only through the buffer cache. However, an understanding of this function may help you understand the function of the strategy routine. After sanity checking, if there are no pending requests on the device’s request queue, ll rw block() “plugs” the queue so that the requests don’t go out until all the requests are in the queue, sorted by the elevator algorithm. make request() is then called for each request. If the queue had to be plugged, then the strategy routine for that device is not active, and it is called, with interrupts disabled. It is the responsibility of the strategy routine to re-enable interrupts. Defined in: devices/block/ll rw block.c See also: make request(), add request().

1.6. Supporting Functions



#define MAJOR(a) (((unsigned)(a))>>8) #include <linux/fs.h> This takes a 16 bit device number and gives the associated major number by shifting off the minor number. See also: MINOR().

make request() static void make request(int major, int rw, struct buffer head *bh) This is a static function in ll rw block.c, and cannot be called by other code. However, an understanding of this function, as well as an understanding of ll rw block(), may help you understand the strategy routine. make request() first checks to see if the request is read-ahead or write-ahead and the buffer is locked. If so, it simply ignores the request and returns. Otherwise, it locks the buffer and, except for SCSI devices, checks to make sure that write requests don’t fill the queue, as read requests should take precedence. If no spaces are available in the queue, and the request is neither read-ahead nor writeahead, make request() sleeps on the event wait for request, and tries again when woken. When a space in the queue is found, the request information is filled in and add request() is called to actually add the request to the queue. Defined in: devices/block/ll rw block.c See also: add request(), ll rw block(). MINOR() #define MINOR(a) ((a)&0xff) #include <linux/fs.h> This takes a 16 bit device number and gives the associated minor number by masking off the major number. See also: MAJOR().

memcpy *fs() inline void memcpy_tofs(void * to, const void * from, unsigned long n) inline void memcpy_fromfs(void * to, const void * from, unsigned long n) #include <asm/segment.h> Copies memory between user space and kernel space in chunks larger than one byte, word, or long. Be very careful to get the order of the arguments right!


Note: these functions may cause implicit I/O, if the memory being accessed has been swapped out, and therefore preemption may occur at this point. Do not include these functions in critical sections of your code, even if the critical sections are protected by cli()/sti() pairs, because implicit I/O will violate the cli() protection. If you need to get at user-space memory, copy it to kernel-space memory before you enter your critical section. These functions take three arguments: to Address to copy data to.


Chapter 1. Device Drivers

from n

Address to copy data from. Number of bytes to copy.

Defined in: include/asm/segment.h See also: get user*(), put user*(), cli(), sti(). outb(), outb p() inline void outb(char value, unsigned short port) inline void outb p(char value, unsigned short port) #include <asm/io.h> Writes a byte to a port. outb() goes as fast as it can, while outb p() pauses before returning. Some devices are happier if you don’t write to them as fast as possible. Both functions take two arguments: value port The byte to write. Port to write byte to.

Defined in: include/asm/io.h See also: inb(), inb p(). printk() int printk(const char* fmt, ...) #include <linux/kernel.h> printk() is a version of printf() for the kernel, with some restrictions. It cannot handle floats, and has a few other limitations, which are documented in kernel/vsprintf.c. It takes a variable number of arguments: fmt ... Format string, printf() style. The rest of the arguments, printf() style.


Number of bytes written. Note: printk() may cause implicit I/O, if the memory being accessed has been swapped out, and therefore preemption may occur at this point. Also, printk() will set the interrupt enable flag, so never use it in code protected by cli(). Because it causes I/O, it is not safe to use in protected code anyway, even it if didn’t set the interrupt enable flag.


Defined in: kernel/printk.c. put user*() inline void put user byte(char val, char *addr) inline void put user word(short val, short *addr) inline void put user long(unsigned long val, unsigned long *addr) #include <asm/segment.h> Allows a driver to write data in user space, which is in a different segment than the kernel. When entering the kernel through a system call, a selector for the current user space segment is put in the fs segment register, thus the names.

1.6. Supporting Functions



Note: these functions may cause implicit I/O, if the memory being accessed has been swapped out, and therefore preemption may occur at this point. Do not include these functions in critical sections of your code even if the critical sections are protected by cli()/sti() pairs, because that implicit I/O will violate the integrity of your cli()/sti() pair. If you need to get at user-space memory, copy it to kernel-space memory before you enter your critical section. These functions take two arguments: val addr Value to write Address to write data to.

Defined in: asm/segment.h See also: memcpy *fs(), get user*(), cli(), sti().

register *dev() int register_chrdev(unsigned int major, const char *name, struct file_operations *fops) int register_blkdev(unsigned int major, const char *name, struct file_operations *fops) #include <linux/fs.h> #include <linux/errno.h> Registers a device with the kernel, letting the kernel check to make sure that no other driver has already grabbed the same major number. Takes three arguments: major name Major number of device being registered. Unique string identifying driver. Used in the output for the /proc/devices file. Pointer to a file operations structure for that device. This must not be NULL, or the kernel will panic later. -EINVAL if major is  MAX CHRDEV or MAX BLKDEV (defined in <linux/fs.h>), for character or block devices, respectively. -EBUSY if major device number has already been allocated. 0 on success.



Defined in: fs/devices.c See also: unregister *dev()

request irq() int request_irq(unsigned int irq, void (*handler)(int), unsigned long flags, const char *device) #include <linux/sched.h> #include <linux/errno.h> Request an IRQ from the kernel, and install an IRQ interrupt handler if successful. Takes four arguments:


Chapter 1. Device Drivers

irq handler

The IRQ being requested. The handler to be called when the IRQ occurs. The argument to the handler function will be the number of the IRQ that it was invoked to handle. Set to SA INTERRUPT to request a “fast” interrupt or 0 to request a normal, “slow” one. A string containing the name of the device driver, device. -EINVAL if irq > 15 or handler = NULL. -EBUSY if irq is already allocated. 0 on success.


device Returns:

If you need more functionality in your interrupt handling, use the irqaction() function. This uses most of the capabilities of the sigaction structure to provide interrupt services similar to to the signal services provided by sigaction() to user-level programs. Defined in: kernel/irq.c See also: free irq(), irqaction().

select wait() inline void select_wait(struct wait_queue **wait_address, select_table *p) #include <linux/sched.h> Add a process to the proper select wait queue. This function takes two arguments:

wait address Address of a wait queue pointer to add to the circular list of waits. p If p is NULL, select wait does nothing, otherwise the current process is put to sleep. This should be the select table *wait variable that was passed to your select() function.

Defined in: linux/sched.h See also: *sleep on(), wake up*() *sleep on() void sleep on(struct wait queue ** p) void interruptible sleep on(struct wait queue ** p) #include <linux/sched.h> Sleep on an event, putting a wait queue entry in the list so that the process can be woken on that event. sleep on() goes into an uninterruptible sleep: The only way the process can run is to be woken by wake up(). interruptible sleep on() goes into an interruptible sleep that can be woken by signals and process timeouts will cause the process to wake up. A call to wake up interruptible() is necessary to wake up the process and allow it to continue running where it left off. Both take one argument: p Pointer to a proper wait queue structure that records the information needed to wake the process.

1.6. Supporting Functions


Defined in: kernel/sched.c See also: select wait(), wake up*(). sti() #define sti() asm volatile ("sti"::)

#include <asm/system.h> Allows interrupts to be acknowledged. sti stands for “SeT Interrupt enable”. Defined in: asm/system.h See also: cli(). sys get*() int int int int int int int sys sys sys sys sys sys sys getpid(void) getuid(void) getgid(void) geteuid(void) getegid(void) getppid(void) getpgrp(void)

These system calls may be used to get the information described in the table below, or the information can be extracted directly from the process table, like this: foo = current->pid; pid Process ID uid User ID gid Group ID euid Effective user ID egid Effective group ID ppid Process ID of process’ parent process pgid Group ID of process’ parent process The system calls should not be used because they are slower and take more space. Because of this, they are no longer exported as symbols throughout the whole kernel. Defined in: kernel/sched.c

unregister *dev() int unregister_chrdev(unsigned int major, const char *name) int unregister_blkdev(unsigned int major, const char *name) #include <linux/fs.h> #include <linux/errno.h> Removes the registration for a device device with the kernel, letting the kernel give the major number to some other device. Takes two arguments: major Major number of device being registered. Must be the same number given to register *dev(). Unique string identifying driver. Must be the same number given to register *dev(). -EINVAL if major is  MAX CHRDEV or MAX BLKDEV (defined in <linux/fs.h>), for character or block devices, respectively, or if there




Chapter 1. Device Drivers

have not been file operations registered for major device major, or if name is not the same name that the device was registered with. 0 on success. Defined in: fs/devices.c See also: register *dev() wake up*() void wake up(struct wait queue ** p) void wake up interruptible(struct wait queue ** p) #include <linux/sched.h> Wakes up a process that has been put to sleep by the matching *sleep on() function. wake up() can be used to wake up tasks in a queue where the tasks may be in a TASK INTERRUPTIBLE or TASK UNINTERRUPTIBLE state, while wake up interruptible() will only wake up tasks in a TASK INTERRUPTIBLE state, and will be insignificantly faster than wake up() on queues that have only interruptible tasks. These take one argument: p Pointer to the wait queue structure of the process to be woken.

Note that wake up() does not switch tasks, it only makes processes that are woken up runnable, so that the next time schedule() is called, they will be candidates to run. Defined in: kernel/sched.c See also: select wait(), *sleep on()

1.7 Writing a SCSI Device Driver
Copyright c 1993 Rickard E. Faith ( All rights reserved. Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this paper provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are preserved on all copies. This is (with the author’s explicit permission) a modified copy of the original document. If you wish to reproduce just this section, you are advised to get the original version by ftp from


Why You Want to Write a SCSI Driver

Currently, the Linux kernel contains drivers for the following SCSI host adapters: Adaptec 1542, Adaptec 1740, Future Domain TMC-1660/TMC-1680, Seagate ST-01/ST-02, UltraStor 14F, and Western Digital WD7000. You may want to write your own driver for an unsupported host adapter. You may also want to re-write or update one of the existing drivers.


What is SCSI?

The foreword to the SCSI-2 standard draft [ANS] gives a succinct definition of the Small Computer System Interface and briefly explains how SCSI-2 is related to SCSI-1 and CCS: The SCSI protocol is designed to provide an efficient peer-to-peer I/O bus with up to 8 devices, including one or more hosts. Data may be transferred asynchronously at rates that only

1.7. Writing a SCSI Device Driver


depend on device implementation and cable length. Synchronous data transfers are supported at rates up to 10 mega-transfers per second. With the 32 bit wide data transfer option, data rates of up to 40 megabytes per second are possible. SCSI-2 includes command sets for magnetic and optical disks, tapes, printers, processors, CD-ROMs, scanners, medium changers, and communications devices. In 1985, when the first SCSI standard was being finalized as an American National Standard, several manufacturers approached the X3T9.2 Task Group. They wanted to increase the mandatory requirements of SCSI and to define further features for direct-access devices. Rather than delay the SCSI standard, X3T9.2 formed an ad hoc group to develop a working paper that was eventually called the Common Command Set (CCS). Many disk products were designed using this working paper in conjunction with the SCSI standard. In parallel with the development of the CCS working paper, X3T9.2 began work on an enhanced SCSI standard which was named SCSI-2. SCSI-2 included the results of the CCS working paper and extended them to all device types. It also added caching commands, performance enhancement features, and other functions that X3T9.2 deemed worthwhile. While SCSI-2 has gone well beyond the original SCSI standard (now referred to as SCSI-1), it retains a high degree of compatibility with SCSI-1 devices. SCSI phases

The “SCSI bus” transfers data and state information between interconnected SCSI devices. A single transaction between an “initiator” and a “target” can involve up to 8 distinct “phases.” These phases are almost entirely determined by the target (e.g., the hard disk drive). The current phase can be determined from an examination of five SCSI bus signals, as shown in Table 1.1 [LXT91, p. 57]. -SEL HI HI I T HI HI HI HI HI HI -BSY HI LO I&T I&T LO LO LO LO LO LO -MSG ? ? ? ? HI HI HI HI LO LO -C/D ? ? ? ? HI HI LO LO LO LO -I/O ? ? ? ? HI LO HI LO HI LO PHASE BUS FREE ARBITRATION SELECTION RESELECTION DATA OUT DATA IN COMMAND STATUS MESSAGE OUT MESSAGE IN

I = Initiator Asserts, T = Target Asserts, ? = HI or LO

Table 1.1: SCSI Bus Phase Determination Some controllers (notably the inexpensive Seagate controller) require direct manipulation of the SCSI bus—other controllers automatically handle these low-level details. Each of the eight phases will be described in detail. BUS FREE Phase The BUS FREE phase indicates that the SCSI bus is idle and is not currently being used. ARBITRATION Phase The ARBITRATION phase is entered when a SCSI device attempts to gain control of the SCSI


Chapter 1. Device Drivers

bus. Arbitration can start only if the bus was previously in the BUS FREE phase. During arbitration, the arbitrating device asserts its SCSI ID on the DATA BUS. For example, if the arbitrating device’s SCSI ID is 2, then the device will assert 0x04. If multiple devices attempt simultaneous arbitration, the device with the highest SCSI ID will win. Although ARBITRATION is optional in the SCSI-1 standard, it is a required phase in the SCSI-2 standard. SELECTION Phase After ARBITRATION, the arbitrating device (now called the initiator) asserts the SCSI ID of the target on the DATA BUS. The target, if present, will acknowledge the selection by raising the -BSY line. This line remains active as long as the target is connected to the initiator. RESELECTION Phase The SCSI protocol allows a device to disconnect from the bus while processing a request. When the device is ready, it reconnects to the host adapter. The RESELECTION phase is identical to the SELECTION phase, with the exception that it is used by the disconnected target to reconnect to the original initiator. Drivers which do not currently support RESELECTION do not allow the SCSI target to disconnect. RESELECTION should be supported by all drivers, however, so that multiple SCSI devices can simultaneously process commands. This allows dramatically increased throughput due to interleaved I/O requests. COMMAND Phase During this phase, 6, 10, or 12 bytes of command information are transferred from the initiator to the target. DATA OUT and DATA IN Phases During these phases, data are transferred between the initiator and the target. For example, the DATA OUT phase transfers data from the host adapter to the disk drive. The DATA IN phase transfers data from the disk drive to the host adapter. If the SCSI command does not require data transfer, then neither phase is entered. STATUS Phase This phase is entered after completion of all commands, and allows the target to send a status byte to the initiator. There are nine valid status bytes, as shown in Table 1.2 [ANS, p. 77]. Note that since bits6 1–5 are used for the status code (the other bits are reserved), the status byte should be masked with 0x3e before being examined. The meanings of the three most important status codes are outlined below: GOOD The operation completed successfully.

CHECK CONDITION An error occurred. The REQUEST SENSE command should be used to find out more information about the error (see section 1.7.3). BUSY The device was unable to accept a command. This may occur during a self-test or shortly after power-up.

6 Bit

0 is the least significant bit.

1.7. Writing a SCSI Device Driver


Valuey 0x00 0x02 0x04 0x08 0x10 0x14 0x18 0x22 0x28


y After masking with 0x3e

Table 1.2: SCSI Status Codes

Additional information is transferred between the target and the initiator. This information may regard the status of an outstanding command, or may be a request for a change of protocol. Multiple MESSAGE IN and MESSAGE OUT phases may occur during a single SCSI transaction. If RESELECTION is supported, the driver must be able to correctly process the SAVE DATA POINTERS, RESTORE POINTERS, and DISCONNECT messages. Although required by the SCSI-2 standard, some devices do not automatically send a SAVE DATA POINTERS message prior to a DISCONNECT message.


SCSI Commands

Each SCSI command is 6, 10, or 12 bytes long. The following commands must be well understood by a SCSI driver developer. REQUEST SENSE Whenever a command returns a CHECK CONDITION status, the high-level Linux SCSI code automatically obtains more information about the error by executing the REQUEST SENSE. This command returns a sense key and a sense code (called the “additional sense code,” or ASC, in the SCSI-2 standard [ANS]). Some SCSI devices may also report an “additional sense code qualifier” (ASCQ). The 16 possible sense keys are described in Table 1.3. For information on the ASC and ASCQ, please refer to the SCSI standard [ANS] or to a SCSI device technical manual. TEST UNIT READY This command is used to test the target’s status. If the target can accept a mediumaccess command (e.g., a READ or a WRITE), the command returns with a GOOD status. Otherwise, the command returns with a CHECK CONDITION status and a sense key of NOT READY. This response usually indicates that the target is completing power-on self-tests. INQUIRY This command returns the target’s make, model, and device type. The high-level Linux code uses this command to differentiate among magnetic disks, optical disks, and tape drives (the high-level code currently does not support printers, processors, or juke boxes).


Chapter 1. Device Drivers

Sense Key 0x00 0x01 0x02 0x03 0x04 0x05 0x06 0x07 0x08 0x09 0x0a 0x0b 0x0c 0x0d 0x0e 0x0f


Table 1.3: Sense Key Descriptions

READ and WRITE These commands are used to transfer data from and to the target. You should be sure your driver can support simpler commands, such as TEST UNIT READY and INQUIRY, before attempting to use the READ and WRITE commands.


Getting Started

The author of a low-level device driver will need to have an understanding of how interruptions are handled by the kernel. At minimum, the kernel functions that disable (cli()) and enable (sti()) interruptions should be understood. The scheduling functions (e.g., schedule(), sleepon(), and wakeup()) may also be needed by some drivers. A detailed explanation of these functions can be found in section 1.6.


Before You Begin: Gathering Tools

Before you begin to write a SCSI driver for Linux, you will need to obtain several resources. The most important is a bootable Linux system—preferably one which boots from an IDE, RLL, or MFM hard disk. During the development of your new SCSI driver, you will rebuild the kernel and reboot your system many times. Programming errors may result in the destruction of data on your SCSI drive and on your non-SCSI drive. Back up your system before you begin. The installed Linux system can be quite minimal: the GCC compiler distribution (including libraries and the binary utilities), an editor, and the kernel source are all you need. Additional tools like od, hexdump, and less will be quite helpful. All of these tools will fit on an inexpensive 20-30 MB hard disk.7 . Documentation is essential. At minimum, you will need a technical manual for your host adapter. Since Linux is freely distributable, and since you (ideally) want to distribute your source code freely, avoid

used 20 MB MFM hard disk and controller should cost less than US$100.

1.7. Writing a SCSI Device Driver


non-disclosure agreements (NDA). Most NDAs will prohibit you from releasing your source code—you might be allowed to release an object file containing your driver, but this is simply not acceptable in the Linux community at this time. A manual that explains the SCSI standard will be helpful. Usually the technical manual for your disk drive will be sufficient, but a copy of the SCSI standard will often be helpful.8 Before you start, make hard copies of hosts.h, scsi.h, and one of the existing drivers in the Linux kernel. These will prove to be useful references while you write your driver.


The Linux SCSI Interface

The high-level SCSI interface in the Linux kernel manages all of the interaction between the kernel and the low-level SCSI device driver. Because of this layered design, a low-level SCSI driver need only provide a few basic services to the high-level code. The author of a low-level driver does not need to understand the intricacies of the kernel I/O system and, hence, can write a low-level driver in a relatively short amount of time. Two main structures (Scsi_Host and Scsi_Cmnd) are used to communicate between the high-level code and the low-level code. The next two sections provide detailed information about these structures and the requirements of the low-level driver.


The Scsi Host Structure

The Scsi_Host structure serves to describe the low-level driver to the high-level code. Usually, this description is placed in the device driver’s header file in a C preprocessor definition, as shown in Figure 1.1.

#define FDOMAIN_16X0

{ "Future Domain TMC-16x0", fdomain_16x0_detect, fdomain_16x0_info, fdomain_16x0_command, fdomain_16x0_queue, fdomain_16x0_abort, fdomain_16x0_reset, NULL, fdomain_16x0_biosparam, 1, 6, 64, 1 ,0, 0}

\ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \


Figure 1.1: Device Driver Header File

The Scsi_Host structure is presented in Figure 1.2. Each of the fields will be explained in detail later in this section.
8 The October 17, 1991, draft of the SCSI-2 standard document is available via anonymous ftp from in /pub/Linux/development/scsi-2.tar.Z, and is available for purchase from Global Engineering Documents (2805 McGaw, Irvine, CA 92714), (800)-854-7179 or (714)-261-1455. Please refer to document X3.131-199X. In early 1993, the manual cost US$60–70.


Chapter 1. Device Drivers

*name; (* detect)(int); *(* info)(void); (* queuecommand)(Scsi_Cmnd *, void (*done)(Scsi_Cmnd *)); int (* command)(Scsi_Cmnd *); int (* abort)(Scsi_Cmnd *, int); int (* reset)(void); int (* slave_attach)(int, int); int (* bios_param)(int, int, int []); int can_queue; int this_id; short unsigned int sg_tablesize; short cmd_per_lun; unsigned present:1; unsigned unchecked_isa_dma:1; } Scsi_Host;

typedef struct { char int const char int

Figure 1.2: The Scsi Host Structure

Variables in the Scsi Host structure

In general, the variables in the Scsi_Host structure are not used until after the detect() function (see section is called. Therefore, any variables which cannot be assigned before host adapter detection should be assigned during detection. This situation might occur, for example, if a single driver provided support for several host adapters with very similar characteristics. Some of the parameters in the Scsi_Host structure might then depend on the specific host adapter detected. name

name holds a pointer to a short description of the SCSI host adapter. can queue

can_queue holds the number of outstanding commands the host adapter can process. Unless RESELECTION is supported by the driver and the driver is interrupt-driven,9 this variable should be set to 1. this id

Most host adapters have a specific SCSI ID assigned to them. This SCSI ID, usually 6 or 7, is used for RESELECTION. The this_id variable holds the host adapter’s SCSI ID. If the host adapter does not have an assigned SCSI ID, this variable should be set to 1 (in this case, RESELECTION cannot be supported).
9 Some

of the early Linux drivers were not interrupt driven and, consequently, had very poor performance.

1.7. Writing a SCSI Device Driver


sg tablesize

The high-level code supports “scatter-gather,” a method of increasing SCSI throughput by combining many small SCSI requests into a few large SCSI requests. Since most SCSI disk drives are formatted with 1:1 interleave,10 the time required to perform the SCSI ARBITRATION and SELECTION phases is longer than the rotational latency time between sectors.11 Therefore, only one SCSI request can be processed per disk revolution, resulting in a throughput of about 50 kilobytes per second. When scatter-gather is supported, however, average throughput is usually over 500 kilobytes per second. The sg_tablesize variable holds the maximum allowable number of requests in the scatter-gather list. If the driver does not support scatter-gather, this variable should be set to SG_NONE. If the driver can support an unlimited number of grouped requests, this variable should be set to SG_ALL. Some drivers will use the host adapter to manage the scatter-gather list and may need to limit sg_tablesize to the number that the host adapter hardware supports. For example, some Adaptec host adapters require a limit of 16.

cmd per lun

The SCSI standard supports the notion of “linked commands.” Linked commands allow several commands to be queued consecutively to a single SCSI device. The cmd_per_lun variable specifies the number of linked commands allowed. This variable should be set to 1 if command linking is not supported. At this time, however, the high-level SCSI code will not take advantage of this feature. Linked commands are fundamentally different from multiple outstanding commands (as described by the can_queue variable). Linked commands always go to the same SCSI target and do not necessarily involve a RESELECTION phase. Further, linked commands eliminate the ARBITRATION, SELECTION, and MESSAGE OUT phases on all commands after the first one in the set. In contrast, multiple outstanding commands may be sent to an arbitrary SCSI target, and require the ARBITRATION, SELECTION, MESSAGE OUT, and RESELECTION phases.


The present bit is set (by the high-level code) if the host adapter is detected.

unchecked isa dma

Some host adapters use Direct Memory Access (DMA) to read and write blocks of data directly from or to the computer’s main memory. Linux is a virtual memory operating system that can use more than 16 MB of physical memory. Unfortunately, on machines using the ISA bus12 , DMA is limited to the low 16 MB of physical memory. If the unchecked_isa_dma bit is set, the high-level code will provide data buffers which are guaranteed to be in the low 16 MB of the physical address space. Drivers written for host adapters that do not use DMA should set this bit to zero. Drivers specific to EISA bus13 machines should also set this bit to zero, since EISA bus machines allow unrestricted DMA access.
interleave” means that all of the sectors in a single track appear consecutively on the disk surface. may be an over-simplification. On older devices, the actual command processing can be significant. Further, there is a great deal of layered overhead in the kernel: the high-level SCSI code, the buffering code, and the file-system code all contribute to poor SCSI performance. 12 The so-called “Industry Standard Architecture” bus was introduced with the IBM PC/XT and IBM PC/AT computers. 13 The “Extended Industry Standard Architecture” bus is a non-proprietary 32-bit bus for 386 and i486 machines.
11 This 10 “1:1


Chapter 1. Device Drivers

Functions in the Scsi Host Structure detect()

The detect() function’s only argument is the “host number,” an index into the scsi_hosts variable (an array of type struct Scsi_Host). The detect() function should return a non-zero value if the host adapter is detected, and should return zero otherwise. Host adapter detection must be done carefully. Usually the process begins by looking in the ROM area for the “BIOS signature” of the host adapter. On PC/AT-compatible computers, the use of the address space between 0xc0000 and 0xfffff is fairly well defined. For example, the video BIOS on most machines starts at 0xc0000 and the hard disk BIOS, if present, starts at 0xc8000. When a PC/AT-compatible computer boots, every 2-kilobyte block from 0xc0000 to 0xf8000 is examined for the 2-byte signature (0x55aa) which indicates that a valid BIOS extension is present [Nor85]. The BIOS signature usually consists of a series of bytes that uniquely identifies the BIOS. For example, one Future Domain BIOS signature is the string: FUTURE DOMAIN CORP. (C) 1986-1990 1800-V2.07/28/89

found exactly five bytes from the start of the BIOS block. After the BIOS signature is found, it is safe to test for the presence of a functioning host adapter in more specific ways. Since the BIOS signatures are hard-coded in the kernel, the release of a new BIOS can cause the driver to mysteriously fail. Further, people who use the SCSI adapter exclusively for Linux may want to disable the BIOS to speed boot time. For these reasons, if the adapter can be detected safely without examining the BIOS, then that alternative method should be used. Usually, each host adapter has a series of I/O port addresses which are used for communications. Sometimes these addresses will be hard coded into the driver, forcing all Linux users who have this host adapter to use a specific set of I/O port addresses. Other drivers are more flexible, and find the current I/O port address by scanning all possible port addresses. Usually each host adapter will allow 3 or 4 sets of addresses, which are selectable via hardware jumpers on the host adapter card. After the I/O port addresses are found, the host adapter can be interrogated to confirm that it is, indeed, the expected host adapter. These tests are host adapter specific, but commonly include methods to determine the BIOS base address (which can then be compared to the BIOS address found during the BIOS signature search) or to verify a unique identification number associated with the board. For MCA bus14 machines, each type of board is given a unique identification number which no other manufacturer can use—several Future Domain host adapters, for example, also use this number as a unique identifier on ISA bus machines. Other methods of verifying the host adapter existence and function will be available to the programmer. Requesting the IRQ

After detection, the detect() routine must request any needed interrupt or DMA channels from the kernel. There are 16 interrupt channels, labeled IRQ 0 through IRQ 15. The kernel provides two methods for setting up an IRQ handler: irqaction() and request_irq(). The request_irq() function takes two parameters, the IRQ number and a pointer to the handler routine. It then sets up a default sigaction structure and calls irqaction(). The code15 for
14 The 15 Linux

“Micro-Channel Architecture” bus is IBM’s proprietary 32 bit bus for 386 and i486 machines. 0.99.7 kernel source code, linux/kernel/irq.c

1.7. Writing a SCSI Device Driver


the request_irq() function is shown in Figure 1.3. I will limit my discussion to the more general irqaction() function.

int request_irq( unsigned int irq, void (*handler)( int ) ) { struct sigaction sa; sa.sa_handler = handler; sa.sa_flags = 0; sa.sa_mask = 0; sa.sa_restorer = NULL; return irqaction( irq, &sa ); }

Figure 1.3: The request irq() Function The declaration16 for the irqaction() function is int irqaction( unsigned int irq, struct sigaction *new )

where the first parameter, irq, is the number of the IRQ that is being requested, and the second parameter, new, is a structure with the definition17 shown in Figure 1.4.

struct sigaction { __sighandler_t sigset_t int void };

sa_handler; sa_mask; sa_flags; (*sa_restorer)(void);

Figure 1.4: The sigaction Structure In this structure, sa_handler should point to your interrupt handler routine, which should have a definition similar to the following: void fdomain_16x0_intr( int irq )

where irq will be the number of the IRQ which caused the interrupt handler routine to be invoked. The sa_mask variable is used as an internal flag by the irqaction() routine. Traditionally, this variable is set to zero prior to calling irqaction().
16 Linux 17 Linux

0.99.5 kernel source code, linux/kernel/irq.c 0.99.5 kernel source code, linux/include/linux/signal.h


Chapter 1. Device Drivers

The sa_flags variable can be set to zero or to SA_INTERRUPT. If zero is selected, the interrupt handler will run with other interrupts enabled, and will return via the signal-handling return functions. This option is recommended for relatively slow IRQs, such as those associated with the keyboard and timer interrupts. If SA_INTERRUPT is selected, the handler will be called with interrupts disabled and return will avoid the signal-handling return functions. SA_INTERRUPT selects “fast” IRQ handler invocation routines, and is recommended for interrupt driven hard disk routines. The interrupt handler should turn interrupts on as soon as possible, however, so that other interrupts can be processed. The sa_restorer variable is not currently used, and is traditionally set to NULL. The request_irq() and irqaction() functions will return zero if the IRQ was successfully assigned to the specified interrupt handler routine. Non-zero result codes may be interpreted as follows: -EINVAL Either the IRQ requested was larger than 15, or a NULL pointer was passed instead of a valid pointer to the interrupt handler routine. The IRQ requested has already been allocated to another interrupt handler. This situation should never occur, and is reasonable cause for a call to panic().


The kernel uses an Intel “interrupt gate” to set up IRQ handler routines requested via the irqaction() function. The Intel i486 manual [Int90, p. 9-11] explains the interrupt gate as follows: Interrupts using: : : interrupt gates: : : cause the TF flag [trap flag] to be cleared after its current value is saved on the stack as part of the saved contents of the EFLAGS register. In so doing, the processor prevents instruction tracing from affecting interrupt response. A subsequent IRET [interrupt return] instruction restores the TF flag to the value in the saved contents of the EFLAGS register on the stack. : : : An interrupt which uses an interrupt gate clears the IF flag [interrupt-enable flag], which prevents other interrupts from interfering with the current interrupt handler. A subsequent IRET instruction restores the IF flag to the value in the saved contents of the EFLAGS register on the stack. Requesting the DMA channel

Some SCSI host adapters use DMA to access large blocks of data in memory. Since the CPU does not have to deal with the individual DMA requests, data transfers are faster than CPU-mediated transfers and allow the CPU to do other useful work during a block transfer (assuming interrupts are enabled). The host adapter will use a specific DMA channel. This DMA channel will be determined by the detect() function and requested from the kernel with the request_dma() function. This function takes the DMA channel number as its only parameter and returns zero if the DMA channel was successfully allocated. Non-zero results may be interpreted as follows: -EINVAL -EBUSY The DMA channel number requested was larger than 7. The requested DMA channel has already been allocated. This is a very serious situation, and will probably cause any SCSI requests to fail. It is worthy of a call to panic(). info()

The info() function merely returns a pointer to a static area containing a brief description of the low-level driver. This description, which is similar to that pointed to by the name variable, will be printed at boot

1.7. Writing a SCSI Device Driver




The queuecommand() function sets up the host adapter for processing a SCSI command and then returns. When the command is finished, the done() function is called with the Scsi_Cmnd structure pointer as a parameter. This allows the SCSI command to be executed in an interrupt-driven fashion. Before returning, the queuecommand() function must do several things: 1. Save the pointer to the Scsi_Cmnd structure. 2. Save the pointer to the done() function in the scsi_done() function pointer in the Scsi_Cmnd structure. See section for more information. 3. Set up the special Scsi_Cmnd variables required by the driver. See section 1.7.8 for detailed information on the Scsi_Cmnd structure. 4. Start the SCSI command. For an advanced host adapter, this may be as simple as sending the command to a host adapter “mailbox.” For less advanced host adapters, the ARBITRATION phase is manually started. The queuecommand() function is called only if the can_queue variable (see section is nonzero. Otherwise the command() function is used for all SCSI requests. The queuecommand() function should return zero on success (the current high-level SCSI code presently ignores the return value).


The done() function is called after the SCSI command completes. The single parameter that this command requires is a pointer to the same Scsi_Cmnd structure that was previously passed to the queuecommand() function. Before the done() function is called, the result variable must be set correctly. The result variable is a 32 bit integer, each byte of which has specific meaning: Byte 0 (LSB) Byte 1 Byte 2 This byte contains the SCSI STATUS code for the command, as described in section This byte contains the SCSI MESSAGE, as described in section This byte holds the host adapter’s return code. The valid codes for this byte are given in scsi.h and are described below: DID OK No error.

DID NO CONNECT SCSI SELECTION failed because there was no device at the address specified.




Chapter 1. Device Drivers

A time-out occurred for some unknown reason, probably during SELECTION or while waiting for RESELECTION.

DID BAD TARGET The SCSI ID of the target was the same as the SCSI ID of the host adapter. DID ABORT The high-level code called the low-level abort() function (see section A SCSI PARITY error was detected. An error occurred which lacks a more appropriate error code (for example, an internal host adapter error). The high-level code called the low-level reset() function (see section



DID BAD INTR An unexpected interrupt occurred and there is no appropriate way to handle this interrupt. Note that returning DID_BUS_BUSY will force the command to be retried, whereas returning DID_NO_CONNECT will abort the command. Byte 3 (MSB) This byte is for a high-level return code, and should be left as zero by the low-level code.

Current low-level drivers do not uniformly (or correctly) implement error reporting, so it may be better to consult scsi.c to determine exactly how errors should be reported, rather than exploring existing drivers.


The command() function processes a SCSI command and returns when the command is finished. When the original SCSI code was written, interrupt-driven drivers were not supported. The old drivers are much less efficient (in terms of response time and latency) than the current interrupt-driven drivers, but are also much easier to write. For new drivers, this command can be replaced with a call to the queuecommand() function, as demonstrated in Figure 1.5.18 The return value is the same as the result variable in the Scsi_Cmnd structure. Please see sections and 1.7.8 for more details.


The high-level SCSI code handles all timeouts. This frees the low-level driver from having to do timing, and permits different timeout periods to be used for different devices (e.g., the timeout for a SCSI tape drive is nearly infinite, whereas the timeout for a SCSI disk drive is relatively short). The abort() function is used to request that the currently outstanding SCSI command, indicated by the Scsi_Cmnd pointer, be aborted. After setting the result variable in the Scsi_Cmnd structure, the
18 Linux

0.99.5 kernel, linux/kernel/blk drv/scsi/aha1542.c, written by Tommy Thorn.

1.7. Writing a SCSI Device Driver


static volatile int internal_done_flag = 0; static volatile int internal_done_errcode = 0; static void internal_done( Scsi_Cmnd *SCpnt ) { internal_done_errcode = SCpnt->result; ++internal_done_flag; } int aha1542_command( Scsi_Cmnd *SCpnt ) { aha1542_queuecommand( SCpnt, internal_done ); while (!internal_done_flag); internal_done_flag = 0; return internal_done_errcode; }

Figure 1.5: Example command() Function

abort() function returns zero. If code, the second parameter to the abort() function, is zero, then result should be set to DID_ABORT. Otherwise, result should be set equal to code. If code is not zero, it is usually DID_TIME_OUT or DID_RESET. Currently, none of the low-level drivers is able to correctly abort a SCSI command. The initiator should request (by asserting the -ATN line) that the target enter a MESSAGE OUT phase. Then, the initiator should send an ABORT message to the target.


The reset() function is used to reset the SCSI bus. After a SCSI bus reset, any executing command should fail with a DID_RESET result code (see section Currently, none of the low-level drivers handles resets correctly. To correctly reset a SCSI command, the initiator should request (by asserting the -ATN line) that the target enter a MESSAGE OUT phase. Then, the initiator should send a BUS DEVICE RESET message to the target. It may also be necessary to initiate a SCSI RESET by asserting the -RST line, which will cause all target devices to be reset. After a reset, it may be necessary to renegotiate a synchronous communications protocol with the targets.

slave attach()

The slave attach() function is not currently implemented. This function would be used to negotiate synchronous communications between the host adapter and the target drive. This negotiation requires an exchange of a pair of SYNCHRONOUS DATA TRANSFER REQUEST messages between the initiator and the target. This exchange should occur under the following conditions [LXT91]: A SCSI device that supports synchronous data transfer recognizes it has not communicated with the other SCSI device since receiving the last “hard” RESET.


Chapter 1. Device Drivers

A SCSI device that supports synchronous data transfer recognizes it has not communicated with the other SCSI device since receiving a BUS DEVICE RESET message.

bios param()

Linux supports the MS-DOS19 hard disk partitioning system. Each disk contains a “partition table” which defines how the disk is divided into logical sections. Interpretation of this partition table requires information about the size of the disk in terms of cylinders, heads, and sectors per cylinder. SCSI disks, however, hide their physical geometry and are accessed logically as a contiguous list of sectors. Therefore, in order to be compatible with MS-DOS, the SCSI host adapter will “lie” about its geometry. The physical geometry of the SCSI disk, while available, is seldom used as the “logical geometry.” (The reasons for this involve archaic and arbitrary limitations imposed by MS-DOS.) Linux needs to determine the “logical geometry” so that it can correctly modify and interpret the partition table. Unfortunately, there is no standard method for converting between physical and logical geometry. Hence, the bios param() function was introduced in an attempt to provide access to the host adapter geometry information. The size parameter is the size of the disk in sectors. Some host adapters use a deterministic formula based on this number to calculate the logical geometry of the drive. Other host adapters store geometry information in tables which the driver can access. To facilitate this access, the dev parameter contains the drive’s device number. Two macros are defined in linux/fs.h which will help to interpret this value: MAJOR(dev) is the device’s major number, and MINOR(dev) is the device’s minor number. These are the same major and minor device numbers used by the standard Linux mknod command to create the device in the /dev directory. The info parameter points to an array of three integers that the bios_param() function will fill in before returning: info[0] info[1] info[2] Number of heads Number of sectors per cylinder Number of cylinders

The information in info is not the physical geometry of the drive, but only a logical geometry that is identical to the logical geometry used by MS-DOS to access the drive. The distinction between physical and logical geometry cannot be overstressed.


The Scsi Cmnd Structure

The Scsi_Cmnd structure,20 as shown in Figure 1.6, is used by the high-level code to specify a SCSI command for execution by the low-level code. Many variables in the Scsi_Cmnd structure can be ignored by the low-level device driver—other variables, however, are extremely important.

Reserved Areas Informative Variables

host is an index into the scsi_hosts array.
19 MS-DOS 20 Linux

is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation. 0.99.7 kernel, linux/kernel/blk drv/scsi/scsi.h

1.7. Writing a SCSI Device Driver


typedef struct scsi_cmnd { int host; unsigned char target, lun, index; struct scsi_cmnd *next, *prev; unsigned char unsigned void unsigned char unsigned short unsigned short unsigned void struct request unsigned char int int int cmnd[10]; request_bufflen; *request_buffer; data_cmnd[10]; use_sg; sglist_len; bufflen; *buffer; request; sense_buffer[16]; retries; allowed; timeout_per_command, timeout_total, timeout; internal_timeout; flags;

unsigned char unsigned

void (*scsi_done)(struct scsi_cmnd *); void (*done)(struct scsi_cmnd *); Scsi_Pointer unsigned char int } Scsi_Cmnd; SCp; *host_scribble; result;

Figure 1.6: The Scsi Cmnd Structure


Chapter 1. Device Drivers

target stores the SCSI ID of the target of the SCSI command. This information is important if multiple outstanding commands or multiple commands per target are supported. cmnd is an array of bytes which hold the actual SCSI command. These bytes should be sent to the SCSI target during the COMMAND phase. cmnd[0] is the SCSI command code. The COMMAND_SIZE macro, defined in scsi.h, can be used to determine the length of the current SCSI command. result is used to store the result code from the SCSI request. Please see section for more information about this variable. This variable must be correctly set before the low-level routines return.

The Scatter-Gather List

use_sg contains a count of the number of pieces in the scatter-gather chain. If use_sg is zero, then request_buffer points to the data buffer for the SCSI command, and request_bufflen is the length of this buffer in bytes. Otherwise, request_buffer points to an array of scatterlist structures, and use_sg will indicate how many such structures are in the array. The use of request_buffer is non-intuitive and confusing. Each element of the scatterlist array contains an address and a length component. If the unchecked_isa_dma flag in the Scsi_Host structure is set to 1 (see section for more information on DMA transfers), the address is guaranteed to be within the first 16 MB of physical memory. Large amounts of data will be processed by a single SCSI command. The length of these data will be equal to the sum of the lengths of all the buffers pointed to by the scatterlist array.

Scratch Areas

Depending on the capabilities and requirements of the host adapter, the scatter-gather list can be handled in a variety of ways. To support multiple methods, several scratch areas are provided for the exclusive use of the low-level driver.

The scsi done() Pointer

This pointer should be set to the done() function pointer in the queuecommand() function (see section for more information). There are no other uses for this pointer.

The host scribble Pointer

The high-level code supplies a pair of memory allocation functions, scsi_malloc() and scsi_free(), which are guaranteed to return memory in the first 16 MB of physical memory. This memory is, therefore, suitable for use with DMA. The amount of memory allocated per request must be a multiple of 512 bytes, and must be less than or equal to 4096 bytes. The total amount of memory available via scsi_malloc() is a complex function of the Scsi_Host structure variables sg_tablesize, cmd_per_lun, and unchecked_isa_dma. The host_scribble pointer is available to point to a region of memory allocated with scsi_malloc(). The low-level SCSI driver is responsible for managing this pointer and its associated memory, and should free the area when it is no longer needed.

1.8. Acknowledgements


The Scsi Pointer Structure

The SCp variable, a structure of type Scsi_Pointer, is described in Figure 1.7. The variables in this struc-

typedef struct scsi_pointer { char *ptr; int this_residual; struct scatterlist *buffer; int buffers_residual; volatile int volatile int volatile int volatile int volatile int } Scsi_Pointer; Status; Message; have_data_in; sent_command; phase;

/* /* /* /*

data pointer */ left in this buffer */ which buffer */ how many buffers left */

Figure 1.7: The Scsi Pointer Structure ture can be used in any way necessary in the low-level driver. Typically, buffer points to the current entry in the scatterlist, buffers_residual counts the number of entries remaining in the scatterlist, ptr is used as a pointer into the buffer, and this_residual counts the characters remaining in the transfer. Some host adapters require support of this detail of interaction—others can completely ignore this structure. The second set of variables provide convenient locations to store SCSI status information and various pointers and flags.

1.8 Acknowledgements
Thanks to Drew Eckhardt, Michael K. Johnson, Karin Boes, Devesh Bhatnagar, and Doug Hoffman for reading early versions of this paper and for providing many helpful comments. Special thanks to my official COMP-291 (Professional Writing in Computer Science) “readers,” Professors Peter Calingaert and Raj Kumar Singh.

1.9 Network Device Drivers
[I have not written this section because I don’t know anything about it. I would appreciate help with this. Note that Donald Becker has written an excellent skeleton device driver which is a very good start towards writing a network device driver.]

Chapter 2

The /proc filesystem
The proc filesystem is an interface to several kernel data structures which behaves remarkably like a filesystem. Instead of having to read /dev/kmem and have some way of knowing where things are,1 all an application has to do is read files and directories in /proc. This way, all the addresses of the kernel data structures are compiled into the proc filesystem at kernel compile time, and programs which use the /proc interface need not be recompiled or updated when the kernel is recompiled. It is possible to mount the proc filesystem somewhere other than /proc, but that destroys the nice predictability of the proc filesystem, so we will conveniently ignore that option. The information should somewhat resemble Linux 1.0.

2.1 /proc Directories and Files
[This section should be severely cut, and the full version put in the LPG when that is available. In the mean time, better here than nowhere.] In /proc, there is a subdirectory for every running process, named by the number of the process’s pid. These directories will be explained below. There are also several other files and directories. These are: self This refers to the process accessing the proc filesystem, and is identical to the directory named by the process id of the process doing the look-up. This file can be used instead of the syslog() system call to log kernel messages. A process must have superuser privileges to read this file, and only one process should read this file. This file should not be read if a syslog process is running which uses the syslog() system call facility to log kernel messages. This file gives an output like this:
0.13 0.14 0.05



These numbers are the numbers normally given by uptime and other commands as the load average—they are the average number of processes trying to run at once in the last minute, in the last five minutes and in the last fifteen minutes, more or less. meminfo
1 Usually

This file is a condensed version of the output from the free program. Its output looks like this:
a file called a namelist file, often /etc/psdatabase.


2.1. /proc Directories and Files


Mem: Swap:

total: 7528448 8024064

used: 7344128 1474560

free: 184320 6549504

shared: 2637824

buffers: 1949696

Notice that the numbers are in bytes, not KB. Linus wrote a version of free which reads this file and can return either bytes (-b) or KB (-k, the default). This is included with the procps package at and other places. Also notice that there is not a separate entry for each swap file. The Swap: line summarizes all the swap space available to the kernel. uptime This file contains two things: the time that the system has been up, and the amount of time it has spent in the idle process. Both numbers are given as decimal quantities, in seconds and hundredths of a second. The two decimal digits of precision are not guaranteed on all architectures, but are currently accurate on all working implementations of Linux, due to the convenient 100 Hz clock. This file looks like this:
604.33 205.45

In this case, the system has been running for 604.33 seconds, and of that time, 205.45 seconds have been spent in the idle task. kcore This is a file which represents the physical memory in the current system, in the same format as a ‘core file’. This can be used with a debugger to examine variables in the kernel. The total length of the file is the physical memory plus a 4KB header to make it look like a core file. The stat file return various statistics about the system in ASCII format. An example of stat file is the following:
cpu 5470 0 3764 193792 disk 0 0 0 0 page 11584 937 swap 255 618 intr 239978 ctxt 20932 btime 767808289


The meaning of the lines being cpu The four numbers represent the number of jiffies the system spent in user mode, in user mode with low priority (nice), in system mode, and in the idle task. The last value should be 100 times the second entry in the uptime file. The four dk drive entries in the kernel stat structure are currently unused. This is the number of pages the system brought in from the disk and out to the disk. Is the number of swap pages the system brought in and out. The number of interrupts received from system boot. [The format of this line has changed in more recent kernels.]



swap intr


Chapter 2. The /proc filesystem

ctxt btime modules

The number of context switches the system underwent. The boot time, in seconds since the epoch.

This return the list of kernel modules, in ASCII form. The format is not well defined at this point, as it has changed from version to version. This will stabilize with later versions of Linux as the modules interface stabilizes. This file is present only if CONFIG DEBUG MALLOC was defined during kernel compilation. This file contains a string identifying the version of Linux that is currently running. An example is:
Linux version 1.1.40 (johnsonm@nigel) (gcc version 2.5.8) #3 \ Sat Aug 6 14:22:05 1994

malloc version

Note that this contains the version of Linux, the username and hostname of the user that compiled it, the version of gcc, the “iteration” of the compilation (each new compile will increase the number), and the output of the ‘date’ command as of the start of the compilation. net This is a directory containing three files, all of which give the status of some part of the Linux networking layer. These files contain binary structures, and are therefore not readable with cat. However, the standard netstat suite uses these files. The binary structures read from these files are defined in <linux/if*.h> The files are: unix [I do not yet have details on the unix interface. These details will be added later.] [I do not yet have details on the arp interface. These details will be added later.] [I do not yet have details on the route interface. These details will be added later.] [I do not yet have details on the dev interface. These details will be added later.] [I do not yet have details on the raw interface. These details will be added later.] [I do not yet have details on the tcp interface. These details will be added later.] [I do not yet have details on the udp interface. These details will be added later.]







Each of the process subdirectories (those with numerical names and the self directory) have several files and subdirectories, as well. The files are: cmdline This holds the complete command line for the process, unless the whole process has been swapped out, or unless the process is a zombie. In either of these later cases, there is nothing in this file: i.e. a read on this file will return as having read 0 characters. This file is null-terminated, but not newline-terminated.

2.1. /proc Directories and Files



A link to the current working directory of that process. To find out the cwd of process 20, say, you can do this:
(cd /proc/20/cwd; pwd)


This file contains the environment for the process. There are no newlines in this file: the entries are separated by null characters, and there is a null character at the end. Thus, to print out the environment of process 10, you would do:
cat /proc/10/environ | tr "\000" "\n"

This file is also null-terminated and not newline terminated.. exe This is a link to the executable. You can type

to run another copy of whatever process 10 is. fd This is a subdirectory containing one entry for each file which the process has open, named by its file descriptor, and which is a link to the actual file. Programs that will take a filename, but will not take the standard input, and which write to a file, but will not send their output to standard output, can be effectively foiled this way, assuming that -i is the flag designating an input file and -o is the flag designating an output file:
... | foobar -i /proc/self/fd/0 -o /proc/self/fd/1 | ...

Voil´ . Instant filter! Note that this will not work for programs that seek on their files, as the a files in the fd directory are not seekable. maps This is a file which contains a listing of all the memory mappings that the process is using. The shared libraries are mapped in this way, so there should be one entry for each shared library in use, and some processes use memory maps for other purposes as well. Here is an example:
00000000-00013000 00013000-00014000 00014000-0001c000 bffff000-c0000000 r-xs rwxp rwxp rwxp 00000400 00013400 00000000 00000000 03:03 03:03 00:00 00:00 12164 12164 0 0

The first field is a number defining the start of the mapped range. the second field is a number defining the end of the mapped range. The third field gives the flags: r means readable, - means not. w means writable, - means not. x means executable, - means not. s means shared, p means private. The fourth field is the offset at which it is mapped. The fifth field indicates the major:minor device number of the file being mapped. The sixth field indicates the inode number of the file being mapped. mem This is not the same as the mem (1,1) device, despite the fact that it has the same device numbers. The /dev/mem device is the physical memory before any address translation is done, but the mem file here is the memory of the process that accesses it. This cannot be mmap()ed currently, and will not be until a general mmap() is added to the kernel.


Chapter 2. The /proc filesystem


This is a pointer to the root directory of the process. This is useful for programs that call chroot(), such as ftpd. This file contains a lot of status information about the process. The fields, in order, with their proper scanf() format specifiers, are: pid %d comm (%s) The process id. The filename of the executable, in parentheses. This is visible whether or not the executable is swapped out. One character from the string “RSDZT” where R is running, S is sleeping in an interruptible wait, D is sleeping in an uninterruptible wait or swapping, Z is zombie, and T is traced or stopped (on a signal). The pid of the parent. The pgrp of the process. The session id of the process. The tty the process uses. The pgrp of the process which currently owns the tty that the process is connected to. The flags of the process. Currently, every flag has the math bit set, because crt0.s checks for math emulation, so this is not included in the output. This is probably a bug, as not every process is a compiled c program. The math bit should be a decimal 4, and the traced bit is decimal 10. The number of minor faults the process has made, those which have not required loading a memory page from disk. The number of minor faults that the process and its children have made. The number of major faults the process has made, those which have required loading a memory page from disk. The number of major faults that the process and its children have made. The number of jiffies that this process has been scheduled in user mode. The number of jiffies that this process has been scheduled in kernel mode. The number of jiffies that this process and its children have been scheduled in user mode. The number of jiffies that this process and its children have been scheduled in kernel mode. The current maximum size in jiffies of the process’ next timeslice, of what is currently left of its current timeslice, if it is the currently running process. The standard UN?X nice value, plus fifteen. The value is never negative in


state %c

ppid %d pgrp %d session %d tty %d tpgid %d

flags %u

min flt %u

cmin flt %u maj flt %u

cmaj flt %u utime %d stime %d cutime %d

cstime %d

counter %d

priority %d

2.1. /proc Directories and Files


the kernel. timeout %u The time in jiffies of the process’ next timeout.

it real value %u The time in jiffies before the interval timer mechanism causes a SIGALRM to be sent to the process. start time %d vsize %u rss %u Time the process started in jiffies after system boot. Virtual memory size Resident Set Size: number of pages the process has in real memory, minus 3 for administrative purposes. This is just the pages which count towards text, data, or stack space. This does not include pages which have not been demand-loaded in, or which are swapped out. Current limit on the size of the process, 2GB by default. The address above which program text can run. The address below which program text can run. The address of the start of the stack. The current value of esp (32 bit stack pointer), as found in the kernel stack page for the process. The current value of eip (32 bit instruction pointer), as found in the kernel stack page for the process. The bitmap of pending signals (usually 0). The bitmap of blocked signals (usually 0, 2 for shells). The bitmap of ignored signals. The bitmap of catched signals. This is the “channel” in which the process is waiting. This is the address of a system call, and can be looked up in a namelist if you need a textual name.

rlim %u start code %u end code %u start stack %u kstk esp %u

kstk eip %u

signal %d blocked %d sigignore %d sigcatch %d wchan %u


This file contains special status information that takes a bit longer to cook than the information in stat, and is needed rarely enough that it has been relegated to a separate file. For each field in this file, the proc filesystem has to look at each of the 0x300 entries in the page directory, and count what they are doing. Here is a description of these fields: size %d The total number of pages that the process has mapped in the virtual memory space, whether they are in physical memory or not. The total number of pages that the process has in physical memory. This should equal the rss field from the stat file, but is calculated rather than read from the process structure.

resident %d


Chapter 2. The /proc filesystem

shared %d

The total number of pages that the process has that are shared with at least one other process. Text Resident Size: the total number of text (code) pages belonging to the process that are present in physical memory. Does not include shared library pages. Library Resident Size: the total number of library pages used by the process that are present in physical memory. Data Resident Size: the total number of data pages belonging to the process that are present in physical memory. Include dirty library pages and stack. The number of library pages which have been accessed (i.e., are dirty).

trs %d

lrs %d

drs %d

dt %d

2.2 Structure of the /proc filesystem
The proc filesystem is rather interesting, because none of the files exist in any real directory structure. Rather, the proper vfs structures are filled in with functions which do gigantic case statements, and in the case of reading a file, get a page, fill it in, and put the result in user memory space. One of the most interesting parts of the proc filesystem is the way that the individual process directories are implemented. Essentially, every process directory has the inode number of its PID shifted left 16 bits into a 32 bit number greater than 0x0000ffff. Within the process directories, inode numbers are reused, because the upper 16 bits of the inode number have been masked off after choosing the right directory. Another interesting feature is that unlike in a “real” filesystem, where there is one file operations structure for the whole filesystem, as file lookup is done, different file operations structures are assigned to the f ops member of the file structure passed to those functions, dynamically changing which functions will be called for directory lookup and file reading. [Expand on this section later — right now it is mostly here to remind me to finish it: : : ]

2.3 Programming the /proc filesystem


Note: the code fragments in this section won’t match the sources for your own kernel exactly, as the /proc filesystem has been expanded since this was originally written, and is being expanding still more. For instance, the root dir structure has nearly doubled in size from the one quoted here below. Unlike in most filesystems, not all inode numbers in the proc filesystem are unique. Some files are declared in structures like
static struct proc_dir_entry root_dir[] = { { 1,1,"." }, { 1,2,".." }, { 2,7,"loadavg" }, { 3,6,"uptime" }, { 4,7,"meminfo" }, { 5,4,"kmsg" }, { 6,7,"version" }, { 7,4,"self" } /* will change inode # */ { 8,4,"net" }

2.3. Programming the /proc filesystem



and some files are dynamically created as the filesystem is read. All the process directories (those with numerical names and self) essentially have inode numbers that are the pid shifted left 16 bits, but the files within those directories reuse low (1–10 or so) inode numbers, which are added at runtime to the pid of the process. This is done in inode.c by careful re-assignment of inode operation structures. Most of the short read-only files in the root directory and in each process subdirectory one use a simplified interface provided by the array inode operations structure, within array.c. Other directories, such as /proc/net/, have their own inode numbers. For instance, the net directory itself has inode number 8. The files within that directory use inode numbers from the range 128–160, and those are uniquely identified in inode.c and the files given the proper permissions when looked up and read. Adding a file is relatively simple, and is left as an exercise for the reader. Adding a new directory is a little bit harder. Assuming that it is not a dynamically allocated directory like the process directories, here are the steps:2 1. Choose a unique range of inode numbers, giving yourself a reasonable amount of room for expansion. Then, right before the line
if (!pid) { /* not a process directory but in /proc/ */

add a section that looks like this:
if ((ino >= 128) && (ino <= 160)) { /* files withing /proc/net */ inode->i_mode = S_IFREG | 0444; inode->i_op = &proc_net_inode_operations; return; }

but modify it to to do what you want. For instance, perhaps you have a range of 200–256, and some files, inodes 200, 201, and 202, and some directories, which are inodes 204 and 205. You also have a file that is readable only by root, inode 206. Your example might look like this:
if ((ino >= 200) && (ino <= 256)) { /* files withing /proc/foo */ switch (ino) { case 204: case 205: inode->i_mode = S_IFDIR | 0555; inode->i_op = &proc_foo_inode_operations; break; case 206: inode->i_mode = S_IFREG | 0400; inode->i_op = &proc_foo_inode_operations; break; default: inode->i_mode = S_IFREG | 0444; inode->i_op = &proc_foo_inode_operations;
2 Unless you are making a subdirectory of the replicating, dynamically allocated process directory, you would have to create a new filesystem type, similar to the proc filesystem in design. Subdirectories of the process directories are supported by the mechanism which dynamically creates the process directories. I suggest going through this explanation of how to add a non-dynamicallyallocated directory, understand it, and then read the code for the process subdirectories, if you wish to add subdirectories to the process subdirectories.


Chapter 2. The /proc filesystem

break; } return; }

2. Find the definition of the files. If your files will go in a subdirectory of /proc, for instance, you will look in root.c, and find the following:
static { { { { { { { { { }; struct proc_dir_entry root_dir[] = { 1,1,"." }, 1,2,".." }, 2,7,"loadavg" }, 3,6,"uptime" }, 4,7,"meminfo" }, 5,4,"kmsg" }, 6,7,"version" }, 7,4,"self" }, /* will change inode # */ 8,4,"net" }

You will then add a new file to this structure, like this, using the next available inode number:
[...] { { { { }; 6,7,"version" }, 7,4,"self" }, /* will change inode # */ 8,4,"net" }, 9,3,"foo" }

You will then have to provide for this new directory in inode.c, so:
if (!pid) { /* not a process directory but in /proc/ */ inode->i_mode = S_IFREG | 0444; inode->i_op = &proc_array_inode_operations; switch (ino) case 5: inode->i_op = &proc_kmsg_inode_operations; break; case 8: /* for the net directory */ inode->i_mode = S_IFDIR | 0555; inode->i_op = &proc_net_inode_operations; break; default: break; return; }

if (!pid) { /* not a process directory but in /proc/ */ inode->i_mode = S_IFREG | 0444; inode->i_op = &proc_array_inode_operations; switch (ino) case 5: inode->i_op = &proc_kmsg_inode_operations; break; case 8: /* for the net directory */

2.3. Programming the /proc filesystem


inode->i_mode inode->i_op = break; case 9: /* for the inode->i_mode inode->i_op = break; default: break; return; }

= S_IFDIR | 0555; &proc_net_inode_operations; foo directory */ = S_IFDIR | 0555; &proc_foo_inode_operations;

3. You now have to provide for the contents of the files within the foo directory. Make a file called proc/foo.c, following the following model:3 [The code in proc lookupfoo() and proc readfoo() should be abstracted, as the functionality is used in more than one place.]
/* * * * * * * * * */

linux/fs/proc/foo.c Copyright (C) 1993 Linus Torvalds, Michael K. Johnson, and Your N. Here proc foo directory handling functions inode numbers 200 - 256 are reserved for this directory (/proc/foo/ and its subdirectories)

#include #include #include #include #include

<asm/segment.h> <linux/errno.h> <linux/sched.h> <linux/proc_fs.h> <linux/stat.h>

static int proc_readfoo(struct inode *, struct file *, struct dirent *, int); static int proc_lookupfoo(struct inode *,const char *,int,struct inode **); static int proc_read(struct inode * inode, struct file * file, char * buf, int count); static struct file_operations proc_foo_operations = { NULL, /* lseek - default */ proc_read, /* read */ NULL, /* write - bad */ proc_readfoo, /* readdir */ NULL, /* select - default */ NULL, /* ioctl - default */ NULL, /* mmap */ NULL, /* no special open code */ NULL /* no special release code */ }; /* * proc directories can do almost nothing.. */
3 This

file is available as file proc/foo.c in the The Linux Kernel Hackers’ Guide source mentioned on the copyright page.


Chapter 2. The /proc filesystem

struct inode_operations proc_foo_inode_operations = { &proc_foo_operations, /* default foo directory file-ops */ NULL, /* create */ proc_lookupfoo, /* lookup */ NULL, /* link */ NULL, /* unlink */ NULL, /* symlink */ NULL, /* mkdir */ NULL, /* rmdir */ NULL, /* mknod */ NULL, /* rename */ NULL, /* readlink */ NULL, /* follow_link */ NULL, /* bmap */ NULL, /* truncate */ NULL /* permission */ }; static struct proc_dir_entry foo_dir[] = { { 1,2,".." }, { 9,1,"." }, { 200,3,"bar" }, { 201,4,"suds" }, { 202,5,"xyzzy" }, { 203,3,"baz" }, { 204,4,"dir1" }, { 205,4,"dir2" }, { 206,8,"rootfile" } }; #define NR_FOO_DIRENTRY ((sizeof (foo_dir))/(sizeof (foo_dir[0]))) unsigned unsigned unsigned unsigned unsigned int int int int int get_bar(char * buffer); get_suds(char * buffer); get_xyzzy(char * buffer); get_baz(char * buffer); get_rootfile(char * buffer);

static int proc_read(struct inode * inode, struct file * file, char * buf, int count) { char * page; int length; int end; unsigned int ino; if (count < 0) return -EINVAL; page = (char *) get_free_page(GFP_KERNEL); if (!page) return -ENOMEM; ino = inode->i_ino; switch (ino) {

2.3. Programming the /proc filesystem


case 200: length = get_bar(page); break; case 201: length = get_suds(page); break; case 202: length = get_xyzzy(page); break; case 203: length = get_baz(page); break; case 206: length = get_rootfile(page); break; default: free_page((unsigned long) page); return -EBADF; } if (file->f_pos >= length) { free_page((unsigned long) page); return 0; } if (count + file->f_pos > length) count = length - file->f_pos; end = count + file->f_pos; memcpy_tofs(buf, page + file->f_pos, count); free_page((unsigned long) page); file->f_pos = end; return count; } static int proc_lookupfoo(struct inode * dir,const char * name, int len, struct inode ** result) { unsigned int pid, ino; int i; *result = NULL; if (!dir) return -ENOENT; if (!S_ISDIR(dir->i_mode)) { iput(dir); return -ENOENT; } ino = dir->i_ino; i = NR_FOO_DIRENTRY; while (i-- > 0 && !proc_match(len,name,foo_dir+i)) /* nothing */; if (i < 0) { iput(dir); return -ENOENT; }


Chapter 2. The /proc filesystem

if (!(*result = iget(dir->i_sb,ino))) { iput(dir); return -ENOENT; } iput(dir); return 0; } static int proc_readfoo(struct inode * inode, struct file * filp, struct dirent * dirent, int count) { struct proc_dir_entry * de; unsigned int pid, ino; int i,j; if (!inode || !S_ISDIR(inode->i_mode)) return -EBADF; ino = inode->i_ino; if (((unsigned) filp->f_pos) < NR_FOO_DIRENTRY) { de = foo_dir + filp->f_pos; filp->f_pos++; i = de->namelen; ino = de->low_ino; put_fs_long(ino, &dirent->d_ino); put_fs_word(i,&dirent->d_reclen); put_fs_byte(0,i+dirent->d_name); j = i; while (i--) put_fs_byte(de->name[i], i+dirent->d_name); return j; } return 0; }

unsigned int get_foo(char * buffer) { /* code to find everything goes here */ return sprintf(buffer, "format string", variables); }

unsigned int get_suds(char * buffer) { /* code to find everything goes here */ return sprintf(buffer, "format string", variables); }

unsigned int get_xyzzy(char * buffer)

2.3. Programming the /proc filesystem


{ /* code to find everything goes here */ return sprintf(buffer, "format string", variables); }

unsigned int get_baz(char * buffer) { /* code to find everything goes here */ return sprintf(buffer, "format string", variables); }

unsigned int get_rootfile(char * buffer) { /* code to find everything goes here */ return sprintf(buffer, "format string", variables); }

4. Filling in the directories dir1 and dir2 is left as an exercise. In most cases, such directories will not be needed. However, if they are, the steps presented here may be applied recursively to add files to a directory at another level. Notice that I saved a range of 200–256 for /proc/foo/ and all its subdirectories, so there are plenty of unused inode numbers in that range for your files in dir1 and dir2. I suggest reserving a range for each directory, in case you need to expand. Also, I suggest keeping all the extra data and functions in foo.c, rather than making yet another file, unless the files in the dir1 and dir2 directories are significantly different in concept than foo. 5. Make the appropriate changes to fs/proc/Makefile. This is also left as an exercise for the reader. [Please note: I have made changes similar to these (I wrote the /proc/net/ support). However, this has been written from memory, and may be unintentionally incomplete. If you notice any inadequacies, please explain them to me in as complete detail as possible. My email address is]

Chapter 3

The Linux scheduler
[This is still pretty weak, but I think that I have removed most or all of the inaccuracies that were in previous versions. Jim Wisner appears to have dropped from the face of the Net, so I have not been able to get his help at making this chapter more meaningful. If anyone has a copy of the paper he wrote on the scheduler, please get in touch with me, as he promised me a copy, and I’d at least like to see what he had to say about the scheduler.] [I’m not going to spend any further time on this until the new scheduler is added to Linux. The current one doesn’t handle lots of tasks at once very well, and some day a new one will be put in.] The scheduler is a function, schedule(), which is called at various times to determine whether or not to switch tasks, and if so, which task to switch to. The scheduler works in concert with the function do timer(), which is called 100 times per second (on Linux/x86), on each system timer interrupt, and with the system call handler part ret from sys call() which is called on the return from system calls. When a system call completes, or when a “slow” interrupt completes, ret from sys call() is called. It does a bit of work, but all we care about are two lines:
cmpl $0,_need_resched jne reschedule

These lines check the need resched flag, and if it is set, schedule() is called, choosing a new process, and then after schedule() has chosen the new process, a little more magic in ret from sys call() restores the environment for the chosen process (which may well be, and usually is, the process which is already running), and returns to user space. Returning to user space causes the new process which has been selected to run to be returned to. In sched init() in kernel/sched.c, request irq() is used to get the timer interrupt. request irq() sets up housekeeping before and after interrupts are serviced, as seen in <asm/irq.h>. However, interrupts that are serviced often and that must be serviced quickly, such as serial interrupts, do not call ret from sys call() when done and do as little as possible, to keep the overhead down. In particular, they only save the registers that C would clobber, and assume that if the handler is going to use any others, the handler will deal with that. These “fast” interrupt handlers must be installed with the irqaction() function described in section 1.6. The Linux scheduler is significantly different from the schedulers in other unices, especially in its treatment of ‘nice level’ priorities. Instead of scheduling processes with higher priority first, Linux does round-robin scheduling, but lets higher priority processes run both sooner and longer. The standard UN?X scheduler instead uses queues of processes. Most implementations use two priority queues; a standard 268

3.1. The code


queue and a “real time” queue. Essentially, all processes on the “real time” queue get executed before processes on the standard queue, if they are not blocked, and within each queue, higher nice-level processes run before lower ones. The Linux scheduler gives much better interactive performance at the expense of some “throughput.”

3.1 The code
Here is a copy of the relevant code from /usr/src/linux/kernel/sched.c, annotated and abridged.
void schedule(void) { int i,next,c; struct task_struct ** p; /* check alarm, wake up any interruptible tasks that have got a signal */ need_resched = 0; for(p = &LAST_TASK ; p > &FIRST_TASK ; --p) {

The process table is an array of pointers to struct task struct /usr/include/linux/sched.h for the definition of this structure.
if (!*p || ((*p)->state != TASK_INTERRUPTIBLE)) continue; if ((*p)->timeout && (*p)->timeout < jiffies) {



If a process has a timeout and has reached it, then jiffies (the number of 100ths of a second since system start) will have passed timeout. timeout was originally set as jiffies + desired timeout.
(*p)->timeout = 0; (*p)->state = TASK_RUNNING; } else if ((*p)->signal & ˜(*p)->blocked)

If the process has been sent a signal, and is no longer blocked, then let the process be allowed to run again, when its turn comes.
(*p)->state = TASK_RUNNING; }

At this point, all runnable processes have been flagged as runnable, and we are ready to choose one to run, by running through the process table. What we are looking for is the process with the largest counter. The counter for each runnable process is incremented each time the scheduler is called by an amount that is weighted by the priority, which is the kernel version of the ‘nice’ value. (It differs in that the priority is never negative.)
/* this is the scheduler proper: */ while (1) { c = -1; next = 0; i = NR_TASKS;


Chapter 3. The Linux scheduler

p = &task[NR_TASKS]; while (--i) { if (!*--p)

If there is no process in this slot then don’t bother: : :
continue; if ((*p)->state == TASK_RUNNING && (*p)->counter > c) c = (*p)->counter, next = i;

If the counter is higher than any previous counter, then make the process the next process, unless, of course, an even higher one is encountered later in the loop.
} if (c) break; for(p = &LAST_TASK ; p > &FIRST_TASK ; --p) if (*p) (*p)->counter = ((*p)->counter >> 1) + (*p)->priority;

Here is where the counter is set. It is first divided by 2, and then the priority is added. Note that this happens only if no process has been found to switch to, because of the break; line.
} sti(); switch_to(next); }

sti() enables interrupts again, and switch to() (defined in linux/sched.h) sets things up so that when we return to ret to sys call(), we will return from ret to sys call() into the new process. I have truncated do timer() extremely, only showing the pieces that relate specifically to schedule(). For information on the rest, see the appropriate section. For instance, for commentary on the itimer mechanism see the section on itimers. [I suppose I need to write that section now: : : I will need to put a reference here to that section.] I have specifically left out all the accounting stuff, all the timer stuff, and the floppy timer.

static void do_timer(struct pt_regs * regs) { unsigned long mask; struct timer_struct *tp = timer_table+0; struct task_struct ** task_p; jiffies++;

Here is where jiffies is incremented. This is all-important to the rest of the kernel, because all time calculations (except for timed delay loops) are based on this variable.

if (current == task[0] || (--current->counter)<=0) { current->counter=0;

3.1. The code


need_resched = 1; } }

Don’t let task 0 run if anything else can run, because task 0 doesn’t do anything. If task 0 is running, the machine is idle, but don’t let it be idle if anything else is happening, so run schedudule as soon as possible. Set the need resched flag if necessary so that schedule gets called again as soon as possible.

Chapter 4

How System Calls Work
[This needs to be a little re-worked and expanded upon, but I am waiting to see if the iBCS stuff makes any impact on it as I write other stuff.] This section covers first the mechanisms provided by the 386 for handling system calls, and then shows how Linux uses those mechanisms. This is not a reference to the individual system calls: There are very many of them, new ones are added occasionally, and they are documented in man pages that should be on your Linux system. [Ideally, this chapter should be part of another section, I think. Maybe, however, it should just be expanded. I think it belongs somewhere near the chapter on how to write a device driver, because it explains how to write a system call.]

4.1 What Does the 386 Provide?
The 386 recognizes two event classes: exceptions and interrupts. Both cause a forced context switch to new a procedure or task. Interrupts can occur at unexpected times during the execution of a program and are used to respond to signals from hardware. Exceptions are caused by the execution of instructions. Two sources of interrupts are recognized by the 386: Maskable interrupts and Nonmaskable interrupts. Two sources of exceptions are recognized by the 386: Processor detected exceptions and programmed exceptions. Each interrupt or exception has a number, which is referred to by the 386 literature as the vector. The NMI interrupt and the processor detected exceptions have been assigned vectors in the range 0 through 31, inclusive. The vectors for maskable interrupts are determined by the hardware. External interrupt controllers put the vector on the bus during the interrupt-acknowledge cycle. Any vector in the range 32 through 255, inclusive, can be used for maskable interrupts or programmed exceptions. See figure 4.1 for a listing of all the possible interrupts and exceptions. [Check all this out to make sure that it is right.]

4.2 How Linux Uses Interrupts and Exceptions
Under Linux the execution of a system call is invoked by a maskable interrupt or exception class transfer, caused by the instruction int 0x80. We use vector 0x80 to transfer control to the kernel. This interrupt vector is initialized during system startup, along with other important vectors like the system clock vector. 272

4.2. How Linux Uses Interrupts and Exceptions


0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17–31 32–255

divide error debug exception NMI interrupt breakpoint INTO-detected Overflow BOUND range exceeded invalid opcode coprocessor not available double fault coprocessor segment overrun invalid task state segment segment not present stack fault general protection page fault reserved coprocessor error reserved maskable interrupts

Figure 4.1: Interrupt and Exception Assignments HIGHEST Faults except debug faults Trap instructions INTO, INT n, INT 3 Debug traps for this instruction Debug traps for next instruction NMI interrupt INTR interrupt


Figure 4.2: Priority of simultaneous interrupts and exceptions As of version 0.99.2 of Linux, there are 116 system calls. Documentation for these can be found in the man (2) pages. When a user invokes a system call, execution flow is as follows: 

Each call is vectored through a stub in libc. Each call within the libc library is generally a syscallX() macro, where X is the number of parameters used by the actual routine. Some system calls are more complex then others because of variable length argument lists, but even these complex system calls must use the same entry point: they just have more parameter setup overhead. Examples of a complex system call include open() and ioctl(). Each syscall macro expands to an assembly routine which sets up the calling stack frame and calls system call() through an interrupt, via the instruction int $0x80 For example, the setuid system call is coded as
syscall1(int,setuid,uid t,uid); 

Which will expand to:
_setuid: subl $4,%exp pushl %ebx


Chapter 4. How System Calls Work

movzwl 12(%esp),%eax movl %eax,4(%esp) movl $23,%eax movl 4(%esp),%ebx int $0x80 movl %eax,%edx testl %edx,%edx jge L2 negl %edx movl %edx,_errno movl $-1,%eax popl %ebx addl $4,%esp ret L2: movl %edx,%eax popl %ebx addl $4,%esp ret

The macro definition for the syscallX() macros can be found in /usr/include/linux/unistd.h, and the user-space system call library code can be found in /usr/src/libc/syscall/ 

At this point no system code for the call has been executed. Not until the int $0x80 is executed does the call transfer to the kernel entry point system call(). This entry point is the same for all system calls. It is responsible for saving all registers, checking to make sure a valid system call was invoked and then ultimately transferring control to the actual system call code via the offsets in the sys call table. It is also responsible for calling ret from sys call() when the system call has been completed, but before returning to user space. Actual code for system call entry point can be found in /usr/src/linux/kernel/sys call.S Actual code for many of the system calls can be found in /usr/src/linux/kernel/sys.c, and the rest are found elsewhere. find is your friend. 

After the system call has executed, ret from sys call() is called. It checks to see if the scheduler should be run, and if so, calls it. Upon return from the system call, the syscallX() macro code checks for a negative return value, and if there is one, puts a positive copy of the return value in the global variable errno, so that it can be accessed by code like perror().

4.3 How Linux Initializes the system call vectors
The startup 32() code found in /usr/src/linux/boot/head.S starts everything off by calling setup idt(). This routine sets up an IDT (Interrupt Descriptor Table) with 256 entries. No interrupt entry points are actually loaded by this routine, as that is done only after paging has been enabled and the kernel has been moved to 0xC0000000. An IDT has 256 entries, each 4 bytes long, for a total of 1024 bytes. When start kernel() (found in /usr/src/linux/init/main.c) is called it invokes trap init() (found in /usr/src/linux/kernel/traps.c). trap init() sets up the IDT via the macro set trap gate() (found in /usr/include/asm/system.h). trap init() initializes the interrupt descriptor table as shown in figure 4.3.

4.4. How to Add Your Own System Calls


0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18–48

divide error debug nmi int3 overflow bounds invalid op device not available double fault coprocessor segment overrun invalid TSS segment not present stack segment general protection page fault reserved coprocessor error alignment check reserved

Figure 4.3: Initialization of interrupts At this point the interrupt vector for the system calls is not set up. It is initialized by sched init() (found in /usr/src/linux/kernel/sched.c). A call to set system gate (0x80, &system call) sets interrupt 0x80 to be a vector to the system call() entry point.

4.4 How to Add Your Own System Calls
1. Create a directory under the /usr/src/linux/ directory to hold your code. 2. Put any include files in /usr/include/sys/ and /usr/include/linux/. 3. Add the relocatable module produced by the link of your new kernel code to the ARCHIVES and the subdirectory to the SUBDIRS lines of the top level Makefile. See fs/Makefile, target fs.o for an example. 4. Add a #define NR xx to unistd.h to assign a call number for your system call, where xx, the index, is something descriptive relating to your system call. It will be used to set up the vector through sys call table to invoke you code. 5. Add an entry point for your system call to the sys call table in sys.h. It should match the index (xx) that you assigned in the previous step. The NR syscalls variable will be recalculated automatically. 6. Modify any kernel code in kernel/fs/mm/, etc. to take into account the environment needed to support your new code. 7. Run make from the top level to produce the new kernel incorporating your new code. At this point, you will have to either add a syscall to your libraries, or use the proper syscalln() macro in your user program for your programs to access the new system call.


Chapter 4. How System Calls Work

The 386DX Microprocessor Programmer’s Reference Manual is a helpful reference, as is James Turley’s Advanced 80386 Programming Techniques. See the Annotated bibliography in Appendix A.

Chapter 5

Linux Memory Management
[This chapter needs to be made much friendlier. I’d hate to remove detail, but it needs to be less daunting. Many have told me that this is a daunting chapter, and it need not be. I’ll re-work it later. In the meantime, please bear with me.]

5.1 Overview
The Linux memory manager implements demand paging with a copy-on-write strategy relying on the 386’s paging support. A process acquires its page tables from its parent (during a fork()) with the entries marked as read-only or swapped. Then, if the process tries to write to that memory space, and the page is a copy-on-write page, it is copied, and the page is marked read-write. An exec() results in the reading in of a page or so from the executable. The process then faults in any other pages it needs. Each process has a page directory which means it can access 1 KB of page tables pointing to 1 MB of 4 KB pages which is 4 GB of memory. A process’ page directory is initialized during a fork by copy page tables(). The idle process has its page directory initialized during the initialization sequence. Each user process has a local descriptor table that contains a code segment and data-stack segment. These user segments extend from 0 to 3 GB (0xc0000000). In user space linear addresses1 and logical addresses2 are identical. The kernel code and data segments are privileged segments defined in the global descriptor table and extend from 3 GB to 4 GB. The swapper page directory (swapper page dir is set up so that logical addresses and physical addresses are identical in kernel space. The space above 3 GB appears in a process’ page directory as pointers to kernel page tables. This space is invisible to the process in user mode but the mapping becomes relevant when privileged mode is entered, for example, to handle a system call. Supervisor mode is entered within the context of the current process so address translation occurs with respect to the process’ page directory but using kernel segments. This is identically the mapping produced by using the swapper pg dir and kernel segments as both page directories use the same page tables in
1 In the 80386, linear address run from 0GB to 4GB. A linear address points to a particular memory location within this space. A linear address is not a physical address — it is a virtual address. 2 A logical address consists of a selector and an offset. The selector points to a segment and the offset tells how far into that segment the address is located.



Chapter 5. Linux Memory Management

this space. Only task[0] (the idle task3 [This should be documented earlier in this guide: : : ]) uses the swapper pg dir directly. 


The user process’ segment base = 0x00, page dir private to the process. user process makes a system call: segment base=0xc0000000 page dir = same user page dir. swapper pg dir contains a mapping for all physical pages from 0xc0000000 to 0xc0000000 + end mem, so the first 768 entries in swapper pg dir are 0’s, and then there are 4 or more that point to kernel page tables. The user page directories have the same entries as tt swapper pg dir above 768. The first 768 entries map the user space.

The upshot is that whenever the linear address is above 0xc0000000 everything uses the same kernel page tables. The user stack sits at the top of the user data segment and grows down. The kernel stack is not a pretty data structure or segment that I can point to with a “yon lies the kernel stack.” A kernel stack frame (a page) is associated with each newly created process and is used whenever the kernel operates within the context of that process. Bad things would happen if the kernel stack were to grow below its current stack frame. [Where is the kernel stack put? I know that there is one for every process, but where is it stored when it’s not being used?] User pages can be stolen or swapped. A user page is one that is mapped below 3 GB in a user page table. This region does not contain page directories or page tables. Only dirty pages are swapped. Minor alterations are needed in some places (tests for process memory limits comes to mind) to provide support for programmer defined segments.

5.2 Physical memory
Here is a map of physical memory before any user processes are executed. The column on the left gives the starting address of the item, numbers in italics are approximate. The column in the middle names the item(s). The column on the far right gives the relevant routine or variable name or explains the entry. 0x110000 FREE mem map inode table device data more pg tables RESERVED FREE low memory start kernel code + data floppy track buffer bad pg table bad page pg0 swapper pg dir null page memory end or high memory mem init() inode init() device init()y paging init()

0x100000 0x0A0000 0x060000 0x006000

0x002000 0x001000 0x000000

used by page fault handlers to kill processes gracefully when out of memory. the first kernel page table. the kernel page directory.

3 Sometimes called the swapper task, even though it has nothing to do with swapping in the Linux implementation, for historical reasons

5.3. A user process’ view of memory


ydevice-inits that acquire memory are(main.c): profil buffer, con init, psaux init, rd init, scsi dev init. Note that all memory not marked as FREE is RESERVED (mem init). RESERVED
pages belong to the kernel and are never freed or swapped.

5.3 A user process’ view of memory
0xc0000000 The invisible kernel initial stack room for stack growth shared libraries unused malloc memory uninitialized data initialized data text reserved 4 pages

0x60000000 brk end data end code 0x00000000

Both the code segment and data segment extend all the way from 0x00 to 3 GB. Currently the page fault handler do wp page checks to ensure that a process does not write to its code space. However, by catching the SEGV signal, it is possible to write to code space, causing a copy-on-write to occur. The handler do no page ensures that any new pages the process acquires belong to either the executable, a shared library, the stack, or lie within the brk value. A user process can reset its brk value by calling sbrk(). This is what malloc() does when it needs to. The text and data portions are allocated on separate pages unless one chooses the -N compiler option. Shared library load addresses are currently taken from the shared image itself. The address is between 1.5 GB and 3 GB, except in special cases. User process Memory Allocation swappable a few code pages Y a few data pages Y stack Y pg dir N code/data page table N stack page table N task struct N kernel stack frame N shlib page table N a few shlib pages Y

shareable Y N? N N N N N N N Y?

[What do the question marks mean? Do they mean that they might go either way, or that you are not sure?] The stack, shlibs and data are too far removed from each other to be spanned by one page table. All kernel page tables are shared by all processes so they are not in the list. Only dirty pages are swapped. Clean pages are stolen so the process can read them back in from the executable if it likes. Mostly only clean pages are shared. A dirty page ends up shared across a fork until the parent or child chooses to write to it again.


Chapter 5. Linux Memory Management

5.4 Memory Management data in the process table
Here is a summary of some of the data kept in the process table which is used for memory management: [These should be much better documented. We need more details.] 


Process memory limits: ulong start code, end code, end data, brk, start stack; Page fault counting: ulong min flt, maj flt, cmin flt, cmaj flt Local descriptor table: struct desc struct ldt[32] is the local descriptor table for task. rss: number of resident pages. swappable: if 0, then process’ pages will not be swapped. kernel stack page: pointer to page allocated in fork. saved kernel stack: V86 mode stuff. struct tss – Stack segments esp0 kernel stack pointer (kernel stack page) ss0 kernel stack segment (0x10) esp1 = ss1 = esp2 = ss2 = 0 unused privilege levels. – Segment selectors: ds = es = fs = gs All point to segments in the current ldt[].



0x17, cs



– cr3: points to the page directory for this process. – ldt: LDT(n) selector for current task’s LDT.

5.5 Memory initialization
In start kernel() (main.c) there are 3 variables related to memory initialization: memory start memory end low memory start starts out at 1 MB. Updated by device initialization. end of physical memory: 8 MB, 16 MB, or whatever. end of the kernel code and data that is loaded initially.

Each device init typically takes memory start and returns an updated value if it allocates space at memory start (by simply grabbing it). paging init() initializes the page tables in the swapper pg dir (starting at 0xc0000000) to cover all of the physical memory from memory start to memory end. Actually the first 4 MB is done in startup 32 (head.S). memory start is incremented if any new page tables are added. The first page is zeroed to trap null pointer references in the kernel. In sched init() the ldt and tss descriptors for task[0] are set in the GDT, and loaded into the TR and LDTR (the only time it’s done explicitly). A trap gate (0x80) is set up for system call(). The nested task flag is turned off in preparation for entering user mode. The timer is turned on. The task struct for task[0] appears in its entirety in <linux/sched.h>. mem map is then constructed by mem init() to reflect the current usage of physical pages. This is the state reflected in the physical memory map of the previous section.

5.5. Memory initialization


Then Linux moves into user mode with an iret after pushing the current ss, esp, etc. Of course the user segments for task[0] are mapped right over the kernel segments so execution continues exactly where it left off. task[0]: 


pg dir = swapper pg dir which means the the only addresses mapped are in the range 3 GB to 3 GB + high memory. LDT[1] = user code, base=0xc0000000, size = 640K LDT[2] = user data, base=0xc0000000, size = 640K

The first exec() sets the LDT entries for task[1] to the user values of base = 0x0, limit = TASK SIZE = 0xc0000000. Thereafter, no process sees the kernel segments while in user mode.


Processes and the Memory Manager

Memory-related work done by fork(): 

Memory allocation – 1 page for the task struct. – 1 page for the kernel stack. – 1 for the pg dir and some for pg tables (copy page tables) 

Other changes – ss0 set to kernel stack segment (0x10) to be sure? – esp0 set to top of the newly allocated kernel stack page – cr3 set by copy page tables() to point to newly allocated page directory. – ldt = LDT(task nr) creates new ldt descriptor. – descriptors set in gdt for new tss and ldt[]. – The remaining registers are inherited from parent.

The processes end up sharing their code and data segments (although they have separate local descriptor tables, the entries point to the same segments). The stack and data pages will be copied when the parent or child writes to them (copy-on-write). Memory-related work done by exec(): 

memory allocation – 1 page for exec header entire file for omagic – 1 page or more for stack (MAX ARG PAGES) 


clear page tables() used to remove old pages. change ldt() sets the descriptors in the new LDT[] ldt[1] = code base=0x00, limit=TASK SIZE


Chapter 5. Linux Memory Management 


ldt[2] = data base=0x00, limit=TASK SIZE These segments are DPL=3, P=1, S=1, G=1. type=a (code) or 2 (data) Up to MAX ARG PAGES dirty pages of argv and envp are allocated and stashed at the top of the data segment for the newly created user stack. Set the instruction pointer of the caller eip = ex.a entry Set the stack pointer of the caller to the stack just created (esp = stack pointer) These will be popped off the stack when the caller resumes. update memory limits end code = ex.a text end data = end code + ex.a data brk = end data + ex.a bss

Interrupts and traps are handled within the context of the current task. In particular, the page directory of the current process is used in address translation. The segments, however, are kernel segments so that all linear addresses point into kernel memory. For example, assume a user process invokes a system call and the kernel wants to access a variable at address 0x01. The linear address is 0xc0000001 (using kernel segments) and the physical address is 0x01. The later is because the process’ page directory maps this range exactly as page pg dir. The kernel space (0xc0000000 + high memory) is mapped by the kernel page tables which are themselves part of the RESERVED memory. They are therefore shared by all processes. During a fork copy page tables() treats RESERVED page tables differently. It sets pointers in the process page directories to point to kernel page tables and does not actually allocate new page tables as it does normally. As an example the kernel stack page (which sits somewhere in the kernel space) does not need an associated page table allocated in the process’ pg dir to map it. The interrupt instruction sets the stack pointer and stack segment from the privilege 0 values saved in the tss of the current task. Note that the kernel stack is a really fragmented object — it’s not a single object, but rather a bunch of stack frames each allocated when a process is created, and released when it exits. The kernel stack should never grow so rapidly within a process context that it extends below the current frame.

5.6 Acquiring and Freeing Memory: Paging Policy
When any kernel routine wants memory it ends up calling get free page(). This is at a lower level than kmalloc() (in fact kmalloc() uses get free page() when it needs more memory). get free page() takes one parameter, a priority. Possible values are GFP BUFFER, GFP KERNEL, and GFP ATOMIC. It takes a page off of the free page list, updates mem map, zeroes the page and returns the physical address of the page (note that kmalloc() returns a physical address. The logic of the mm depends on the identity map between logical and physical addresses). That itself is simple enough. The problem, of course, is that the free page list may be empty. If you did not request an atomic operation, at this stage, you enter into the realm of page stealing which we’ll go into in a moment. As a last resort (and for atomic requests) a page is torn off from the secondary page list (as you may have guessed, when pages are freed, the secondary page list gets filled up first). The actual manipulation of the page lists and mem map occurs in this mysterious macro called REMOVE FROM MEM QUEUE() which you probably never want to look into. Suffice it to say that interrupts are disabled. [I think that this should be explained here. It is not that hard: : : ]

5.6. Acquiring and Freeing Memory: Paging Policy


Now back to the page stealing bit. get free page() calls try to free page() which repeatedly calls shrink buffers() and swap out() in that order until it is successful in freeing a page. The priority is increased on each successive iteration so that these two routines run through their page stealing loops more often. Here’s one run through swap out(): 


Run through the process table and get a swappable task say Q. Find a user page table (not RESERVED) in Q’s space. For each page in the table try to swap out( page ). Quit when a page is freed.

Note that swap out() (called by try to free page()) maintains static variables so it may resume the search where it left off on the previous call. try to swap out() scans the page tables of all user processes and enforces the stealing policy: 1. Do not fiddle with RESERVED pages. 2. Age the page if it is marked accessed (1 bit). 3. Don’t tamper with recently acquired pages (last free pages[]). 4. Leave dirty pages with map counts > 1 alone. 5. Decrement the map count of clean pages. 6. Free clean pages if they are unmapped. 7. Swap dirty pages with a map count of 1. Of these actions, 6 and 7 will stop the process as they result in the actual freeing of a physical page. Action 5 results in one of the processes losing an unshared clean page that was not accessed recently (decrement Q->rss) which is not all that bad, but the cumulative effects of a few iterations can slow down a process considerably. At present, there are 6 iterations, so a page shared by 6 processes can get stolen if it is clean. Page table entries are updated and the TLB invalidated. [Wonder about the latter. It seems unnecessary since accessed pages aren’t offed and there is a walk through many page tables between iterations : : : may be in case an interrupt came along and wanted the most recently axed page?] The actual work of freeing the page is done by free page(), the complement of get free page(). It ignores RESERVED pages, updates mem map, then frees the page and updates the page lists if it is unmapped. For swapping (in 6 above), write swap page() gets called and does nothing remarkable from the memory management perspective. The details of shrink buffers() would take us too far afield. Essentially it looks for free buffers, then writes out dirty buffers, then goes at busy buffers and calls free page() when its able to free all the buffers on a page. Note that page directories and page tables along with RESERVED pages do not get swapped, stolen or aged. They are mapped in the process page directory through reserved page tables. They are freed only on exit from the process.


Chapter 5. Linux Memory Management

5.7 The page fault handlers
When a process is created via fork, it starts out with a page directory and a page or so of the executable. So the page fault handler is the source of most of a processes’ memory. The page fault handler do page fault() retrieves the faulting address from the register cr2. The error code (retrieved in sys call.S) differentiates user/supervisor access and the reason for the fault — write protection or a missing page. The former is handled by do wp page() and the latter by do no page(). If the faulting address is greater than TASK SIZE the process receives a SIGKILL. [Why this check? This can only happen in kernel mode because of segment level protection.] These routines have some subtleties as they can get called from an interrupt. You can’t assume that it is the ‘current’ task that is executing. do no page() handles three possible situations: 1. The page is swapped. 2. The page belongs to the executable or a shared library. 3. The page is missing — a data page that has not been allocated. In all cases get empty pgtable() is called first to ensure the existence of a page table that covers the faulting address. In case 3 get empty page() is called to provide a page at the required address and in case of the swapped page, swap in() is called. In case 2, the handler calls share page() to see if the page is shareable with some other process. If that fails it reads in the page from the executable or library (It repeats the call to share page() in case another process did the same meanwhile). Any portion of the page beyond the brk value is zeroed. A page read in from the disk is counted as a major fault (maj flt). This happens with a swap in() or when it is read from the executable or a library. Other cases are deemed minor faults (min flt). When a shareable page is found, it is write-protected. A process that writes to a shared page will then have to go through do wp page() which does the copy-on-write. do wp page() does the following: 

send SIGSEGV if any user process is writing to current code space. If the old page is not shared then just unprotect it. Else get free page() and copy page(). The page acquires the dirty flag from the old page. Decrement the map count of the old page.

5.8 Paging
Paging is swapping on a page basis rather than by entire processes. We will use swapping here to refer to paging, since Linux only pages, and does not swap, and people are more used to the word “swap” than “page.” Kernel pages are never swapped. Clean pages are also not written to swap. They are freed and reloaded when required. The swapper maintains a single bit of aging info in the PAGE ACCESSED bit of the page table entries. [What are the maintenance details? How is it used?] Linux supports multiple swap files or devices which may be turned on or off by the swapon and swapoff system calls. Each swap file or device is described by a struct swap info struct (swap.c).

5.9. 80386 Memory Management


static struct swap_info_struct { unsigned long flags; struct inode * swap_file; unsigned int swap_device; unsigned char * swap_map; char * swap_lockmap; int lowest_bit; int highest_bit; } swap_info[MAX_SWAPFILES];

The flags field (SWP USED or SWP WRITEOK) is used to control access to the swap files. When SWP WRITEOK is off space will not be allocated in that file. This is used by swapoff when it tries to unuse a file. When swapon adds a new swap file it sets SWP USED. A static variable nr swapfiles stores the number of currently active swap files. The fields lowest bit and highest bit bound the free region in the swap file and are used to speed up the search for free swap space. The user program mkswap initializes a swap device or file. The first page contains a signature (‘SWAP-SPACE’) in the last 10 bytes, and holds a bitmap. Initially 0’s in the bitmap signal bad pages. A ‘1’ in the bitmap means the corresponding page is free. This page is never allocated so the initialization needs to be done just once. The syscall swapon() is called by the user program swapon typically from /etc/rc. A couple of pages of memory are allocated for swap map and swap lockmap. swap map holds a byte for each page in the swap file. It is initialized from the bitmap to contain a 0 for available pages and 128 for unusable pages. It is used to maintain a count of swap requests on each page in the swap file. swap lockmap holds a bit for each page that is used to ensure mutual exclusion when reading or writing swap files. When a page of memory is to be swapped out an index to the swap location is obtained by a call to get swap page(). This index is then stored in bits 1–31 of the page table entry so the swapped page may be located by the page fault handler, do no page() when needed. The upper 7 bits of the index give the swap file (or device) and the lower 24 bits give the page number on that device. That makes as many as 128 swap files, each with room for about 64 GB, but the space overhead due to the swap map would be large. Instead the swap file size is limited to 16 MB, because the swap map then takes 1 page. The function swap duplicate() is used by copy page tables() to let a child process inherit swapped pages during a fork. It just increments the count maintained in swap map for that page. Each process will swap in a separate copy of the page when it accesses it. swap free() decrements the count maintained in swap map. When the count drops to 0 the page can be reallocated by get swap page(). It is called each time a swapped page is read into memory (swap in()) or when a page is to be discarded (free one table(), etc.).

5.9 80386 Memory Management
A logical address specified in an instruction is first translated to a linear address by the segmenting hardware. This linear address is then translated to a physical address by the paging unit.


Chapter 5. Linux Memory Management


Paging on the 386

There are two levels of indirection in address translation by the paging unit. A page directory contains pointers to 1024 page tables. Each page table contains pointers to 1024 pages. The register CR3 contains the physical base address of the page directory and is stored as part of the TSS in the task struct and is therefore loaded on each task switch. A 32-bit Linear address is divided as follows: 31 22 21 12 DIR TABLE CR3 + DIR table base + TABLE physical address = points to the table base. points to the page base. page base + OFFSET



Physical address is then computed (in hardware) as:

Page directories (page tables) are page aligned so the lower 12 bits are used to store useful information about the page table (page) pointed to by the entry. Format for Page directory and Page table entries: 31 12 11 9 8 7 6 5 4 ADDRESS OS 0 0 D A 0

3 0

2 U/S

1 R/W

0 P

D 1 means page is dirty (undefined for page directory entry). R/W 0 means read-only for user. U/S 1 means user page. P 1 means page is present in memory. A 1 means page has been accessed (set to 0 by aging). OS bits can be used for LRU etc, and are defined by the OS. The corresponding definitions for Linux are in <linux/mm.h>. When a page is swapped, bits 1–31 of the page table entry are used to mark where a page is stored in swap (bit 0 must be 0). Paging is enabled by setting the highest bit in CR0. [in head.S?] At each stage of the address translation access permissions are verified and pages not present in memory and protection violations result in page faults. The fault handler (in memory.c) then either brings in a new page or write-enables a page or does whatever needs to be done.

Page Fault handling Information 

The register CR2 contains the linear address that caused the last page fault. Page Fault Error Code (16 bits): bit cleared set 0 1 2 page not present fault due to read supervisor mode page level protection fault due to write user mode

The rest are undefined. These are extracted in sys call.S. The Translation Lookaside Buffer (TLB) is a hardware cache for physical addresses of the most recently used virtual addresses. When a virtual address is translated the 386 first looks in the TLB to see if the

5.9. 80386 Memory Management


information it needs is available. If not, it has to make a couple of memory references to get at the page directory and then the page table before it can actually get at the page. Three physical memory references for address translation for every logical memory reference would kill the system, hence the TLB. The TLB is flushed if CR3 loaded or by task switch that changes CR0. It is explicitly flushed in Linux by calling invalidate() which just reloads CR3.


Segments in the 80386

Segment registers are used in address translation to generate a linear address from a logical (virtual) address.
linear address = segment base + logical address

The linear address is then translated into a physical address by the paging hardware. Each segment in the system is described by a 8 byte segment descriptor which contains all pertinent information (base, limit, type, privilege). The segments are: Regular segments 

code and data segments

System segments 

(TSS) task state segments (LDT) local descriptor tables

Characteristics of system segments: 


System segments are task specific. There is a Task State Segment (TSS) associated with each task in the system. It contains the tss struct (sched.h). The size of the segment is that of the tss struct excluding the i387 union (232 bytes). It contains all the information necessary to restart the task. The LDT’s contain regular segment descriptors that are private to a task. In Linux there is one LDT per task. There is room for 32 descriptors in the Linux task struct. The normal LDT generated by Linux has a size of 24 bytes, hence room for only 3 entries as above. Its contents are: – LDT[0] Null (mandatory) – LDT[1] user code segment descriptor. – LDT[2] user data/stack segment descriptor. 

The user segments all have base=0x00 so that the linear address is the same as the logical address.

To keep track of all these segments, the 386 uses a global descriptor table (GDT) that is setup in memory by the system (located by the GDT register). The GDT contains a segment descriptors for each task state segment, each local descriptor tablet and also regular segments. The Linux GDT contains just two normal segment entries:


Chapter 5. Linux Memory Management 


GDT[0] is the null descriptor. GDT[1] is the kernel code segment descriptor. GDT[2] is the kernel data/stack segment descriptor.

The rest of the GDT is filled with TSS and LDT system descriptors: GDT[3] ??? GDT[4] = TSS0, GDT[5] = LDT0, GDT[6] = TSS1, GDT[7] = LDT1

etc : : :

Note LDT[n] != LDTn LDT[n] = the nth descriptor in the LDT of the current task. LDTn = a descriptor in the GDT for the LDT of the nth task.

At present the GDT has a total of 256 entries or room for as many as 126 tasks. The kernel segments have base 0xc0000000 which is where the kernel lives in the linear view. Before a segment can be used, the contents of the descriptor for that segment must be loaded into the segment register. The 386 has a complex set of criteria regarding access to segments so you can’t simply load a descriptor into a segment register. Also these segment registers have programmer invisible portions. The visible portion is what is usually called a segment register: cs, ds, es, fs, gs, and ss. The programmer loads one of these registers with a 16-bit value called a selector. The selector uniquely identifies a segment descriptor in one of the tables. Access is validated and the corresponding descriptor loaded by the hardware. Currently Linux largely ignores the (overly?) complex segment level protection afforded by the 386. It is biased towards the paging hardware and the associated page level protection. The segment level rules that apply to user processes are 1. A process cannot directly access the kernel data or code segments 2. There is always limit checking but given that every user segment goes from 0x00 to 0xc0000000 it is unlikely to apply. [This has changed, and needs updating, please.]


Selectors in the 80386

A segment selector is loaded into a segment register (cs, ds, etc.) to select one of the regular segments in the system as the one addressed via that segment register. Segment selector Format: 15 index 3 21 TI 0 RPL

TI Table indicator: 0 means selector indexes into GDT 1 means selector indexes into LDT

5.9. 80386 Memory Management


RPL Privilege level. Linux uses only two privilege levels. 0 means kernel 3 means user Examples: Kernel code segment TI=0, index=1, RPL=0, therefore selector = 0x08 (GDT[1]) User data segment TI=1, index=2, RPL=3, therefore selector = 0x17 (LDT[2]) Selectors used in Linux: TI index RPL selector 0 1 0 0x08 0 2 0 0x10 0 3 0 ??? 1 1 3 0x0F 1 2 3 0x17 the TR or LDTR. On entry into syscall:

segment kernel code kernel data/stack ??? user code user data/stack

GDT[1] GDT[2] GDT[3] LDT[1] LDT[2]

Selectors for system segments are not to be loaded directly into segment registers. Instead one must load 


ds and es are set to the kernel data segment (0x10) fs is set to the user data segment (0x17) and is used to access data pointed to by arguments to the system call. The stack segment and pointer are automatically set to ss0 and esp0 by the interrupt and the old values restored when the syscall returns.

Segment descriptors

There is a segment descriptor used to describe each segment in the system. There are regular descriptors and system descriptors. Here’s a descriptor in all its glory. The strange format is essentially to maintain compatibility with the 286. Note that it takes 8 bytes.
63–54 Base 31–24 55 G 54 D 53 R 52 U 51–48 Limit 19–16 47 P 46 DPL 45 S 44–40 TYPE 39–16 Segment Base 23–0 15–0 Segment Limit 15–0

Explanation: R reserved (0) DPL 0 means kernel, 3 means user G 1 means 4K granularity (Always set in Linux) D 1 means default operand size 32bits U programmer definable P 1 means present in physical memory S 0 means system segment, 1 means normal code or data segment. Type There are many possibilities. Interpreted differently for system and normal descriptors.


Chapter 5. Linux Memory Management

Linux system descriptors: TSS: P=1, DPL=0, S=0, type=9, limit = 231 room for 1 tss struct. LDT: P=1, DPL=0, S=0, type=2, limit = 23 room for 3 segment descriptors. The base is set during fork(). There is a TSS and LDT for each task. Linux regular kernel descriptors: (head.S) code: P=1, DPL=0, S=1, G=1, D=1, type=a, base=0xc0000000, limit=0x3ffff data: P=1, DPL=0, S=1, G=1, D=1, type=2, base=0xc0000000, limit=0x3ffff

The LDT for task[0] contains: (sched.h) code: P=1, DPL=3, S=1, G=1, D=1, type=a, base=0xc0000000, limit=0x9f data: P=1, DPL=3, S=1, G=1, D=1, type=2, base=0xc0000000, limit=0x9f

The default LDT for the remaining tasks: (exec()) code: P=1, DPL=3, S=1, G=1, D=1, type=a, base=0, limit= 0xbffff data: P=1, DPL=3, S=1, G=1, D=1, type=2, base=0, limit= 0xbffff

The size of the kernel segments is 0x40000 pages (4KB pages since G=1 = 1 Gigabyte. The type implies that the permissions on the code segment is read-exec and on the data segment is read-write. Registers associated with segmentation. Format of segment register: (Only the selector is programmer visible) 16-bit 32-bit 32-bit selector physical base addr segment limit attributes The invisible portion of the segment register is more conveniently viewed in terms of the format used in the descriptor table entries that the programmer sets up. The descriptor tables have registers associated with them that are used to locate them in memory. The GDTR (and IDTR) are initialized at startup once the tables are defined. The LDTR is loaded on each task switch. Format of GDTR (and IDTR): 32-bits 16-bits Linear base addr table limit The TR and LDTR are loaded from the GDT and so have the format of the other segment registers. The task register (TR) contains the descriptor for the currently executing task’s TSS. The execution of a jump to a TSS selector causes the state to be saved in the old TSS, the TR is loaded with the new descriptor and the registers are restored from the new TSS. This is the process used by schedule to switch to various user tasks. Note that the field tss struct.ldt contains a selector for the LDT of that task. It is used to load the LDTR. (sched.h)


Macros used in setting up descriptors

Some assembler macros are defined in sched.h and system.h to ease access and setting of descriptors. Each TSS entry and LDT entry takes 8 bytes. Manipulating GDT system descriptors:

5.9. 80386 Memory Management



TSS(n), LDT(n) These provide the index into the GDT for the n’th task. LDT(n) is stored in the the ldt field of the tss struct by fork. set tssldt desc(n, addr, limit, type) ulong *n points to the GDT entry to set (see fork.c). The segment base (TSS or LDT) is set to 0xc0000000 + addr. Specific instances of the above are, where ltype refers to the byte containing P, DPL, S and type:

set ldt desc(n, addr) ltype = 0x82 P=1, DPL=0, S=0, type=2 means LDT entry. limit = 23 => room for 3 segment descriptors.

set tss desc(n, addr) ltype = 0x89 P=1, DPL=0, S=0, type = 9, means available 80386 TSS limit = 231 room for 1 tss struct. 


load TR(n), load ldt(n) load descriptors for task number n into the task register and ldt register. ulong get base (struct desc struct ldt) gets the base from a descriptor. ulong get limit (ulong segment) gets the limit (size) from a segment selector. Returns the size of the segment in bytes. set base(struct desc struct ldt, ulong base), set limit(struct desc struct ldt, ulong limit) Will set the base and limit for descriptors (4K granular segments). The limit here is actually the size in bytes of the segment. set seg desc(gate addr, type, dpl, base, limit) Default values 0x00408000 =i D=1, P=1, G=0 Present, operation size is 32 bit and max size is 1M. gate addr must be a (ulong *) 

Appendix A

Two bibliographies for now: : :

A.1 Normal Bibliography


[ANS] [Int90] Draft Proposed American National Standard for Information Systems: Small Computer System Interface – 2 (SCSI-2). (X3T9.2/86-109, revision 10h, October 17, 1991). Intel. i486 Processor Programmer’s Reference Manual. Intel/McGraw-Hill, 1990.

[LXT91] LXT SCSI Products: Specification and OEM Technical Manual, 1991. [Nor85] Peter Norton. The Peter Norton Programmer’s Guide to the IBM PC. Bellevue, Washington: Microsoft Press, 1985.

A.2 Annotated Bibliography
This annotated bibliography covers books on operating system theory as well as different kinds of programming in a UN?X environment. The price marked may or may not be an exact price, but should be close enough for government work. [If you have a book that you think should go in the bibliography, please write a short review of it and send all the necessary information (title, author, publisher, ISBN, and approximate price) and the review to] This version is slowly going away, in favor of a real bibliography.

Title: Author: Publisher: ISBN: Appr. Price:

The Design of the UNIX Operating System Maurice J. Bach Prentice Hall, 1986 0-13-201799-7 $65.00

This is one of the books that Linus used to design Linux. It is a description of the data structures used in the System V kernel. Many of the names of the important functions in the Linux source come from this book, and are named after the algorithms presented here. For instance, if you can’t quite figure out what exactly getblk(), brelse(), bread(), breada(), and bwrite() are, chapter 3 explains very well. While most of the algorithms are similar or the same, a few differences are worth noting: 

The Linux buffer cache is dynamically resized, so the algorithm for dealing with getting new buffers is a bit different. Therefore the above referenced explanation of getblk() is a little different than the getblk() in Linux. Linux does not currently use streams, and if/when streams are implemented for Linux, they are likely to have somewhat different semantics. 293



The semantics and calling structure for device drivers is different. The concept is similar, and the chapter on device drivers is still worth reading, but for details on the device driver structures, the The Linux Kernel Hackers’ Guide is the proper reference. The memory management algorithms are somewhat different.

There are other small differences as well, but a good understanding of this text will help you understand the Linux source.

Title: Author: Publisher: ISBN: Appr. Price:

Advanced Programming in the UNIX Environment W. Richard Stevens Addison Wesley, 1992 0-201-56317-7 $50.00

This excellent tome covers the stuff you really have to know to write real UN?X programs. It includes a discussion of the various standards for UN?X implementations, including POSIX, X/Open XPG3, and FIPS, and concentrates on two implementations, SVR4 and pre-release 4.4 BSD, which it refers to as 4.3+BSD. The book concentrates heavily on application and fairly complete specification, and notes which features relate to which standards and releases. The chapters include: Unix Standardization and Implementations, File I/O, Files and Directories, Standard I/O Library, System Data Files and Information, The Environment of a Unix Process, Process Control, Process Relationships, Signals, Terminal I/O, Advanced I/O (non-blocking, streams, async, memory-mapped, etc.), Daemon Processes, Interprocess Communication, Advanced Interprocess Communication, and some example applications, including chapters on A Database Library, Communicating with a PostScript Printer, A Modem Dialer, and then a seemingly misplaced final chapter on Pseudo Terminals. I have found that this book makes it possible for me to write usable programs for UN?X. It will help you achieve POSIX compliance in ways that won’t break SVR4 or BSD, as a general rule. This book will save you ten times its cost in frustration.

Title: Author: Publisher: ISBN: Appr. Price:

Advanced 80386 Programming Techniques James L. Turley Osborne McGraw-Hill, 1988 0-07-881342-5 $22.95

This book covers the 80386 quite well, without touching on any other hardware. Some code samples are included. All major features are covered, as are many of the concepts needed. The chapters of this book are: Basics, Memory Segmentation, Privilege Levels, Paging, Multitasking, Communicating Among Tasks, Handling Faults and Interrupts, 80286 Emulation, 8086 Emulation, Debugging, The 80387 Numeric Processor Extension, Programming for Performance, Reset and Real Mode, Hardware, and a few appendices, including tables of the memory management structures as a handy reference. The author has a good writing style: If you are technically minded, you will find yourself caught up just reading this book. One strong feature of this book for Linux is that the author is very careful not to explain how to do things under DOS, nor how to deal with particular

A.2. Annotated Bibliography


hardware. In fact, the only times he mentions DOS and PC-compatible hardware are in the introduction, where he promises never to mention them again.

Title: Author: Publisher: ISBN: Appr. Price:

The C Programming Language, second edition Brian W. Kernighan and Dennis M. Ritchie Prentice Hall, 1988 0-13-110362-8 (paper) 0-13-110370-9 (hard) $35.00

The C programming bible. Includes a C tutorial, UN?X interface reference, C reference, and standard library reference. You program in C, you buy this book. It’s that simple.

Title: Author: Publisher: ISBN: Appr. Price:

Operating Systems: Design and Implementation Andrew S. Tanenbaum Prentice Hall, 1987 0-13-637406-9 $50.00

This book, while a little simplistic in spots, and missing some important ideas, is a fairly clear exposition of what it takes to write an operating system. Half the book is taken up with the source code to a UN?X clone called Minix, which is based on a microkernel, unlike Linux, which sports a monolithic design. It has been said that Minix shows that it is possible to to write a microkernel-based UN?X, but does not adequately explain why one would do so. Linux was originally intended to be a free Minix replacement:1 In fact, it was originally to be binary-compatible with Minix-386. Minix-386 was the development environment under which Linux was bootstrapped. No Minix code is in Linux, but vestiges of this heritage live on in such things as the minix filesystem in Linux. Early in Linux’s existence, Andrew Tanenbaum started a flame war with Linus about OS design, which was interesting, if not enlightening: : : However, this book might still prove worthwhile for those who want a basic explanation of OS concepts, as Tanenbaum’s explanations of the basic concepts remain some of the clearer (and more entertaining, if you like to be entertained) available. Unfortunately, basic is the key work here, as many things such as virtual memory are not covered at all.

Title: Author: Publisher: ISBN: Appr. Price:

Modern Operating Systems Andrew S. Tanenbaum Prentice Hall, 1992 0-13-588187-0 $51.75

The first half of this book is a rewrite of Tanenbaum’s earlier Operating Systems, but this book covers several things that the earlier book missed, including such things as virtual memory.
1 Linus’

Minix, Linus tells us.



Minix is not included, but overviews of MS-DOS and several distributed systems are. This book is probably more useful to someone who wants to do something with his or her knowledge than Tanenbaum’s earlier Operating Systems: Design and Implementation. Some clue as to the reason may be found in the title: : : However, what DOS is doing in a book on modern operating systems, many have failed to discover.

Title: Author: Publisher: ISBN: Appr. Price:

Operating Systems William Stallings Macmillan, 1992 (800-548-9939) 0-02-415481-4 $??.??

A very thorough text on operating systems, this book gives more in-depth coverage of the topics covered in Tannebaum’s books, and covers more topics, in a much brisker style. This book covers all the major topics that you would need to know to build an operating system, and does so in a clear way. The author uses examples from three major systems, comparing and contrasting them: UN?X, OS/2, and MVS. With each topic covered, these example systems are used to clarify the points and provide an example of an implementation. Topics covered in Operating Systems include threads, real-time systems, multiprocessor scheduling, distributed systems, process migration, and security, as well as the standard topics like memory management and scheduling. The section on distributed processing appears to be up-to-date, and I found it very helpful.

Title: Author: Publisher: ISBN: Appr. Price:

UNIX Network Programming W. Richard Stevens Prentice Hall, 1990 0-13-949876-1 $48.75

This book covers several kinds of networking under UN?X, and provides very thorough references to the forms of networking that it does not cover directly. It covers TCP/IP and XNS most heavily, and fairly exhaustively describes how all the calls work. It also has a description and sample code using System V’s TLI, and pretty complete coverage of System V IPC. This book contains a lot of source code examples to get you started, and many useful procedures. One example is code to provide usable semaphores, based on the partially broken implementation that System V provides.

Title: Author: Publisher: ISBN: Appr. Price:

Programming in the UNIX environment Brian W. Kernighan and Robert Pike Prentice Hall, 1984 0-13-937699 (hardcover) 0-13-937681-X (paperback) $??.??

A.2. Annotated Bibliography


no abstract

Title: Author: Publisher: ISBN: Appr. Price:

Writing UNIX Device Drivers George Pajari Addison Wesley, 1992 0-201-52374-4 $32.95

This book is written by the President and founder of Driver Design Labs, a company which specializes in the development of UN?X device drivers. This book is an excellent introduction to the sometimes wacky world of device driver design. The four basic types of drivers (character, block, tty, STREAMS) are first discussed briefly. Many full examples of device drivers of all types are given, starting with the simplest and progressing in complexity. All examples are of drivers which deal with UN?X on PC-compatible hardware. Chapters include: Character Drivers I: A Test Data Generator Character Drivers II: An A/D Converter Character Drivers III: A Line Printer Block Drivers I: A Test Data Generator Block Drivers II: A RAM Disk Driver Block Drivers III: A SCSI Disk Driver Character Drivers IV: The Raw Disk Driver Terminal Drivers I: The COM1 Port Character Drivers V: A Tape Drive STREAMS Drivers I: A Loop-Back Driver STREAMS Drivers II: The COM1 Port (Revisited) Driver Installation Zen and the Art of Device Driver Writing Although many of the calls used in the book are not Linux-compatible, the general idea is there, and many of the ideas map directly into Linux.

Title: Author: Publisher: ISBN: Appr. Price: no abstract

title author pub,yr isbn $??.??

Appendix B

Tour of the Linux kernel source
[This is an alpha release of a chapter written by Alessandro Rubini, I’m including it here as it gets worked on for comments.] This chapter tries to explain the Linux source code in an orderly manner, trying to help the reader to achieve a good understanding of how the source code is laid out and how the most relevant unix features are implemented. The target is to help the experienced C programmer who is not accustomed to Linux in getting familiar with the overall Linux design. That’s why the chosen entry point for the kernel tour is the kernel own entry point: system boot. A good understanding of C language is required to understand this material, as well as some familiarity with both UN?X concepts and the PC architecture. However, no C code will appear in this chapter, but rather pointers to the actual code. The finest issues of kernel design are explained in other chapters of this guide, while this chapter tends to remain an informal overview. Any pathname for files referenced in this chapter is referred to the main source-tree directory, usually /usr/src/linux.
Most of the information reported here is taken from the source code of Linux release 1.0. Nonetheless, references to later versions are provided at times. Any paragraph within the tour shaped like this one is meant to underline changes the kernel has undergone after the 1.0 release. If no such paragraph is present, then no changes occurred up to release 1.0.9 – 1.1.76. Sometimes a paragraph like this occurs in the text. It is a pointer to the right sources to get more information on the subject just covered. Needless to say, the source is the primary source.

B.1 Booting the system
When the PC is powered up, the 80x86 processor finds itself in real mode and executes the code at address 0xFFFF0, which corresponds to a ROM-BIOS address. The PC BIOS performs some tests on the system and initializes the interrupt vector at physical address 0. After that it loads the first sector of a bootable device to 0x7C00, and jumps to it. The device is usually the floppy or the hard drive. The preceding description is quite a simplified one, but it’s all that’s needed to understand the kernel initial workings. The very first part of the Linux kernel is written in 8086 assembly language (boot/bootsect.S). When run, it moves itself to absolute address 0x90000, loads the next 2 kBytes of code from the boot device to address 0x90200, and the rest of the kernel to address 0x10000. The message “Loading...” is displayed 298

B.2. Spinning the wheel


during system load. Control is then passed to the code in boot/Setup.S, another real-mode assembly source. The setup portion identifies some features of the host system and the type of vga board. If requested to, it asks the user to choose the video mode for the console. It then moves the whole system from address 0x10000 to address 0x1000, enters protected mode and jumps to the rest of the system (at 0x1000). The next step is kernel decompression. The code at 0x1000 comes from zBoot/head.S which initializes registers and invokes decompress kernel(), which in turn is made up of zBoot/inflate.c, zBoot/unzip.c and zBoot/misc.c. The decompressed data goes to address 0x100000 (1 Meg), and this is the main reason why Linux can’t run with less than 2 megs ram.
Encapsulation of the kernel in a gzip file is accomplished by Makefile and utilities in the zBoot directory. They are interesting files to look at. Kernel release 1.1.75 moved the boot and zBoot directories down to arch/i386/boot. This change is meant to allow true kernel builds for different architectures. Nonetheless, I’ll stick to i386-specific information.

Decompressed code is executed at address 0x1010000 [Maybe I’ve lost track of physical addresses, here, as I don’t know very well gas source code], where all the 32-bit setup is accomplished: IDT, GDT and LDT are loaded, the processor and coprocessor are identified, and paging is setup; eventually, the routine start kernel is invoked. The source for the above operations is in boot/head.S. It is probably the trickiest code in the whole kernel. Note that if an error occurs during any of the preceding steps, the computer will lockup. The OS can’t deal with errors when it isn’t yet fully operative. start kernel() resides in init/main.c, and never returns. Anything from now on is coded in C language, left aside interrupt management and system call enter/leave (well, most of the macros embed assembly code, too).

B.2 Spinning the wheel
After dealing with all the tricky questions, start kernel() initializes all the parts of the kernel, specifically: 


Sets the memory bounds and calls paging init(). Initializes the traps, IRQ channels and scheduling. Parses the command line. If requested to, allocates a profiling buffer. Initializes all the device drivers and disk buffering, as well as other minor parts. Calibrates the delay loop (computes the “BogoMips” number). Checks if interrupt 16 works with the coprocessor.

Finally, the kernel is ready to move to user mode(), in order to fork the init process, whose code is in the same source file. Process number 0 then, the so-called idle task, keeps running in an infinite idle loop. The init process tries to execute /etc/init, or /bin/init, or /sbin/init.


Appendix B. Tour of the Linux kernel source

If none of them succeeds, code is provided to execute “/bin/sh /etc/rc” and fork a root shell on the first terminal. This code dates back to Linux 0.01, when the OS was made by the kernel alone, and no login process was available. After exec()ing the init program from one of the standard places (let’s assume we have one of them), the kernel has no direct control on the program flow. Its role, from now on is to provide processes with system calls, as well as servicing asynchronous events (such as hardware interrupts). Multitasking has been setup, and it is now init who manages multiuser access by fork()ing system daemons and login processes. Being the kernel in charge of providing services, the tour will proceed by looking at those services (the “system calls”), as well as by providing general ideas about the underlying data structures and code organization.

B.3 How the kernel sees a process
From the kernel point of view, a process is an entry in the process table. Nothing more. The process table, then, is one of the most important data structures within the system, together with the memory-management tables and the buffer cache. The individual item in the process table is the task struct structure, quite a huge one, defined in include/linux/sched.h. Within the task struct both low-level and high-level information is kept— ranging from the copy of some hardware registers to the inode of the working directory for the process. The process table is both an array and a double-linked list, as well as a tree. The physical implementation is a static array of pointers, whose length is NR TASKS, a constant defined in include/linux/tasks.h, and each structure resides in a reserved memory page. The list structure is achieved through the pointers next task and prev task, while the tree structure is quite complex and will not be described here. You may wish to change NR TASKS from the default value of 128, but be sure to have proper dependency files to force recompilation of all the source files involved. After booting is over, the kernel is always working on behalf of one of the processes, and the global variable current, a pointer to a task struct item, is used to record the running one. current is only changed by the scheduler, in kernel/sched.c. When, however, all processes must be looked at, the macro for each task is used. It is considerably faster than a sequential scan of the array, when the system is lightly loaded. A process is always running in either “user mode” or “kernel mode”. The main body of a user program is executed in user mode and system calls are executed in kernel mode. The stack used by the process in the two execution modes is different—a conventional stack segment is used for user mode, while a fixed-size stack (one page, owned by the process) is used in kernel mode. The kernel stack page is never swapped out, because it must be available whenever a system call is entered. System calls, within the kernel, exist as C language functions, their ‘official’ name being prefixed by ‘sys ’. A system call named, for example, burnout invokes the kernel function sys burnout().
The system call mechanism is described in chapter 3 of this guide. Looking at for each task and SET LINKS, in include/linux/sched.h can help understanding the list and tree structures in the process table.

B.4. Creating and destroying processes


B.4 Creating and destroying processes
A unix system creates a process though the fork() system call, and process termination is performed either by exit() or by receiving a signal. The Linux implementation for them resides in kernel/fork.c and kernel/exit.c. Forking is easy, and fork.c is short and ready understandable. Its main task is filling the data structure for the new process. Relevant steps, apart from filling fields, are 


getting a free page to hold the task struct finding an empty process slot (find empty process()) getting another free page for the kernel stack page copying the father’s LDT to the child duplicating mmap information of the father

sys fork() also manages file descriptors and inodes.
The 1.0 kernel offers some vestigial support to threading, and the fork() system call shows some hints to that. Kernel threads is work-in-progress outside the mainstream kernel.

Exiting from a process is trickier, because the parent process must be notified about any child who exits. Moreover, a process can exit by being kill()ed by another process (these are UN?X features). The file exit.c is therefore the home of sys kill() and the various flavors of sys wait(), in addition to sys exit(). The code belonging to exit.c is not described here—it is not that interesting. It deals with a lot of details in order to leave the system in a consistent state. The POSIX standard, then, is quite demanding about signals, and it must be dealt with.

B.5 Executing programs
After fork()ing, two copies of the same program are running. One of them usually exec()s another program. The exec() system call must locate the binary image of the executable file, load and run it. The word ‘load’ doesn’t necessarily mean “copy in memory the binary image”, as Linux supports demand loading. The Linux implementation of exec() supports different binary formats. This is accomplished through the linux binfmt structure, which embeds two pointers to functions—one to load the executable and the other to load the library, each binary format representing both the executable and the library. Loading of shared libraries is implemented in the same source file as exec() is, but let’s stick to exec() itself. The UN?X systems provide the programmer with six flavors of the exec() function. All but one of them can be implemented as library functions, and the Linux kernel implements sys execve() alone. It performs quite a simple task: loading the head of the executable, and trying to execute it. If the first two bytes are “#!”, then the first line is parsed and an interpreter is invoked, otherwise the registered binary formats are sequentially tried. The native Linux format is supported directly within fs/exec.c, and the relevant functions are load aout binary and load aout library. As for the binaries, the function loading an a.out executable ends up either in mmap()ing the disk file, or in calling read exec(). The former way uses the


Appendix B. Tour of the Linux kernel source

Linux demand loading mechanism to fault-in program pages when they’re accessed, while the latter way is used when memory mapping is not supported by the host filesystem (for example the “msdos” filesystem).
Late 1.1 kernels embed a revised msdos filesystem, which supports mmap(). Moreover, the struct linux binfmt is a linked list rather than an array, to allow loading a new binary format as a kernel module. Finally, the structure itself has been extended to access format-related core-dump routines.

B.6 Accessing filesystems
It is well known that the filesystem is the most basic resource in a UN?X system, so basic and ubiquitous that it needs a more handy name — I’ll stick to the standard practice of calling it simply “fs”. I’ll assume the reader already knows the basic UN?X fs ideas — access permissions, inodes, the superblock, mounting and umounting. Those concepts are well explained by smarter authors than me within the standard UN?X literature, so I won’t duplicate their efforts and I’ll stick to Linux specific issues. While the first Unices used to support a single fs type, whose structure was widespread in the whole kernel, today’s practice is to use a standardized interface between the kernel and the fs, in order to ease data interchange across architectures. Linux itself provides a standardized layer to pass information between the kernel and each fs module. This interface layer is called VFS, for “virtual filesystem”. Filesystem code is therefore split into two layers: the upper layer is concerned with the management of kernel tables and data structures, while the lower layer is made up of the set of fs-dependent functions, and is invoked through the VFS data structures. All the fs-independent material resides in the fs/*.c files. They address the following issues: 


Managing the buffer cache (buffer.c); Responding to the fcntl() and ioctl() system calls (fcntl.c and ioctl.c); Mapping pipes and FIFOs on inodes and buffers (fifo.c, pipe.c); Managing file- and inode-tables (file table.c, inode.c); Locking and unlocking files and records (locks.c); Mapping names to inodes (namei.c, open.c); Implementing the tricky select() function (select.c); Providing information (stat.c); mounting and umounting filesystems (super.c); exec()ing executables and dumping cores (exec.c); Loading the various binary formats (bin fmt*.c, as outlined above).

The VFS interface, then, consists of a set of relatively high-level operations which are invoked from the fs-independent code and are actually performed by each filesystem type. The most relevant structures are inode operations and file operations, though they’re not alone: other structures exist as well. All of them are defined within include/linux/fs.h. The kernel entry point to the actual file system is the structure file system type. An array of file system types is embodied within fs/filesystems.c and it is referenced whenever a mount is

B.7. Quick Anatomy of a Filesystem Type


issued. The function read super for the relevant fs type is then in charge of filling a struct super block item, which in turn embeds a struct super operations and a struct type sb info. The former provides pointers to generic fs operations for the current fs-type, the latter embeds specific information for the fs-type.
The array of filesystem types has been turned in a linked list, to allow loading new fs types as kernel modules. The function (un)register filesystem is coded within fs/super.c.

B.7 Quick Anatomy of a Filesystem Type
The role of a filesystem type is to perform the low-level tasks used to map the relatively high level VFS operations on the physical media (disks, network or whatever). The VFS interface is flexible enough to allow support for both conventional UN?X filesystems and exotic situations such as the msdos and umsdos types. Each fs-type is made up of the following items, in addition to its own directory: 


An entry in the file systems[] array (fs/filesystems.c); The superblock include file (include/linux/type fs sb.h); The inode include file (include/linux/type fs i.h); The generic own include file (include/linux/type fs.h); Two #include lines within include/linux/fs.h, as well as the entries in struct super block and struct inode.

The own directory for the fs type contains all the real code, responsible of inode and data management.
The chapter about procfs in this guide uncovers all the details about lowlevel code and VFS interface for that fs type. Source code in fs/procfs is quite understandable after reading the chapter.

We’ll now look at the internal workings of the VFS mechanism, and the Minix filesystem source is used as a working example. I chose the Minix type because it is small but complete; moreover, any other fs type in Linux derives from the Minix one. The ext2 type, the de-facto standard in recent Linux installations, is much more complex than that and its exploration is left as an exercise for the smart reader. When a minix-fs is mounted, minix read super fills the super block structure with data read from the mounted device. The s op field of the structure will then hold a pointer to minix sops, which is used by the generic filesystem code to dispatch superblock operations. Chaining the newly mounted fs in the global system tree relies on the following data items (assuming sb is the super block structure and dir i points to the inode for the mount point): 


sb->s mounted points to the root-dir inode of the mounted filesystem (MINIX ROOT INO); dir i->i mount holds sb->s mounted; sb->s covered holds dir i

Unmounting will eventually be performed by do umount, which in turn invokes minix put super. Whenever a file is accessed, minix read inode comes into play; it fills the system-wide inode structure with fields coming form minix inode. The inode->i op field is filled according to inode->i mode and


Appendix B. Tour of the Linux kernel source

it is responsible for any further operation on the file. The source for the Minix functions just described are to be found in fs/minix/inode.c. The inode operations structure is used to dispatch inode operations (you guessed it) to the fs-type specific kernel functions; the first entry in the structure is a pointer to a file operations item, which is the data-management equivalent of i op. The Minix fs-type allows three instances of inode-operation sets (for directories, for files and for symbolic links) and two instances of file-operation sets (symlinks don’t need one). Directory operations (minix readdir alone) are to be found in fs/minix/dir.c; file operations (read and write) appear within fs/minix/file.c and symlink operations (reading and following the link) in fs/minix/symlink.c. The rest of the minix directory implements the following tasks: 


bitmap.c manages allocation and freeing of inodes and blocks (the ext2 fs, otherwise, has two different source files); fsynk.c is responsible for the fsync() system calls — it manages direct, indirect and double indirect blocks (I assume you know about them, it’s common UN?X knowledge); namei.c embeds all the name-related inode operations, such as creating and destroying nodes, renaming and linking; truncate.c performs truncation of files.

B.8 The console driver
Being the main I/O device on most Linux boxes, the console driver deserves some attention. The source code related to the console, as well as the other character drivers, is to be found in drivers/char, and we’ll use this very directory as our reference point when naming files. Console initialization is performed by the function tty init(), in tty io.c. This function is only concerned in getting major device numbers and calling the init function for each device set. con init(), then is the one related to the console, and resides in console.c.
Initialization of the console has changed quite a lot during 1.1 evolution. console init() has been detached from tty init(), and is called directly by ../../main.c. The virtual consoles are now dynamically allocated, and quite a good deal of code has changed. So, I’ll skip the details of initialization, allocation and such.


How file operations are dispatched to the console

This paragraph is quite low-level, and can be happily skipped over. Needless to say, a UN?X device is accessed though the filesystem. This paragraph details all steps from the device file to the actual console functions. Moreover, the following information is extracted from the 1.1.73 source code, and it may be slightly different from the 1.0 source. When a device inode is opened, the function chrdev open() (or blkdev open(), but we’ll stick to character devices) in ../../fs/devices.c gets executed. This function is reached by means of the structure def chr fops, which in turn is referenced by chrdev inode operations, used by all the filesystem types (see the previous section about filesystems).

B.8. The console driver


chrdev open takes care of specifying the device operations by substituting the device specific file operations table in the current filp and calls the specific open(). Device specific tables are kept in the array chrdevs[], indexed by the major device number, and filled by the same ../../fs/devices.c. If the device is a tty one (aren’t we aiming at the console?), we come to the tty drivers, whose functions are in tty io.c, indexed by tty fops. Thus, tty open() calls init dev(), which allocates any data structure needed by the device, based on the minor device number. The minor number is also used to retrieve the actual driver for the device, which has been registered through tty register driver(). The driver, then, is still another structure used to dispatch computation, just like file ops; it is concerned with writing and controlling the device. The last data structure used in managing a tty is the line discipline, described later. The line discipline for the console (and any other tty device) is set by initialize tty struct(), invoked by init dev. Everything we touched in this paragraph is device-independent. The only console-specific particular is that console.c, has registered its own driver during con init(). The line discipline, on the contrary, in independent of the device.
The tty driver structure <linux/tty driver.h> is fully explained within.

The above information has been extracted from 1.1.73 source code. It isn’t unlikely for your kernel to be somewhat different (“This information is subject to change without notice”).


Writing to the console

When a console device is written to, the function con write gets invoked. This function manages all the control characters and escape sequences used to provide applications with complete screen management. The escape sequences implemented are those of the vt102 terminal. This means that your environment should say TERM=vt102 when you are telnetting to a non-Linux host; the best choice for local activities, however, is TERM=console because the Linux console offers a superset of vt102 functionality. con write(), thus, is mostly made up of nested switch statements, used to handle a finite state automaton interpreting escape sequences one character at a time. When in normal mode, the character being printed is written directly to the video memory, using the current attr-ibute. Within console.c, all the fields of struct vc are made accessible through macros, so any reference to (for example) attr, does actually refer to the field in the structure vc cons[currcons], as long as currcons is the number of the console being referred to.
Actually, vc cons in newer kernels is no longer an array of structures , it now is an array of pointers whose contents are kmalloc()ed. The use of macros greatly simplified changing the approach, because much of the code didn’t need to be rewritten.

Actual mapping and unmapping of the console memory to screen is performed by the functions set scrmem() (which copies data from the console buffer to video memory) and get scrmem (which copies back data to the console buffer). The private buffer of the current console is physically mapped on the actual video RAM, in order to minimize the number of data transfers. This means that get- and set- scrmem() are static to console.c and are called only during a console switch.


Reading the console

Reading the console is accomplished through the line-discipline. The default (and unique) line discipline in Linux is called tty ldisc N TTY. The line discipline is what “disciplines input through a line”. It is


Appendix B. Tour of the Linux kernel source

another function table (we’re used to the approach, aren’t we?), which is concerned with reading the device. With the help of termios flags, the line discipline is what controls input from the tty: raw, cbreak and cooked mode; select(); ioctl() and so on. The read function in the line discipline is called read chan(), which reads the tty buffer independently of whence it came from. The reason is that character arrival through a tty is managed by asynchronous hardware interrupts.
The line discipline N TTY is to be found in the same tty io.c, though later kernels use a different n tty.c source file.

The lowest level of console input is part of keyboard management, and thus it is handled within keyboard.c, in the function keyboard interrupt().


Keyboard management

Keyboard management is quite a nightmare. It is confined to the file keyboard.c, which is full of hexadecimal numbers to represent the various key codes appearing in keyboards of different manufacturers.
 I won’t dig in keyboard.c, because no relevant information is there to the kernel hacker.

For those readers who are really interested in the Linux keyboard, the best approach to keyboard.c is from the last line upward. Lowest level details occur mainly in the first half of the file.


Switching the current console

The current console is switched through invocation of the function change console(), which resides in tty io.c and is invoked by both keyboard.c and vt.c (the former switches console in response to key presses, the latter when a program requests it by invoking an ioctl() call). The actual switching process is performed in two steps, and the function complete change console() takes care of the second part of it. Splitting the switch is meant to complete the task after a possible handshake with the process controlling the tty we’re leaving. If the console is not under process control, change console() calls complete change console() by itself. Process intervention is needed to successfully switch from a graphic console to a text one and vice-versa, and the X server (for example) is the controlling process of its own graphic console.


The selection mechanism

“selection” is the cut and paste facility for the Linux text consoles. The mechanism is mainly handled by a user-level process, which can be instantiated by either selection or gpm. The user-level program uses ioctl() on the console to tell the kernel to highlight a region of the screen. The selected text, then, is copied to a selection buffer. The buffer is a static entity in console.c. Pasting text is accomplished by ‘manually’ pushing characters in the tty input queue. The whole selection mechanism is protected by #ifdef so users can disable it during kernel configuration to save a few kilobytes of RAM. Selection is a very-low-level facility, and its workings are hidden from any other kernel activity. This means that most #ifdef’s simply deals with removing the highlight before the screen is modified in any way.

B.8. The console driver


Newer kernels feature improved code for selection, and the mouse pointer can be highlighted independently of the selected text (1.1.32 and later). Moreover, from 1.1.73 onward a dynamic buffer is used for selected text rather than a static one, making the kernel 4kB smaller.


ioctl()ling the device

The ioctl() system call is the entry point for user processes to control the behavior of device files. Ioctl management is spawned by ../../fs/ioctl.c, where the real sys ioctl() resides. The standard ioctl requests are performed right there, other file-related requests are processed by file ioctl() (same source file), while any other request is dispatches to the device-specific ioctl() function. The ioctl material for console devices resides in vt.c, because the console driver dispatches ioctl requests to vt ioctl().
The information above refer to 1.1.7x. The 1.0 kernel doesn’t have the “driver” table, and vt ioctl() is pointed to directly by the file operations() table.

Ioctl material is quite confused, indeed. Some requests are related to the device, and some are related to the line discipline. I’ll try to summarize things for the 1.0 and the 1.1.7x kernels and anything that happened in between. The 1.1.7x series features the following approach: tty ioctl.c implements only line discipline requests (namely n tty ioctl(), which is the only n tty function outside of n tty.c), while the file operations field points to tty ioctl() in tty io.c. If the request number is not resolved by tty ioctl(), it is passed along to tty->driver.ioctl or, if it fails, to tty->ldisc.ioctl. Driverrelated stuff for the console it to be found in vt.c, while line discipline material is in tty ioctl.c. In the 1.0 kernel, tty ioctl() is in tty ioctl.c and is pointed to by generic tty file operations. Unresolved requests are passed along to the specific ioctl function or to the line-discipline code, in a way similar to 1.1.7x. Note that in both cases, the TIOCLINUX request is in the device-independent code. This implies that the console selection can be set by ioctlling any tty (set selection() always operates on the foreground console), and this is a security hole. It is also a good reason to switch to a newer kernel, where the problem is fixed by only allowing the superuser to handle the selection. A variety of requests can be issued to the console device, and the best way to know about them is to browse the source file vt.c.

Appendix C

The GNU General Public License
Printed below is the GNU General Public License (the GPL or copyleft), under which Linux is licensed. It is reproduced here to clear up some of the confusion about Linux’s copyright status — Linux is not shareware, c and it is not in the public domain. The bulk of the Linux kernel is copyright 1993 by Linus Torvalds, and other software and parts of the kernel are copyrighted by their authors. Thus, Linux is copyrighted, however, you may redistribute it under the terms of the GPL printed below. GNU GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE Version 2, June 1991 Copyright (C) 1989, 1991 Free Software Foundation, Inc. 675 Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA. Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies of this license document, but changing it is not allowed.

C.1 Preamble
The licenses for most software are designed to take away your freedom to share and change it. By contrast, the GNU General Public License is intended to guarantee your freedom to share and change free software– to make sure the software is free for all its users. This General Public License applies to most of the Free Software Foundation’s software and to any other program whose authors commit to using it. (Some other Free Software Foundation software is covered by the GNU Library General Public License instead.) You can apply it to your programs, too. When we speak of free software, we are referring to freedom, not price. Our General Public Licenses are designed to make sure that you have the freedom to distribute copies of free software (and charge for this service if you wish), that you receive source code or can get it if you want it, that you can change the software or use pieces of it in new free programs; and that you know you can do these things. To protect your rights, we need to make restrictions that forbid anyone to deny you these rights or to ask you to surrender the rights. These restrictions translate to certain responsibilities for you if you distribute copies of the software, or if you modify it. For example, if you distribute copies of such a program, whether gratis or for a fee, you must give the recipients all the rights that you have. You must make sure that they, too, receive or can get the source code. And you must show them these terms so they know their rights. We protect your rights with two steps: (1) copyright the software, and (2) offer you this license which gives you legal permission to copy, distribute and/or modify the software. 308

C.2. Terms and Conditions


Also, for each author’s protection and ours, we want to make certain that everyone understands that there is no warranty for this free software. If the software is modified by someone else and passed on, we want its recipients to know that what they have is not the original, so that any problems introduced by others will not reflect on the original authors’ reputations. Finally, any free program is threatened constantly by software patents. We wish to avoid the danger that redistributors of a free program will individually obtain patent licenses, in effect making the program proprietary. To prevent this, we have made it clear that any patent must be licensed for everyone’s free use or not licensed at all. The precise terms and conditions for copying, distribution and modification follow.


Terms and Conditions for Copying, Distribution, and Modification

0. This License applies to any program or other work which contains a notice placed by the copyright holder saying it may be distributed under the terms of this General Public License. The “Program”, below, refers to any such program or work, and a “work based on the Program” means either the Program or any derivative work under copyright law: that is to say, a work containing the Program or a portion of it, either verbatim or with modifications and/or translated into another language. (Hereinafter, translation is included without limitation in the term “modification”.) Each licensee is addressed as “you”. Activities other than copying, distribution and modification are not covered by this License; they are outside its scope. The act of running the Program is not restricted, and the output from the Program is covered only if its contents constitute a work based on the Program (independent of having been made by running the Program). Whether that is true depends on what the Program does. 1. You may copy and distribute verbatim copies of the Program’s source code as you receive it, in any medium, provided that you conspicuously and appropriately publish on each copy an appropriate copyright notice and disclaimer of warranty; keep intact all the notices that refer to this License and to the absence of any warranty; and give any other recipients of the Program a copy of this License along with the Program. You may charge a fee for the physical act of transferring a copy, and you may at your option offer warranty protection in exchange for a fee. 2. You may modify your copy or copies of the Program or any portion of it, thus forming a work based on the Program, and copy and distribute such modifications or work under the terms of Section 1 above, provided that you also meet all of these conditions: a. You must cause the modified files to carry prominent notices stating that you changed the files and the date of any change. b. You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third parties under the terms of this License. c. If the modified program normally reads commands interactively when run, you must cause it, when started running for such interactive use in the most ordinary way, to print or display an announcement including an appropriate copyright notice and a notice that there is no warranty (or else, saying that you provide a warranty) and that users may redistribute the program under these conditions, and telling the user how to view a copy of this License. (Exception: if the Program itself is interactive but does not normally print such an announcement, your work based on the Program is not required to print an announcement.)


Appendix C. The GNU General Public License

These requirements apply to the modified work as a whole. If identifiable sections of that work are not derived from the Program, and can be reasonably considered independent and separate works in themselves, then this License, and its terms, do not apply to those sections when you distribute them as separate works. But when you distribute the same sections as part of a whole which is a work based on the Program, the distribution of the whole must be on the terms of this License, whose permissions for other licensees extend to the entire whole, and thus to each and every part regardless of who wrote it. Thus, it is not the intent of this section to claim rights or contest your rights to work written entirely by you; rather, the intent is to exercise the right to control the distribution of derivative or collective works based on the Program. In addition, mere aggregation of another work not based on the Program with the Program (or with a work based on the Program) on a volume of a storage or distribution medium does not bring the other work under the scope of this License. 3. You may copy and distribute the Program (or a work based on it, under Section 2) in object code or executable form under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above provided that you also do one of the following: a. Accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable source code, which must be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or, b. Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete machinereadable copy of the corresponding source code, to be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or, c. Accompany it with the information you received as to the offer to distribute corresponding source code. (This alternative is allowed only for noncommercial distribution and only if you received the program in object code or executable form with such an offer, in accord with Subsection b above.) The source code for a work means the preferred form of the work for making modifications to it. For an executable work, complete source code means all the source code for all modules it contains, plus any associated interface definition files, plus the scripts used to control compilation and installation of the executable. However, as a special exception, the source code distributed need not include anything that is normally distributed (in either source or binary form) with the major components (compiler, kernel, and so on) of the operating system on which the executable runs, unless that component itself accompanies the executable. If distribution of executable or object code is made by offering access to copy from a designated place, then offering equivalent access to copy the source code from the same place counts as distribution of the source code, even though third parties are not compelled to copy the source along with the object code. 4. You may not copy, modify, sublicense, or distribute the Program except as expressly provided under this License. Any attempt otherwise to copy, modify, sublicense or distribute the Program is void, and will automatically terminate your rights under this License. However, parties who have received copies, or rights, from you under this License will not have their licenses terminated so long as such parties remain in full compliance. 5. You are not required to accept this License, since you have not signed it. However, nothing else grants you permission to modify or distribute the Program or its derivative works. These actions

C.2. Terms and Conditions


are prohibited by law if you do not accept this License. Therefore, by modifying or distributing the Program (or any work based on the Program), you indicate your acceptance of this License to do so, and all its terms and conditions for copying, distributing or modifying the Program or works based on it. 6. Each time you redistribute the Program (or any work based on the Program), the recipient automatically receives a license from the original licensor to copy, distribute or modify the Program subject to these terms and conditions. You may not impose any further restrictions on the recipients’ exercise of the rights granted herein. You are not responsible for enforcing compliance by third parties to this License. 7. If, as a consequence of a court judgment or allegation of patent infringement or for any other reason (not limited to patent issues), conditions are imposed on you (whether by court order, agreement or otherwise) that contradict the conditions of this License, they do not excuse you from the conditions of this License. If you cannot distribute so as to satisfy simultaneously your obligations under this License and any other pertinent obligations, then as a consequence you may not distribute the Program at all. For example, if a patent license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Program by all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to refrain entirely from distribution of the Program. If any portion of this section is held invalid or unenforceable under any particular circumstance, the balance of the section is intended to apply and the section as a whole is intended to apply in other circumstances. It is not the purpose of this section to induce you to infringe any patents or other property right claims or to contest validity of any such claims; this section has the sole purpose of protecting the integrity of the free software distribution system, which is implemented by public license practices. Many people have made generous contributions to the wide range of software distributed through that system in reliance on consistent application of that system; it is up to the author/donor to decide if he or she is willing to distribute software through any other system and a licensee cannot impose that choice. This section is intended to make thoroughly clear what is believed to be a consequence of the rest of this License. 8. If the distribution and/or use of the Program is restricted in certain countries either by patents or by copyrighted interfaces, the original copyright holder who places the Program under this License may add an explicit geographical distribution limitation excluding those countries, so that distribution is permitted only in or among countries not thus excluded. In such case, this License incorporates the limitation as if written in the body of this License. 9. The Free Software Foundation may publish revised and/or new versions of the General Public License from time to time. Such new versions will be similar in spirit to the present version, but may differ in detail to address new problems or concerns. Each version is given a distinguishing version number. If the Program specifies a version number of this License which applies to it and “any later version”, you have the option of following the terms and conditions either of that version or of any later version published by the Free Software Foundation. If the Program does not specify a version number of this License, you may choose any version ever published by the Free Software Foundation. 10. If you wish to incorporate parts of the Program into other free programs whose distribution conditions are different, write to the author to ask for permission. For software which is copyrighted by the Free Software Foundation, write to the Free Software Foundation; we sometimes make exceptions for this. Our decision will be guided by the two goals of preserving the free status of all derivatives of our free software and of promoting the sharing and reuse of software generally.


Appendix C. The GNU General Public License


C.3 Appendix: How to Apply These Terms to Your New Programs
If you develop a new program, and you want it to be of the greatest possible use to the public, the best way to achieve this is to make it free software which everyone can redistribute and change under these terms. To do so, attach the following notices to the program. It is safest to attach them to the start of each source file to most effectively convey the exclusion of warranty; and each file should have at least the “copyright” line and a pointer to where the full notice is found. c hone line to give the program’s name and a brief idea of what it does.i Copyright 19yy hname of authori This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version. This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details. You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this program; if not, write to the Free Software Foundation, Inc., 675 Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA. Also add information on how to contact you by electronic and paper mail. If the program is interactive, make it output a short notice like this when it starts in an interactive mode:
Gnomovision version 69, Copyright (C) 19yy name of author Gnomovision comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY; for details type ‘show w’. type ‘show c’ for details. This is free software, and you are welcome to redistribute it under certain conditions;

C.3. How to Apply These Terms


The hypothetical commands ‘show w’ and ‘show c’ should show the appropriate parts of the General Public License. Of course, the commands you use may be called something other than ‘show w’ and ‘show c’; they could even be mouse-clicks or menu items — whatever suits your program. You should also get your employer (if you work as a programmer) or your school, if any, to sign a “copyright disclaimer” for the program, if necessary. Here is a sample; alter the names: Yoyodyne, Inc., hereby disclaims all copyright interest in the program ‘Gnomovision’ (which makes passes at compilers) written by James Hacker.

hsignature of Ty Cooni, 1 April 1989 Ty Coon, President of Vice
This General Public License does not permit incorporating your program into proprietary programs. If your program is a subroutine library, you may consider it more useful to permit linking proprietary applications with the library. If this is what you want to do, use the GNU Library General Public License instead of this License.

Part III

The Linux Network Administrators’ Guide


For Britta

Legal Notice
UNIX is a trademark of Univel. Linux is not a trademark, and has no connection to UNIXTM or Univel. Copyright c 1994 Olaf Kirch Kattreinstr. 38, 64295 Darmstadt, Germany “The Linux Network Administrators’ Guide” may be reproduced and distributed in whole or in part, subject to the following conditions: 0. The copyright notice above and this permission notice must be preserved complete on all complete or partial copies. 1. Any translation or derivative work of “The Linux Network Administrators’ Guide” must be approved by the author in writing before distribution. 2. If you distribute “The Linux Network Administrators’ Guide” in part, instructions for obtaining the complete version of “The Linux Network Administrators’ Guide” must be included, and a means for obtaining a complete version provided. 3. Small portions may be reproduced as illustrations for reviews or quotes in other works without this permission notice if proper citation is given. 4. If you print and distribute “The Linux Network Administrators’ Guide”, you may not refer to it as the “Official Printed Version”. 5. The GNU General Public License referenced below may be reproduced under the conditions given within it. 6. Several sections of this document are held under separate copyright. When these sections are covered by a different copyright, the separate copyright is noted. If you distribute “The Linux Network Administrators’ Guide” in part, and that part is, in whole, covered under a separate, noted copyright, the conditions of that copyright apply. Exceptions to these rules may be granted for academic purposes: Write to Olaf Kirch at the above address, or email, and ask. These restrictions are here to protect us as authors, not to restrict you as educators and learners. All source code in “The Linux Network Administrators’ Guide” is placed under the GNU General Public License. See appendix C for a copy of the GNU “GPL.” The author is not liable for any damages, direct or indirect, resulting from the use of information provided in this document.

III The Linux Network Administrators’ Guide
: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

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Preface Documentation on Linux : : : : : About This Book : : : : : : : : : : The Official Printed Version : : : : More Information : : : : : : : : : On the Authors : : : : : : : : Thanks : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : Typographical Conventions : : : : The Linux Documentation Project Filesystem Standards : : : : : : : 1

Introduction to Networking 1.1 History : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 1.2 UUCP Networks : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 1.2.1 How to Use UUCP : : : : : : : : : 1.3 TCP/IP Networks : : : : : : : : : : : : : 1.3.1 Introduction to TCP/IP-Networks 1.3.2 Ethernets : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 1.3.3 Other Types of Hardware : : : : : 1.3.4 The Internet Protocol : : : : : : : 1.3.5 IP over Serial Lines : : : : : : : : : 1.3.6 The Transmission Control Protocol 1.3.7 The User Datagram Protocol : : : 1.3.8 More on Ports : : : : : : : : : : : 1.3.9 The Socket Library : : : : : : : : : 1.4 Linux Networking : : : : : : : : : : : : : 1.4.1 Different Streaks of Development : 1.4.2 Where to Get the Code : : : : : : : 1.5 Maintaining Your System : : : : : : : : : 1.5.1 System Security : : : : : : : : : : 1.6 Outlook on the Following Chapters : : : Issues of TCP/IP Networking 2.1 Networking Interfaces : : 2.2 IP Addresses : : : : : : : 2.3 Address Resolution : : : 2.4 IP Routing : : : : : : : : 2.4.1 IP Networks : : : 2.4.2 Subnetworks : : : 2.4.3 Gateways : : : : : 2.4.4 The Routing Table

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :


: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :




2.5 2.6

2.4.5 Metric Values : : : : : : : : : : The Internet Control Message Protocol The Domain Name System : : : : : : 2.6.1 Hostname Resolution : : : : : 2.6.2 Enter DNS : : : : : : : : : : : 2.6.3 Name Lookups with DNS : : : 2.6.4 Domain Name Servers : : : : : 2.6.5 The DNS Database : : : : : : : 2.6.6 Reverse Lookups : : : : : : : :

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

343 343 344 344 345 346 347 347 349 351 351 353 353 354 355 356 356 356 357 358 359 360 360 361 361 362 364 364 365 365 365 366 366 368 368 370 371 372 372 373 373 373 375 375 376 377 377 378

3 Configuring the Networking Hardware 3.1 Devices, Drivers, and all that : : : : : : : : : : : : 3.2 Kernel Configuration : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 3.2.1 Kernel Options in Linux 1.0 and Higher : : 3.2.2 Kernel Options in Linux 1.1.14 and Higher 3.3 A Tour of Linux Network Devices : : : : : : : : : 3.4 Ethernet Installation : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 3.4.1 Ethernet Cabling : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 3.4.2 Supported Boards : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 3.4.3 Ethernet Autoprobing : : : : : : : : : : : : 3.5 The PLIP Driver : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 3.6 The SLIP and PPP Drivers : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 4 Setting up the Serial Hardware 4.1 Communication Software for Modem Links 4.2 Introduction to Serial Devices : : : : : : : : 4.3 Accessing Serial Devices : : : : : : : : : : : 4.4 Serial Hardware : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 5 Configuring TCP/IP Networking 5.1 Setting up the proc Filesystem : : : : : 5.2 Installing the Binaries : : : : : : : : : 5.3 Another Example : : : : : : : : : : : : 5.4 Setting the Hostname : : : : : : : : : 5.5 Assigning IP Addresses : : : : : : : : 5.6 Writing hosts and networks Files : : : : 5.7 Interface Configuration for IP : : : : : 5.7.1 The Loopback Interface : : : : 5.7.2 Ethernet Interfaces : : : : : : : 5.7.3 Routing through a Gateway : : 5.7.4 Configuring a Gateway : : : : 5.7.5 The PLIP Interface : : : : : : : 5.7.6 The SLIP and PPP Interface : : 5.7.7 The Dummy Interface : : : : : 5.8 All About ifconfig : : : : : : : : : : : : 5.9 Checking with netstat : : : : : : : : : 5.9.1 Displaying the Routing Table : 5.9.2 Displaying Interface Statistics : 5.9.3 Displaying Connections : : : : 5.10 Checking the ARP Tables : : : : : : : 5.11 The Future : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

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: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :




Name Service and Resolver Configuraton 6.1 The Resolver Library : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 6.1.1 The host.conf File : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 6.1.2 Resolver Environment Variables : : : : : : : : : 6.1.3 Configuring Name Server Lookups — resolv.conf 6.1.4 Resolver Robustness : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 6.2 Running named : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 6.2.1 The named.boot File : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 6.2.2 The DNS Database Files : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 6.2.3 Writing the Master Files : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 6.2.4 Verifying the Name Server Setup : : : : : : : : : 6.2.5 Other Useful Tools : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : Serial Line IP 7.1 General Requirements : 7.2 SLIP Operation : : : : : 7.3 Using dip : : : : : : : : 7.3.1 A Sample Script 7.3.2 A dip Reference : 7.4 Running in Server Mode

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

380 380 380 381 382 382 383 383 384 387 387 391 392 392 392 394 394 396 398 400 400 401 401 402 402 404 404 404 405 406 407 407 407 408 409 410 411 411 413 414 415 416 418 419 420 421 421 422 423


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The Point-to-Point Protocol 8.1 Untangling the P’s : : : : : : : : : : 8.2 PPP on Linux : : : : : : : : : : : : : 8.3 Running pppd : : : : : : : : : : : : : 8.4 Using Options Files : : : : : : : : : 8.5 Dialing out with chat : : : : : : : : : 8.6 Debugging Your PPP Setup : : : : : 8.7 IP Configuration Options : : : : : : 8.7.1 Choosing IP Addresses : : : 8.7.2 Routing Through a PPP Link 8.8 Link Control Options : : : : : : : : 8.9 General Security Considerations : : 8.10 Authentication with PPP : : : : : : 8.10.1 CHAP versus PAP : : : : : : 8.10.2 The CHAP Secrets File : : : : 8.10.3 The PAP Secrets File : : : : : 8.11 Configuring a PPP Server : : : : : : Various Network Applications 9.1 The inetd Super-Server : : : : : 9.2 The tcpd access control facility : 9.3 The services and protocols Files : 9.4 Remote Procedure Call : : : : : 9.5 Configuring the r Commands :

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :


: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

10 The Network Information System 10.1 Getting Acquainted with NIS : : 10.2 NIS versus NIS+ : : : : : : : : : 10.3 The Client Side of NIS : : : : : : 10.4 Running a NIS Server : : : : : : 10.5 Setting up a NIS Client with NYS 10.6 Choosing the Right Maps : : : :

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :



10.7 Using the passwd and group Maps 10.8 Using NIS with Shadow Support 10.9 Using the Traditional NIS Code : 11 The Network File System 11.1 Preparing NFS : : : : : : 11.2 Mounting an NFS Volume 11.3 The NFS Daemons : : : : 11.4 The exports File : : : : : : 11.5 The Linux Automounter :

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

424 425 425 427 428 428 430 430 432 433 433 434 434 434 435 435 436 436 438 439 439 440 440 443 444 445 446 446 446 446 447 448 448 448 449 449 450 450 451 452 452 452 453 455 456 457 458 459 459 459

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

12 Managing Taylor UUCP 12.1 History : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 12.1.1 More Information on UUCP : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 12.2 Introduction : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 12.2.1 Layout of UUCP Transfers and Remote Execution : : 12.2.2 The Inner Workings of uucico : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 12.2.3 uucico Command Line Options : : : : : : : : : : : : : 12.3 UUCP Configuration Files : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 12.3.1 A Gentle Introduction to Taylor UUCP : : : : : : : : : 12.3.2 What UUCP Needs to Know : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 12.3.3 Site Naming : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 12.3.4 Taylor Configuration Files : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 12.3.5 General Configuration Options – the config File : : : : 12.3.6 How to Tell UUCP about other Systems – the sys File : 12.3.7 What Devices there are – the port File : : : : : : : : : 12.3.8 How to Dial a Number – the dial File : : : : : : : : : : 12.3.9 UUCP Over TCP : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 12.3.10 Using a Direct Connection : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 12.4 The Do’s and Dont’s of UUCP – Tuning Permissions : : : : : 12.4.1 Command Execution : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 12.4.2 File Transfers : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 12.4.3 Forwarding : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 12.5 Setting up your System for Dialing in : : : : : : : : : : : : : 12.5.1 Setting up getty : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 12.5.2 Providing UUCP Accounts : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 12.5.3 Protecting Yourself Against Swindlers : : : : : : : : : 12.5.4 Be Paranoid – Call Sequence Checks : : : : : : : : : : 12.5.5 Anonymous UUCP : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 12.6 UUCP Low-Level Protocols : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 12.6.1 Protocol Overview : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 12.6.2 Tuning the Transmission Protocol : : : : : : : : : : : 12.6.3 Selecting Specific Protocols : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 12.7 Troubleshooting : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 12.8 Log Files : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 13 Electronic Mail 13.1 What is a Mail Message? : : : : : : : : : : 13.2 How is Mail Delivered? : : : : : : : : : : 13.3 Email Addresses : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 13.4 How does Mail Routing Work? : : : : : : 13.4.1 Mail Routing on the Internet : : : 13.4.2 Mail Routing in the UUCP World :

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :



13.4.3 Mixing UUCP and RFC 822 13.5 Pathalias and Map File Format : : 13.6 Configuring elm : : : : : : : : : : 13.6.1 Global elm Options : : : : : 13.6.2 National Character Sets : :

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

460 461 463 463 463 465 466 467 467 468 468 470 470 471 471 471 473 473 473 474 474 475 475 476 476 477 477 477 478 478 478 482 483 484 484 485 485 486 486 487 487 488 490 491 491 491 492 492 493 493 493

14 Getting smail Up and Running 14.1 UUCP Setup : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 14.2 Setup for a LAN : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 14.2.1 Writing the Configuration Files : : 14.2.2 Running smail : : : : : : : : : : : 14.3 If You Don’t Get Through: : : : : : : : : : 14.3.1 Compiling smail : : : : : : : : : : 14.4 Mail Delivery Modes : : : : : : : : : : : : 14.5 Miscellaneous config Options : : : : : : : 14.6 Message Routing and Delivery : : : : : : 14.7 Routing Messages : : : : : : : : : : : : : 14.7.1 The paths database : : : : : : : : : 14.8 Delivering Messages to Local Addresses : 14.8.1 Local Users : : : : : : : : : : : : : 14.8.2 Forwarding : : : : : : : : : : : : : 14.8.3 Alias Files : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 14.8.4 Mailing Lists : : : : : : : : : : : : 14.9 UUCP-based Transports : : : : : : : : : : 14.10SMTP-based Transports : : : : : : : : : : 14.11Hostname Qualification : : : : : : : : : :

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

15 Sendmail+IDA 15.1 Introduction to Sendmail+IDA : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 15.2 Configuration Files — Overview : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 15.3 The File : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 15.3.1 An Example sendmail.m4 File : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 15.3.2 Typically Used sendmail.m4 Parameters : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 15.4 A Tour of Sendmail+IDA Tables : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 15.4.1 mailertable : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 15.4.2 uucpxtable : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 15.4.3 pathtable : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 15.4.4 domaintable : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 15.4.5 aliases : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 15.4.6 Rarely Used Tables : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 15.5 Installing sendmail : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 15.5.1 Extracting the binary distribution : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 15.5.2 Building : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 15.5.3 Testing the file : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 15.5.4 Putting it all together - Integration Testing and the tables 15.6 Administrivia and Stupid Mail Tricks : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 15.6.1 Forwarding Mail to a Relay Host : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 15.6.2 Forcing Mail into Misconfigured Remote Sites : : : : : : : : : : : : 15.6.3 Forcing Mail to be Transferred via UUCP : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 15.6.4 Preventing Mail from Being Delivered via UUCP : : : : : : : : : : : 15.6.5 Running the Sendmail Queue on Demand : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 15.6.6 Reporting Mail Statistics : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 15.7 Mixing and Matching Binary Distributions : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :



15.8 Where to Get More Information

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

494 495 495 496 496 499 499 500 502 504 505 506 508 509 509 510 510 511 511 512 513 513 514 514 515 516 517 517 518 519 520 521 527 527 528 530 531 535 535 535 535 536 537 537 537

16 Netnews 16.1 Usenet History : : : : : : : : : : : 16.2 What is Usenet, Anyway? : : : : : 16.3 How Does Usenet Handle News? :

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

17 C News 17.1 Delivering News : : : : : : : : : : : : : 17.2 Installation : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 17.3 The sys file : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 17.4 The active file : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 17.5 Article Batching : : : : : : : : : : : : : 17.6 Expiring News : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 17.7 Miscellaneous Files : : : : : : : : : : : : 17.8 Control Messages : : : : : : : : : : : : : 17.8.1 The cancel Message : : : : : : : : 17.8.2 newgroup and rmgroup : : : : : : 17.8.3 The checkgroups Message : : : : 17.8.4 sendsys, version, and senduuname 17.9 C News in an NFS Environment : : : : 17.10Maintenance Tools and Tasks : : : : : : 18 A Description of NNTP 18.1 Introduction : : : : : : : : : : 18.2 Installing the NNTP server : : 18.3 Restricting NNTP Access : : : 18.4 NNTP Authorization : : : : : : 18.5 nntpd Interaction with C News 19 Newsreader Configuration 19.1 tin Configuration : : : 19.2 trn Configuration : : : 19.3 nn Configuration : : :

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

A A Null Printer Cable for PLIP B Sample smail Configuration Files C The GNU General Public License C.1 Preamble : : : : : : : : : : : C.2 Terms and Conditions : : : : C.3 How to Apply These Terms : Glossary Annotated Bibliography Books : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : General Books on the Internet Administration Issues : : : : The Background : : : : : : : HOWTOs : : : : : : : : : : : : : : What are Linux HOWTOs? : Where to get Linux HOWTOs

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :



HOWTO Index : : : : : : : Miscellaneous and Legalese RFCs : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

537 538 538

List of Figures
1.1 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 3.1 5.1 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 7.1 9.1 9.2 The three steps of sending a datagram from erdos to quark.
: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

331 341 342 345 348 349 350 350 352 367 383 387 388 388 389 395 412 416 424 438 478 479 497 500

Subnetting a class B network : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : A part of the net topology at Groucho Marx Univ. : : : : : : : : A part of the domain name space : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : An excerpt from the named.hosts file for the Physics Department. An excerpt from the named.hosts file for GMU. : : : : : : : : : : An excerpt from the named.rev file for subnet 12. : : : : : : : : : An excerpt from the named.rev file for network 149.76. : : : : : : The relationship between drivers, interfaces, and the hardware. Virtual Brewery and Virtual Winery – the two subnets. The named.boot file for vlager. The file. : : : : : : The named.hosts file. : : : : : The named.local file. : : : : : The named.rev file. : : : : : : A sample dip script

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

A sample /etc/inetd.conf file. A sample /etc/rpc file. : : :

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

10.1 Sample nsswitch.conf file.

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

12.1 Interaction of Taylor UUCP Configuration Files. 15.1 sendmail Support Files. : : : : : : : 15.2 A sample sendmail.m4 file for vstout.

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

16.1 Usenet news flow through Groucho Marx University. 17.1 News flow through relaynews.

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :



With the Internet much of a buzzword recently, and otherwise serious people joyriding along the “Informational Superhighway,” computer networking seems to be moving toward the status of TV sets and microwave ovens. The Internet is recently getting an unusually high media coverage, and social science majors are descending on Usenet newsgroups to conduct researches on the “Internet Culture.” Carrier companies are working to introduce new transmission techniques like ATM that offer many times the bandwidth the average network link of today has. Of course, networking has been around for a long time. Connecting computers to form local area networks has been common practice even at small installations, and so have been long-haul links using public telephone lines. A rapidly growing conglomerate of world-wide networks has, however, made joining the global village a viable option even for small non-profit organizations of private computer users. Setting up an Internet host with mail and news capabilities offering dial-up access has become affordable, and the advent of ISDN will doubtlessly accelerate this trend. Talking of computer networks quite frequently means talking about UNIX. Of course, UNIX is neither the only operating system with network capabilities, nor will it remain a front-runner forever, but it has been in the networking business for a long time, and will surely continue to do so for some time to come. What makes it particularly interesting to private users is that there has been much activity to bring free UNIXoid operating systems to the PC, being 386BSD, FreeBSD — and Linux. However, Linux is not UNIX. That is a registered trademark of whoever currently holds the rights to it (Univel, while I’m typing this), while Linux is an operating system that strives to offer all functionality the POSIX standards require for UNIX-like operating systems, but is a complete reimplementation. The Linux kernel was written largely by Linus Torvalds, who started it as a project to get to know the Intel i386, and to “make MINIX better.” MINIX was then another popular PC operating system offering vital ingredients of UNIX functionality, and was written by Prof. Andrew S. Tanenbaum. Linux is covered by the GNU General Public License (GPL), which allows free distribution of the code (please read the GPL in appendix C for a definition of what “free software” means). Outgrowing its child’s diseases, and drawing from a large and ever-growing base of free application programs, it is quickly becoming the operating system of choice for many PC owners. The kernel and C library have become that good that most standard software may be compiled with no more effort than is required on any other mainstream UNIXish system, and a broad assortment of packaged Linux distributions allows you to almost drop it onto your hard disk and start playing. 325


The Official Printed Version

Documentation on Linux
One of the complaints that are frequently levelled at Linux (and free software in general) is the sorry state or complete lack of documentation. In the early days it was not unusual for a package to come with a handful of READMEs and installation notes. They gave the moderately experienced UNIX wizard enough information to successfully install and run it, but left the average newbie out in the cold. Back in late 1992, Lars Wirzenius and Michael K. Johnson suggested to form the Linux Documentation Project, or LDP, which aims at providing a coherent set of manuals. Stopping short of answering questions like “How?”, or “Why?”, or “What’s the meaning of life, universe, and all the rest?”, these manuals attempt to cover most aspects of running and using a Linux system users without requiring a prior degree in UNIX. Among the achievements of the LDP are the Installation and Getting Started Guide, written by Matt Welsh, the Kernel Hacker’s Guide by Michael K. Johnson, and the manpage project coordinated by Rik Faith, which so far supplied a set of roughly 450 manual pages for most system and C library calls. The System Administrators’ Guide, written by Lars Wirzenius, is still at the Alpha stage. A User’s Guide is being prepared. This book, the Linux Network Administrators’ Guide, is part of the LDP series, too. As such, it may be copied and distributed freely under the LDP copying license which is reproduced on the second page. However, the LDP books are not the only source of information on Linux. At the moment, there are more than a dozen HOWTOs that are posted to comp.os.linux.announce regularly and archived at various FTP sites. HOWTOs are short documents of a few pages that give you a brief introduction into topics such as Ethernet support under Linux, or the configuration of Usenet news software, and answer frequently asked questions. They usually provide the most accurate and up-to-date information avaliable on the topic. A list of available HOWTOs is produced in the “Annotated Bibliography” toward the end of this book.

About This Book
When I joined the Linux Documentation Project in 1992, I wrote two small chapters on UUCP and smail, which I meant to contribute to the System Administrator’s Guide. Development of TCP/IP networking was just beginning, and when those “small chapters” started to grow, I wondered aloud if it wouldn’t be nice to have a Networking Guide. “Great”, everyone said, “I’d say, go for it!” So I went for it, and wrote a first version of the Networking Guide, which I released in September 1993. The new Networking Guide you are reading right now is a complete rewrite that features several new applications that have become available to Linux users since the first release. The book is organized roughly in the sequence of steps you have to take to configure your system for networking. It starts by discussing basic concepts of networks, and TCP/IP-based networks in particular. We then slowly work our way up from configuring TCP/IP at the device level to the setup of common applications such as rlogin and friends, the Network File System, and the Network Information System. This is followed by a chapter on how to set up your machine as a UUCP node. The remainder of the book is dedicated to two major applications that run on top of both TCP/IP and UUCP: electronic mail and news. The email part features an introduction of the more intimate parts of mail transport and routing, and the myriads of addressing schemes you may be confronted with. It describes the configuration and management of smail, a mail transport agent commonly used on smaller mail hubs, and sendmail, which is for people who have to do more complicated routing, or have to handle a large volume of mail. The sendmail chapter has been written and contributed by Vince Skahan. The news part attempts to give you an overview of how Usenet news works, covers C news, the most widely used news transport software at the moment, and the use of NNTP to provide newsreading access to a local network. The book closes with a short chapter on the care and feeding of the most popular newsreaders on Linux.

The Official Printed Version
In autumn 1993, Andy Oram, who has been around the LDP mailing list from almost the very beginning, asked me about publishing my book at O’Reilly and Associates. I was excited about this; I had never imagined my book being that successful. We finally agreed that O’Reilly would produce an enhanced Official Printed Version of the Networking Guide with me, while I retained the original copyright so that

More Information


the source of the book could be freely distributed.1 This means that you can choose freely: you can get the A L TEXsource distributed on the network (or the preformatted DVI or PostScript versions, for that matter), and print it out. Or you can purchase the official printed version from O’Reilly, which will be available some time later this year. Then, why would you want to pay money for something you can get for free? Is Tim O’Reilly out of his mind for publishing something everyone can print and even sell herself?2 Or is there any difference between these versions? The answers are “it depends,” “no, definitely not,” and “yes and no.” O’Reilly and Associates do take a risk in publishing the Networking Guide, but I hope it will finally pay off for them. If it does, I believe this project can serve as an example how the free software world and companies can cooperate to produce something both benefit from. In my view, the great service O’Reilly is doing to the Linux community (apart from the book being readily available in your local bookstore) is that it may help Linux being recognized as something to be taken seriously: a viable and useful alternative to commercial PC UNIX operating systems. So what about the differences between the printed version and the online one? Andy Oram has made great efforts at transforming my early ramblings into something actually worth printing. (He has also been reviewing the other books put out by the Linux Documentation Project, trying to contribute whatever professional skills he can to the Linux community.) Since Andy started reviewing the Networking Guide and editing the copies I sent him, the book has improved vastly over what it was half a year ago. It would be nowhere close to where it is now without his contributions. All his edits have been fed back into online version, as will any changes that will be made to the Networking Guide during the copy-editing phase at O’Reilly. So there will be no difference in content. Still, the O’Reilly version will be different: On one hand, people at O’Reilly are putting a lot of work into A the look and feel, producing a much more pleasant layout than you could ever get out of standard LTEX. On the other hand, it will feature a couple of enhancements like an improved index, and better and more figures.

More Information
If you follow the instructions in this book, and something does not work nevertheless, please be patient. Some of your problems may be due to stupid mistakes on my part, but may also be caused by changes in the networking software. Therefore, you should probably ask on first. There’s a good chance that you are not alone with your problems, so that a fix or at least a proposed workaround is likely to be known. If you have the opportunity, you should also try to get the latest kernel and network release from one of the Linux FTP sites, or a BBS near you. Many problems are caused by software from different stages of development, which fail to work together properly. After all, Linux is “work in progress”. Another good place to inform yourself about current development is the Networking HOWTO. It is maintained by Terry Dawson3 . It is posted to comp.os.linux.announce once a month, and contains the most up-to-date information. The current version can also be obtained (among others) from, in /pub/linux/doc. For problems you can’t solve in any other way, you may also contact the author of this book at the address given in the preface. However, please, refrain from asking developers for help. They are already devoting a major part of their spare time to Linux anyway, and occasionally even have a life beyond the net:-)

On the Authors
Olaf has been a UNIX user and part-time administrator for a couple of years while he was studying mathematics. At the moment, he’s working as a UNIX programmer and is writing a book. One of his favorite sports is doing things with sed that other people would reach for their perl interpreter for. He has about as much fun with this as with mountain hiking with a backpack and a tent. Vince Skahan has been administering large numbers of UNIX systems since 1987 and currently runs sendmail+IDA on approximately 300 UNIX workstations for over 2000 users. He admits to losing considcopyright notice is reproduced on the page immediately following the title page. that while you are allowed to print out the online version, you may not run the O’Reilly book through a photocopier, and much less sell any of those (hypothetical) copies. 3 Terry Dawson can be reached at
2 Note 1 The



erable sleep from editing quite a few files ‘the hard way’ before discovering sendmail+IDA in 1990. He also admits to anxiously awaiting the delivery of the first perl-based version of sendmail for even more obscure fun4: : : Olaf can be reached at the following address: Olaf Kirch Kattreinstr. 38 64295 Darmstadt Germany Vince can be reached at: Vince Skahan We are open to your questions, comments, postcards, etc. However, we ask you not to telephone us unless it’s really important.

Olaf says: This book owes very much to the numerous people who took the time to proofread it and helped iron out many mistakes, both technical and grammatical (never knew that there’s such a thing as a dangling participle). The most vigorous among them was Andy Oram at O’Reilly and Associates. I am greatly indebted to Andres Sepulveda, Wolfgang Michaelis, Michael K. Johnson, and all developers ´ who spared the time to check the information provided in the Networking Guide. I also wish to thank all those who read the first version of the Networking Guide and sent me corrections and suggestions. You can find hopefully complete list of contributors in the file Thanks in the online distribution. Finally, this book would not have been possible without the support of Holger Grothe, who provided me with the critical Internet connectivity. I would also like to thank the following groups and companies who printed the first edition of the Networking Guide and have donated money either to me, or to the Linux Documentation Project as a whole. 

Linux Support Team, Erlangen, Germany  S.u.S.E. GmbH, Fuerth, Germany  Linux System Labs, Inc., United States
Vince says: Thanks go to Neil Rickert and Paul Pomes for lots of help over the years regarding the care and feeding of sendmail+IDA and to Rich Braun for doing the initial port of sendmail+IDA to Linux. The biggest thanks by far go to my wife Susan for all the support on this and other projects.
4 Don’t

you think we could do it with sed, Vince?

Typographical Conventions


Typographical Conventions

In writing this book, a number of typographical conventions were employed to mark shell commands, variable arguments, etc. They are explained below.

Bold Font Italics Font

Used to mark hostnames and mail addresses, as well as new concepts and warnings. Used to mark file names, UNIX commands, and keywords in configuration files. Also used for emphasis in text.

Typewriter Font Used to represent screen interaction, such as user interaction when running a program. Also used for code examples, whether it is a configuration file, a shell script, or something else.

Typewriter Slanted Font Used to mark meta-variables in the text, especially in representations of the command line. For example,

$ ls -l foo

where foo would “stand for” a filename, such as /tmp.

Represents a key to press. You will often see it in this form:

Press return to continue.

$ and #

A diamond in the margin, like a black diamond on a ski hill, marks “danger” or “caution.” Read paragraphs marked this way carefully. When preceding a shell command to be typed, these denote the shell prompt. The ‘$’ symbol is used when the command may be executed as a normal user; ‘#’ means that the command requires super user privileges.


The Linux Documentation Project

The Linux Documentation Project

The Linux Documentation Project, or LDP, is a loose team of writers, proofreaders, and editors who are working together to provide complete documentation for the Linux operating system. The overall coordinator of the project is Matt Welsh, who is heavily aided by Lars Wirzenius and Michael K. Johnson. This manual is one in a set of several being distributed by the LDP, including a Linux Users’ Guide, System Administrators’ Guide, Network Administrators’ Guide, and Kernel Hackers’ Guide. These manuals A are all available in L TEX source format, .dvi format, and postscript output by anonymous FTP from, in the directory /pub/OS/Linux/doc/doc-project, and from, in the directory /pub/linux/docs/guides. We encourage anyone with a penchant for writing or editing to join us in improving Linux documentation. If you have Internet e-mail access, you can join the DOC channel of the Linux-Activists mailing list by sending mail to

with the line


join DOC

in the header or as the first line of the message body. An empty mail without the additional header line will make the mail-server return a help message. To leave the channel, send a message to the same address, including the line


leave DOC

Filesystem Standards


Filesystem Standards
Throughout the past, one of the problems that afflicted Linux distributions as well as separate packages was that there was no single accepted file system layout. This resulted in incompatibilities between different packages, and confronted users and administrators alike with the task to locate various files and programs. To improve this situation, in August 1993, several people formed the Linux File System Standard Group, or FSSTND Group for short, coordinated by Daniel Quinlan. After six months of discussion, the group presented a draft that presents a coherent file sytem structure and defines the location of most essential programs and configuration files. This standard is supposed to be implemented by most major Linux distributions and packages. Throughout this book, we will therefore assume that any files discussed reside in the location specified by the standard; only where there is a long tradition that conflicts with this specification will alternative locations be mentioned. The Linux File System Standard can be obtained from all major Linux FTP sites and their mirrors; for instance, you can find it on below /pub/linux/docs. Daniel Quinlan, the coordinator of the FSSTND group can be reached at

Chapter 1

Introduction to Networking
1.1 History
The idea of networking is probably as old as telecommunications itself. Consider people living in the stone age, where drums may have been used to transmit messages between individuals. Suppose caveman A wants to invite caveman B for a game of hurling rocks at each other, but they live too far apart for B to hear A banging his drum. So what are A’s options? He could 1) walk over to B’s place, 2) get a bigger drum, or 3) ask C, who lives halfway between them, to forward the message. The last is called networking. Of course, we have come a long way from the primitive pursuits and devices of our forebears. Nowadays, we have computers talk to each other over vast assemblages of wires, fiber optics, microwaves, and the like, to make an appointment for Saturday’s soccer match.1 In the following, we will deal with the means and ways by which this is accomplished, but leave out the wires, as well as the soccer part. We will describe two types of networks in this guide: those based on UUCP, and those based on TCP/IP. These are protocol suites and software packages that supply means to transport data between two computers. In this chapter, we will look at both types of networks, and discuss their underlying principles. We define a network as a collection of hosts that are able to communicate with each other, often by relying on the services of a number of dedicated hosts that relay data between the participants. Hosts are very often computers, but need not be; one can also think of X-terminals or intelligent printers as hosts. Small agglomerations of hosts are also called sites. Communication is impossible without some sort of language or code. In computer networks, these languages are collectively referred to as protocols. However, you shouldn’t think of written protocols here, but rather of the highly formalized code of behavior observed when heads of state meet, for instance. In a very similar fashion, the protocols used in computer networks are nothing but very strict rules for the exchange of messages between two or more hosts.

1.2 UUCP Networks
UUCP is an abbreviation for Unix-to-Unix Copy. It started out as a package of programs to transfer files over serial lines, schedule those transfers, and initiate execution of programs on remote sites. It has undergone major changes since its first implementation in the late seventies, but is still rather spartan in the services it offers. Its main application is still in wide-area networks based on dial-up telephone links. UUCP was first developed by Bell Laboratories in 1977 for communication between their Unixdevelopment sites. In mid-1978, this network already connected over 80 sites. It was running email as an application, as well as remote printing. However, the system’s central use was in distributing new
1 The

original spirit of which (see above) still shows on some occasions in Europe.


1.2. UUCP Networks


software and bugfixes.2 Today, UUCP is not confined to the UNIX environment anymore. There are both free and commercial ports available for a variety of platforms, including AmigaOS, DOS, Atari’s TOS, etc. One of the main disadvantages of UUCP networks is their low bandwidth. On one hand, telephone equipment places a tight limit on the maximum transfer rate. On the other hand, UUCP links are rarely permanent connections; instead, hosts rather dial up each other at regular intervals. Hence, most of the time it takes a mail message to travel a UUCP network it sits idly on some host’s disk, awaiting the next time a connection is established. Despite these limitations, there are still many UUCP networks operating all over the world, run mainly by hobbyists, which offer private users network access at reasonable prices. The main reason for the popularity of UUCP is that it is dirt cheap compared to having your computer connected to The Big Internet Cable. To make your computer a UUCP node, all you need is a modem, a working UUCP implementation, and another UUCP node that is willing to feed you mail and news.


How to Use UUCP

The idea behind UUCP is rather simple: as its name indicates, it basically copies files from one host to another, but it also allows certain actions to be performed on the remote host. Suppose your machine is allowed to access a hypothetical host named swim, and have it execute the lpr print command for you. Then you could type the following on your command line to have this book printed on swim:3
$ uux -r swim!lpr !netguide.dvi

This makes uux, a command from the UUCP suite, schedule a job for swim. This job consists of the input file, netguide.dvi, and the request to feed this file to lpr. The -r flag tells uux not to call the remote system immediately, but to rather store the job away until a connection is established at a later occasion. This is called spooling. Another property of UUCP is that it allows to forward jobs and files through several hosts, provided they cooperate. Assume that swim from the above examples has a UUCP link with groucho, which maintains a large archive of UNIX applications. To download the file tripwire-1.0.tar.gz to your site, you might issue
$ uucp -mr swim!groucho!˜/security/tripwire-1.0.tar.gz trip.tgz

The job created will request swim to fetch the file from groucho, and send it to your site, where UUCP will store it in trip.tgz and notify you via mail of the file’s arrival. This will be done in three steps. First, your site sends the job to swim. When swim establishes contact with groucho the next time, it downloads the file. The final step is the actual transfer from swim to your host. The most important services provided by UUCP networks these days are electronic mail and news. We will come back to these later, so we will give only a brief introduction here. Electronic mail – email for short – allows you to exchange messages with users on remote hosts without actually having to know how to access these hosts. The task of directing a message from your site to the destination site is performed entirely by the mail handling system. In a UUCP environment, mail is usually transported by executing the rmail command on a neighboring host, passing it the recipient address and the mail message. rmail will then forward the message to another host, and so on, until it reaches the destination host. We will look at this in detail in chapter 13. News may best be described as sort of a distributed bulletin board system. Most often, this term refers to Usenet News, which is by far the most widely known news exchange network with an estimated number of 120,000 participating sites. The origins of Usenet date back to 1979, when, after the release of UUCP with
that the times had changed that much: : : using bash, the GNU Bourne Again Shell, you might have to escape the exclamation mark, because it uses it as its history character.
3 When 2 Not


Chapter 1. Introduction to Networking

the new Unix V7, three graduate students had the idea of a general information exchange within the Unix community. They put together some scripts, which became the first netnews system. In 1980, this network connected duke, unc, and phs, at two Universities in North Carolina. Out of this, Usenet eventually grew. Although it originated as a UUCP-based network, it is no longer confined to one single type of network. The basic unit of information is the article, which may be posted to a hierarchy of newsgroups dedicated to specific topics. Most sites receive only a selection of all newsgroups, which carry an average of 60MB worth of articles a day. In the UUCP world, news is generally sent across a UUCP link by collecting all articles from the groups requested, and packing them up in a number of batches. These are sent to the receiving site, where they are fed to the rnews command for unpacking and further processing. Finally, UUCP is also the medium of choice for many dial-up archive sites which offer public access. You can usually access them by dialing them up with UUCP, logging in as a guest user, and download files from a publicly accessible archive area. These guest accounts often have a login name and password of uucp/nuucp or something similar.

1.3 TCP/IP Networks
Although UUCP may be a reasonable choice for low-cost dial-up network links, there are many situations in which its store-and-forward technique proves too inflexible, for example in Local Area Networks (LANs). These are usually made up of a small number of machines located in the same building, or even on the same floor, that are interconnected to provide a homogeneous working environment. Typically, you would want to share files between these hosts, or run distributed applications on different machines. These tasks require a completely different approach to networking. Instead of forwarding entire files along with a job description, all data is broken up in smaller chunks (packets), which are forwarded immediately to the destination host, where they are reassembled. This type of network is called a packetswitched network. Among other things, this allows to run interactive applications over the network. The cost of this is, of course, a greatly increased complexity in software. The solution that UNIX system — and many non-UNIX sites — have adopted is known as TCP/IP. In this section, we will have a look at its underlying concepts.


Introduction to TCP/IP-Networks

TCP/IP traces its origins to a research project funded by the United States DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) in 1969. This was an experimental network, the ARPANET, which was converted into an operational one in 1975, after it had proven to be a success. In 1983, the new protocol suite TCP/IP was adopted as a standard, and all hosts on the network were required to use it. When ARPANET finally grew into the Internet (with ARPANET itself passing out of existence in 1990), the use of TCP/IP had spread to networks beyond the Internet itself. Most notable are UNIX local area networks, but in the advent of fast digital telephone equipment, such as ISDN, it also has a promising future as a transport for dial-up networks. For something concrete to look at as we discuss TCP/IP throughout the following sections, we will consider Groucho Marx University (GMU), situated somewhere in Fredland, as an example. Most departments run their own local area networks, while some share one, and others run several of them. They are all interconnected, and are hooked to the Internet through a single high-speed link. Suppose your Linux box is connected to a LAN of UNIX hosts at the Mathematics Department, and its name is erdos. To access a host at the Physics Department, say quark, you enter the following command:
$ rlogin quark.physics Welcome to the Physics Department at GMU (ttyq2) login:

1.3. TCP/IP Networks


At the prompt, you enter your login name, say andres, and your password. You are then given a shell on quark, to which you can type as if you were sitting at the system’s console. After you exit the shell, you are returned to your own machine’s prompt. You have just used one of the instantaneous, interactive applications that TCP/IP provides: remote login. While being logged into quark, you might also want to run an X11-based application, like a function plotting program, or a PostScript previewer. To tell this application that you want to have its windows displayed on your host’s screen, you have to set the DISPLAY environment variable:
$ export DISPLAY=erdos.maths:0.0

If you now start your application, it will contact your X server instead of quark’s, and display all its windows on your screen. Of course, this requires that you have X11 runnning on erdos. The point here is that TCP/IP allows quark and erdos to send X11 packets back and forth to give you the illusion that you’re on a single system. The network is almost transparent here. Another very important application in TCP/IP networks is NFS, which stands for Network File System. It is another form of making the network transparent, because it basically allows you to mount directory hierarchies from other hosts, so that they appear like local file systems. For example, all users’ home directories can be on a central server machine, from which all other hosts on the LAN mount the directory. The effect of this is that users can log into any machine, and find themselves in the same home directory. Similarly, it is possible to install applications that require large amounts of disk space (such as T X) on only E one machine, and export these directories to other machines. We will come back to NFS in chapter 11. Of course, these are only examples of what you can do over TCP/IP networks. The possibilities are almost limitless. We will now have a closer look at the way TCP/IP works. You will need this to understand how and why you have to configure your machine. We will start by examining the hardware, and slowly work our way up.



The type of hardware most widely used throughout LANs is what is commonly known as Ethernet. It consists of a single cable with hosts being attached to it through connectors, taps or transceivers. Simple Ethernets are quite inexpensive to install, which, together with a net transfer rate of 10 Megabits per second accounts for much of its popularity. Ethernets come in three flavors, called thick and thin, respectively, and twisted pair. Thin and thick Ethernet each use a coaxial cable, differing in width and the way you may attach a host to this cable. Thin Ethernet uses a T-shaped “BNC” connector, which you insert into the cable, and twist onto a plug on the back of your computer. Thick Ethernet requires that you drill a small hole into the cable, and attach a transceiver using a “vampire tap”. One or more hosts can then be connected to the transceiver. Thin and thick Ethernet cable may run for a maximum of 200 and 500 meters, respectively, and are therefore also called 10base-2 and 10base-5. Twisted pair uses a cable made of two copper wires which is also found in ordinary telephone installations, but usually requires additional hardware. It is also known as 10base-T. Although adding a host to a thick Ethernet is a little hairy, it does not bring down the network. To add a host to a thinnet installation, you have to disrupt network service for at least a few minutes because you have to cut the cable to insert the connector. Most people prefer thin Ethernet, because it is very cheap: PC cards come for as little as US$ 50, and cable is in the range of a few cent per meter. However, for large-scale installations, thick Ethernet is more appropriate. For example, the Ethernet at GMU’s Mathematics Department uses thick Ethernet, so traffic will not be disrupted each time a host is added to the network. One of the drawbacks of Ethernet technology is its limited cable length, which precludes any use of it other than for LANs. However, several Ethernet segments may be linked to each other using repeaters, bridges or routers. Repeaters simply copy the signals between two or more segments, so that all segments


Chapter 1. Introduction to Networking

together will act as if it was one Ethernet. timing requirements, there may not be more than four repeaters any two hosts on the network. Bridges and Routers are more sophisticated. They analyze incoming data and forward it only when the recipient host is not on the local Ethernet. Ethernet works like a bus system, where a host may send packets (or frames) of up to 1500 bytes to another host on the same Ethernet. A host is addressed by a six-byte address hardcoded into the firmware of its Ethernet board. These addresses are usually written as a sequence of two-digit hex numbers separated by colons, as in aa:bb:cc:dd:ee:ff. A frame sent by one station is seen by all attached stations, but only the destination host actually picks it up and processes it. If two stations try to send at the same time, a collision occurs, which is resolved by the two stations aborting the send, and reattempting it a few moments later.


Other Types of Hardware

In larger installations, such as Groucho Marx University, Ethernet is usually not the only type of equipment used. At Groucho Marx University, each department’s LAN is linked to the campus backbone, which is a fiber optics cable running FDDI (Fiber Distributed Data Interface). FDDI uses an entirely different approach to transmitting data, which basically involves sending around a number of tokens, with a station only being allowed to send a frame if it captures a token. The main advantage of FDDI is a speed of up to 100 Mbps, and a maximum cable length of up to 200 km. For long-distance network links, a different type of equipment is frequently used, which is based on a standard named X.25. Many so-called Public Data Networks, like Tymnet in the U.S., or Datex-P in Germany, offer this service. X.25 requires special hardware, namely a Packet Assembler/Disassembler or PAD. X.25 defines a set of networking protocols of its own right, but is nevertheless frequently used to connect networks running TCP/IP and other protocols. Since IP packets cannot simply be mapped onto X.25 (and vice versa), they are simply encapsulated in X.25 packets and sent over the network. Frequently, radio amateurs use their equipment to network their computers; this is called packet radio or ham radio. The protocol used by ham radios is called AX.25, which was derived from X.25. Other techniques involve using slow but cheap serial lines for dial-up access. These require yet another protocol for transmission of packets, such as SLIP or PPP, which will be described below.


The Internet Protocol

Of course, you wouldn’t want your networking to be limited to one Ethernet. Ideally, you would want to be able to use a network regardless of what hardware it runs on and how many subunits it is made up of. For example, in larger installations such as Groucho Marx University, you usually have a number of separate Ethernets that have to be connected in some way. At GMU, the maths department runs two Ethernets: one network of fast machines for professors and graduates, and another one with slow machines for students. Both are linked to the FDDI campus backbone. This connection is handled by a dedicated host, a so-called gateway, which handles incoming and outgoing packets by copying them between the two Ethernets and the fiber optics cable. For example, if you are at the Maths Department, and want to access quark on the Physics Deparment’s LAN from your Linux box, the networking software cannot send packets to quark directly, because it is not on the same Ethernet. Therefore, it has to rely on the gateway to act as a forwarder. The gateway (name it sophus) then forwards these packets to its peer gateway niels at the Physics Department, using the backbone, with niels delivering it to the destination machine. Data flow between erdos and quark is shown in figure 1.1 (With apologies to Guy L. Steele). This scheme of directing data to a remote host is called routing, and packets are often referred to as datagrams in this context. To facilitate things, datagram exchange is governed by a single protocol that is independent of the hardware used: IP, or Internet Protocol. In chapter 2, we will cover IP and the issues of routing in greater detail.

1.3. TCP/IP Networks


FDDI Campus Backbone

niels sophus

Physics Ethernet

Mathematics Ethernet





Figure 1.1: The three steps of sending a datagram from erdos to quark.


Chapter 1. Introduction to Networking

The main benefit of IP is that it turns physically dissimilar networks into one apparently homogeneous network. This is called internetworking, and the resulting “meta-network” is called an internet. Note the subtle difference between an internet and the Internet here. The latter is the official name of one particular global internet. Of course, IP also requires a hardware-independent addressing scheme. This is achieved by assigning each host a unique 32-bit number, called the IP address. An IP address is usually written as four decimal numbers, one for each 8-bit portion, separated by dots. For example, quark might have an IP address of 0x954C0C04, which would be written as This format is also called dotted quad notation. You will notice that we now have three different types of addresses: first there is the host’s name, like quark, then there are IP addresses, and finally, there are hardware addresses, like the 6-byte Ethernet address. All these somehow have to match, so that when you type rlogin quark, the networking software can be given quark’s IP address; and when IP delivers any data to the Physics Department’s Ethernet, it somehow has to find out what Ethernet address corresponds to the IP address. Which is rather confusing. We will not go into this here, and deal with it in chapter 2 instead. For now, it’s enough to remember that these steps of finding addresses are called hostname resolution, for mapping host names onto IP addresses, and address resolution, for mapping the latter to hardware addresses.


IP over Serial Lines

On serial lines, a “de facto” standard known as SLIP or Serial Line IP is frequently used. A modification of SLIP is known as CSLIP, or compressed SLIP, and performs compression of IP headers to make better use of the relatively low bandwidth provided by serial links.4 A different serial protocol is PPP, or Point-to-Point Protocol. PPP has many more features than SLIP, including a link negotiation phase. Its main advantage over SLIP is, however, that it isn’t limited to transporting IP datagrams, but that it was designed to allow for any type of datagrams to be transmitted.


The Transmission Control Protocol

Now, of course, sending datagrams from one host to another is not the whole story. If you log into quark, you want to have a reliable connection between your rlogin process on erdos and the shell process on quark. Thus, the information sent to and fro must be split up into packets by the sender, and reassembled into a character stream by the receiver. Trivial as it seems, this involves a number of hairy tasks. A very important thing to know about IP is that, by intent, it is not reliable. Assume that ten people on your Ethernet started downloading the latest release of XFree86 from GMU’s FTP server. The amount of traffic generated by this might be too much for the gateway to handle, because it’s too slow, and it’s tight on memory. Now if you happen to send a packet to quark, sophus might just be out of buffer space for a moment and therefore unable to forward it. IP solves this problem by simply discarding it. The packet is irrevocably lost. It is therefore the responsibility of the communicating hosts to check the integrity and completeness of the data, and retransmit it in case of an error. This is performed by yet another protocol, TCP, or Transmission Control Protocol, which builds a reliable service on top of IP. The essential property of TCP is that it uses IP to give you the illusion of a simple connection between the two processes on your host and the remote machine, so that you don’t have to care about how and along which route your data actually travels. A TCP connection works essentially like a two-way pipe that both processes may write to and read from. Think of it as a telephone conversation. TCP identifies the end points of such a connection by the IP addresses of the two hosts involved, and the number of a so-called port on each host. Ports may be viewed as attachment points for network connections. If we are to strain the telephone example a little more, one might compare IP addresses to area codes (numbers map to cities), and port numbers to local codes (numbers map to individual people’s telephones). In the rlogin example, the client application (rlogin) opens a port on erdos, and connects to port 513 on quark, which the rlogind server is known to listen to. This establishes a TCP connection. Using this

is described in RFC 1055. The header compression CSLIP is based in is described in RFC 1144.

Part I

LINUX System Administrator’s Guide

This is a manual and tutorial for keeping a LINUX system up and running. This version is not nished, but the nished version is supposed to cover all the central topics except networking (for which see the Linux Network Administrators' Guide). This manual does not try to be a reference manual, or a manual to all the di erent programs that a system administrator might use. Separate documentation (such as man pages) exist for those.




Lars Wirzenius, Hernesaarenkatu 15 A 2, Fin-00150 Helsinki, Finland

c 1993, 1995 by Lars Wirzenius Unmodified distribution in whatever form is allowed. Modified versions (including translations) must be approved in writing by the author before distribution. Instructions for obtaining the complete document source code must be provided if not supplied with the distribution. Published 1995.


LINUX System Administrator’s Guide 0.2

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1 Introduction to the ALPHA Versions 2 Introduction 2.1 2.2 3 The LINUX Documentation Project
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Copyright, trademarks, other legalese

Directory Tree Overview 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9 The /etc and /usr/etc Directories Devices, /dev
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The Program Directories, /bin, /usr/bin, and Others The /usr/lib Directory Shared Library Images, /lib Source Codes, /usr/src

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C/C++ Programming, /usr/include, /usr/g++include Administrativia, /usr/adm : On-line Manuals, /usr/man

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3.12 Temporary Files, /tmp and /usr/tmp 3.13 The /mnt and /swap Directories 3.14 Process Information, /proc 3.15 The /install Directory 4 Boots And Shutdowns 4.1 4.2 4.3 An Overview of Boots and Shutdowns The Boot Process in Closer Look More about Shutdowns

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5.3 5.4 5.5


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Formatting Partitions 5.5.1 5.5.2 5.5.3 5.5.4 5.5.5

The MBR, boot sectors and partition table Extended and logical partitions Partition types

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Partitioning a hard disk

Device files and partitions


Filesystems 5.6.1 5.6.2 5.6.3 5.6.4 5.6.5 5.6.6

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What are filesystems? Filesystems galore

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Which filesystem should be used? Creating a filesystem

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Mounting and unmounting

Keeping filesystems healthy :

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Disks without filesystems Allocating disk space 5.8.1 5.8.2 5.8.3 5.8.4 5.8.5

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Partitioning schemes Space requirements

Examples of hard disk allocation

Adding more disk space for LINUX Tips for saving disk space

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Memory Management 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 What is virtual memory? Creating a swap area Using a swap area
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Things to ponder Backup levels Backup media Various tools

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A sample plan for a small system A more demanding backup plan



A Design and Implementation of the Second Extended Filesystem A.1 History of Linux filesystems A.2 Basic File System Concepts A.2.1 Inodes A.2.3 Links A.2.2 Directories
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A.4 The Second Extended File System A.4.2 “Standard” Ext2fs features A.4.3 “Advanced” Ext2fs features A.4.4 Physical Structure A.5 The Ext2fs library : A.6 The Ext2fs tools A.4.5 Performance optimizations

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A.7 Performance Measurements

A.7.1 Description of the benchmarks

A.7.2 Results of the Bonnie benchmark A.8 Conclusion B Measuring Holes C Bibliography

A.7.3 Results of the Andrew benchmark

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Chapter 1

Introduction to the ALPHA Versions
This is an ALPHA version of the LINUX System Administrator’s Guide. That means that I don’t even pretend it contains anything useful, or that anything contained within it is factually correct. In fact, if you believe anything that I say in this version, and you are hurt because of it, I will cruelly laugh at your face if you complain. Well, almost. I won’t laugh, but I also will not consider myself responsible for anything. The purpose of an ALPHA version is to get the stuff out so that other people can look at it and comment on it. The latter part is the important one: Unless the author gets feedback, the ALPHA version isn’t doing anything good. Therefore, if you read this ‘book’, please, please, please let me hear your opinion about it. I don’t care whether you think it is good or bad, I want you to tell me about it. If at all possible, you should mail your comments directly to me, otherwise there is a largish chance I will miss them. If you want to discuss things in public (one of the comp.os.linux newsgroups or the mailing list), that is ok by me, but please send a copy via mail directly to me as well. I do not much care about the format in which you send your comments, but it is essential that you clearly indicate what part of my text you are commenting on. I can be contacted at the following e-mail addresses:

(they’re all actually the same account, but I give all these, just in case there is some weird problem). This text contains a lot of notes that I have inserted as notes to myself. They are identified with “META: ”. They indicate things that need to be worked on, that are missing, that are wrong, or something like that. They are mostly for my own benefit and for your amusement, they are not things that I am hoping someone else will write for me. Parts of the chapters in this version are still unwritten. If someone wishes to fill things in, I’m glad to have it, but I will probably write it myself, anyway (mixing text from several people in one chapter usually makes for a less good manual). If you are serious about wanting to write a whole chapter or more, please contact me for ideas. If you think that this version of the manual is missing a lot, you are right. I am including only those chapters that are at least half finished. New chapters will be released as they are written. For reference: This is version 0.2, released 1995-02-04.




The LDP Rhyme1
A wondrous thing, and beautiful, ’tis to write, a book. I’d like to sing, of the sweat, the blood and tear, which it also took. It started back in, nineteen-ninety-two, when users whined, "we can nothing do!" They wanted to know, what their problem was, and how to fix it (by yesterday). We put the answers in, a Linux f-a-q, hoped to get away, from any more writin’. "That’s too long, it’s hard to search, and we don’t read it, any-which-way!" Then a few of us, joined toghether (virtually, you know), to start the LDP. We started to write, or plan, at least, several books, one for every need. The start was fun, a lot of talk, an outline, then a slew. Then silence came, the work began, some wrote less, others more. A blank screen, oh its horrible, it sits there, laughs in the face. We still await, the final day, when everything, will be done. Until then, all we have, is a draft, for you to comment on.

1 The author wishes to remain anonymous. It was posted to the mailing list by Matt Welsh.

Chapter 2

This manual, the LINUX System Administrator’s Guide, describes the system administration aspects of using LINUX. It is intended for people who know next to nothing about system administration (as in “what is it?”), but who already master at least the basics of normal usage, which means roughly the material covered by the (as yet unpublished) LINUX User’s Guide. This manual also doesn’t tell you how to install LINUX, that is described in the Getting Started document. There is some overlap between all manuals, however, but they all look at things from slightly different angles. See below for more information about LINUX manuals. What, then, is system administration? It is all the things that one has to do to keep a computer system in a useable shape. Things like backing up files (and restoring them if necessary), installing new programs, creating accounts for users (and deleting them when no longer needed), making certain that the filesystem is not corrupted, and so on. If a computer were a house, say, system administration would be called maintenance, and would include cleaning, fixing broken windows, and other such things. System administration is not called maintenance, because that would be too simple. 1 The structure of this manual is such that many of the chapters should be usable independently, so that if you need information about, say, backups, you can read just that chapter. This hopefully makes the book easier to use as a reference manual, and makes it possible to read just a small part when needed, instead of having to read everything. We have tried to create a good index as well, to make it easier to find things. However, this manual is first and foremost a tutorial, and a reference manual only as a lucky coincidence. This manual is not intended to be used completely by itself. Plenty of the rest of the LINUX documentation is also important for system administrators. After all, a system administrator is just a user with special privileges and duties. A very important resource is the man pages, which should always be consulted when a command is not familiar. however.) While this manual is targeted at LINUX, a general principle has been that it should be useful with other UNIX based operating systems as well. Unfortunately, since there is so much variance between different versions of UNIX in general, and in system administration in particular, there is little hope for us to cover all variants. Even covering all possibilities for LINUX is difficult, due to the nature of its development. There is no one official LINUX distribution, so different people have different setups, many people have a setup they have built up themselves. When possible, we have tried to point out differences, and explain several alternatives. In order to cater to the hackers and DIY types that form the driving force behind LINUX development, we have tried to describe how things work, rather than just listing “five easy steps” for each task. This means that there is much information here that is not necessary for everyone, but those parts are marked as such and can be skipped if you use a preconfigured system. Reading everything will, naturally, increase your understanding of the system and should make using and administering it more pleasant. Like all other LINUX related development, the work was done on a volunteer basis: we did it because
1 There are some people who do call it that, but that’s just because they have never read this manual, poor things.




we thought it might be fun and/or because we felt it should be done. However, like all volunteer work, there is a limit to how much effort we have been able to spend on this work, and also on how much knowledge and experience we have. This means that the manual is not necessarily as good as it would be if a wizard had been paid handsomely to write it and had spent a few years to perfect it. We think, of course, that it is pretty nice, but be warned. Also, on the general principle that no single source of information is enough, we have compiled a short bibliography of books, magazines, and papers related to UNIX system administration. One particular point where we have cut corners and reduced our workload is that we have not covered very thoroughly many things that are already well documented in other freely available manuals. This applies especially to program specific documentation, such as all the details of using mkfs(8); we only describe the purpose of the program, and as much of its usage as is necessary for the purposes of this manual. For further information, we refer the gentle reader to these other manuals. Usually, all of the referred to documentation is part of the full LINUX documentation set. While we have tried to make this manual as good as possible, we would really like to hear from you if you have any ideas on how to make it better. Bad language, factual errors, ideas for new areas to cover, rewritten sections, information about how various UNIX versions do things, we are interested in all of it. The maintainer of the manual is Lars Wirzenius. You can contact him via electronic mail with the Internet domain address, or by traditional paper mail using the address Lars Wirzenius / Linux docs Hernesaarentie 15 A 2 00150 Helsinki Finland

META: acks


The LINUX Documentation Project

The LINUX Documentation Project, or LDP, is a loose team of writers, proofreaders, and editors who are working together to provide complete documentation for the LINUX operating system. The overall coordinator of the project is Matt Welsh, who is heavily aided by Lars Wirzenius and Michael K. Johnson. This manual is one in a set of several being distributed by the LDP, including a Linux Users’ Guide, System Administrators’ Guide, Network Administrators’ Guide, and Kernel Hackers’ Guide. These A manuals are all available in LTEX source format, .dvi format, and postscript output by anonymous FTP from, in the directory /pub/OS/Linux/doc/doc-project, and from, in the directory /pub/linux/docs/guides. We encourage anyone with a penchant for writing or editing to join us in improving Linux documentation. If you have Internet e-mail access, you can join the DOC channel of the Linux-Activists mailing list by sending mail to

with the line
X-Mn-Admin: join DOC

in the header or as the first line of the message body.


Copyright, trademarks, other legalese

UNIX is a trademark of Unix System Labratories Linux is not a trademark, and has no connection to UNIXTM or Unix System Labratories.



Copyright c 1993, 1995 Lars Wirzenius Hernesaarenkatu 15 A 2, Fin-00150 Helsinki, FINLAND

Linux System Administrator’s Guide may be reproduced and distributed in whole or in part, subject to the following conditions: 0. The copyright notice above and this permission notice must be preserved complete on all complete or partial copies. 1. Any translation or derivative work of Linux System Administrator’s Guide must be approved by the author in writing before distribution. 2. If you distribute Linux System Administrator’s Guide in part, instructions for obtaining the complete version of this manual must be included, and a means for obtaining a complete version provided. 3. Small portions may be reproduced as illustrations for reviews or quotes in other works without this permission notice if proper citation is given. Exceptions to these rules may be granted for academic purposes: Write to Lars Wirzenius, at the above address, or email, and ask. These restrictions are here to protect us as authors, not to restrict you as educators and learners.

Chapter 3

Directory Tree Overview
META: This chapter is waiting a major rewrite META: Give sample contents of important files, e.g. /etc/passwd, /etc/group (not here, in the
chapter that discusses the relevant subject)

META: Give a sample listing of sensible ownerships and permissions for all the important files, and explain why they are sensible. Explain what must be done in a specific way, and what can be altered to make the system more open or more secure. META: timezone files, /etc/skel. META: mention where files / programs come from, if not typically in the distribution
This chapter contains a quick overview of the most important files and directories on a UNIX system. It does not go into detail about the contents of files, only summarizes their purpose, possibly mentions connections to other files and programs, and points to the relevant document that describes things in more detail. The set of directories and the division of files between directories is based on an assumption that some things are on a root filesystem, the first filesystem that is mounted when when LINUX boots, while others are on other filesystems, and that some files need to be accessable before those other filesystems are mounted. The ‘other’ filesystem is usually called /usr, and everything else in the root directory is assumed to be on the root filesystem. While this configuration is not true for all systems, especially LINUX systems, it was true when the directory tree was originally designed in the early history of UNIX. It is good to understand this, because many things do not otherwise make much sense (e.g. why both /bin and /usr/bin?).


The /etc and /usr/etc Directories

The /etc directory contains files that have to do with system administration, that are required during bootup or shutdown, that contain system-wide configuration data or are system-wide startup scripts. The /usr/etc directory, on systems where it exists, is similar to /etc, but it typically contains only configuration files for programs in /usr/bin, not system-wide things. On some systems, however, /usr/etc is just a symlink to /etc, in which case both are the same thing.

META: the items below should be sorted
/etc/rc This is a /bin/sh shell script that is automatically run when the system is booted. It should start the background processes that provide useful services to user programs (e.g. update, crond, inetd), mount filesystems, turn on swapping areas, and do other similar tasks. In some installations /etc/rc.local or /etc/rc.[0-9] are invoked by /etc/rc; the intention is that all




changes that need to be made for a given site are done in those files so that /etc/rc can be automatically updated when a new version of the operating system is installed.

META: Describe /etc/rc.[0-9] better: which is what, and so on; sysvinit: rc.d
/etc/passwd This is a text file that contains information about users. See the passwd(5) man page for

more information.
/etc/psdatabase This is used by some versions of the LINUX ps(1) command. It contains information about where in the kernel memory certain kernel data structures reside. ps(1) reads that data directly from /dev/kmem, and at least /etc/psdatabase needs to be updated when a new version of the kernel is used; sometimes ps itself needs recompilation and even changes. Other versions of ps use the /proc filesystem, and hence do not need any special attention when upgrading the


META: needed for procps too! wchan
/etc/disktab Contains the disk geometry for SCSI disks for those drivers that do not provide the

information (for example the generic SCSI driver).
/etc/fdprm Floppy disk parameter table. This file describes what different floppy disk formats look like. The program setfdprm(1) looks in this file to see. See the man page fdprm(5) for more

/etc/fstab This file lists the filesystems and swap areas that are mounted by the mount -a command in /etc/rc. See the mount(8) man page for more information, and subsection 5.6.5.

META: root fs must be declared correctly, or else there will be problems with libc
/etc/getty This is the program that waits for somebody to log in via a terminal (or virtual console). It is started automatically by init, once per terminal line (or virtual console) via which it should

be possible to log in. Some “terminal” lines (really, serial lines) might not be intended for logins, e.g. when a mouse is connected to that line, so getty is not invoked on all lines. getty waits until somebody enters a username and then runs login(1).
/etc/uugetty Another version of getty. See the section on logins for more information. /etc/gettydefs

META: On my system this is just a symlink to /etc/gettytab. sysv uses this name.

/etc/gettytab Describes how getty should use the terminal lines (speeds, parity settings, and so


META: I think this is something like it, gotta find a man page first. bsd uses this name. META: mail from jwl (1993-07-22)
/etc/group This is a file similar to /etc/passwd, but it describes groups instead of users. See the group(5) man page for more information. /etc/init This is the program that is started as process 1 by the kernel at boot time. After init is started, the kernel booting is done. init then runs /etc/rc, starts the gettys, and so on. /etc/inittab This file lists the processes that init starts.

META: for some inits, much more info.
/etc/issue This file contains the text that getty outputs before the login prompt. /etc/lilo This directory contains files for LILO, a program that allows LINUX to boot from a hard

disk. See the LILO documentation for more information.
/etc/magic This is the configuration file for file(1). It contains the descriptions of various file formats based on which file guesses the type of the file.



/etc/motd This contains the message of the day that is automatically copied to the users terminal after

his password is validated. It typically contains important messages from the sysadmin, such as warnings about downtime in the future. It is also common to have a short description of the type of the computer and the operating system.

META: .hushlogin?
/etc/mtab This file contains information about the currently mounted filesystems. It is removed by /etc/rc, set up by mount -a, and maintained automatically by the mount(8) and umount(8) commands, and used when a list of mounted filesystems is needed, for example by df(1). /etc/mtools This is a configuration file for mtools, a package for using MS-DOS format disks with UNIX. mtools is typically unnecessary with LINUX, since LINUX itself understands the MS-DOS

filesystem (although that driver can be configured out when compiling the kernel, in which case
mtools is needed). /etc/shadow This file contains the shadow passwords on systems where the shadow password soft-

ware is installed. Shadow passwords mean that the password is not stored to the world-readable /etc/passwd file, but into /etc/shadow which only root can read. This way it is not possible to get the encrypted version of a password, and hence not possible to decipher it either.
/etc/login.defs This is a configuration file for the login(1) command. /etc/printcap Like /etc/termcap, but intended for printers. Different syntax. /etc/profile This file is sourced at login time by the Bourne shell /bin/sh (and /bin/bash; although they are the same on most LINUX systems), and the Korn shell /bin/ksh, before the user’s own .profile file. This allows the sysadmin to introduce global settings easily. /etc/securetty Identifies secure terminals. root can login only from the terminals listed in this file.

Typically only the virtual consoles are listed, so that it becomes impossible (or at least harder) to gain superuser privileges by breaking into a system over a modem or a network.
/etc/shells Lists trusted shells. The chsh(1) command allows users to change their login shell only to shells listed in this file. ftpd, the server process that provides FTP services for a machine, will check that the user’s shell is listed in /etc/shells and will not let people log in unles the shell

is listed there.

META: old sls? not used anymore? forget it?

/etc/termcap The terminal capability database. Describes by what “escape sequences” various ter-

minals can be controlled. Programs are written so that instead of directly outputting an escape sequence that only works on a particular brand of terminal, they look up the correct sequence to do whatever it is they want to do in /etc/termcap. As a result most programs work with most kinds of terminals. /etc/termcap is a text file; see termcap(5) for more information.
/etc/ttytype Lists default terminal types for terminal lines. Used by login(1). /etc/update This is one of the background programs that is started by /etc/rc or init(8) (depending on which init is installed). It syncs (forces all unwritten data in the buffer cache to be physically

written) every 30 seconds. The idea is to make certain that if there is a power failure, a kernel panic, or some other horrible thing that completely ruins everything, you won’t lose more than 30 seconds’ worth of writes at the most.
/etc/utmp This is a binary file that records information about who, if anybody, is currently logged in

on each terminal, and some other information about the login. Each terminal has its own record in the file. When a user logs in, login(1) updates the record for the terminal in question to show that somebody is logged in, and when he logs out, init(8) records that information.
/etc/wtmp This is like /etc/utmp, except that all the records written are appended instead of overwritten on the existing records. This means that /etc/wtmp grows indefinitely, although slowly.

If and when it grows big enough, it will have to be trimmed.



/etc/ftpusers, /etc/ftpaccess, /etc/rpc, /etc/rpcinit, /etc/exports These have to do with net-

working. See the Linux Network Administrator’s Guide for more information.


Devices, /dev

The /dev directory contains the special device files for all the devices. See the man pages for descriptions for which file stands for which device and what the device is.

META: include list of at least the most important devices


The Program Directories, /bin, /usr/bin, and Others

Programs in UNIX are usually scattered in many directories. The two most important ones are /bin and /usr/bin. Traditionally, all programs intended for the user (as opposed to the sysadmin) to run are in these directories. /bin contains the stuff that is needed on the root partition, that is everything which is needed before /usr is mounted (assuming it is on a different partition), and also tools useful for recovering from disasters. /usr/bin contains most other things. Usually /bin and /usr/bin contain programs that are part of the operating system, i.e. they are provided by the OS vendor, not by the user or a third party. Most systems have a place where locally written software, and freeware snarfed from Usenet or other places is installed. This is typically called /usr/local, with subdirectories bin, etc, lib, and man (and others as necessary). This way those programs are not in the way when a new version of the operating system is installed, especially since the upgrade procedure might wipe out all of /bin and /usr/bin. (/usr/local would then preferably be either a mount point or a symbolic link so that it is not erased during the upgrade.) In addition to these, many people prefer to install large packages in their own directories so that they can be easily uninstalled, and so that they don’t have to worry about overwriting existing files from other packages when installing. It can also be nice to have all files that belong to a package in a central place. An example of this is that, on LINUX, X and X programs are usually installed to /usr/X386, which is a similar directory tree to /usr/local. TeX and GNU Emacs are also usually installed this way on LINUX. On some systems1 with shared libraries, the directory /sbin holds statically linked versions of some of the most important programs. The intent is that if the shared library images become corrupt or are accidentally removed, it is still possible to fix things without having to boot. Typical binaries would be ln, cp, mount, and sync.

META: check mail from geyer (1993-07-22) and SunOS
See section 3.5 for an example of how the shared libraries might become fouled up. The drawback of /sbin is that statically linked binaries take a lot more disk space. When a binary of ln might be a couple of kilobytes when linked with shared libraries, it might be a couple of hundred kilobytes if linked statically. If you are willing to have to boot if you mess up your shared libraries—and have an emergency boot disk always available—it is never necessary to have /sbin. If you can’t afford to boot, and you can afford the disk space, then /sbin is a very good idea. There is not, however, a single answer that is correct for everyone on this issue.

META: hlu’s sln is 320 bytes!


The /usr/lib Directory

The /usr/lib directory contains code libraries, configuration and data files for individual programs, auxiliary programs that are only invoked by other programs, and other stuff like that. The contents
1 SunOS, and some LINUX distributions at least



are pretty varied. Some programs want to have their support files directly in /usr/lib, some use a subdirectory below that.
/usr/lib is used only by programs in /usr/bin (programs in /bin shouldn’t need /usr/lib, since /usr might not have been mounted). Programs in /usr/local/bin use /usr/local/lib, and programs that are installed in their own directory tree (like X in /usr/X386) use a place in that tree (/usr/X386/lib).

Of the files in /usr/lib, files named libsomething.a are usually libraries of subroutines in some programming language. The most important ones are libc.a, the standard C library (the one that contains printf, strcpy; everything except math stuff), libm.a (the math stuff), and libg.a (a debugging version of libc.a). Note that on LINUX there are several versions of the C libraries, static, and two types of shared libraries. The libsomething.a files are the static versions, the shared images are in (usually installed in lib, see below) and the stub functions (needed for linking with the shared images) are in


Shared Library Images, /lib

The /lib directory contains the shared images of the shared libraries, that is the actual machine code that is run when a routine in a shared library is called. They are not in /usr/lib because /usr can be on a different partition and might not be mounted when the shared images are needed (e.g. by programs in /bin). A shared library usually has a name such as /lib/, which in this case would indicate version 4.3.2 of the standard C library. The .so bit indicates that it is a shared library image (“shared object”, if you prefer). There can be several versions of a shared library installed at the same time. A typical reason for this is that when a shared library is upgraded, the old version is usually kept around until the new version has proved to be reliable. Also, some programs are linked so that they require a specific version of a shared library. Most programs, however, are linked to use a name like /lib/, i.e. using only the major version number. That name is then actually a symlink to whatever version of the shared library that is installed and intended to be used on the system. The contents of /lib might then look like
cpp -> /usr/lib/gcc-lib/i386-linux/2.3.3/cpp* ->** ->***

Note that there seems to be two versions of the C math library, and The symlink points at the latter, so that’s what gets used unless a program explicitly requires the other one. The reason why both versions are on the disk might be that some program that is used on the system does indeed require that version.2 A shared library image can be updated by shutting down the system, booting with a special boot floppy, or by some other means that doesn’t mount the normal root filesystem, and then copying the new shared library image to the /lib directory and fixing up the symlink. The system can then be brought up in a normal manner. This procedure avoids the problems described below if something goes wrong during the update, since the shared library images on the partition that is being updated aren’t ever used. This is a bit of work, however, so the way it is actually done in practice is to do it while the system is up and running. There is no problem with this, except for a distinct possibility of making it impossible to run any program that uses a shared library, if you make a mistake. The correct way to do it is
2 Yup, that’s the reason all right. I should know, it’s my system: : :



ln -sf /lib/ /lib/

with appropriate values substituted for new and major. Note that it is imperative that the operation of replacing the old link with the new one is done atomically, in one operation, not as two separate commands. The following is an incorrect way of updating the link:
rm -f /lib/ DON'T DO THIS ln -s /lib/ /lib/

The problem with the above two commands is that what happens after the rm? When ln starts it tries to use the shared library /lib/, but that was just deleted! Not only can’t you create the new link, you can’t run any other program that uses the shared library either! If you reboot and use a different root partition (and therefore a different set of shared libraries) to do the update, or if you use some carefully selected statically linked binaries (ln comes to mind), you can reduce the probability of this problem, if you are afraid you are going to make the mistake.

META: fixing the missing link; getting rid of old images


C/C++ Programming, /usr/include, /usr/g++include

META: C++ should be typeset prettier.
The /usr/include directory contains the standard headers for the C programming language, or at least most of them (see GCC documentation for details); /usr/g++include contains similar headers for C++. (If this doesn’t make any sense to you, don’t worry, you can probably ignore it in that case.) The symbolic links /usr/include/asm and /usr/include/linux point to the similarly named directories in the kernel source tree (see /usr/src) for whatever kernel version you are running. They are needed because some type declarations are kernel version dependent. (You may need to update these links when you upgrade the kernel, or the header files.)


Source Codes, /usr/src

The customary place to keep source code for the kernel and standard programs is /usr/src. In particular, /usr/src/linux is usually the directory with the source code for the running version of the kernel. Kernel source code, or at least the headers3 , is needed because the headers of the C library refer to headers in the kernel source for kernel version dependent information, such as some types. Because of this, /usr/include/asm and /usr/include/linux are typically symbolic links to /usr/src/linux/include/asm and linux, respectively.


Administrativia, /usr/adm

The /usr/adm directory contains administrative log files generated by various demons and system programs.


On-line Manuals, /usr/man

On-line man pages are stored below /usr/man, at least for programs in /bin and /usr/bin. Programs installed elsewhere (e.g. /usr/local) often get their man pages installed similarly elsewhere as well, but not always.
3 If you’re short of disk space, deleting everything but the headers can save a couple of megabytes.



UNIX man pages are divided into eight numbered chapters (after the chapters in the original UNIX manuals). Each chapter has a subdirectory below /usr/man, called man0 where 0 stands for the number of the chapter, and a man page is installed into the appropriate subdirectory. (Man page directories in other places, e.g. /usr/local/man, usually have a similar organization.)

META: linux has chapter 9 as well? some man pages need -mandoc instead of -man
In addition to the troff(1) source code for the man page in /usr/man/man?, its formatted version (formatted for a simple printer or a text screen) is stored into /usr/man/cat0, where 0 again stands for the chapter. This way, if you need the source (in order to print it on a laser printer, for example), you can get it from /usr/man/man?, and if you are satisfied with the pre-formatted version, you can get it quickly from /usr/man/cat?. The man(1) command uses the correct one automatically: the formatted one if it exists, else it formats the unformatted one on the fly, saving the formatted version in the appropriate place. Man pages can easily take up a lot of space, so they are sometimes stored in compressed format. On some systems, the man program understands compressed files and automatically uncompresses the man page while it is read. Another way to save space is to not have both formatted and unformatted man pages installed. (Or to not have them installed at all, of course.)


More Manuals, /usr/info

Besides the traditional documentation form for UNIX, man pages, LINUX also uses the Info system develop by the GNU Project (based on the ITS info system). See Texinfo documentation for more information. The formatted info documents are put into /usr/info (or /usr/emacs/info, or /usr/lib/emacs/info, or /usr/local/emacs/info; the possibilities are almost endless, but /usr/info is usually either the place itself, or a symlink to the place). The file dir in the info directory is the toplevel, or directory, node and should be edited to contain a link to the new document when one is added to the directory.

META: info and texinfo 3 understand compressed man pages; emacs does not


/home, Sweet /home

Users’ home directories are placed in different places on different systems. The oldest convention was to put them in /usr, but that is confusing since /usr contains a lot of other things as well. /home is one common place, and the place most LINUXers seem to prefer (although some prefer to call it /users, /usr/homes, or something else that isn’t /usr.) The home directory of user liw would then be /home/liw.


Temporary Files, /tmp and /usr/tmp

META: /tmp on root can be a bad idea
Many programs need to create temporary files. In order not to fill the users’ directories (and disks, on systems where home directories are on different disks) with such, sometimes large and plentiful, files, the directories /tmp and /usr/tmp exist. Most programs automatically place temporary files in one of these. Conventions differ from system to system, but generally it is considered better for programs to use /usr/tmp, because then the root filesystem (where /tmp resides) need not be as large. In fact, some systems even make /tmp a symbolic link to /usr/tmp (although this only works after /usr has been mounted) to force temporary files out of the root filesystem (this greatly reduces the size requirements for the root filesystem). Some large systems mount an especially fast disk on /tmp



(or /usr/tmp); temporary files are usually used for a short time only, or as an extension to physical memory, so having /tmp be fast hopefully makes the system faster on the whole. On many systems, /tmp is automatically cleaned (by an appropriate command in /etc/rc and/or cron(8)), so that the temporary files won’t remain and take up space when they are no longer needed. /usr/tmp is usually not cleaned automatically (META: why?).


The /mnt and /swap Directories

The /mnt directory is the customary mounting point for temporarily mounted filesystems in LINUX. It is an empty directory, and the intent is that if you have to, for instance, mount a floppy, you can use /mnt as its mount point and don’t have to create a new directory each time. It is just for convenience, no programs contain embedded information about /mnt. Some people call their /mnt something else, such as /floppy. Others prefer to have subdirectories below /mnt, so that they can have several mount points, e.g. /mnt/a for the first floppy drive, or /mnt/dos for the MS-DOS hard disk partition. The /swap directory is similarly only a commonly used mount point. As the name implies, it is intended as the mount point for the swap partition. META: mount understands ‘none’ as the mount point, /swap is not needed anymore, but it might be a good place to keep swap files, if there are many


Process Information, /proc

The /proc directory is where the proc filesystem is usually mounted. The proc filesystem provides a way in which one can get information about the processes running without having to poke in kernel memory to find it. Poking in kernel memory is both a security hole and inconvenient, since the places and methods for poking vary from kernel version to kernel version, not to mention operating system to operating system. See the Linux Kernel Hackers’ Guide for more information.


The /install Directory
It contains files needed for

The /install directory is specific to the SLS distribution of LINUX. uninstallation of packages installed with the SLS installation tools.

Chapter 4

Boots And Shutdowns
This section explains what goes on when a LINUX system is turned on and off, and how it should be done properly.

META: don’t power cycle too often


An Overview of Boots and Shutdowns

META: explain “bootstrapping” META: boot: bios read boot sector; boot sector reads in kernel; kernel initializes itself and runs
init; init runs /etc/rc and/or other scripts and starts gettys and other programs

META: shutdown: all processes are told to quit (sigterm); wait; then kill any that didn’t quit (sigkill); sync; unmount all filesystems; halt the system; just cutting the power might cause something to go wrong


The Boot Process in Closer Look

META: see Linus’ notes
You can boot LINUX either from a floppy or from the hard disk. The installation section in the Getting Started guide tells you how to install LINUX so you can boot it the way you want to. When the computer is booted, the BIOS will do various tests to check that everything looks allright1 , and will then start the actual booting. It will choose a disk drive (typically the first floppy drive, if there is a floppy inserted, otherwise the first hard disk, if one is installed in the computer) and read its very first sector. This is called the boot sector; for a hard disk, it is also called the master boot record (since a hard disk can contain several partitions, each with their own boot sectors). The boot sector contains a small program (small enough to fit into one sector) whose responsibility it is to read the actual operating system from the disk and start it. When booting LINUX from a floppy disk, the boot sector contains code that just reads the first 512 kB (META: depends on kernel size) to a predetermined place in memory. (On a LINUX boot floppy, there is no filesystem, the kernel is just stored in consecutive sectors, since this simplifies the boot process.) When booting from the hard disk, the code in the master boot record will examine the partition table, identify the active partition (the partition that is marked to be bootable), read the boot sector from that partition, and then start the code in that boot sector. The code in the partition’s boot sector does what a floppy disk’s boot sector does: it will read in the kernel from the partition and start it.
1 These is called the power on self test, or POST for short.




The details vary, however, since it is generally not useful to have a separate partition for just the kernel image, so the code in the partition’s boot sector can’t just read the disk in sequential order, it has to find the sectors whereever the filesystem has put them. There are several ways around this problem, but the most common way is to use LILO. (The details about how to do this are irrelevant for this discussion, however; see the LILO documentation for more information.) When booting with LILO, it will normally go right ahead and read in and boot the default kernel. It is also possible to configure LILO to be able to boot one of several kernels, or even other operating systems than LINUX, and it is possible for the user to choose which kernel or operating system is to be booted at boot time. LILO can be configured so that if one holds down the alt , shift , or ctrl key at boot time (i.e. when LILO is loaded), LILO will ask what is to be booted and not boot the default right away. Alternatively, LILO can be configured so that it will always ask, with an optional timeout that will cause the default kernel to be booted. The are other boot loaders than LILO. However, since LILO has been written especially for LINUX, it has some features that are useful and that only it provides, for example the ability to pass arguments to the kernel at boot time, or overriding some configuration options built into the kernel. Hence, it is usually the best choice. Among the alternatives are bootlin and bootactv2 Booting from floppy and booting hard disk have both their advantages, but generally booting from the hard disk is easier, since it avoids the hassle of playing around with floppies. It is also faster. However, it can be more troublesome to install the system so it can boot from the hard disk, so many people will first boot from floppy, then, when the system is otherwise installed and working well, will install LILO and start booting from the hard disk. After the LINUX kernel has been read into the memory, by whatever means, and is started for real, roughly the following things happen: 

If the kernel was installed compressed, it will first uncompress itself.
compressed kernel contains a small program that does this.)

(The beginning of the 

If you have a super-VGA card that LINUX thinks it recognizes and that has some special text  After this the kernel checks what other hardware there is (hard disks, floppies, network adapters
LILO boot: Loading linux. Console: colour EGA+ 80x25, 8 virtual consoles Serial driver version 3.94 with no serial options enabled tty00 at 0x03f8 (irq = 4) is a 16450 tty01 at 0x02f8 (irq = 3) is a 16450 lp_init: lp1 exists (0), using polling driver Memory: 7332k/8192k available (300k kernel code, 384k reserved, 176k data) Floppy drive(s): fd0 is 1.44M, fd1 is 1.2M Loopback device init Warning WD8013 board not found at i/o = 280. Math coprocessor using irq13 error reporting. Partition check: hda: hda1 hda2 hda3 VFS: Mounted root (ext filesystem). Linux version 0.99.pl9-1 (root@haven) 05/01/93 14:12:20

modes (such as 100 columns by 40 rows3 ), LINUX asks you which mode you want to use. (During the kernel compilation, it is possible to preset a video mode, so that this is never asked. This can also be done with LILO.)


and configures some of its device drivers appropriately; while it does this, it outputs messages about its findings. For example, when I boot, I it looks like this:

(The exact texts are different on different systems, depending on the hardware, the version of LINUX being used, and how it has been configured.)
2 I don’t know much about any of the alternatives. If and when I learn, I will add more descriptions. 3 Incidentally, this is the mode preferred by Linus himself.



After all this configration business is complete, LINUX switches the processor into protected mode.  Then the kernel will try to mount the root filesystem. The place—which floppy or partition—is  After this, the kernel starts the program /etc/init in the background (this will always become  The init program then starts a getty for virtual consoles and serial lines as configured in
rial terminals. The switch is not visible to the user, but is an important step for the kernel. A big leap for the kernel, a small step for the userkind. configurable at compilation time, with rdev (see man page), or with LILO (see LILO documentation). The filesystem type is detected automatically. If the mounting of the root filesystem fails, the kernel panics and halts the system (there isn’t much one can do, anyway).

META: read-only mounting of root fs, then re-mounting after fsck

process number 1), which does various startup chores. The exact things it does depends on the version of init being used; see the section on init for more information.

META: doshell

/etc/gettytabs. getty is the program which lets people log in via virtual consoles and se- 

After this, the boot is complete, and the system is up and running normally.
META: explain doshell

META: check /etc/gettytabs filename (no s at end?)


More about Shutdowns

It is important to follow the correct procedures when you shut down a LINUX system. If you do not do so, your filesystems may become trashed and/or the files may become scrambled. This is because LINUX has a disk cache that won’t write things to disk at once, but only at intervals. This greatly improves performance but also means that if you just turn off the power at a whim the cache may hold a lot of data and that what is on the disk may not be a fully working filesystem (because only some things have been written to the disk). Another reason against just flipping the power switch is that in a multi-tasking system there can be lots of things going on in the background, and shutting the power can be quite disastrous. This is especially true for machines that several people use at the same time. So, how does one shut down a LINUX system properly? The program for doing this is called
/bin/shutdown or /etc/shutdown (the place varies between systems). There are two popular ways of

using it. If you are running a system where you are the only user, the usual way of using shutdown is to quit all running programs, log out on all virtual consoles, log in as root on one of them (or stay logged in as root if you already are, but you should change to the root directory, to avoid problems with unmounting), then give the command shutdown -q now (substitute now for a number in minutes if you want a delay, though you usually don’t on a single user system). Alternatively, if your system has many users, the usual way is to use the command shutdown 10, and give a short explanation of why the system is shutting down when prompted to do so. This will warn everybody that the system will shut down in ten minutes (although you can choose another time if you want, of course) and that they’d better get lost or loose data (perhaps not in these words). The warning is automatically repeated a few times before the boot, with shorter and shorter intervals as the time runs out.

META: /etc/shutdown.rc
Using either method, when the shutting down starts after any delays, all filesystems (except the root one) are unmounted, user processes (if anybody is still logged in) are killed, demons are shut



down, and generally everything settles down. When that is done, shutdown prints out a message that you can power down the machine. Then, and only then, should you move your fingers towards the on/off button.

META: root fs is unmounted too?
There is another similar command, called reboot, which is identical to shutdown, but it boots the machine right away instead of asking you to power down the system. Use reboot instead of shutdown if that’s what you want to do.

META: halt, fastboot, options to shutdown
Sometimes, although rarely on any good system, it is impossible to shut down properly. For instance, if the kernel panics and crashes and burns and generally misbehaves, it might be completely impossible to give any new commands, hence shutting down properly is somewhat difficult, and just about everything you can do is hope that nothing has been too severely damaged and turn off the power. If the troubles are a bit less severe (say, somebody merely hit your keyboard with an axe), and the kernel and the update program still run normally, it is probably a good idea to wait a couple of minutes to give update a chance to sync the disks, and only cut the power after that. Some people like to shut down using the command sync three times, waiting for the disk I/O to stop, then turn off the power. If there are no running programs, this is about equivalent to using shutdown. However, it does not unmount any filesystems (this can lead to problems with the ext2fs “clean filesystem” flag). The triple-sync method is not recommended. (In case you’re wondering: the reason for three syncs is that in the early days of UNIX, when the commands were typed separately, that usually gave sufficient time for most disk I/O to be finished.)

Chapter 5

Using Disks and Other Storage Media
On a clear disk you can seek forever. When you install or upgrade your system, you need to do a fair amount of work on your disks. You have to make filesystems on your disks so that files can be stored on them and reserve space for the different parts of your system. This chapter explains all these initial activities. Usually, once you get your system set up, you won’t have to go through the work again, except for using floppies. You’ll need to come back to this chapter if you add a new disk or want to fine-tune your disk usage. The basic tasks in administering disks are: 

Format your disk. This does various things to prepare it for use, such as checking for bad sectors.  Partition a hard disk, if you want to use it for several activities that aren’t supposed to interfere
(Formatting is nowadays not necessary for most hard disks.) with one another. One reason for partitioning is to store different operating systems on the same disk. Another reason is to keep user files separate from system files, which simplifies back-ups and helps protect the system files from corruption. until you make a filesystem; then files can be created and accessed on it. 

Make a filesystem (of a suitable type) on each disk or partition. The disk means nothing to LINUX
(Manually mounted filesystems usually need to be unmounted manually as well.) 

Mount different filesystems in a single tree structure, either automatically, or manually as needed.
Chapter 6 contains information about virtual memory and disk caching, of which you also need to be aware of when using disks. This chapter explains what you need to know for hard disks and floppies. Unfortunately, because I lack the equipment, I cannot tell you much about using other types of media, such as tapes or CD-ROM’s.


Two kinds of devices

UNIX, and therefore LINUX, recognizes two different kinds of devices: random-access block devices (such as disks), and serial character devices (such as tapes and serial lines). Each supported device is represented in the filesystem as a device file. When you read or write a device file, the data comes from or goes to the device it represents. This way no special programs (and no special application programming methodology, such as catching interrupts or polling a serial port) are necessary to access devices; for example, to send a file to the printer, one could just say




ttyp5 root ~ $ cat filename ttyp5 root ~ $

> /dev/lp1

and the contents of the file are printed (the file must, of course, be in a form that the printer understands). However, since it is not a good idea to have several people cat their files to the printer at the same time, one usually uses a special program to send the files to be printed (usually lpr(1)). This program makes sure that only one file is being printed at a time, and will automatically send files to the printer as soon as it finishes with the previous file. Something similar is needed for most devices. In fact, one seldom needs to worry about device files at all. Since devices show up as files in the filesystem (in the /dev directory), it is easy to see just what device files exist, using ls(1) or another suitable command. In the output of ls -l, the first column contains the type of the file and its permissions. For example, inspecting a serial device gives on my system
ttyp5 root ~ $ ls -l /dev/cua0 crw-rw-rw1 root uucp ttyp5 root ~ $ 5, 64 Nov 30 1993 /dev/cua0

The first character in the first column, i.e., ‘c’ in crw-rw-rw- above, tells an informed user the type of the file, in this case a character device. For ordinary files, the first character is ‘-’, for directories it is ‘d’, and for block devices ‘b’; see the ls(1) man page for further information. Note that usually all device files exist even though the device itself might be not be installed. So just because you have a file /dev/sda, it doesn’t mean that you really do have an SCSI hard disk. Having all the device files makes the installation programs simpler, and makes it easier to add new hardware (there is no need to find out the correct parameters for and create the device files for the new device).


Hard disks

This subsection introduces terminology related to hard disks. If you already know the terms and concepts, you can skip this subsection. See figure 5.1 for a schematic picture of the important parts in a hard disk. A hard disk consists of one or more circular platters,1 of which either or both surfaces are coated with a magnetic substance used for recording the data. For each surface, there is a read-write head that examines or alters the recorded data. The platters rotate on a common axis; a typical rotation speed is 3600 rotations per minute, although high-performance hard disks have higher speeds. The heads move along the radius of the platters; this movement combined with the rotation of the platters allows the head to access all parts of the surfaces. The processor (CPU) and the actual disk communicate through a disk controller. This relieves the rest of the computer from knowing how to use the drive, since the controllers for different types of disks can be made to use the same interface towards the rest of the computer. Therefore, the computer can say just “hey disk, gimme what I want”, instead of a long and complex series of electric signals to move the head to the proper location and waiting for the correct position to come under the head and doing all the other unpleasant stuff necessary. (In reality, the interface to the controller is still complex, but much less so than it would otherwise be.) The controller can also do some other stuff, such as caching, or automatic bad sector replacement. The above is usually what one needs to understand about the hardware. There is also a bunch of other stuff, such as the motor that rotates the platters and moves the heads, and the electronics that control the operation of the mechanical parts, but that is mostly not relevant for understanding the working principle of a hard disk. The surfaces are usually divided into concentric rings, called tracks, and these in turn are divided into sectors. This division is used to specify locations on the hard disk and to allocate disk space to files. To find a given place on the hard disk, one might say “surface 3, track 5, sector 7”. Usually the
1 The platters are made of a hard substance, e.g., aluminium, which gives the hard disk its name.



number of sectors is the same for all tracks, but some hard disks put more sectors in outer tracks (all sectors are of the same physical size, so more of them fit in the longer outer tracks). Typically, a sector will hold 512 bytes of data. The disk itself can’t handle smaller amounts of data than one sector.
Rotation Track Sector

From above

Read/write head

From the side




Figure 5.1: A schematic picture of a hard disk. Each surface is divided into tracks (and sectors) in the same way. This means that when the head for one surface is on a track, the heads for the other surfaces are also on the corresponding tracks. All the corresponding tracks taken together are called a cylinder. It takes time to move the heads from one track (cylinder) to another, so by placing the data that is often accessed together (say, a file) so that it is within one cylinder, it is not necessary to move the heads to read all of it. This improves performance. It is not always possible to place files like this; files that are stored in several places on the disk are called fragmented. The number of surfaces (or heads, which is the same thing), cylinders, and sectors vary a lot; the specification of the number of each is called the geometry of a hard disk. The geometry is usually stored in a special, battery-powered memory location called the CMOS RAM, from where the operating system can fetch it. Unfortunately, the BIOS2 has a design limitation, which makes it impossible to specify a track number that is larger than 1024 in the CMOS RAM, which is too little for a large hard disk. To overcome this, the hard disk controller lies about the geometry, and translates the addresses given by the computer into something that fits reality. For example, a hard disk might have 8 heads, 2048 tracks, and 35 sectors per track3 . Its controller could lie to the computer and claim that it has 16 heads, 1024 tracks, and 35 sectors per track, thus not exceeding the limit on tracks, and translates the address that the computer gives it by halving the head number, and doubling the track number. The math can be more complicated in reality, because the numbers are not as nice as here (but again, the details are not relevant for understanding the principle). This translation distorts the operating system’s view of how the disk is organized, thus making it impractical to use the all-data-on-one-cylinder trick to boost performance. The translation is only a problem for IDE disks. SCSI disks use a sequential sector number (i.e., the
2 The BIOS is some built-in software stored on ROM chips. It takes care, among other things, of the initial stages of booting. 3 The numbers are completely imaginary.



controller translates a sequential sector number to head/cylinder/sector), and a completely different method for the CPU to talk with the controller, so they are insulated from the problem. Note, however, that the computer might not know the real geometry of an SCSI disk either. Since LINUX often will not know the real geometry of a disk, it doesn’t even try to keep files within a single cylinder. Instead, it tries to assign sequentially numbered sectors to files, which almost always gives similar performance. The issue is further complicated by on-controller caches, and automatic prefetches done by the controller. Each hard disk is represented by a separate device file. There can (usually) be only two IDE hard disks. These are known as /dev/hda and /dev/hdb, respectively. SCSI hard disks are known as /dev/sda, /dev/sdb, and so on. Similar naming conventions exist for other hard disk types Note that the device files for the hard disks give access to the entire disk, with no regard to partitions (which will be discussed below), and it’s easy to mess up the partitions or the data in them if you aren’t careful. The disks’ device files are usually used only to get access to the master boot record (which will also be discussed below).



A floppy disk consists of a flexible membrane covered on one or both sides with similar magnetic substance as a hard disk. The floppy disk itself doesn’t have a read-write head, that is included in the drive. A floppy corresponds to one platter in a hard disk, but is removable and one drive can be used to access different floppies, whereas the hard disk is one indivisible unit. Like a hard disk, a floppy is divided into tracks and sectors (and the two corresponding tracks on either side of a floppy form a cylinder), but there are many fewer of them than on a hard disk.
1 A floppy drive can usually use several different types of disks; for example, a 32 inch drive can use both 720 kB and 1.44 MB disks. Si