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Linux Secrets

The first thing that you will notice about Linux Red Hat (using the Gnome Interface) is that it looks a lot like Windows 95/98/NT. But that's where the similarity ends. Linux requires a whole new set of commands as well as a new way of thinking about things.

For instance, in Windows 95/98 you can adjust monitor or screen properties by just a few key strokes. With Linux, however, in order to adjust the monitor settings, you have to run a program called Xconfigurator. And there is no information anywhere as to how to do this. It is one of these secret things that Linux users don't worry about because "everyone knows how to do it". Those of us changing from Windows to Linux have a need to know these things.

Let me tell you the secret: You have to be logged in as "Root" then you exit to the terminal. Now this looks like a DOS shell, so Windows users don't get too confused. Then at the # prompt type in Xconfigurator. Then you are taken to a configuration program that requires you know a lot about your monitor and your video card. Most of that information is found in the users manual for the hardware, or from the manufacturer. You will need to know the name, model number and manufacturer of the video card and the monitor and you will need to know the refresh rate and vertical and horizontal frequency of the monitor. Be sure that you have this information before you start. After that, you just fill out the form and follow the instructions, it's that simple from there on.

Another well kept secret is that you need to exit to the terminal in order to run any program that does not have an icon on the desktop. That's anything that doesn't specifically come with Red Hat. Some programs will set themselves up with an icon if they are installed in the right desktop interface. Linux has several different desktop interfaces, which is really cool. Gnome is a very Windows like one. The only draw back to Gnome is that some programs like StarOffice won't put an icon on the Gnome interface. So the user gets to do it.

The first thing you need to do is find the executable file for StarOffice, this would be a file called "soffice". The best way to find it is to use the File Manager to locate it. Then make a note of the path and go to Panel and then New Launcher.

Type in the name of the program, e.g. Star Office in the Name field. Then in Comment field put in the text that will appear when the mouse hovers on the icon. Next in Command field type the full path to the program, e.g. /home/jerry/Office51/bin/soffice. Last, choose an icon by clicking on the "No Icon Button", or leave it with no icon. Click on OK and the icon appears on your panel (which resembles the taskbar in Windows).

Linux is not as hard as it would appear at first. Although, they try to tell you that it's really easy, that's not entirely true either. If you know Unix, it's easy. If you know Windows, it's a little hard at first, but then it makes sense. If you are new to computers then Linux is a good program to learn first, because it is so configurable and versatile. There is no end to the possibilities with Linux.

Arlene Mason is a technical writer living in Dallas, Texas. She had been writing on various subjects for many years and says that writing keeps her sane. Most people agree. Please visit http://www.angelfire.com/tx/ElectronicAlchemy for information about her current projects and other news.

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