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Linux File System

Started by Scott Hauser, March 30, 2008, 11:08:52 PM

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Scott Hauser

One of the most confusing aspects of Linux from the perspective of a DOS-Windows user, is the Linux file system. As Donald mentioned in a couple of posts, the syntax is arcane; and with few files having extensions, it can become a frustrating learning experience to a Linux noob. Thanks the ASUS-SDK-Guide.pdf, I found the following link:


I downloaded the pdf version. It is a fabulous 52 page reference of the Linux filesystem. Enjoy!

Donald Darden

I don't know if I would use the term arcane to describe the Linux file system.  Fact is, once you understand that whichever partition you are installed on is always referred to as /, which is the root partition, then folders and files are referenced from the root, so paths generally start with /.  In DOS and Windows, you start from the drive designation (normally), but both allow you to refer to the current drive when you don't specify.  For instance, you could enter C:\WINNT\System32, or \WINNT\System32 (as long as you know that the current drive is the C: drive).

You only run into a problem when you seek to reference a partition other than the root one under Linux.  Drive partitions are identified under /dev, meaning that they are listed in the dev folder on the root partition.  It seems strange that all drive partitions are listed here, including the root partition itselt.  In fact, if you were installed on the hda1 partition, what woiuld normally be the C: drive, you could reference that partition as either /, or as /dev/hda1/, which is sort of a circular reference.

And, as pointed out, because Ubuntu has the unique feature of identifying IDE and EIDE drives as SCSI devices, implying removable media, the content of its partitions are actually traced from entries in /media, and the drive designations are sd** instead of hd**.

Actually though, I have found that configuring a multi-drive, multi-partitioned PC for use with Windows is more difficult than doing the same thing under Linux.  It's very easy to unintentionally cause Windows to change letter designations on partitions, and that is enough to render them unbootable.  The Linux approach seems to be far more stable over time.  In fact, it took extra steps with my configuration to make sure Windows would not flake out on me when I added my Linux partitions.

I still rely on Windows for many things, primarily for bulletin and newsletter work for my church, because I use Word and Picture It! 2002 software in their production, and the driver for my printer is another limiting factor, though it works pretty good with a different model's.  But I am close to the point where I use Ubuntu for about half of everything else I do.  It's easy enough to start VirtualBox and Win2kPro when I am ready to check my mail, and I find exploring Ubuntu to be both interesting and fun.  You don't have get much experience before you feel at ease with a product as good as Ubuntu is proving to be.  I've begun using OpenOffice, and it is proving itself useful, and hardly any more quirky than Microsoft Office is.  That is not meant as an insult to either product, but I've found that there are tricks to be learned with both in different circumstances.

I recently updated my PureBasic software as well.  There are a couple of new versions that have come out since I last had much to do with it.  But once you have a license, updates are free.  And of course it is available for Windows, Mac, Linux, and even the Amiga.

But, I guess I'm tired of programming.  It takes a lot out of you, and I've come to a point where I would rather look for something already done than have to do it for myself again from scratch.  Every once I awhile I think of some of the things that might be worth doing, such as using PowerBasic under Windows on folders and files on my EXT3 partitions, just to make sure everything works as expected.  But I just can't work up any enthusiasm for something like that.  So I might wait to see what others try and learn in that area.

Scott Hauser


I was refering (from memory) to the following, which upon closer scrutiny today makes my comment out of context.  :-[ Please accept my apology.

Quote...Linux still has a geek flavor to it.  It uses cryptic names for things, it treats everything as a file (which makes some difficulties in handling devices), and it forces you to revert to a Terminal interface to find a workaround when something is not on the menu.

Look at the terminal interface as being retarded.  It goes back to the generic tty and VT100 terminal concepts.  You have to learn bash commands and master an arcane syntax to make use of it.  It is not user friendly.

To date, I have been unable to get Virtualbox to install on Ubuntu 7.10.  I haven't really had time to investigate why it breaks dependancy packages during the attempts. I know this will sound silly, but I am not convinced the Ubuntu 7.10 install was clean by itself. I elected to install it on a ext3 partition which may not be working well with my particular SATA drive and / or drivers.  I may try ext2 later, after complete reinstall as ext3. I have several road trips scheduled, so it will be some time before I can investigate it further.

My findings on OpenOffice are identical to yours.

Donald Darden

I was wondering if you ever got your problems with Ubuntu 7.10 and VirtualBox straightened out?  My problem with VirtualBox was that I did not really understand what I was doing when I tried to acquire it, then I found myself first with the OSE (Open Source Editition) when I really wanted the commerical version with USB support included, and then I had problems with getting Ubuntu to provide the USB host capability, which is turned off by default.  Another problem is that only the OSE version is available via what the Update Manager calls its "source channels", so I had to find VirtualBox via Google on my own and download it.  And right now, Sun Microsystems has it, and has yet to upgrade it to work with Hardy Heron, the 8.04 update to Ubuntu.

But I got that all sorted out, and have found that updating from 7.10 to 8.04 is probably the better way to go than just installing 8.04 outright.  As to VirtualBox, I was able to get it by the same method used with 7.10, but it finally told me to recompile the VirtualBox Driver.  No problem, because the error message had the necessary instruction included where a cut and paste into a terminal console window made short work of the process.

Let me know if you need some help from my end. 

Scott Hauser

Hi Donald,

I think I may have found my problem with Ubuntu 7.10. I had actually Installed 6.06 and forgotten about it.  ::) I downloaded the commercial version for 7.10, which would explain breaking packages. A day or two later, I installed Debian Etch and installed the Debian version of VirtualBox and life was good again. BTW,  Debian is a pretty nice distro, in spite of the flack it recieves for being a bit outdated.

I still have Ubuntu 6.06 installed and may try geting the proper VirtualBox and try again just to satisfy my curiosity. It would be nice if Linux distros had a more visual means of identifying versions such as a Help-about menu. I discovered my mistake when going to the Ubuntu homepage looking for updates and it displayed updates for 6.06.