Linux help

Windows help

Linux Live CD

The look of the operating system can be improved by configuring some of its aspects. This is recommended for any extended use of the Live CD. The only configurations though which are necessary for correct running of the examples are the check on gawk and installing openmotif.

There are two popular graphic user interfaces for Lunux operating systems … Gnome and KDE. This is different from Windows which only has the Micro$oft supplied GUI. The Ubuntu Live CD uses Gnome.

The six configuration changes applied are

  1. Check whether gawk is used for awk.
  2. Install openmotif.
  3. Put a system monitor on the panel.
  4. Change the terminal font.
  5. Set focus follows mouse.
  6. Change the gedit defaults.

gawk and awk

awk is a Linux program which is good for manipulating the data in files. It is widely used in library scripts (sequences of instructions to the computer put into a single file). Actually there are different variants of awk, and the scripts need gawk. The Ubuntu Live CD instead uses by default mawk, an 11 year old awk variant which doesn't run the scripts correctly. The help pages show how to check what variant you have and to install

Install openmotif

Openmotif is needed to use the Alliance graphical programs like Graal and Dreal.

Put a system monitor on the panel

The system monitor shows CPU activity graphically. It is useful to know that the examples are actually doing something.

Change the terminal font

The terminal font size can be reduced so that more information can be viewed.

Set focus follows mouse

Focus follows mouse means that the window under the mouse becomes active without having to click on it. Something similar can be done in Windows by installing a Power Toy, but the possibility has been designed out of the MAC OS. Using focus follows mouse gives a more efficient user experience, but is not installed as a default, probably in an attempt to copy default Windows and MAC behaviour.

Change the gedit defaults

gedit is the default text editor for Gnome and has its font set unattractively large in the default Ubuntu configuration. Making it smaller makes it easier to read large text files.

A Linux Live CD has a copy of a Linux operating system on a CDROM which is loaded into a computer's RAM when it is booted. It makes no use of the computer's hard disk, and creates all the files it needs in RAM. Installing software also means loading it into RAM.

Any user files will also be created in RAM and will be lost when the computer is powered down. A solution to this is to plug in a USB stick containing user data and store work here. These sticks are normally formatted as Micro$oft FAT disks, which means they cannot support the full range of permissions on files to which Linux users are accustomed. But Windows users aren't used to this so this limitation won't matter so much to them.

The USB stick can be formatted with a Linux disk format such as Ext2, but then it cannot be read by a Windows or even a MAC computer. Only FAT enjoys full interoperability between operating systems.

I recommend unpacking the archive to the Live CD home directory so that all the user data is in RAM. At the end of the session, save any work back to the USB stick