Appendix B. SuSE Linux FAQ

This section provides answers to frequently asked questions.

  1. I am the only person using my computer. Why do I always need to log in?

    Linux is a multiuser system. A user name and a password are necessary so Linux knows who is working with it. Only log in as root to make changes to your system (installing software or changing configuration). For everyday use, create a regular user. This prevents accidental damage to the installation.

  2. Where can I find the SuSE manuals in PDF or HTML format?

    Our manuals are also available on our CDs. The PDF files or HTML versions are available in the packages suselinux-adminguide_en and suselinux-userguide_en. In the installed system, go to the directory /usr/share/doc/packages/suselinux-adminguide_en or /usr/share/doc/packages/suselinux-userguide_en.

  3. Where can I get more information about SuSE Linux?

    Most of the information about the installation and features of SuSE Linux is provided in the manuals. Documentation for applications is available in /usr/share/doc/packages and the HowTos are located in /usr/share/doc/howto/en. Read these files with a command like:

    less /usr/share/doc/howto/en/DOS-to-Linux-HOWTO.txt.gz

    Terminate the command by pressing Q.

  4. Where can I get special tips or help?

    In Konqueror, enter the path /usr/share/doc/sdb/en/html/index.html to view our Support Database, which contains useful information. If this path does not exist, install the packages sdb and sdb_en. On the Internet, find the most recent version at

  5. How can I enter commands in KDE?

    Click the screen with shell icon in the panel to start the Bash shell. Select alternative terminals from the main menu. To run a single command, press Alt + F2 then enter the command.

  6. I cannot find many programs in KDE.

    You can start all programs from a terminal window by entering the program name and pressing Return.

  7. What is a mirror? Why should I not get these things from

    As there are many users who need to retrieve things from the server at the same time, its capacity limit would be reached very quickly. For this reason, there are a number of other FTP servers that contain a duplicate of the SuSE server. These servers are referred to as mirrors. Select a mirror in your vicinity (same country) to speed up the download. A list of mirror is available at

  8. I cannot find any .exe files. Where are all the applications?

    In Linux, executable files normally do not have file extensions. Most programs are located in /usr/bin and /usr/X11R6/bin.

  9. How can I recognize executable files?

    The command ls -l returns all executable files in the directory /usr/bin in green. Also recognize them by the x in the first column.

    -rwxr-xr-x   1 root   root     64412 Jul 23 15:23 /usr/bin/ftp
  10. I want to remove Linux. How does this work?

    With fdisk, the Linux partitions are deleted. You might need to run fdisk in Linux. Afterwards, boot from the MS-DOS disk and run fdisk /MBR in DOS or Windows.

  11. How can I access my CD?

    First mount the CD with the mount command. Information about this command can be found in Section mount [option(s)] [<device>] mountpoint.

  12. I cannot get my CD out of the drive. What should I do now?

    First, unmount the CD. This is done with the umount command. More information about this can be found in Section umount [option(s)] mountpoint. In KDE, just right-click the CD-ROM icon and select Unmount Drive. If YaST is running on your computer, exit it.

  13. How can I find out how much space is available in Linux?

    With the df -hT command. See Section df [option(s)] [directory].

  14. Can I copy and paste in Linux?

    Yes, this is possible. To copy and paste in the text mode, you must have gpm running. In the X Window System and in the text mode, highlight the text block by clicking and dragging with the left mouse button then insert by clicking with the middle mouse button. The right mouse button has a special function in most programs and applications.

  15. Do I need to be afraid of a virus in Linux?

    In Linux, there have been no serious viruses found. Also, viruses cannot cause any serious damage if they are not activated by root. The only virus scanners available in Linux serve to search e-mails for Windows viruses (if Linux is being used as a router or server). Nevertheless, you should back up important data and configurations.

  16. Do I need to compile a kernel myself?

    No, this is usually unnecessary. The kernel has become so large that there are about eight hundred options to consider during the configuration. Because it is almost impossible to master all possible configurations and their effects, it is strongly discouraged for inexperienced users to recompile the kernel. Do so only at your own risk. In cases of custom compiled kernels, SuSE cannot provide any installation support.

  17. Where can I see the system messages?

    In a terminal window, enter tail -f /var/log/messages as root. Additional interesting programs relating to this one are top, procinfo, and xosview. Use the command less /var/log/boot.msg to view the boot messages.

  18. I cannot log in to my computer with telnet. I always get the answer Login incorrect.

    You are probably trying to log in as root. For security reasons, this is not possible via telnet by default.

    With YaST, set up a normal user account. Log in with this user name. Then change to the user root with su. It is much better and safer, however, to use the program ssh instead of telnet. The ssh program uses encrypted, secure connections.

  19. How do I connect to the Internet in Linux?

    Section “KInternet – the Door to the WWW” provides information about this.

  20. I found a bug in SuSE Linux. Where should I report it?

    First, ascertain whether it is actually a bug in the program or just an error in operation or faulty configuration settings. Also read the documentation in /usr/share/doc/packages and /usr/share/doc/howto. The bug may have already been discovered. Check in the support database at Enter a keyword or work your way forward or backward via the Histor link. If it really is a bug, send a description of it by e-mail to

  21. How can I install applications?

    Applications included in the SuSE Linux CDs are best installed with YaST.

    Another possibility is to start YaST from the command line:

    yast -i package

    Replace the placeholder package with the file name of the RPM package (including the path). You can also specify multiple packages.

  22. I only have an application in source code. How can I install it?

    Some know-how is required with some applications. Find more information in a good Linux book. Find examples at

    Here a brief description: Decompress the archive with tar xvzf name.tar.gz, read the INSTALL or README files, and follow the instructions. Usually, the following command sequence needs to be executed: ./configure;make;make install. No installation support is available for the compilation or self-compiled programs.

  23. Is my hardware supported?

    It is best to refer to the component database at or less /usr/share/doc/howto/en/Hardware-HOWTO.gz can also provide some information.

  24. How can I defragment my hard disk?

    Linux has an intelligent file system. This file system makes defragmentation superfluous, because it prevents fragments from occurring. Your partitions should not be more than ninety percent used. Use df -h to view information about used and available hard disk space.

  25. What is meant by partitioning?

    Partitioning means dividing the hard disk into individual sections. For the default configuration, SuSE Linux requires at least two partitions (one for Linux itself and one swap partition for the virtual main memory).

  26. How much space do I need for Linux?

    This depends on how many and which packages you want to install. A standard installation with office applications requires about 1 GB. 2 GB is recommended if you want space for your own data as well. To install just about everything, you need 3 GB to 6 GB, depending on the version.

  27. I need more space for Linux. How can I add another hard disk?

    To make more space available, integrate a new hard disk or parts of it (i.e., partitions) into your Linux system at any time. For example, if it turns out that you need more space in /opt, mount an additional hard disk partition to this directory. To do so, follow this procedure:

    1. Install your hard disk following the instructions of the manufacturer then start Linux.

    2. Log in as user root.

    3. Partition the new hard disk with fdisk. For further information, refer to the manual page of fdisk with man fdisk.

    4. Format the partition with mke2fs /dev/hdb1.

    5. Enter the following commands:

      cd /opt

      mkdir /opt2

      mount /dev/hdb1 /opt2

      cp -axv . /opt2

      Check thoroughly to see whether all the data has been copied. Afterwards, move the old directory and add a new one — an empty mount point:

      mv /opt /opt.old

      mkdir /opt

      Use an editor to add the new partitions in /etc/fstab. This could resemble that in File Example B.1.

      Example B.1. Sample Line in /etc/fstab for an Additional Partition

      /dev/hdb1       /opt     ext2      defaults   1   2

      Now, shut down the computer and reboot.

    6. After rebooting, check that /dev/hdb1 has actually been mounted to /opt using the command mount. If everything is working as desired, remove the old data in /opt.old:

      cd /

      rm -fr opt.old

  28. My computer crashed. Can I just press the reset button without risking anything?

    If your computer no longer reacts to your mouse or keyboard, this does not necessarily mean that your entire system has crashed. Possibly one program is blocking the mouse or the keyboard, but all other programs are still running. If your machine can be accessed remotely (serial terminal, network), log in elsewhere and abort the respective program with killall programname. If this does not work, try killall -9 programname.

    If this is not possible, try switching to another console using Ctrl + Alt + F2 to kill the faulty process from there. If the computer does not respond to any of the keys and network intervention is not possible, wait at least ten seconds before pressing reset to make sure there is no hard disk activity.

  29. How can I switch from a virtual text console to the graphical user interface?

    By default, there are six virtual text consoles that can be accessed with Ctrl + Alt + F1 to F6. Press Alt + F7 to go to the graphical user interface.