Booting, Logging In, and Configuring
This hour, you start your Red Hat Linux system for the first time. You encounter the GRUB boot loader, which you use to start Linux or Windows. Then, before you can begin to use Linux for everyday tasks, there are some preliminary tasks that must be taken care of:
You answer a few additional configuration questions that Red Hat Linux asks the first time you start your computer.
You learn how to shut down or reboot your Red Hat Linux system.
You configure Red Hat Linux to work with your printer.
You configure your dial-up Internet service, if you will be connecting to the Internet using a modem.
When this hour is finished, you'll have a fully functional Red Hat Linux computer ready to perform most any common task that a Windows computer can perform.
Booting Red Hat Linux
If your computer has been a Windows-only computer thus far, you are probably used to switching on your computer and watching Windows load more or less immediately, without any intervention from you. Now that Linux has been installed on your computer, things will change a little.
Red Hat Linux has installed the GRUB boot loader to start your computer system. GRUB can start Linux or Windows; if you have both installed, it offers you a choice between the two each time you start. Switch on your computer now. If you followed along with the installation instructions in Hour 2, "Installing Red Hat Linux," and installed the GRUB boot loader, within a few moments you find yourself looking at the GRUB boot display, shown in Figure 3.1.
Figure 3.1 The GRUB boot display presents you with the available list of boot options. This computer has both Windows and Linux on it.
At the GRUB display, you have five seconds to select which operating system you want to start. Use your up- and down-arrow keys to move the selection bar, and press Enter to select and start an operating system in the list.
If you have Windows installed alongside Linux, you might find that Windows appears in the list of available operating systems under the DOS label. The DOS label is used by the Red Hat Linux installer to refer to most MS-DOS or MS Windows operating systems. Selecting DOS therefore starts your Windows operating system.
If you do not select an operating system yourself, GRUB automatically starts the selected operating system after five seconds.
When Red Hat Linux starts, you see a great deal of text information scrolling rapidly across your display as Linux examines and adjusts to your CPU, mainboard and memory configuration, and other hardware. Red Hat Linux then begins to start services and perform housekeeping tasks, displaying an OK message after each service is started, as shown in Figure 3.2. This process takes anywhere from a few seconds to a minute or two and is repeated each time you start Linux. It isn't important for you to remember details of the information displayedit's intended primarily for Linux programmers who use the information for debugging purposes or experienced system administrators who have customized their configurations.
Figure 3.2 The Red Hat Linux boot process begins with a text mode display containing hardware information and service messages.
For now, just enjoy the experience of watching Linux bring itself to life, piece by piece. After Red Hat Linux has started all its components, the screen clears and graphics mode starts.