Your first steps on Linux

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Ok, so you have managed to install Linux on your computer. You have started it and logged in. You now wonder what comes next.


Open a console

A console is text-based window where you can enter commands for your Linux. To start a console, type ALT_F2 and enter konsole. You should see a screen like this:


The background can be black, white, green, any color. So can be the font. "tweedleburg" is my hostname, it can be different for you. Anyway, most important is you can write into it. What you write are commands to be executed. For example the command firefox will start the firefox browser:


From now on, we will no longer use graphical files to show you what to do, but a box like the following:

tweedleburg:~ # firefox

ok? Super, let's go on. You can also auto-complete your command. Type


and then the tabulator key once or twice. The system will show you all available commands starting with firef or complete your command automatically.

Get help

To get help you can chat with other Linux users about problems. Everyone who asks questions can at the same time answer. Go to and join channel #suse for SUSE Linux questions.

File commands

You can list the files in your directory using the command ls, for example:

tweedleburg:/etc/apache2 # ls
charset.conv         httpd.conf   mod_autoindex-defaults.conf  mod_status.conf     ssl-global.conf  ssl.key      vhosts.d 
conf.d               listen.conf  mod_info.conf                mod_userdir.conf    ssl.crl          ssl.prm
default-server.conf  magic        mod_log_config.conf          mod_usertrack.conf  ssl.crt          sysconfig.d
errors.conf          mime.types   mod_mime-defaults.conf       server-tuning.conf  ssl.csr          uid.conf

learn more about ls

You can find out how much space is available on your disk by typing df -h (disk free, human readable):

tweedleburg:~ # df -h
Filesystem            Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/sda1             917G  205G  667G  24% /
udev                  2.0G  164K  2.0G   1% /dev
/dev/sdb2             294G  274G  5.4G  99% /mnt/sdb2

On the directories beneath the root ("/"), there are 667 GB free. But under /mnt/sdb2, there are only 5.4 GB available.

install software

You will normally download software in the form of tarballs. Tarballs are files typically ending in .tar.gz or .tar. You must unpack them to use them. More info:

Set up a printer

Setting up a printer does not work inside a virtual machine (that is, it does not work without tricks). Anyway, if your Linux is running on real hardware, set up your printer using

yast2 printer

Create an "ll" alias

Often-used console commands can be made easier by setting sensible alias-names for them. This is a matter of taste and heavily depends on what commands you use and what aliases you are used to. For example I am used to typing ll and getting the output of ls -ltr, the long file list in the directory. To do this, enter in your console:

alias ll="ls -ltr"
  • To have this in future logIn shells, create a file /etc/profile.d/ containing this line.
  • To have this in future non-login-shells, add the command to /etc/bash.bashrc

Create an "ssh" alias

When you control a computer via network using ssh you may want to call a graphical program like ksar. Then you will miss that you did not use ssh -Y. To avoid this, make sure every call to ssh is a call to ssh -Y by creating an alias:

alias ssh="ssh -Y"
  • To have this in future login shells, create a file /etc/profile.d/ containing this line.
  • To have this in future non-login-shells, add the command to /etc/bash.bashrc

Turn off system beep

In an office you will not want your computer to beep every now and then, so turn off system beep.

Lock screen on PAUSE key

When you take a break at work you will want to lock your screen. I set my PAUSE key to lock the screen. Here is how.

See also