Vector Linux 5.8



Installation Guide


1. System requirements
2. Preparing hard drive Partitions
    2.1 Tools for Windows/DOS
    2.2 Tools for Linux
    2.3 VectorLinux Included Tools
3. Obtaining VectorLinux
    3.1 Tools for Windows
    3.2 Tools for Linux
4. Installing VectorLinux
    4.1 Supported controllers
    4.2 Direct ISO Install on a Windows Host
    4.3 Direct ISO Install on a Linux Host
    4.4 Bootable CD Install
    4.5 Floppy and CD Install
5. Installation process: step by step
6. Post-install configuration
    6.1 Set up Lilo
    6.2 Configuring VectorLinux
7. Using the system for the first time
    7.1 Login to VectorLinux
    7.2 System administration
    7.3 Create passwords and users
    7.4 Reboot and Shutdown
 8. Enjoy the fruits of your labour 
 9. Troubleshooting
10. Credits


Getting Started

Welcome to VectorLinux. Our distribution has two mottos:

  • When choice matters: we provide you with the option to actually run a full Linux operating system on older computers, a choice of versions and a choice of desktop environments.
  • At the speed of light: we have optimized bootup and shutdown scripts, removed unnecessary processes and provide efficient software to make VL run very fast and make you more productive.
To achieve our goals, VectorLinux releases several editions - called the Standard, SOHO, Deluxe and Live editions. The Standard Edition is our "foundation" distribution - a fast, stable, minimal but complete distro that fits on ~2GB of hard drive space and includes the fast but complete xfce desktop environment. It will work well on most older computers and positively flies on newer ones! The SOHO Edition (Small Office, Home Office) includes the more extensive KDE desktop environment along with OpenOffice and many office and multimedia applications for today's modern computers. The Deluxe Editions are available for purchase in Standard or SOHO CD's along with a second CD with 1000MB of extra applications including FreeRock Gnome, KDE, Enlightenment17, Opera and others. You help support VectorLinux by purchasing our Deluxe Versions. The Live version enables you to use VL's fast, secure operating system on any computer, or to try out VectorLinux for the first time without actually installing. Each edition has a distinctive set of software, therefore different editions have specific hardware requirements. Please ensure you have read the requirements for the edition you are about to install before proceeding. The good news is that the installation procedure for all editions is basically the same and is very fast.


1. System Requirements

The following table lists system requirements for the various editions of VectorLinux:

Item Standard SOHO Deluxe
Processor Pentium Pentium III Pentium III
Memory 96 MB 192 MB 192 MB
Hard Drive (root) 1800-2200 MB 2800-3000 MB 2800-3000 MB
Hard Drive (swap) 192 MB 512 MB 512 MB
Hard Drive (home) as needed as needed as needed
Video 800x600 pixels, 16 bits color 1024x768 pixels, 24 bits color 1024x768 pixels, 24 bits color

Of course, you will also need a compatible keyboard, mouse, and a CDROM drive. Other hardware components such as a network card, modem, sound card, CD-writer, DVD, printer, etc., are optional. Linux also supports modern USB devices including pen drives, digital cameras, and scanners.


2. Preparing Hard Drive Partitions

Before an operating system or data can be stored on a hard drive that drive must be partitioned and then each partition must be formatted for a specific filesystem. A partition is a "part" of the drive. In the Microsoft Windows install process on a new hard drive usually only one partition and one filesystem encompassing the entire hard drive is created. This process tends to be hidden from the user. VectorLinux, on the other hand, provides you with the option and ability to resize that partition or create additional partitions with different filesystems. This enables you to have more than one operating system on one hard drive and enables easier and more secure backups.

As you can see in the requirements above, VectorLinux recommends three hard drive partitions with their own specific sizes:

  • Root partition: this is the main partition to install the Linux system and all software programs. We suggest that 4GB will enable you to install any of the VL versions plus leave you room to install other applications.
  • Swap partition: required to enable virtual memory. It expands the capacity of your actual memory (RAM), so that you can run more programs at the same time. It should be twice the size of your actual computer's RAM, up to a recommended maximum of 512MB.
  • Home partition: for storing your own data. You need to decide how large this should be. If you intend to store lots of music and video files it will need to be at least 10GB in size. Normally, most users use up as much of the remaining hard drive space as possible for their home partition.
You may prepare these partitions prior to the installation by using partitioning software (discussed below) or you may actually prepare your hard disk partitions during the install process. You should at least know the partition sizes you want for root, home and swap beforehand. It is a relatively easy process. The difficult part is planning the partition layout of your hard drive, especially if you want to install VectorLinux alongside other operating systems such as Windows.

When you buy a new computer, usually it has a pre-installed Windows operating system that occupies the entire hard drive (drive C:\). However, you may discover that most of the hard drive is unused (free) and going to be wasted. Fortunately, a modern larger hard drive (say >= 40 GB) can be divided into smaller partitions (ten partitions of 4 GB each, for example). Each partition can then be used for a different purpose, enabling you to install many operating systems on one hard drive, and boot whichever partition you choose to. This is called multi-booting.

If you create more partitions, Windows OS automatically presents them as drive C:, D:. E:, etc. However, Linux uses a different notation. Firstly, a computer may have more than one hard drive. Linux maps each hard drive as a device. For example:

  • /dev/hda : primary controller Master IDE drive.
  • /dev/hdb : primary controller Slave IDE drive.
  • /dev/hdc : secondary controller Master IDE drive.
  • /dev/hdd : secondary controller Slave IDE drive.
  • /dev/sda : first SCSI device.
  • /dev/sdb : second SCSI device.
If you have only one IDE hard drive, it is almost certainly "/dev/hda". The second hard drive could be /dev/hdb or /dev/hdc, depending on which controller it is installed.

Next, each hard drive can be divided into four PRIMARY partitions. For the first hard drive (/dev/hda), they are mapped as /dev/hda1 .. /dev/hda4, respectively. But what if you want more than four partitions?

Unfortunately, four is a legacy limit you can do nothing about. The work-around is that one of the primary partitions (/dev/hda2 .. /dev/hda4) can be used as an EXTENDED partition. Inside the extended partition, you may create more LOGICAL partitions. The logical partitions are named /dev/hda5, /dev/hda6 and so on.

With that basic partition theory, let's get back to business. We need three partitions to install VectorLinux. So, if you use this hard drive entirely for VectorLinux, a possible partition layout is:

  • /dev/hda1 (primary): swap (say 512 MB)
  • /dev/hda2 (primary): root ( say 3000 MB)
  • /dev/hda3 (primary): home (at least 500 MB and probably much more). Most people use up the entire remaining free space of their hard drives as the home partiton, leaving them lots of room for music and video files. You can resize this partition later if you need to create other partitions.

If you want to install VL alongside MS Windows, things become complicated because now we need more than four partitions. Here is the recommended partition layout in such a case:

  • /dev/hda1 (primary): Windows C:
    Windows (9x/NT/2000/XP,...) should be installed on the first primary partition. Also, it is easier to install Windows first and Linux second.

  • /dev/hda2 (primary): Extended
    This partition is used to hold the logical partitions.

    • /dev/hda5 (logical) : Windows D:
      Use drive D: to store files you would like to share between Windows and Linux. You should format this partition as FAT32. Do not use NTFS.

    • /dev/hda6 (logical): swap
      Swap partition used for virtual memory.

    • /dev/hda7 (logical): / (root)
      Install all the VL system files here

    • /dev/hda8 (logical): /home
      This is for storing your data.

All right, that's the plan. Now we can start to actually create these partitions. To accomplish this we need partitioning software utilities. Assume that the initial hard drive has one drive C: with Windows on it, and we want to multi-boot it with Linux. The general steps are as follows:
  • It is always recommended that before any re-partitioning of a drive with Windows on it that you run a scandisk and defragmentation on the drive. Of course, you should also make a backup of your important files.
  • Use the resizing utility (see below) to shrink the drive C: (/dev/hda1), so you generate enough free space for the new partitions.
  • Use a Windows compatible partitioning program to create /dev/hda2 and /dev/hda5.
  • Use any partitioning program to create /dev/hda6 through /dev/hda7.

You have several choices to accomplish that:

2.1 Tools for Windows/DOS

Partition Magic is a popular commercial product for non-destructively resizing, partitioning and formatting the partitions. The GUI interface makes it easy to use. It is highly recommended. You might also try the free Ranish Partition Manager.

A second free alternative is using Fips (resizing) and fdisk (partitioning). Fips is a free DOS program for non-destructive splitting of hard drive partitions. It will not resize NTFS partitions but it will resize DOS, FAT and FAT32. The fips package comes with it's own extensive documentation, so please take the time to read it before attempting to resize or partition your drive with this method. Fips is provided on the VL install CD. Meanwhile, fdisk, which does not resize but does modifiy and create partitions is a standard tool found on every DOS/Windows installation.

2.2 Tools for Linux

We recommend The GParted LiveCD. This is a small, efficient, live Linux system on a bootable CD that provides "GNU Parted" a program for creating, destroying, resizing, checking and copying partitions, and the file systems on them, including Microsoft's NTFS fielsystem (found on Windows 200, Windows XP and Windows VISTA). You can also use "QTParted", a Partition Magic clone that is found on many other modern Linux Live CD's.

2.3 VectorLinux Included Tools

The VL installation CD includes a resizing utility (GNU Parted) and the partitioning utilities fdisk and cfdisk. The install program provides friendly menus for them. So don't worry -if you have not prepared the partitions ahead of time using one of the tools mentioned above, you may use the provided tools during the actual install.



3. Obtaining VectorLinux

Each edition of VectorLinux is distributed as an ISO (.iso) file. To obtain it and prepare it for installation the steps are:

  • Decide which edition of VectorLinux you want. Download the ISO image file (.iso) and the corresponding md5 checksum file (.md5). The download sites are listed at the VectorLinux website and also in the Overview Document.
  • You should check the image file before burning it to a CD, to make sure it has not been corrupted during download transmission. For that, you need to do an "md5sum check", that means comparing the "fingerprint" of your image file (.iso) against the fingerprint stored in the checksum file (.md5).
  • Note that VL allows you to install the .iso file directly without actually burning to a CD first (see Install Methods below), so if you do not wish to burn a CD you don't have to. If you do: burn the image onto a CD using a CD-writer. You must burn the .iso image as an IMAGE. If you burn the .iso as a file you will not be able to boot your new CD. Check your CD burning software documentation on how to burn as an "image". It is recommended that you burn at a low speed onto quality media to ensure an accurate burn.
If you don't have a good, fast Internet connection, or a CD-writer, you may order a well-prepared CD from our store.

3.1 Tools for Windows

You may download the ISO image and MD5 checksum using any web browser, FTP client, or download manager. However, some web browsers (Internet Explorer, for instance) have a tendency to rename .md5 files as .htm or .txt. You can just rename it back to .md5.

For integrity checking, download and unzip the GUI tool md5summer. Make sure you are using version or above. On initial use it asks permission to associate the extension .md5 with itself. If you agree, you just need to double-click on a .md5 file to check the integrity of the original file (as long as they are both in the same folder). Otherwise, you have to manually browse to the .md5 file within the md5summer interface, then click on the "Verify sums" button and select the .md5 file. If you get an OK for the VL .iso image file, you can proceed to burn it as an image (see notes above re proper burning).

There is another tool you could use (this one is command line driven):

  • Download the following file:
    or get it from here:

  • Put it into your system folder (c:\windows\command for Win95/98/ME or c:\winnt\system32 for NT/2K/XP). Alternatively, you could just put it in the same folder as the .iso and .md5 files. If you do that though, it will not be available system-wide.

  • Open a DOS box by clicking the "Start" button, then "Run", then type "command" if you are using Windows 9x/ME or "cmd" if you are using Windows NT/2K/XP, and click "OK". You are now at what is called a "DOS/command prompt". It is worthwhile learning to use the DOS prompt!

  • Go to the folder where the .iso and the .md5 files are located, for example:
    cd \download

  • Type the following command and then press enter:
    md5sum -c vl-5.0.iso.md5

    If the image is alright, you should get a "file is OK" message.

After that, you may want to burn the ISO image onto a CD (but you don't have to - see below). For this, use the program that is provided by your CD-writer (e.g: Adaptech CD Writer, or Nero Burner). Ensure you burn as an IMAGE not as a file. It is also recommended you burn onto quality media at a low speed.

3.2 Tools for Linux

Most Linux systems already have the tools. Here is how to do that on Linux console/terminal in three steps:

  • Downloading the ISO image and MD5:
    nohup wget ftp://anymirror/path-to/veclinux-5.8/iso-release/vl-5.8.???.iso
    nohup wget ftp://anymirror/path-to/veclinux-5.8/iso-release/vl-5.8.???.iso.md5.txt

  • Checking the integrity:
    md5sum -c vl-5.8.???.iso.md5.txt

  • Burning the ISO onto a CD:
    cdrecord -v fs=6m speed=4 dev=2,0 vl-5.8.???.iso

Of course you can always use graphical GUI software alternative such as k3b, xcdroast or graveman.


4. Installing VectorLinux

To obtain VectorLinux you need to either purchase a Deluxe CD from our CD Store or download an "iso" image from a VectorLinux mirror site. Once connected to the mirror site navigate to the ...distr/vectorlinux/veclinux-5.8 directory at the mirror site you have chosen. Within that directory you will see two subdirectories: /iso-release and /iso-soho (amongst others). The /iso-release directory is where you will find iso images for the VL 5.8 Standard and VL 5.8 Standard Live Editions. The /iso-soho directory is where you will find iso images for VL 5.8 SOHO Edition. Then download your iso of choice.

Prior to starting the installation, you must know two things: 1) what type of hard drive controller your computer has and 2) which method you will use to install. Today, there are three common hard drive controllers: IDE, SCSI, SATA and Adaptec(for CDROMS). You must boot the installation using the kernel that supports your controller. The default kernel works for SATA-IDE drives. The second concern is which install method to use. This depends on the capability of the target computer. VectorLinux can be installed via one of these methods:

  • Direct ISO File from a Windows host.
  • Direct ISO File from a Linux host.
  • Bootable CD.
  • Floppy disk and CD.

4.1 Supported controllers

VectorLinux supports and can be installed on systems using IDE/ATA hard drive controllers, which at the moment of this writing is the most popular one in standard desktop systems. Another well known standard is a SCSI controller, but due to its high pricing, it is only common on commercial server systems. Meanwhile, the emerging standard is SATA (Serial ATA) hard drive controllers, which are being commonly incorporated by motherboard manufacturers into newer computers.

If you are having difficulties using your SATA drives, make sure you have set the BIOS correctly. In a nutshell, set the BIOS to "Enhanced mode SATA only". This is counterintuitive, but it means use enhanced mode only on the SATA, not just use the SATA and turn off the PATA. If you set it to enhanced mode SATA+PATA, the kernel will lock as it tries to use an IDE driver for the SATA controller. Your symptoms will be that the kernel install may hang after detecting hda - hdd.

Please know your hard drive controller type because it determines the kernel required for installation. The default kernel supports the SATA/IDE controllers (this is the one for probably 98% of workstation computers on the market). Otherwise, you need to specify either "scsi" or "adaptec" kernel during the install.

4.2 Direct ISO on a Windows Host

This is a new method that will save you having to burn a CD. Assume that you already have Windows running on the computer, and the partitions have been prepared as suggested above.

  • Download your iso of choice as described above. Move it to the top level directory (C:\ or D:\). Don't forget to check its integrity as explained previously.
  • You MUST now rename the iso to follow DOS 8.3 filename specs (e.g. VL58.ISO, not vl58.1.24vl5.iso), and the filename should be all capital letters.
  • The next files should be placed into C:\loadlin
    • loadlin.exe
      Get it from “install/loadlin/” directory within the FTP site.
    • initrd.img
      Find it as “isolinux/initrd.img” within the FTP site
    • The kernel file that matches your system (ide, scsi, sata, adaptec)
      You may select one of them from “isolinux/kernel/” directory within FTP site.

Then proceed with the installation:

  • Shutdown Windows to DOS mode.
  • Type “cd C:\loadlin” <enter> (without quotes)
  • Type “loadlin ide root=/dev/ram rw initrd=initrd.img” <enter> (without quotes).

You should replace the “ide” with the name of the kernel that you downloaded earlier. The standard installation process will be started.

4.3 Direct ISO on a Linux Host

If you have another Linux running on the computer, this method will be easy. You need to download the following files into a directory (e.g: /home/download):

  • The chosen VectorLinux ISO image file.
  • vlinstall-iso
    Find it as “install/vinstall/vinstall-iso” within the FTP site
Now go to the text console (press Cntrl-Alt-F1) and login as root. Proceed as follows:
  • Switch to run level 2 (or 3 in Slackware/Redhat, etc)
    init 2 <enter>
  • Go to the directory where you downloaded the files, i.e.: /home/download
    cd /home/download<enter>
  • Now, install using the ISO file
    ./vinstall-iso vl-5.0.iso <enter>

4.4 Bootable CD

Use this method if you already have the VL install CD, and your computer is capable of booting it.

First, you may need to change the boot order. Changing the boot order allows your system to boot from different devices like your hard drive, floppy drive or CDROM drive.
When you select an installation method, you might have to set up your system to boot accordingly. To do this, immediately after your computer starts up go to the BIOS options setup screen (1). There should be an option for boot order (general options are C drive, A drive, CDROM drive, etc). Choose which should boot first (in this case CDROM drive), save out of the BIOS screens and restart the computer. You can change the boot order back when you are finished installing VL.

Not all systems use the "Delete" key to enter the BIOS. Some systems use one of the function keys (F1-F12). Some use a combination of keystrokes. Often the initial boot screen when you turn on your computer will tell you which keystroke to use to enter the BIOS setup. If not, check your computer or motherboard manual. Failing that check your computer manufacturer's website documentation for your specific computer model #.

After the boot order is properly set, place the VL installation CD in the CD drive and reboot the system. The boot process will give you a prompt. This is the chance for you to select the correct kernel that supports your controller. If you do NOT have a SCSI or Adaptec controller (98% of machines don't), then simply press [enter] to use the default kernel (sata/ide). Otherwise, type the kernel you want, e.g:

boot: scsi [enter]

That's it. The install procedure will then be started.

4.5 Floppy Install

This method allows you to install VectorLinux using the VL CD (any edition) and two floppy disks. You may have to use this method if the target computer cannot boot from the CD (especially on older laptops). We assume that you already have the VectorLinux CD prepared and ready. You may use it to create the floppies on another Windows or a Linux host. Preparation on a Windows HOST is as follow:

  • Insert the CD into the drive, assumed to be drive D:
  • Launch a dos prompt
  • Insert blank floppy #1, enter this command:
    cd D:\install\rawrite
    Enter source file name: D:\install\floppy\bare.i
    Enter destination drive: A                   
    The bare.i is an kernel image file that supports IDE controller. If you have SCSI controller, use the scsi.s instead.
  • Take out floppy #1, Insert floopy #2, enter this command:
    Enter source file name: D:\install\floppy\rootdisk.img
    Enter destination drive: A
On a Linux host, the preparation is as follows:
  • Launch a terminal
  • Insert the CD and mount it.
    mount /dev/cdrom /mnt/cdrom
  • Insert blank floppy #1, write the kernel image into it using this command:
    cat /mnt/cdrom/install/floppy/bare.i > /dev/fd0
  • Take out floppy #1, Insert floopy #2, enter this command:
    cat /mnt/cdrom/install/floppy/rootdisk.img > /dev/fd0
Now with the VectorLinux CD and the two floppies:
  • Set the computer to boot from the floppy drive
  • Insert the CD
  • Insert the floppy #1
  • Boot the computer
  • On the boot: prompt, press [enter]
  • After asked, replace floppy #1 with floppy #2
  • VL install screen will appear


5. The Installation Process: Step by Step

When you launch the installation process, the first screen presented to you lets you choose either the default kernel (IDE/SATA) or another kernel (by pressing F1).

  1. Start up – On the next screen you have four options:
    • Select the keymap to be used during the installation. You should select this menu for the first time if your keyboard in a non-US layout.
    • Start the installation. The reason why we are here!
    • Repair lilo (Linux Loader). This is a handy utility in case you have an installed Vector Linux, but somehow you cannot boot it because of a corrupted LILO.
    • Exit. This will bring you to the Linux command prompt. It might be required if something is wrong with the installation and you are capable enough at the Linux command line to fix it manually.

  2. Once you start the installation, the routine will look for the installation media in the following places:
    • Any hard drive partition that contains installation files
    • Any hard drive partition that contains the ISO file in the top directory
    • CDROM drive
    If a media is found, it will ask you to confirm. Select Yes to proceed, No to search another media.

  3. The next screen shows you the hard drive requirements of the soon to be installed edition. If you have already set up your partitions, then start the installation now. Otherwise you can create or modify the hard drive partitions using the builtin tools. RESIZE menu is a simple front end for GNUParted. Meanwhile the FDISK menu will launch a menu-driven partitioning program called cfdisk (see the three images following). Warning: do not proceed to the INSTALL menu if you don't have the required 3 partitions (root, swap and home) at the required sizes, because the install will surely fail.

  4. You are now presented with a list of the next steps the routine will perform, it goes through each of these steps in order.

  5. In the check-files screen, you may choose which files are to be verified for any damage or corruption. If you are confident enough about them you could skip the verification, but if the files are somehow damaged the installation will probably fail later. If you have already done an md5sum check on the .iso file then this step is probably unnecessary.
  6. Now the routine will present you with any swap partition detected. Choose the swap partition to use and select OK..
  7. The next step is to choose your root partition. This is the partition on which you want to install VectorLinux. You will have the chance to select a different partition for your /home directory later.
  8. Then select the filesystem you prefer for the root partition: reiserfs, ext3 or ext2.
    ext2 is the older Linux filesystem, reiserfs and ext3 are both newer and more robust journaling filesystems. ext3 is a general standard and reiserfs is particularly fast with many small files.
  9. Next, you can choose to use a different partition for your /home directory or use the same one that is used as root. The "/home" is where files that belong to users are to be stored, and "root" is where the Operating System´s files and all packaged software will be stored.
  10. The next two dialog screens allow you to choose what main packages and individual software applications you wish to install.

  11. You are now ready to install VectorLinux to your system. You can review the choices you have made and go back and do some modifications, or you can select OK to continue installing VectorLinux. Once you hit OK, and the installation proceeds, it will format the partitions you selected for root and /home, and any information in them will be erased, so please verify everything before continuing.

The installation will take a little while, so you may have a short break. The installation time will vary depending on your system´s speed. It can be as quick as 10 minutes. After some minutes, your monitor screen may go blank as it enters a power saving mode. If it does, press [SHIFT] on the keyboard to restore your monitor. DO NOT hit [enter] or [space] as you could inadvertently accept a choice the install routine might have reached at that point.

After the installation is done, you will be required to do some basic configuration, as explained in Section 6.


6. Post-Install Configuration

Once VL has been installed, a configuration screen is presented. This allows you to configure sound, video, network, etc. This screen can also be accessed later using "Vasm" as root.

However, it is recommended that you do not skip this configuration step at installation time.

6.1 Set Up LILO

You will be prompted to set-up “LILO”, the Linux Loader that boots the system.

Choose where to install lilo:

- the root partition (if you installed VL to /dev/hda2, this would install lilo to /dev/hda2)
- the MBR (master boot record) for the disk
- a floppy drive

If you want Lilo to take over the boot process entirely, install to the MBR of the hard disk (this is the most common scenario). LILO will detect other operating systems on your hard drives and make an entry for them in its boot menu. If you already have another boot manager installed on some partition that can point to your Linux partition, then you can install Lilo to the root partition where you installed VL. If you are not sure and you don't want to cause any problems, install to a floppy. But you must then ensure that your computer's BIOS is set to boot from the floppy drive first. This is the slowest boot method, and only suggested if you do not want to alter your existing boot manager. For most systems installing to the MBR is safe and easy.

Choose to enable framebuffer or not. This option affects how the boot process looks, and the onscreen indications will let you know what option is best for you.

Add any additional parameter you need to boot you system. If your system didn´t require any special kernel parameters to perform the installation, then leave this field empty.

If you have them, Lilo will detect the partitions and Operating Systems on your hard disk and allow you to select which ones you want to have available in your new boot menu.

After you have installed VL, you can change the lilo configuration by using "vasm" as root, which will bring up the configuration screen again, or, also as root, you can edit the
/etc/lilo.conf file by hand. After editing the file, be sure to issue the following command as root: "/sbin/lilo -v". This will commit the changes to the lilo bootloader.

6.2 Configuring VectorLinux

Once Lilo is installed, the next steps are to configure this new system. If you installed with an ISO file directly from a Linux host the system will have to reboot first before doing this next configuration step.

The first screen shows the configuration steps, and allows you to choose which ones are to be performed. The wise decision is to select them all, unless you have experienced problems with a particular step previously. At this point you are walked through a series of screens to configure the keyboard, auto-setup the basic hardware, select network settings, set the video, sound, and time zone. The configuration will try to detect most of the settings automatically.

In the last step, the configuration asks you to change the root (superuser, administrator) password and add the first ordinary user. Please don't skip this step for your own security. On any operating system, working daily as root is not advisable, so you should set up a normal user and use that for normal tasks and resort to root only for administering the system.

When this is done, you simply press “OK” to restart the system and boot into VectorLinux for the first time.


7. Using the system for the first time


7.1 Login to VectorLinux

If you chose to boot into RunLevel 4 (the X GUI system), when the VectorLinux boot process has been completed you will be presented with a graphical login screen where you should enter your personal user login ID and password (do not use root unless absolutely necessary). After logging in the desktrop environment will load and within seconds you will see the desktop. Have fun!

As well as the GUI desktop, you will get six text consoles. You may switch between them by pressing [Ctrl]-[Alt]-[F1] through [Ctrl]-[Alt]-[F7] on the keyboard. You will be asked for a username and password. If you did not change the root´s password during installation you should use root as username and leave the password empty. Otherwise, use the name and password of the account you created earlier.

If you chose to boot into RunLevel 2 (a text console environment) you may switch to RunLevel 4 (GUI) by typing:
    user:$ startx
Alternatively, you can launch the GUI login mode by switching runlevel into 4 or 5. Please login as root on the console, then type:
    root:# init 4

7.2 System Administration

If you want to further configure your system, you can launch VASM (Vector Administration and System Menu) as root:

      root:# vasm

This will bring you a menu that enables you to administer the VectorLinux system: everything from adding users to configuring X and your network (see the above link for a complete manual). Some menu items include:

  • USER: add more users, also delete some.
  • X-WINDOW: change various GUI settings, including switching window managers and GUI login manager.
  • SERVICE: set background services such as samba, printing, web server, and more.
  • NETWORK: you may add more network cards, set modem and wireless, also enable simple firewall and Internet sharing.
  • HARDWARE: most of this has been performed during the install. You may redo it again if you add new hardware.
  • FILESYSTEM: allows you to mount more partitions.
You can run VASM from the console (text mode) as well as on the GUI. However, if you launch VASM as an ordinary user, it presents only a limited menu, but allows you to switch into superuser mode.

7.3 Reboot and Shutdown

There are many ways to reboot the system, including

- From a console (not GUI) press Ctrl-Alt-Del
- From a console or GUI terminal, type "reboot"
- From a GUI windows manager, choose "reboot" menu.

Meanwhile, to turn off the system, you may:

- Type "halt" or "poweroff" from a console.
- Select "shutdown" menu from a windows manager if available.


8. Enjoy the fruits of your labor

Please join our message forum. You can get information and help there to enhance your VectorLinux experience (


9. Troubleshooting

Error type 1:

installation gives you a message saying that it can't find the vector bz2 kernel and / or saying that /dev/xxxx is not a valid block device.

This error usually appears when you have more than one optical drive (CD/CD-RW/DVD/DVD-W) and you are trying to install Vector from the second unit. Move the installation CD to the first drive.

Error type 2:

Installation halts or does not start properly after a seemingly correct installation or you get messages about CRC errors during install

That kind of issue often suggests file corruption during download or a faulty burning process.

The first thing to do, if you haven't already done so, is to check the .iso file for corruption; please refer to section 3 of this manual. If the .iso file passed the md5sum integrity check , then you could try burning the file at a slower speed or use higher quality media.

Remember to burn as a cd image, not as a conventional file!

Error type 3:

You get one of these two messages:

Kernel Panic: Aiee, killing interrupt handler!
In interrupt handler - not syncing.


Error! There was a problem!
Code: 39 36 75 03 5b 5e c3 5b 89 f0 31 c9 ba 03 00 00 00 5e e9 cb
Installation not complete
Please press enter to activate this console

Those errors are usually related to old hardware, and could mean that you need to pass some kernel commands to the boot process. It could also mean that there is some sort of hardware problem with your computer, but if you had it working previously with another operating system then it is probably one of the following:

Some commands you may try are:

linux mem=16M (replace 16 with the correct amount of memory in your PC)
linux ide=nodma (disable udma access, for old hard drives)

These commands disable power management, Notebooks often require them:

linux noacpi
linux noapm
linux pci=noacpi
linux acpi=off
linux apm=off

Error type 4:

Your SCSI or SATA hard drive is not available to install VL on it.

The required driver for your SCSI card is not being loaded, and therefore your disks are not seen by the install routine.

Error type 5:

Installing from CDROM drive fails with this error: "mount: /dev/scd7 is not a valid block device"

Your CDROM or CDRW drive requires scsi emulation. When the installation greets you with the first prompt (where it says "boot:" at the bottom left) you should type :

ide hdx=ide-scsi

(where x is your cd-rom unit).

If that doesn't work restart and try writing

scsi hdx=ide-scsi

(where x is your cd-rom unit).

Note: The Linux Kernel 2.6.x treats CD-Rx drives in a different way than previous kernels, so this problem shouldn´t arise, it is still mentioned here for the record.

Error type 6:

The installation halts somewhere near the end during the install of packages and the install process gives you an error message that it cannot proceed. This often indicates that you may not have apportioned sufficient hard drive space for the "/" (root) partition. VectorLinux requires a minimum of 2GB to install, 3GB for the SOHO edition. You will need to increase the size of the root partition before proceeding to re-install the system. This can be done using cfdisk during the second install screen.


10. Credits

Copyright 2007 VectorLinux
Released under [GNU Free Document License [ ]
Contributed By: Joe1962, Johnvan, Kocil, Monty67, Mutiny, Shallow, Hal, SuSe-Refugee, UKBill, Lagagnon, Lost & Lovin' Linux.