Hour 3: Booting, Logging In, and Configuring

What You'll Learn in This Hour:

This hour, you start your Fedora 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, you take care of some preliminary tasks. When this hour is finished, you'll have a fully functional Linux operating system ready to perform most any common task that a Windows computer can perform.

Booting Fedora

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 is installed on your computer, things will change a little.

Fedora 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 Fedora," 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.

Select DOS When You Want Windows - 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 Fedora to refer to most MS-DOS or Microsoft 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 Fedora starts, you will at first 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. Fedora then displays a progress bar in the center of your screen to show its progress as it launches system services and performs other housekeeping tasks (see Figure 3.2). This process might take several minutes the first time you start Linux. On subsequent boots, it will take anywhere from a few seconds to a minute or so; the process is repeated each time you start Linux. If you customize your installation or performed a Server installation, you might see a text display containing more detailed information instead of a progress bar.

Figure 3.2
Fedora shows a progress bar as it starts system services.

After Fedora starts all its components, the screen clears and graphics mode starts.

Welcome to Fedora Core!

When your Fedora computer system starts for the first time, Fedora automatically displays the Welcome to Fedora Core! screen. Beginning at this screen, you are led through a few remaining configuration steps that the Fedora installer did not handle. The next section walks you through this process.

Finishing First-Run Configuration

At the Welcome to Fedora Core! screen, click the Next button to proceed to the Date and Time screen, shown in Figure 3.3. Use this screen to be sure that your current date and time are correctly set.

Figure 3.3
The Date and Time screen allows you to set your current date and time.

You can choose a month and year using the navigation arrows; after the correct month and year appear, you can choose a day simply by clicking its number. If you need to adjust the current time (shown in 24-hour format), enter the correct values into the Hour, Minute, and Second entry boxes. Alternatively, if your computer is connected to the Internet, you can choose to automatically set your time using network time servers by checking the Enable Network Time Protocol check box and selecting a server at random (it does not matter which server you use) from the time server drop-down list.

Once you set your date and time correctly or choose to let the network set your date and time for you, click the Next button to proceed to the User Account screen, shown in Figure 3.4. Use this screen to create a user account with regular privileges on the system. It is this account that you will use on a day-to-day basis. Enter all of the following information:

Figure 3.4
The User Account screen allows you to create the first "regular user" account on your Fedora system.

When you are done entering account information, click on the Next button to create this account and proceed to the Red Hat Network screen, shown in Figure 3.5.

Figure 3.5
The Red Hat Network screen allows you to sign up for Red Hat's software updates service.

At the Red Hat Network screen, you have an opportunity to choose to register with Red Hat's update service. Because this service is an optional premium feature, we don't discuss it in this book. If you want to sign up for the feature or learn more about it later, visit http://rhn.redhat.com for details. For now, select the No option as shown in Figure 3.5 and click the Next button to proceed to the Additional CDs screen shown in Figure 3.6.

Because you will learn how to install additional software from Fedora CD-ROMs any time you like in Hour 21, "Installing Software," we don't spend extra time now installing additional software. Click the Next button to proceed to the Finish Setup screen that confirms that your preliminary configuration of Fedora is complete.

Click Next one more time to display the Linux login prompt.

Figure 3.6
At the Additional CDs screen, Fedora gives you the option of installing more software from your CD-ROMs.

Logging In for Configuration

After you finish the first-boot configuration discussed in the previous section, you find yourself looking at the login prompt shown in Figure 3.7. This screen appears every time you start Fedora.

Figure 3.7
Every time you start Fedora from now on, you see the Linux login prompt.

Identifying the Parts of the Login Screen

The login prompt is primarily designed to enable you to log in to the Fedora desktop to use your computer. Before you log in for the first time, however, you need to become familiar with a few functional areas of the login screen.

For Users Who Didn't Install the X Window System - If in Hour 2 you chose to perform a server installation or chose to customize your software selection and subsequently did not install the X Window System graphical environment, you will not see a graphical login prompt. Instead, you will see a text login prompt. Proceed to Hour 4, "Navigating Linux at the Console," for details on logging in and using Linux in text mode.

If you chose to install more than one language when you installed Linux, clicking the Language button displays a list of languages from which you can select, as shown in Figure 3.8. The language you select is the language used by Fedora for communicating with you in the desktop environment. The default language is English.

Figure 3.8
Clicking the Language button enables you to select the language Fedora will use when interfacing with you.

If you chose the Desktop or Workstation install or chose to install the KDE or GNOME environments at the software customization screen as you were installing Linux, clicking the Session button at the login screen enables you to select the environment you want to use, as shown in Figure 3.9.

Figure 3.9
Clicking the Session button enables you to select the type of desktop environment you want to use.

The GNOME and KDE options instruct Fedora to log you in to the GNOME and KDE desktops, respectively. The Failsafe option instructs Fedora to log you in to a very basic X Window System desktop in an environment called TWM. The first option, Default System Session, instructs Fedora to log you in to whichever desktop environment is currently set as your default desktop environment. Because you have just installed Fedora, the default environment is GNOME. You can learn more about logging in to KDE and GNOME specifically in Hour 10, "Introducing the Fedora Desktop."

You use the Reboot and Shutdown buttons near the bottom of the screen to restart Fedora or shut the computer down, respectively. Both buttons present a confirmation dialog when they are clicked. The confirmation dialog for the Shutdown button appears in Figure 3.10.

Figure 3.10
After you click the Shutdown button, a confirmation dialog appears. To shut down the system, click Shutdown.

Always Shut Down Before Powering Off - Before you turn off your Linux computer, you should always remember to return to the Login screen, click the Shutdown button, and choose Shutdown to shut the system down. Although it isn't likely, it is possible that not shutting down correctly could cause you to lose some of your data.

Configuring Your Printer and Internet Service

Before you begin using Linux, you must configure two more things to make your Linux system fully operational if you are running a desktop or workstation system. The first is your printer; the second is your dial-up Internet service.

To configure either, you must log in to the root account and use some Fedora configuration tools. To log in to the root account, enter the word root into the Username box and press your Enter key. Then enter the root password you selected when installing Linux into the same box and press Enter once more.

New to Desktop Environments? - This hour, we gloss over the ins and outs of the login process and the Linux desktop: We want to dig only deep enough to configure your printer and dial-up Internet service just now. We'll get to details about the Linux desktop in later hours. If you're not comfortable entering root and the root password without knowing why, or if you've never worked with a graphical operating system and would like to learn about using the mouse to manipulate menus and windows, you might want to skip ahead and read Hour 10 before continuing with this hour.

Configuring Your Printer

After you enter the word root and the root password at the login screen, you find yourself logged in to the root account's desktop environment. To configure your printer, click the GNOME Menu icon (which looks like a red colored hat) in the lower-left corner of the display, click the System Settings item in the GNOME menu, and then click the Printing item in the System Settings menu. After you click on the Printing item, the Printer configuration tool opens.

To add a printer to your Printer configuration, click the New button near the upper-left corner of the Printer configuration tool window. The Add a New Print Queue dialog appears.

Click the Forward button to display the Queue Name dialog, which is used to name your printer, as shown in Figure 3.11. In the Name box, enter lp. You should always name your default printer lp because it is what most Linux applications expect the default printer to be called. You can also enter a brief human-readable description of the printer in the Short Description box if you choose to do so.

Figure 3.11
Enter lp as the queue name for your default printer. You can also enter a description if you want.

After you name your printer queue, click the Forward button to display the Queue Type dialog, which allows you to tell Fedora how this printer communicates with applications, as shown in Figure 3.12.

If your printer is connected by a universal serial bus (USB) or parallel port, select Locally-Connected from the Select a Queue Type drop-down list. Throughout the rest of this section, we assume that you are using a printer that is connected locally—either using a USB or parallel port. If you need to use one of the several types of network connections listed, please contact your network administrator for further configuration help.

In the box below the Select a Queue Type drop-down list, choose the port to which your printer is connected. Table 3.1 contains a list of common ports.

Figure 3.12
Choose a connection type for this printer. For most users, the correct drop-down option is the Locally-Connected option.

Table 3.1 Common Ports to Which Printers Might Be Connected




First parallel port, LPT1: or PRN: in MS-DOS


Second parallel port (if present), LPT2: in MS-DOS


First discovered USB printer


Second discovered USB printer

If you're using a parallel port printer, select the parallel port to which your printer is connected. If you're using a USB printer, at least one USB port should appear in the list as well: select it. After you select your printer port, click the Forward button to display the dialog that allows you to select a driver (by printer make and model) to use with your printer, as shown in Figure 3.13.

Invisible USB Printers - If your printer is connected via USB and you don't see any USB printer ports listed, turn your printer on and then click the Rescan Devices button near the bottom of the dialog. Your USB printer should now appear.

In the Printer Model dialog, select the make of your printer from the drop-down list near the top of the dialog. The list of known printers for the make you have selected will appear in the bottom half of the dialog; select your model from the list. Then click the Forward button to display the confirmation dialog box.

Figure 3.13
Select your make from the drop-down list and then your model from the list in the lower half of the dialog.

Review the settings listed in the confirmation dialog; if your make and model are correctly listed, click the Finish button to save your printer configuration. You will be asked whether you want to print a test page to ensure that your settings have been entered correctly. To be certain, you should choose Yes. If the test page does not print correctly, remove the queue by clicking the Delete button in the Printer configuration tool and repeat the steps in this section, trying different settings.

Once you successfully add a printer, if you want to add more printers, repeat the steps in this section. If you are done adding printers, click the word Action at the upper left of the Printer configuration dialog and then select Quit from the drop-down menu to exit the Printer configuration tool.

Configuring Your Dial-Up Internet Service

If you connect to the Internet using a dial-up service provider and a modem, you need to tell Fedora about your modem and your Internet service provider. To start the Internet Configuration Wizard, click GNOME Menu, System Tools, Internet Configuration Wizard. The Internet Configuration Wizard starts, as shown in Figure 3.14.

Figure 3.14
Use the Internet Configuration Wizard to configure Fedora to connect to your Internet service provider.

In the Internet Configuration Wizard, click the Modem connection option to indicate that you connect to your Internet service provider (ISP) using a modem. Then be sure that your modem is powered on (if it is external) and click the Forward button to cause the Internet Configuration Wizard to search for your modem. When your modem is found, the settings Fedora detected appear, as shown in Figure 3.15.

Networking Beyond Dial-Up - If your computer is directly connected to a network via Ethernet (for example, through a typical DSL or cable modem connection or a company LAN), you have already configured your network settings when you installed Linux; if you need to change them, you learn how in Hour 19, "Desktop System Administration."

If your computer is connected to the Internet using a technology other than dial-up modem service or Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) and Ethernet, contact your network administrator or ISP for help in configuring your Internet service.

Figure 3.15
After your modem is found, the settings for your modem as detected by the Internet Configuration Wizard appear.

With the exception of the Modem Volume setting, which you can adjust to suit your dialing volume tastes, you should not change any of the other settings from those detected by Linux. Click the Forward button to display a dialog that allows you to enter details related to your ISP, as shown in Figure 3.16.

If Your Modem Isn't Found - If Fedora displays a message saying that no modem can be found, check your modem to ensure that it is powered on and connected properly to your computer. If it is, or if your modem is internal and you still receive an error message, your modem is not easily supported by Fedora.

Please refer to "Communications Hardware" in Hour 1, "Preparing to Install Fedora," for details on the types of modems that are compatible with Fedora.

Figure 3.16
The Internet Configuration Wizard needs details about your ISP to configure your connection.

Enter your dial-up service provider's dialing details, name, login (username), and password into the relevant entry boxes shown in Figure 3.16. When you are done, click the Forward button to display the IP Settings dialog box, shown in Figure 3.17.

Figure 3.17
In the IP Settings dialog, you can adjust the parameters that Fedora will use to establish your Internet connection.

Most users should leave the default choice selected, Automatically Obtain IP Address Settings. If you have been provided a set of static IP settings by your ISP, select Statically Set IP Address and enter those settings now. When you are done, click the Forward button to display your configuration summary.

Once you verify that all the information shown in the summary is correct, click Apply to save your changes and display the Network Configuration dialog, as shown in Figure 3.18.

To connect to your ISP, click your modem's entry in the device list and then click the Activate button near the top of the dialog. Fedora attempts to connect to your ISP. While you are connected, your network status mode reads Active rather than Inactive, and you can browse the World Wide Web and use other Internet services. When you are ready to disconnect, click the Deactivate button.

Figure 3.18
The Network Configuration dialog allows you to activate (connect) and deactivate (disconnect) your Internet service.

Starting the Network Configuration Tool

You use the Internet Configuration Wizard only when you need to add or edit network settings. When you dial your ISP, you'll usually want to bypass the Internet Configuration Wizard and start the Network Configuration tool shown in Figure 3.18 directly. To do this, click GNOME menu, System Settings, Network. This allows you to quickly access the Activate and Deactivate buttons when you want to connect to or disconnect from the Internet.

For additional details on using the Network Configuration tool, refer to "Managing Network Interfaces" in Hour 19.

Logging Out

When you finish configuring your printer and ISP, you can exit the root account and return to the Linux login screen by clicking the GNOME menu and then clicking the Log Out option. A confirmation dialog appears, as shown in Figure 3.19. To confirm that you want to log out and return to the Linux login screen, select Log Out and then click the OK button.

Figure 3.19
A confirmation dialog appears to make sure that you really want to log out.

The Save Current Setup Check Box - You might notice the Save Current Setup check box as you log out of your Fedora desktop. This check box doesn't refer to the configuration changes you just made; those have been saved already. Checking the Save Current Setup box causes Fedora to remember any applications that were still running when you logged out. The next time you logged in, they will automatically be restored.

Because you probably don't have any applications running yet, you don't need to worry about the check box right now.


This hour, you booted for the first time into your new Fedora Linux computer system. You answered a few final configuration questions posed by Fedora, and then you did the following:

Your system is now fully configured, and you are ready to begin using and learning about Linux. On to adventure!


  1. I selected the Desktop or Workstation install while installing Linux in Hour 2, but when I started Linux for the first time, I got a text login prompt instead of the graphical login screen. What's wrong?

  1. Your graphics hardware is not supported or detected properly by Fedora. Although it is sometimes possible to get initially unsupported display hardware to work, such techniques are beyond the scope of this book. You will still be able to follow most or all of the instruction in Hours 4–9, 18, 20–21, and 24, but you should consider investing in an upgrade to supported graphics hardware so that you can use the Linux desktop environment.

  1. I can't find my printer in the list of makes and models in the Add New Print Queue dialog. What should I do?

  1. If your printer is a PostScript-compatible printer, select Generic from the make drop-down list, and then select PostScript Printer from the list of models. If you know that your printer is fully compatible with another make and model of printer, simply select the driver for the other make and model. If neither of these suggestions applies to you, your only alternatives are to select Text Only Printer from the Generic make list or to invest in a supported printer. Beware that a text-only printer cannot print documents from Linux desktop applications such as OpenOffice or from the LaTeX document system discussed in Hour 7, "Working Without the Mouse."

  1. I use America Online as my ISP. Can I run AOL in Fedora?

  1. Unfortunately, you cannot yet run AOL in Linux operating systems.


The Workshop is designed to help you anticipate possible questions, review what you've learned, and begin learning how to put your knowledge into practice.


  1. How do you shut down your Linux computer from the login screen?

  2. What are your options if Fedora can't find your modem?

  3. How do you connect to or disconnect from your ISP?


  1. Click the Shutdown button near the bottom of the login screen and then select Yes when the confirmation dialog appears.

  2. Realistically, your only option is to buy a Linux-compatible modem. Details on the types of modems that are compatible with Linux appear in Hour 1.

  3. To connect, start the Network Configuration tool, select your modem, and click the Activate button to activate your network connection.

  4. To disconnect, start the Network Configuration tool, select your modem, and click the Deactivate button.


  1. If you have a dual-boot system, restart your computer and use GRUB to start Windows to familiarize yourself with your dual-boot system.

  2. Connect to and disconnect from your ISP several times to familiarize yourself with the process.