Using linuxconf

The most complete graphical utility for working with Red Hat Linux is linuxconf. It contains features for configuring networking (client and server tasks), creating user accounts, and working with the file system.

Note Red Hat is phasing out support for linuxconf. In fact, unless you do an "everything" install of Red Hat Linux, it's likely that linuxconf isn't even installed on your system. If linuxconf is not found, you can install it from the second Red Hat Linux installation CD (CD-2). As Red Hat creates GUI interfaces to replace linuxconf features (particularly in the area of network configuration), you should consider using those tools instead of linuxconf. As a GUI, linuxconf isn't fancy. Don't expect to see lots of icons or to be able to drag and drop items on the display. It does, however, offer some advantages over just editing configuration files directly:

Configuration and control tools for many different features are all contained in one place. Just click an activity in the left column and a form for configuring the item appears in the right column. You don't have to search blindly in /etc for the right files to edit.

Some error checking is done. In many cases, linuxconf will prevent you from entering invalid values in the fields.

Options are offered. If, for example, you are adding a network interface, you can click a pull-down menu to select from the interfaces that Linux knows about (such as PPP or Ethernet).

Administrative activities are divided into three major categories in linuxconf: Config, Control, and Status. Config activities let you set up your network interfaces (for both client and server features), work with user accounts, configure file systems, and manage how Linux boots. Control activities let you work with features that have already been configured, including starting and stopping services, mounting/unmounting file systems, and controlling the files and systems used by linuxconf. Status activities let you view system logs.

Starting linuxconf

You can start linuxconf from the System menu (Programs ® System ® LinuxConf) or from a Terminal window (linuxconf &). Figure 10-1 shows the LinuxConf window.

igure 10-1: linuxconf centralizes Linux administration in one graphical window.

Tip linuxconf can also be operated from Netscape or another Web browser. To allow that, you must simply allow the local or remote computer to access the service. To use the service from a remote computer, the remote computer requests port number 98 from your computer. For example, if the linuxconf server is named comp1, you can start linuxconf by typing the Web address: http://comp1:98/ from the remote host. Before you can use the service, you need to enter the root password.

You need to activate the linuxconf service to allow a user from a remote computer to use linuxconf. From the linuxconf Config tab, select Networking, Misc, and Linuxconf network access. Then click Enable network access and type the names of the hosts and/or networks you want to allow to access the service. Next, you need to edit the /etc/xinetd.d/linuxconf-web file and change disable = yes to disable = no. Then type /etc/init.d/xinetd restart to make the linuxconf Web service available. To choose a task to perform in linuxconf, click the task in the left column. A form representing the task appears on the right. Select the options you want and fill in the necessary information. Accept the changes by clicking Accept or OK. Click Cancel when you are done. You can also use the following function keys and control keys with linuxconf:

Ctrl+X — If the current field contains a pop-up selection list (indicated by a down arrow), this key opens the list.

F3 — Escapes from any dialog.

Ctrl+A — Goes to the beginning of the line.

Ctrl+D — Deletes the current character.

Ctrl+K — Deletes text to the end of the line. Linuxconf configuration tasks

Under the configuration section in linuxconf are tasks for setting up your network, creating user accounts, working with file systems, initializing system services, and choosing boot modes. Networking tasks are divided into those that apply to your computer as a client and those that apply to it as a server.

Linuxconf networking tasks

Client networking tasks let you view and configure information associated with your computer's host name, the network interfaces that are attached to your computer, and the routes you can use to get to other hosts and networks. Click the plus sign (+) next to Client tasks and select Host name and IP network devices. From the window that appears, here are some of the items you can change:

Hostname — Your hostname is how other computers on the network identify yours. It can contain the full hostname.domainname form.

Adaptor — The network interfaces (i.e., Ethernet cards, PPP dial-up connections, etc.) that give you access to the network can be viewed by clicking the Adaptor tabs on this form. The information you would need to enter in this form is described in detail in Chapter 15, "Setting Up a Local Area Network."

Your system resolves Internet host names into IP addresses by identifying DNS servers that can do name to address resolution. Click the Name Server Specification (DNS) task to add your default domain and one or more name servers. You can also indicate which domains to search for addresses.

Under Routing and Gateways, you can define how your networking requests are routed across gateway machines (those that are connected to your subnetwork and another subnetwork) to reach beyond your local network. You can also specify routes to other local area networks.

Another network service you can configure includes configuring an IPX interface. IPX is a networking interface protocol popular with NetWare servers.

If you make any changes to your network configuration, you can activate those changes by clicking the Act/Changes button. You can either preview what needs to be done to activate the changes or click Activate the changes for the changes to be implemented and the network to be restarted.

Under Server tasks, you can share your file systems with other computers on the network (using NFS) and set up IP aliases for virtual hosts.

Other linuxconf configuration tasks

Besides networking tasks, you can select from several other basic system tasks in linuxconf. Under User Accounts, you can add normal user accounts, special user accounts, and policies regarding user accounts. Under File systems, you can add definitions of mountable local drives or NFS file systems (from remote systems) that can later be added to or removed from your system (using mount and unmount tasks described in the Control section). Finally, you can add parameters that have an impact on how your Linux system boots.

Linuxconf control tasks

The Control section of linuxconf lets you work with Linux features that change the ongoing operation of your Red Hat Linux system. Here are some of the tasks you can do from this section:

Activate configuration — For changes that you make to take effect, some services have to be stopped and restarted. This task checks what needs to be restarted, based on the changes you have made, then restarts those services when you say you are ready.

Shutdown/Reboot — Use this task to either shut down and halt your computer or reboot it.

Control service activity — You can enable or disable a variety of network services by selecting this task.

Mount/Unmount file systems — Any local or NFS file systems you configured to be mountable (in the Configuration section) can be mounted or unmounted using these tasks.

Configure superuser scheduled tasks — You can add commands that are run at a set schedule (using the cron facility) as the root user by adding entries under this task.

Archive configurations — With this task, you can archive the configuration files you have set up so that you can recall these saved configuration files later. This can be used to get you back to a sane state if your configuration files get wrecked.

Switch system profile — You can recall a past archive of configuration files (and save the current configuration files) using this task.

Linuxconf management — Select tasks from this section to change the way configuration files, commands, file permissions, modules, system profiles, and linuxconf add-ons are configured and used in linuxconf.

Date & time — Change the date, time, and time zone from this task.

When you have made changes to any configurations that require programs to be restarted, you can click Act/Changes. Then click the Activate the Changes button that appears. If errors are reported, click Yes to view those messages. Then you can view the log that was created from the changes.

Linuxconf subsection commands

Instead of using linuxconf, you can use commands to go directly to particular configuration sections. Here those commands:

Filesystem configurator (fsconf) — Configures the file systems that your computer can access. This can include local drives and NFS volumes (mounted from remote computers). It also allows you to configure swap files and partitions, set quota defaults, and check the permissions of certain files. Figure 10-2 shows the Filesystem configurator window.

igure 10-2: Mount local and remote file systems using Filesystem configurator.

Network configurator (netconf) — Configures your TCP/IP network. It lets you add everything you need to create connections to modems and Ethernet LANs. You can set up the Domain Name System (DNS), routing and gateways, and serial communications (PPP, SLIP, or PLIP). Figure 10-3 shows the Network configurator window.

Figure 10-3: Set up TCP/IP network connections with the Network configurator.

Cross-Reference While the Network configurator (netconf) window works well in most cases, I recommend that you refer to Chapter 15 before you configure your networking interfaces. That chapter contains more in-depth descriptions on setting up a network and recommends using some different tools for configuration.

User Account configurator (userconf) — Manage your computer's user accounts. It lets you add regular user and group definitions, then assign passwords to users. You can also add special user accounts, such as those that let you automatically log in and start a PPP, SLIP, UUCP, or POP connection. Figure 10-4 shows the User Account configurator window.

igure 10-4: Add regular and special user accounts in the User Account configurator.

Continue reading here: Configuring Modules

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