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Maemo internals for everyone – Linux console

27 February 2010Entry by

On the latest article we had a look on Maemo Internals, but regarding Nokia N900 software packages. This article is for Maemo fans and Linux users. If you use Linux on desktop computer you will eventually face situation when you will need to use console. In many cases it’s easier to copy-paste few lines from website to console and resolve problem in few seconds. It is also possible in Maemo 5 and after some time you will probably find it very useful.

For the start run X Terminal application, that you have installed by default. You will see black screen with command prompt, if font size is to small or to big you can quickly change it using volume buttons. You can also see some useful keys, which are not included in n900 keyboard, in bottom toolbar. To see available built-in commands type help and press enter. Unfortunately Maemo doesn’t have manual pages installed, but it shouldn’t be a problem since google works almost like man command in other Linux distribution so if you want to know what command does just put for example ‘man alias’ (without quotes) in search.

Console - output of help command

Console - output of help command

But let’s focus on what you can do with few simple commands:

  • df -h – command is acronym from disk free, so it will show you free space on every storage in your device, -h option makes output more human-readable, works much faster than going to options, scrolling to memory info and running it
  • uptime – shows for how long system is running and average processor load for last 1, 5 and 15 minutes
  • uname -a – shows information about kernel, hostname and system
  • sudo gainroot – gain root/administrator rights, available after installing rootsh

Console - example commands
Console – example commands

Now that you know how to gain root (administrator, superuser, whatever you want to call it) rights you should be carefull with what you are doing! The things listed below shouldn’t harm your device, but be sure not to misspell any of the commands! You can see on my screenshots that I have some other hostname than most of you, it’s old habit from the times when I was maintaining several servers.

  • echo your_host_name > /etc/hostname – allow to change hostname, not much of use for now, applies after reboot
  • ping nokia-n900.com – well known command used to test internet connection, available on numerous operating systems,  you can put any address instead of nokia-n900.com, press Ctrl+C to stop pinging; for some reason ping isn’t available without root rights
  • ifconfig – shows detailed information about network interfaces
  • dpkg -l|more – shows full list of software packages installed in the system, press space for next page or Q to quit, this is part of Debian packaging system
  • apt-get update – downloads latest software catalogues, if update is available you will notice usual exclamation mark in status area, this is part of Advanced Packaging Tool

Console - output of dpkg -l
Console – output of dpkg -l

The list given here is just small piece of possible uses of console, if you are Linux user you will probably find more things you can do on the Nokia N900.


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