Hello there folks. I was considering posting this as a reply to the official "hello" thread, but it seemed inappropriately long for that setting, and I considered posting it in BackTrack5 General Topics, but I belong in the beginners section for the moment and didn't want to overstep.
As a kid I wiped windows 95 off of my first laptop and messed around on the dos prompt, playing commander keen and other old dos games. The closest I ever got to "coding" was copying and pasting the html to make a little website where I would post links to my favorite dos games.
At some point a family friend (his name was Chapen and I've lost track of him at this point) helped me get Linux installed on my old laptop. I thought it was pretty cool, messed around with it for a while, then lost interest (not enough games, or at least I couldn't find any).
Fast forward to about six months ago. I've owned and used numerous different laptops, usually without any modification, just out-of-the-box with windows xp or vista. So about six months ago, I heard about bitcoin, and got excited. I started reading all about it, getting excited about the political implications of a currency with no central issuing agency. I got excited and started learning as much as I could about anonymity on the internet, reading for hours about PGP encryption and TOR.
At this point in time I had 3 laptops and only one of them was working. I stumbled upon Liberte Linux while reading about TOR, and I decided to try and get one of my broken-down systems back on it's feet while at the same time setting myself up with a super-secure anonymous machine for exploring the most colorful corners of the internet.
My running laptop was a Dell Vostro 1000, a pretty horrible laptop with a nice looking screen. One of the two broken-down laptops was another old Dell (somewhat better than the Vostro but I can't recall the model at the moment) and the one I targeted for my Linux experiment was my HP Pavilion tx2000. It's the fancy touch-screen one with the screen that rotates completely around and folds back down to make a tablet. I'd dropped it off the edge of my bed and cracked the screen, a big crack across one corner, and the touchscreen functionality was gone, then a few days later I went to boot it and it froze during the log-in--it would let me get all the way to typing in my password, and then it would hang while loading windows. I had given up on it for a while, but this seemed a perfect opportunity to experiment without concern about damaging valuable equipment.
I had no USB thumbdrive, and no blank CD's, but I had a 1tb western digital external harddrive, so I loaded Liberte on there and told the bios to boot from usb, and it worked wonderfully.
So I messed around with Liberte for a while, but I became frustrated, because it's a very specialized distribution and it's uses are somewhat limited. Installing applications is difficult, bypassing tor and browsing in a normal manner is difficult. Most of all, though, I became frustrated because I had foolishly set it up to boot from this external usb harddrive, which requires an AC power source--depriving me of the mobility of a laptop!
I could have just installed liberte to the internal harddrive, but I figured I might as well install some other distro that perhaps could be more customizable or even more powerful, and learn more about linux. After looking at all the distros I could find, this one seemed by far the most interesting. Powerful, customizable, challenging, fun.
For everybody who got bored way up there somewhere, here's where I get back on the subject of BackTrack:
So on my Dell, I downloaded a 64bit ISO of BT5R3, but couldn't figure out how to get my USB harddrive to boot it. I didn't have a DVD or a thumbdrive. I got Unetbootin, and though my USB drive didn't show up in the drop down list, I figured out how to use a command prompt to point it towards the correct drive, and it extracted the ISO and said everything was complete, to reboot the computer. So I unplugged the USB harddrive and plugged it back into my HP pavilion, but it still booted up as Liberte Linux. I repeated several times with slight variations, but each time, I plug in the USB Harddrive, and it boots up Liberte, not BT5R3.
I searched and couldn't find much on the subject, but I finally figured it out. I was so proud of myself, because I didn't just find the answer posted in a forum somewhere, but literally I figured it out myself. I went snooping through all the config files in the liberte boot folder, reading them and trying to figure out what they each did, and found my way into the syslinux folder, and so I made a backup of "syslinux.config," and then tried to modify it so that it would have an additional option in the boot menu for "backtrack linux." I didn't manage to do so correctly, so I reverted it to the backup. Then I finally figured it out--I made a new backup of syslinux.config and I copied the syslinux.config from BT5R3 into it's place, then I rebooted and ---voila---- BT5R3.
So now I've had BackTrack up and running for about 3 hours. I reformatted the harddrive on my HP Pavilion and it is now my dedicated BackTrack machine. I will be setting up my dell as a dual boot Windows & Liberte Linux but I don't see myself using it much now that I have this setup. I will be striving to learn.
So far I've managed to get my wireless networking configured properly, and also installed the Tor Browser Bundle effectively (though I'm not using it at this moment). I am going to consider this one big learning experience and try to see what I can do with BackTrack.
I do have a few questions, but I'm sure they've been answered already, I'm going to go read some manuals and FAQ's and google a thing or two.
Thanks for listening! Thanks for making such a wonderful product!
And most of all, thank you all for sharing your knowledge.