Homeland Stupidity http://www.homelandstupidity.us Government is stupid. Discover a better way to organize society. Tue, 15 Apr 2014 02:34:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1 Partitioning to dual boot Linux and Windows walkthrough http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2005/06/18/partitioning-to-dual-boot-linux-and-windows-walkthrough/ http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2005/06/18/partitioning-to-dual-boot-linux-and-windows-walkthrough/#comments Sat, 18 Jun 2005 13:00:00 +0000 http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2005/06/18/partitioning-to-dual-boot-linux-and-windows-walkthrough/ ]]> You can’t have been on the Internet more than a week without hearing about this Linux thing. But in case you haven’t, Linux is an operating system. That’s the software that is your computer, so to speak. Most of you have some version of Windows. Many of you have Mac OS X. And millions of people use Linux.

In fact, you’re probably reading this because you have one burning question: How can I install Linux without getting rid of Windows? You’ve probably already heard the answer is “dual booting.’ The concept is simple: Whenever you reboot your computer, the computer asks you to choose which operating system you want to use for that session, Windows or Linux. This walkthrough will answer the question of how to set up your computer so that it can dual boot.

Before we get started, it is a very good idea to back up all of your files. If something goes horribly wrong and you lose all your data, don’t blame me, just go restore your backups. Don’t say I didn’t warn you either.

It is also a very good idea to obtain and install the latest BIOS for your computer. Updated BIOS software can prevent certain types of problems with partitioning, and later, with Linux installation. And while all of the problems can be worked around with varying amounts of effort, updating the BIOS is easy and pretty painless. Contact your computer manufacturer or go to its Web site to find the latest BIOS for your computer.

First, you will need to obtain a disk partitioning utility. This walkthrough will cover the use of Norton PartitionMagic 8.0. While other utilities exist that can do the job, PartitionMagic is going to be the easiest way to do it, and it’s well worth the small bit of cash.

The reason we need a disk partitioning utility in the first place is that your entire hard drive has been reserved for the exclusive use of Windows, and we need to create new partitions which Linux will be able to use. Disk partitions are sections of the disk which are exclusively for the use of one operating system or another. While Linux can read your files from your Windows partition, it cannot be installed to the Windows partition; it needs its own partitions. We will use PartitionMagic to create the partitions from the unused free space on your hard drive.

Click each thumbnail to see the full-size image.


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The first thing you have to do, of course, is to install PartitionMagic. I only have one comment regarding this process, which is otherwise like installing any other Windows program: Be sure to create the rescue diskettes if you have a floppy drive available to you. If something goes horribly wrong, which is very unlikely, they will help you get out of the jam.


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Once you’ve installed PartitionMagic, it will be located under All Programs. Go start it up!


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PartitionMagic has started up and shows a visual display of your hard drive’s partitions. For this demonstration I have used a fresh installation of Windows XP on a 10GB hard drive. Your drive is likely to be larger than this, so keep in mind as you go along how much space you have available to you.

PartitionMagic will only be able to use free space to create new partitions. Look in the Unused MB column to see how much space is available for this task. If your drive is very close to full, you may wish to remove some old junk you don’t use anymore first, before continuing.

Also, don’t worry if you see a very small Unallocated section. This is normal and harmless with Windows installations, and this space (along with some other space) will be allocated to Linux once we are finished.


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The first thing we must do is to make room on the disk for the new partitions we will create. So I will shrink that large Windows partition. Under “Pick a task’ on the left, click on “Resize a partition’ and the Resize partitions wizard appears. As we go along, you are likely to notice that almost none of the choices we use are the “Recommended’ ones. This is because the Recommended ones apply to Windows, and we are preparing the hard drive for Linux. So if you see something that says Recommended, double check it because it is probably the wrong choice.


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Here we need to select which partition we’re going to resize. There’s only one, and that’s the one that we need to work with! I will highlight it in the list, and then click Next.


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Now it’s time to choose how small the partition is going to get. You can’t go below the Minimum size shown unless you delete more files from your drive. And the Maximum size indicates the largest amount of space the partition can take up. Once you choose a number here, the remainder of the disk will be free for us to create our Linux partitions. For this example, I have a 10GB disk. I will give 5GB to Windows, and 5GB to Linux. Multiply the number of GB by 1024 to get the MB that PartitionMagic expects. Get out the calculator if you need it. For example, if you have a 40GB disk, and want Windows to have 25GB and Linux to have 15GB, you would multiply 25 by 1024 and then enter the result, 25600, into the box.


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Now PartitionMagic shows a visual display of how the space will be partitioned. If this doesn’t look like what you intended, click Back. Otherwise, click Finish. For me, this looks just fine, even though the numbers aren’t exactly the same, so I click Finish.


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PartitionMagic has updated the display to show the progress we have made so far. However, no changes have been actually made yet until you click the Apply button in the lower left. Don’t do it now, though! If things really look all wrong, you can click the Undo button. I had to undo once when preparing this walkthrough, and I’m supposedly the expert around here, so don’t be afraid to go back a couple of steps. It’ll spare you a lot of headaches later.

Next we are going to need to create partitions for Linux to use. Under “Pick a task,’ click on “Create a new partition.’


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The Create New Partition wizard starts. Click Next.

The first partition we are going to create is a small one, around 100 MB. For specific technical reasons it must be located at the beginning of the disk. Maybe I’ll go into them later, but for now the important thing is that we need a small partition at the beginning of the disk.


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PartitionMagic wants to know if we want to create the new partition before the existing partition (which will cause the existing partition to be moved) or after the existing partition. Because the partition we need here should be at the beginning of the disk, click Before C: in the list, and then click Next.


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The partition we are creating only needs to contain the most critical Linux boot files, such as the kernel and the boot loader. A good size is 100 MB. You can make it smaller, but you may receive warnings or errors during the Linux installation if you do. Enter 100 in the Size field.

This partition must be a primary partition, rather than a logical partition. Change the Create as field to Primary.

Finally, change the File system type field to Linux Ext3. PartitionMagic will then nicely format the partition for you. We don’t necessarily need it formatted right now, but we do need it to be something other than a Windows partition.


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You will always see this message. On some older versions of Windows, they would fail to boot if not located near enough to the beginning of the disk as well. If you’re using Windows XP on a modern computer, this is very unlikely to affect you, but if you’re using an older computer (such as Pentium III or older) it could be an issue. Before going forward, see if your computer manufacturer has a BIOS update which may prevent the problem.


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PartitionMagic then confirms the operation. Notice the size has changed to 102 MB. It’s not important the numbers be exact, and you can’t make them exact anyway, due to the structure of the hard drive itself. It’s only important that things are approximately as you intended. Yours may say 97, or 103, or something close to 100. This looks just about like what I asked for, so click Finish.


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PartitionMagic has updated its display to show both pending actions. Now we’re almost done, just one more partition to fill up all that unused space there. Click on “Create a new partition’ one more time.


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Here we go again! This time we’re going to create a single large partition for Linux to fill up all that remaining space there. We will actually be removing this partition later, when we go to install Linux, but for now it will act as a placeholder. Click Next.


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This time we will create the partition “After C:’ and use up all the remaining unallocated space on the disk. Click on After C: and then click Next.


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PartitionMagic can take space from existing partitions to create the new partition. We don’t want to do this because we’ve already resized the existing partition and created the new partition the way we want it. Remove the checkmarks from all of these boxes here, and then click Next. In this way, PartitionMagic will only use the unallocated space, which is what we want.


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Now we get to set up the partition. Leave the Size as is, and all of the space will be used. But be sure to change Create as to Primary, and change File system type to Linux Ext3, as shown. Once you’re ready, click Next.


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This is what our hard drive is going to look like! Again, if things look completely wrong here, go back and fix them. Otherwise, click Finish. We’re almost done!


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This is what our drive will look like once we’re done here. Double check everything to make sure it seems to be in order. These partitions look exactly like what I was going for, so now it’s time to make things happen! Now, click Apply in the lower left.


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PartitionMagic wants to confirm that you are really ready to apply the changes and didn’t just hit the Apply button by mistake. We’re ready, so click Yes.


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Windows will need to be restarted for the changes to be applied. Once everything is done, you should create new Windows XP emergency disks. What? You never did that? Shame on you! Anyway, click OK, and once we’re done, you can go back and make new Windows XP emergency disks.


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Windows is shutting down… It seems to do this a lot. And never when it’s convenient for me.


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Now Windows is starting up again, but it’s going to do something a little different this time…


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PartitionMagic has started and is ready to make the requested changes to your hard drive. This is your last chance to quit. If you don’t quit now, you will need to leave the computer running during the entire operation, or you risk data loss. That means don’t turn it off, don’t kick over the power cord, get the cats out of the room… maybe you should leave as well. It’s going to take a while.


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The first step is to move and resize your existing Windows partition. This part takes the longest. On my freshly installed system it took 20 minutes. I have seen more extensively used systems on which it took hours. PartitionMagic will rearrange data only to the extent necessary to make the changes to the hard disk partitions. Once it’s done, it would be a good idea to defragment your Windows C: drive.

At this point I recommend you go make lunch. Then go eat it. Feed the cat. Walk the dog. Take a cold shower. It’s hot out there! Maybe by the time you get back, we’ll be ready.


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PartitionMagic then creates the two Linux partitions. This only takes a few seconds.


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PartitionMagic has made the changes and is now rebooting your computer.


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Once Windows restarts, it will detect the new hard drive partitions and put up this mind-boggling dialog. You may as well go ahead and restart your computer (again). But don’t worry, the days of your computer restarting itself whenever it wants are numbered.


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As you can see, the Windows partition has been changed to the 5GB I requested. The Linux partitions, however, are nowhere to be found. This is because Windows can’t read Linux partitions. Don’t worry, they are there, and you’ll see them soon enough.

Now your computer is ready to have Linux installed side-by-side with Windows. I will do the complete walkthrough for this process with Linux (Fedora Core 4) in future articles. Unless you really know what you’re doing, don’t jump too far ahead as there are a couple of gotchas in the Linux installation.

If you do want to get a headstart, you can read through the excellent (but very detailed) Fedora Core 4 Installation Guide. Not everything in it will apply to you. Don’t worry if you get confused; I’ll be back soon to clear everything up.

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Fedora Core 3 Walkthrough Part 2: First Boot, Updates and Security http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2005/02/18/fedora-core-3-walkthrough-part-2-first-boot-updates-and-security/ http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2005/02/18/fedora-core-3-walkthrough-part-2-first-boot-updates-and-security/#comments Sat, 19 Feb 2005 01:01:00 +0000 http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2005/02/18/fedora-core-3-walkthrough-part-2-first-boot-updates-and-security/ ]]> So I finally got my shit together and assembled all the screenshots for Part 2 of the series.

If you recall from Part 1 I installed Fedora Core 3 on a fresh, clean hard drive, showing each step of the process. Now if you did the same, and actually waited all this time to see what happens next, it’s time to boot up your new Fedora Core system!

In this part of the series, I show what happens the first time you boot Fedora Core, along the way answering some readers’ comments and concerns from Part 1. I also show you the first thing you need to do once the system is booted, which is to download and install any available updates. Finally, I show you how to verify your security settings (firewall and SELinux) are still in place.


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The first thing to do is turn on your computer! First your system’s setup will run, and then Linux will start.

This the GNU GRUB boot loader. It will automatically start the latest kernel installed on your system. If you want to interrupt the boot process, for instance to boot to the last known good kernel or to customize the boot options, press a key here. Otherwise, just wait five seconds.


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Immediately afterward, the Linux kernel starts up, and messages will scroll by on screen, showing the status of starting various hardware and services on your computer.


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On most systems the computer will switch to a graphical boot process instead of the text-based process shown here. With certain video cards, you will see the text-based process until the first-time setup completes (below), and upon later reboots you will see the graphical process. The graphical boot process will be shown in Part 3.


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The boot process continues. All services needed for your system to run are started up here. This includes such things as your Ethernet interface, if any, PCMCIA services for laptop computers, mouse services, hardware monitoring, etc. On my system the smartd service has failed, because SMART is a technology for IDE hard drives, and the system being used does not have any IDE hard drives. If any services require an initial setup, they set themselves up when being started for the first time here, such as the SSH server shown.


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Welcome to the Fedora Core Setup Agent! This first-time setup asks you a few questions, finalizes the setup of your new Fedora Core system, and best of all, doesn’t ask you to register with Microsoft or type in any obnoxious serial numbers.

To get started, click Next.


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You do, however, need to be aware of the License Agreement. Most packages included with Fedora Core are licensed under various open source licenses permitting you to use the software freely, and to modify and distribute the software under certain conditions. If you are unfamiliar with open source software, see this article.

I completely agree to using open source software, so I click on I Agree, and then Next.


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The system will now ask you to set the date and time.

If your computer will not be connected to the Internet, then set the date and time and click Next.

However, if you will be connected to the Internet, do not set the date and time here; instead, click Network Time Protocol. I am connected to the Internet, so I click Network Time Protocol.


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The Network Time Protocol configuration appears. To enable NTP, place a checkmark in Enable Network Time Protocol, and remove the checkmark from Use Local Time Source. Several NTP servers have already been configured for you, but if you wish to add another NTP server, you can do so here. Once you are finished, click Next.


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Your computer will then synchronize its clock with the time servers shown. Time servers on the Internet are synchronized against the United States Naval Observatory Master Clock. In short, your clock will always be correct.


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If Fedora Core was able to determine your video card and monitor, they will be displayed here. If you see “Unknown Monitor,’ however, click the Configure button and select your monitor from the list.

If you are not satisfied with the screen resolution automatically selected by Fedora Core, you can change it here. I do not want to use 800×600 on a laptop LCD display capable of 1024×768, so here I have changed it to 1024×768.

You can also change the color depth to provide more available colors on screen. Generally, when you have more available colors, your graphics will look better, but the available colors may be constrained by the video RAM provided by your video card. Though it is not visible here, I have chosen Millions of colors, the best available setting. I then click Next.


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And now it is time to introduce yourself to your computer. This screen allows you to create a user account for yourself. Fill in a short username, starting with a letter and containing no spaces or special symbols, your full name as you would like it to appear, and select a password.

If you need to create more users, e.g. more than one person will use your computer, you will have the opportunity to do so after the system has finished booting.


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If your computer has a sound card, Fedora Core will confirm its installation and will allow you to test it. Click Play test sound, and the system will play a short sample of music. If you are unable to hear anything, ensure that your speakers are connected to the correct port on the sound card, that they are powered on, and that the volume is turned up. When you are ready, click Next.


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Red Hat Enterprise Linux, which is based on Fedora Core, includes additional CDs containing optional software, usually not open source, which you can install. Fedora Core itself has no such CDs, so we will skip this section. I click Next here.


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That was it! Your system is all set up and ready to use. Click Next, and setup is complete. Now that wasn’t so bad, was it?


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After setup completes, Fedora Core will switch to the screen resolution and color depth you selected, and present the login screen. Type the username you selected earlier, and press Enter. Fedora will then ask for your password, so type it in and press Enter again. If you got everything right, you will be logged in!


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Fedora Core is logging me in, starting all of my desktop services, such as removable media controls, printing, update notification (below), the desktop and window manager, and more. Later, as you use your computer more, Fedora can also save any programs you were using the last time you logged out, and restart those programs, usually with the same documents opened, when you log back in.


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This is the default Fedora Core desktop. In the top left is the main menu, followed by quick start icons for commonly used applications. Take a moment and look through the Applications and Actions menu to get a sense of what has been installed with your system. We’ll cover the installed programs in Part 3, but for now, there is something very important we must do first.

Do you see the flashing red ! icon in the upper right? This means that there are updates available for your system. We should install those now, before going much further, so that your system is fully up-to-date and secure with the latest software. Right-click on the icon, and choose “Launch up2date…’ from the menu.


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At this point the system asks you for the root (administrative) password. Updating system software is an administrative process requiring root privilege, so type in the root password you chose during installation. After you do this, an icon of a keyring will appear in the top right, indicating that you have administrative access for any new programs you start. If you start another program requiring root privileges while the keyring icon is shown, you will not be asked for the root password again. This authorization expires after a few minutes, so after the keyring icon disappears, you will again be asked for the root password when needed. (The icon is shown in the next screenshot.)


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The Red Hat update service has its own first-time setup, and there is one thing we should change in the setup to ensure that you receive all critical updates. Click on the Package Exceptions tab at the top.


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The Package Exceptions tab appears. Notice that kernel-* is listed under Package Names To Skip. We definitely do not want to skip kernel updates, as most of these provide critical security updates. Click on it so that it is highlighted as shown, and then click Remove to the right. After it disappears from the list, there should be no exceptions. Then click OK.

The kernel is the absolute core of any Linux system. It provides the most basic services and access to hardware to every program you run on your computer. More information is available.

The kernel is treated specially by Fedora Core; unlike most packages which are replaced with their updates, new kernels are installed alongside the previous ones, so that if for some reason a new kernel fails to start your system, you can interrupt the boot process (see the very first screenshot above) and boot the previous kernel.


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By default, Fedora Core uses digital signatures to verify that packages you download are correct. In order to do this, we need to install the Fedora Core public key, so that the digital signatures can be verified properly. Click Yes to install the key.


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Now Red Hat Update Agent, also known as up2date, starts. Up2date searches for and installs any available updates for programs installed on your system. In addition to updating programs which came with Fedora Core, up2date is also capable of updating programs you download from the Internet; however, this requires some setup beforehand. I will cover how to set this up in a future article.


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Up2date shows the channels from which it will download updates. By default, only the Fedora Core 3 and Updates to Fedora Core 3 channels are shown. As I alluded to above, it is possible to add other channels (or repositories) to your system and install third-party software, or replacements for software included with Fedora Core, from those repositories. I will cover this setup, and why you might want to replace software included with Fedora Core, in a future article.


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Up2date then downloads a list of available updates for each channel. This may take anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes, depending on the speed of your Internet connection, and Internet traffic in general.


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Now up2date presents a complete list of each component which has an available update, as well as the channel from which it will be installed. Usually you will want to update everything. Here I click “Select all packages’ and then click Next.

Don’t worry if there seem to be a large number of components listed, compared to update services for other operating systems. The other operating systems bundle updates for multiple components into single packages, making it appear that there are fewer updates. In Linux, each component can be seen for the separate package it actually is.

You will not be able to view security advisory information or package sizes; these features are intended for Red Hat Enterprise Linux users with support contracts and do not currently work with Fedora Core.


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At this time up2date will check the set of packages selected and ensure that any other packages which are needed by these packages are installed. If any additional packages are required to install the selected packages, up2date will advise you. This step can take a few minutes if you have selected a large number of packages or have a slow Internet connection.


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Up2date begins downloading the packages you have selected for installation. Depending on how many packages you selected, and the speed of your Internet connection, this may take a while. It’s probably time to go get dinner.


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Hey, I told you it was going to take a while! How was dinner? Did you save me any leftovers? It’s still going, so if you’re a hot geek-girl, why don’t we go out and have a few drinks while we wait. If you’re a guy, find your own geek-girl!


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Up2date has finished downloading all of your packages. Click Forward, and the installation will begin.

This is probably my least favorite part of up2date. I would much rather the process simply continue on, rather than waiting for me to acknowledge that all the files were downloaded. Oh well. I find worse things to gripe about in Windows Update every time I’m subjected to it.


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The installation has begun! This also could take a while, depending on the speed of your computer and how many packages you have selected.


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It’s almost done installing your updates!


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Finally, the update process has finished. Every package you selected has been installed. Click Forward to continue.


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Up2date then shows a list of each package and version number of each package that it installed during this session. You can scroll up and down in the list. When you’re done gawking at it, click Finish.

If your updates included an update to the kernel, you will need to restart your computer. Otherwise, you do not need to restart your computer. The first time you run up2date, a kernel update is included, so click Actions, Log Out, and then Restart computer.


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I have returned to the Fedora Core desktop. Notice how the red ! has changed to a blue check mark. This means your system is fully up to date with the latest available software. If you installed all the latest software, but the icon remains a red ! then click once on it, and it will tell you what is wrong. Usually this happens because a kernel update was installed but you haven’t yet restarted the computer. Restart at the soonest available opportunity to ensure you are running the latest kernel.


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And finally, we are going to double-check the security settings on the system before going online or doing anything else. Click Applications, System Settings, then Security Level. The screen shown will appear. Ensure that Enable firewall is selected. If you want users on the Internet to be able to pass through the firewall to access services on your machine, put a check mark in next to the service you wish to pass through the firewall. Do not check any of the Trusted devices or type anything in Other ports unless you know what you’re doing.


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Finally, click the SELinux tab. The screen shown here will appear. Ensure that SELinux is enabled and enforcing, and that the policy type is “targeted.’ The other settings here do not need to be changed. When you are done, click OK.

That’s it! We have successfully set up and brought up to date a Fedora Core 3 system. In the next part of this series, I will cover e-mail, Web browsing, other applications included with Fedora Core, as well as how to install new repositories to gain access to additional software on the Internet. If you want to get a headstart on me, the Web browser and E-mail icons are the first two icons directly next to the Actions menu at the top left. At this point the system is sufficiently updated and secured to begin using. Enjoy your new Linux system!

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Fedora Core 3 Walkthrough Part 1: Installation http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2004/12/23/fedora-core-3-walkthrough-part-1-installation/ http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2004/12/23/fedora-core-3-walkthrough-part-1-installation/#comments Fri, 24 Dec 2004 01:13:00 +0000 http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2004/12/23/fedora-core-3-walkthrough-part-1-installation/ ]]> This is the first of a multiple part series on Fedora Core 3. I put this together in response to a discussion regarding whether Linux, and specifically Fedora Core, is ready for the masses. My response is: I’ll show you and you can decide for yourself. To that end, I’ve included several screenshots and an ongoing narrative explaining the installation process. In future installments I’ll cover starting the system for the first time, keeping the system up to date and secure, as well as the software you get with Fedora Core.

(Click on each screenshot below to see it full-size.)

The first thing you have to do is download Fedora Core. It ships on four CDs, so you will need to download and burn the CD images. On Windows, if your CD burning software is installed correctly, you can just double-click each CD image to begin burning it.


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When you’re ready to install Fedora Core, the first step, of course, is to turn on the computer. You’ll see the usual setup messages, which will look something like this. On some computers, though, you’ll probably see the logo for the manufacturer instead.

If your computer does not automatically start from the CD/DVD drive, press the key for the boot menu. This is usually F12, but it may vary depending on your system. Some systems don’t have a boot menu, but will allow you to change the boot options in the system setup. Check the on-screen messages here or your system manual if you are not sure. If all else fails, call your PC manufacturer’s technical support and ask them how to get the system to boot from a CD.


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If the system booted from the Fedora Core CD, you will see this screen. Most of the time you can simply press ENTER to start the installation. In a few rare cases, you might need to specify options here. If you’re interested, you can hit the F2 through F4 keys for more information and to see what the available options are.

If you press the F5 key, you’ll receive information on rescue mode, which lets you boot a rescue system from the Fedora Core CD. This is analogous to the recovery console in Windows 2000 and XP. You would only use it to repair your system in the extremely rare case that it does not boot at all. I’ll discuss this in a later installment.


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Once you press ENTER to start the installation, some text messages will scroll by on the screen. These represent the Linux operating system looking for essential hardware in your system and preparing to start the installation process. Once your system is fully installed, you won’t normally see these messages. You can safely ignore them, but they are provided in the rare case that Linux is unable to recognize some of your hardware, or detects faulty hardware in your system.

At the point pictured, the system will pause for a few seconds while the first stage of the installation process loads.


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Since you probably downloaded Fedora Core 3 and burned it to CD, Fedora provides a self-test to ensure that your copies of the CDs are good copies. This way you don’t get most of the way through the installation just to find out that the last CD is bad and you need to make another copy.

If you’re really quite certain that the CDs are okay, you can hit TAB then ENTER to skip the tests, but it’s a good idea to test them anyway, just to be sure.


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Once you select OK to test your CDs, the system will prompt you to either test the CD currently in the drive, or eject the CD and insert another one. If you’ve already tested the CD in the drive, you can press TAB then ENTER to eject it and put in another one. Otherwise, just press ENTER, and the CD that is in the drive will be tested.

Since I’ve just started here, I will press ENTER to test CD 1, the disc I booted from.


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The system will then test the CD in the drive. This process takes a few minutes, depending on the speed of your CD/DVD drive. Go refill your coffee mug while you wait.


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Oops! My CD didn’t pass!

I’m in big trouble now. I already deleted the images after I burned them, so if it isn’t something simple like the CD having a smudge on it somewhere, I’m in for another long download. Good thing I found this out now instead of half an hour from now when I’m almost done with the installation.

Fortunately for me, the CD was just smudged, and it passed after I cleaned it.


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At this point the system will eject your CD. If it failed, you should take a moment to clean it, and then retest the CD. If it still fails, it’s a coaster. While you’re here, though, test the other CDs just to be sure, and re-burn any of them that failed testing. Then start over from the top.

Trust me, you’ll see later that double-checking the CDs is a very good idea. Don’t skip this unless you’re willing to take chances.


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Once you’re done testing all your CDs, the next stage of installation will start. You’ll see a few more messages scroll by as the system identifies your video card, monitor and mouse. This process takes a few seconds.

Then the screen will flicker, and…


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The Fedora Core splash screen appears. Isn’t it pretty?

If you’ve gotten this far, you’re in really good shape. Fedora Core has tested your basic hardware and is able to use it successfully. You should have few or no problems with either installing or running Linux, though at this point a few things remain untested (such as dialup modems and printers). I’ll cover these in a later installment.


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Welcome to Fedora Core!

The installer will provide context-sensitive help and information on the left side of each screen during the installation process. Feel free to read through it if you need more information at any time.


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The first thing to do is to choose your default language. Once you choose a language here, the installation will begin using this language, and your Linux system will be configured to use this language by default. You can install additional languages later, or change the default language, if you would like.

At this screen, choose the primary language for the installation. You will choose the default language for the system later.


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At this screen, choose the type of keyboard connected to your computer. If you are not using a U.S. keyboard, it is important to choose the correct keyboard so that non-U.S. characters appear correctly.


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Ah, now the fun starts! And indeed, this is where people start getting confused, so I’ll go slowly and carefully through this process.

At this point, Fedora Core wants to know what to install. There are four basic choices here:

Personal Desktop
This is the installation type which gives you a nice desktop environment from which to do your work, browse the Internet, check email, play games, all the usual stuff you want to do with your home computer.
Workstation
This installation type adds to Personal Desktop by providing additional tools for software development and administration. Unless you plan on developing software or being a Unix administrator, you probably don’t want this type. You would typically use this in a business environment.
Server
This installation type provides a range of Internet services, such as Web service, file sharing, etc. It is intended for business environments, and most home users will want to skip it.
Custom
This installation type lets you choose exactly what to install and provides fine-grained control over the installation process. It is not recommended for first-time users or anyone unfamiliar with Linux. But for those of you who are familiar with Linux or another version of Unix, you might want to try this option.

For this installation, I will choose Personal Desktop. Most people will want to use this option as well. (My slashdot readers will probably want to do Custom, but this is intended for the less IT-inclined, so play along, please.) Regardless of which option you choose, you will be able to install additional packages later.


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Fedora Core now needs to know where to install itself on your hard drive, and whether you are running any other operating systems on the same computer, such as Windows, factors into this process.

Disk partitioning is the process of dividing up the space on a hard drive so that you can install more than one operating system on it. Most computers have been pre-installed with Windows, and partitioned exclusively for Windows. Before you can proceed, you will need to reserve some space for Linux.

Later, you will decide whether to erase any operating system currently on your hard drive, or to install Linux to the free space already on the hard drive.

Most people, especially those not familiar with the technical aspects of disk partitioning, will want to use Automatic partitioning. Here I have chosen Automatic partitioning.


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At this point, Fedora Core provides you three options: You can erase any previous Linux installation on the disk, you can erase everything on the disk, or you can install Linux into the free space on the disk.

If you have no free (unpartitioned) space on the hard drive, you will need to use a tool such as Partition Magic in order to repartition the hard drive so that there is free space available for Linux to take advantage of. Even though Windows may show many GB available on your hard drive, that space is still reserved to Windows, so Linux cannot be installed on it. When you repartition the hard drive using Partition Magic (or another tool), that space no longer “belongs to’ Windows, and Linux can then use it.

When you use these tools, create the free space at the beginning of the hard drive, and do not create any new partitions in the free space. Fedora Core requires about 100 MB of free space at the beginning of the hard drive, so if you are not able to create all of the free space at the beginning of the hard drive, reserve at least 100 MB at the beginning, and the rest of the free space at the end of the hard drive.

If you want to erase everything on the hard drive, choose “Remove all partitions on this system.’ Otherwise, if you used Partition Magic or another tool to repartition your drive, choose “Keep all partitions and use existing free space.’


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Since I want to erase everything on the hard drive, and install only Linux, I chose “Remove all partitions.’ The Fedora Core installer then pops up a warning, stating that ALL DATA will be removed from the drive. And it will be removed. If this isn’t what you wanted, or you selected the wrong option, click No and try again.

Here, I click Yes, since I really did want to erase everything.


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Fedora Core can boot both Linux and other operating systems you may have installed on your hard drive. This lets you switch between Linux and Windows anytime you want, and choose which one to run each time you reboot.

If you have Windows or another operating system installed, it will be listed here in addition to Fedora Core. The system waits four seconds before booting the default operating system, and you can press the Esc key during this time if you want to boot the other operating system.

Most of the options on this page are intended for advanced users, and you can leave them as is. The only option you need to change is whether to boot Fedora Core or your other operating system by default. Since I only have Linux on this disk, I don’t need to make any changes.


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If Fedora Core found an Ethernet card in your computer, you will see the Network Configuration. Most of the time you will not need to make any changes here. The default settings are to obtain an IP address automatically from your Internet service provider. You do not need to change any settings here unless you use a static IP address. If this is the case, click the Edit button and fill in the settings your ISP provides you with your static IP address allocation.


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Fedora Core provides a built-in firewall to protect your computer from outside intrusion. You should normally leave it enabled. However, if you are going to run services such as your own Web server on your computer, you will need to enable them to pass through the firewall here. Advanced users: if you want to run a service not listed, you will be able to enable it later, after the system is installed I will cover this in a later installment of this series.

In addition, Fedora Core provides SELinux, an enhancement to Linux security developed by the U.S. National Security Agency. SELinux provides additional protection against intruders and malicious software.

I want both the firewall and additional SELinux protection, so I leave everything as-is.


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It’s time to install any additional languages you may need with your system. While you are selecting languages, keep in mind that for some languages, not every component included with Fedora Core may be translated to your language, and if no translation is available, U.S. English will be used. Therefore you should always install English (USA), even if you use another language as the default language. You can install as many languages as you like.


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It is time to select the timezone in which your computer is located. The easiest way to do this is to click on the dot nearest to your physical location. You can also scroll through the list, which is sorted by continent and then city, to find the location nearest you in the same time zone.

If Linux will be the only operating system on your computer, place a check mark in the “System clock uses UTC’ box. This improves Linux’s handling of daylight saving time (summer time). If you also run Windows, leave this box unchecked. Windows does not handle daylight saving time in the system clock properly, and so Linux must work around Windows’ behavior.


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The root account, known in the Windows world as Administrator, has complete control over the system. This account should never be used normally. It should only be used when you need to perform an administrative task. You will be prompted to create users later, and I’ll cover that in a later installment. For now, choose a password, and type it into both boxes. When you are using your system and want to perform an administrative task, Fedora Core will ask you for the root password.


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At this point Fedora Core begins reading the list of available software on the CD to determine which packages need to be installed.


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Fedora Core will install the packages shown. The Personal Desktop option provides the GNOME desktop environment, which you’ll see a lot of later, along with OpenOffice.org, a Microsoft-compatible office suite, the Firefox web browser, Evolution email and calendar client, as well as instant messaging, multimedia players, CD burning, and other software. In a later installment I’ll cover the installed software in detail.

If you know of a package you’d like to install that isn’t included, you can click Customize here, and you’ll be prompted to add it. You can also add or remove these packages later, and I’ll show you how in a later installment.

For now, I leave everything as is.


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Fedora Core processes the list of packages to be installed to determine if anything additional needs to be installed. Sometimes a piece of software needs some other component to be installed. Fedora Core automatically finds these components, if any, and adds them in to your installation.


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This is your last chance! Up to now, nothing has actually been written out to your hard drive, so if you’ve changed your mind, the time to quit is now. Once you click Next, the installation will proceed.

When your installation is complete, Fedora Core will create two files, one called install.log which contains a complete list of actions the installer took during this installation, and a file called anaconda-ks.cfg, which advanced users can use to automate an installation with exactly the same options used in this installation. Since these are advanced topics, I won’t be covering them in this series.


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Okay, no, really, this is your last chance. You can choose to reboot here, and nothing will happen. If you click Continue, the installation will begin.

At this point Fedora Core informs you of which CDs you will actually need during the installation process. For a Personal Desktop installation, only the first two CDs are needed. For Workstation and Server installations, the first three CDs are needed, and a Custom installation might require all four CDs.


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Fedora Core formats the / partition. This is where most of your Linux files will reside.

Linux does not have drive letters, and uses forward slashes (/) instead of backslashes () for file/folder paths. Instead, each partition of each hard drive has a name, and resides at some point under /. By default, Fedora Core creates two partitions, known as / and /boot. The / partition, also known as the root partition, is the top of the hierarchy, and everything will be mounted below it.


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Fedora Core formats the /boot partition. This is a second partition which is kept separate on the hard drive from the / partition for increased compatibility with older computers. It is mounted just below / in the filesystem hierarchy.

Later, if you add a hard drive to your system, you can create partitions on the new hard drive, and they will also be mounted under /. For instance, you might make one called /music to store MP3 files. Because Linux does not use drive letters, but rather names, for each partition on each hard drive, you do not have to worry about your programs not working, if you decide to move data from one hard drive to another later.


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Fedora Core is copying the final stage of the installer to the hard drive. It does this for two reasons: First, it will run faster from the hard drive. Second, it will permit the system to change the CD later.


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Fedora Core keeps a database of all the programs you install on the hard drive using RPM. At this time Fedora Core is creating this database and preparing to store information about your installation into it.


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This doesn’t really take several minutes unless you’re on a very old computer. Fedora Core is switching now to the installation image it loaded to the hard drive a short while ago.


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Now the system is building the complete list of everything to be installed and will begin shortly.


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Watch it go! Fedora Core provides details of each individual component being installed, a progress meter so you know how far it has to go, and in a minute or two, it will begin showing an estimate of the time remaining.


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The CD popped out! It’s time to put in Disc 2. We’re halfway there! Take out Disc 1, put in Disc 2, close the CD drive, and click OK. The installation will then finish.

This won’t really take 30 more minutes. It usually runs a lot less than the estimate. Compare to Windows, where the installation usually runs a lot longer than the estimated time.


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The CD popped out again! Take it out and put it in a safe place.

Congratulations! In just a moment, you’ll be a Linux user. Click the Reboot button. The system will restart into your fresh new Fedora Core installation.

In the next installment I will cover the first-boot process, updating your system and keeping it secure, and some nice customizations you might want to try.

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