Originally Published: Tuesday, 2 October 2001 Author: Wayne Bridges
Published to: learn_articles_firststep/General Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Diary of a Newbie (Part 1) - Installing Linux-Mandrake 7.2

Anyone new to Linux may have some apprehension when it comes to getting started with the operating system. This article will help the reader through a logical first step, installing the popular Linux-Mandrake 7.2 distribution.

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Having "grown up" within the PC realm by making the standard progression from DOS to Windows 3.1 to Windows 95/98 and then to NT, I was cautious (perhaps even frightened) when it came to taking a first step into the Linux world. I am a support professional by trade and develop web applications as a hobby, so this foray into Linux served as both a means of expanding my skill set and a possible escape from the hundred-dollar-an-application plan to which so many Windows users fall prey.

After talking to coworkers and friends who either had Linux training or who used Linux at home, I decided on the Linux-Mandrake distribution. The following weekend, I popped into my local computer store, got an off-the-shelf copy of Linux-Mandrake 7.2 (as a newbie, I wanted the documentation and install support), and headed home to get started. The looks you receive from other techie customers are alone worth the price of the box. No, no! Please, don't bow!

I decided to install Mandrake on my laptop. After all I'd heard, I knew that the machine, a Pentium 233 with 48MB of RAM and a 4GB hard drive should be an exceptional place to run the experimental (for me, at least) operating system. This machine, like my others, is connected to the internet via a shared cable connection. A secondary reason for putting Linux on the laptop, of course, is that I could easily take it to work so that my friends could see that I've stepped up to the next level of geekdom. My plans were now complete. It was time to begin.

Knowing that my CD-ROM is set up as a boot device on the laptop, I start the installation with the bootable CD instead of using the boot disk. Once the CD starts, I get a screen with the Linux-Mandrake logo which tells me to press Enter to install or upgrade Linux-Mandrake or press F1 for more options. When I press Enter, the menu is replaced by a screen that says "Welcome to Linux-Mandrake." The rest of the screen fills with text so quickly that I cannot read it, then gives way to a screen that says "Starting CD ROM..."

The GUI portion of the installation begins next, with a list box asking me to choose a language. The selection is defaulted to English, so I click OK, which makes this screen go away and then presents me with the license agreement. I accept the agreement and Mandrake then asks if this is an install or an update. Once I click the "Install" button, I get the dialog box "Please wait, Configuring PCMCIA cards."

I am now told "The DrakX Partitioning Wizard found the following solutions: Erase Entire Disk, Use the free space on the Windows partition, or Expert Mode." I choose to erase the entire disk and am presented with the warning "All existing partitions and their data will be lost on drive" and click OK. Once this is done, Linux formats the partition and looks for install packages.

I am now presented with a menu asking which size I want to install. My choices are Minimum (300MB), Recommended (500MB), Complete (800MB), and Custom. I know that I have plenty of disk space, so I take the Complete option.

An install screen now appears, telling me "Please wait, 391 packages", followed by the name of the package currently being installed. This screen also has counters for the "Time Remaining" and "Total Time" along with status bars for each of these. 52 minutes later, including a brief stop to change to the second install CD, the system tells me "Please wait...post-install configuration."

The system next asks how I want to connect to the internet. There are options here for Modem, ISDN, DSL/ADSL, Cable, and LAN. When I choose Cable, Mandrake displays the detected settings. I have the option to change these, but everything looks correct, so I click OK. The next step is choosing a time zone from a list box. I find the appropriate time zone and click OK.

Next, I am prompted to set a root password by entering it twice an clicking OK. Once the root password has been set, I am allowed to enter other users by typing in their real name, user name, password (twice) and choosing an icon for the user. I create two additional accounts for myself and then tell the system I'm done. This displays the message "Please wait, preparing Bootloader."

Mandrake says next that it is preparing the X-Window configuration, which is followed by a brief appearance of the install screen I saw when the packages were being installed.

Choosing a monitor is the next step in the process, and I find a setting which I know the machine will support - High-Frequency SVGA, 1024x768 at 70Hz. When I click OK, I see a screen of penguins tiled on a rainbow-striped background. Mandrake asks if the screen appears as it should. After consulting the documentation to ensure that this is really the way they meant for this screen to appear, I say Yes.

The next screen tells me "I can set up your computer to automatically log on one user. If you don't want to use this feature, click on the Cancel button." The screen has drop-down boxes to select a default user and window manager, but I click Cancel.

Mandrake now presents me with a screen that says "Congratulations, installation is complete. Remove the boot media and press Return to reboot. For information on fixes which are available for this release of Linux-Mandrake, consult the errata available from http://www.linux-mandrake.com. Information on configuring your system is available in the post-installation chapter of The Official Linux-Mandrake User's Guide."

Overall, this install process has been at least as simple as an installation of Windows 98 or Windows 2000, without all the annoying reboots. I have grown, within the last 90 minutes, from a complete nobody in the Linux world to someone who can install the OS (this distribution, at least). This is indeed a very small first step, but a vital one for any newbie.

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