Originally Published: Thursday, 19 April 2001 Author: Wayne Bridges
Published to: learn_articles_firststep/General Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Getting Started with Linux-Mandrake 7.2

Wayne Bridges, a Linux newbie, shows us how simple it is to install Linux in this short story. Part 1 of 2.

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Having "grown up" with the PC 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 had used Linux at home, I decided on the Linux-Mandrake distribution as the most user friendly. 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 alone are worth the price of the box!


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, with plenty of performance. (A secondary reason for putting Linux on the laptop, of course, is that I could then easily take it to work so that my friends could see that I've stepped up to the next level of geekdom!) My plans now complete, it was time to begin.

Knowing that my laptop CD-ROM was set up correctly as a boot device in the BIOS, I started the installation with the bootable CD instead of using the boot disk. Once the CD starts, I got a screen with the Linux-Mandrake logo which told me to press Enter in order to install or upgrade Linux-Mandrake. When I pressed Enter, the menu was replaced by a screen that said "Welcome to Linux-Mandrake." The rest of the screen filled 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 began 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 asked if this is an install or an update. Once I click the "Install" button, I got the dialog box "Please wait, Configuring PCMCIA cards."

I waited.

Soon I was 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 was presented with the warning "All existing partitions and their data will be lost on drive". I click OK. Once this is done, Linux automatically formats the partition and looks for install packages.

I was then presented with a menu asking which size I wanted to install. My choices are Minimum (300MB), Recommended (500MB), Complete (800MB), and Custom. I knew that I had plenty of disk space, so I took the Complete option.

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

Connecting to the Internet

The system next asked how I wanted to connect to the Internet. There are options here for Modem, ISDN, DSL/ADSL, Cable, and LAN. When I chose Cable, Mandrake displayed the detected settings it found by automatically probing my system. I had the option to change these settings, but everything looked correct, so I clicked OK. The next step was choosing a time zone from a list box. I found the appropriate time zone and click OK.

Next, I was prompted to set a root password by entering it twice and clicking OK. Once the root password had been set, I was allowed to enter other users by typing in their real name, user name, password (twice) and choosing an icon for the user. I created two additional accounts for myself and then told the system I was done. Next, Linux told me: "Please wait, preparing Bootloader".

Mandrake then installs 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 found a setting that I know the machine will support (because I looked in the user manual): High-Frequency SVGA, 1024x768 at 70Hz. When I clicked OK, I see a screen of penguins tiled on a rainbow-striped background. Mandrake asked 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 clicked Cancel.

Installation Complete

Mandrake now presented me with a screen that said "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 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. It was much easier than I expected. 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 anybody. If I can get it to work, then so can you. In the next article of this series we'll take a look at the KDE Desktop enviroment that comes with Linux-Mandrake 7.2 and explore some of the applications available to you there.

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