Originally Published: Thursday, 3 June 1999 Author: David Apfelbaum
Published to: featured_articles/Featured Articles Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Dave's Diary, Entry 1: Acquiring Red Hat Linux 5.2

I think we need to start at the beginning: acquiring and installing Red Hat Linux 5.2. I've chosen Red Hat over the other Linux distributions because, well, I like it. I've chosen version 5.2 for this because, in my opinion, it's somewhat more stable than Red Hat 6.0. Now if you're just playing around, you'll have no problems using the latest and greatest stuff. But if you're just starting out--or, like me, if you use your systems for work--you may want to lag the leading edge by a bit in favor of increased stability. It's also much easier to find the answers over on Deja.com when somebody else has already solved the problems.

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I think we need to start at the beginning: acquiring and installing Red Hat Linux 5.2. I've chosen Red Hat over the other Linux distributions because, well, I like it. I've chosen version 5.2 for this because, in my opinion, it's somewhat more stable than Red Hat 6.0. Now if you're just playing around, you'll have no problems using the latest and greatest stuff. But if you're just starting out--or, like me, if you use your systems for work--you may want to lag the leading edge by a bit in favor of increased stability. It's also much easier to find the answers over on Deja.com when somebody else has already solved the problems.

I'm not sure if you need to be told where to acquire Linux. These days, I keep expecting the clerk at McDonald's to ask if I want Linux with my fries.

A lot of people expect to buy linux at a computer store. And the computer store guys will happily tell you that you "need" to buy the official Red Hat system (for US$40) because it contains the "manuals". Keep in mind that these are the same twits that have told folks: (1) A 400 Mhz processor would provide plenty of storage space for all their application software; (2) A 64 Meg RAM upgrade would improve their Internet access time; and (3) that Linux was dead because Corel has bought out Linux. Used car salesman by any other name.

That said, I don't know if the manuals will help you or not. My Red Hat 4.2 manual, which like an idiot I bought, was a useless piece of junk. Your mileage may vary. The manuals do seem to have improved considerably.

Of course, you can also get the Red Hat 5.2 manual off Red Hat's Web site. And some distributions bundle the manuals on their CDROM.

If you do choose to buy an "official" commercial distribution from a company like Red Hat, you will find it includes installation support for a period of time. (30 days telephone. 90 days email/fax. Red Hat Linux 5.2 and Red Hat Linux 6.0.) This is what you are really paying your money for. The ability to call them up and ask questions! Also, commercial distributions sometimes bundle a few commercial software applications. Nothing you absolutely need. But it's there. (MetroX sticks out as being occasionally useful for laptops... But that's the only thing I can think of.)

Alternatively, you can download Linux off the Internet. If you're using a phone-modem, forget it--that would take days. With ADSL, cable modems, or a direct (faster) network connection you can perform a network install. (Choose "anonymous ftp install" instead of "local CDROM install" when prompted.) See a list of Red Hat mirrors that support anonymous ftp access. Alternatively, just copy the directory tree down and burn your own CDROM. Or borrow a Linux disk and burn your own copy. After all, as long as you don't copy the commercial stuff, copying Linux CDs is completely legit!

If you don't want to burn your own CDROM, or you don't have access to a CDROM burner, there are a number of companies that will do this for you. I've used CheapBytes myself. It tends to run about US $2, plus another US $5 for shipping and handling. This provides you with just the binaries. If you want, you can also buy the source disk (for another US $2). But I usually just download whatever sources I need when I need them.

(Addendum: Cheapbytes is sold out of Red Hat 5.2. *SIGH* Nothing is easy. LinuxMall still has them in stock in CD online and boxed set. But as of Monday, June 1st 1999, they only had 800 copies of their $1.89 disks left. Watch out for the shipping and handling charges!)

Whatever you decide to do, be sure you get the Intel/i386 version if you are planning to install Linux on a PC. (There are also Alpha versions of Red Hat for the DEC Alpha chip and Sparc versions of Red Hat for Sun boxes.)





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