by March 15, 2002 0 comments

If you believe you’re ready to take on the toughest of tasks–installing Linux–here goes.

In the recent past, PCQuest has carried two distributions of Linux, PCQLinux 7.1 and Caldera Open Linux. We will look at installing both. In both cases, we will assume that you will do the installation on a PC that already has Windows installed and running on a single partition. 

Before you start the installation, you should read the preceding article Preparing Your Hard Disk for Linux, page 58, and prepare your hard disk as described there. Once you read that, come back and proceed from here.

Installing PCQLinux
As in the case of a Windows installation, you start off by boot from the PCQLinux CD1 (given with PCQuest July 2001 issue). Press Enter on the first screen to start the graphical installation. The installation wizard asks you questions about your basic hardware, which is no different from when installing Windows. Go for the defaults for Language Selection, Keyboard Configuration and Mouse Configuration. For the Install Type choose Custom System. This is similar to the Custom Settings option for a Windows installation, letting you choose what all you want installed. 

No memory? Swap It

We all know that PCs need RAM. Typically we have 64 MB, 128 MB or 256 MB of physical RAM. While working on the we may open a lot of applications–office apps, graphic apps, MP3 player, browser, instant messengers. All these occupy some part of the physical RAM. Not to be forgotten, the OS itself may be one of the biggest memory-hungry applications. So what if all the physical RAM gets exhausted by the running applications and then you launch your favorite 3D modeling tool, which requires another 10MB of RAM. 
Should the computer refuse to load the application saying that there is no more memory left? Luckily it does something better. It makes use of what is called the swap space. The OS handles the swap space. It frees up a part of the memory which is not currently used (may be by an idle application) by copying its contents to the hard disk, on the swap partition. The swap space is called virtual memory in Windows, and is created using a virtual memory file. When you install Linux, you create a swap partition to do this swapping. You could also use swap files in place of a swap partition, but the partition method is considered to be more efficient.

The reason we are recommending a custom system is that there are some issues related to partitioning when installing Linux on a machine with Windows preinstalled. Going for a
custom system, allows us to have control over the partitioning schema. Subsequently, select Manually partition with Disk Druid. 

Disk Druid = MS Fdisk
As covered in the article Preparing Your Hard Disk for Linux we now come to creating partitions for Linux. Click on Add and from the Partition Type drop-down list select Linux swap. For the Size choose the following.
If you have less than 128 MB RAM, enter 256.

If you have 128 MB RAM or more, enter twice the amount of RAM you have. So, if you have 256 MB RAM, enter 512.

Clicking on OK will create what is called a Swap space. This step is unique to Linux because in Windows, a swap space is created automatically during installation, within the same drive. (See the box No Memory? Swap It) 

Now, in the case of Windows when you create a Primary partition using MS Fdisk, this partition is automatically designated as C:. When you format C: you get C:\ (root directory in C:). Our next step will be to create the equivalent of C:\ in Linux. In layman lingo, we can say that C:\ in Linux is “/”. Remember that Linux uses backslashes (/) in directory paths unlike Windows, which uses forward slash (\). 

To create ‘/’, click on Add again. For Mount Point (drive letter) enter ‘/’. For Size enter the size, in MB, you want to allocate to Linux or check the option Use remaining space to use all the unpartitioned free space. The latter option is similar to the Fdisk option Do you wish to allocate the maximum available size. From the Partition Type drop-down list select Linux native. 

Finally, click on Ok. In the next section, simply check all the check boxes and click on next to format the created partitions. So far, we have created and formatted partitions for Linux. 

Linux Loader
We come to Lilo Configuration section. Lilo (LInux LOader) is a piece of software that allows you to choose between booting into Linux or Windows. If you install Win 9x with Win NT/2k/XP, while booting you are given the choice of booting into Win9x or NT/2k/XP. Lilo for Linux accomplishes the same task, when Linux is installed along with other OSs on the same machine. Make sure that the Install LILO option is checked (if you have Windows also installed, that is). To create a boot disk, similar to Windows startup disk, select the option

Create boot disk. 
During Win NT/2k/XP installation, the Windows boot loader gets automatically installed in the MBR (Master Boot Record). With Linux you must explicitly state where to install Lilo. Select the option /dev/hda Master Boot Record for ‘Install LILO boot record on:’. The following options in Lilo Configuration allow you to select which OS should be loaded by default. You can change this after Linux installation by editing a file named lilo.conf, which corresponds to the boot.ini file in Windows. 

Native partition

A Linux native partition has a filesystem called Ext2, a Linux file system. In the case of a Windows native partition, the filesystem is FAT. MS Fdisk always creates a Windows native partition. Using Disk Druid you can also create Windows native partitions by selecting DOS 16bit >-32M for Fat32 or DOS 16-bit < 32M for Fat16. 

Next in installation is Configuration–network, time zone, user accounts, graphics card, etc. The inputs for network configuration are straightforward. The Hostname refers to a FQDN (fully qualified domain name), like test.pcqlabs .net, to facilitate TCP/IP networking. Since Linux machines may run as servers the installation wizard allows you to set up a firewall. For the time being, for Firewall Configuration select No firewall. You can set up a firewall anytime after the installation. Leave Language Selection and Time Zone Selection at their defaults. 

In account selection, you must set up the password for root user on Linux. A root user on Linux is similar to administrator user on Win NT/2k/XP. Unlike in Win9x, to get into the Linux machine they must always supply a username and the corresponding password. The bottom half in Account Configuration allows you to create additional user accounts and is optional. Linux is a multi-user and also a server operating system. Hence security is a prime concern. Through the section Authentication Configuration we can select the type of authentication for local and network security. The defaults are fine and you can proceed further. 

What to install
Now comes Package Group Selection. This is similar to selecting multimedia, networking, accessories etc, components in Windows during a custom install. We recommend selecting Printer Support, X Window System, GNOME, KDE, Mail/WWW/News Tools, DOS/Windows Connectivity, Graphics Manipulation, Games, Multimedia Support, Networked Workstation, Dialup Workstation, SMB (Samba) Server (for sharing files with Windows machine), IPX/Netware Connectivity (for sharing with Netware machines), Authoring/Publishing, Development, Kernel Development, Utilities and Documentation. As per your requirements feel free to include or exclude a package group. But do include Development and Kernel Development. This is because it’s very usual to find Linux application in the source code form and you must compile them using the development tools (see Installing, upgrading and removing applications in Linux, page xxx). The Kernel Development package group is required for recompiling the kernel (see Why Recompile the Kernel?, page 55). You will not be doing these tasks immediately, but some day, you may want to. When you select a package group say Multimedia Support, pre-selected multimedia packages (applications) are installed. This may not necessarily include all the multimedia packages available with PCQLinux. Click on ‘Select individual packages’ if you want to see what packages are available. In this case clicking on Next will show a Windows Explorer tree like structure where you can select the individual packages.

Clicking on a package name shows its description in the bottom pane. 

Desktop on Linux
Next comes the X Configuration section. Refer to the box The X Word, page 34. To have a Linux graphical desktop, like the Windows desktop, on Linux you must set up your graphics card and monitor correctly in this section. 

Note. You might face trouble with some unsupported (by PCQLinux) graphics card especially SiS 6215c. It may happen that you may have to install Linux through the text mode. The text mode has the same installation options as the graphics mode. To configure this card after installation, refer to sis.html page on this month’s CD in

Desktop environment

A desktop environment includes how the windows and dialog boxes look , their behavior when dragged, closed minimized etc, how menus pop up and other such things. With Windows you have a desktop–the Windows desktop. Linux provides you a choice. Two of the most feature rich desktops for Linux are KDE and GNOME. 

This section is where we install the proper drivers for our graphics card. Like Windows, PCQLinux also comes with drivers for a number of graphics cards. In most cases your graphics card will be detected and the correct model will be highlighted. If not, look for your graphics card model in the listed, supported graphics card. Sometimes the amount of video RAM on the graphics card may be reported incorrectly. You can find out the correct amount of video RAM when your machine boots up or through the graphics card manual. Select the correct amount of Video RAM from the drop-down list. Clicking on Next brings up the Monitor Configuration section.

As with the previous section, your monitor will most likely be detected. If not select your model from the list. If you cannot find your monitor’s model there are two solutions. If you have your monitor manual handy, fill in the horizontal and vertical sync frequency range. 

Second solution. Select a Generic model. You may go for Generic Non-Interlaced SVGA, 1024×768 @ 60 Hz, 800×600 @ 72 Hz. 

The next section Customize Graphics Configuration is similar to setting the display settings in Windows. For the default desktop select

For the login type, choose Graphical. This will launch KDE desktop on startup. 

Now sit back as PCQLinux copies files to the hard disk. The installation finishes with the creation of a boot floppy–if you had opted for it during the Lilo configuration. The installation wizard will reboot the machine. You will be shown a snap of a Penguin (Tux, the Linux mascot) along with a menu for selecting the OS to boot into. On selecting Linux (after a massive flow of text, that you can more or less ignore if nothing goes wrong) you will be shown a graphical login prompt. Enter root for login and its password. Press on Go! and you are on. 

Shekhar Govindarajan

Install Caldera OpenLinux Workstation 3.1

First, setup your hard disk according to the article Preparing Your Hard Disk for Linux, page 58. Boot from the Caldera Linux CD (given on CD with PCQuest December 2001) and press enter for selecting Standard Install Mode. You will be dropped into the Caldera Linux graphical installation wizard called Lizard. Select English as the language. Usually the mouse is detected correctly. The keyboard configuration can be left at defaults. If you are lucky, your graphics card will be detected automatically and you just have to press Next to proceed. If not, select your graphics card model from the drop-down list. On the next screen, select your monitor model or if your monitor isn’t listed, fill in its specification (horizontal, vertical freq. etc), which can be found in the manual that comes with your monitor. If you don’t have the manual select a settings from among typical monitor settings. Next select a resolution and depth, which will be used for the X (graphical, windows of Linux) session. 

Then pops up the screen where you select where to install Caldera Linux. Go for the option Select entire hard disk if you want to install Caldera on the entire hard disk. Go for Free disk space, if you want Caldera to co-exist with Windows. If you have selected the first option, click the button Prepare selected disk for Linux and in case of the second option, click on the button Use free space for Linux in the next presented screen. When prompted for the type of installation you can go for a minimum, recommended or all package (applications) installation. The frame on the right shows what packages get installed for each type. You can check the Refine Selection check box to further customize the choice of packages. 

Once done, the installation wizard starts copying the files on the hard disk. Select the root (administrator) password, and a login name and password for a normal user. If you have a network card plugged in, select to pick up configuration from a DHCP server (if you are running one in your network), else manually fill in the IP address, netmask and gateway. For example,, and respectively. If your machine is directly connected to the Internet (like in dialup), the gateway address will be same as the IP address. Specify a hostname like and name servers like and (the VSNL name servers). In the following screen to set up the boot loader, check mark the option labeled Write master boot record. Select the model of your modem (if you have one) and the serial port it is connected to. In Linux, /dev/ttys0, /dev/ttys1 and /dev/ttys2 stand for com1, com2 and com3 respectively. For the initialization string you may use AT&FX1. 

Next comes the printer setup. Select the model of printer you have from the drop-down list. Similar to serial ports, the parallel ports in case of Linux are named as /dev/lp0 and /dev/lp1 for LPT1 and LPT2 respectively. For the time zone, click near east India in the map to select Asia/Calcutta. When done, you can play Solitaire while Lizard finishes installing the packages.

Finally, you must select the option of creating a rescue floppy disk. Click on the Finish button and you will be dropped into the X window system running KDE2 desktop environment. Type in the username as root and the corresponding password (that you had set during the installation) to log into the system. 

Sanjay Majumder and Shekhar Govindarajan 

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