Installing Linux Mandrake 7.2

This month we provide Linux Mandrake 7.2 on one of the PC World cover CDs. Housed on a single CD, this is the latest version of a feature-rich Linux distribution.

Linux Mandrake is the ideal distribution for people wanting to try Linux for the first time. The installation procedure is very easy to follow and once the distribution is installed there are a variety of graphical applications and configuration utilities to use. Included applications like KOffice, with its spreadsheet and word processing components, will enable you to use Linux productively. Setting up your Internet connection can be done during the installation and Netscape is provided for Web browsing.

BEFORE YOU BEGIN: be sure to back up your system and do not attempt this installation on a computer that is being used for mission-critical purposes. This installation procedure is for Windows 9x and not Windows NT/2000.

Step 1: Beginning the installation Insert the CD into the CD-ROM drive and reboot. If your PC does not have a bootable CD-ROM drive, insert the CD while in Windows and select "Create boot diskette" from the screen that appears automatically. Select the cdrom.img file from the images directory on the CD (probably D:) and with a blank floppy in the drive, click on "Write".

To create a boot disk under Linux, insert a blank floppy disk, mount the Linux Mandrake CD and execute: cp /mnt/cdrom/images/cdrom.img /dev/fd0

You will then have a boot floppy to start the installation.

Step 2: Start choosing your options Once you have booted into the installation you will see a screen with the Linux Mandrake logo on it. Pressing will start the installation and you will be required to answer questions along the way.

First, choose your preferred language and the class of installation. If you are a first-time user, select the "recommended" class of installation.

Step 3: Partitioning The Mandrake partitioning tool will then give you the option of removing Windows (do NOT select this unless you want to erase Windows from your computer), using the free space on the Windows partition, or expert mode. If you would like to decide the amount of space dedicated to Linux then select "expert mode". All the partitions on your hard drive will then be displayed. If you have only Windows installed on your computer, you will see only one blue bar. Click on the Windows partition and then select "Resize". For beginners, it is recommended that you designate approximately 2-3GB for Linux. Shrink your Windows partition accordingly by entering the new size in MB. When this is done, a white block will appear on the partition table. This is the free space you just created. Click on the free space and select "Create" to add a Linux partition. You will need to add at least two partitions for Linux: one "Linux swap" partition and one "Linux native" partition. To add a swap partition, enter a size in MB of double your RAM, to a maximum of 128MB: for example, if you have 64MB or 128MB of RAM then you should have a 128MB swap partition.

Next, add a "Linux native" partition which can be the size of the remaining free space. Click on the free space, select "create" and enter the size of the partition (which is the amount originally designated to Linux less the allocated swap space). Then set the mount point as / or "root". You should now see three partitions on the main bar.

When you are confident that your partition table is as described, select "done" and the new partitions will be formatted. If you are unsure, select "undo" and the original partition table will be restored. When you are finished partitioning, select the complete installation size of 1200MB to take advantage of all the software on the CD. The package (software) installation will then proceed. When the installer prompts you for the second (or extensions) CD, select "cancel". Leave the CD in the drive.

Step 4: System configuration If you will be accessing the Internet with a dial-up modem connection, you can configure it during the installation. Follow the steps by answering the questions asked about your modem and dial-up account details. The necessary networking software will then be installed.

Configuring the time zone and a printer (if connected) are the next steps, and is straightforward. Setting the root password and adding a user account follow. Make sure that you select a root password that is difficult to guess, and do not forget it. Any user account you add should be used for everyday computing tasks, while the root account should be used for system administrative changes.

Step 5: Final necessities It is a good idea to create a boot disk when the option presents itself. This will allow you to boot into Linux if the bootloader is unable to.

Finally, the X Windows configuration is done automatically and is tested. If the penguins appear correctly on the screen then X has been configured properly. If not, select "no" and you will be given the option to adjust the settings.

The system will then reboot and give you the option to use either Linux or Windows.

When you boot into Linux you will be greeted with a log-in screen. Here you need to enter the username you chose during the installation and your password. You can also choose which graphical interface to use. KDE is ideal for new Linux users as it has a similar look and feel to Microsoft's Windows.

IN CONCLUSION Linux Mandrake makes the plunge into Linux very smooth and will help any new user quickly take advantage of the many applications the operating system has to offer. As well as the Mandrake 7.2 CD provided, Mandrake offers additional products, including extension CDs, from its Web site at www.linux-mandrake.com.

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Rodney Gedda

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