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How To Install Linux (Page 1/4)

Posted: June 23, 2000
Written By: Keith "Farrel" McClellan


Linux – the tweaker’s greatest hope. As many of you may already know, Linux is just about the most tweakable operating system available – you have control over everything. And when I say everything, I mean everything – if you want to add or remove support for a feature from the kernel, all you have to do is change the source and recompile. Having control over everything your computer does is a refreshing thought – and can be extremely rewarding if everything is done right. And even if it isn’t, we learn from our mistakes, do we not?

In this guide, I am going to describe how to install Linux. The particular distribution I have chosen for this guide is Mandrake 7.0. As far as I’ve been able to tell, it is the easiest to install and set up, and as such it makes my life much easier (and it will your's too, I promise). My purpose with this guide (and the guides on Linux that shall follow) is to provide a free, well written, and easy to understand source for Linux information – hopefully spanning from beginner to expert. Your average Linux expert just doesn’t understand what is so hard to grasp about commands like hdparm -A1 -c1 -d1 -X66 -m16 -u1 -W1 -k1 -K1 /dev/hda (that’s a great tweak if your rig can handle it BTW… heh). Hopefully I will be able to explain some of the jargon in more…understandable terms. Before I jump into this though, by the definition of the ‘Linux-world’ I still classify myself as a newbie and any mistakes herein should be taken as such. I have had other, more skilled, Linux users read over this text, however, so hopefully this won’t be an issue.


Before you even think about installing Linux, you need to find out a few things. Make sure you have a notebook handy to write down this information. You will need to know the following:

- Modem Specifics: Type, COM port
- Network Specifics (if any): Type of network, IP Address (DHCP?), make/model of NIC, etc.
- Video Card Make/Model
- Sound Card Make/Model
- Amount of System RAM
- Which hard drives are plugged into which IDE channels (or if you are using SCSI, what address they are using)
- CD/DVD-ROM drive make/model
- Anything else you think might be important (Other hardware settings, etc). This includes ISP settings (DNS server stuff, etc).

Also, make sure all of your ‘necessities’ are compatible with Linux. Winmodems will not work with Linux (at least most won’t – there are a few that have passable beta drivers, such as the Lucent Winmodems), and also, many sound cards will not work with Linux. And while sound cards aren’t imperative to an installation, a modem might be – so make sure you either have an external modem installed or a good old-fashioned hardware modem. Just FYI, people with a HPT366 ATA66 controller on their motherboards are likely to be in trouble because Linux Mandrake has a problem with that particular IDE controller – if you have a choice, put all your hard drives on the ATA/33 controllers so that there is not a problem. Another problem you might face later on is 3D acceleration. Many current 3D accelerators aren’t fully supported by Linux, so don’t expect stellar 3D performance unless you are willing to hunt for new drivers and possibly perform other steps after the installation (such as installing Xfree86 4.0 for Nvidia cards…).

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