Posting this out to the list to get some eyes over it before I put it
onto the site. Given the general silence I am assuming no news is good
news and haven't asked Ken to pull the previous 2 pieces he's now
included on the site!
I guess if no-one responds about this either I will assume it is ok and
put it up.
I want to linkify this lot up a bit more, but in some places I want to
write what it's linking to (or put in place holders that someone else
might fill in) and the occasional time I want to put in external links.
Now I have figured out again how to get in and make the changes myself
on the site perhaps I'll do more of this sort of thing.
For example I want to put/link in some good simple examples for grub and
lilo multi-booting, including using a rescue disk to boot up and edit
their configs and update the boot record. I'd also like to have the
examples of using the NT loader or loadlin. If anyone knows some great
sources we should use ... Anyone know about (don't laugh as much as I
am) using the Windows ME boot loader to boot Linux (didn't ME kill dos
and hence loadlin)? And what about OSX or Solaris or ... ?
Comments on style, content and slepping and grammer as always welcome
:-) And plenty expected, unlike the none I've recieved on the first
lot (well sorry, have gotten some comments from Ken now), something
makes me doubt I am writing perfect pieces :-)
I am proposing this replaces the section on boot floppies at the top,
which could be moved into a seperate section as the basic idea of the
advice is still valid (though it needs an overhaul).
Next stop "The Install Process" and then I'll be through the first
stage, the general background type info. Of course I'd be delighted if
someone beats me to it :-) Just let me know if your having a crack at
it so I don't start at it before you post! Not sure when I'll get to it ...
Snap if anyone wants to propose a new outline for the guide, even if it
needs many pieces written. Linux has changed since 1999/2000 when most
of this was written, lots of the guidance on setting up hardware is (or
should be) irrelevant. A section on connecting to networks would be
nice (modem, isdn, dsl, ethernet). The command line stuff .... what's
there I'm sure is still valid, it could probably do with some more
extension like perhaps a guide to simple editors (i.e. how to find one
and how to use them, things like pico which are just plain less cryptic
for a gui user stuck at a terminal trying to edit lilo.conf) or mounting
disks, images, partitions etc.
Hardware issues which would be relevant may include sata drives, raid
controllers (and not really raid controllers), ati and nvidia binary
video drivers, usb dsl, softmodems, wireless ...
A section on downloading and burning iso images under various OS would
also be valuable (can you use wget and cdrecord on OSX? if so would that
cover all bases in one document, I know it does windows no problem).
Even a general guide to burning cd/dvd disks under linux would be good
(a pointer to k3b, a few tips through the _key_ jargon and some cdrecord
lines for buring cd/dvd data, audio, video).
Some security pages on using a firewall (perhaps as part of the
networking section), file permissions and getting security updates?
Just installing new software alone could be a section, even if it's just
a couple of screenshots and command lines for each different distro to
show you how to get started, though this could branch of into a few
A section on using a basic desktop would be nice also, just so people
don't feel scared off by only seeing how to rename files at a command line!
I would love to see a page on distributions, to help new users choose
one for their desktop (home primarily)! Would anyone like to make
pitches for different distros for new users, perhaps we can whittle it
down to a list with some strengths and weaknesses (or costs) for each?
The bottom line is always the Freedom of choice for the user so lets
outline the options (as they stand).
I'm sure lots of you could see things there, even if you don't feel you
can write it yourself, put the idea out there, perhaps someone will sit
down and do it! If you see something you reckon you can handle, give
it a go!
Niall "wik-wik-wikitty" Walsh
If you want to run Linux on your computer, first you are going to have
to learn how your computer chooses what operating system to run, so you
can make it run Linux.
When your computer is powered on, the bios (basic input/output system)
takes control of your computer. The relevant fact for us now about the
bios is that it decides where to look for software on the computer and
what order to look at these places in. Usually computers will look to
the hard disc for the software they will run, though often they will
also check for a floppy disk, cd/dvd, network connection or flash memory
which can be used to start the computer. Usually when you are
installing an Operating System on to your computer, you will boot up
from an installation cd/dvd to perform the installation, so your bios
will need to be setup to check the cd/dvd before the hard disk. If you
want to try out a LiveCD version of Linux, you will also need to have
your bios setup similarly.
If you are planning on installing Linux or running a LiveCD, you may be
lucky and already find that your computer will boot from the cd/dvd
drive. There is no harm in trying to put the cd in and then restarting
your computer, if it starts up as normal then you will need to check and
probably change the bios, if you see some new massages (probably
mentioning Linux somewhere) then you can leave the bios alone and
continue on to install Linux or try out that cd.
To check or change the setup in your bios, you will need to restart your
computer, and press a key to enter the setup function, before it starts
to load any operating system. Usually you will need to press F1, F2,
Escape or Delete, if there are no messages on the screen to tell you
what to press (or if they go to fast to read them) you may have to
consult your motherboard or computer manual. Once you enter the bios
setup, you should look for instructions on how to use the setup, and
ensure you do not save any changes you did not mean to make, as this
could prevent your computer from booting up properly. Generally you
will be looking for an option called "boot order" or similar and here
you should have the chance to ensure the computer will check the cd/dvd
drive before the hard disk. If you have to change the boot order, you
will need to save your changes before you leave the bios setup (there is
usually a "save and exit" option which will ask you to confirm that you
want to make the changes). If you are unsure ask a friend to help!
When your bios is starting up the software on your computer, what it
actually does is attempt to get a small piece of code, called a boot
loader from each place it has been told to look, one at a time, in
order. It uses the first copy of the information it finds to start
loading software on to the computer. When the bios comes to look at
hard disks for a boot loader, it looks at the very start of the disk, a
space on the disk called the master boot record or mbr. Unless you
have scsi hard disks (and if you don't know what this means assume you
don't) then the bios will actually just check for an mbr on the "first"
hard disk (the master disk on the first controller to be more precise).
If you only have one operating system installed on your computer, all
the software in the mbr needs to do is start that system. If you have
multiple Operating Systems installed on your hard disk(s) then this mbr
needs to offer you a way to choose between them and then start them
up. When you are installing Linux, you will usually be given the
chance to install grub or lilo as your boot loader, and also the chance
to make a boot floppy (to use this your bios would need to check for
floppy disks to boot from before the hard disk). Both grub and lilo
will happily start other operating systems, and many Linux distributions
will set this up automatically and so the recommended approach is to
install one of these into the mbr. Alternatively you can install lilo
or grub to the same partition as Linux (and NOT the mbr) and make the
Windows NT/2000/XP boot loader offer a choice to start Linux. Finally
on Windows 95/8 you can use loadlin to start Linux from dos.
Always remember that if your computer is set to boot first from a
removable device (cd/dvd or floppy) then it will always boot from this
device if it can, so you will normally want to ensure there is no
bootable disk in the drive when you start the computer. When you are
finished installing Linux, or using a LiveCD, you should remove the
cd/dvd from the drive before restarting your computer, letting your
system boot up normally from the hard disk. Keep the disk safe though
as in the event of a problem with your computer, you know have a rescue
disk you can use to boot up and fix problems.
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