Linux Install Fest 1998 - Installer's HOWTO

OK, so you've decided that you want Linux installed on your system, and you're prepared to lug your machine down to the Install Fest... Now what? Well, there's a few things you should do ahead of time to prepare.

Is my hardware compatible?

Before you go any further, you should check out your hardware against the Linux Hardware Compatibility HOWTO, to make sure Linux will run on your machine.

In general, here's what you'll need to be able to install Linux on your system:

Note that these requirements are a bit higher than those listed in the brochure, since the Linux distribution we'll be installing (Red Hat 5.1) requires it.

What should I do to prepare my system?


We cannot stress this enough. We will not be responsible for any data loss that may occur. We will try our best to prevent this from happening (and chances are very good that it won't happen), but it's best to be prepared for the worst. (After all, neither computers nor people are perfect.) There will be a waiver that you will have to sign before our volunteers do anything with your computer. This is to protect ourselves legally, and to protect you in case of damage. (Note also that our volunteers are providing you with assistance during the installation process. You are ultimately responsible for whatever happens to your machine, as you will be in charge during every step of the installation.)

Free up space for the install.

For a reasonable Linux system, you'll need to have 200 to 300 MB of disk space for the system files, plus 20 to 128 MB more for a swap area, plus whatever you want to leave around for your own programs and data files. If you've got a spare disk drive kicking around that's large enough, then great!... install that drive in your system, and save it for Linux. More likely, you'll just have the one drive, but if it's got multiple partitions, reserve sufficient space for Linux in one or more partitions.

In most cases, you'll have everything in one partition, in which case you just have to make sure you have sufficient free space there. If you've got defragmentation software, run it to do a full defragmentation. (This will make the repartitioning easier and faster.) If you have the software to do it (like Partition Magic), you can resize your partition downward, and leave the unallocated space on the disk for the Linux partition(s). (Do this only if you know what you're doing. We'll have Partition Magic on hand, and can assist you with this during the Install Fest itself.)

Make a list, check it twice...

Make as large a list of the hardware inside the computer as possible, and gather up all relevant documentation you have. (You did keep that hardware documentation, didn't you?) This includes any motherboard documentation you have, plus information on sound cards, video cards, monitors, scsi cards, etc. If you have this information available to you, record the I/O addresses and IRQs for your various cards. (This is particularly important for sound cards, video cards, network cards, and any other unusual controller cards.)

Pack up your hardware, and bring it in.

To configure everything correctly, it's best if you have your complete system at the Install Fest. This includes your system unit, peripheral cards, monitor, mouse, keyboard, and all cables. If you want assistance getting other devices configured as well, such as joysticks, printers, scanners, bring them along as well. (We can't guarantee we'll have time for everything, though, as it will depend on how busy things are at the time.)

We will have some spare monitors (multi-sync VESA SVGA), keyboards (PS/2 only), mice (PS/2 or DB-9 serial), and power cords (standard plug) on hand, in case you really can't (or don't want to) bring your own down. However, if yours are of a different type, things may or may not work for you. In any case, bring along all available hardware documentation, and most importantly, those for the video card and monitor.

Let us known you're coming.

Please pre-register to book a time slot if you'll be bringing in your system. Fill in the form as completely and accurately as possible, giving your name, e-mail address, and a contact phone number, listing your hardware in detail, and picking your preferred time slot from the list of available times (so we don't have everyone showing up at once). Please make sure you show up at the Install Fest on time, to ensure someone will be available to assist you. (If you're just coming to check things out, there's no need to pre-register; just drop by anytime during the event.)

If you have problems with the form, or have questions about the Install Fest, then call Gilbert at 474-8161.

What will the installation involve?

You will be assigned to one of four install stations, where we'll assist you with getting your system connected and powered up. We will then go over your system specification, and ask you about your requirements and desired applications, to determine roughly how much space will be needed. We will then assist you in resizing your disk partition(s), if necessary, to make room for the Linux partitions (at least one for the file system, and one for a swap area), using either FIPS or Partition Magic.

You will then be provided with a bootable CD (and a floppy if needed), containing the Linux distribution. We will be providing only one type of distribution on CD-R, namely Red Hat Linux/Intel 5.1 with all the latest update packages merged in (which you can purchase for $5 and take home with you, or borrow for free for the installation itself). If you wish to install a different distribution, you will need to bring your own media, or have the distribution files pre-loaded on an existing partition in a format that can be used for installation. (I.e. you're on your own for that part.)

We will assist you with the installation process itself, guiding you along and answering any questions you may have. When we get to the package selection stage, we will help you along and perhaps make suggestions as to what packages would be useful to you. However, the package selection will be entirely at your discretion, and will be your responsability.

After the installation of the software is complete, we will assist you with the configuration of various standard devices, such as the mouse, video card and monitor (for X Window setup), clock (timezone selection), etc. Time permitting, we may also assist with other configuration and setup tasks, such as modem, network card, and printer setup.

Where can I find out more about installing Linux?

If you want to know what's involved, or want to attempt an install on your own, there's a very good article on the subject in the Linux Gazette. This is recommended reading if you're bringing in your system, so you'll be better prepared, which will make the installation smoother and minimize the chances of errors.
* Go to the Install Fest Home Page.
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