Chapter 1: Quick Start Installation
Linux is an extremely powerful operating system. It can be installed in a number
of different configurations: for example, as a single desktop, as a file and
print server, or with a custom combination of components. Linux can be installed
to occupy the entire file system of your computer or to co-exist with another
operating system (such as Microsoft Windows). This Quick Start chapter
assumes that you will be turning your computer over to Linux in its entirety.
As you are quite possibly all too aware, Windows computers running on the Intel
platform come with a mind-boggling array of hardware peripherals, components,
and configurations. Although it is becoming somewhat more mainstream to purchase
an Intel-compatible machine with Linux preinstalled, most likely you will be
installing Linux on a machine running Windows.
The combination of a flexible and powerful operating system and the possibility
of installation on a huge variety of hardware leads to complex installation
As explained in the introduction, Linux itself is freely distributable software.
A large part of the value added by Red Hatand some other Linux vendorsis
the software these vendors have added to make installation of the Linux operating
system (and the software running on Linux) easier.
This Quick Start chapter is intended to show you how to install
Linux using the CD that accompanies this book. It covers a typical installation
and does not attempt to troubleshoot all possible problems. (Youll find
lots of information on customizing Linux in the other chapters in Part I of
the Red Hat Linux 6: Visual QuickPro Guide.)
In other words, the goal of this chapter is to get you up and running on Linux
with no pain and in no time at all.
Before you start installing Linux, you should gather information about your
current hardware. Assuming that you are currently running Windows, one of the
best sources of information is Windows itself. (Ill show you how to obtain
this information in a moment.)
Other sources of information include
- Printed documentation - manuals -for your hardware
- The hardware itself (you may have to open your computer to find
- The system vendor: for example, Dell
- The manufacturer of a specific piece of hardware: for example,
To obtain information about your current hardware from Windows:
- Right-click the My Computer icon on your desktop.
A pop-up menu will appear.
- Choose Properties from the pop-up menu.
The System Properties dialog box will open (Figure 1.1).
- Select the Device Manager tab (Figure 1.2).
The Device Manager tab displays a list of the hardware in your computer by
category. A plus sign on the left of the category indicates that an item can
be expanded to show more information.
- Highlight an individual hardware component and click the Properties
button to display more information about that specific piece of hardware (Figure
- Red Hat Linux 6 with the graphical Gnome desktop environment
requires a minimum of 8MB of RAM and a minimum total of about 120MB of hard
drive space. Clearly, your system will run better with more RAM (what else
is new?). In addition, if you are going to install many of the components
and applications that come with Red Hat Linux 6 and Gnomesuch as those
included in the default installations youll find the program taking
up a great deal more space, perhaps as much as 450MB.
- Warning! The procedure outlined
in this chapter replaces the Windows file system with the Linux file system.
All the current data and applications on your hard drive will be lost, and
unless you have made backups, there will be no way to retrieve them.
- Warning! Install at your own
risk! The version of Red Hat Linux 6 on the CD-ROM bundled with this book
does not come with free technical support from either Red Hat or Peachpit
Press. That means if you install it, and something goes wrong, you have to
figure out how to fix it using this book and the documentation on the CD-ROM
and the Red Hat Web site (www.redhat.com).
You can purchase technical support from Red Hat by calling 1-888-REDHAT1.
Figure 1.1 You can use the System Properties dialog box to learn about
Figure 1.2 Windows Device Manager provides a list of hardware categories
that can be expanded to display individual hardware components.
Figure 1.3 Clicking the Properties button displays detailed information
about a specific hardware item.
What you need to know
You should be prepared to supply the following hardware information. It's a
good idea to write this down before you proceed:
- Your mouse type and, if it is a serial mouse, the port
it is connected to
- Disk controller type(s) and, for SCSI devices, the make
- CD-ROM type
- The make and model of your monitor and, possibly, its
horizontal and vertical refresh rates
- The make and model of your video card, its chip set,
and the amount of RAM it uses
- The make and model of your network interface card (NIC)
Securing Your Retreat
Besides gathering information, another crucial piece of preparation is to secure
your retreat by making (and testing) a Windows boot floppy. Typically, Windows
is installed from a CD. To start the installation program, youll need
a floppy disk that can be booted and that can access the CD-ROM drive with the
Windows installation disk.
Of course, it is likely that you will be so happy with Linux that youll
never want to go back to Windows. But on the off chance that you change your
mind, youll need the Windows boot disk.
To create a Windows boot floppy:
- Place a floppy disk in your boot drive.
- Right-click My Computer on your desktop and select Explorer from
the pop-up menu.
Windows Explorer will open (Figure 1.4).
- Select your boot floppy drive (usually drive A) in Explorer. Right-click
it and select Format from the pop-up menu.
The Format dialog will appear
- Make sure that Copy System Files is checked (the system files are
what make the floppy bootable). Click Start.
- Creating a bootable floppy disk may not be sufficient, depending
on your system. To reinstall Windows, youll need to be able to access
the CD-ROM drive. Depending on your system, this may require drivers that
are not copied with the system files as part of the process of creating a
bootable disk. If this is the case for your system, you should determine from
documentation which files are needed. Then, copy the appropriate files to
your boot floppy. Make sure to add any required Windows configuration files
such as autoexec.bat and config.sys. Finally, test your new boot floppy to
make sure that you can access the CD-ROM drive, as detailed in the following
To test your Windows boot floppy:
- Make a note of the letter designation for your CD-ROM drive: for
example, drive D.
- Place the boot floppy in the drive.
- Shut down Windows.
- Turn your computer off and then on again.
If the boot floppy is working, the computer will boot up to a DOS prompt with
the designation for the floppy drive, usually A:.
- Test that you can access the CD-ROM drive by typing at the A:>
prompt the letter of the CD-ROM drive: for example, D:.
If the prompt now says D:>, and no error messages have appeared, you can
access your CD-ROM drive from the boot floppy.
Figure 1.4 To create a Windows boot disk, open Windows Explorer, select
your floppy drive, and choose Format from the pop-up menu.
Figure 1.5 By checking Copy System Files, you are telling Windows to
create a bootable floppy disk.
Creating a Linux Boot Disk
Before you can install Red Hat Linux from the CD bundled into the back of this
book, you will need to create a Linux boot disk.
You can create a Linux boot disk using your Windows computer or using a computer
already running Linux. (You may need the boot disk to upgrade an existing Linux
installation or to install Linux on an additional computer.)
To create a Linux boot disk with Windows:
- Place the Linux CD in the drive on your Windows machine.
- Place a blank floppy disk in your boot drive.
- Choose MS-DOS Prompt from the Programs menu found on the Start
A DOS Window will open (Figure 1.6).
- Change to your CD-ROM drive. For example, if your CD-ROM drive
is drive E, at the prompt enter E.
- Change to the dosutils directory, by entering the following at
the prompt: cd\dosutils.
- Run the rawrite program by typing the following at the prompt:
- You will be prompted to enter the disk image source file name.
- Press Enter on the keyboard.
- You will be prompted for a target diskette. Type the name of the
boot drive: for example, type a:.
- Press Enter on the keyboard.
- You will be prompted to place a floppy disk in the drive. Once
you have done so, press Enter again, and the Linux boot disk will be created.
- If you have a recent computer, it may feature a bootable CD-ROM
drive. (You should check your system documentation to find out if this is
the case.) If you can boot directly from your CD-ROM drive, you do not need
to create a Linux boot disk and can start the installation process simply
by placing the CD-ROM from the back of this book in your drive and restarting
To create a Linux boot disk with Linux:
- Open a Linux telnet window (Figure 1.7) or access the Linux
- If you dont have root (or superuser) privileges, type
su root at the prompt and supply the root password.
- Place the CD in its drive and mount itthat is, connect
it to the rest of the Linux file systemby entering the following at
mount /dev/cdrom /mnt.
- Change to the images directory on the CD by typing
- Place a blank disk in the floppy drive.
- Copy the boot image to the floppy disk by typing (on a single line)
dd if=boot.img of=/dev/fd0
- If you want, unmount the CD by typing the following:
- The images directory on the CD-ROM distributed with Red Hat
Linux 6: Visual QuickPro Guide contains disk images, not pictures.
Figure 1.6 You can use the rawrite program from within a DOS command
prompt window to create a Linux boot disk.
Figure 1.7 Under Linux, you can create a boot disk by copying the boot
image to your floppy disk.
Enough with preliminaries! It is time to install Linux.
To boot the installation program:
- Power down your computer.
- With the CD-ROM in its drive and the Linux boot disk that you created
in the floppy drive, turn the power back on.
After a brief delay, a text-based boot screen will appear.
- Press Enter to accept the default options.
The installation program will begin.
- If you dont press Enter, after one minute the installation
program will start running with the default options.
To run the installation program:
- The first dialog box youll see once the installation starts
asks you to select a language to be used during the installation process (Figure
1.8). Use the arrow keys to highlight the language of your choice.
- Press the spacebar to select the language.
- Tab to the OK box and press Enter to select it.
- In the next dialog box, select a keyboard type. If your keyboard
is not on the list, the best choice is US.
- You will be asked to choose an installation method (Figure 1.9).
Choose Local CDROM and select OK.
- The installation program will prompt you to make sure the CD is
in place. Press Enter on the keyboard to verify that it is. If the installation
program doesnt find your CD-ROM, reboot your computer with the CD-ROM
in place and restart the installation program.
- The program will probe your system to find and identify your CD-ROM
drive. If your CD-ROM drive is controlled by a SCSI controller, you will be
asked if there are additional SCSI controllers in your system. Select No (unless
you have other SCSI controllers).
- Choose whether you want to upgrade or perform a new installation
Upgrading will preserve applications and data files and existing configuration
files (which will be renamed with a .rpmsave extension). You should choose
Upgrade only if your system is already running Red Hat Linux version 2.2 or
- In the next dialog box, you will be asked to choose the installation
class (Figure 1.11). There are three choices: Workstation, Server,
and Custom. A Workstation-class installation erases all current Linux partitions
from your system. A Server-class installation erases all partitions from your
system. A Custom-class installation gives you complete control over partitioning,
and over which components are installed. See Chapter 2 for more information
on Custom-class installations.
Tab to the Server check box and press
the spacebar to select it.
- Press the F12 key to continue to the next dialog box.
- You will be warned that you are about to delete all the partitions
on your hard drive, meaning that all your data will be lost (Figure 1.12).
Tab to the OK box and press Enter to continue.
- Select your mouse type and connection using the Tab key, arrow
keys, and spacebar.
- If the installation program detected a network card, you will be
asked to configure networking (Figure 1.13). See Chapters 3 and 4 for
- Enter a password for root (Figure 1.14), also called the
superuser. The root password must be at least six characters long. It gives
access to the entire systemyou should take care not to lose it and not
to share it with any high-security-risk individuals.
- You are given the opportunity to create a custom boot disk for
the new system (Figure 1.15). Select Yes.
- At the prompt, insert a blank floppy disk (Figure 1.16).
- You will be asked if you want X-Windows to start automatically
at bootup. Select Yes.
The installation program will attempt to identify your video adapter (Figure
- Select your video monitor from the list (Figure 1.18) using
the Tab key, the arrow keys, and the spacebar. If your monitor is not listed,
you can specify horizontal and vertical refresh rates directly. This procedure
is covered in more detail in Chapter 2.
- Remove the floppy drive from the disk so the system can reboot.
- If your monitor isnt listed and you dont have refresh
rate information, try choosing a Dell monitor in the right size.
Figure 1.8 The first step in the installation process is to select a
language that the program will use.
Figure 1.9 You must specify the installation media, most likely a CD.
Figure 1.10 You can use the installation program to upgrade, which preserves
your current data and configuration, or to perform a completely new installation.
Figure 1.11 There are three classes of installation: Workstation, Server,
Figure 1.12 A Server-class installation deletes all the partitions on
your hard drive.
Figure 1.13 You can configure networking during the installation process.
Figure 1.14 You must supply a root password, which should be protected
and not forgotten.
Figure 1.15 You are given the opportunitiy to create a custom boot disk.
Figure 1.16 If you decide to create a boot disk, you must insert a floppy
disk in your drive (drive A in Windows is /dev/fdo in Linux).
Figure 1.17 The installation program will attempt to identify your video
Figure 1.18 For the display to work properly, you'll need to identify
For the Very First Time...
Provided you selected automatic start of X-Windows, when the installation program
reboots after a startup process, you will see the Red Hat logon screen (Figure
1.19). Log on as root with the password you supplied during installation.
Congratulations! Youve successfully installed Red Hat Linux.
Its a bad idea to run your system as root. Once youve booted up,
your first step should be to add yourself as a new user.
Youll also need to know how to reboot and shut down your new system.
To add yourself as a user:
- Open a terminal window, either by clicking the terminal icon on
the Gnome panel or by choosing Gnome Terminal from the Gnome Utilities menu.
- Click the Terminal window so that it has the focus of keyboard
- At the prompt, type useradd jpublic,
where jpublic is your
To add your password:
- You must specify a password for your new user. You can use the
passwd command to give jpublic a password. At the prompt, enter:
[root@linuxbear /root]# passwd jpublic
- Youll be prompted to enter a password:
New UNIX password:
- You will be prompted to re-enter the password:
Retype New UNIX password:
passwd: all authentication _
tokens updated successfully
Note that when you enter the new password, it will not be echoed to the screen.
With the Terminal window still open, type
shutdown r now
To shut down the system:
In the Terminal window, type
shutdown h now
The system will proceed to shut down. When a message saying Power Down
appears on the screen, it is safe to turn off the computer.
Figure 1.19 After the installation completes, your system will reboot;
you will then be ready to log on for the first time.
In this chapter, you learned how to:
- Gather information about your Windows hardware.
- Create and test a Windows boot disk.
- Create a Linux boot disk using a Windows machine.
- Create a Linux boot disk using a Linux machine.
- Install Linux.
- Add a user.
- Add a user password.
- Reboot the system.
- Shut down the system.