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HOWTO install Slackware

Posted by notKlaatu , 30 March 2008 · 65 views

If you're reading this you already want to install Slackware. If you are reading this to be convinced to install Slackware, stop here because I'm not selling anything. Just telling anyone who wants to know how they can install Slackware.I'm assuming you can download the iso and burn it on your own. Or purchase it.Warning: I am not an expert in Linux or Slackware. Just a normal user having a lot of fun. If I get something wrong, it's only because it worked for me so I don't know any better. Don't get angry with me because I am misinforming you. This is just a record of what I did to install Slack on my Sony Vaio, and kind of a way, hopefully, for you to see what the mythical Slackware Installation is really like. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised to find it's actually a really simple installation processs, without lots of GUI messages and weird questions to confuse you.HOWTO:Before we even start, we should turn on the computer in question and boot into the BIOS or OpenFirmware or at least some kind of System Profiler. It really really helps to know everything about the computer BEFORE you start installing. So just do that first. Write down important stuff, like what is your computer's internal clock set to? what How much RAM? hard drive? video card? video memory? what brand of modem? network card? etc. Get ALL the information you can find.OK, so upon first boot, you'll be presented with an option to choose what kernel you'd like to boot your installer with. Usually the default kernel is fine, so just press RETURN or ENTER. However, if you have special needs, like a kernel with speech synthesis (mom, that's for you) or if you're running a Pentium Pro machine (...dad) or whatever. If you're doing those things, you'll need to type in the name of the kernel you need.The next screen verbosely explains to you how to go about installing in three easy steps:I. log in as rootII. format your drive.III. type in "setup"OK, so here we go: I. log in as roottype root and press return. no password easy. ok, we're a third of hte way done.II. format your drive.To format your drive, I think the most user-friendly way to go would be cfdisk.But if you just go typing cfdisk, the computer will think you want to try to format the currently mounted root partition....currently the DVD you're running the computer on. That's not gonna work, now is it?.So you'll need to direct the computer to the device you actually want to format. This seems to vary slightly depending on how your computer was put together. For my laptop it was cfdisk /dev/sda but for others it may be something else.Easiest way to figure this out is to type cfdisk -l which lists all the drives currently attached to your computer. Those are your choices. If you try to cfdisk one of them and it tells you that the drive cannot be written to or erased, then you're still trying to erase your DVD. Try the other one. There shouldn't be a number after the sda or hda or whatever. You want to look at the whole device, with any and all partitions already existing on it.cfdisk is a menu-driven drive formatting program. It's easy to figure out. If you see partitions that you no longer need, you can Delete them. Once they're deleted, move up or down to the next partition and Delete that one...or whatever you want to do. Basically you're clearing out partitions to create what is generically called FREE SPACE.Once you have enough FREE SPACE to install Linux onto, you can make a partition out of that free space. To do this, you select New. It will ask you how large you want the partition to be, in Megabytes. Type that number in, choose whether you want it to be Primary or Logical (let's just go with Primary, shall we?).You'll also want to make a small-ish partition for SWAP space, sometimes known as Virtual Memory (basically harddrive space for when physical RAM starts to become scarce). This is done by, again, selecting to create a New partition, giving it a Gb or two (double your physical RAM is the rule of thumb i've heard).Now you need to assign them a Type. So go to the main partition that you'll be installing Slackware onto and select Type. It will list a long, long menu of different file types and you'll need to type in the corresponding numerical choice. Just type 82 for Linux and 83 for swap.You'll also want to make the big partition bootable. Just select the bootable option and hit return.Now Write the partition to the disks.If you're doing some fancy dual-boot or something you'll have to deal with that yourself. But if you've ever partitioned a drive before, I think you get the idea.Once you hit Write, the partition table is written to the drive and you are returned to your root shell prompt.OK now we're two thirds of the way done. Easy, right?III. type in setupWhen you type in setupan ncurses interface opens up. First selection is to read the Help. You might as well read it.Next selection basically dumps you on the track toward getting this installation really happening. When I said earlier that we were two-thirds of the way done, I was kidding. But don't worry, the rest of the stuff is a nice eye-candy (ncurses style) ride through verbose installation options.1. So, first you'll have to add a swap partition. You've already created one, of course, but you need to let the installer know that. So show it to the swap partition you've made, which should be easily recognizable because it'll be the size you typed in, and it will be the /dev/xda# that it was assigned during cfdisk. Be sure, obviously, that you're not assigning your 100gb partition as swap....or the partition that you have another OS on ((if you're dual booting).2. Next you'll tell the installer know where the drive that you want to actually install Slackware onto is....this is called the root mount point and it's represented by a mere /Just select the drive you want to install Slackware onto and it'll format it for you. It'll ask you if you want to check for bad blocks but usually I say no to that.It will ask you what kind of FileSystem you want to use. Let's just go for ext3 because it's kind of a really really common Linux filesystem. But feel free to play around with others if you want. Whatever you choose will be fairly invisible to you because it's pretty low level stuff. I say go for ext3 to avoid any variables later on as you try to do fancy things with networking and things like that. I would save playing around with other filesystem types for later. But what do I know?You;ll also be asked for confirmation about the root mount point being added to /etc/fstab. This is simply giving the computer the ability to actually mount the drive. FYI.3. Now you'll be asked from where you wish to install. The DVD is the right choice. Again, if you're doing a fancy netinstall, you're reading the wrong HOWTO (although it's actually not that hard, so just try it as long as you have a functional network connection...). Slackware will offer to scan available drives for its installation media, and so far that's never failed for me. If it doesn't work you'll have to tell it where the cd/dvd drive is...and that requires that you know the device names of all your drives. Remember when you did the cfdisk -list a while ago? I guess i should have told you to commit that information to memory. Well, if you need to go get that information, you can just hit escape and Cancel until you get back to the main Setup Menu, at which point you can bail out and get dropped back to your root terminal. Gather the device names, write the down, and start up the Setup again. You can pick up where you left off or just start fresh, whichever you feel more secure about.So ...you'll be prompted to select what packages you want to install. If you're used to Linux or if you're not but you want a really good first Linux experience, I suggest installing everything it recommends. It's easier to scale back later than not install stuff you'll want later. At least, that's my theory...but I think if you're reading this, you should just go with me on it. If you're going to set up some kind of headless server with Slackware, you ought to be reading someone else's HOWTO, not this one.Slackware will tempt you to try to not install everything...it will give you the option of an Expert mode as well as a Newbie mode. Don't trust it! Just do the recommended installation of 4.5+ Gb of glorious apps, useless games, vague documentation, printer/scanner support...et cetera. It's easier now and it saves you from a lot of configuration later on. I personally wonder if one of the reasons so many people say that Slackware requires so much setup is because they tried to be clever during initial installation. After you are more familiar with what you do and do not need, you can strip it from the system or re-install or whatever you feel the obsessive compulsive urge to do. But otherwise, trust Pat.4. Here, Slackware now installs all the good stuff on your drive. Wow...it's still just so easy!One thing I highly recommend is sitting in front of the computer and staring at it while it installs everything. It seems like I'm being sarcastic here but I'm serious; the more you look at this garbage, the more it starts to make sense. And you start to get familiar with packages adn what they do. So if someone is raving about KDE4's kdebindings, you have some idea of what that does and why it is important.(Warning: may cause epileptic fits)5. Next, Slackware is going to ask you if you want to create a USB Flash Boot. If you've got a spare pendrive lying around that has no data on it, go for it. It takes maybe 5 seconds, and can come in handy later on if you have to bootstrap your system. After it finishes, it will offer to make additional boot sticks...no need to do this, necessarily.6. Modem Configuration. What's a modem? From what can tell, a common choice would be /dev/ttyS4 which would be a normal everyday non-evil PCI modem. The good news? If you choose incorrectly, you can always change this later if you are banished to dial-up and actually have a need for such a thing.7. LILO is the linux bootloader, by all accounts inferior in many ways to GRUB, yet the bootloader of choice for Slackware. I actually like LiLO because it doesn't get changed by the system the way GRUB can be changed. I imagine this is why Slackware uses it. The first time I used GRUB with other distros and updated a kernel, I was shocked and horrified to find that my GRUB menu had been changed without my intervention, and of course many partitions were misdiagnosed, so I had to go in and change it all manually. Seems like it's easier to just have LILO not change until you change it...Anyway, go for the SIMPLE install. It will autodetect whatever kinds of OS's you may have on any of your devices, and create a simple LILO menu for you.8. Frame Buffer. This is apparently a little risky, because some equipment doesn't support it. But if you're using quality, new equipment, you probably can support a frame buffer. All this means is that you get to see some little graphics on screen plus your text console, so instead of just seeing text you'll see a penguin at the top of the screen. Things like that. I choose the highest resolution available because I know I've got a brand new computer with the latest Intel video card, etc. Do what your heart tells you to do.9. You have the option of inserting default extra parameters here. More than likely, you won't need to do this -- unless you had to pass extra parameters to get up to this point. Quite possibly whatever you did to get this far, you'll want to also do here. Again, typically for modern systems you're not going to have to do any fancy bootstrapping hackery here.10. Where do you want LILO to be placed?This is tricky. If all you are doing is installing Slackware and nothing else, or if this is the first install of a planned dual-Linux install, you may as well put Lilo in what is called the Master Boot Record (MBR) because it either needs to be there or it will be replaced by GRUB or something when you install your other Linux OS. The time this gets really tricky is if you are dual-booting with Windows or OS X, both of which really don't want Linux to exist at all, much less to have something in their MBR.In that event, you will need to do one of two things:a. install Lilo to the Root mountpoint. This means that OS X will boot via the default Apple bootloader, and if you press OPTION while booting, it will recognize that indeed you have two OS's on this machine. If you elect to boot into Slackware, you will THEN see the LILO options. And all will be well with the world (aside from the fact that you have that nasty old OS X on your drive...)b. Install Mac OS X (or windows?) FIRST. Once it's installed and all up-to-date, THEN install slackware and put LILO on the MBR. This way, Linux has the last laugh and manages all the OS's on your system. In my experience this has been tricky with OS X because if you do a major OS X update and it decides to reclaim the MBR, you could be without any easy way of getting to your Slackware OS. So if you're going to dual boot with these proprietary systems, you may want to just put LILO on Root.Keep in mind that I do not have even a working knowledge of Windows or how it does anything. But my advice on OS X is fairly solid, from a fair amount of experiences with Mac vs. Linux.11. Next you'll need to choose what kind of Mouse you'll be using. Look at the port to which you would normally connect your mouse. What kind of port is it? I'll bet it's USB. Guess what you'll be choosing here? (obviously use common sense; if you are doing this on a desktop and there are ps2 ports, please choose PS2, or if you'll be using a WaCom tablet, choose that. you get the idea.)12. GPM is the very cool ability to use your mouse even when in a virtual console. I'd install it were I you.12. Network Configuration. This is entirely up to you. If you know what you're doing here, go for it...or skip it and do it later. If you don't know what this is all about, read on:We'll say yes here to set up our network.First choose a hostname. What's a hostname? Let's say it's your computer's name; it can be pretty much anything you want. In this example I'll choose "groucho"Now we choose our domain name. This is the network upon which your computer lives. Let's choose marx.orgAnd if we have other computers we want to configure so we can share files back and forth with ease, we would give THEM all the domain name of marx.org but they would each get their own unique hostnames, such as "Harpo", "Chico", and "Karl"You'll be asked to set up an IP address. More than likely you are dealing with DHCP so you'll choose that...basically unless you have either a static IP address (again, if you do, you may be more advanced than this article) or you are hardwired to the net with an assigned IP from your internet provider, you're doing the DHCP thing. That's your safest bet, I think. If in doubt, talk to your internet provider and find out.14. Were you assigned a special DHCP hostname? If so, you'll enter it on the next screen. More than likely, you were not, so just hit RETURN. Again, if in doubt, check with internet provider.15. Startup services. Yikes! This is where you have to choose what little programs you want to have started when you are booting up and logging into your computer. Most "user-friendly" OS's have a fair amount of services starting up while you log in, so you don't have to worry about whether the computer will know what to do when you plug in the printer or an external hard drive or whatever. Well, having unused services running every time you turn on your computer not only wastes your CPU cycles but it's a bit of a security thing. But if you're just at home, using your computer for every day things and want certain things to work invisibly in your favor, you may want to, for instance, leave on the HAL daemon (Hardware Abstraction Layer), you may or may not want to start up CUPS (print server) and things that you want to have on all the time. I used to turn on a printer service, but everything else I leave as is. But if you have a SAMBA network going on and want access to that quickly and on-demand, I can imagine you might turn that on as well. Obviously none of these necessarily need to really be on now; you can always just start the services when you actually need them. 16. Your system clock. Is your internal clock set to UTC? Usually it is not. Unless you have gone in and set it to Universal Time, it's probably running as a local clock. So probably the answer is NO. But if you know otherwise, select YES. See how that works?17. What Window Manager will You Choose?Slackware comes with about six or seven window managers you can choose to install. I say throw them all in. Your hard drive is big, your system is robust. Take it all. You'll like it in the long run, becuase you'll have lots of choices and lots of fun things to play around with. If you absolutely don't want something, you can de-select it and continue, but I advise you to take it all.18. Root password. They call it a password but what they mean is a passPHRASE. Make this good. This is the key to your system's security. Numbers, letters. Something you'll remember but something that takes a while to type in. Trust me, you're not really gonna use this that often so make it inconvenient for yourself...but memorable!! Then write it down on tape and put it on your computer (just kidding).19. Now you're done.Post installation is not that impressive. It just kind of loops back to the setup menu and you can select EXIT, and then it drops you down to your root shell account again. And that's pretty much it.Wasnt' that easy? Congratulations. You've installed Slackware. Best of luck getting your system up and running.(read my next post on HOWTO configure Slackware Userland)




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