Below are some notes I wrote to help a newcomer to Linux install SL. These notes may be of some help to you.
Note that there are many packages on the LiveDVD (also on the HDD after installation) that do the same thing, i.e. several media players, KDE and GNOME versions of the same tool, and so on. Thus you can try them all and decide which one you prefer or which works better. In my brief experience with SL, some of the GNOME applications have been better than their KDE equivalent. For example the GNOME application Volume Control displays the settings of the two Capture channels correctly but the KDE application Sound Mixer (a.k.a. KMix) does not on my laptop; the KDE application Printers has a bug in it but the GNOME application Printing doesnâ€™t.
1. LiveDVD or LiveCD
You download SL as an .iso file. An â€˜ISO fileâ€™ is a standard way of storing a CD or DVD image on disk so that a CD/DVD burning package can burn a CD/DVD. Make sure you download the correct version for your PC: SL 3.3 x86 is a 32-bit version while SL 3.3 x86-64 is a 64-bit version. I use the 64-bit version on my Acer laptop, which has an Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 CPU. The SL LiveCD is referred to as â€œSL miniâ€ because it contains less than the LiveDVD. It contains all the operating system and, as far as I am aware, some applications; in any event you can easily install more applications via the Internet later if you want. If you want to try out many different applications, burn a LiveDVD; if not, burn a LiveCD. There are 32-bit and 64-bit versions of SL for both a LiveDVD and for a LiveCD.
A LiveDVD or LiveCD allows you to try out SL without having any effect whatsoever on what is installed on your HDD. So you can try SL without fear of affecting Windows on your HDD.
To use a LiveDVD or LiveCD, you need to configure your PCâ€™s BIOS to boot from a CD/DVD optical drive before the HDD. Normally you can configure your BIOS by pressing a key such as F2 when your PC is booting, which will cause the BIOS configuration menu to be displayed. Then you can find the page that allows you to specify the order that the drives should be booted. Make the CD/DVD drive the first to boot. You can put the HDD back to the top of the list after you have finished trying out the LiveCD/DVD (or after you have installed SL to the HDD, if you decide to install SL at some point in the future).
2. To boot the LiveDVD
If the boot process hangs part way through, you may be able to boot if you use the so-called â€˜boot cheat codesâ€™ (see SL Wiki and SL Forum posts). In my case I needed to use boot cheat codes to boot SL 3.3 but not for SL 3.4 Loop 2b. To enter the cheat codes, press F5 during booting (when the screen listing Function Keys appears) and enter the cheat code(s) at the end of the existing string of commands (donâ€™t remove the space at the end of â€œ--<space>â€, just append the boot cheat codes). The most common cheat codes to get SL 3.3 to boot are:
noddc res=1440x900 refresh=60 opengl=ati
(replace â€œatiâ€ with â€œnvidiaâ€ if your PCâ€™s graphics card uses an Nvidia chipset instead of an ATI chipset.)
I use res=1680x1050 for my laptopâ€™s built-in monitor. Actually, I can use this anyway with SL 3.3 and then select the lower screen resolution of the external monitor later using the following, so that I can switch between the two using:
Control Centre > Peripherals > Display > Screen size
(The above does not work with SL 3.4 Loop 2b in my case: only one screen size is listed. I can change the one entry by editing the file /etc/X11/xorg.conf but that is unnecessarily fiddly. I believe this is a bug in SL 3.4 Loop 2b.)
In the res= cheat code examples above, I have shown 1440x900 because that is the resolution of my external monitor, and 1680x1050 because that is the resolution of my laptopâ€™s built-in monitor. Substitute your monitorsâ€™ resolutions.
Actually I have found that I donâ€™t need to use the noddc boot cheat code, so you need to experiment to find out precisely which boot cheat codes, if any, are needed in your case.
N.B. Any configuration changes and files that you save while you are using the LiveDVD have no effect on your HDD (they are saved to a RAM disk) but will be saved if you then go on to install SL in that session. So if, for example, you want XGL or AIGLX (3D graphics hardware acceleration) to be enabled by default, use the Acceleration Manager to make sure you have configured XGL or AIGLX before installing, configure SL to enable your Bluetooth keyboard to work, and so on.
Graphics hardware acceleration: ATI graphics cards do not currently support AIGLX, only XGL (if you have an ATI graphics card then AIGLX will be greyed-out when you launch Acceleration Manager). Actually, to date I have not been able to get XGL to work with the ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 graphics card in my laptop, but 3D graphics is smooth and fast anyway on my laptop. It has been claimed in the SL Forum that SL 3.4 will include better support for XGL with ATI graphics cards, although in my case SL 3.4 Loop 2b still has the same problems as SL 3.3, so I am not holding my breath for 3.4 proper. Still, if the SL developers manage to pull the rabbit out of the hat, I'll be delighted.
3. Installing SL to the HDD
If you are going to partition your HDD and install SL onto a HDD to dual boot with Windows, first backup your data files. If you have no way of re-installing Windows then make a disk image too. I have not installed SL onto a HDD containing Vista, but have installed SL to dual boot with Windows XP several times without any problems, but you should always make a backup of anything that you do not wish to lose in the event of an accident. In the case of Vista I believe that, providing you don't touch the Master Boot Record when you install Linux (more on this subject later), you should be able to install SL on a HDD with Vista already installed and dual boot. The problem arises if you try to install Vista on a PC with Linux already installed, as Vista overwrites the MBR.
Before you install, read the following two articles on SL 3.3, which have some screen images of the installation process and make the installation procedure easier to understand:
Make sure you run Update Installer first (double-click on the big downward-pointing arrow icon on the Desktop of the LiveDVD). You must be connected to the Internet. Then you can run Install to Disk (another icon on the Desktop). Install to Disk uses a GUI and leads you through the installation process, and is easy to use. If your laptop has switches on it for built-in Bluetooth and WiFi adapters, switch them on before running Install to Disk so that they are detected (I actually turned the WiFi switch on during the process when I reached the Network Configuration page during the installation, but it is easier just to switch them on at the start so you donâ€™t forget).
The installer will ask you if you want it to automatically partition the HDD or whether you want to do it manually using Disk Manager. I prefer to partition the HDD before running Install to Disk, and then select the manual option in the installer to specify the Mount Point for each partition.
On the Boot Loader Configuration page, tick 'Use a boot loader password' and 'Configure advanced boot loader options'. The default GRUB is fine as the boot loader. Tick the box to install GRUB into /boot rather than the MBR (Master Boot Record, which is used by Windows and which I prefer to leave alone).
In summary, the way I install from the LiveDVD is as follows:
a) Make sure the language, keyboard country, desktop acceleration, Beryl, Bluetooth keyboard etc. are all configured to your preferences. (You can change anything after installing to HDD if you forget, but you may as well do it all now so that, for example, when you press a key on your UK/Spanish/German/French/whatever keyboard during the installation, the correct character appears on screen).
b) Run Update Installer.
c) Run GParted (the Partition Editor icon on the Desktop, or you can type gparted in a Terminal window) and define the partitions you want.
d) Run Install to Disk.
Read the following document if you do not understand partitions (in fact, read it even if you do):
http://www.redhat.com/docs/manuals/linu ... tions.html
My Acer TravelMate 8215WLMi laptop was delivered with a nominal 160 Gb HDD (149.05 Gb formatted), partitioned into three partitions: a hidden â€˜factory restoreâ€™ partition (3.90 Gb) for Windows XP Professional; a C: drive (72.33 Gb) and a D: drive (72.82 Gb), with Windows XP Professional installed on the C: drive. I decided to leave the hidden factory partition and C: drive as they were so that I could dual-boot with Windows XP and restore Windows XP to its original state in future if necessary, and to use the D: drive for SL. I therefore used GParted to partition the HDD as follows:
Partition | Filesystem | Mountpoint | Label | Size | Flags
/dev/sda1 | fat32 | /media/PQSERVICE | <none> | 3.90 Gb | <none>
/dev/sda2 | fat32 | /media/ACER | <none> | 72.33 Gb | boot, lba
/dev/sda3 | ext3 | /boot | /boot | 101.98 Mb | <none>
/dev/sda4 | extended | 72.72 Gb
/dev/sda5 | ext3 | /home | /home | 54.17 Gb | <none>
/dev/sda6 | ext3 | / | / | 16.60 Gb | <none>
/dev/sda7 | linux-swap | <none> | 1.95 Gb | <none>
The first and second partitions are exactly as they were when I bought the PC. I simply deleted the third partition (which was the D: drive in Windows XP) and re-partitioned it as one primary partition for /boot and one extended partition with three logical partitions, for /home, / and swap.
You can have a maximum of four primary partitions, of which one or more can be an extended partition containing logical partitions. Incidentally, the above-mentioned Red Hat Linux 9 documentation states that there should be no more than 12 logical partitions per HDD in the case of Linux. I wanted /boot to be in a primary partition, so I had to create an extended partition to be able to fit in the other SL partitions (/, /home and swap). Note that /home is not mandatory: the recommended minimum number of Linux partitions is /boot, / and swap. However I wanted to have my data (word documents, pictures, music etc.) on a separate partition so that it would not be affected if I need to reinstall the other SL partitions for any reason (which I have had to do on a few occasions).
Note that the partition sizes are not exactly what I selected in GParted: I allowed GParted to round the sizes. For example, for /dev/sda3 I selected 100 Mb which GParted made 101.98 Mb, and for /dev/sda7 I selected 2000 Mb which GParted made 1.95 Gb.
I have read several contradictory guidelines for the size of the swap partition. The one I have adopted is from the above-mentioned Red Hat Linux 9 document, which recommends that, if RAM size R <= 1 Gb then swap size S should be in the range R <= S <= 2R, and for R > 1 Gb, make S = 2 Gb.
The Red Hat Linux 9 document recommends a /boot partition of 100 Mb. I made the root partition (/) bigger than 10 Gb because I read in a review that SL 3.3 installed from the LiveDVD occupies nearly 10 Gb. So at least 10 Gb for this partition is needed, and I made it bigger to allow for future package installation. Finally, I created a separate /home partition for all my documents, pictures, music, videos etc.
As for package installation, read the SL Wiki and Gentoo Wiki pages about the Portage package manager. In my opinion the most important thing for newcomers from Windows to grasp is the following, which I have copied from the Wikipedia entry on Gentoo Linux (on which SL is based):
"When removing a package, Portage does not check to see if any other installed packages still need it. Portage also does not check if upgrading a particular package would have a "ripple effect" on any other installed packages. Therefore it's possible to cause an installed application to malfunction by removing or upgrading another package it depends on.
This can lead to users unknowingly breaking their systems by careless removal of packages, or upgrading a library to an incompatible version. For upgrades, there exists a revdep-rebuild utility (contained in the package 'gentoolkit') that scans the entire system and looks for packages that require a rebuild. This must be installed and run manually by the user."