about to install; looking for GENERAL pointers

about to install; looking for GENERAL pointers

Post by Bill Horn » Mon, 25 Jan 1999 04:00:00

> I'm about to try to put linux on my new machine (specs below), and i'm open to
> ANY advice you might have to offer...  like:

>    ->don't make this mistake's / boy did i kick myself's

Allocate enough time:  Linux takes at LEAST a weekend when you figure in
the kid's soccer game and the church project your wife will remind you
about on Saturday.  Don't ask me how I know.

If you're going to use X-Windows (the answer is almost always 'yes'),
check to be sure your video card has a supported chipset.  If it's not
supported, you may be able to use it with reduced resolution, but there
are no guarantees.

Practice on an old machine, especially if your usual PC has to be ready
for work on Monday morning.  I'm putting together a Linux box for my
sister, and I've realized it would have been much easier to learn on a
machine that I can put away for a week if I need to.  If you have a 386
or 486 in the closet, you should use it, even if you have to buy a case
and HD to do it.  When you're done, you can use it for quick jobs while
junior hogs the video game or your mate is online.  Of course, we don't
always have that options, so that leads me to -

BACK UP EVERYTHING FIRST.  If you have to buy a Jazz drive to do it,
just spend the money, but the chances are you don't need anything that
big.  I use a zip drive to hold my "working" files and email, and I keep
the source CD's for Win95, etc. handy.

find out the hard way that Windows backup won't run from a floppy, and
that the Colorado backup software needs the EMM386 device driver in
order to operate, and that I didn't have enough file handles in the
config.sys file on the boot floppy.  You should make a copy of some
data, back it up, trash it, and then try to restore it with a windows
floppy boot before you proceed.  

Use the Windows Emergency Recovery Utility (on the source CD) to backup
essential files to floppy, and also copy the regitry files to floppy
before you do anything else.

While you're at it, think about data sources and how you'll use them if
you don't have something on the backup:

1.  Remember the 5.25 drive that you pulled out to make room for the
    backup? Remember the 5.25 disks that your son's favorite game came
2.  Do you work at home?  Was any of your business software setup by
your LAN
    administrator?  (S)He will be awfully hard to find at four PM on
Sunday!  Be
    SURE that you can retain essential dialup settings and macros in
your backups, and
    that they'll work correctly after being restored.

I think the best policy is to do a "dry run" in advance:  when you're
sure you can restore everything from backups, wait until you have access
to all your usual resources, including backup hardware, and then try to
do it.  I suggest you disconnect your hard drive, and substitute an
old/borrowed HD in your PC, to make sure it's a real world test:  some
software programs employ data in hidden disk blocks for copy protection,
so don't be surprised if you get a demand for the source CD when you
restart after a restoral.  At worst, you'll learn a lot about how much
you don't know ;-J.

While you're at it, you can take advantage of your Windows experience
and improve your machine's effiency quite a bit -

1. Go through your Windows directories and pare down to essentials -
   old mail, unused programs, downloads, .zip files, etc.  I found out
that over
   half my HD was taken up with things I hadn't accessed in months or
even a year!  
2. When I wound up reinstalling Windows, I took the opportunity to
simplify my
   root directory - instead of taking the default settings during the
   of individual programs, I modified the target directories so that I
have no more
   than one screenful of entries on any page when I start Windows


>    ->advice on what is the BEST way to boot manage.  i've read about many/most
> of the possibilities, but am looking feedback/opinions.

Study the partition software available, and (if possible) have a Linux
guru walk you through it ahead of time.  I thought PartitionMagic would
work on my 8GB hard drive, but found out that version 3 won't support
FAT32X partitions.  I would up using FIPS to shrink the primary
partition, and then Linux fdisk.

Don't use more than one Linux native partition unless absolutely
necessary.  If you can fit one big partition below cyl 1024, do it.
Multiple partitions, IMHO, introduce more complications than they're
worth.  Of course, you'll have a separate "swap" partition, but you
probably don't need more than one "native" one, unless you have to stay
below cyl 1024 in order to boot.

Consider booting from floppy at the start:  it's intuitive and reliable,
and is the boot method least likely to jeopardize your normal working
arrangement.  After you're comfortable with Linux and disk management,
you can put in LILO.  LOADLIN is also available, and won't require you
to modify your Master Boot Record, but it requires a two step boot
process - first to dos, then to Linux.

Floopy boot take very little extra time, and since you'll be spending a
lot of time learning Linux at the start, you'll hardly notice.  LILO is
for later.


>    ->url's of install-help pages that you've found better than average.

>   ->if I were to keep a pretty detailed diary of my install experience (wish
> i knew's/could have saved time by's), is there any place that's relatively
> known/organized that could could make I could send/post to for the
> nextcomers?

I suggest linux.org and/or company that makes your distribution, e.g.


> I'd appreciate anything anyone has to offer.:-)

HTH, and good luck.

Bill Horne
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