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Old 08-15-04, 08:07 PM   #1
nlawalker
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Question Newbie installing first time

Hey everyone;

I'm new to this board and new to Linux. I have a bunch of free time coming up and I want to give Linux a shot. I found this board and it looks to have been helpful for a great number of people, so hopefully you can help me.

I'm getting a copy of "Linux for non-Geeks" (comes with Fedora Core 2), which has been highly recommended to me from various people, and have done a little research of my own just to get some Linux background knowledge. I have an Abit NF7-S (nForce2 Ultra400) mainboard, but an ATI 9500 vid card. I want to dual boot Linux with WinXP. Before I get started trying to install, I have a few questions for everyone here.

Are there any resources I should have before I begin (drivers already downloaded, kernel update, etc.). Nothing irks me more on XP Pro with this motherboard is when I forget to get the Nforce drivers before I reformat, and have to go download them on another computer because my integrated NIC doesn't work.

Does anyone have any advice/knowledge I should have before I get started? I am new enough to Linux/UNIX in general that I have trouble figuring out what people are talking about in some of their posts. A post I stumbled upon a while ago was this one , which caught my attention because his system is fairly similar to mine. Unfortunately, I don't understand a some of what he's talking about, such as when he says 'make config' (I see that 'make' command a lot... what is that?).

Finally, (this one's more specific). I've noticed some buzz around here about something called 4kstacks or 8kstacks and how a lot of people are experiencing instability. Is this an nVidia vid card or nForce problem, and what exactly is it?

Thanks for helping out a n00b. I'm sure I'll be back with other questions. If anyone has any other resources I can try, please let me know; this seems to be an excellent first place to turn to, what with some very intimidating 'how-tos' and other information on the internet.

NW
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Old 08-16-04, 01:17 AM   #2
whig
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Default Re: Newbie installing first time

Get hold of a copy of Knoppix. This will give you an introduction to Linux without having to do an install. Once you are comfortable how things are done move to FC2.

You have ATI video I don't, so I can't comment about drivers. Neither do I have nForce.

Read as much of the book as you can. There will come a time when you will wonder how something is done but the trick will be buried deep in the book. Good luck.
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Old 08-16-04, 03:46 AM   #3
Antti
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Default Re: Newbie installing first time

ATI-card and Fedora Core 2 means LOTS of trouble!! Took me 3 days to get the drivers installed. On Mandrake 10 they install very easily, but cause lots of lockups if you're using the default 2.6-kernel, so install 2.4 instead. Or some other distro with a 2.4-kernel. Or switch to nVidia...
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Old 08-17-04, 12:26 AM   #4
nlawalker
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Default Re: Newbie installing first time

whig, you were right. Knoppix is great. Worked like a charm, not a single error or anything Now I understand what people mean when they refer to Linux as a "breath of fresh air." Was like stepping into another world.

As for the book, I plan on going through the entire thing. I've got plenty of time (still on summer break) and am very curious and interested. I also want to be a knowledgeable user, as opposed to someone who just fiddles with the obvious stuff.

Antti, you'll have to help me out a little bit here because I'm still easily confused... is using an older kernel going to cause any other problems? How tough is it to switch to a different kernel?

Thanks for the help guys.

NW
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Old 08-17-04, 07:42 AM   #5
Antti
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Default Re: Newbie installing first time

Quote:
Originally Posted by nlawalker
Antti, you'll have to help me out a little bit here because I'm still easily confused... is using an older kernel going to cause any other problems? How tough is it to switch to a different kernel?
Unlike many newbies might think (me too as I started using Linux ), installing a new kernel does NOT necessarily mean recompiling it from the sources. You can install kernels for your distro as an RPM-packet (for RPM-based distro, naturally), just like any other programs. And then you need to install corresponding kernel sources, usually as a RPM-packet too, so that you can install the video card drivers (because it most likely will attempt to compile it).

So simple answer: installing a new kernel means downloading (eg. http://rpm.pbone.net or http://rpmfind.net) and double-clicking one RPM-packet in the file manager and then you can reboot your computer (and select the new kernel from the boot manager list, if it already didn't add it as the default one) to use it. Installing the sources means another download and double-click of a RPM.

Using older kernel will not cause any trouble, if all your hardware is already supported under it (otherwise could mean compiling and installing drivers for it first). The most common kernels these days are the 2.4.x- and 2.6.x-series. ATI's drivers are tested with the 2.4.x-kernels. Getting them to work in Fedora Core 2 is hell of a work (at least was to me). nVidia-drivers install very easily on FC2, once you have installed the alternative kernel (link in the FC2-thread).
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Old 08-17-04, 10:55 AM   #6
nlawalker
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Default Re: Newbie installing first time

Antti, thanks for all your help. I've got one more question for you if you wouldn't mind...

I've been looking around at all the different Linux distros there are to be had, and noticed how easy it is to get a copy of one. Lots of people have recommendations for other distros that may be better starting out. I've also read up a little bit on the problems people have with ATi + FC2. I plan on installing FC2 just to go along with the book, even if I can't get full 3D support, but I may find myself switching to another distro soon after. Even without having the book, I'm confident I can get something different up and working (I'm pretty computer-savvy, but have just been using Windows my whole life. Computers don't scare me, and I have backups).

How difficult is it to switch from one distro to another? Would it require a reformat (even if it did it would be fine: I'm not too concerned about creating any files in Linux I'd really need to hold on to... it's strictly a tinkering thing for now)?

NW
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Old 08-17-04, 12:00 PM   #7
Antti
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Default Re: Newbie installing first time

Quote:
Originally Posted by nlawalker
How difficult is it to switch from one distro to another? Would it require a reformat
Switching distros is not difficult (although a reformat for the root-partition is required, you can retain the other partitions, like /home with all your settings), but the tools and libraries have their differences and it gets a while to get used to the new distro. But it's still Linux anyway, so all the same programs and things work (even if the programs that come with the distro, might differ a bit). The good thing with Linux is that you can keep all your settings in the home-folder and they are still there even after switching the distribution (that's why you should keep /home as a separate partition, not on the root-partition).

My recommendation for a starter distro is Mandrake 10. However, it comes with 2.6-kernel by default, which can cause lockups, if you install the ATI's own drivers (without them DVD-playback is slow and 3D-games won't be playable). You can also install 2.4-kernel to Mandrake, though.

My recommendation for the partitioning is that you do it manually every time, maybe like this:
/ = From 5 to 10 GB, many distros takes easily 4 - 5 GB, if you install lots of programs. ReiserFS is recommended, because it nearly never loses data in case of a abnormal shutdown (= electrical cut, crash, etc...) and it's faster than ext3 (even if I can't really say, if you will notice any difference).
/home = All the rest. I recommend ext3 for the filesystem, because you can then access it from Windows with additional programs, if you ever need to.
swap = 1,5 times the size of your RAM

Have fun with Linux.
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