Linux+: Linux Install 06 – Linux Installation


Jarret W. Buse

Linux+: Linux Install 06 – Linux Installation

Installing Linux is a very important task that you should be familiar with before taking the Linux+ Certification test. If able, you should install a few Linux distros to become familiar with the procedure.

Before selecting a distro, it is best to download the latest version of the distro image which is usually an ISO file. The ISO file can be burned to a disc to be booted within your CD/DVD drive. When booting, most distros give you an option to run the distro as a Live-CD. The Live-CD method allows you to start a basic version of the distro in memory and use it without saving the Linux Operating System (OS) to a partition. Any existing OS will not be changed in anyway. The Live-CD method allows you to verify that the distro will operate on your system. If any problems occur during the Live-CD execution, you can assume that installing the distro will be a waste of time.

NOTE: There are some exceptions to this since some generic drivers loaded will not work better than the specific drivers your system requires.

For specific hardware requirements, you should get an error during the execution of the Live-CD. For example, if your system does not have enough RAM, the Live-CD should not load and generate an error about memory requirements. In this case, you can be assured that installing the distro will fail as well.

Each distro can have varying installation screens. Each screen requires you to specify information needed for the installation of your selected distro. There is very basic information which is similar to all distros. The basic installation is as follows:

  • Select language – used to specify the language used for the installation and in the OS
  • Keyboard type – this option is usually auto-detected, but allows you to specify your type of keyboard
  • Mouse type – the mouse type is detected, but can be specified from a list
  • Account Setup – name of the initial user to create and the password to use for the initial user which was created
  • Root Account Setup – specifies the password for the root account
  • System Name – name to use to designate the computer
  • Monitor type and Resolution – configures screen resolution of monitor
  • Time Zone Location – specifies your time zone so the system clock can be manipulated as needed and synchronized with Internet time servers
  • Installation type:
    • Basic installation type
      • Single OS – the Linux distro will be the only OS on the system
      • Dual boot OS – Linux will be installed alongside another OS allowing the user to specify the desired OS to load at boot time
    • Specific installation type
      • Workstation – used as a stand-alone or network workstation, most options are selected for you
      • Server – used as a server in a network environment, most options are selected for you
      • Custom – allows you to specify all installation options
      • Upgrade – upgrades the existing Linux OS to a newer version keeping all existing system data (other options may overwrite existing system data)
  • Boot Partition – Specifies the partition to place the boot loader files
  • Partition placement – Options can allow for existing partitions to be used, removed or new partitions created. The file system can also be chosen such as ext2, ext3, ext4, ntfs, etc. The placement also includes the Mount Points to specify where specific directories within the root will be placed.
  • Swap Partition – allows for the placement of the Swap Partition within the same options as the Partition placement
  • Networking – the installation should attempt to detect if a network interface exists in the system and will attempt to initialize it for Internet access. Some settings can be specified, especially for TCP/IP
  • Package selection – allows for extra applications to be selected for installation with the OS including updates if the system is connected to the Internet

NOTE: Not all the above options are available for each distro. Some distros may ask other options, but these are the basics.

At this point, the partitions should be created and formatted as desired. Once completed, the OS directory structure is created and files placed into the folders as needed. The partition boot system is generated as needed for a single or dual boot system. For some hardware, which is not required during the installation process, the devices are found and the necessary drivers placed on the disk with configuration files.

Once all of this is completed, the system should be ready to have the installation media removed, if a CD/DVD or USB device, and then rebooted.

No matter the placement of the OS, the above options should exist in some form or fashion during the installation.

NOTE: The OS can be placed onto a USB storage device such as a thumb drive. Be aware that the OS will only be bootable on systems which can boot from the USB bus.

Once done with the installation, you should reboot the system and let the Linux OS load so you can verify the installation.

To verify the installation, open a terminal and type the following to check necessary information:

  • cat /var/log/dmesg – used to view the boot log to check for boot errors
NOTE: In a Terminal, you can type 'dmesg' (with no quotes) to view the dmeag log file.

Any errors you find you should check the documentation for your distro or go to the distro’s website to check for the error messages and how to resolve them.


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