How do I install PCLinuxOS.

Introduction.

As Linux is still a mystery to many people, the purpose of this Wiki page is to hold your hand and enable you to install PCLinuxOS 2007. Accompanied with screen shots, it aims to provide all the answers you need for a successful installation.

Installation.

Boot your Live CD as usual and you will see the following screen:

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Note the "Install PCLinuxOS" icon, as this is the point from which it all starts. Just as an aside, you can continue to use the Live CD system while the operating system is installing on your hard drive! Personally, I don't do that, but it's possible. When you click on the Install icon, it will launch a Wizard that will guide you through the rest of the procedure.

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Clicking on Next will lead you to a screen that will ask you which hard drive you want to install to. Select the appropriate drive (again, Linux for Novices provides guidance).

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Once selected, click Next and this will lead you to the screen that strikes fear into many: the Partitioning stage.

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This requires some explanation and also some warnings.

Warning number 1: If you partition a drive AND format it, ALL DATA WILL BE LOST.

Warning number 2: Due to warning number 1, BACK UP ALL ESSENTIAL DATA.

Warning number 3: Existing partitions can be resized successfully, but nothing can be guaranteed, so abide by warning number 2.

Warning number 4: If you want to dual boot Linux with MS Windows, make sure you have de-fragmented Windows first. Windows is extremely messy in the way in which it writes files to the hard drive and if you are going to resize the drive, it is essential you tidy them up first.

OK, on to business!

You have three options.

  • If you already have a spare partition that's free, you can use that. Just select it, and let the wizard carry out it's work.
  • If you really are sick of Windows (or it's a new drive) you can choose to use the whole of the drive.
  • You can use the Custom disk partitioning, which is what we are going to use here.

Select the radio button and click '''Next.''' Here is what you will see:

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A warning; see Warning number 2 above! Click Next.

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Now we get to the real nitty-gritty screen where the work is done:

Along the top is a legend that shows the types of partitions available. Underneath, is the actual partition as it stands at present. If it's a single Windows partition, it will show as a single <>Blue bar. To explain further what you are seeing; my computer has already been partitioned for Linux and hence the bar is coloured dark red, with a splash of green. Linux needs as a minimum, two partitions; the main root (/) partition and a swap partition, (coloured green.) I choose to have a separate partition for home (/home) and so you can see three partitions. No Windows partition for me!

In order to modify a partition, you must highlight it and then the various tools become available. I have expanded the screen shot here, so it's easier to see:

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In this screen shot, I have highlighted the left hand partition (23GB) and the information for the partition is shown on the right side lower panel. You can see its mount point is / (root) and is part of Device: sda1. This is because it's a SATA drive and these are treated as SCSI devices in Linux. Down the lower left side, are the tools that allow you to manipulate the hard drive partitions. You can resize a partition, whether it be a single partition or multiple ones. You can format (or not) selected partitions with a suitable file system. Most commonly, either ext2 or ext3 are used as file systems for Linux, though others are available. Personally, I use ext3, which is a journalled file system. This means that Linux keeps track of all changes written to the drive in real time. Should you get a crash (very uncommon), recovery on reboot is almost instantaneous - no more scandisk! The downside is a very small hit in terms of performance, but in reality, it's imperceptible.

Finally, having selected our preferred setup, we click Done and it takes us to the next screen.

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Here we confirm which partitions we want to format, to allow the system to install. You can see in this case I have only selected sda1, as sda3 is my /home partition. It may become clear now, why I favour this approach. Provided I don't format my /home partition, all the data on it will remain intact (but note warnings above). The system will simply pick up /home as being a valid partition for the system and allow me access to all my files on completion of installation. Once we click on Next the next screen confirms the format process. Yet again, you are offered a warning that you are going to destroy any data on the partition you are about to format.

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Click Next again and the format process will commence and there's no going back!

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The next screen to appear, is the one you've been waiting for. When you click Next, the installation begins.

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You can see the progress bar moving.

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Next the mount points and preparing the boot loader.

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The boot loader screen where you can select either GRUB (default) or Lilo. Basically, the automated options work just fine, so unless you have specific requirements, just keep clicking Next. You can also see you can adjust the time out value for the boot loader (mine is set to 10 seconds).

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This screen shows you the boot loader options that will appear when you boot the machine. More often than not, if you are dual booting with Windows, the system will pick up the Windows partition automatically and it will appear as an option here. If not, you can add the boot parameter now, or later once the system is up and running via the Administration Center.

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Click Finish and the boot loader will configure itself.

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Next, set the Administrator (root) password. Generally speaking, once the system is up and running, you only log in as root when you need to do specific maintenance on the system. root gives you unlimited access to ALL files, and you can do serious damage to the system. For example, if you tell Linux to delete a critical file, IT WILL and you wont be given any second chance. So use root with great care and only when you really need to. Click "Next".

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Next, the User(s) password. You can set up as many users as you like here, each with their own unique name and password. If you are setting up multiple users, click on "Accept user" after each entry. (This is where Linux security comes into its own!) Once you're finished, click Done.

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On the next screen screen, click Finish and you really are! Let the system shut itself down (it will tell you when to take out the CD; auto-eject it). This is the only time you have to reboot the computer and only because you are now switching from a live CD, to a proper installation.

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When you reboot, this is what you'll see:

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Congratulations!

You have completed installing your very own Linux system. Note the Install icon has disappeared and you are now the proud owner of a superb operating system, along with pre-installed software that offers you a productive computer from this point on. No more, do you need to spend hours loading extra software. All the common applications are ready for you to use and many thousands (Yes THOUSANDS) more are available from the distribution repositories. More about that, another time!