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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Step-by-Step Installation

This section provides a basic step-by-step installation of Red Hat Linux from a CD-ROM. There are many different ways to proceed with an install, and the Red Hat Linux installer can provide a graphical or text-based interface in a variety of modes. The example approach outlined here should work with any PC and can be used as a starting point for learning more about installing Red Hat Linux.

To get started, insert the first Red Hat Linux CD-ROM and reboot your computer. You'll first see a boot screen that offers a variety of options for booting. These options (shown in Figure 3.1) are

  • <ENTER>—Start the install using a graphical interface

  • text—Start the install using a graphical text interface

  • lowres—Start the install using a 640x480 resolution

  • nofb—Start the install avoiding use of a video framebuffer

  • expert—Offer manual installation and configuration during the install, and disable autoprobing of hardware by the installer

  • linux rescue—Boot to single-user mode with a root operator prompt, disabling X, multitasking and networking

  • linux dd—Use a driver disk and possibly one or more kernel arguments (such as linux mem=512M expert) to enable certain types of hardware, such as networking cards

Figure 3.1 Select a type of installation, installation mode, or rescue installation when first installing Red Hat Linux.

Other options that can be used at the boot prompt include setting a specific resolution and color depth for the installation. This is done by typing vga= at the boot prompt, along with a number such as

  • 773—use 256 colors at 1024x768

  • 775—use 256 colors at 1280x1024

  • 791—use thousands of colors at 1024x768

  • 794—use thousands of colors at 1280x1024

Function keys can be used at the boot prompt to get more information about an installation mode or to enable a mode. Pressing F2 provides a single screen of help text. Pressing F3 gives information about the expert mode. Pressing F4 describes how to pass kernel arguments. Pressing F5 describes Red Hat's rescue mode.

Press the spacebar to halt an automatic boot to the install. Type the word text at the boot prompt and press Enter to continue. The installer's kernel will load, and you'll be asked to select a language for the installation, as shown in Figure 3.2.

Use the Tab key to navigate to scrolling lists or buttons in the graphical dialog box. Scroll through the list to highlight a language, and then use the Tab key to highlight the OK button and press Enter. You'll then be asked to select a keyboard for the install, as shown in Figure 3.3.

Figure 3.2 Select a language to use when installing Red Hat Linux.

Figure 3.3 Select a default keyboard to use when installing and using Red Hat Linux.

Again, select a keyboard, and then highlight the OK button and press Enter. You'll next be asked to select a pointing device, as shown in Figure 3.4.

Figure 3.4 Select a pointing device to use when installing and using Red Hat Linux.

Select a mouse type to use for Red Hat Linux sessions. Note that Red Hat Linux supports USB devices, including USB mice. If you have a two-button mouse, select it by scrolling through the list. Note that three-button emulation will be automatically selected. (This emulation enables a middle-mouse button to be simulated when both the left and right mouse buttons are pressed simultaneously.) Highlight OK to continue. You'll see a splash screen and will be offered the opportunity to go back to change the previous settings. If the settings are correct, highlight the OK button and press Enter. You'll be asked to select a type of installation, as shown in Figure 3.5.

Figure 3.5 Select a type of Red Hat Linux installation.

Select a type of installation using your cursor keys and the Tab key. The Workstation, Server, and Laptop installations offer a unique set of preselected software libraries and packages. The Custom installation allows selection of individual software packages with the ability to resolve any dependency issues automatically. Software dependencies should be resolved in order to have a stable system because some software packages depend on other software packages to function properly.


You can use Linux virtual consoles during installation to monitor the hardware detection, gain access to a single-user shell, and view progress of the installer script. When using a graphical installer, press Ctrl+Alt+F1+4 to navigate to the various screens. Press Alt+F7 to jump back to the installer. When performing a text-based installation, use Alt+F1+4; use Alt+F1 to jump back to a text-based install, and Alt+F5 to jump back to the install screen if you use a graphical install.

In this example, select a Server install and press Enter to continue. You'll then see a screen, as shown in Figure 3.6, that offers a choice of partitioning schemes and tools.

Figure 3.6 Select a partitioning scheme or tool.

The Autopartition button will partition your hard drive according to the type of selected installation, and automatically configure the partitions for use with Linux. The Disk Druid button will launch a graphical partition editor. The fdisk button will launch the Linux fdisk utility. The fdisk command offers the ability to create (not format) nearly 60 different types of partitions, but has a text-based interface.

Click the Disk Druid button. If you are using a new hard drive that hasn't previously been partitioned, you'll be asked if you would like to create new partitions on the drive. Click the Yes button to initialize the drive. If you are using a hard drive that has been previously partitioned or formatted and the partitions are recognized, Disk Druid will present a graphical interface. Figure 3.7 shows a hard drive with nearly 1.5GB of free space that hasn't been partitioned.

Figure 3.7 Partition your drive before installing Red Hat Linux.

To use Disk Druid, select any listed free space, and then press the New button. To create free space, scroll to an existing partition and use the Delete button to delete the partition. If you use the New button, you'll see a dialog box as shown in Figure 3.8.

The Add Partition dialog box is used to select a hard drive, assign a mount point (such as /boot or /), assign a filesystem (such as ext2, ext3, RAID, swap, or vfat), assign the size of the partition, and assign a filesystem check. The size of the partition can be fixed, or if you press the spacebar when selecting the Fill All Available Space field, will use all remaining free space. The Check for Bad Blocks item is used to verify low-level formatting (and will take a long time on a hard drive with a capacity larger than 1GB). Use the OK button when finished.

Figure 3.8 Set partition information about a selected or new partition on a hard drive.

Red Hat Linux requires at least a root (/) and swap partition. The swap partition should be more than twice as large as the amount of installed memory, and perhaps three times as large because of new memory requirements of the Linux 2.4–series kernel. Figure 3.9 shows a completed partitioning scheme for a server with an initial 1.5GB hard drive. Note that you can assign other schemes, such as a remote /home partition, but this can be accomplished after installation.

Figure 3.9 Review your partitioning scheme for your hard drive.

Take a moment to review your partitioning scheme. Changes can be made by selecting a desired partition, and then using the Edit or Delete button, followed by use of the New button to use any free space. When satisfied, use the OK button to continue the install. You'll then be asked (as shown in Figure 3.10) to select a boot loader for booting Red Hat Linux, or whether you'd prefer not to use a boot loader (when booting from floppy, a DOS partition, or over a network).

Figure 3.10 Select whether you want to use a boot loader, and if so, which type.

Using GRUB or LILO depends on your need for a particular feature, familiarity or preference. The GRUB loader works with all BSD UNIX variants and many proprietary operating systems. The utility also supports menuing, command lines, installed RAM detection, and diskless and remote network booting. On the other hand, LILO has a much longer Linux history and might be more familiar to long-time Linux users. Select the desired boot loader, and then use the OK button, and you'll be asked where you want to install the boot loader, as shown in Figure 3.11.

GRUB and LILO are typically installed in the MBR of the first IDE hard drive in a PC. However, the boot loader can also be installed in the first sector of the Linux boot partition. Note that you can also backtrack through the install process to change any settings. Select a location and use the OK button to continue. You'll then be asked (as shown in Figure 3.12) if you'd like to pass any kernel arguments before booting Linux.

Figure 3.11 Select where you'd like to install the boot loader.

Figure 3.12 Enter any desired kernel arguments to be passed by the boot loader.

Enter the arguments in the dialog box or use the OK button to continue. After you press Enter, you can graphically edit the loader's configuration file to add or remove choices of booting other operating systems. The default operating system to boot will be Red Hat Linux, but if you are configuring a dual-boot system, you can configure the boot loader, either now or later on when using Red Hat Linux, to support booting another installed operating system residing on a different partition. When finished, click the OK button, and you'll be asked to select a firewall configuration, as shown in Figure 3.13.


You'll be asked to configure network settings if your computer's installed network adapter is recognized by the Red Hat installer. If you install a recognizable network adapter after installation, Red Hat Linux will ask during the boot process if you'd like to configure the adapter. Network adapters can also be configured by using the netconf command.

Figure 3.13 Selected a desired security level.

Use the dialog box shown in Figure 3.13 to set a security level. Although the No firewall setting isn't recommended, this setting can be used if you're using Red Hat Linux as a non-networked workstation. The Medium setting might be acceptable for use on an intranet protected by a firewall and served by an Internet gateway. Certainly use a high security level if your computer is attached directly to the Internet. Note that you can also manually configure security settings after installing Red Hat Linux. Use the Customize button to choose allowable services, as shown in Figure 3.14.

The dialog box in Figure 3.14 should be used to set allowable incoming service requests. This is important if you want to allow requests immediately following installation and the start of Red Hat Linux. For some servers, HTTP, FTP and Simple Mail Transport Protocol (SMTP) requests are acceptable and reasonable. Use the OK button when you finished selecting services. You'll then be asked to select any additional languages you'd like supported by the installed Red Hat Linux system. You'll then see a Time Zone Selection dialog box, as shown in Figure 3.15.

Figure 3.14 Select allowable incoming service requests for your custom security setting.

Figure 3.15 Select your time zone.

There are two "clocks" or times when using a PC: the hardware clock, maintained by chips in the computer and a backup battery; and the system time, set upon booting and used by the Linux kernel. It is important to keep the two times accurate and in synchronization because automated system administration might need to take place at critical times. Many computer installations use computers with hardware clocks set to Greenwich Mean Time (a misnomer because the correct designation is UTC or Coordinated Universal Time). The Linux system time is then set relative to this time and the current time zone, such as Eastern Standard Time, which is -5 hours of UTC. Setting the computer's hardware clock to UTC (GMT) has the advantage of allowing the Linux system time to be easily set relative to the geographic position of the computer and resident time zone. (Such as a Linux laptop user who would like to create files or send electronic mail with correct time stamps, and who has traveled from New York to Tokyo).


Read the manual page for the hwclock command to learn how to keep a running Linux system synchronized with a PC's hardware clock.

Choose your time configuration, and then press the OK button. You'll then be asked to enter a root operator password. Type in a password, press Enter, and then type it again to make sure that it is verified. The password, which is case sensitive, should be at least six characters (or more) and consist of letters and numbers. Note that the password isn't echoed back to the display. When finished, use the OK button to continue. You can then create a normal user account, as shown in Figure 3.16.

Figure 3.16 Create a user account for use with Red Hat Linux.

Create a user account for yourself and any additional users of the system. Users are assigned a username, password, shell, and home directory. The default home directories reside under the /home directory. When finished, use the OK button to continue. You can then add additional users if you created a user for your system. (Even if you use Red Hat Linux on a standalone workstation, you should create a user for yourself, and then use the su or sudo commands to perform root tasks.)

In the Package Group Selection dialog box, shown in Figure 3.17, are select software groups, each of which contains many different software packages.

Figure 3.17 Select software package groups for installation.

Use the spacebar to select various groups of software packages. Note that the size of the installed software will dynamically reflect your choices. Use the Select Individual Packages item to choose individual software packages. This can allow fine-tuning of the software installation to only installing desired commands or clients, and to prune unwanted software. Use the OK button when finished. You'll then be asked to configure a video card for the X Window System (if selected for installation) as shown in Figure 3.18.

You won't be asked to select a video card if you don't install the X software. Note that you can select and choose X software for installation, and then skip the configuration step and configure X for Red Hat Linux after installing. See Chapter 6, "The X Window System," for details on configuring X to work with a PC's graphics card. If you select a graphical or text-based install and don't use the Expert mode to install Red Hat Linux, your graphics hardware will be automatically probed.

Figure 3.18 Select a video card for use with X11 or skip the configuration.

After X configuration or skipping the configuration, the installer will then format your partitions using your settings. Next, an install image will be transferred to the formatted partition for use during the install. The installer will then check your software selection for any package dependencies and begin copying software from the CD-ROM (or a selected source) onto the new Linux partitions, as shown in Figure 3.19.

Figure 3.19 Monitor your installation and packages.

The installer, shown in Figure 3.19, reports on the name of the current package being installed, the total number of packages, time remaining for the installation, and number of completed and remaining packages. At some point during the installation, you will be asked to remove the first CD-ROM and insert the second. When the installation finished, the installer will perform some temporary file cleanup, install the boot loader and then ask if you'd like to create a boot diskette for possible use later, as shown in Figure 3.20.

Figure 3.20 You can create a boot disk for later use.

You can create this book disk now, or you can use Red Hat's mkbootdisk command later on while using Red Hat Linux. Select Yes or No. If you choose to create a boot disk, you'll need to have a blank diskette on hand. Having a boot disk can be handy, especially if the boot loader fails to boot Linux.

After this portion of the install, you're done! Press the OK button and Red Hat Linux will eject any inserted CD-ROM and reboot. If you choose to use the LILO boot loader, you'll then be presented with a graphical boot prompt as shown in Figure 3.21. (The GRUB boot loader will look similar.)

If you do nothing for five seconds or press Enter, the boot loader will boot Red Hat Linux. To use a text-based boot prompt, press Ctrl+x and press Enter. You'll then see the boot: prompt if you use LILO. Both LILO and GRUB offer the chance to pass any required kernel arguments.

Figure 3.21 Boot Red Hat Linux by pressing the Enter key or waiting five.

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