Installing an operating system is often a long, drawn-out process that requires a lot of upfront planning. Installation of traditional UNIX-based operating systems seems to have been particularly painful in the past, requiring even experienced administrators to fret about partitions and drivers. Early versions of Linux were no different in this respect. The first version of Linux, back in 1993, could be booted up using only Minix (another UNIX-like operating system). That version of Linux could support only the Finnish keyboard because the author of Linux didn t have access to a U.S. keyboard.
However, since then, Linux has grown by leaps and bounds. Each of the major distributions show that developers have put a lot of thought and effort into the Linux installation process, and, today, installing Linux for desktop use is a no-brainer.
Red Hat, in particular, has caught the attention of the public, breaking away from the standard tradition of distributing disc images and pioneering the concept of distributing software in the form of packages. (Right now, the Red Hat Package Manager, or RPM, is a standard in distribution of precompiled software packages in the Linux world; RPM is further covered in Chapter 4.)
Red Hat has also been improving Linux usability and features in the most daunting area of any operating system ”installation. The latest version of Fedora, Core 2 is truly the most user -friendly ever, with extensive inputs from professional usability experts and a new look to attract even the most hardened technophobes.
The Fedora 2 distribution offers four different configurations, and your choice will depend on how you plan to use the operating system:
Personal desktop: This configuration is targeted at users who are new to Linux, or those who like to use Linux for day-to-day applications such as office productivity tools and Internet browsing. This is the option we ll install in this chapter.
Workstation: This configuration is targeted at developers or system administrators. It provides various tools for software development and system management.
Server: This configuration is mainly intended for systems that will not be used directly, but are primarily for offering network-based services such as e-mail, file sharing, network connectivity, and Web resources.
Custom: This configuration is for experienced users who want more control over exactly what is installed on their systems. The user can select which packages are to be installed and how the hard disks are to be used, and has control over various other configuration options that are pre-selected in the other three configurations.
In several cases, any one of the preceding installation options may not have all the functionality required. These installation options are not set in stone; that is, if you install a particular option, it does not mean that you cannot take advantage of applications available in another option. You may very well install a particular option and then choose to install additional software that you find useful. Installing additional software is covered in detail in Chapter 4.
This chapter takes a look at getting a Personal Desktop installation in place on a new computer. It looks at each step of the installation and the decisions that you would have to take at various stages of the installation to get a working Fedora desktop in place. By the end of the chapter, you will have a desktop up and running that you will be able to use right away for your daily needs, such as Internet browsing, e-mail, and office productivity tools.