While the installation process is quite straightforward, it is essential that you prepare ahead of time to ensure that the installation process goes smoothly. Of course, you ll need the necessary installation disks to install the system; but it s also worth looking over your hardware, too. This section examines both software and hardware aspects of preparation.
To begin with, you need to have the necessary software for the job. The Fedora 2 distribution can be obtained from a number of sources. Here are a couple of options:
The Publisher s Edition DVD included with this book: This includes all the material that you need for the installation process itself. This chapter looks at installation using the DVD that is included in this pack.
The downloadable CD images: In the true spirit of open source ( www.opensource.org ), Fedora is also available as CDs downloadable for free public use.
These CD images can be obtained from the official Fedora Web site at http://fedora.redhat.com .
After you have downloaded the CD images, you need to write them onto CD recordable discs (be sure to tell your CD-burning software that you re burning CD images or ISO images ), which you may then use for installation.
If you are using CDs rather than the accompanying DVD, please note that the Personal Desktop configuration requires the first two installation CD discs during the installation. As you begin to explore some of the many applications supplied with the Fedora 2 distribution, you ll need the remaining discs for installing these applications. Therefore, it is worthwhile to hold on to all three binary CDs discs.
Before you start the installation, it s a good idea to make a note of the hardware details of the machine you plan to use for your Linux installation. These details can help you get the most out of the installation process, and even in detecting problems in the hardware configuration itself ”problems that can prevent Fedora 2 from installing correctly.
During the process of installation, Fedora 2 may need some extra help to determine your computer s exact hardware composition. To help it out, it is a good idea to make a note of the details on the following checklist before you begin the installation:
Keyboard type: The Fedora 2 installation defaults to a standard American English 105-key keyboard. Unless you are using a language-specific keyboard such as those used in many European and East Asian countries , you don t have to worry about this detail.
Mouse type: Fedora 2 supports two-button and three-button mice, as well as wheel mice and the cordless variety. You should note the exact make and nature of your mouse. Fedora 2 also supports tablets; to verify that your make of tablet is compatible with Fedora 2, check the Hardware Compatibility List.
Hard disk size : Make a note of the size of the hard disk that you ll be installing Fedora 2 onto. If the installation process fails to detect the hard disk size correctly, it might point to an underlying hardware problem. Also note that a Personal Desktop installation will require around 1.9GB of hard disk space for the programs loaded during installation. If you plan to install other applications, you will need more.
Video (graphics) card: Note the chipset of the video card and the amount of RAM. While the Red Hat X-server configuration program can usually probe and detect the video card, it sometimes fails. If it does fail, you ll need to tell Fedora 2 the name of your video card chipset. Note that the video RAM is sometimes also displayed on the screen while the machine boots.
If you can t find the name of your video card chipset in the Hardware Compatibility List ( described in the next section of this chapter), don t worry. Note that this means only that Fedora 2 s GUI is affected. Generally , if you intend to use the computer only as a server system, you re recommended not to install any GUI for reasons of resource load and security. If you do want a GUI, you ll still be able to configure your machine to use the VESA interface for running the X-server. The VESA interface standard is supported by most of the commonly available video cards.
Monitor: If you have an unusual monitor model, the configuration of the GUI X Server software (during the installation process) might not detect it. Therefore, it s worth noting your monitor s specific information. You ll need the horizontal and vertical sync rates, which can generally be found either in the monitor manual or at the monitor manufacturer s Web site.
Sound card: While the installation tries to detect the sound card, it sometimes doesn t succeed. Therefore, noting the name of the sound card chipset in advance is a good idea.
Network card: During installation, Fedora 2 tries to detect the network interface card (NIC) and load the appropriate software driver automatically. You should note the name of the chipset of the NIC in advance of installation, just in case the installation process fails to determine it.
How do you find this information? Well, if you have the technical specification documents that were supplied with your computer, you ll find the information in there. If not, the machine s existing operating system will probably offer some way of browsing the hardware being used. For example:
In Windows 2000 or Windows XP, you can find out about existing hardware via Start>Settings>Control Panel>System (select the Hardware tab, and click the Device Manager button).
In other Linux systems, you can find out about existing hardware through various menu options of the GUI. For example, try the options in Programs>Settings or Main Menu>System Tools, depending on which version of Linux you re using.
Red Hat maintains a list of officially supported hardware , called the Hardware Compatibility List (HCL). The HCL lists all the hardware components against which the operating system has been checked extensively for proper functioning. The list is available at http://hardware.redhat.com/hcl/ .
It s worth checking for your own hardware components in this list before buying new hardware for your Fedora desktop; if you find them, it can give you some peace of mind. You shouldn t panic, however, if your hardware doesn t appear in the HCL; there s still a good chance that it will work with the Fedora 2 installation. Many hardware components behave using standardized interfaces that can be persuaded to work with Linux (although sometimes in a less efficient way). For example, most modern video cards support the VESA mode of graphic display, which can be used by Fedora 2 to present a GUI front-end to the user . While the VESA mode is not suitable for performance- intensive graphic displays, it is a quick and easy way to persuade an incompatible video card to work with the GUI software in the Linux operating system.
It is well worth using the HCL to check out the compatibility of hardware with Fedora 2 (or, indeed, any distribution of Linux) before investing your money in it. A significant proportion of all queries submitted by new Fedora users relate to hardware for which Red Hat has not confirmed official support.
While any new motherboard or processor should safely work with a Linux basic console mode, the most common problems lie with compatibility of sound and display hardware. Due to the nature of the open source movement, the compatibility of Linux with specific hardware configurations can take some time to develop. Not all hardware manufacturers are quick to offer Linux versions of their driver software.
The installation process will also offer you the opportunity to create a boot disk . The boot disk can help you to recover gracefully if you have boot problems. While creation of the boot disk is optional, it is recommended ”you never know when you might need it.
For creating the boot disk, it s a good idea to have a floppy disk ready during the installation process. Make sure there s nothing important on the disk because the boot disk creation process will overwrite it.
We ve already talked about compiling a hardware checklist before installation. If you intend to use your new Fedora 2 desktop within an existing network, you should also compile a checklist of network- related information for use during the installation process. You may need to ask your network administrator some of these details:
DHCP or fixed IP: An IP address is essential for any computer to participate in any networking activity. So, you must ask: Is your desktop assigned an IP address dynamically (by a DHCP server), or should it be configured with a static IP address? By default, Fedora 2 will configure your machine to request an IP address from a DHCP server, but if you need to, you can change this either during the installation process itself or after the installation is complete.
If you are installing your Fedora machine to connect to an ISP or if you have a DSL or cable modem connection with a cable or DSL router, your system is most likely to be assigned an IP address by a DHCP server. If you want to run a Web site or other type of server from off of your Fedora installation, you might want to think of obtaining a static IP address. In all likelihood , your ISP will impose an additional charge for a static IP address. You may want to refer to Chapter 3 for more information on setting up Fedora in different network environments.
If your computer is to be configured to get its IP address dynamically from a DHCP server, you can skip the rest of these questions.
IP address: If your machine is to have a fixed IP address, you need to know what IP address to use. An IP address is always mentioned along with its network mask , so make a note of both the IP address and network mask.
DNS host and domain names : You also need to note some domain name service (DNS) details ” specifically , the machine s host name and domain name. For example, if your network administrator assigns your machine the DNS name arwen.acme.com , your machine host name is arwen and your domain name is acme.com . The combination of host name and domain name (here arwen.acme.com ) is called the fully qualified domain name (FQDN).
If your office is running an internal DNS server, this host and domain name combination should refer to the IP address previously mentioned. Many network applications perform optimally when a local DNS server is present in the network.
DNS servers: DNS servers are responsible for resolving Internet names to the corresponding IP addresses. You should note the IP address(es) of your network s DNS server(s). If there is no local DNS server, it s possible that an external DNS server is used for Internet name resolution. Fedora 2 allows you to specify up to three DNS servers.
Internet gateway: Finally, you should note the IP address of your machine s Internet gateway. While any network traffic for your local LAN will be sent directly to those local machines, any traffic to other networks (like those of the Internet) will be sent out through this gateway. Failure to set this value will prevent you from accessing the Internet after installation.
If you find problems, there are plenty of ways to get answers. In fact, the open source community boasts of a huge number of avenues that can help you resolve your technical difficulties.
For example, Red Hat itself has an extensive bug reporting and resolution database, freely available for public access at http://bugzilla.redhat.com . In addition, there are many Linux user communities worldwide, hungry to share experiences and thriving on a diet of mutual support (see www.linux.org/groups ). LinuxQuestions.org ( www.linuxquestions.org ) is an excellent online forum for questions on Linux in general, and Fedora in particular.