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Before you can take advantage of all the possibilities that NLD provides, you need to install the operating system on your computer. In most business settings your computer support personnel have probably already taken care of the installation. But in case you are installing NLD yourself, this section provides some general information on the installation process.
NLD can be installed from CDs or DVDs, and the installation process for NLD is straightforward. The process is handled by YaST, an installation and configuration utility that walks you step-by-step through the install process (it is actually an automated version of YaST called autoYaST that handles the NLD installation).
YaST (Yet Another Setup Tool) also serves as the configuration tool used to change administrative settings related to hardware and software. YaST requires the use of the root account. YaST is actually provided by the SUSE Linux core that drives the NLD OS.
YaST allows you to select settings such as the language to be used, the default desktop (GNOME or KDE), and the time zone. In terms of identifying hardware components on the PC, YaST can actually recognize most hardware configurations during the installation process, which means that much of the work you do is to accept YaST-determined settings and then move on to the next step in the process.
Let's take a look at the hardware requirements for the installation of NLD. We can then take a look at how Linux partitions are used to partition your computer's hard drive. We can then look at some of the highlights related to the actual installation process.
Novell provides both minimum and recommended hardware configurations for the installation of NLD. These system requirements follow:
It is safe to say that in terms of hardware configurations more is always better. The higher the processor speed, the greater the memory, and the more fixed disk space available, the better NLD will run on your PC.
Understanding Linux Partitions
During the NLD installation process your hard drive (we will assume a single hard drive on the computer) is partitioned. A partition is actually a way to logically divide the disk space into pieces recognizable by the operating system. In Windows, these partitions are assigned drive letters, but not in Linux.
AutoYaST takes a look at your hard drive and then creates two partitions during the installation: a swap partition and a root partition. These partitions would be specified as /dev/hda1 and /dev/hda2, respectively, on an IDE hard drive (/dev/sda1 and /dev/sda2 on a computer using SCSI drives). You need both of these partitions for the system to function. The swap partition is used by the system to hold excess process and information that it can't currently copy into the computer's memory. So, the swap drive is basically used to swap information in and out of the computer's memory as you use the computer. A root partition is also created and is used as the main virtual drive for the system. This drive holds the system files for the NLD installation and is required for the system to boot.
YaST configures the disk partitions although you have the option of creating your own.
Other partitions can be created during the installation. But the process requires a working knowledge of the ins and outs of partitioning. Because data directories can be used to sequester files for different users and other purposes, it may make sense to allow YaST to perform the partitioning for you.
If you want to attempt to install a dual-boot system that runs NLD and another operating system (such as an existing Windows installation), you might need to create your own partitions during the NLD installation. Typically, YaST looks at your hard drive and attempts to resize the existing Windows partition to create space for the swap and root NLD partitions.
We will take a closer look at directories and file systems in Chapter 6, which provides further insight into the naming conventions of Linux partitions and directories and how to navigate them.
Other Tips on the NLD Installation Process
Before we end our discussion of the NLD installation and then move on to actually exploring NLD and the software that it provides, a few other items should be discussed. First, in terms of the overall installation process, it is probably best to allow YaST to do its job and configure the system for you. This means that you click Accept more times than not.
When you first boot the system for the installation (your NLD CD or DVD should be in the appropriate drive), the first installation screen that appears can be a little confusing. Just press the down arrow key on the keyboard to select Installation. You can then press Enter and begin the installation process.
Press the down arrow key to select Installation and then press Enter to begin the installation process.
At least two accounts are created during the NLD installation: root and a user account. As already mentioned, the root account is the administrative account for the NLD system. The password created for root should be between five and eight characters and should consist of alphanumeric (both letters and numbers) characters. You can also vary the case of the characters in the password, but you have to be able to repeat the password exactly as it was created (including case). This makes a strong password, meaning that it is more difficult to guess.
During the NLD installation you enter and then repeat the password for the root account.
You run the root account only when the system needs to be configured or new software needs to be installed. You don't want to run as root all the time (mainly for security reasons). In some cases, you may work at a company or institution where NLD was installed on your system for you. So, you may not even have the root password for as a security precaution.
At least one user account should also be created during the installation process. This is your user account; the account you will use as you use NLD and its software. Remember that Linux is case-sensitive. Make sure that you know whether Caps Lock was on when you typed in the username and password before you move on from the installation screen that allows you to configure the root and user account.
Additional user accounts can be created during the installation process. Click User Management on the Add a New Local User screen. They can also be created in NLD using root. NLD is actually an excellent environment for situations where a computer is shared by multiple users. Each user will have a specific working directory and can personalize the look and feel of the GNOME desktop.
You can also add user accounts from the NLD desktop after you have logged on to the system. Adding user accounts requires the root password. Administrator Settings can be reached via the System menu. You then use YaST to create users. YaST can also be used to edit user accounts; for example, you might want to change your own password. Again, however, if you don't have the root password and root privileges, you can't change settings reserved for the administrator.
After the NLD installation is complete, the system reboots. You can then log in using your username and password. We discuss the boot and logon processes in Chapter 2, "Starting Novell Linux Desktop."
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