April 16, 2014

Sneak Preview: Corel Linux OS Second Edition - page 2

First Looks

  • August 7, 2000
  • By Michael Hall

We gave Windows its own partition and installed it first to see how it fared, and to see what a Corel install would work like over the top of a "live" Windows setup. Nothing much about the Windows installation presented itself as problematic (though the "drumroll" graphic provoked some snorts), with the exception of its failure to recognize a Linksys Etherfast 10/100 LAN card. We installed the drivers for the NIC once the install was finished, got the machine talking to our primary computer via Samba and provided it Internet connectivity through IP masquerading, installed a few applications, rebooted it several times to make sure things worked consistently, and set out to install Corel alongside it.

Installing Corel Linux
Corel Linux comes on a bootable CD, if your machine can handle them; it's a simple matter to start the installation process by putting the CD in the drive and turning on the computer. If you choose to install from Windows, there's an application that can be launched from within Windows to start the installation, as well. Finally, boot floppies can be made using a simple DOS batch file.

The distribution installs one way: via a polished graphical installation program built around minimizing the number of choices a new user is going to feel compelled to make.

Partitioning the Hard Drive
The thorniest part of most installations, drive partitioning, is dealt with by offering four choices:

  • using existing free disk space
  • installing within Windows by creating a loopback file system
  • overwriting the disk completely
  • determining the partition structure on your own using a partition tool

We tried the methods that allowed us to keep the Windows installation intact, starting with the loopback method. There was little to complain about; it worked as advertised, though there was an annoying period where the loopback file system was being set up and the installation program did little to indicate that our machine hadn't locked up. Fortunately, the hard drive light would flicker noticably from its generally steady state now and then.

We decided to bring in Partition Magic for the next installation run. We repartitioned the hard drive into a fairly common scheme, moving and resizing the Windows partition enough to allow a 5 MB /boot partition. We also created a 256 MB swap partition, a 100 MB / partition, a 250 MB /var partition, a 3 GB /usr partition, and a 500 MB /home partition. Partition Magic allowed us to ensure that the Windows installation remained intact.

We wouldn't ordinarily go into a lot of detail about the partitioning scheme; the science of graphical partition tools is fairly well established in most distributions that bother, and even the crankier ones allow use of cfdisk. The problem in Corel's case, though, is that when you prepare to move into the package installation phase and it checks available disk space, the / partition is the only one considered a viable candidate for file installation. Our 100 MB root partition caused the installation to halt due to insufficient disk space. No amount of defining and redefining partitions with the graphical "expert's" tool would induce the installation to proceed.

Another trip to Partition Magic was required as a result, and we simply moved the Windows partition to the back of the drive, defined a swap partition, home partition, and gave the rest to /. The installation proceeded normally with that configuration.

If Corel were aimed at anybody other than new and transitioning Windows users, we'd have serious issues with the partitioning problems we encountered. The confusion the error message itself provoked (it merely states that there's not enough disk space, mentioning nothing of partition sizes) would be hard for a newbie who'd taken the step of reading HOWTOs or tutorials on a reasonable partitioning scheme, but remained uncertain of his or her mastery of the concepts.

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