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DistributionWatch Review: Slackware Linux 7 - page 2

Downloading and Installing Slackware Linux 7

  • February 21, 2000
  • By Andrew Chen

At this point, we have several choices about what to do with a Slackware Linux installation. For those who just want to dip their toesr, there is ZipSlack--a relatively basic Slackware distribution stored on a bootable ZipDisk. For most people, this will be a nice distribution to set up easily, and you'll get a good strong taste of the power of Linux. The latest ZipSlack package contains the 2.2.13 kernel, the egcs C/C++ compiler, PPP, a handful of Internet and miscellaneous applications (but not Netscape).

From the Internet, you can grab ZipSlack from the main distribution site (or any of the fine mirrors) here. Installation couldn't be simpler--unzip and fire up Linux.bat. If that doesn't work, chances are your Linux.bat just needs a small tweak, most likely to specify where your Zip drive is.

For the purpose of this review, we'll be installing Slackware Linux on a clean system with a full hard-drive install (as opposed to a ZipSlack or BigSlack install). To get a good idea as to what Slackware Linux looks like in a small-business server environment, we decided to setup Slackware on a Pentium III-450 from Dell, with 64MB of RAM, a 1GB IDE hard drive, standard CD-ROM drive, and an ATI Rage Pro LT 4MB. The hard drive was unpartitioned for the installation.

Installation was easy to start up--simply stick the CD into the CD-ROM drive and boot up. This is quite an improvement over previous download releases. Slackware Linux 7 is the first release from Patrick Volkerding that has been distributed as an ISO on the Internet. You could build ISOs in previous versions, but you had to specifically download the CD-ROM boot image, often hidden in /bootdsks.144/.eltorito/ (usually hidden because of the preceding period in the directory name).

After burning the CD, we booted the machine from the CD cleanly with no major issues. After being prompted to login as root, it gave me an interesting list of options that I don't remember seeing on Slackware 4.0--at the shell, I was told exactly how to configure networking and PCMCIA if I wanted to do setup from a PCMCIA hard drive or over the network. Very cool improvement. Since this was an empty hard drive and we wanted to keep this simple, we launched cfdisk and created a single 936MB Linux ext2 partition and a 64MB Linux swap partition.

We set the ext2 partition as Bootable and wrote the changes to disk. To be absolutely sure everything was set with the partitioning, we rebooted the machine from CD once again and started Slackware Linux Setup. The familiar Slackware Linux setup menu (the same one for as long as I can remember) gave us the options of Help, Keymap, Addswap, Target, Source, Select, Install and Configure. Since this was a new machine within the United States, we started out by adding our swap space. Slackware Linux was smart enough to detect our new swap partition, enable it, and then activate it.

We next configured the Target partition. Since we had only created one large ext2 partition, we selected it and continued. Since we had used this drive before for another Linux operating system (since deleted), we did a quick format with no bad block checking.

The next task was to setup the Source media. In our case, we were installing from a CD-ROM and selected our source to be a CD-ROM drive. For some reason, the setup program was unable to find our CD-ROM drive. Curious as to see what went wrong, we quit back to the shell prompt and ran mount. Apparently the CD-ROM drive was not mounted anywhere. We created a directory in the root named /cdrom to use as a mount point. After quickly glancing through dmesg, we found out our CD-ROM was /dev/hdc. We did a mount /dev/hdc /cdrom and ran setup again.

We reconfigured our Addswap and Target locations as above and gave Source another go again. This time we chose a premounted directory and entered /cdrom. We continued on to select the packages we wanted and let setup select everything except package XD, the X Server development kit. We started the install and let setup install all the defaults from every package. During this time, we executed the mandatory wetware task of running to 7-11 to grab a sub and a Diet 7-Up.

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