A.2 Installing an Evaluation Linux System 309
Appendix A
drive running Windows XP or Windows 2000 Professional. Then we can
set it up as dual boot so it can be started as either a Windows or a Linux sys-
tem. We do this by partitioning the hard drive as half Windows, half Linux
using Partition Manager, and then installing from a CD-based copy of
Linux with all software. On such a system we can learn and test all software
mentioned in this book, and yet continue to run Windows and any soft-
ware we need that requires it.
Many organizations already have some equipment and space set aside
for this type of activity, and the only cost involved will be the time to set up
the systems and evaluate them. Such a project involves a few days to a few
weeks of staffing, and could well be encompassed during downtime from
other projects. If space and equipment are dedicated over some months,
and training is conducted and analysis work performed to support migra-
tions, then we will need to budget for a significant project.
A.2 Installing an Evaluation Linux System
Most people evaluating Linux will want to put their hands on a Linux sys-
tem and get a feel for how it compares to what they are used to. As with any
system, it is more difficult to install a system correctly than to use it. Installa-
tion is a place where potential users can get frustrated or even give up before
even getting a system to work. The following text will try to steer you to the
right machine and Linux distribution to make installation go well.
The installation problem occurs with Windows; when I worked for
Microsoft, I would go into retail stores on special occasions such as Christ-
mas and Windows launches to meet the public. My least favorite part of
this was meeting people who had attempted to install a new version of
Windows for themselves and got stuck. However, with Windows you can
always choose to buy a new computer that is set up correctly, and that
option is still an issue with Linux.
If you dont feel that you have the time to install Linux, you can just run
it from a live CD using Knoppix or another distribution that loads that
way. This is a great method for initial evaluation and is also useful for expe-
rienced users who are borrowing or repairing a machine.
Most systems can run Linux, but not all systems will be easy to install. It
is common for a new Linux user to spend a few days scraping up informa-
tion to solve problems such as those listed in Table A.1. If our goal is to
spend a week learning how to manage Apache and Samba and review the
operation of OpenOffice, Evolution, and KDE, it is worth thinking about
310 A.2 Installing an Evaluation Linux System
Table A.1 Possible Problems with Linux Install on Windows Machine
Problem Comment Workaround
Hardware supported by
Windows but not Linux
Particularly older systems.
More likely with Windows 98/ME,
which supports more old hardware
than NT/2000.
Component problems include large
disk drives in old machines, 3D graph-
ics cards (e.g., nVidia), sound cards,
and modems.
Select the machine carefully before
installing. Some machines may not
ever work well or will need difficult
activities (such as kernel patches) to get
Notebook and laptop
More likely to have unusual cards and
drivers that might not be supported.
Quite likely not to have full support
for all power management features
without manual installation.
If used, more likely to have weird
Decide if you must use a notebook.
Check sites such as Linux on Laptops,
http://www.linux-laptop.net/, to see
that your notebook and graphics card
are specifically supported.
Disk partitioning If a machine has Windows installed,
you probably need to shrink the Win-
dows partition to get space to install
Linux, not an easy task.
Most Linux installs will let you delete
the entire Windows partition, but
that’s probably not what you want. See
dual boot.
Graphical (X Windows)
install hangs or fails
This is pretty common and is why
most systems offer a text-mode install.
Installers can usually detect the graph-
ics adapter but often dont detect the
monitor sync rates.
Use text-mode install and then do X
Note the monitor sync data from Win-
dows before you start and enter it man-
If you can choose, get an ATI (e.g.,
Radeon) adapter rather than nVidia,
since the nVidia driver may need tricky
System does not use entire
screen for display
System did not detect the monitor and
is using VESA, or did not detect
adapter memory.
Note monitor and adapter information
from Windows before starting.

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