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If you are new to Linux operating system, like me, then this article is for you.I had a personal computer (desktop) with Windows 98 and Windows XP installed on it (dual booting). I was able to convert it into a multiple boot machine i.e. Windows98, WindowsXP, Ubuntu (a distribution of Linux operating system) and simplyMEPIS (another flavour or distribution of Linux). An HP notebook (laptop), pavilion dv4000 with WindowsXP, home edition (40 GB hard drive) was converted into a dual boot sytem, UBUNTU and Windows; afterwhich it was converted into a multi-boot machine (Windows XP in 15 GB hard drive partition, PCLOS 2007 with updates- in 5 GB hard drive partition, UBUNTU 6.06 LTS with updates in about 7 GB and openSuse with updates- in about 10 GB). Another notebook (Asus F5 series, model F5R) was converted into an only Linux multiple boot machine with the following distributions installed on it: simplyMepis 7.0, openSUSE 10.3, Mandriva 2008 and PCLOS 2007. The 2 laptops (ASUS and HP) were connected together through the Ethernet card and socket to form a peer-to-peer (ad-hoc) 2-computer LAN, with Asus acting as printer server and HP as internet gateway. As we are getting closer to the end of 2009 and the beginning of a new year 2010, I thought of updating certain operating systems on the above laptops. 1. Installed PCLOS (GNOME) 2009 on Assus (in place of PCLOS 2007) 2. Installed MEPIS Linux 8.0.10 on Assus (in place of MEPIS 7.0) 3. Installed UBUNTU 9.04 on HP (in place of UBUNTU 6.06 LTS) 4. Made HP the internet gateway as well as the printer server Mepis is communicating fully with Windows XP (to go out to the iternet, to access shared documents as well as printing on X1270), getting the best of both worlds. Though it has limited communication with Ubuntu, accessing only shared files. On the other hand PCLOS is accessing the intenet through Ubuntu (masquerading) and printing documents on X1270.

Basic steps to obtain and install
An overview of the basic steps to obtain and install a
Linux operating system is given hereafter:

  • Connect your PC (or laptop) to a high speed internet
    connection (eg. ADSL, using a DSL router for example).

  • Using the internet search engines eg. Yahoo,
    Google,..etc., find the sites to download the ISO images of the
    Linux operating system ditributions that you want to download.

  • Download the pertinent files (operating system ISO image),
    preferably the live CD ones. With the CD live version, you can
    run the operating system from the CD discover how user friendly
    it is and what it can do (from the CD-ROM drive or DVD) before
    installing it on the hard drive of your PC, notebook or laptop.

  • Download also the checksum files md5s or sha1 (usually in
    text format).

  • Verify the integrity of downloaded ISO image files, by
    running the MD5SUM (cyclic redundancy check) checksum on the
    downloaded ISO files and comparing it with those given in the
    MD5S text files already downloaded.

  • Burn the ISO image files (the size of the OS image is
    about 700 MB) to a CD.

  • Reboot your machine with the CD having the Linux
    (operating system image on) in the CD ROM drive of your machine.
    When it starts up, the machine has to be able check the CD drive
    before the hard disk and to boot from the CD drive.

  • When the machine reboots it starts with the Linux
    operating system, you can play verify, connect to the internet
    and examine the OS and the associated software packages available
    from the CD.

  • If you decide to install the OS on your hard disk to get
    the maximum out of it, click the install icon on the desk top and
    follow the installation screens until you have the Linux OS
    installed on your PC or laptop. When you reboot you will have the
    option to start (boot) your machine with Windows or Linux OS..

  • When you are in Linux operating system, you can add
    additional programs and software packages to the already
    installed ones. This is done through either downloading the
    appropriate files from the internet (and using the pertinent
    method or commands, function of the file extension) to install
    them or through the use of Synaptic package manager (that
    downloads the selected packages, installs them on your machine
    and keep track of them as well).

Common software packages:

The common software packages available with Linux operating system
are text editors & word processing, spread sheet, database,
games, internet browsers, graphics, CAD, GIS, presentation, desktop
publishing, project management, office packages (suites), programming
& scripting languages and IDE & development tools. Text
editors & word processing programs may include but not limited to
mousepad, leafpad, kedit, kate, kwrite, abiword word processer and
openoffice writer. Spread sheet programs may include openoffice calc,
kspread and gnumeric. Database programs are openoffice base, knoda
and kexi, not tomention mySQL or postgres. The games are arcade.
board games, card games and tactics & strategy. The internet
browsers may be Seamonkey, Navigator, Mozilla, Firefox, Flok and
Epiphany browsers. The graphics programs are dia, gimp and showfoto.
The CAD programs are kiCAD, qCAD and electric cad. The GIS are qgis
and grass software. The presentation programs are openoffice impress,
kpresenter and criawips. The desktop publishing software is scribus.
The project management programs are planner, taskjuggler and
IPDesktop. The
programming languages
may be C++, Java, SmallEiffel and free
pascal. The scripting
are perl, python, tcl/tk, ruby and, rexx. The IDEs
(integrated development environments) are netbeans, eclipse, mingw
developer studio, qt designer, kdevelop, pida, eric, gambas, quanta
and screem. For the multimedia players, there are: Miro, Amarok, juk,
kmplayer, mplayer, realplay, noatun, kaboodle and Totem movie player.
For graphs and functions plotting, they are: gnuplot, labplot, grace,
quickplot, kmplot, kst, kmatplot & rlplot.
Blueprint for
downloading, installing and using Linux operating systems:
Internet connection: it has to be of the high speed type (ADSL).ADSL
(Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line, or DSL for short) is a
high-speed Internet access service that utilizes existing copper
telephones lines to send and receive data at speeds that far exceed
conventional dial-up modems. The fastest dial-up modems are rated at
57 kilobits per second (Kbps), and usually operate at about 53 Kbps
under good conditions.
Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL),
a modem technology, converts existing twisted-pair telephone lines
into access paths for multimedia and high-speed data communications.
ADSL can transmit up to 6 Mbps to a subscriber, and as much as 832
kbps or more in both directions. Such rates expand existing access
capacity by a factor of 50 or more without new cabling. ADSL is
literally transforming the existing public information network from
one limited to voice, text and low resolution graphics to a powerful
communication system capable of bringing multimedia, including full
motion video, to everyone's home this century. In certain areas and
due to limitations in infrastructure, the speed of transmission can
be 512 kbps or 256 kbps. Still under these conditions the download
speed of files over the internet can be 62 or 31 kbps, respectively
(i.e. a 700 MB file would take 3 or 6 hours,respectively, to
2) Using the internet search engines: using any of the
web search engines (eg. Yahoo, Google,..etc., the one you most
comfortable with), enter the name of the Linux operating system that
you are looking for and you want to download (eg. simplyMepis,
Ubuntu, fedora, PCLOS, opensuse, centos, gentoo, mandriva, or any
other linux distribution for that matter).Bookmark (as favourite)
such sites and read through their pages to get more information
regarding the capabilities of each of such distributions.
Downloading the ISO image files: when you decide on the distributions
you would like to have, proceed to the mirror site (closest to you,
if applicable) and download the image file. An ISO is a file that
contains the complete image of a disc (from sector 0 to the end).
Such files are often used when transferring CD (or DVD) images over
the internet and are commonly used as a way of offering Linux
distributions for download. Once you have an ISO image on your hard
drive, you can burn it onto a CD (or a DVD) using one of many
ISO-burning software packages (will be covered in point 6 below).
Downloading the md5 and/or sha1 ascii files: from the same directory
where you downloaded the ISO image file, you can download the
pertinent (correspond to the image file downloaded) md5sum or sha1
ascii (text) file that have the file signature (a 32 or 40
alpha-numeric characters & digits).
5) Verification of ISO
image file integrity: there are certain software packages (utility
programs) that calculate the message digest (md) Before you burn your
CD, it is a good idea to check the integrity of the downloaded ISO
IMAGE to make sure that it is not corrupted and when burned to the CD
will boot-up. This can be done using md5sum or sha1sum. When you
perform such check, you are actually comparing the "unique"
signature of the downloaded file (that you have on your hard drive)
with that on the server (the original one) To perform an md5sum (or
sha1sum) check on the downloaded file, you need the file you
downloaded in step 4 above and the md5sum (or sha1sum) program
(example for such programs are fastsum, graphical md5sum and md5
command line mdssage digest utility).You run the program that checks
the signature of the Linux OS image file. Verify that the output of
the program equal the value found in the signature file downloaded in
step 4 above. If both values are equal, then you can peoceed to burn
the image onto a CD. Otherwise, you have to re-download the image
file and recheck its signature as explained above.
6) Burning ISO
image files: to create a bootable CD (or DVD) from an ISO image, you
must burn the actual ISO image onto the CD (NOT JUST COPY THE ISO
FILE TO THE CD). There are many software packages that can burn ISO
image files onto CDs. Two examples will be given hereafter namely
Nero Express (Ahead software) and ISO recorder (V2 power toy on
Windows XP with service pack 2, V3 for Windows Vista and V1 for
Windows XP SP1). With Nero Express, the following procedure can be
followed: to burn the image file onto a CD, insert a blank media
into the CD writer. Launch Nero, Select "disc image or saved
project". An Open dialog appears, select the ISO image you want
to burn, click open. The next screen allows you to select the Writing
Speed. The best setting is based on the actual hardware. if you have
any problems with the default value, try slower speeds. Click Next to
burn. With Windows ISO recorder, Click start, then click my
computer, click on the image file you want to burn to the CD, then
either click file on the menu or right click the image file. From
either, choose copy image to CD. Then follow the steps given by the
CD Recording Wizard pop-up.
7) Rebooting the PC/laptop from the
CD drive: after burning the image of LINUX OS distribution onto the
CD, place the CD into the drie and reboot your machine. The PC/laptop
must be capable of checking the CD drive before the hard drive and as
well as booting from the CD drive.
8) Examining the Linux
operating system: Now you have Linux in control of your machine where
you can check, try the software packages available from the CD as
well as accessing the internet.
9) Installing the Linux OS on
your hard drive: if you decide to have another operating system on
your machine (to have dual or multiple boot machine), you can follow
the instructions (given in the documents relevant to your
distribution) and proceed with the installation of your Linux
10) Adding more software packages to Linux OS: the
addition of software packages can be achieved either by using the
(synaptic) package manager or Yast (recommended as well as preferred
methods) or by downloading the proper and suitable files, for your
distribution, over the internet and installing them.

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Comments about this article
I don't share the same experience
writen by: bodieboy on 2010-01-27 13:14:33
From the early steps, I brought up Ubuntu CD burn and ran without installing on hard drive. My immediate experience was that Ubuntu did not recognize any devices or drivers. I could open files and folders. I could not find anything on networks, thus no internet through wireless router. After closing my trial run off CD, I have errors now, I cannot check my yahoo email through Windows XP. I am trying to learn more, I will begin a Linux class Feb 1, 2010. I don't that this class will help me in any way, especially near term, to install Linux and find devices and use Ubuntu daily and learn more. So pointers and the direction to the right forums would be helpful. Thanks to the groups. I am new and can also use direction to returning to the proper forums to follow up on others users comments.
RE: I don't share the same experience written by bodieboy:

Comment title: * please do not put your response text here