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Linux for the non-geek!

Part Nine:

Installing Linux and
Adding Software

So how do I install PCLinuxOS?

It would be re-inventing the wheel if I were to add how to install PCLinuxOS. There is a lot of help on the internet. What I will do here is to link you to the best help I have been able to find on my travels, and, believe me, I have looked! I cannot do any better than the some of the sites I have found. The absolute best site I have seen for stepping through the various stages of running the live CD to get to a desktop is here:

The Perfect Desktop with PCLinuxOS

What I would suggest you do for now is to print out the first two pages of this site. The first page is about getting the Live CD up and running, and the second is about how to install the system to your hard drive. The three other pages are about software you ought to install. I wouldn't worry too much about them for now, but after a successful installation you can go back to them.

If you have had any experience in partitioning a hard drive, or are not too scared to try, I also suggest you print out this page:

How to use the Partitioner in PCLinuxOS

This will explain how to make space on your Hard Drive by reducing the amount of space used for Windows, so you can install PCLinuxOS. Although this page relates to the previous version of PCLinuxOS, the partitioner has not changed. However, modern Hard Drives have, and I would hope that, in this day and age, you can make at least 30Gb spare for your Linux installation. If that is possible, I would create partitions for PCLinuxOS like this:

swap partition: 2Gb
main partition known as "/": 8Gb
home partition (used for data) known as "/home": 20Gb

If you have a lot more space, increase main a little and home a lot. I am using a 500Gb Hard Drive, but my main partition is only 20Gb. Why? Linux is not bloatware, your system files which includes all your programs, can fit in a small space. Even with 20Gb, this will only really get used when your system is creating temporary files. As for permanent files, with all the programs I have added, I've still yet to get more than about 5Gb on my main partition. The home partition includes each user's settings data, plus their personal data. That would be all your music files, video files, and data, all of which is what really uses space up.

If you are squeezing into less space, take swap down to twice your RAM if less than 1Gb, main down to about 6Gb. If you are forced to drop home below about 8Gb, just do away with it, this will mean that your personal data and settings will go on the same partition as your system. It makes no difference to the running of your system, only if you wish to re-install, you'll have to wipe the whole partition so you'll need to back up your data and your settings first. Which is why I prefer separate home partition. But there is no "technical" reason for it at all.

After installing, what then?

Well you can add other programs. The link to "Perfect Desktop" above shows you, on pages 3-5, how to install software. The author made one mistake: the part about selecting respositories: you should only select one. Since I am writing this for Britain, I suggest you use Heanet (Ireland), Belnet (Belgium), or nl.freebsd (Holland). These European sites will give you much faster downloads than the American servers.

I should also add that if you wish to add Azureus, it is now in the main PCLinuxOS repository, and you can find it and add it direct using Synaptic as described in the article for other programs. I also don't see the point of "vmware", unless you wish to run "virtual machines" within your Linux setup. If that has you scratching your head, you don't need vmware, well, not yet anyway.

Here are five programs you will definitely need:

kde-i18n-en_GB : Wow what a snappy name! This adds "British" English support to your desktop.

openoffice-l10n-en_GB : This adds British templates and spellchecking to Open Office.

libdvdcss2 : This adds the ability to play area-coded DVDs.

win32-codecs :  Adding the ability to play some Windows media types on your system.

lame : Adding mp3 encryption/decryption to your system - remember the drag and drop stuff on Page Five?

Setting your system for British English

I will be adding that to this page soon ...

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