Installing Slackware Linux, Part 4: Installing Software and Configuring LiLo

This is the fourth part of a series on .

Part 1: Considered why some persons find Slackware difficult to install.

Part 2: Partitioned the hard drive for a clean install, as opposed to an upgrade or a dual boot installation.

Part 3: Formatted the swap drive and target drive and pointed the computer to the source media.

Now it’s time to put Slackware on the box.

Once Setup has found the installation media (in this case, a CD), it offers a choice of installation methods:

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Almost everyone should choose the default choice: “Full.” This will install Slackware, the X Server for running a GUI, and a choice of desktop environments and windows managers. The “Expert” (or “Menu”) option is useful for persons who are setting up a computer for specialized use. It is used to install “headless” servers, computers where a GUI is not needed, and computers intended for specialized use. Those choices allow you to leave stuff out.

The software is arranged in a series of packages called A, B, C, and so on. This dates to before CDs; in the floppy disk days, once the base system was installed, you could customize an installation by skipping the floppy disks containing elements you didn’t want.

After you start the installation by selecting the mode, highlighting OK, and hitting enter, Setup will prompt for the next CD until the process is completed. Then it will prompt you to create an emergency USB boot stick; the default response is “Skip.” (When the choice was the create a emergency boot floppy, the default was “Create.”) I skipped it; if I have to repair a system (which I haven’t had to yet), I’ll use Knoppix.

Setup then moves into the final element: “Configure.” This includes

  • Installing the LiLo (Linux Loader) boot loader (see the Note on Boot Loaders at the end of this post);
  • Configuring the network connection;
  • Selecting process to run at boot automatically in addition to basic processes.
  • Setting a root password.

Today we will look at installing LiLo.

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I have never had any luck with the “Simple” choice and I certainly don’t want to install it later (I want just to reboot and go), so I recommend the “Expert” option, which, when selected, displays this menu:

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Select “Begin” and hit enter.

Setup will give you a chance to enter optional parameters for booting; I have never had too, so I just selected “OK” (the default) and hit enter:

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Then it gives you a choice of selecting the console type. I went with “No,” the “safe” choice:

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Next, setup offers you a choice of the screen resolution for bootup. I went with “Standard.” It’s bootup; who cares?

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Next, select a installation target. I have always installed LiLo to the MBR and never had a problem despite the warning in the menu; nor have I read of anyone in a Slackware newsgroup or forum having a problem.

(Well, once I had a problem: I was distro-hopping just because I had an extra computer and could play around with it; I installed a LiLo to the MBR from one Linux distro (I forget which one); the next day, I went to test a different distro and it choked at LiLo, so I dug out an old DOS boot disk and reformatted the MBR. But this would not be a situation one would encounter in typical use.)

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The next task is to select a target disk for the LiLo installation. In most cases, the default will be the correct choice:

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Next, select a timeout period between when LiLo starts and when the OS starts to load. This is useful in setting up dual boot systems in which you might want to choose the OS at bootup:

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Setup then asks you whether you want to use an optional Slackware boot screen (this was new with v. 12.0). I chose “No.” Again, it’s bootup; who cares whether the Slackware logo is displayed during bootup (well, some Slackers more rabid than I seem to, but, really)?

The next step is very important; it is the one where I’ve shot myself in the foot a couple of times: “Select the Linux Partition.”

Setup will display a list of available partitions in the top of the window. Type in the name of the partition on which you installed Slackware exactly as it appears in the list. In this case, it was /dev/hda1.

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Then the partition needs a name; the name will appear on the boot menu:

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(If setup detects a Windows partition, it will prompt you to add that partition to the LiLo menu. I’ve never done that. I haven’t set up dual boot computers since I used to dual-boot Windows95 and WindowsNT for my training classroom ten years ago.)

When these steps are completed, setup takes you back to the “Expert LiLo Installation menu.” Select “Install LiLo” and hit enter.

If the installation succeeds, setup will move to the next item.

If it fails, it will display an error message. In that case, you can hit “Cancel,” return to the “Configure” menu, and try again. This happened to me a couple of times when I was a newbie, but I always figured it out the second time.

The next post will walk through the remainder of installing Slackware and offer some final thoughts.

Note on Boot Loaders:

There are two bootloaders commonly used in the Linux world: Grub and LiLo. I have used both on various computers and found both to work just fine. The computers booted. That’s what bootloaders are supposed to make happen.

Nevertheless, as is common in matters that don’t really matter all that much, each one has rabid partisans who denigrate the other one. O’Reilly Media has a clear, level-headed comparison of the two.

The Windows bootloader, at least for WindowsNT/2000/XP is NTLDR. For more recent versions, it’s bootmgr.

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