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Methods, Problems and Solutions

Linux Information for Crystallography

Installing a Redhat 6.2 Linux and Win95 Dual Boot System via Network/FTP/HTTP Install on a Generic Desktop PC

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[Introduction] | [Backing up your stuff] | [Noting down the System Config] | [Strategies for the Boot Manager and Partitioning the Hard-disk] | [Creating Linux Boot Floppies] | [Setup Hard-disk Partitions] | [Redhat Install] | [Post Install Fixups] | [Post Install Things]

As of 2000/2001 - Redhat 7.0, then 7.1 and then 7.2 have been released. The installation given below is still pretty much valid - and when differences happen they are pretty obvious. Tutorials for installing 7.2 will be done once a spare computer and (more difficult in London) some office space for the computer becomes available.

Note: As of early March 2000, Redhat 6.2 was released. Workarounds have now been determined in doing an equivalent secure 6.0 type install. Overall, Redhat 6.2 install is quite good, but there are still some post install fixups to do after the install.


Note: Because of variations in install, multiple toolsets, (never knowing whether a previous install might have affected the next one); some/all(?) of the following information might be wrong; and there are probably better methods for doing the following. Keep this in mind and feel free to think a bit before blindly following the instructions. Note 2: Redhat does have a reputation of loading more than you really need and running deamons that you may not really need. After installing, doing a security audit and removing deamons you do not require is pretty much mandatory. Some of this is explained at the end of install file. As stated above, this installation tutorial has been modified to try and have this as hacker safe an installation as possible with by default, no scannable ports open.

Warning: (was advised by local department network support group to insert the following) In some organisations and departments, installing unauthorized software or operating systems such as Linux could be a sackable offence. If in doubt, check with your network support group. Also, take note that some distributions and setup options may also install software deemed to be "hacker tools". Presence of "hacker tools" on a computer system could prompt management or criminal action against "offenders".

Backup your old stuff

The following method does the dual boot installation of Linux and Win95 from scratch using an unpartitioned disk. It is possible to install Linux on an existing Windows system without destroying the Windows area using FIPS or other similar non-destructive reformatting software (e.g., Partition Magic). However implementing that is possibly part of a "future" X hour hacking session; so we are doing "clean the disk - then install" method here.

"FIPS is a program for non-destructive splitting of harddisk partitions" - FIPs Webpage at: http://bmrc.berkeley.edu/people/chaffee/fips/fips.html. Note that an up to date FIPS is included in the Redhat Linux tools area.

Partition-Magic is a commercial program with a good reputation for repartitioning without destroying your data: http://www.partitionmagic.com/

Also refer:

If new to Linux, Expect to Initially Waste a Lot of Time

Like Austen Powers(?), "It's UNIX Baby Yeahhhh!"
Also refer Unix-haters handbook - http://catalog.com/hopkins/unix-haters/handbook.html

Noting down the PC System Information

Note down all the information on your system including chip-sets, monitor refresh rates, etc. If Linux makes a wrong choice, or prompts for a decision, you have to give it the correct information. If you have Win95/Win98 or WinNT installed, you can gain this information quite easily from the control panel (assuming the PC is setup with the correct drivers). This also includes all the network information; IP address, name, domain, gateway/router, NetMask, etc. Too much information does not hurt, only too little. For network cards and the like, you may have to go into Win95 or Win98 and get the memory addresses and the IRQs used. You tend to find out what extra information you need the hard way.

In this case:

Deciding now on the partitions

Summary: the old Redhat 5.2 manual recommends you partition the hard-disk into segments. You can if you want to just partition the disk into one large partition that everything fits into if you want to - this can be much simpler but might hurt you in the future. I prefer to put everything on one partition with this laptop as expanding harddisk space is not a practical option - thus everything has to fit. (Please note that decisions made now can cause much pain and gnashing of teeth later).

The following PC is configured to have 3 operating systems, Windows, Linux and FreeBSD. In principle, if you set up a dual boot system, then a multiple boot system is a piece of cake. The main limitation being that for PCs, each hard-disk can only have 4 primary bootable partitions.

Obtain the Ranish Partition Manager for DOS and create a Win95 Boot disk

After mucking around with a few utilities, the freeware Ranish Partition Manager for DOS is a work of genius for managing partitions and boot managing. Menu driven, it is a breeze to create and delete partitions, multiple primary partitions, configure the MBR area. It easily will fit on a Windows/DOS boot floppy with the rest of your boot utilities. (latest beta version at time of writing (27th April 2000) : was dated March 14, 2000)

New facilities in Ranish Partition Manager 2.38 not yet covered in these tutorials:

Now before you consider deleting Windows, create a boot disk (format a: /u/s) and copy over the required utility software.

Creating the LINUX Boot Images on Floppy Disk

Using the files located on the Redhat Linux CD-ROM or a mirror, create the three Image disks depending on how you are installing (local or network) and hardware type; boot, netboot and pcmcia. In theory, you only have to create the bootnet.img disk to install Redhat Linux 6.2 from a generic (non Laptop PC via the internet).
These are generally in the images directory of the media you intend to install from.

(choose closest Redhat Linux mirrors via: http://www.redhat.com/mirrors.html or ftp://ftp.redhat.com/pub/MIRRORS.html)

For example, via FTP, mirror.ac.uk:

Use rawrite or rawrite2 for DOS from the dosutils directory to write/burn the images onto the CD. Standard "copy" command will not work. Just type rawrite and answer the questions.

Also refer:

Alternatively, if you are already on a LINUX PC, you can use the command:

Determined the Install Process/Method you are going to Use

You have a variety of options to install the Redhat 6.2 Linux distribution. Initially, I decided on FTP as the CD installation seemed a bit quirky and FTP from Imperial College from Daresbury Laboratory was very quick at nights and on weekends (10-12 minutes). This is compared to around 90 minutes to do a much abbreviated install during a weekday between 9am-5pm. However, for repetative installation, creation of a CD installation disk can spead things up and avoid nuances of the network and this is the subject of a separate install page.

Whatever you do, if you use the internet, choose the closest mirror. If you are isolated from the internet, or have slow links, CD-ROM or Hard-disk based install are obvious things to choose from. Linux can install from NFS or Windows SMB based shared hard-disks (but I have never got installing either locally from a Windows partition-harddisk or from a Windows SMB to work - at least with Redhat 5.2).

Thus in this case:

FTP Load
IP Address =
Name = src.doc.ic.ac.uk
FTP Load
IP Address = or
Name = ftp.mirror.ac.uk
(restricted to academic users during normal working hours)

Or use the CD-ROM method and boot using the standard non-network boot image.

Booting from Your DOS/Windows Floppy Boot Disk, Deleting Existing Partitions and Editing Master Boot Manager (MBR) Options

Boot from your DOS/Windows Floppy Boot Disk and run the menu driven Ranish Partition Manager.

Booting from Your DOS/Windows Floppy Boot Disk and Creating Partitions

Note: There are many possible permutations and combinations but the following seems to work for me. Despite the literature, setting active partitions and boot managers can be quite quirky due to limitations/nuances in PC hardware and the various pieces of software.

Boot from your DOS/Windows Floppy Boot Disk and run the menu driven Ranish Partition Manager.

Formatting the C: Drive - Windows FAT-32

Boot from your DOS/Windows Floppy Boot Disk and run the menu driven Ranish Partition Manager.

Also Refer:

Redhat Linux Install

Post Install Fixup for Redhat 6.2 Linux

Some other things

Things to do Now that Basic Linux has been Installed

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