Ruminations on the Digital Realm

Jan Stedehouder

PCLinuxOS Day 1 – Installation

PCLinuxOS-day1-installTime to get started with some real work again. In the first stage of writing this series I will install PCLinuxOS (and some remasters) in virtual machines. This is just to make it easier for me to carry PCLinuxOS around and use the tools and software that it provides. Of course I will also install it on regular hardware during the month. I use VirtualBox as virtual environment. In the previous series I used VMware server, but I have found the performance of VirtualBox somewhat better.

Getting into the live desktop
PCLinuxOS is delivered on one cd that boots into a live desktop. In the boot menu you select the LiveCD option. You are then confronted with two sets of questions. The first set has to do with setting up your keyboard and time zone. The second set of questions deals with your connection with the outside world.

The first step in the second set asks what kind of connection you want to set up. The list of possibilities is extensive: ethernet, satellite (dvb), cable modem, dsl, isdn, wireless, gprs/edge/3g, bluetooth dial up networking and analog telephone modem. In my case I only needed to set up the ethernet connection. The wizard then asks about how to setup the connection protocol: automatic via DHCP or manually. The default options are set to automatic and that would make the most sense for novice users. The screen IP settings asks whether your want to get DNS settings from DHCP and to get a host name assigned from the DHCP addres. The defaults are fine, but I would suggest to change the text of the windows in this phase. The majority of Windows users wouldn’t have the background knowledge to understand IP, DNS, DHCP or host names. A small textbox with some explanation wouldn’t hurt and would do a lot to educate the new user. The final two steps involve deciding whether to start the connection at boot, to allow users to manage the connection or not and if you want to start the connection now. From here you can login into the live desktop, a KDE desktop.

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Installing PCLinuxOS
The icon “Install PCLinuxOS” is easy to be found and this launches the Draklive installer. PCLinuxOS has it’s roots in Mandriva and this is one reminder of it. The wizard gives the option to install it on a normal hard drive or USB hard drive. I will put the latter option on the list for later this month.

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Partitioning is already the next step. For now I decided to take the easy route and select “Use free space” instead of the custom disk partitioning. But that is also on the list for a later article. The next screen gives a clear warning about possible loss of data due to the creation of the new partitions. Once this is done you can start the installation.

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It doesn’t take long to finish copying all the data to the hard drive. Even in the virtual environment it took around 20 minutes. When it is finished you need to setup GRUB, the bootloader, in two steps. I noticed that PCLinuxOS 2007 still uses the /hdx designation for IDE drives.

Only after setting up the bootloader you are asked to enter the root password and to add a user to the system. After this the installation is done. A simple reboot brings you into the PCLinuxOS desktop. It´s time to get acquainted.

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The gallery of screenshots can be found here.

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