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Desktop Installation Notes for the New Linux User

by Orv Beach on February 10, 2004

Practical Hardware Requirements

To do an installation of Fedora Core 1 plus the graphical user interfaces and get reasonable performance, it should be installed on a PC with a minimum of a 600 MHz CPU, 192 Megs of RAM, and 2-3 Gig of disk space. More is better, of course. Anything faster than about 1GHz will be very snappy. 256 Megs of RAM is better if you intend on having more than about two (large) applications open at the same time.

It can also be installed along side another OS (typically MS Windows) on the same PC. That's known as 'dual-boot'. If you want to go the dual-boot route, make sure that Windows is installed first, and there are at least 2-3 Gigs of disk space available in an unused, unformatted partition.

Linux can also be installed on a separate disk drive. It can be any of the 4 IDE drives allowed in a standard PC. Linux isn't fussy about which drive it's loaded on, nor where it's located on the drive. It does need to be installed on an unformatted partition, though.


Booting the installation CD

If your machine is capable of booting from a CD, nothing needs to be done; just ensure that the BIOS is configured that way, insert the first Fedora Core 1 CD and reboot.

If it won't boot off a CD, you'll have to make a boot diskette:
* From the first CD, in the dosutils directory, copy rawrite to a directory on a PC.
* Also from the images directory on the CD, grab boot.img. Put it in the same directory as rawrite
* Run rawrite in a DOS window and use it to write boot.img out to the floppy.
* Boot from that floppy with the CD in the CD-ROM drive.

Installation Steps (mostly in the order you'll encounter them)
* Media Check - You can skip the media check unless you're booting on newly-created CDs and want to verify their integrity.
* Partitions - Fedora Core provides built-in manual or automatic partitioning as part of the installation. The default recommendations provided for an automatic installation are only a /boot partition, a / (root) partition, and a swap partition. These are okay for most systems. The default file system type is now ext3, which is a simple journaled file system. It is highly recommended that you take this default.

If there are existing partitions found on the system, you'll have the option to:
* Remove all Linux partitions
* Remove all partitions
* Keep all partitions and use existing free space.

If you're creating a Linux-only system, choose the first options. If it's going to be a dual-boot system, choose the last option.

* Network - Choose DHCP or static IP as appropriate. I recommend static for a desktop, as it allows you to always be able to log in to that computer remotely. Pick an address that's appropriate for your home network, if that applies.
* Bootloader/OSes to boot - If you're installing Linux in a partition on a machine with an other OS loaded in another partition, it will ask if you want them both included in the grub (bootloader) menu. (Default is yes; choose that if it applies.) You can also decide which will be the default OS to run at boot-time.
* Firewall configuration - If the system being created is behind an existing firewall, you can choose not to enable the provided firewall software.
* Timezone - Select an appropriate timezone.
* Root password - "Root" is the administrative account for a Linux machine. Pick a root password that's easy to remember but hard to guess.
* Installation Types and Package Selection

There are a number of installation types to select from. I recommend Custom. Then: select both Gnome and KDE UI's. Feel free to add anything else you might want to experiment with.

If you know you're going to want to trade files with a Windows machine in your home network, select Samba from the Servers subsection. (Note - in that case, you will want to select and install a static IP address rather than DHCP).


Let it proceed with install. It will format the partitions, then commence installing packages. Depending on what you selected, speed of CPU, speed of CD-ROM drive, and speed of HD, it could take between 20 minutes and 2 hours.


At the end of the installation, it will request a floppy disk to make an emergency boot disk. Although you'll probably never use it, go ahead and let it make one. Label it appropriately.


* License Agreement
* Date and Time - Verify the date and time are accurate. If the computer is always on the Internet (DSL, cable modem, or any other "always on network", it's recommended that you enable the Network Time Protocol and select one of the time servers. This will keep the date and time of the computer from drifting.
* User accounts - Create at least one user account for yourself, to be used all the time except when you need to administer the system.

Linux is a true multi-user system; you can create as many user accounts as you like. Their configurations and data are all maintained separately.

IMPORTANT! Do not routinely log in as root; mistakes that are minor when logged in as a user can be disastrous when logged in as root.

* Sound Card - Ensure that sound plays properly on the machine.
(NOTE: if the machine has a sound card, but no speakers, go ahead and run the test. If you don't, you'll be bugged with complaints about sound driver modules).
* Additional CDs - There aren't any.

Boot to first login

Reboot the machine. Note that unless you select KDE from the Session icon, you'll default into GNOME. If you'd like your default UI to be KDE, open a terminal, and run 'switchdesk'. Select KDE.

KDE is my recommendation for new Linux users, as it's more familiar to Windows users. But feel free to try Gnome and see how you like it.

Other Configuration Items / Setup Hints


There's a GUI configurator for your printer on menu, under System Settings. The printer can be physically attached or networked elsewhere. You'll be given the opportunity to print a test page. Ensure that it works and the printed results are as you expect.

Access to files

If the machine is dual-boot, and you need access to files on another partition, that partition can be mounted for access from Linux, but that's beyond the scope of this document.


There are several good email clients provided with Fedora Core 1. The one that will appear most familiar to Windows users is Evolution. An icon for it will be found on the KDE Taskbar (the gray bar at the bottom). Upon starting it for the first time, the wizard will walk you through configuring it. You'll need your ISP login info, etc.

A lighter-weight alternative is KMail, which can be found on one of the KDE menus (but not if you're running GNOME as your UI).


The default browser provided with Fedora Core 1 is Mozilla. It's on the taskbar, and also can be found on one of the menus. A more current version can be downloaded from (Note: it does NOT install over the current version, and by default is not loaded into a directory that's in your search path. If you have questions, contact me or another Linux user.)

Alternatively, the KDE file manager, Konqueror, is a very good browser in its own right, and many people prefer it.

Setting up desktop icons

If you're running the KDE desktop your desktop icons, wallpaper, screen saver and other items can be changed or created via the menu that's brought up with a right mouse click on the desktop.

Click on Create New, then Link to Application. Fill in what you want to call the icon, click on the gear and select an appropriate icon image. Then click on the Execute tab, and fill in the name of the program you want to run when you click on the icon. (REMINDER: Unix and Linux are case-sensitive!)

Shortcuts for running programs.

Normally if you don't have a desktop icon for a program , in order to run a it, you have open a terminal session (a 'shell' in Linux terms), and type the name of the program, just like it was done in DOS. KDE has a shortcut. Type Alt-F2, and type in the name of the program in the window. That will start the program.

Updating your Fedora Core system

On the right-hand side of the kicker panel (the gray bar at the bottom of the screen), is an icon that probably is a blue circle with an question mark in it). This is the link to up2date, the utility used to keep your system current. If you click on it, you'll be asked for the root password. Type it in and proceed. Follow the on screen instructions. In general you'll select all the packages offered.

You'll only want to use up2date if you have a broadband connection to the Internet. As of the date of this document there are about 27 updates available, which total about 67 megabytes.


Linux References Linux metadirectory (web pages pointing at Linux info web pages). Basic Linux info Linux Documentation Project Linux software metadirectory Table of equivalent programs (Linux equivalents to Windows programs)

There are many web sites dedicated to Linux, and support of Linux. A search at Google ( on any particular issue will show sites with information.

For near real-time help, find your local LUG (Linux Users Group) at and join their mailing list and their IRC (Internet Relay Chat) channel.