Tuesday, July 13, 2010

How to install Linux - tips and concepts

Every day there are more that are passed to Linux but still are many who have an incredible fear to install. There is still this belief in some parts of linux gurus is only for computer science. Some are afraid to install Linux on their PCs because they have important things and is always fear of losing everything. So I'll try to explain a little like process of installation of almost all distros in general and some tips and concepts you need to know to reduce to almost zero risk of damaging something during installation.


First need to know that there is no "one linux, linux distributions there. The distributions are different versions with different features, some are easier to handle than others, some have special features such as being designed to work on servers or serve a special group of people such as distributions designed specifically for programmers.

The one you are interested in all distros designed for home and average user, I recommend including: Ubuntu, Fedora, Linux Mint and Mandriva to be easiest to use and on which more info is available online.

Linux and Windows

It is a basic question that I have done many times. You can install linux with windows? The answer is YES. A term to remember is GRUB, which is what is responsible for managing whole issue of starting pc. Those who install Linux alongside Windows will then boot to a menu which will allow to boot. Many installed linux with windows because they are afraid they do not like linux or something. I would tell them that directly encourage and install linux and windows erased. They will not regret it.



The hard disk partitions is issue that most have difficulty learning to all learners and what gives them more afraid. It really is something easy to learn and understand. In windows probably have one, two or more partitions. Example: you can have a partition called C where windows and other D where they have music, movies and important documents. Good on Linux partitions do not call letters, but rather would be something like: partition /dev/sda1 is equivalent of C and partition /dev/sda2 is equivalent to D.

What partitions needed for Linux? Basically you need only 2 but it is advisable to 3. The two are necessary to move system partition linux itself, this partition is called root and is symbolized by slash (/) and another partition called SWAP, the latter is a partition that acts as virtual memory and does nothing more that.

Apart from these two is always recommended to make a partition for your home folder, this partition is called HOME and symbolizes so / home. See that has a bar below is because HOME is part of root (/). It is good to create this partition it so when they change distro or version of Linux will always have your saved settings, desktop preferences and preferences of its applications such as firefox bookmarks or email accounts in thunderbird.

All partitions can be created from same linux while installing but I always recommend to make them from an environment they know best, that is from windows and using some program called Partition Magic. If you can not do partitions ask your brother, uncle, friend or anyone who has a minimum knowledge of computing and hara.

The partition sizes

A larger question is size of partitions. It's simple, make root with a minimum of 4GB and at least 2GB for HOME, and swap partition of 1GB or 1.5GB.

If you have possibility of allocating more size to partitions is also good to know limits, is really no limit as to maximum size but some recommendations:
  • The roots make a maximum of 10 gigabytes, almost no one reaches that limit.
  • The maximum SWAP 2GB, nobody uses more than 2GB.
  • HOME And if they can make it as big as you want.
The root user and all rest

Know types of users is basic to linux then do various tasks in system. There are two types of users in linux:

The root: It is super user, administrator. The root user can change settings to taste, remove what you want and manage hardware as you want. It's root is only one who can install programs and this is something to consider.

The rest: Ordinary users will not have permissions for root user. You may not install programs or delete important files. By default this will be user to use and is one of main reasons why Linux is so safe, because with common user can not break things

The installation process

Each distribution has an installation process that basically consists of select language, select time zone, set partitions, choose root password (do not forget this password!) And place data from a normal user, it would be best that this user does not have same password that user root.


Installing programs on Linux is just as painless to install on windows. The only difference is that not only come with. Exe in linux extensions are best known. Deb and. Rpm. The hoes so, in some distros are used. Deb and in others. Rpm, eg on Ubuntu and Linux Mint are used. Deb and Fedora's. Rpm

Where to buy? That's best part, you have to look anywhere, is more or need to acordate anything about extensions or anything because in linux you have all programs you want on free sources and public access.


The Linux repositories are places on web where they are stored all or great majority of programs for linux. Each distribution has its own list of repositories and what it gives us is installation of programs by just typing a single command. For example: you want to install firefox? So open a console and type "sudo apt-get install firefox" and only come down and be installed. Want to thunderbird? "Sudo apt-get install thunderbird" and ready.

That string may vary dependendiendo of distribution you use. For example if you use Arch Linux instead of "sudo apt-get install" serious "sudo pacman-S" but still is a very easy to install programs because they will have to find a place to download them no problem on how to install it yourself.

The console

While almost everything in linux can be done today with graphics programs blogs, forums and sites are explaining things linux using console. Why? Because it is faster and easier. Fear of a console is stupid, it's just a small program where you write something and press enter. In Ubuntu you can find it in Applications-> Accessories-> Terminal and is better than fence they were afraid because all statutes are explained almost always using console commands.

Not much more to know, with 10 minutes of reading, now you know more than linux but noted that this post is written for beginners.
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