Tuesday, April 28, 2009

linux installation problems

Some common beginner Linux installation issues

In this cursory overview, Mark Rais, provides some of the common reasons why people brand new to Linux have installation failures.� The brief article covers issues with Fedora, Gentoo, Mepis, PCLinuxOS, and Ubuntu.

Let me begin by declaring that this is a basic summary for beginners.� I do not try to clarify solutions where complex issues such as bad disks and the need for fsck exist.� However, in the past few months as I've tried to help more people totally new to Linux switch over, it became obvious that there is a common theme of installation failures that need to be addressed.

I've tried to give examples for specific flavours.� But you will quickly find that problems occurring with one flavour also exist with another.� I consider the ease of installation of Linux to be vital to its uptake, especially on the desktops, and hope this article helps at least one person avoid a potential installation pain and start using Linux productively.

The anaconda installer used in Fedora is pretty resilient to installation errors.� The interface is reasonably easy to follow, even though some new users have gotten confused by a few of the key steps.�

However, there are some overt issues that appear after installation, rarely during the install.

The word GRUB just sits on the top left side of the monitor upon reboot.� This is almost always a sign that key installation files were corrupted.� Again, this can happen due to a bad disc, or improperly downloading and using internet ISOs.� However, it can also be a result of really screwed up partitioning.� I recommend new users allow Fedora and/or CentOS installer to auto-manage the partitions and to format all partitions you plan to use for Linux (obviously not those used for other things).

I have also noted that one new user ran through the whole Fedora install process, only to find that certain dependencies and key functions failed because they had not properly selected packages needed to properly operate Fedora in the first place.� I'm not sure why the install process does not include some form of "default core" selection, but if you click on the customise option you as a new user are left to ensure key things like Gnome or KDE desktop are included.� This is also the case with other installations like Gentoo.� Be sure to choose all of the packages needed, and if in doubt as a newbie, then remember that including is better than not including.

The overall installation process has also become much longer for Fedora, and seems a bit of a turn off for those new users who prefer a one disk install.� I disagree with this preference however, because the benefit of multi-disk distros is that they include a whole lot more that can be installed on systems that 1. may not have an internet connection or 2. need to be ready and working immediately upon installation.

I use Gentoo in situations where fine tuned control and performance are essential.� It's a damn good flavour, but it is questionable whether Gentoo should be used by someone brand new to Linux.� In any case, the number one biggest issue I've found people completely new to Linux have with Gentoo installation has to do with the total compile and completion time.

To set the record straight, Gentoo is allowing a user to pre-compile many applications and parameters.� The benefit is measurable in gained performance.� By compiling key conditions with the Kernel itself, you gain some beneficial performance increases.� However, for a new user who is often just trying to get up to speed, Gentoo may seem to take an eternity to install.

But for new users, this issue is reconciled with two characteristics.� First, Gentoo comes as a Live-CD, so it means you can immediately start using it, getting familiar with the interface without having to install it.� Once you are ready to install, please understand the reasons for the slow compile/install process and during the compile stages just go watch a tv show or read a good book (it does not have to be War and Peace).

The second biggest issue with Gentoo installation is that new users are often confused or intimidated by the many configuration options.� If you are new to Linux and planning to install Gentoo, I recommend you do your first time install with all of the defaults.� I have a summary of the Gentoo defaults that may help ease your concerns.� Otherwise, tinkering with one or more of the configurations is likely to cause the dreaded:� Install Failed!

Some examples include, watching the entire process start, enjoying the fact that things are moving right along (slowly, but surely) and then only to come back to the computer a half hour into the install to see this: "Partitix_onResizeError: FATAL: partition could not resize."�

This failure, along with a plethora of other potential errors, usually results from either what you designated in terms of your installation settings (what apps to compile), or from incorrectly designating partition information.� Having partition information from a previously installed OS that is identified by Gentoo but not properly cleared prior to installation is another culprit.

No comments:

Post a Comment