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Linux Journal: Setting Up a Base Linux Install on a Laptop

Mar 25, 2003, 13:00 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jay Docherty)

"Debian has a reputation for being difficult to install. Although this is not necessarily true, Debian's installer is a far cry from the fully automated installers of distributions such as Mandrake and Red Hat. However, there is a benefit to your extra labor: much more control of how the system is laid out, which packages are installed and which kernel features are enabled or disabled. This gives you the freedom to have a system completely tailored to your specific needs. Debian Sid (unstable) is my preferred flavor. At the time of this writing, Woody (stable) and Sarge (testing) also are available. I like Sid because it offers the latest software in binary form with the shortest release date turn-around. The largest advantage can be found with all the Debian flavors, the powerful apt-get system. Combine apt-get with Sid, and you can be sure your system will be up to date with all the leading edge (sometimes bleeding edge) applications for the Linux operating system.

"To get started, you're going to need a basic kernel to boot from and to start the install. Before you can boot any kernel, you need to decide from which medium you would like to boot. You have two main choices: CD-ROM or floppy disk. This assumes you have a high-speed internet connection; Sid is available only through download. I suggest using a CD-ROM where possible. It is faster than floppies, and you won't have to swap disks around. Compact disk images can be found here and floppy disk images can be found here This is where things can get a little confusing. Even though we are eventually going to have a Sid system, you must start with the Woody boot images. You have to trust me on this one. Make a Woody boot CD-ROM from the ISO image or the corresponding floppy disks from the six bin files.

"Efforts are being made to try to provide an up-to-date CD-ROM that users may acquire through snail-mail, but these efforts are few and far between. This also defeats one of the major advantages of using an OS that is constantly updated; often, daily updates are applied to Sid. If you find a major bug with one of Sid's packages, you can be sure that a fix is soon to follow..."

Complete Story

Related Story:
Linux Journal: Advice for Buying a Linux-Compatible Laptop(Feb 28, 2003)