Wiley | 978-0-471-75488-6 | Datasheet | Wiley SUSE Linux10 Bible

he most important part of getting Linux up and running is installing the system. Unfortunately, this is also
where most users encounter problems because of differences
between the types of information that you need to know when
installing Linux versus Windows. This chapter demystifies the
process by helping you through the installation, pointing out
any stumbling blocks that you may hit upon, and offering suggestions for resolving them.
The program used to install SUSE Linux is known as YaST,
which stands for Yet another System Tool. (The “Yet
another . . .” naming convention is a standard Unix/Linux
naming convention, intended to reflect humorously on the
number of similar tools that different people and companies
have developed to do specific tasks in their favorite, customized fashion. YaST provides a framework that supports
independent modules that perform a variety of administrative
tasks, including modules for installation, all system administration and configuration tasks, and subsequent system
updates. The YaST interface that you use for installation is
therefore very similar to the interfaces that you will use for
system configuration and administrative tasks when you have
completed your SUSE Linux installation. Powerful and well
designed, YaST will quickly become your friend.
Selecting Your Installation Method
You can install SUSE in numerous ways. Different installation
methods are useful in different circumstances. The most common and recommended installation method is to use the
installation media provided with the boxed SUSE Linux product. This book focuses on installing SUSE Linux 10 through the
CDs provided with the SUSE Linux product. Installing SUSE
Linux using the DVD that is also provided in the boxed SUSE
product follows essentially the same process, but with the
added bonus of not having to switch CDs.
In This Chapter
Partitioning your
Package selection
Configuring your
Creating a user
Setting up X
Part I ✦ SUSE Linux Basics
Different Installation Sources
This chapter focuses on installing SUSE Linux from the DVD that was packaged with this
book or from the installation discs you have purchased. However, your installation discs and
the installation DVD that is packaged with this book (like all SUSE installation media) also
support a number of other installation sources. If you want to make sure that you get the
latest SUSE installation on your system, you may want to select Manual Installation from
the initial menu of the boot DVD, select the Start Installation option, and then select the
Network source medium. This enables you to select from a variety of different installation
sources, including FTP installation, which enables you to install SUSE from a network
source, such as one of SUSE’s up-to-date repositories. (Other network installation mechanisms include HTTP, NFS, SMB, and TFTP, although FTP is the most common.) To install
SUSE from a network source, you must have used the installer’s Network Modules screen
first to install the drivers for the network card in your computer, and the computer on which
you are installing SUSE must also be connected to the Internet. Although this requires some
knowledge about your computer system’s hardware, it is a great way to get the latest and
greatest version of SUSE Linux. As noted earlier, the DVD packaged with this book provides
the most recent version of SUSE Linux Professional Edition available at the time that this
book was written. To get the latest and greatest version of SUSE Linux and all of its patches,
you can always install this version and then update it using the YaST Online Update module
that is discussed in Chapter 9.
The DVD included with this book provides the SUSE Linux 10 distribution.
You can install SUSE Linux in the following ways:
✦ Compact disc — The easiest and most common form of installation, because
almost every modern computer system includes a CD drive. This is the standard way to perform a fresh installation of SUSE Linux on a computer system.
✦ DVD — A popular form of installation that saves you from having to swap out
multiple CDs, but the computer system on which you are installing SUSE must
contain a DVD drive. Because of the amount of storage available on a DVD, the
SUSE Linux DVD also includes some packages that are not available on the CD
installation set.
✦ Manual installation — Manual installation requires that you boot from a SUSE
CD but provides more control over the source of the packages used when
installing SUSE Linux. For example, this installation method enables you to
install SUSE from a centralized network repository where the SUSE Linux
packages are located, using network protocols such as FTP (File Transfer
Protocol), HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol), NFS (Network File System),
SMB (Server Message Block, the Windows file sharing protocol), and even
TFTP (Trivial File Transfer Protocol). This is a common installation method
Chapter 1 ✦ Installing SUSE 10
when you want to install SUSE on a large number of networked computer systems. Manual installation also enables you to install SUSE from an existing
hard drive partition where the SUSE packages are installed. You can use
Manual installation to install SUSE from a portable, external hard drive.
✦ AutoYaST — AutoYaST is an advanced installation method that enables a
system administrator to create a profile file that can be used to automate
installing SUSE Linux on any number of identically configured systems.
As you can see, each installation method has its own advantages and disadvantages,
and some are specifically targeted toward technically sophisticated users or system
administrators who are installing SUSE into existing networked environments. The
remainder of this chapter focuses on installing from CD or DVD, but also provides
an overview of using SUSE’s network-based installation.
Starting Your Installation
Inside your SUSE box you should find the SUSE manuals (which are considered
among the best Linux manuals available) and the media case.
The media case contains five CDs and two double-sided DVDs. One of the installation DVDs is installable, while the other contains the SUSE Linux source code. The
installable DVD has two sides, one used to install SUSE on standard Pentium-class
PCs, and the other containing an installable version of SUSE Linux for 64-bit systems.
Each side of the DVDs is labeled in extremely fine print around the center ring of
the DVD. Depending on the hardware in your computer system, installing from DVD
is the least time-consuming installation method.
Insert the first CD or the bootable DVD in your system’s optical drive. If you are
booting from DVD, make sure that the side that you want to boot from is facing up
in your DVD drive.
Next, enable booting from the optical media drive on your computer to start the
installation routine. During the bootup routine, you need to enter the BIOS and set
the order in which your system will probe attached devices looking for bootable
media. You can enter your system’s BIOS setup routines by pressing a special key
when booting the machine. Typically, this is the F2, Delete, or F1 key — check your
system’s boot screen for BIOS Setup instructions, which are usually displayed at
the bottom of the screen. When you’ve entered the BIOS setup screens, different
BIOS have different ways of configuring your system’s boot sequence. You may find
the options you are looking for under Startup Items, Boot Options, or under your
Advanced settings. Make sure that your CD or DVD drive is probed before your
floppy disk, hard drives, or network. Once set, save the new settings, and your
machine will reboot.
At this point, your system should boot from the first SUSE CD or the DVD, and you
will see the welcome screen (see Figure 1-1).
Part I ✦ SUSE Linux Basics
Figure 1-1: The SUSE Welcome screen
If your system does not display a screen like the one in Figure 1-1, reboot and hold
down the Shift key while your computer system boots. This will reboot your system into a text-mode installer that follows the same general sequence as the
graphical boot process described in this chapter, but has fewer dependencies on
the capabilities of the graphics card in your machine.
Selecting Boot Options
When the boot splash screen has finished, you will be asked to select how you want
to install SUSE, as well as some other helpful options for booting your system (see
Figure 1-2).
The boot menu offers more than just installation options, although the most common selection is the standard Installation item. We discuss the other six options in
detail because at some point in the life of a SUSE user you will likely need to use the
Chapter 1 ✦ Installing SUSE 10
Figure 1-2: Boot options
✦ Boot from Hard Disk — This is the default setting if you do not interact with
the boot sequence. It’s the default because your system automatically reboots
as part of the installation process to load the kernel that is installed on your
hard drive during the initial phases of the installation process. If you forget to
remove the installation media, the system will still boot off the hard disk and
the install routine can continue.
✦ Installation — This is the standard option that most users should select. It will
boot from the CD and start the install routine (YaST). We discuss the rest of
the process in the remainder of this chapter.
✦ Installation — ACPI Disabled — Advanced Configuration and Power Interface
(ACPI) is a feature of most new processors that controls power management
and the way interrupts are handled by the system hardware. You should
select this option if you encounter problems during the installation process,
such as if your computer system goes to sleep (blanks the screen and powers
down the drives) and if pressing the appropriate keystroke does not wake it
up again.
✦ Installation — Safe Settings — As with the ACPI Disabled installation method,
this turns off some of the features of the kernel that can cause problems
with buggy or old system hardware. You should select this option if you
Part I ✦ SUSE Linux Basics
encounter problems during installation, and they do not seem related to
power management.
✦ Rescue System — The Rescue System enables you to correct system problems,
such as disk corruption or lost passwords, by booting from the installation
media and subsequently correcting system problems. The Rescue System is
quite a feature-rich system that you can use to load and edit filesystems, as
well as change the settings of an installed system.
✦ Memory Test — SUSE has been very kind and integrated a memory test suite
in the system boot menu. The memory test will run long and exhaustive tests
on your system’s memory and warn you of any anomalies that it encounters
on the way. We have used this a few times with systems that don’t quite seem
to be running as we expect, and it has been able to tell us that a DIMM (Dual
In-Line Memory Module) has indeed failed.
In this chapter, we select the standard Installation option in the boot menu.
SUSE has changed the original boot splash screen to be something more akin to the
Windows bootup (see Figure 1-3). While this is fine for first-time users, it is something that will infuriate hard-core Linux users. SUSE is aware this may be a problem
for some users, and pressing ESC while the system boots up will allow you to see
the kernel and init messages.
Figure 1-3: Booting SUSE installation
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So far, the system has booted a minimal Linux kernel that is sufficient to run the
installation process and execute the SUSE installer and the various utilities that it
uses to probe and configure your system. SUSE’s YaST installer now begins to collect information that it will use to configure your system to match your personal
and hardware requirements.
The installer uses a very different boot process from that used by a standard SUSE
Linux system. The standard Linux boot up sequence will be discussed in more
detail in Chapter 4.
Configuring Language Settings
When the system has booted, you will be asked to configure your language settings
(see Figure 1-4). SUSE has put a lot of effort into supporting as many languages as
possible to accommodate a large audience. All language options are shown in their
respective dialects and associated fonts. When your language has been selected,
the installer will instantly change the system language and allow you to continue
the installation process in that language.
When you’ve selected your language, click the Next button or use the keyboard
shortcut Ctrl+N.
Figure 1-4: Selecting the system language
Part I ✦ SUSE Linux Basics
During the installation routine, you can control the screen with your keyboard using
accelerators. Any option on the screen can be selected by pressing the Control key
(Ctrl) and the accelerator code, signified by an underlined character in a button or a
GUI element. For example, in Figure 1-4, pressing Ctrl+R will abort the installation
while Ctrl+N will accept the setting you selected and proceed to the next screen.
Media Check
Before starting the installation process, you will be asked whether you want to
check the media you are using during installation. With any mass produced optical
media, there is always a possibility that something might be wrong with your disks
(if there is, SUSE will replace them for you). The media check (see Figure 1-5) is a
precautionary measure for you to check that everything is ok before formatting
your hard drive and potentially being left with an unusable system until you get
your new SUSE disks.
You can either skip the check by clicking Next or check your media by clicking Start
Check. We will skip the check as we know our media is good.
Figure 1-5: SUSE media check
Chapter 1 ✦ Installing SUSE 10
Next, as with most software products, you have to agree to the SUSE license before
using the system.
Customizing the Installation
For SUSE to operate correctly, the system time must be correct (you may get quite
confused when the system says something happened at 3 a.m. when in fact it happened at noon!). Before partitioning your disks and setting up your system, you will
need to select your time zone, check your date and time, and also your location
(see Figure 1-6).
Selecting Your Desktop Environment
A new change to the SUSE installation is the option to select your desktop environment during installation (see Figure 1-7). If you are a GNOME or KDE fan, you can
select one of those here. If you prefer another desktop environment (for example,
Window Maker), then click Other and then Select. . . .
Figure 1-6: Time zone selection
Part I ✦ SUSE Linux Basics
Figure 1-7: Selecting your desktop environment
You will be given the option of either a minimal desktop environment, or text mode
only. If you are installing SUSE as a server, then these options are the best to go
with as it minimizes unnecessary packages being installed.
For this installation we will choose GNOME.
Installation Overview
After you have made the decision about the desktop environment you want to use,
YaST will then give you an overview of what it is going to do (see Figure 1-8). If you
are installing on a new system with no other operating system, or you do not need
any other packages installed, you can check the installation profile and click Next.
If you want to tweak the installation system, change the partition layout, or install
other packages, follow the rest of the chapter.
Customizing Your Installation
To be able to get a broader overview of what you can change in the installation,
click the Expert tab. This displays all available options rather than the few shown in
the Overview tab.
Chapter 1 ✦ Installing SUSE 10
Figure 1-8: Installation overview
Clicking any heading in the Installation Overview section enables you to modify
that aspect of your installation. Similarly, selecting the Change button displays a
pop-up menu from which you can select any of the headings on this screen to
change or examine the relevant aspects of the installation to guarantee that they
meet your requirements.
✦ System — Displays a dialog box showing the hardware that the installer
detected in your system. You cannot change these values.
✦ Keyboard layout — Select the keyboard set used for the system and the
installation process.
✦ Partitioning — One of the most important aspects of installing a Linux system. Partitioning configures the target hard drive for the installation of an
operating system.
✦ Software — Selection of predefined software profiles, as well as individual
software packages.
✦ Booting — Configuration of the Linux boot loader. The boot loader bootstraps
a loader at bootup that enables the user to boot not only Linux, but also any
other operating systems in the system.
✦ Time zone — Set the time zone of the system based on either your location or
specifically setting the GMT offset.
Part I ✦ SUSE Linux Basics
✦ Language — Set the language of the system and also the installation process.
This was already set earlier in the installation process.
✦ Default Runlevel — Set the initial boot runlevel for the system. Runlevels are
discussed in Chapter 4. For now, the default value (runlevel 5) is acceptable.
✦ Reset to defaults — Remove all changes you have made and start from scratch.
This is useful for testing installation mixtures and seeing how these affect your
system. This is accessible from the Change button at the bottom of the screen.
Throughout the remainder of the installation, we talk in more detail about what
these settings do to your system and we also discuss the ways in which you can
change these settings.
Partitioning Your Disks
YaST initially chooses a partitioning scheme based on your disk layout. It is very
likely that the installation default will be fine (see Figure 1-9) for a first-time user.
For other users, YaST enables you to control the layout of partitions on the disk,
the type of filesystems that are used on those partitions, and any options that will
be used when mounting them.
Figure 1-9: Partitioning
Chapter 1 ✦ Installing SUSE 10
One key thing to know when defining and experimenting with disk partitioning is
that none of the changes that you are defining are actually performed until you
explicitly tell YaST to proceed with the installation. You can make as many changes
or experiment with different partitioning schemes as much as you want without
actually committing those changes. Aborting the SUSE Linux installation at any time
before this point will leave your system’s disk exactly as it was when you started
the installation process.
What you do next depends on your requirements:
✦ If you want to accept the default partition layout selected by YaST, select
Accept proposal as-is, click Next, and skip ahead to the section of this chapter
entitled “Selecting Software for Installation.”
✦ If you are an experienced Linux user, or you just want to specify your own customized partitioning scheme, select Create custom partition setup and click
Next. Then, select the Custom partitioning - for experts option, and click Next
(see Figure 1-10). This presents you with the option to create and delete partitions, as well as other advanced options such as software RAID and cryptographic filesystems.
Figure 1-10: Selecting custom partitioning
Part I ✦ SUSE Linux Basics
If you are creating your own partitioning scheme and do not already have an
operating system on your computer that you want to preserve, skip to the section
“Primary and Extended Partitions.”
Resizing Existing Operating System Partitions
Nowadays, it is quite common to have systems that can boot multiple operating
systems. Such computer systems enable users to take advantage of the power and
applications available in each operating system by selecting between available
operating systems when you boot the system. These are typically referred to as
dual-boot systems because most people install at most two operating systems on a
single machine. However, because more than two operating systems can be installed
on a single disk, the proper name is multiboot, which is the term used in this section. The number of operating systems that you can boot and run on a single computer is really limited only by the amount of disk space available on your computer
With SUSE Linux, the most common type of multiboot system is a system that can
boot either SUSE Linux or some version of Microsoft Windows. Windows will be
used as an example throughout the rest of this section, although the same general
concepts are true when setting up multiboot systems that will run SUSE Linux and
any other operating system.
Explaining how to install Windows on an existing SUSE Linux system is not relevant
to a discussion of installing SUSE Linux. However, the reverse is not true. Installing
SUSE Linux on a system that already runs Windows, and on which you want to be
able to continue to run Windows, is a common wish. This is quite easy to do and
involves only resizing your existing Windows partition(s) so that sufficient contiguous space is available for installing SUSE.
If you are running a new installation on a system that already contains an operating
system such as Windows that you want to preserve, and if the disk or Windows partition in that system has sufficient free space to install SUSE Linux, YaST will propose a
solution based on resizing your existing Windows partition and automatically creating appropriate swap and root partitions. If at all possible, you should accept this
default selection.
If you do not have sufficient free space to install SUSE Linux and YaST cannot automatically resize your existing operating system partitions, your only alternative
(besides adding another disk to your system) is to abort the SUSE install process,
remove the installation media, and reboot into your other operating system. You
must then free up sufficient disk space and clean up the organization of your operating system’s partition(s) using a utility such as Windows’ Disk Defragmenter. If
there is sufficient unused space on your Windows partition, you should be able to
restart the SUSE installation process and let YaST select appropriate partitioning
and resizing values for you.
Chapter 1 ✦ Installing SUSE 10
For more on setting up dual-boot (multiboot) systems, see Chapter 4.
Primary and Extended Partitions
In this section, we start with a clean disk to create the partitions needed to install
SUSE. If you want to remove the partitions on an existing installation of an operating system, select the partition and press the Delete button. You will be asked to
confirm this, and the partition will be removed.
If you select Create, you are prompted for the type of partition you want to create
(see Figure 1-11). In the PC world, the BIOS can access only four primary partitions.
These can be thought of as four physical boundaries on the disk, with separate data
and filesystems on each. With Linux, you need at least two partitions, and if you
have Windows on another partition, and a data or home disk on the other, you may
quickly run out of ways to expand the way your disk is laid out. To combat this, logical and extended partitions were designed. An extended partition is a placeholder
for further logical partitions, and it is a good idea to create one extended partition
(which takes up one of your primary partitions) and create logical partitions to
accommodate further partitioning schemes in the future.
Figure 1-11: Creating a partition
Part I ✦ SUSE Linux Basics
The most common way to partition disks for home Linux use is to have one primary partition for the Linux root partition, a second primary partition for the swap
partition, and then an extended partition for any other (logical) partitions that may
be needed. Using extended and logical partitions grows the amount of total partitions you can have in a system to 16, which is usually more than enough.
Select the Primary partition option and click OK to proceed.
Defining Filesystems
After a primary partition has been created, you need to define the format in which a
filesystem should be created on that partition, its size, and the mount point for that
filesystem. Linux and Unix use the definition of mount points in the same way that
Windows uses drive letters. The advantage with Linux is that the whole system is
hierarchical in nature, and therefore access to data on disks, network drives, and
partitions can be kept under one manageable tree structure.
Swap Partitions
The first partition you need to create is the swap partition. Most modern operating
systems use swap partitions, also referred to as swap space, to support virtual
memory. Virtual memory is a technique for enabling a system to use more memory
than is physically available to the operating system. Processes on the system that
are inactive or are waiting for input are copied from physical memory into swap
space, known as swapping out a process. At this point, the physical memory associated with those processes can be reused by the operating system. When the process can run again, such as when input is available, it is copied from the swap space
back into memory and continues execution. This is known as swapping in a process.
The way in which processes are swapped in and out of memory is simple in theory,
but is triggered by a number of internal metrics that are maintained and constantly
updated by the kernel.
You should always create a swap partition on a Linux or Unix machine as the workload on any system can never be fully quantified beforehand and running out of
physical memory without swap space causes processes to crash or be unable to
execute in the first place.
The window to create a filesystem/partition can be quite daunting for new users
(see Figure 1-12). SUSE and the other distributions try to make the process as simple and usable as possible. Selecting the format of the filesystem is primarily a concern when creating data partitions or for advanced users, as discussed in the next
section. When creating a swap partition, you must select Swap as its format. You
will notice that the mount point will also change to be swap because the swap partition is not mounted like a data partition but is used internally by the Linux system.
Chapter 1 ✦ Installing SUSE 10
Figure 1-12: Creating filesystems
Filesystems are discussed in more detail in Chapter 3.
Start and end cylinders are often new concepts to new Linux users who are used to
data sizes being defined in mega- and gigabytes. YaST enables you to enter the size of
a partition in human readable form, such as MB and GB. The start cylinder, as this is
the first partition on the disk, is 0 (the start of the usable space on the disk), and the
end cylinder is what we need to change. It is usually customary to select a swap size
that is 1.5 times the amount of physical RAM in the system, but this is subject to
much conjecture. A reasonable swap size should be considered based on the workload of the machine you will be using, and as most modern PC systems have at least
512MB, it is safe to use the standard 1.5 times physical memory. To specify that you
want the swap partition to be 750MB, enter +750M in the End cylinder entry box. The
+ signifies that you want to add space, the number is the unit of space needed, and
the M specifies that the amount of data is expressed in megabytes. You can also specify G for gigabytes, which you will be using in the following example of creating a root
After entering the size of your new swap partition, click OK to proceed.
Part I ✦ SUSE Linux Basics
At a bare minimum, the filesystems that need to be created are the swap space and
a root (/) filesystem. However, for ease of use and manageability, the creation of a
/home partition can help keep your personal data separate from the system partition and also enable you to keep your data in the unlikely event that you want to do
a total reinstall of Linux. See the section on “Data Partitions” later in this chapter for
more information.
In this example you are creating the bare minimum, the swap and root partitions.
The Root Partition
After the swap space has been created, you need to configure the root (/ ) partition
(see Figure 1-13). The root (/ ) partition is the most important data partition on any
Linux or Unix system, and is the only non-swap filesystem partition that is required
in order to boot a Unix or Linux system. The root partition takes its name from the
fact that it is the partition mounted at the root of the Unix/Linux filesystem, which
is the directory known as / . A filesystem must be mounted on this directory to
successfully boot a Linux system. The root filesystem contains core directories
required to boot Linux, such as the directory through which devices are accessed
(/dev); the directory containing system administration, configuration, and initialization files (/etc); the directory in which critical system libraries, kernel modules,
security, and internationalization information are located (/lib); and directories
containing critical system binaries (/sbin, /bin, and so on).
Figure 1-13: Creating the root partition
Chapter 1 ✦ Installing SUSE 10
By default, creating this partition will automatically use the remaining unallocated
space on the hard drive, which is fine for our example. However, if you need to create another partition — /home, for example — you specify the size of the partition
explicitly as you did with the swap space. See the next section, “Data Partitions,”
for an overview of why you may want to create additional partitions.
The default type of filesystem used in SUSE is the Reiser filesystem, often referred to
as the ReiserFS. It was one of the first available journaling filesystems for Linux, and
a lot of the work was funded by both SUSE and mp3.com. A journaling filesystem
dedicates a specific part of the filesystem for use as a cache of pending writes to the
filesystem; this ensures that filesystem updates occur in a clean, atomic fashion; and
allows a fast recovery if the system is not cleanly shut down. Ordinarily, when a Linux
system is shut down, it ensures that all pending writes to each filesystem have completed, and then detaches the filesystems (known as unmounting them) to guarantee
that all system data is consistent before the system is turned off. Using a journaling
filesystem does not mean it is safer to just power off the machine, as data loss can
still occur when data is not completely written to the disk.
After the root partition has been created, you can review your changes (see Figure 1-14) and proceed with the software installation by clicking Finish. If you want
to create additional filesystems during the installation process, read the next section before clicking Finish.
Figure 1-14: Reviewing changes to the partition scheme
Part I ✦ SUSE Linux Basics
Data Partitions
Data partitions is a generic term for partitions that are formatted as a filesystem and
in which both the system and its users can store data. The partition designated as
the root filesystem is a special case of a data partition because it is required in
order to boot a Linux system.
The preceding sections explained how to create the swap and root partitions that
must be present to successfully boot a Linux system. However, you can also create
other data partitions, format them as filesystems, and specify their mount points
during the installation process. On Linux systems, a mount point is simply a Linux
directory through which a filesystem is made available to the system, known as
mounting that filesystem. Using regular directories as mount points is a clever part
of the design of Unix and Linux. If you run out of disk space on a given partition,
you can add another disk to your system, create data partitions there, copy the
data from existing directories to those partitions, and then mount the new partitions on the directory where the data was originally located, effectively increasing
the amount of storage available to an existing system.
Today’s larger disks make it attractive to create other data partitions. You have several reasons to consider creating multiple data partitions on today’s disks:
✦ When you boot a Linux system, the system checks the consistency of each of
its filesystems (as defined in the file /etc/fstab — more about this in Chapter 3). Checking the consistency of a single, huge, nonjournaled filesystem can
take quite a bit of time.
✦ Filesystem corruption can occur as a result of a number of problems, such
as a system crash, sudden power loss, or hardware problems. Whenever a
filesystem is corrupted, repairing it (which is mandatory) can cause you to
lose data. Creating multiple partitions reduces the extent to which filesystem
corruption can affect a single data partition.
✦ Keeping data on multiple partitions limits the chance that you can lose data
during a subsequent system upgrade. Some upgrades reformat the root partition or recreate its directory structure. If your user data is stored on other
data partitions, they will not be affected by changes to the root filesystem.
✦ Some Linux backup software backs up data on a per-partition basis. Backing
up a single huge partition can take quite a bit of time. Also, if your backups fail
(such as when a tape is corrupted), you may not be able to use the backups to
restore your system. Creating multiple partitions limits problems related to a
backup failure to a single partition.
Chapter 3 provides more detail about creating multiple partitions and the types of
filesystems supported by Linux and provides additional reasons why you may want
to create multiple partitions on your Linux system. Most types of Linux filesystems
can be resized once they have been created, enabling you to customize your system’s partitioning, even after the system has been installed and is running.
Chapter 1 ✦ Installing SUSE 10
If you want to create multiple partitions during the installation process, you can do
this by making sure that the root partition does not completely fill your disk and
then creating additional partitions in the remaining space on your disk. Common
parts of a Linux system that you may want to put on separate data partitions are
/boot, /home, /opt, /tmp, /var, /usr, and /usr/local. For more information on
these partitions and the types of information stored there, see Chapter 3.
Selecting Software for Installation
The software that is automatically selected as part of a default SUSE installation
provides you with nearly every type of software required for day-to-day work. This
section offers additional details about the other types of installations provided by
the SUSE installer to provide a full and thorough SUSE learning experience.
To customize the software that is included as part of your SUSE installation, you must
click the Software heading in YaST’s Installation Settings panel, or click Change and
select Software from the pop-up menu. Doing either of these displays the pane shown
in Figure 1-15.
Figure 1-15: Using the YaST package manager
Part I ✦ SUSE Linux Basics
The left panel of the package selection screen gives a broad overview of packages
and disk space used, and also indicates how much space will be required when
installing all selected packages.
The Filter drop-down list box provides a powerful way to limit what packages you
can select. As we stated in the Introduction, we ourselves differ on our views of a
few Linux idiosyncrasies, including text, desktop environments, and also Linux on
the desktop in general. SUSE is aware of differing views throughout the whole Linux
community, and therefore using package selections enables users to specify things
such as which desktop environment and editor they want to install — why waste
disk space if you’re not going to use something? The same is true for games, multimedia, and specific server software. The amount of disk space required to install
your system can be reduced or enhanced by selecting specific packages.
We will keep the default package selection as chosen by SUSE and add a new package that is not installed by default.
Selecting Search from the drop-down list box enables you to enter search criteria for
a package and returns all results based on the Search in criteria selected. Figure 1-16
shows a search for the Blackbox window manager. As you can see, YaST returned not
only the package Blackbox but also other packages that contain the word blackbox in
their summary definitions, which can be seen in the Description window.
Figure 1-16: Searching for individual packages
Chapter 1 ✦ Installing SUSE 10
When a package is selected, your disk usage will be increased to reflect the size of
the install domain.
Select Accept to add those packages you select to the install list and take you back
to the package installation summary screen.
Selecting a Boot Loader
The next item you can change is the configuration of the boot loader. A boot loader
is central to the deployment of Linux as it controls the booting of operating systems on the PC. To customize the boot loader that is used by your SUSE installation, you must click the Booting heading in YaST’s Expert Installation Settings panel,
or click the Change button (under the Expert Tab) and select Booting from the popup menu. Doing either of these displays the pane shown in Figure 1-17, YaST’s Boot
Loader Settings screen.
Figure 1-17: Boot loader configuration
Part I ✦ SUSE Linux Basics
Linux systems typically use one of two boot loaders, LILO (Linux Loader) or GRUB
(Grand Unified Boot Loader). Both are very powerful and flexible, and are controlled
by easily edited configuration files (/etc/lilo.conf and /etc/grub.conf, respectively). The key difference between the two boot loaders is how they interact with
these configuration files. If you use LILO and update its configuration file, you must
rerun the lilo command to update the system boot information that is stored on
your disk. GRUB automatically rereads its configuration file whenever you boot
your system and therefore does not require that you update any other system boot
A few years ago, the general consensus was to move away from the LILO boot
loader to the GRUB boot loader. GRUB provides a more robust boot loader, and the
default configuration is fine for most users. If YaST detects a Windows installation,
it adds this as a boot option, providing a means to dual-boot Windows and Linux
on the same system.
YaST will already have configured your boot loader, depending on your system configuration. This also includes any Windows installations that have been found. To
edit a boot loader entry, select the relevant entry and click Edit. You will be presented with the boot item configuration screen shown in Figure 1-18.
Figure 1-18: Editing a boot loader entry
Chapter 1 ✦ Installing SUSE 10
One of the most important reasons for editing the default boot loader configuration
is to add a Linux kernel option at startup. If your hardware manufacturer has notified you that a certain value must be passed to the Linux kernel at boot time, you
would append it to the “Other kernel parameters” section of the configuration dialog box. When you are happy with the boot loader item configuration, click OK to
return to the boot loader overview screen.
A few very common kernel parameters that we have come across in recent years are
noht and noacpi. Both of these parameters are relevant to modern machines. The
first, noht, will turn off Linux’s support of the Intel processor’s hyperthreading feature. In certain processor-bound workloads, it is better to turn off hyperthreading to
improve performance. The second, noacpi, turns off Linux’s ACPI infrastructure. ACPI
is the Advanced Configuration and Power Interface and is a standardized way for an
operating system to control machine power, BIOS settings, and so on. In some situations ACPI actually stops Linux from booting on certain machines. Using the boot
loader configuration to set these parameters enables you to control this before a
system is installed.
When you make any changes that you want on the Boot Loader setup screen, click
the Finish button to return to the standard YaST installer screen.
Changing the Default Runlevel
Runlevels are discussed in detail in Chapter 4. As a quick summary, a system’s
runlevel determines the services that are automatically started when your system
boots. The YaST Expert Installation Settings screen can be used to change the
default runlevel of the system by clicking the Default Runlevel heading in YaST’s
Installation Settings panel or by clicking the Change button and selecting Default
Runlevel from the pop-up menu.
As you can see in Figure 1-19, you can choose to boot your SUSE system in a variety
of different ways: without networking functionality (runlevel 2), multiuser with network (runlevel 3), or multiuser with X Windows (runlevel 5). The default runlevel in
a standard installation is runlevel 5, multiuser with X Windows. You should keep
this as your default runlevel unless you have a specific reason to change it.
When you make any changes that you want to your system’s default runlevel, click
OK to set the selected runlevel as your system default. The Set Default Runlevel
pop-up closes, and YaST’s Installation Setting panel displays.
Part I ✦ SUSE Linux Basics
Figure 1-19: Changing the default runlevel
Running the Installation
When you’ve made any changes to the installation, select the Accept button in the
Installation Settings window, and the installation process begins. You will be asked
if you definitely want to create the partitions you defined and the filesystems that
sit above them (see Figure 1-20). Partitioning the disk is a destructive process and
will remove any data that those partitions replace.
This is your last chance to abort your installation without making any changes to
your disk. You should continue only if you are sure that the selected settings are correct. If you are installing SUSE for the first time on a new computer system, you have
nothing to worry about. If you are installing SUSE on an existing computer system on
which you need to preserve existing data, double-check your settings before proceeding. You can double-check that your partitioning scheme is, in fact, correct for
your environment and make changes as necessary by selecting Partitioning from the
Installation Settings screen Then triple-check your selections before proceeding.
Selecting Install will destructively create the partitions and filesystems and installs
the packages you selected.
Chapter 1 ✦ Installing SUSE 10
Figure 1-20: Confirmation of installation
During package installation, you can view the progress, the CDs needed, and also an
overview of the package use by selecting the Details button. To switch back to the
slideshow, select the Slideshow button.
This may be a good time to get a coffee, as nothing interesting happens while packages are installed. If you are installing from CDs, after the packages from CD 1 are
installed, the system will automatically reboot itself to use the specific kernel for
your architecture, as well as to commit packages installed on the system.
If you think back to the discussion of the install boot options at the beginning of the
chapter, you will remember that the default is to boot off the hard drive first. This
helps a lot if you leave the install media in the drive and are drinking your coffee in
another room.
When the system has rebooted, YaST asks you for the remaining media to install the
rest of the packages. In the case of a minimal installation, or all packages being
installed, YaST proceeds automatically to the system configuration.
Part I ✦ SUSE Linux Basics
Configuring Your Root Password
The first item that needs configuration is the root password (see Figure 1-21). We
will talk about the root user in Chapter 2, but for now it is enough to know this is
the user who has the privileges to change anything on the system, has access to all
files on the system, and is known as a superuser.
The password should be something that you can remember, but also difficult to
guess. A combination of letters and numbers is always a good way of making a
strong password. Using your name, family member names, and so on should be
avoided as these can be easy targets for passwords. Click Next after you’ve entered
your root password and re-enter for verification.
Configuring Your Network Access
If any network interface cards have been detected in the system, you will be asked to
configure them for network access (see Figure 1-22). By default, YaST sets the first
Ethernet card it finds as your system’s primary Ethernet interface and assigns it an
address that is configured via the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP).
You can find discussions about DHCP servers in Chapter 20.
Figure 1-21: Setting the root password
Chapter 1 ✦ Installing SUSE 10
Figure 1-22: Configuring network cards
For most people using SUSE in a business environment, a DHCP server may already
be running, and an address, domain name system (DNS) server list, and router
configuration will already be available. Home users and users setting up a server
system will find it necessary to configure these details manually. Home users with
simple broadband or dial-up connections often automatically receive this information from their Internet service providers (ISPs) and therefore may not need to
change these settings.
To change the configuration of the network card, click “Network Interfaces” and
select the network card in question (if you have multiple network cards), and click
the Edit button. A screen similar to the one shown in Figure 1-23 appears.
In this example configuration, we set the IP address of the network card to, with a router/gateway of and a DNS server of If you are unfamiliar with these terms at this stage, see Chapter 6 for
additional information.
To change the configuration of the network card from automatic to manual, select
Static address setup. This enables you to edit the IP and subnet mask fields. As you
can see in Figure 1-23, we have set the IP address/netmask to that of the configuration we talked about in the preceding paragraph.
Part I ✦ SUSE Linux Basics
Figure 1-23: Configuration of network cards
Setting Up Your Host Name and DNS Addresses
To set up the host name of the Linux machine and the addresses of your Domain
Name System servers, select the Host name and name server button. A screen like
that shown in Figure 1-24 appears.
The host name of your Linux machine can be anything you like, such as a person’s
name, a descriptive name, or something random. The only thing that you have to
bear in mind is that the host name and domain name can contain only letters and
numbers as well a hyphen or an underscore. The host name can be only one string
of characters and cannot contain a space or a period. As the name suggests, the
domain name dictates the network domain that this machine falls into. This domain
may well be something in line with your company’s policy or could be something
you have set up yourself.
When integrating a new system into an existing networked environment, you should
always follow the same naming conventions that are already being used, especially
for the domain name. If you do not, other systems on the network may not be able
to locate your system correctly, and certain services on your system may not be able
to interoperate with existing network services.
Chapter 1 ✦ Installing SUSE 10
Figure 1-24: Configuring DNS and host name
Enter the name server address into the Name Server 1 field. You can also enter up
to two other separate DNS server entries. Your administrator or ISP should be able
to give you this information.
The Domain Search entry is used to control how your machine looks up the address
of other machines connected through TCP/IP. For example, if you use a Domain
Search entry such as suse.com, you can communicate with any machine in the SUSE
domain by just its host name. For example, with suse.com as the Domain Search
entry, you can communicate with the machine you are setting up in this example by
just using the host name of bible. If you do have suse.com as a Domain Search field,
however, you have to specify the fully qualified domain name of the machine you
want to communicate with (in the case of this example, that is bible.suse.com).
When you have set the DNS configuration for your system, press OK to save your
Configuring the Default Gateway
Next, you will probably need to configure the router/gateway for your system. To
do this, click the Routing button. You will see a screen similar to the one shown in
Figure 1-25.
Part I ✦ SUSE Linux Basics
Figure 1-25: Configuring a default gateway
Your default gateway address is the IP address of the host to which TCP/IP packets
that are not destined for your local network are sent for further processing. For
example, your gateway address will be that of your asymmetric digital subscriber
line (ADSL) router if that is how you connect to the Internet. In other cases, your
network or system administrator will be able to provide you with this information.
When you have set the gateway address, click OK to proceed. You will then be
returned to the Network Address Setup screen. If you are happy with the network
card configuration, click Next.
When you have finished configuring all of the network cards that you need to configure, click Next in the Network Configuration screen. This tells YaST to save the
changes to your network configuration and restart the system networking.
Testing Your Connection and Online Updates
Taking a page from the “other” operating systems, SUSE now enables you to run the
update service as soon as the system has been installed (see Figure 1-26). Online
updates are discussed in more detail in Chapter 9 and are not discussed here as part
of our sample installation. If you are feeling adventurous, then testing your Internet
connection and running the online update is a good idea, but it is not necessary as
part of the installation process. Click Next after you have made your choice.
Chapter 1 ✦ Installing SUSE 10
Figure 1-26: Online update
Configuring Your Modem
Modems are notorious for being something of a problem area for Linux because many
of the internal PCI modems that are on sale are not true modems, but are what is
known as winmodems or soft modems. The idea behind winmodems is that some of
the functionality of the modem can be offloaded from hardware into software —
the software in question being the Windows operating system. As these devices are
designed to work only with Windows and in theory require a Microsoft operating system to work, it is not surprising that there are difficulties getting them to work on
Linux. So there are three possibilities:
✦ You have an old-fashioned external serial modem. These will always work
under Linux.
✦ You have a winmodem. This may or may not work with Linux.
✦ You have an internal true hardware modem. In almost all cases this will
work with Linux.
Winmodem support has improved considerably, and some previously unsupported
modems now work with Linux. SUSE supports at least the SmartLink and Lucent
ltmodem types. During the installation, if YaST detects that you have a supported
winmodem, it will install the necessary package to provide driver support.
Part I ✦ SUSE Linux Basics
Assuming that your modem is supported, YaST asks you for the necessary information to set up the modem and your dial-up connection. In the first screen of the
setup you are asked for a dial prefix if necessary (a prefix you might need to get
an outside line, for example) and to choose between tone dialing and pulse dialing
(tone dialing will be the correct choice unless your telephone exchange is very
antiquated). The other two choices here (Speaker on and Detect Dial tone) you will
almost certainly want to leave as they are (selected by default).
The next screen asks you for your country and offers a small selection of preconfigured providers (ISPs). This means that the access number is already known to the
system for these providers. One or two have gone further and enable you to use a
preconfigured username and password to sign up with them, or even to get full
anonymous access with payment being collected through your phone charges.
If you already have an account with an ISP that is not listed, you need to press the
New button and add the details of the provider’s name, the access phone number,
and your username and password.
When this is done, press Finish and the modem configuration should be complete.
You will then be able to connect using the kinternet program, which you can access
through the KDE menu (Internet ➪ Dialup). You can set kinternet to run whenever
you log in to KDE; if you do this, you can log in by clicking its tiny icon, which will
be resident in the system tray area of the KDE panel (by default in the bottom-right
corner of the screen).
More information about using winmodems under Linux can be obtained from w w w
.linmodems.org. You may be able to obtain a driver for your modem from this site,
even if it is not supported by SUSE. You can also download a tool called scanModem,
which detects the exact type of modem that you have. When you
know this, you can search the site for information about whether it is possible to get
it working.
ISDN and ADSL Connections
SUSE has very good support for internal Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN)
cards, and these can also be set up at this point in the installation. In most cases,
the card will be automatically set up, and you just have to provide the specific
information given to you by your ISP.
Asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) providers sometimes offer a particular
hardware device to connect with. These are sometimes USB devices. Unfortunately,
there are a large number of different types and not all of them work with Linux.
There are also different standards in different countries, and as a result, getting
these devices to work on Linux has always been something of a problem. If YaST
detects such a device during the installation, it attempts to set it up, but there are
still many cases in which USB ADSL devices fail to work with SUSE Linux.
If at all possible, rather than using a USB device for ADSL, you should choose one of
the ADSL routers with Ethernet output. This type of ADSL connection will always
Chapter 1 ✦ Installing SUSE 10
work, and if your provider offers the choice, you should definitely go for this type
of connection. If your provider offers a wires-only service, you can buy such a
router and use it to connect; again, there should be no problems at all. All you need
to do is follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer or ISP for setting up
your network connection to talk to the router and make the necessary settings in
YaST’s networking module.
Adding a New User
Just as Windows provides the infrastructure to authenticate users through a central database, the Unix world can use the Network Information System (NIS) or
Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) to store user account details. Most
home users need to configure only a standalone machine and should select that
option (see Figure 1-27).
See Chapter 25 for more information on the configuration of LDAP.
Click Next to create a new local user, and the Add a New Local User screen appears
(see Figure 1-28). Most of the information needed for creating a new user is selfexplanatory.
Figure 1-27: User configuration
Part I ✦ SUSE Linux Basics
Figure 1-28: Creating a local user
One nice feature of the SUSE user creation process is that you can set yourself as
the user who receives any mail destined for root by selecting the Receive System
Mail option. Regardless of whether you set up this option, it is always a good idea
to read the root user mail (if you are the owner of the root user account!) to see
any automated mails that the system sends as well as mails from the mail subsystem. This includes bounced emails, system errors, and package updates that have
been installed.
Taking another page from Mac OS X and Windows XP, SUSE enables you to set up an
account to automatically log in to the system for you when the machine boots up.
For home users, this provides a simpler way to use their system, but it is impractical and insecure in business environments. For example, if you are the user who is
automatically logged in on boot up, someone else can gain access to your files simply by turning the machine on.
When you have finished adding your user information, click Next to continue, and
SuSEconfig will run.
The SUSE system configuration is controlled by SUSE-specific control files that the
system application SuSEconfig uses to write application-specific configuration files.
Chapter 1 ✦ Installing SUSE 10
This enables the user to configure services and server processes without having to
understand application-specific configuration files. When all packages have been
installed, SuSEconfig picks up the default configuration files installed by SUSE and
writes out specific application configurations.
SuSEconfig is a core element of the SUSE system and allows YaST to maintain configuration files for services it can control. Any time you make changes to a service
using YaST, SuSEconfig will be called to commit those changes.
Reviewing the Release Notes
When SuSEconfig has finished its initial installation, you will be shown the SUSE
release notes (see Figure 1-29). These notes contain general information about
changes from previous versions of SUSE Linux, as well as a technical overview of
the previous version. This file also provides errata from the SUSE manual and is
worth a read to get a general idea as to what has happened since the last release.
Ninety percent of users at this point have not touched the included manuals with
SUSE, except perhaps to move them out of the way when locating the installation
media, so this at least gives you an introduction to the features and functionality
of the product.
Figure 1-29: The release notes
Part I ✦ SUSE Linux Basics
Configuring Your Hardware
When you have read the release notes, click Next and you will be asked to configure
your hardware (see Figure 1-30). The YaST installer and the YaST system configuration manager runs the same modules to configure hardware. For now you will configure the video card so that you can use X/KDE/GNOME.
YaST in SUSE 10 has changed the way it detects your graphics capabilities. YaST will
automatically sense what your current configuration is and will then allow you to
change those individual settings.
Configuring Your Monitor
To change your monitor configuration from what YaST detected, click on the monitor listed under “Graphics Cards.” You will be presented with a list of available monitors from which you can choose (see Figure 1-31).
Figure 1-30: Hardware configuration
Chapter 1 ✦ Installing SUSE 10
Figure 1-31: Choosing your monitor model
If your specific monitor is listed in the vendor list, select it. If not, choose either
LCD (for laptop or flatscreen monitors) or VESA (for CRT monitors). It is usually a
safe bet that a resolution of 1024 × 768 will be supported by your monitor.
Every Linux book and piece of documentation on X Windows configuration has a disclaimer about configuring your graphics system. This book is no different because
there are real dangers if you set up your monitor incorrectly. Because the graphics
card drives the monitor, it is imperative that you either configure the graphics system
with standard lower settings, or take a look in the documentation that came with both
your monitor and your graphics card and figure out the correct settings for them.
Sax2 comes with well-defined Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) settings for general setup and also specific configurations from the major manufacturers
of graphics systems. The remainder of this section discusses a low-specification
graphics setup that should be safe for most people. However, you really should know
how hard you can push your system so as not to damage your monitor by overdriving what your graphics card gives to it. Most of today’s monitors have built-in settings to protect against hardware damage, but you should be especially careful when
configuring the X Window system on an older monitor.
Part I ✦ SUSE Linux Basics
Graphics Card Configuration
As you have changed the resolution of your monitor, you will also need to change
the resolution of your graphics card to reflect the monitor settings. To do this, click
on the resolution (in Figure 1-30, this is 800 × 600). You will be presented with a
small drop-down box asking you for the resolution you wish to run X with (see
Figure 1-32).
Configuring Your Sound Card
YaST will detect the sound card and will set it up automatically. During a standard
installation, you are not required to intervene in this process; it just happens. In
almost all cases, that is all you need to know. The rest of this section concerns what
you can do after installation if it turns out that sound was not configured correctly
during the installation.
Figure 1-32: Graphics card resolution
Chapter 1 ✦ Installing SUSE 10
After the installation is complete, confirm that sound is working by attempting to
play a music CD or music file (for example, an MP3 file using the x m m s player program). If you don’t hear sound at this stage, first check the physical connection to
the speakers. Then (if you are using KDE) check that the KDE volume control is at
a sensible setting and not disabled or turned down to zero. In the unlikely event
that sound still fails to work, you can rerun the YaST sound module in expert mode.
The sound module is found in YaST’s Hardware section. You will find three possible
setup modes:
✦ Quick automatic setup — This is the default and is the one that is used during
✦ Normal setup — This enables you to test the sound card. There is a volume
control and a test button. When you have set the volume, a test sound is
played when you press test.
✦ More detailed installation of sound cards — If you choose this option, you
will be taken to a screen where any configurable options for the particular
sound card that has been detected can be set. Depending on the particular
card, these may include settings to enable a joystick and MPU (midi processing unit) port settings.
If even experimentation with the detailed installation options fails, you can try the
low-level alsaconf program. As root, type alsaconf to start the program. It is a textbased program that, in fact, provides the back end for YaST’s sound configuration
module, but running it standalone gives you the opportunity to use its command-line
options, including alsaconf –l, which writes a log file to /tmp/alsaconf.log that may
give a clue as to the problem.
The ALSA (Advanced Linux Sound Architecture) home page can be found at w w w
.alsa-project.org. This is the best place to start if you have any difficulties with
configuration of sound on Linux.
Completing Installation
Once you have finished with your hardware configuration, click Next.
It has been a long road, but you have successfully installed SUSE at this point (see
Figure 1-33). Pat yourself on the back if you are a brand-new user to the world of
Linux. You have done a lot of new things by installing SUSE — not the least of which
is that you have begun a journey on which you’ll learn lots of new ideas and
philosophies, as well as giving you a stable operating system to use.
Part I ✦ SUSE Linux Basics
Figure 1-33: Installation completed
If you are an experienced Linux user, you should be quite happy about how much
SUSE has come along from other distributions and how easy it has been to install it.
Don’t worry, however; as with everything Linux-related, you can make it as easy or
as hard as you like, and you will see how in later chapters.
Just to whet your appetite, Figure 1-34 shows an image of what you will see once
your system has booted up to the system proper.
As this is a new installation with default settings, typing in your username and password and pressing the login button automatically loads the K Desktop Environment.
The version of KDE that SUSE ships with has been optimized to integrate with the
SUSE system, and you will see how well a job the developers have done in Chapter 8.
Enjoy, play around with the system, and as the developers in Germany say: Have a
lot of fun!
Chapter 1 ✦ Installing SUSE 10
Figure 1-34: The final installed system
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