Slackware 7.0 part I: Installation Guide

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System Administration

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[Jeffry Degrande]

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original in nl Jeffry Degrande

nl to en Floris Lambrechts

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This article is meant to be a helping hand for all those who want to install Slackware 7.0.

It was originally a dutch article at, and the author gave us permission to publish it on _LF_. Note that 7.0 is no longer the current version of Slackware, at the moment Slack has upgraded to version 7.1.

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I chose Slackware because I do not really like the so-called 'user-friendlyness' that you get with for example Suse or Redhat. The main advantage of the Slackware distro is that it will only run those programs that you really need. Especially Suse is good at running a lot of stuff you don't need, without letting you know about it. And, in my opinion, Slackware does no longer have to take lessons where it comes to being user-friendly.

I will guide you trough the most important steps of the installation process until you have a running system. In the next article, I will go on describing the actual configuration and administration of a Slackware system. Now, let's install it!

Preparing the installation

If you are lucky and your BIOS has the option to boot from CD-ROM, you can skip the next step. In that case, make sure the option is enabled, put the cdrom in your drive en boot your computer.

However, when you cannot boot from cdrom, you'll have to write yourself a bootdisk. In DOS that can be done very easily. Make sure you have two (perfect) formatted diskettes (be sure they have absolutely no damaged sectors.) The first one (the bootdisk) will be used to boot the kernel and the other one will load the rest of the system. In the directory rootdsks there is the little program rawrite.exe that you can use to write the two bootdisks. The stuff you'll be writing on the bootdisk (the images) can be found in the same directory, it is stored in files with a .gz extension. color.gz will work in most cases; you can read rootdsks/README.TXT for special situations.
Anyway, reading those readme files is something you should always do.

You create the rootdisk with the following command

        C:\> RAWRITE COLOR.GZ A:
Label it "Rootdisk" or someting

In the directory bootdsks.144 there are files that end with .i . These are used to make the second bootdisk. Most IDE-based systems will work with the standard bare.i. Read the textfiles if you are not in that situation. Now, make the disk:

        C:\> RAWRITE BARE.I A:
Label it as "Bootdisk"

Now reboot (let the bios know you boot from a:) and put the Bootdisk in the drive. Replace it with the Rootdisk when asked.


Now that we have a booted system, the time has come to start the actual installation. To start, we log in as root (this not the "real" account, so you don't have to type a password.)

The next step is not that easy (even more, it's fun - hang on :-)

We have to make separate pations for Linux on a hard drive. To do that, you can either use fdisk or cfdisk. "fdisk" is a little difficult to handle, but it has the most features. "cfdisk" is pretty easy and it does what you want.

(Let's assume your Windows is on a primary partition (even though I redommend deleting it;) and that the rest of your hard disk consists of free space. There are a lot of software packages that can help you repartition your drives. More about this can be found in the Partition HOWTO, or you might want to read a _LF_ article about the subject.)


Before we continue, I want to say something about the Linux (and Unix) file system. From now on, we will no longer call different partitions with their C: , D: names, but we will refer to them as /dev/hda1, /dev/hda2 and so on.

There is some logic to these names. Each physical hard drive is assigned a certain character. If you have for instance two drives in your system, then the first will be called /dev/hda and the second one will be /dev/hdb.
In addition, each partion gets a number. The first partition on the first disk will be /dev/hda1 , the second partition will be /dev/hda2. Just the same on the second hard disk: there the two partitions would be called /dev/hdb1 and /dev/hdb2 .

I also would like to say a thing about the lay-out of your partitions. All the partitions will be a part of the big tree-like structure that starts at /. Therefore it is important to carefully choose the size of your partitions.
Make a / dir that is relatively small, make a big /usr and use the rest of you drive for the users in the directory /home. Don't forget to create a swap space, especially if you don't have much memory. There is no 'best' partition lay-out, you have to discover the best configuration yourself. The installation-HOWTO can help you with additional information.

With the following command you start cfdisk

        # cfdisk

This application explains itself; you give input with the arrows on your keyboard and you can get help at any point. Make a couple partitions with [ new ] or type n. Just to be sure, mark / as a bootable partition (this is the first option.) Mak a partition for your swap and change its [ Type ] to 82 (linux swap). With [ write ] you save the changes you made, and the program closes.


Now type:

        # setup
Yes, this is the fun part ;)

You now see an interface with a number of options. Of course you start withe the first one, and you go on untill you have done them all. "Help" is just for help, so choose "keymap" and press enter.


Here you are asked what type of keyboard you have. In my case, this was azerty / latin-be, but this is only valid for the dutch-speaking people in Belgium.


Here you select the partition that you wish to use as swap space. (the one you changed to "type 82" in cfdisk). Also, you are asked if you would like to activate it. Ofcouse, this should be yes.


Here you choose the mount point of each partition (with a mount, you attach a partition at a certain place in you tree-structure of directories.) You definately need a / , /usr and /home are optional (if you made partitions for these directories, then mount them, otherwise don't).

An example:

  Filesystem           Mounted on

  /dev/hda1            /
  /dev/hda5            /usr
  /dev/hda6            /home
Of course, this can be different on your machine. Windows will most likely be on the /dev/hda1 partition.

You also have the ability to add other partitions to /etc/fstab. This configuration files remembers where everything should be mounted. It is best to do this, so that you can read these other partitions easily from within Linux.


Here you select the source medium form where you install Slackware. In most cases this will be the cdrom.

[installation type]

What type of installation would you like to run? Choose "slakware".


Here you can select which individual software packages you want to install:


Now we are at the next step, which is [configure]

[install linux kernel]

Here you choose which kernel you want to install. These are the possibilities:

[boot disk]

If you want to make a final bootdisk, you can do it here. First format the floppy, then choose either "simple" or "lilo disk". The first puts a kernel on the floppy, the second option puts lilo on it (this is more flexible). It's your decision :)

If you don't want a bootdisk, then skip.


Here you select the port that your modem is on. The DOS equivalent of the names are given. If you have forgotten this, you'll have to check it in Windows (and that is probably the last time you boot the Windows OS ;)


Select a nice screen font for your console (the text-environment).


If you only use Windows 95/98 and Linux you can safely select the automatic option. If things go wrong, or if your configuration is more complex you better choose "expert". You can allways do the configuration of Lilo later, with the help of the Lilo-HOWTO.

You can also choose where you want to put lilo

  boot is at the beginning of your root partition ("/")
  floppy is on a diskette
  MBR is in the master boot record of your hard drive

"boot" is for when you are using another boot manager, "MBR" is for when you use Lilo to choose between Linux and other OS'es. This option writes in the MBR sector of the hard disk, which is not recommended when you use Win NT.

More info on Lilo is in the HOWTO.


Choose your type of mouse (tip: if it's not working, try pnp) and the port it's on.

Now you can choose to run GPM or not (this is a program that provides mouse-support in the console).


Select your timezone.


Give the password for root. WATCH OUT! Remember this one, if you forget it you're in big trouble. You don't see what you are typing, so do it very carefull :)


Close the program and, back in the console, type

        # reboot

This reboots your system and now you should have your Slackware up and running...  

Additional information