The basic outline of Linux installation is simple:
- Collect configuration information on your hardware.
- Make installation floppies.
- If you want to run a "dual-boot" system (Linux and DOS or
Windows both), rearrange (repartition) your disk to make room
- Boot an installation mini-Linux from the floppies in order
to get access to the CD-ROM.
- Prepare the Linux filesystems. (If you didn't edit the
disk partition table earlier, you will at this stage.)
- Install a basic production Linux from the CD-ROM.
- Boot Linux from the hard drive.
- (Optional) Install more packages from CD-ROM.
Here are the basic parts of an installable distribution:
- The README and FAQ files. These will usually be
located in the top-level directory of your CD-ROM and be readable
once the hard disk has been mounted under Linux. (Depending on how
the CD-ROM was generated, they may even be visible under
DOS/Windows.) It is a good idea to read these files as soon as you
have access to them, to become aware of important updates or
- A number of bootdisk images (often in a subdirectory). One
of these is is the file that you will write to a floppy to create
the boot disk. You'll select one of the above bootdisk
images, depending on the type hardware that you have in your
The issue here is that some hardware drivers conflict with each
other in strange ways, and instead of attempting to debug hardware
problems on your system it's easier to use a boot floppy image with
only the drivers you need enabled. (This will have the nice side
effect of making your kernel smaller.)
- A rootdisk image (or perhaps two). This is a file that you
will write to a floppy to create the installation disk(s).
Nowadays the root disk or disks is generally independent of your
hardware type; it will assume an EGA or better color screen.
- A rescue disk image. This is a disk containing a basic
kernel and tools for disaster recovery in case something steps on
the kernel or boot block of your hard disk.
- RAWRITE.EXE. This is an MS-DOS program that will write
the contents of a file (such as a boot or rootdisk image) directly
to a floppy, without regard to format.
You only need RAWRITE.EXE if you plan to create your boot and
root floppies from an MS-DOS system. If you have access to a UNIX
workstation with a floppy drive instead, you can create the
floppies from there, using the `dd' command. or possibly a
vendor-provided build script. See the man page for dd(1) and ask
your local UNIX gurus for assistance.
- The CD-ROM itself. The purpose of the boot disk is to get
your machine ready to load the root or installation disks, which in
turn are just devices for preparing your hard disk and copying
portions of the CD-ROM to it.