Installation walkthrough of Mandriva Linux 2007.1 Spring

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This page describes the installation I did with the free and freely available download dvd of Mandriva Linux 2007.1. I have installed it and run it on my laptop (madeira) (see also the hardware specifications page).
To those who've already used or seen a graphical Linux installer this may not be exciting, but those who haven't and are curious are invited to give this page a good read. I hope that this information will help some uninitiated to take the plunge and give Linux a try.
I used 'use existing partitions' and 'install' instead of upgrade. As has been the case since years, it seems that in most cases 'upgrade' works fine, but in some it doesn't. Your mileage may vary; if you use the 'upgrade' function and you have problems, you may first want to do a clean install to see if that helps. BTW, a clean install is usually faster anyway, since there are no dependencies of the packages that get replaced to be checked.
Note: whenever upgrading doesn't work, it's because some essential thing has been changed in the inner workings of the system. This can be fixed if you know how, but in that case you'd not likely be reading these pages...

I have several partitions that I use as root partitions so that I can multiboot different systems; I now have a simple standard lilo bootloader in the MBR (master boot record) which is set to chainload any of the 4 system (root or '/' ) partitions that I have prepared on my harddrive. The bootloader of each new installation then goes into the start of the partition that I put that system on.

I used the standard method of installing by means of the downloadable dvd this time. There's also a boot image that supports lots of installation methods: FTP, HTTP, NFS, local harddrive image, local harddrive files.

A last remark: it will pay off later if you create an extra partition that can serve as root partition for subsequent linux installations, for instance for beta/rc testing.
It seems I cannot stress this enough; read the forums, there are still so many posts of people who go like: "I wish I hadn't given up my nice installation of Distro X to try out Distro Y which I now find is totally disappointing to me.." but usually with stronger wordings...
As I wrote before, on my laptop I have 4 such partitions, and currently I have Mandriva 2007.0, Spring KDE-One 2007.1, and Mandriva 2007.1 32-bit Powerpack alongside the 2007.1 Spring 64 bit edition that is now my main system.

The installation itself

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Just put the dvd or the first cd in the tray and reboot the pc; then type enter when you get to the question if you want to install, upgrade or other.

I will now just give some tips and explanations on what and how I do things, along with the screenshots I made during the install on my laptop (just hit F2 to make a screenshot, you can find them later in /root/DrakX-screenshots/). Note that I have chosen to resize the screenshots, the normal resolution is 800x600 (SVGA). You can click each image to get the normal size screenshot.
The following parts are in the installation; I've intermittently put my comments, whereever I have tips to spare.

Choosing Your Language

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Use multi-languages to select more than one language. Very important if you want multiple languages, in some cases it can be near impossible to add later (well you can always run through the install process again, just doing upgrade instead of install...). Selecting extra languages means you also get the spell checker files for those languages installed. Install screenshot
As you can tell when browsing this list, Linux offers an astonishing choice of languages (any language that anyone has bothered to do the translation for, as a matter of fact). I checked the secondary languages of my choice and moved on. Install screenshot

License Terms of the Distribution

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License agreement - nothing objectionable here, no EULA's that try to take your rights, quite the contrary. This is the only License you'll see and/or have to agree to.
Note that you don't actually have to agree to it to _use_ the software, the GPL is a distribution license. However, for whatever reason, the Mandriva installer wants you to agree to it before continuing the installation process.
Install screenshot

Install type

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Here the question is asked is whether you want to install or upgrade; even if you have an older version of Mandriva installed, it is often wiser to do an install than an upgrade. People have reported problems with the result in case of an upgrade from some older Mandriva installation. In any case, a clean install is usually much faster. Remember, as long as you don't format your /home partition (which is a separate partition, right?!) you keep your own data; the install vs upgrade question is only related to the system.
As you can see, all 4 of my current installations are properly recognised.
The installer proposes to upgrade any of them, but I selected 'Install'.
Install screenshot

Keyboard selection

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Select your keyboard layout. (Tip for Dutch users: you can choose the Dutch layout, but this is actually very uncommon; the commonly used keyboard layout in the Netherlands is US international.) I got the British layout preselected, since I chose British English as the first language. I chose US International. Basically you get all options that are relevant to the languages you selected in the beginning - naturally you can get all other layouts by clicking the 'more'-button. Install screenshot

Security level

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Choose the security level of your Mandriva Linux system. For servers with a fixed ip address that will be permanently internet-connected, you may want to select something a bit higher than the standard setting that I took. Nowadays the preselected value is 'High', so apparently Mandriva is stepping up the security level. Install screenshot

Hard disk partioning

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Select whether you want to use the free space on the hard drive, use existing partitions, erase the entire disk, reduce the size of your windows partition to make place for your Linux system or do your own custom setup. BTW this screenshot doesn't show the option to use the free space on the hard drive, since there my hard drive was completely partitioned, nor the option to reduce the size of my windows partition since I don't have any windows partitions.
In case you do have Windows partitions, and your whole drive is partitioned so you can't use free (unpartitioned) space, DiskDrake can resize the Windows partition. However, sometimes there's data at the end of a partition, and in the case of NTFS partitions (Win2k and WinXP standard partition types), this data cannot be moved by DiskDrake. So you will have to boot into Windows, run a defragmenter, until there's enough space at the end of the partition to shave off enough for your Linux system. Note that some defragmenters for whatever reason, leave some data somewhere toward the end of the partition. Once I had to defrag, run the linux installer with DiskDrake (no live cd at hand at that moment), resize as much as possible, boot to windows again and defrag again, to have some more free GBytes at the end, etc... until there was the desired amount of space available for the required Linux partitions.
Currently, I recommend to make root (system) partitions between 6 and 10GB - rather more (8 to 10GB) if you intend to install a 64 bit system, you may have to have quite some duplicate libs; if you know you're not going to install loads of software, 4 to 5GB may well be enough. But with the current sizes of hard drives, even in laptops, why would you try to save a GB or two? Better safe than sorry. It also depends on whether you want to copy the installation media to your hard drive - see the Installation media copy-step below. In any case, making your root partition larger than 15GB is not useful.
For more comments on disk partitioning, read my Mandrake 9.1 installation page.
As always, I really recommend to create a spare partition (at least one - as you can see, I have four partitions that I can use as a system or 'root' partition, so I can multi boot 4 different systems) that can later be used as root partition to an alternative system. With harddrives of 120GB and more (even on laptops - I have a 160GB drive) being todays standard, some extra 10GB that lies unused 'just for when you want to use it' is not an issue, whereas throwing out your working system for some new hyped system that happens to be 'not all that' in your specific case is a real shame.
Install screenshot
I chose 'existing partitions' during this installation, and I indicated which partition I wanted to use as a root partition ( / ) for this installation, and where to mount the other 'root' partitions. Install screenshot
As a side note, just some screenshots to show you what the partitioning wizard DiskDrake looks like, here are some images from the Mandriva 2007 (September 2006) release. As you can see, the options are somewhat different due to a different state of my harddrive. I chose to use 'Custom disk partitioning'. Install screenshot
In this screenshot, you see that there's loads of free space, and I have clicked the toggle button at the bottom that now reads "Toggle to normal mode" - when I clicked it it said "Toggle to expert mode". In the current "Expert Mode" more actions are available in the left hand pane, and also on the next screenshots the available options are more detailed and expanded.
Note also that there's a swap partition at the very beginning of the drive. In case you have a desktop system, don't worry too much about a swap partition, you can put one at the end of the drive about the same size of your main system RAM memory (1 GB will actually do fine in all cases). If you want to use your swap to hibernate/suspend your system, as I do on this laptop, put it as much to the beginning of the drive as possible. I have tried out a swap partition towards the end of the drive, and the whole hibernating/thawing is much much slower!
Install screenshot
Here you can see how you can choose the partition info after clicking empty space and 'Create partition'. Note that this is 'expert mode' - in normal mode, you get a slider for the size, no 'confusing' numbers and such. Install screenshot
All partitions have been determined, including their mount points. Click 'done' to finish. Install screenshot
After changing the definition of the partitions, this info has to be written to the partition table. Until you click ok to this question, nothing has really been committed to, so you could still go back if you made a big mistake! Install screenshot

Formatting of partitions

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Back to the screenshost of Mandriva 2007 Spring; the next step is to format the partition that will serve as root partition. The system will normally want to format all newly created partitions. After this, there is no way back, so be sure that you have made backups of any file on that partition that you may need. If you wish, you can choose to format other partitions as well; in my case I wanted to keep all data on all other partitions. Install screenshot
There's a progress indicator informing you how the formatting is proceeding. Install screenshot

Installation media copy

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The installation media can be copied to the hard drive, in which case you can keep installing software packages without having to scramble for the dvd. This may also be convenient in case you just borrowed a dvd from someone. I chose not to, since I will set up the system to download packages from the web repositories anyway. Install screenshot

Additional installation media

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This dialog allows you to indicate which other media sources you have. I didn't set this up during installation. Install screenshot

Package selection

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The installer checks which programs can actually be installed. The group selection allows for quick installation of the most common applications per subsection. Install screenshot
This is my usual selection lately; I used to include LSB and some servers, nowadays I just go through individual package selection for OpenSSHserver, TightVNCserver and then some. Install screenshot
I had opted for the individual package selection. Note that in 'flat list view' (click the circular arrow-icon), you can just start typing away and the built-in search will jump to the package name you're typing. Install screenshot

Server packages security issue

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This is just a warning that the server applications that you may have selected to install will be switched on and if they should have a security problem, you will have to update them. In other words, please realise that installing these packages burdens you with the responsability of their maintenance.
After you 'OK' this, the chosen packages are installed, which can take between 10 and 100 minutes, strongly dependent on your selections and the speed of your hardware.
Install screenshot

System installation

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Here the system gets installed, and the looks of this part have really improved. It's a bit like a slideshow of things to come, and if you click 'Details' you see the list of packages that are being installed; previously each package had it's own progress bar and there was only one name. The new details list (since Mandriva 2007.0) looks a lot more like the one Suse Linux uses, and I like it much better. Here you just see a screenshot of the program ads flashing by during installation. Install screenshot

Setting the administrator (root) password

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Choose a password that you can remember, but bear in mind: anyone with physical access to your machine can easily change it (not necessarily find out what your password is, but set a new one. See the howto page on how to do that). Install screenshot

Create user accounts for your system

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You have to create at least one user account. You can select an icon (which, naturally can be changed later) for each user, by clicking on it. Note that the default login manager doesn't actually show these icons...
Click 'accept user' to add another one, and 'next' when you're done with adding users.
Install screenshot


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If you want the system to log one specific user on upon boot, without asking for the password, you can set that up here. If you don't use this feature, a logon screen (MDKKDM) is presented each time the machine is booted, where the account name and password have to be used to get into the machine. Note that if you use KDE, you can simply configure your account to use a screenlock when you get logged on - so you can safely use this autologon feature and still be sure no-one will mess with your data and/or account. Install screenshot

Boot loader

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The bootloader serves to let you choose between the Operating Systems on your machine at boot time. You can have the bootloader at the various locations that are selectable here. Note that it only makes sense to put the bootloader in the first sector of the root partition if you have some other bootloader to direct the computer BIOS there. If you choose 'skip' you won't be able to start your system, and even the rescue mode of the installation cd won't be able to help you; it relies on the bootloader info being available somewhere on your system, and if you choose 'skip' here, it won't even get created. Another thing: the title is clearly LILO/grub installation - but since Mandriva 2007.1 Spring, the default is GRUB, and there's no way to choose LILO at this point.
I actually installed the bootloader into the root partition, which I now do with each of my four systems that I can multi boot on this machine. I have one 'global' LILO (which doesn't need any file in any partition, it fully resides in the MBR) that can chainload any of the four root/system partitions, so I _never_ have to mess anymore with configuring boot loaders, I can just install a system and tell it to put its bootloader into its own root partition, no need to add other systems to any boot loaders of new systems. Since I'll keep the LILO I now have to chainload these four systems, I went through the effort of creating a nice personalised splash screen (including info on how to return my laptop to me should it be found by someone honest). Please note that though GRUB has many advantages, I don't think that this could be done with it in the same way.
Install screenshot

Summary and configuration

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This is the summary screen; you can (re)configure plenty of hardware here, from your mouse, keyboard, audio, graphics card to your internet/ethernet connection. Install screenshot
Scrolling down shows some more things to configure. Minor change compared to Mandriva 2007.0 is that there's no longer a printer configuration section here. It's been moved to post install. Install screenshot

Summary -- Country and Region

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Here you can choose your location - I had to fix this since the main language I chose is British English, and so the system presumed London, England as location. Install screenshot

Summary -- Timezone

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The next thing I did was choose the city for the proper timezone. Switzerland is in one zone, but ah well, it's easy enough to select Zurich in this dialog. Install screenshot

Summary -- Graphic Card & Monitor configuration

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My graphics adapter was properly detected. Since Mandriva 2007.1 Spring, for graphics cards / adapters, the choices have been strongly reduced to simplify things for the user; one no longer has to choose which exact chip, just the general type will do and the system will detect which chip version is present. This reduces the potential confusion, and from the name the more experienced user can still tell his chip is supported. Install screenshot

In this screen I made sure the 24 bit mode was selected with the correct resolution. Install screenshot

Here the graphics options can be chosen - do make sure the system will start into graphics mode, unless you plan to use your system as a headless server or want to turn on the graphics by hand each time you start the system. Install screenshot

Finally there's an overview to see if all is well. Install screenshot

Summary -- Network

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Choose which connection to configure. In my case, it's my LAN connection. Install screenshot

Select the interface to configure. Install screenshot

I opted for manual configuration, and this is what I filled in. I prefer to have fixed IP addresses on my home lan - especially when some cable is unplugged or the switch is powered down, it avoids long waits at boot time. Install screenshot

I left turned off 'start the connection at boot' since I knew I would normally actually use my wifi connection. Install screenshot

You can opt to start the connection right away, to test it - before it used to be necessary to set up a network printer, but now the configuration of the printers has been moved to post installation. Install screenshot

Great, all done. Install screenshot

Now I tried to configure the wireless interface. Install screenshot

It was detected properly, giving a bit of hope...
I knew this might not work, since this is the installation of the 'Free' edition, which excludes anything not open source.
Install screenshot

And as you can see, exactly the closed source daemon for the Intel IPW3945 wifi interface in my system was missing. The link where to find the package was correct, so good info for those who wouldn't know what went wrong at this point. Install screenshot

Install updates

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Before ending the install, you get to install the updates that have been released after the install cds hit the web. Figuring this was just after the release, I declined. If you get installation media a few weeks or more after release, this is really a nice feature. Install screenshot

End of installation

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Done! It took just about three quarters of an hour, including my package selection by hand,... not bad for a full system install. Install screenshot

Final remarks

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The installation was problem free and straightforward, as it has been since quite a while. The first boot screen of the installation disc looks much more polished than before, nice graphics and slick blending in of the Mandriva name. But more importantly, the installation disc holds some useful options - alongside the common 'repair system' there's also an option to run a hardware RAM memory test (memtest86), and the installation setup has more features and a clearer help/info system.
There were some notable changes apart from the improved looks; now, as many other distributions, Mandriva comes with GRUB as a default bootloader, and the printer configuration has been taken out of the installation process.
In the mean time, I have installed the Powerpack 32 bit edition and the Free 64 bit edition of Mandriva 2007.1 Spring on a number of machines (mostly laptops) and I must say that in all cases, things went as smoothly as in this walkthrough - or better. For instance, the Powerpack has wifi working out of the box on many laptops. The same goes for proprietary graphics drivers (NVidia, ATI).
All in all, the installation of Mandriva 2007.1 Spring is again a step up from the already fine 2007 (autumn 2006) Mandriva edition.

Happy installing!

Discussion and feedback

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If you want to give me feedback you can get to me via my contact info (link at the top) or in this topic: I'll be tracking that topic, so as soon as you add a message I will be notified and read up on your comments. That forum is also great for help in case of problems.

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Page first created: July 1st 2007. Page last updated: 2007-07-03 21:36

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