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Setting up a new Linux machine

Installing Linux® on your computer can be an easy task. This article helps you to go through the installation quickly. If your computer is also running Microsoft® Windows®, you won’t even have to modify your current installation. When restarting your computer after installing Linux, you will be prompted to boot to either your current Windows system or the newly installed Linux one.

Some background

Linux (a.k.a. GNU/Linux) is a computer operating system that is considered one of the most famous examples of open source development. The term Linux referred initially to the Linux kernel, but is commonly used to describe an entire UNIX®-like operating system based on the Linux kernel combined with libraries and tools from the GNU project and a lot of software generally called packages. The Linux kernel was initially developed for one microprocessor only (Intel's i386), but now supports almost every existing architecture, from watches to IBM mainframes. Linux was started by individual enthusiasts led by Linus Torvalds, but large companies, such as IBM, quickly understood the value of Linux and began to promote and enhance it.

Distributions

SUSE Linux Debian GNU/Linux Red Hat
Mandriva Gentoo

There are many Linux distributions – or distros – that contain the Linux operating system and applications that include free software and sometimes also proprietary commercial software. Major distributions are made by companies such as Novell (the main sponsor of the Mono project) who distributes SUSE Linux, and Red Hat who distributes Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Fedora. Other popular distros include Mandriva (nee Mandrake), Canonical's Ubuntu Linux, and community projects such as Debian and Gentoo.

Packages

Software included in the distributions are organized as packages and everything is installed via the Package Manager . The main package formats are RPM and deb, and their respective Package Managers are rpm and dpkg. There are also utilities wrapping these basic Package Managers that handle, detect and download dependencies; yum and apt are the most common ones.

InstallCD versus live CD

In order to install a Linux distribution, you generally need to download one or more ISO images of your chosen Linux distribution and burn it onto a CD, then reboot the computer with the (first) CD inserted. Some installCDs contains the entire distribution, while others contain only the base system and download the complement from online package repositories during the installation.

Recently, a new kind of CD appeared that was initiated by the Knoppix distribution. The idea is that the whole operating system boots and runs from a CD without requiring any permanent installation on your hard drive. Some of these live CDs have the ability to store custom settings and/or personal data on a USB device. This kind of distribution is also called “Demo CD” and “System Rescue CD”.

Side-by-side installation with Windows

You can easily install and use Linux side-by-side with Windows. By default, GNU GRUB is installed in the Master Boot Record (MBR) of your first hard disk and an entry is automatically added for your Windows systems already installed on the PC. You can also leave the Windows boot loader in the MBR and follow these Dual Booting Linux and Windows NT/2000/XP instructions to boot either Linux or Windows.

Installing SUSE Linux

Almost every modern hardware configuration is supported by SUSE Linux, but you can check specifically for your own hardware in the SUSE Linux hardware database You can install SUSE Linux by following these instructions. If you need any help and/or other information, refer to the specific OpenSUSE forum at Novell.


Installing Ubuntu Linux

You can download and install CD from Ubuntu or you can ask them to send you the CD at no charge. You will need to boot from this CD and follow the instructions. If you have any questions, try the wiki that includes extensive documentation and active forums. There is also a good Unofficial Ubuntu Starter Guide that may help you to install and get started.

Installing Mandriva Linux

You can download an installCD set (or one DVD or a MiniCD that will download the distrubution from the Web) from Mandriva. You will need to boot from this CD and follow the instructions.

What's next?

Once you have installed Linux on your computer, it's time to deploy your first Visual MainWin® application to Linux. First you need to configure your Linux machine to deploy your Visual MainWin application and then you are ready to go. To get started developing applications for Linux, read this article.

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