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I am thinking of installing CENTOS 5 on my pc. I have a compaq presario with a 200G hard drive, currently running winxp pro. I plan to add an external HD (esata 300g), exclusively for Linux. I plan to learn how to build websites -- another completely new thing for me -- in the Linux OS.
I plan to set up a dual boot system (Linux and WinXP) on this pc. But I also would like, every now and then, to pick up my esata drive and plug it into another PC, and run my Linux from there. This can be either via a USB or an esata port, depending on what is available on the other pc. I won't be allowed to make any changes to the other pc. Is that as simple as installing GRUB on a CD, and booting from there? Is the connection (USB, esata, etc.) completely irrelevant, assuming that the BIOS can boot from the GRUB CD.
If you use grub as the (dual boot) loader for the original PC, you won't be able to simply take the external out. It won't boot. Can be got around several ways, but not just "unplug it and walk".
Personally I would install grub to the MBR on the external, and boot from that if the BIOS supports it. Can be setup to boot XP, and if it's removed, the old XP ntldr code will get picked up seamlessly.
If no USB BIOS boot support, you can certainly use a CD to jump-start it. The Centos disk may handle this, although it may only find real (internal) disks. Super grub disk should do the job - might be the best option, although you could chroot from any bootable CD.
It's simpler to boot from Grub but in order to do that you would have to install Grub's stage1 file to the mbr of the first hard drive, which in your case contains xp. This will overwrite the xp mbr. If you then disconnect the external hard drive, Grub will be looking for the rest of the bootloader which will be on the /boot or /root partition of the drive which is disconnected, no boot possible.
To create a boot CD go to this page for the GNU GRUB Manual with instructions.
It's a little bit more complicated than I thought, but I am willing to give it a try. I do have a few more questions. I have 3 gig of ram on my pc; I suspect the other pc won't have that much. Possibly just 1 gig. What is the size of the swap partition that I should allocate to the CENTOS on my pc? Does it matter? I was planning to allocate 5gig of swap partition to the CENTOS on my pc.
I have installed the esata HD on my pc, and then tested whether a) winxp pro can detect the external hd, and b) winxp pro can still work, although not use it. Sort of just ignore it, as the esata hd is still unformatted -- I plan to do that during the CENTOS install. Winxp pro was able to detect the esata HD, but showed abnormal cpu use when I was trying to bring up my browser; it then crashed when I tried to forcibly exit from the system. Is this simply because of the unformatted drive? Or did I mess up already and should back off a bit?
Swap partitions have been useful in times with 32 MB of RAM, but if you have 1 and 3 Gig of RAM available, then you shouldn't care much about swap partitions. Go for a moderate 0.5 Gig sized swap and that's it.
If you really run out of RAM and need to use a lot of data swapping, then it will slow down your system significantly anyway - not a good thing on a server. In such a case you'd better add more RAM.
Are you sure you want to use CentOS? I have found it to be exceptionally stable but rather (to say the least) limited in the number of applications that one would use on a regular desktop. I spent two days compiling all sorts of stuff, then I gave up and installed something more practical. It's best as a server, really.
What would you recommend, jay73? I'd like to learn how to build websites, mostly. And I thought CENTOS is the closest there is to an enterprise UNIX. Meaning the big webservers would be very similar. That's what I heard anyway. I'd be happy to try something else, if you know of one that fits what I have in mind.
Well, it depends on what you mean by "build websites". If you want to set up a server, then by all means CentOS is a good choice. But if you are more / also interested in writing web applications etc., then there are better choices. CentOS is just so very limited in the applications department and although it has a GUI, there are quite afew things that need to be done from the command line.
If you prefer something that closely resembles Red Hat, then a good choice would be Fedora. However, unlike CentOS, it is supported for only a year and it is quite innovative (it is essentially a test ground for future releases of Red Hat) so you may occasionally bump into some annoyance.
Ok you've got me interested. I've been focusing on the web server part -- that I admit, and paid very little attention to the web apps. I'd rather not use the FC since as you can see I am a rank newbie to Linux. What you might call "some annoyance" is probably a flaming disaster as far as I am concerned. So stability does count a lot in my case. I'd appreciate any suggestions you might want to make.
May I suggest Debian http://www.debian.org? It is a very robust server platform as well as I desktop. I use it for my servers and my desktop. All the installations for software and packages are done over the internet, and since they have a minimal boot when you first install, in my book it's so much more secure because you only install and enable what packages you want.
This allows me to have so much more control over my systems. Plus I don't have to worry about looking for uneeded services and shutting them down just to secure my system.
Granted there a few things that you would want to do just like you have to do on every other platform, but all in all it is a very secure and robust os.
Example of a fix after install of minimal install:
Install SSH --> Turn off or dissallow root logins in /etc/ssh/sshd_conf
That's my two cents for now. But I hope I didn't just start a flame war over the which os is better. But again is your choice. I enjoy trying other flavors my Debian Linux is by far the only one I use on day to day basis.
Well, let's see then. There is also Suse. Considering it is related to Novell, it is definitely enterprise level too and it has many more applications available than CentOS. Unfortunately, it has never worked as well for me as it did for others and the latest release (openSuse 11) appears to have quite a number of issues (just check the Suse thread in this forum for details). Check google for screenshots, Suse tends to be pretty licked.
Then there is the (very large) family of the Debian based distros. Debian is not exactly what you'll find in the larger companies but it has quite a reputation for stability and it has a huge number of applications available. While it does some things differently, it has many more in common with other distros. The "downside" to Debian (depending on your requirements that is) is that you have to choose from a stable version that tends to get outdated rather fast or from a testing version that is not always perfectly solid. There is also an experimental branch that shouldn't be used for production ends.
The reputation of Debian is such that about half of all Linux distros are derivatived from it. The foremost is Ubuntu, which has all the software (in fact, it has even more readily available), is on the whole a bit more GUI centered (but you can work from the command line as well), has a far larger community (i.e. more documentation available) and is often considered a very good beginner's distro. All of these make it very popular - and also extremely unpopular among Linux users who would prefer Linux to remain the secret of a small sect. Ubuntu has actually been the up-and-coming distro for a while. Not as present on the enterprise level yet as Novell or Red Hat but managed by a millionaire who is working hard at it. As far as challenges to Microsoft go, this is the greatest one. The latest release (8.04) is LTS so it will be supported for three years. There is also a server edition but that one has not got a GUI as that is felt to be unnecessary for a server. By the way, the latest one has an appalling theme LOL - but that too can be fixed.
And then there is Mandriva. Slick, GUI-centered, easy to use, lots of software available. In many ways like Fedora but support cycles are just as short, which means you may need to reinstall at least once a year. Commercial version available too if desired (essentially the same but comes with a manual and support).
There are also more advanced distros like Slackware and Gentoo. They'll teach you a lot about Linux but it can be overwhelming to newcomers who do not come to Linux to be confronted at once with all the finer details.
In the end, it does not really matter which one you choose. 99% of all software can run on any distribution; the crucial difference is in the number and the versions of software packages that they make available and in the tools that they offer to install, manage and configure them. It also means that distros are very flexible. They can be turned into servers, office computers, developer boxes, ... No windowsy home/pro/business/server distinctions, even ubuntu server can be turned into any of those by adding on a selection of applications. Moving from one distro to another is a million times easier than moving from windows to Linux so the hardest part will be getting acquainted with your first one.
Edit: almost forgot : S Most distros have a livecd available. Just pop into your cd/dvd drive, boot up and you have a Linux running straight off cd. No install required at all and an excellent way of exploring different versions - although you'll get a first impression only.
Most Excellent Post Jay. And yes, while it is true that Debian stable is a bit outdated compared to testing, It makes for a great production server. I use it on all my servers.
Used SUSE once then left for after hearing about the buyout with Novell.
Great post though. I have yet to see any small sects that wish it to be a secret. I for one however am an advocate for Linux and try to at least get people to try it just once. I managed to "convert" a fellow techie at work.
So long as it remains free and open source, I will continue to advocate and let the world know about Linux. But all is not well in my world. While I purely a Linux user, I am condemned to windows hell at work.
I call for a Mutiny, anyone wanna join? But then again, best not try.. The government might take away all my toys.....
Thank you all for your replies. I have learned a lot already.
Interesting as this discussion is, can I pull the discussion back to what I want to do? A few days ago I came across a linux forum with a special discussion group about websites. Pity I didn't bookmark the page. If any one of you know of some good forums about web apps or websites, for beginners, and how to build them, I'd appreciate very much your referring me to them.