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gasmth8 10-27-2005 09:04 AM

Creating a Win98\Linux Box Using LiveCD Knoppix
Dear Linux Mavens,

I've got an 80G hard drive that I'm trying to set up as a dual boot machine. I'm a Green Newbie to Linux. I'm running an old Soyo 550MHz AMD with 625M of Ram.

Here are the particulars of my 80G HD
2.0G Win98 Op System
36G of unused virgin space
* Desire to place Linux here *
4.8G of FAT32 LBA for games
4.5G of FAT32 LBA for other programs
Remainder in unused virgin space.
Will make one or two large common drives
for graphics, music, etc.

I've been using the DOS program Ranish Partition Manager to set up my initial primary partitions. I'm comfortable with it. Have a hard printed copy of my partitions. Can restore the MBR if required. Can use other DOS utils to resize partitions within reason if necessary.

I would be comfortable running command lines in Linux but how do I get to a shell? How to I find out information on the programs needed and their switches? I know Linux has a 'fdisk' type of program.

I have set up and run Redhat Linux 6.x on this machine in the past. That was when I had one 2G and one 4G hard drive and used LILO to switch between op systems. I've heard this was an easier case. I don't have either of these old HD's any more.

I was able to get a disk image burned of the Live CD Knoppix. I've launched this once. It looks fantastic and even read and set up for my new graphics card properly. :-)

I'm looking forward to your suggestions.

Gary J. Smither
Crestwood, KY

IsaacKuo 10-27-2005 03:43 PM

First, there should be a terminal icon in the taskbar in Knoppix. That will get you to a shell. Note that as a normal user, there are restrictions on what you can and can't do. You need to use the command "su" to log in as root (within the shell--the rest of the GUI remains logged in as the normal user).

Second, under the "System" submenu from the "K" menu, there's a program called "QTParted". This is a graphical partition manager which is similar to Partition Magic. You'll be able to set up your partitions there, including Linux partitions. The two partition types you'll want to set up are "ext3" and "swap".

Devote maybe 3-5gigs of space to an "ext3" partition (this is where the OS will go). Devote maybe half a gig to a swap partition. For the rest of your free space, create either FAT32 partition if you want your main data to be accessable by Windows also, or create another ext3 partition for maximum Linux compatability. (The FAT32 format doesn't have full file permissions capabilities and isn't case sensitive.)

Then, you want to install Knoppix using the hard drive install script (I think it's called knoppix-installer). It gives you several styles of install options. You want to choose a traditional Debian style install. This will result in a Linux installation which is almost compatable with Debian. You'll learn the joys of Debian's wonderful package management system, but also you'll eventually get frustrated with incompatabilities you'll notice sooner or later.

gasmth8 10-28-2005 10:00 AM

OK great. I'll try it this weekend.

I've been reading on some posts of a suggestion to create a partition called '/home'. I guess I'll make that the 3rd Linux partition carved out of my reserved space unless you think this is a bad idea.

The Linux distributions I have on hand available to me now are:
* LiveCD Knoppix --- As I said have booted it once from the CD.
* Redhat 6.x --- I've installed this and used it minimally before on this machine and have it now installed and available on an old laptop.
* Redhat 7.x --- from a CD that came with a computer book closeout I recently bought.
* Fedora 9.x --- on 2 CDs that came from that Linux distro magazine from Great Britain. I haven't had any luck at all installing that one which I attributed to no place for it to land on my hard drive. It did not give me an error message as such though. It just ungracefully quit installing.

Does anyone have any pros or cons about these?

Many thanks for your help,

Gary J. Smither
Crestwood, KY

IsaacKuo 10-28-2005 10:28 AM

Knoppix has very limited install options. The installer does NOT support a separate /home partition. Personally, I find using a /home partition to be overrated. My preference is to leave /home on the main OS partition, and to manually create a link to my main data (which is on a file server anyway).

Since you're a beginner, the biggest "pro" in favor of a Linux distribution is that it detects your hardware. The biggest "con" is if it doesn't (including if it doesn't even get as far as installing properly). Knoppix is a top contender for this.

You do NOT want your first experiences with Linux to be starting with a broken/limited system and trying to fix it up.

gasmth8 10-31-2005 06:37 AM

I tried the 'QTParted' program over the weekend. It would see all the partitions and spaces perfectly. It labeled the Windows ones as that type. It corresponded with the sizes I had well. However the only button that would work was the 'Properties' one. All the other choices on the menu, such as create, were whited out as not available.
1.) What can I do to allow it to adjust my partitions? It seems like this was a problem with my Linux 6.x that I tried to get to land on this disk. It would see the existing partitions but would not allow itself to alter them in any way.
2.) Could I make a partition with my other program and then just reformat it with Linux?

Gary J. Smither
Crestwood, KY

IsaacKuo 10-31-2005 07:14 AM

If there are any "swap" partitions on the disk, then they will automatically be used by Knoppix and this will prevent changing the partitions. If so, then you can either deactivate swap manually, or you can boot up knoppix with the "noswap" option. At Knoppix's bootup prompt, type in:

knoppix noswap

gasmth8 10-31-2005 08:12 AM

>Knoppix's bootup prompt
There is no prompt. I just place the CD in the drawer and it boots completely from that without any interaction on my part.

>deactivate swap manually
How? I don't know if there is any but that would make sense as to why I might be locked out.

Gary J. Smither
Crestwood, KY

IsaacKuo 10-31-2005 08:54 AM

Hmm...I know Knoppix will eventually boot on its own, but it should stay at the boot prompt for at least a few seconds. Anyway, manually deactivating swap involves typing in a couple commands.

First log in to a terminal console (the icon in Knoppix should look like a computer monitor). Then type in:

swapoff -a

The first command lets you log in as root. It will ask you for a password, which I believe is "root". The second command deactivates all swap devices. The "-a" flag might not be necessary.

I don't know what version of Knoppix you use, and I'm not familiar with all versions of Knoppix. All sorts of things seem to change from one Knoppix to the next, which are no big deal for a user sitting in front of it and using it--but it makes it difficult to give precise instructions.

gasmth8 11-01-2005 06:48 AM


I tried the techniques last night. I couldn't find anyplace to butt into the load sequence. I did try the 'su' which asked for no password and then the 'swapoff'. It looked like it did something.

How do you get out of 'superuser' mode when you are done?

After that I opened QParted. It still would not let me create any new partitions in the free space. But I noticed that the format option was selectable when I was scoping out the Win partitions. So, what I'm going to do is use my DOS utility to make partitions of the size I want. Then I'll format in Win mode. Then I'll reformat into the Linux file system. I'll try that one out tonight.


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