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Old 03-13-2004, 10:31 AM   #1
LQ Newbie
Registered: Mar 2004
Distribution: Slackware 9.1
Posts: 18

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Building a PC

I have decided to build a Slackware PC. But as I have never built a PC before I need a little advide. I have stripped and rebuilt one of my old PCs before(I was bored and had nothing to do) so I know what is in them and how to assemble the parts; what I am unsure about is what happens after I first turn on the new machine (what is BIOS and how do I configure it, when do I install the drivers and the OS). I have formatted my old PC when I had win95 all I had to do then was put in the boot disc and load the OS, is it similar?

Has any one else tried to install slackware (9.1) onto a new machine were there any problems, also are there any makes of hardware to stay away from.

I will by using this as my second PC so it will not be used for games or anything graphically intensive, it will be mainly used for programming, writing and browsing the internet. I was thinking of using a Asus A7V8X-MX Mobo would this be OK or can any of you suggest better hardware, I have also heard that modem support can be a nightmare any help will be appreciated. Also I want to try and keep the PC under 300 (without monitor) (about $450) so please don't say I have to use dear components.

(BTW: I know slackware has a steep learning curve for newbies but I have my reasons for picking it)
Old 03-13-2004, 12:13 PM   #2
Registered: Feb 2003
Location: Ohio, USA
Distribution: Slackware
Posts: 151

Rep: Reputation: 15
slack 9.1 will install nicely on your system.
you shouldn't have to mess with the bios aside from configuring your hardware the first time, if your adding something new to it.
just stick in the 1st slackware cd, boot up the system, and the install will begin.

as for the hardware, i'm not quite sure.
Old 03-13-2004, 06:08 PM   #3
LQ Newbie
Registered: Jul 2002
Location: Mexico, DF
Distribution: Slackware 10, mdk 10.1
Posts: 8

Rep: Reputation: 0
If you want to avoid recompiling your kernel because of an addition of some patches/code for a "soft modem", you should avoid them. Go for an external one. But as you mention, it's going to be your 2nd PC, so if your first one has broadband access already, or an external modem, you can use the linux box to share the internet connection for the two machines, no matter how you connect to the internet.
Old 03-16-2004, 05:14 PM   #4
Registered: Feb 2004
Location: Montreal
Distribution: Gentoo/Debian
Posts: 365

Rep: Reputation: 30
Maxtor or Western Digital Hard Drives.

Umm. 450$? Hmm. You could probably buy a cheap system for that much, and just format it and put on slack. I think that would be an easier thing, for trying to build a cheap pc will just result in your having to replace the crappy parts you get. Plus you may get a warranty, allthough they may not like you putting on slack. But for hardware, that is a moot point.
Old 03-21-2004, 03:19 AM   #5
Registered: Sep 2003
Location: Arizona
Distribution: Kubuntu 8.04
Posts: 202

Rep: Reputation: 30
I built my computer about a year ago and looked up most of hardware on the Internet first to see if it was compatible. I used an external serial modem (not USB) instead of an internal modem because they do not require installing any special driver. It is best to wear an anti-static strap and assemble the computer in a room that does not have carpeting.

Different motherboards require pressing different keys to access the BIOS. On my computer pressing <DEL> when it first boots up causes it to go into the BIOS setup menu. That can be done before Linux, DOS or Windows is installed. It can usually be used to set the processor speed and other things. Some motherboards use jumpers for some of those settings. The boot order can also be set from there. If you choose CD-ROM as the first device you should be able to boot directly from a Linux installation CD.

Partitions need to be created and each partition needs to be formatted. There are several possible ways to do that. You could probably just insert the Slackware CD-ROM and boot from it and then run either fdisk or cfdisk to create your partitions.

Each hard disk can not have more than 4 primary partitions. An extended partition can be created instead of one of the primary partitions. Inside the extended partition you can create as many logical partitions as you want. DOS or Windows can only be booted from a primary partition that is on the first physical hard disk. Linux can be booted from a primary partition on either hard disk (maybe even from a logical partition).

Use a primary partition for the Linux "/" partition. The swap partition can be either a primary or a logical partition. Windows would need it's own primary partition. One of the partitions needs to be set as an active bootable partition. Either fdisk or cfdisk can be used to set that.

I did some things in a slightly unusual way which involved using Partition Magic to copy several of the Linux partitions between my old computer and my new computer. I mounted the new hard disk temporarily in my old computer to copy those partitions first. I then transplanted the hard disk into my new computer and did the next last few steps in an unusual way and do not remember all the details. I could have just used ftp or sftp to transfer the files.

If the BIOS has a problem it will sometimes use beep codes to describe the problem. The motherboard manufacturer's web page would list the beep codes. I also used the free Memtest-86 program to check my RAM memory. I ran the DOS version from a self-booting floppy disk. Building my own computer was a good learning experience. Oh, be sure to not use a processor/heatsink/fan combination that is too noisy. There over 50 possible heat sink/fan combinations to choose from. I may be wrong but some of the AMD processors seem to require more cooling. Building you own computer is probably not any cheaper.
Old 03-23-2004, 03:18 AM   #6
Registered: Aug 2003
Distribution: Slackware, Evil Entity
Posts: 63

Rep: Reputation: 15
i would recomend getting a vvidia grafics card if you plan on use a nice gui.
you can pick up a geforece 440 mx for about 40 0r $70(at a guess).

nvidia have linux drivers on there site which supporrt the latest kernel.

i have just got a new laptop a packard bell k series which has a p4 3.06 Without HT.

winmodem - which does not work (although i have not tried)
lan - working well
usb - working well
firewire - modules loaded but i have not tested
graphics -working well
wifi - works well (pcmcia which i added)

over all nno problems.
Old 03-26-2004, 11:25 AM   #7
LQ Newbie
Registered: Nov 2003
Location: Belgium
Distribution: Slackware / Ubuntu
Posts: 25

Rep: Reputation: 15
If you have put your pc together, all you have to do is set the bios to boot from cd (or floppy if you installing from a floppy) and then put in the cd and install Slackware.

for the hardware:
I have an Asus A7V8X-E deluxe and it works great with slackware.
Only thing I had to do was compileing the sk98lin module for the onboard gigabit lan to work.
Old 03-26-2004, 05:30 PM   #8
LQ Newbie
Registered: Feb 2004
Posts: 3

Rep: Reputation: 0
Some issues or concerns when building a new system you might want to consider.

HW Compatibility: Verify all hardware compatibility on the net before purchasing it if possible. I know that RedHat has a good list, Slackware probably does also. If not, do a Google. After builiding several machines, the problem most often encountered was the video card. Remember to try to use components which were available when the distribution was released. It will save a lot of headaches.

BIOS: Find and download the manual for the motherboard you intend to use. It covers all the issues that are important such as jumper settings for speeds and voltages, as well as bios and hardware installation procedures.

Price: Don't build unless you are experimenting or need a specific machine. It seems to always
cost more for whatever reason. Fry's in LA and other areas constantly advertise a Linux multi-media PC with Athon1400, 128Mb, 40Gb, 52x, 56K, kb, tower and speakers for $199. You can find similar deals elsewhere. If you are out of the country, find a friend to send just the important parts. You'll probably come out ahead.

Partitions: You might want to consider partitioning your disk with an extra partition. Some uses for it might include keeping all your downloads in a single area such that if you need to re-install the OS again, you won't need to download everything again. Also, you might have a need for a dual boot system. I have found it easier sometimes to download data on the Windows half through your scanner or whatever, and then retrieve it with the Linux. (Is this sacrilegious?)

Clone your harddrive: I don't know how many thousands of hours I have saved by cloning all my hard drives. Inevitably, a virus hits or maybe an installation of some program ( kernel 2.6.x ) kills other functions. When this happens I simply resort to the prior working version. If everything goes well, update your clones every month or so when everything is working correctly.

Modems: I have always used external modems on the serial port, 3Com brand, and have never had any problem on any OS version. Although more expensive and more clunky, compatibility is not an issue with them.

Good Luck


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