The Myth

Sunday, May 23 1999

Everyone thinks Linux is hard to install. They say that it looks like DOS and does not have a nice Graphical User Interface (GUI) like Windows does. You know what? Those people that say that are wrong!

Linux was harder to install. Yes, that was probably in the year 1995 or 1996, when there was no setup script, and you had to make your hard disks work the hard way by actually partioning them using fdisk and all. But that is over!

It's all over when you use something like the RedHat Linux Distribution or the Linux Mandrake Distribution. For this article, I will be using RedHat 6 as the base example, since I just installed tons of these machines over a two day period at the Linux Fest.

It all starts with putting the CD into your CD-ROM drive before the computer starts. If your BIOS is configured to read from the CD-ROM drive before it reaches the hard disk, then it'll start the install straight from the disk. If this is not possible, one can make a bootdisk. Start DOS, and change the directory to your CD drive. After that enter the following:
cd dosutils
a:\ <ENTER>

Now you'd have the bootdisk handy, and all you have to do is put the disk in, and upon starting up, the CD-ROM drive will be initialised, and Linux can begin its install. The install is pretty easy to understand (a blue screen background, with white, red and other blue colours put around everywhere). By following instructions, installing Linux is a breeze. Partioning hard disks work so very well with Disk Druid, there's nothing else I can recommend to Linux users.

Then it will install everything, based on what one chooses. The harder part comes when the installing of the X server comes. If you are lucky, you'd get the prompt saying that your video driver has been detected. If you're unlucky (which is most likely the case), you'd get to choose. This is when the process gets a little uglier. When the probing occurs, sometimes it can crash. But thankfully, the install would have been completed.

Once Linux is started for the first time, it will give you the prompt. Of course, this happens everytime Linux starts! Login as root, and enter in the password that you entered in at setup. Now, you can either add a user (very recommended) or start X (by issuing the startx command).

By default, RedHat 6 installs GNOME with Enlightment as the default environment for X. GNOME is nice - though I prefer KDE. Now, all things are point and click! During the install you even have a choice of starting X automatically, making it be something like the Windows logon prompt. So, this means you'd never have to see a console ever again (option not recommended due to various reasons).

Yes, GNOME or KDE or anything X is point and click! No worries about having to type things (though its nicer). Installing packages are also simplified. RedHat comes with something called the Redhat Package Manager (RPM). With RPM, one can install software easily, just by issuing the rpm -ivh filename.rpm for installs and rpm -uvh filename.rpm for upgrades.

Think that configuring the Internet will be hard? Redhat comes with Netscape installed by default! And with KDE sitting there on the same CD, there is KPPP, a utility I use extensively, since this is what I use to connect to the Internet.

Of course, probably the only user-unfriendly thing with Linux would have to be the fact that sound card support is limited. Sound card support is so limited, third party software such as OSS might have to be used. But other than sound, video might pose a small problem...

So, hope that has overcome the myth. There is nothing hard about Linux. Also, what Windows has, Linux has, sometimes even better. Things like Microsoft Office can be replaced with StarOffice or Corel WordPerfect, and WinAmp MP3 Player can be replaced with X11Amp. So there you have it - Linux can match and behave better than Windows. Use it.

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