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Prepping a system for Linux

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December 23, 2006 3:05:34 AM

OK, I'm in school, just went through 2 semesters of networking, starting a 3rd next month, mainly WAN theory. (ATM and Frame Relay) but my last class on LAN's was interesting in the fact that it dealt with a lot of Linux, albeit all the different distributions/flavors out there. I've got a couple of P4's comming next week that are windows computers.. Now I want to prep them for a Linux system, and was wondering if I should format the HD clean. i'm just going to experiment with running a Linux fileserver, and just plain goofing around. Knoppix is interesting in the fact that I can run it from a CD.. Red Hat is the most famous. Ubuntu is all over Ebay.

But the bottom line is should I format the HD?

thanks all and merry xmas

More about : prepping system linux

a b 5 Linux
December 23, 2006 12:57:41 PM

First, let me give you a quick overview of systems here: (1)

First, yes, Knoppix was the first successful so-called LiveCD distribution. As with anything that succeeds, many now offer liveCD versions (including the ability to launch the installer program if you like what you see). As a matter of fact, the default Ubuntu ISO (a disc image that can be used to create a CD) is in fact a liveCD.

Red Hat definitely was the big player a few years ago, and through the Fedora project still has a very palpable presence in the distro game, there are other major distros that have made huge headway, namely SuSE (which has also always been somewhat of a popular distro, even moreso after Novell's help) and the newcomer Ubuntu (based off of the Debian lineage with nice tools to make thing more accessible to new users). When people sit down to get familiar with Linux, these are the three that people generally start with. (2)

Finally, unless you wish to keep Windows on there with programs that are no longer available/accessible to you then I would say wipe the drives. Even if you want to keep Windows on the things I'd say start with a fresh install. Of course, if you want to install only Linux then again, wipe the drives. I always like to use one of the liveCD distros to zero out the drive. Is it necessary? by no means, but it makes things nice and clean.(3)

(1): Please do not get offended if you are experienced and feel that I am taking a condescending tone, by no means is this my intent. I just want to be as clear and informative as I can and is reasonable.

(2): All of these distros are freely available for download.
Fedora, openSuSE, and Ubuntu. Since you're just getting started, why not download each and give each a go, see which you like the best. Also, a great site for discovering new distros and doing additional browsing is distrowatch

(3): By zeroing the drive, you make it essentially impossible for the average computer enthusiast to recover any old data from the drive. Moreover, it just prevents issues that may crop up from the old vestiges of what once existed on the drive, granted this is usually only an issue when using a recovery tool when things go south but it's just a good practice. In a liveCD, open a terminal, if the prompt doesn't end with a pound-sign (#), append a "sudo" in front of the following commands:
[code:1:6810531da7]fdisk -l

//Find the listing that matches the size of the hard disk, take note of the name.
//IDE drives should be of the form /dev/hdX where X is a,b,c...
//SATA and SCSI drives should be of the form /dev/sdX
//For this example, we'll assume the disk is /dev/hda, please replace hda
//with what you find out for your system

dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/hda bs=1024

//explanation of the command: dd is a data copying and formatting
//command, very useful but can be dangerous in the hands of
//root (the admin account). We are copying from (if= Input File) a zero device
//(a special virtual device that always returns a zero) to the lowest
//level of the hard drive (hda gives you access to the whole drive, there are
//likely to be at least one partitions, denoted by hda1, hda2, etc. in both the
//fdisk listing and in the dev folder. bs=1024 just sets the data
//transaction size to a larger size to speed things up a little.[/code:1:6810531da7]

In any case, if you have further questions/problems, stop on by and we'll be happy to help
December 23, 2006 3:05:42 PM

thanks for response.. no offense taken, I don't consdier myself an expert or experienced.. Just touched on the aspects of KDE vs GNOME and x windows and iptables and xinetd etc etc.. I like to throw out my general question and see what type of debate might spring up amongst the old guard around here.. :) 

As for the windows and data. I'm adamant.. I want to wipe the drives clean and start over with some sort of system to build. I think of Linux being a DOS command line interface, and I'm well versed in DOS from my FidoNet BBS days.

thanks for reply and the welcome

regards and merry xmas
a b 5 Linux
December 24, 2006 11:06:31 AM

Good luck on the mission. Just do me a favour and dont compare a linux command line to DOS again :wink: :lol: 

Just thinking that as you are doing this as part of your winder studies that once you get your feet under the table with Linux it make make sense for you to look into running CentOS http://www.centos.org/.

This is a community maintained distribution of RedHat Enterprise Linux and a good way to get experience on a widely used distribution. It might be a bit much for a start but once you have the basic skills you could be gaining valube ($$) experience.

Not one for today perhaps but in a couple of months...
!