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January 2000 TPC Workshop Summary

Linux Introduction Workshop-Part II

The turnout at the December SIG workshop was pretty good, but a few people did miss out on the introduction to Linux. Furthermore, everything related to a full-fledged operating system cannot be covered in such a short span of time. Therefore the January 2000 workshop was a continuation of the Linux Introduction.

Mandrake Linux 7.0

The highlight was the installation of the latest version of Mandrake Linux. Version 7.0, codenamed "Air", was just released on 14th January 2000. You may already know that Mandrake Linux is actually Red Hat Linux tweaked and reconfigured with many updates and enhancements.

The minimum hardware requirements for a functional Linux system are i386 or equivalent CPU, with 8MB RAM and about 50MB Hard Disk space. Of course this is just for a minimal installation and to take full advantage of current interfaces and applications, more is required. Mandrake Linux is optimized for machines with at least a Pentium CPU, therefore we chose to use a Celeron 300MHz with 64MB RAM and 4GB Hard Disk with Japanese Windows 98 pre-installed.

Most Pentiums and faster systems support booting from the CD-ROM and I would recommend this method of installation for its simplicity and speed. We followed the same method and on booting the system, we were presented with the Mandrake Linux welcome screen. After pressing the Enter key, the install program was loaded and from then on, all we had to do was follow the prompts.

This latest release is quite impressive and should boost Mandrake's popularity significantly. One of the best features is a partitioning tool built into the install program itself. It lets the user resize, delete or create partitions during the install. On our machine, we needed a reboot before continuing after making the Windows 98 partition smaller and creating the Linux partitions. For new users, an auto configure option solves the problem of partitioning your hard disk.

This is the first distribution of Linux that I have come across which does not require a password for login. Not even for user "root", which is the Linux equivalent of "Administrator" on NT. A full installation took about 35 minutes, but it should take less time depending on the software you choose to have installed and the speed of the computer.

A reboot was needed after the installation completed and after that, a login prompt appeared with an icon for root and a drop down menu for choosing which interface to start with. KDE was default, but various other desktop managers could be chosen.

After Mandrake 7 was installed and functioning, Jim Tittsler provided us with lots of invaluable information on configuring and maintaining a Linux system. Most configuration for a Linux system is done through text files, but newer distributions include all kinds of gui-based tools that make configuration a breeze. One of the most common and complete tools is Linuxconf, which enables you to configure everything from network settings to how the system boots.

If anyone wants to get involved with Linux, now is a very good time. You do not need to learn any arcane commands if you do not want to. In fact, I think that someone totally new to computers will have an easier time with Linux than Windows.

Here are more links for software and other resources for Linux:

Red Hat
http://www.redhat.com
The most popular distribution with 55% market share

Caldera
http://www.calderasystems.com
Probably the easiest to use and second most popular with 10% market share

Debian
http://www.debian.org
Powerful, popular and up-to-date, but difficult to install

Corel Linux
http://www.corel.com
New Linux version based on Debian. Supposedly is quite similar to Windows

Mandrake
http://www.mandrake.com
Good distro based on Red Hat, but with latest updates

Slashdot
http://www.slashdot.org
Really cool site for keeping up-to-date with Linux and other technologies

Linux.org
http://www.linux.org
The official Linux site

Turbo Linux
http://www.turbolinux.com
Good for Japanese or Chinese versions. Biggest supplier in Asia

S.U.S.E
http://www.suse.com
Most popular in Europe. Includes loads of free and shareware software

Freshmeat
http://www.freshmeat.net
Software and updates for Linux

C-Net Download.com
http://www.download.com
Extensive list of Linux software available for download

Tu-Cows
http://www.tucows.com
More free software for Linux

And please take the time to sign the Linux driver petition at:

http://www.libranet.com/petition.html

          Sajjad


Tokyo PC Users Group, Post Office Box 103, Shibuya-Ku, Tokyo 150-8691, JAPAN