This process is now available in gNewSense 3 Installation Manual

Note that this guide is now integrated into the Installation Manual for gNewSense 3.

For instructions on installing gNewSense 2.x, see Documentation/2/InstallinggNewSense

Installing gNewSense Parkes 3

Introduction

This is a how-to to set up gNewSense GNU/Linux alongside Windows (or another operating system) or gNewSense GNU/Linux as the only operating system.

Despite all the myths surrounding the difficulty and geekiness of installing GNU/Linux, anyone who manages to install applications on Windows can successfully perform a GNU/Linux installation. Besides, using the gNewSense GNU/Linux Live CD, installing it is much more fun than installing Windows ever was.

About gNewSense Parkes

gNewSense Parkes (v3.0) is a GNU/Linux distribution based on Debian Squeeze. gNewSense Parkes is free as in freedom, and unlike Debian, gNewSense Parkes does not recommend/host any non-free firmware, drivers, or applications. So, when using gNewSense Parkes, one enjoys the essential freedoms of free software without any compromises.

Before You Begin

The system requirements for installing gNewSense Parkes:

Before proceeding with the installation, please make a backup of important files. The gNewSense Parkes installer is safe enough not to cause data loss, but in case anything goes wrong, the backup will be helpful.

If Windows is going to live along with gNewSense Parkes, perform a full disk defragmentation of the Windows disks, to reduce the probability of data loss.

Downloading gNewSense Parkes

The gNewSense ISO image can be downloaded from one of the gNewSense mirrors.

Choose the .iso file (gnewsense-livecd-parkes*-arch-''x.y''.iso) with the most recent date and version number available for the (standard) GNOME version. The .iso file is around 1.1 GB big.

The ISO image can also be downloaded using torrents. The torrent file will be of the form gnewsense-livecd-parkes*-arch-''x.y''.iso.torrent. Torrents is the recommended way of getting the ISO image.

See the Lemote Yeeloong tutorial for download and installation instructions.

Installation Media

ISO image can either be burnt into a CD or written to a USB stick.

Burning ISO to CD

Use the CD burning tool to burn the ISO image to a CD. (Double-clicking the .iso file usually opens the correct application.) Just be careful to select the option to burn an ISO image and not to create a data CD. If the CD contains a single .iso file instead of a bootable CD, it's time to get another empty CD.

Writing ISO to USB stick

If on Windows, use the (GNU) LinuxLive USB Creator to create the USB stick.

If on GNU/Linux. Insert the USB stick.

Find the USB stick's device file name by doing

 $ dmesg | tail
 ...
 [  488.727644] sd 8:0:0:0: [sdb] Attached SCSI removable disk
 ...

sdb (inside the square brackets) is the device file name for the stick. The device file name can be different (such as sdf), therefore, let's generically call it sdX from now on.

You should replace sdX with the device file name of the USB stick in your machine.

If the stick is not already mounted, mount it by doing:

 $ udisks --mount /dev/sdX1

It will be mounted at /media/usb-stick-name.

Backup all the data present in the USB stick, if any, as the procedure to write the ISO to the stick will destroy/over-write the existing content.

Now unmount the USB stick.

 $ udisks --unmount /dev/sdX1

Write the ISO image to the USB stick by doing:

 $ cat /path/to/iso/gnewsense-livecd-parkes-arch-Y.Z.iso > /dev/sdX

That will set the USB stick to boot the Live session.

Booting from the CD / USB stick

Insert the Live CD / USB stick and reboot. If the computer detects the CD / USB stick correctly, you will be presented with the the gNewSense boot menu, choose the 'Live' option to boot into the live session.

If the Live CD / USB stick is not booting, change the boot order at the BIOS setup -- put the Hard disk at end of the boot order list.

The Live Session

The Live Session is a fully functional gNewSense system; it just runs a whole lot slower than the installed system will.

Take a look around. Check whether all your hardware is working (USB devices, wireless network card, etc.). In the Live session, it possible to surf the Internet, connect to Windows machines on your home network, try OpenOffice.org or the GIMP.

Note: Windows partitions can be accessed from the Live Session. find it in Places -> Computer.

Installation Walk-through

To install gNewSense Parkes 3.0 in the hard disk, click the Installer icon on the Desktop.

Step 1 Select a Language
This will become the default language in gNewSense Parkes system.
Step 2 Select your location
The place where the computer is used. This will the installer to guess the Time Zone.
Step 3 Configure the keyboard

Once gNewSense is installed, go to System -> Preferences -> Keyboard to set advanced options (such as whether you want dead keys with a German keyboard layout, etc).

Step 4 Configure Network
Choose the primary network interface (the one used to connect to the Internet).
Give a Hostname for the machine. This will be the name used when it connects to a network
Give the Domain Name.
Step 5 Setup Root Account

Also called the super user. This account should be used for only performing administrative tasks (performing updates, installing new programs, etc). Pick a strong password for this account.

Step 6 Setup User Account
This is the account from where one should perform day-to-day tasks (browsing, programming, writing, watching videos, etc).
Step 7 Configure Clock

If there are multiple time zones in the country, chosen in Select you location. The installer will ask for the desired time zone.

Step 8 Partition Disk(s)

Choose the Partition Method -- Guided - use entire disk, if gNewSense 3.0 is to be the only operating system in the disk or Manual, if gNewSense 3.0 is to be installed alongside another operating system (Windows, GNU/Linux, etc)

Guided - use entire disk: Follow the instructions by the installer, the partitioning should get done.

Manual: Follow the instructions in the Manual Partitioning section.

Step 9
This is the last step, the installer will configure APT, man-db and install the GRUB (boot-loader). In the meant time you can get yourself a cup of tea.

After the installation is finished. Restart and taste the real gNewSense Parkes.

Manual Partitioning

The Manual Partitioning method gives more control over how the GNU/Linux distribution is installed in the disk.

To get a good understanding of what's going to happen here, please read Partition Basics.

How this method of partitioning works depends on the present state of the hard disk in which gNewSense Parkes needs to be installed.

Here is bunch of (in-complete) scenarios and what must be done each case

The computer only runs Windows

In this case, the last (Windows) partition must be re-sized to make space for gNewSense. Read the Resizing Windows Partition section.

The computer runs Windows & a GNU/Linux distro

In this case, if the existing GNU/Linux distro is to be replaced with gNewSense. Skip to the Delete Existing GNU/Linux Partitions section.

Resizing Windows Partition

For the Manual Partitioning method, the installer will list the hard disk's partition table

Here's how it will might look.

 SCSI1 (0, 0, 0) (sda) - 80 GB VBOX HARDDISK
 >         #1   primary    10  GB               ntfs
 >         #2   primary    70  GB               ntfs

This section, in the installer, tells that the respective hard disk has a capacity of 80 GB, with two primary NTFS partitions, 10 GB & 70 GB big respectively.

To make room for the gNewSense partitions, the last Windows (the 70 GB partition, in the above case) partition must be re-sized.

Note: For installing gNewSense, a minimum of 4 GB of space is required.

Select the last partition (if there is only one partition, select that) and hit Continue. In the next screen, Choose Resize the partition.

The installer will ask

Write previous changes to disk and continue?

Choose Yes.

In the next screen, type the new partition size and hit Continue.

The new partition size should be a little above the minimum size, if it is not, data already in that partition might get erased.

Now, the installer will show the state of hard disk state after the resizing. It might look like this

 SCSI1 (0, 0, 0) (sda) - 80 GB VBOX HARDDISK
 >         #1   primary    10  GB               ntfs
 >         #2   primary    45  GB               ntfs
 >              pri/log    25  GB               FREE SPACE

The 70 GB partition was resized to 45 GB leaving 25 GB of free space. gNewSense will be installed in this free space.

It must be noted that, the installer has not written the changes to disk. It will write the changes only when Finish partitioning and write changes to disk is selected. Therefore, changes made can always be undone by choosing Undo changes to partitions.

Delete Existing GNU/Linux Partitions

Select each of the existing GNU/Linux partitions (they're labelled as ext3 or ext4 or swap), hit Continue and Choose to Delete the Partition.

After deleting all GNU/Linux partitions the state of the hard disk may look like this

 SCSI1 (0, 0, 0) (sda) - 80 GB VBOX HARDDISK
 >         #1   primary    10  GB               ntfs
 >         #2   primary    45  GB               ntfs
 >              pri/log    25  GB               FREE SPACE

The changes made to the partition table are not written to the disk until the Finish partitioning and writing changes to disk selected.

Creating New Partitions

Two partitions are mandatory for installing gNewSense:

root partition

Installed applications and other related files are stored in this partition. This partition must at least be 4 GB in size. This partition is referred by / in Unix jargon.

To create the root partition, click on the FREE SPACE and hit Continue. Select Create a new partition, next give the partition's size, choose the partition type (primary or logical, there can be at most 4 primary partitions). Choose Beginning when the installer asks for the Location of the new partition.

The installer will present a detailed overview of the newly created root / partition. Modify the Partition settings as follows:

Use as: Ext4 journaling file system

Mount point:     /
Mount options:   defaults
Label:           none
Reserved blocks: 5%
Typical usage:   standard
Bootable flag:   on

Copy data from another partition
Delete the partition
Done setting up the partition

Choose Done setting up the partition to go back the partition table.

swap partition

It similar to the pagefile in Windows. This is an area of the hard disk that's used when physical RAM gets exhausted (put simply). The size of the swap area should double that of RAM. If the RAM is 1 GB or more, swap area's size must be set to 2 GB.

To create the swap partition, click on the FREE SPACE and hit Continue. Select the Create a new partition, next give the partition size, choose the partition type (primary or logical). Choose End when the installer asks for the Location of the new partition.

The installer will present a detailed overview of the newly created swap partition. Modify the Partition settings as follows:

Use as: swap area

Bootable flag: off

Copy data from another partition
Delete the partition
Done setting up the partition

Choose Done setting up the partition to go back the partition table.

Optionally other partitions can be created:

/home partition

A dedicated partition to store personal files. The partition is similar to the Documents and Settings in Windows. Every user will have his or her own directory there (/home/jane, /home/john), where applications store user specific settings and where users can store their documents, etc.

To create the /home partition, click on the FREE SPACE and hit Continue. Select Create a new partition, next give the partition's size, choose the partition type (primary or logical). Choose Beginning when the installer asks for the Location of the new partition.

The installer will present a detailed overview of the newly created /home partition. Modify the Partition settings as follows:

Use as: Ext4 journaling file system

Mount point:     /home
Mount options:   defaults
Label:           none
Reserved blocks: 5%
Typical usage:   standard
Bootable flag:   off

Copy data from another partition
Delete the partition
Done setting up the partition

Choose Done setting up the partition to go back the partition table.

fat32 partition
If Windows is going to live along with gNewSense, an exchange partition can be created to transfer files between Windows and GNU/Linux without the need for an external medium.

This partition is not mandatory, but if it is desired, set aside a small partition (say, 1 GB) and format it as a FAT32 filesystem. Unlike ext3 or ext4, FAT32 can be used in Windows, and unlike NTFS, GNU/Linux can read and write to FAT32. In Windows, the exchange partition should automatically show up with a new drive letter (D: or E: etc).

To create the fat32 partition, click on the FREE SPACE and hit Continue. Select Create a new partition, next give the partition's size, choose the partition type (primary or logical). Choose Beginning when the installer asks for the Location of the new partition.

The installer will present a detailed overview of the newly created /home partition. Modify the Partition settings as follows:

Use as: FAT32 file system

Mount point:     /windows
Mount options:   defaults
Bootable flag:   off

Copy data from another partition
Delete the partition
Done setting up the partition

The Mount point can also be labelled as /dos.

Choose Done setting up the partition to go back the partition table.

Once the desired partitions are set-up, the partition table might look like this:

 SCSI1 (0, 0, 0) (sda) - 80 GB VBOX HARDDISK
 >     #1   primary    10  GB       ntfs
 >     #2   primary    20  GB       ext4    /
 >     #3   logical    48  GB       ext4    /home
 >     #4   logical    2   GB       swap    swap

If the fat32 partition was also created, then the partition table might look like this:

 SCSI1 (0, 0, 0) (sda) - 80 GB VBOX HARDDISK
 >     #1   primary    10  GB       ntfs
 >     #2   primary    20  GB       ext4    /
 >     #3   logical    47  GB       ext4    /home
 >     #4   logical    1   GB       fat32   /windows    
 >     #5   logical    2   GB       swap    swap

Conclusion

Installing a fully free distro like gNewSense is the first step towards taking control of the computer, it is not the end, but a beginning.

Using a GNU/Linux distribution has many practical advantages. But it is more important to understand and know the philosophical underpinnings that made GNU/Linux even possible. For this, read Richard Stallman's Free Software Free Society: Selected Essays. Richard Stallman is the founder of the GNU project.

GNU is going to celebrate its 30th anniversary this September. Join the list


Documentation/InstallingGNewSense (last edited 2013-09-04 09:40:57 by kgoetz)