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Slackware 9.0 Installation Guide

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Section 9: Configuration

Now that all the software packages are installed, we will complete the installation by configuring the system. The first screen offers to create a link (shortcut) to your modem for convenience. Select the appropriate option.

This section does not install a driver for your modem, it only creates a special file called a link. A real modem, such as an external fax/modem attached via a serial cable does not require a driver to be installed at all. They work without any special setup so a link just makes it easier to remember which device to use when telling programs to use the modem. The link will be named /dev/modem and it will point to the device you select here.

If you have an internal PCI modem, it may emulate a serial port and you can still create a link to it. Many internal modems are exactly like the external modems, except for the fact that it is on a card instead of in an external enclosure. I normally end up using trial and error to figure out the correct device link to use for those modems. Reviewing the kernel startup messages may help you with that.

However many internal modems available today are of a different nature completely. Several years ago modem manufacturers discovered they could cut costs by removing much of the intelligence from the modems themselves and placing much of that intelligence into the modem driver and allowing the CPU to perform many tasks that older modems handled themselves. Those kinds of modems are really not modems at all, but telephone interface devices. They will not operate as a modem without a special driver. These types of modems are called WinModems. Before you can use such a modem, you must download and install a driver that matches the device. Visit the www.linmodems.org website if you have a modem like that. It offers drivers for many of these "dumb" modems.

My laptop has one of these special modems and I must take extra steps to get it working. It is usually not very difficult, if you follow the instructions on the LinModem web site, but it is still a hassle that it is required at all. If you can, use external modems with Linux. External modems are never WinModems.

Modem Configuration

Next we are asked if you want to enable the Hotplug system. Basically this is a form of plug-n-play that probes for hardware during bootup and can auto-detect many types of USB and/or PCMCIA devices. This is usually a good idea if you use USB devices and almost mandatory when installing Slackware on a laptop that uses PCMCIA cards. I generally answer Yes here since HotPlug can also detect some types of PCI devices too.

Enable Hotplug?

Next we need to decide how to setup LILO (The Linux Loader). This software is a boot manager that allows you to select between 2 or more operating systems when you restart your computer. If you want to dual-boot Linux and Windows, then you will need LILO. While you can boot Linux without LILO, it is harder to configure things that way so I recommend installing LILO always.

NOTE: Some distributions no longer use LILO, but instead use the Grand Unified Bootloader that is currently still under development. Since it is not officially released yet, Slackware does not use GRUB. That may change in the near future.

The Simple mode works just fine for most installations. It will automatically add Linux to the boot menu, and if you have Windows installed on a FAT partition, it will also add an option to boot DOS also.

NOTE: If your copy of Windows has formatted the disk using NTFS, the Simple mode will not work for you. This is because Slackware has disabled the automatic detection of NTFS partitions. Don't panic however. You can use the Expert mode in this case.

After you complete the LILO installation, you can next configure your mouse. It is important that you select the correct mouse driver that matches your hardware.

Mouse Configuration

Next you are asked if you wish to run the General Purpose Mouse (GPM) program every time you boot Linux. This program allows you to use a mouse even in the text console and supports copy and paste operations.

NOTE: If GPM is enabled, you copy and paste text by clicking and dragging to mark the text you want to copy. Then to actually paste the selected text, point to where you want the text inserted and press the middle mouse button. GPM then copies the selected text and feeds it into the program just as if you had typed it in yourself. If you want to suppress line feeds, you can hold the Ctrl key down while marking the text to be copied.

Enable GPM?

Now we can configure our network settings. You can skip this, but then you will not be able to use a network or the Internet at all.

Configure Network?

First you must enter a host name for the computer. I'm using a character from the Star Trek series here.

Computer's Host Name

Next, you will enter the DNS domain name for the computer. If you do not own your own domain, or don't wish to use your ISP's domain name, you can just make one up. Some people use the name localdomain for those situations.

Computer's Domain Name

Now we must decide which way we use the network. If you have a Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) server on your network, that is the preferred way to go. The DHCP server will assign an IP address and related settings to your computer automatically. If you use a cable modem or DSL router to connect to the Internet, they normally support the DHCP option.

If you don't have a DHCP server, then you can configure your computer to use Static IP instead. You will need to know the network settings to use in this case. Your network administrator should be able to provide you with the IP Address, Netmask, and DNS Nameserver addresses that you will need.

Finally, if you do not have a network card in your computer, but instead use a modem to dial the Internet, then you can use the loopback only settings. Your computer will not have a permenant IP address in this case.

Once you have selected your network option and configure either Static IP or DHCP settings, you are next asked if you would like setup to automatically probe and determine your type of network card. There is very little reason not to do this and it works most of the time. If you have an unusual network card that is not supported, then you will have to manually configure it after completing the installation.

Network Card Probe?

Yippee! It found my network card! This will be saved to the file named /etc/rc.d/rc.netdevice.

Network Card Found

You should next see a confirmation screen. This one shows I selected the DHCP option, but your screen may look a bit different depending on the options you chose.

Network Settings Confirmation

The last nework related question concerns the sendmail program. This program takes care of sending and receiving e-mail. If you are planning to run an e-mail server, then I recommend using the SMTP+ACCESS option and also visiting the Sendmail Web Site. The standard SMTP option should work for most others.

I have never used the UUCP option personally, but understand it can be useful in special situations. I've heard of it being used on a network as a kind of holding area for e-mail, which is transferred from a remote site to your main headquarters network at off-peak times.

Sendmail Options

I never mess with the custom fonts, but feel free to do so if desired.

Custom Fonts Anybody?

Next we have two questions about time settings. This prompt wants to know how you set the time in the BIOS. If you set the BIOS time to the same time as your watch, choose the NO (local time) option. If you are a real computer geek, you may have set your BIOS clock to UTC instead, but then I bet you are not running Windows! :-)

BIOS Clock Option

Just select your correct time zone from the list. You will also find a long list of country names and city names to choose from in addition to the common time zones.

Select Your Time Zone

Slackware gives you several a choices for the window manager that will be used when running X-Windows. KDE and GNOME are both very popular, but do require quite a bit of memory and a faster system. The others are normally simpler and faster, but come with fewer bells and whistles.

KDE is probably better if you are familiar with Windows already, while GNOME is probably better if you are familiar with other Unix X-Windows implementations such as CDE or Motif desktops. Both support advanced features like drag-n-drop file management, web browsers, help screens and much more. If you installed both, you can still run GNOME applications under KDE or run KDE programs under GNOME.

I have a personal preference for KDE and have even contributed a bit of source code to the KDE developers so I usually use it.

Default GUI Window Manager

Finally, the last stage is to enter a password to protect the root user account. Since this account has full control over the entire system, it is very important to protect this user account with a strong password. Select Yes to proceed.

No Root Password

As you can see here, you must enter the same password twice before you can proceed. If the password you enter is weak, you will be warned. Good passwords do not come from the dictionary and include letters, numbers and even punctuation symbols like (*, -, #, $ or others).

Setting the Root Password

Finally, we are done.

That's All Folks!

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