Linux #8 - Installation

By Pete | @kingpetey | 11 Oct 2002

Whichever distribution you finally decide on you will need to install it on your machine in order to take full use of the operating system. Once you have downloaded or brought your distribution and it is on cd the best way to start the installation is to boot it from the cd/dvd. This is done quite simply; enable the cdrom as the first boot device in the bios then put the CD in the drive and reboot your computer. Whichever distribution you install will probably give you a number of options.

SuSE for instance gives you a number of different boot options for different types of installation. You will want either graphical installation or simple installation. The installation program then boots and will try to configure as much as it can without any need for you to change anything. SuSE for instance will default select a package and attempt to rearrange your partitions for you, though if you don?t like anything it has changed you can always change it back at this stage.

Redhat and Mandrake will require you to change the partitions yourself this is normally the only difficult stage on the installation and I would recommend you use a program such as partition magic as described in the previous article. Once you have gone through the simple installation procedure you are ready to start copying files to your hard drive.

This can take anywhere between 20mins to 2hours depending on the speed of your computer and how much you install. A typical desktop system with office will take around 2gbs of hard drive space so there is quite a lot of copying to be done! After everything has been installed the installer will run a number of configuration programs to configure different bits of hardware such as network cards, graphics cards and printers.

Most devices will automatically be configured properly however you do have the option to tweak any settings you wish at this point. Its best if you look up your distributions guide while installing too as this guide is quite general into installation through out the major Linux distributions. Installation is the most nerve racking part of getting Linux but is also one of the most important parts.


By Pete | @kingpetey | 10 Oct 2002

Today I got my copy of Unreal Tournament 2003 after ordering it online a few days ago. Not only did this save me a trip into town but also saved me almost ?10. After a lengthy install time and 2.5gig of my hard drive gone I was ready to play. My first impressions we great, the game is easy to use, easy to play and didn?t take too long to load (takes about as long as the original).

The graphics are stunning, the little effects make it look nice like swaying grass, moving clouds and more realistic gas textures. Though it took me a graphics card update to stop the larger death match levels from stuttering, but the 10mb download was worth it in the end with everything running very nicely on my GeForce mx420.

The overall play of the game is similar to that of Unreal Tournament, the graphics are a massive improvement and the guns have been upgraded. They have replaced the old sniper rifle with a more advanced weapon that still gives some nice headshots. The other amendments are that of the extra packs you can pick up. These now include bigger health packs and adrenaline, which if you collect enough gives you special abilities such as running fast.

The one feature I did turn off straight away was weapon bob, which to be honest just got annoying and made you feel like you were on a ship. It also took me a while tweaking the graphics settings to get everything working smoothly while trying to get as much out of my card as possible, however this normally has to be done for most games.

I was also disappointed with the lack of outdoors maps, this will probably be left more to one of the mods such as strike force but will mean a hefty download for me. The game is still in very early days, I had a quick look on the web for maps and couldn?t find anything yet the same I found about support which was also very limited. I can see ut2003 lasting for the next 2-3 years like its predecessor did, however it would be nice if the game was to get popular quicker then the original as it did seem to have a slow start.

Overall I think ut2003 is a very nice game which has great potential and flexibility within itself that can hopefully become a very successful and popular game. I have decided to give it 9/10.

Broadband Britain

By Pete | @kingpetey | 08 Oct 2002

Broadband has been becoming increasingly popular over the past year and it has now reached 1million subscribers. The numbers of people and businesses signing up for broadband has trebled since the start of 2002. Oftel estimates that 20,000 connections per week are being installed. Broadband can run upto 10 times faster then a usual dialup connection and there is no 2-hour cut offs like a lot of the major dialup ISPs impose.

The increase in broadband is said to be because of file sharing services such as Kazaa and GNUtella, which let users share music for free. Broadband enables them to download music at a much faster speed. This is in dispute in America in the courts as the music industry has said it is loosing lots of money, though this cannot be proved as America is suffering from a Recession. The UK on the other hand saw record sales increase last year, which some people say that people are still buying music if they like a song they download.

The music industry has replied by trying to shut down services such as Kazaa and was successful in shutting down Napster 2 years ago. Though Napster has tried to relaunch itself as a legitimate service the record industry are still not happy. BT have spent over ?30million on advertising over the past few weeks and there advertising campaign will continue on into the next few weeks.

BT who are not the cheapest of broadband providers are trying to get as many people to sign up for there service rather then their competition which includes Freeserve, AOL and F2S. Freeserve have said this is unfair competition as BT are a much bigger company and have a lot more funding from other areas of there business. Though not everyone is happy especially people living in rural areas as many of them cannot get broadband and unless they have big enough support for broadband in their area the chances of them getting it are very small.

In the UK most people currently get broadband access via cable suppliers such as NTL and Telewest, although the numbers using ADSL, which comes via phone lines, is rapidly catching up. Though the UK is still behind a lot of its fellow countries the government is looking to have ?broadband Britain? by 2005.

Linux #7 - Partitions

By Pete | @kingpetey | 08 Oct 2002

All hard disks have to have partitions on to hold any sort of data, different operating system require you to have different partitions. Windows generally uses either a FAT32 partition type or NTFS. If you have a pc with windows on the chances are that you only have 1 partition on. For Linux we're going to have to make some changes to your partition table and introduce 2-3 new partitions.

Don't worry if this all sounds complicated, the newest distributions especially SuSE has tried to make partitions as easy as possible, it comes with a utility built into YaST (SuSEs installation program) which automatically resizes your main fat32 partition to fit Windows and Linux on along with any other small changes which need to be made. If you feel more comfortable controlling how much space exactly to give each operating system I suggest you use a program like Partition Magic rather then Fdisk.

I'm not going to go into great detail on how to use these programs but I will mention what you need to do with these programs. Depending on how big your hard drive is will depend on how much space you want to allocate for Linux. I normally go for around 10gbs as my root partition for Linux as this gives me plenty of space to work with. You can install Linux on a number of different partition types the most common being EXT2/EXT3.

The newer distributions will use EXT3 and the older EXT2. Though the differences between the partitions do not concern us, it does not make a major difference which you choose. Once you have your main Linux root partition you will need a swap partition. It took me a while to get my head round this concept but swap partitions come in very handy and speed up day to day tasks a lot. Swap partitions originally came from the days when ram was very expensive so the idea of using your hard drive to substitute ram came about. Windows uses a similar technique known as virtual memory.

Your swap partition doesn?t need to be over big, a minimum of 128mbs and a maximum of around 500mbs. Generally the less ram you have the bigger the swap partition you need. If you have a large enough hard drive and space isn?t a big issue it doesn't harm having a bigger swap partition but there is no need to over do it. Finally if your hard drive is bigger then 8gbs and the Linux partition isn?t the first on the drive then you may need to make a boot partition if you intend to duel boot with windows. Boot partitions have to be the first partition on the drive as need only be a maximum of 50mbs formatted to EXT2.

This makes it easier for installing any boot managers needed to duel boot the system. Without one you may find when you reboot your pc after installation only windows will boot and the only way you will be able to access Linux is with a boot disk. The exact principles behind how partitions work is not really relevant for using Linux. The general idea is that Windows uses either FAT16, FAT32 or NTFS partitions and Linux uses EXT2, EXT3, REISER and SWAP. All these can easily be created using Partition Magic or Linux Fdisk.

Linux #6 - LUGS

By Pete | @kingpetey | 08 Oct 2002

LUGs or Linux User Groups have come to form a vital part of the Linux community. Most areas or county?s will have a user group where anyone can join to give there advice about Linux or to try to get help about different things. User groups and free to join and are run by the LUGMaster, to find out the nearest lug to you visit

The groups will normally have a meet once a month where sometimes demonstrations can take place or a less formal meet happens. You get to meet a wide range of people from all different ages with very different backgrounds but all with a common interest of learning about Linux. LUGs maybe a more geeky side to Linux however if you do have an interest in Linux join up and you might find people in the same position as you.

The user groups normally have projects that members can join into, our local LUG has been looking at wireless WANs though this is beyond me financially and logically I have learnt a lot about wireless ways and what benefits they can bring. Some LUGs are a lot more active then others, this normally depends on the motivation in the group and the number of members, my local LUG happens to be active thus can be a very useful service when trying to work things out in Linux. The LUGs main ways of communication apart from the meets are over IRC and mailing lists.