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Install Linux in half an hour

Inq hack Linux experiment redux
Mon Apr 09 2007, 13:14
SOME LOOSE change rattling around, so I'm thinking what use it could be put to. Amongst the things I thought of, try an objective Linux install!

I picked up a Celeron D 2.8 MHz processor, an MSI main board, a Maxtor 250 GB hard drive, BenQ DVD burner, 512MB of DDR1 Kingston RAM, and a cheapo black case to stuff it all into. Nothing fancy.

The MSI comes with on-board VGA, sound, USB, and Ethernet. There are no cards in the PCI slots, no graphics card in the AGP slot.

Start the timer
At time zero, I unpacked the parts and laid them out. Opened up the naked box. Installed the PSU. Installed the main board. Installed the drives. Put all the connectors in the right place. Checked it again. Installed CPU and fan. Installed memory. Checked it again.

11 minutes
I had to pee, but kept the clock running. Move the new 'chine from my work table to the place it will live. Press the power button. I made a couple of changes to the BIOS settings, the most technical part of the whole operation. I set the time and date, and changed the boot order so the DVD got first dibs on boot. I also removed the boot from floppy option.

16 minutes
Reboot. Quickly open DVD drive, and stuff in a copy of PCLinuxOS live. Let it boot. Everything was detected. I took some time to play around a bit with the live CD. USB, video, sound, everything worked. I even tested a DVD movie. No problems at all.

25 minutes
I clicked the install button. Accepting all the defaults, it took about 13 minutes to finish the install.

38 minutes
Reboot, and amazing! I had a fully working Linux install. Interweb connection and all. This was from a few boxes of parts to a functional Interweb workstation in less than 40 minutes. Time to test a few things.

I whipped out my trusty USB thumb drive. Lawks! It came up on my screen in a few seconds. I clicked on a Microsoft Word document, and it opened in Open Office. I clicked on an MP3 file, and it played in Amarok. No setup. Nothing. Click and go.

Had to test it with my camera next. Same bit. Plugged my digital cam into the USB, it popped up with Digicam. Downloaded the pictures. No problems. I tried to think up something it would not do. It just worked.

Updates Galore!
And then I opened the software installer to update the installation. It took almost 2 hours to get all the updates for this Linux installation. But stop and think about this. What was updated was not just the OS and the web browser, but the OS, several web browsers, and several hundred software packages. There is nothing else to buy. It comes with everything and it works.

If I had my druthers, I druther have set up LVM and a few other things during the install, but my point is that it really is simple. Accept the defaults, and it works.

So why is this seen by many (mostly journos) as such a complex thing? I don't know. It works. The price is right. Please, usual flames, usual place.


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