Installing The Linux Operating System

Table of Contents

last revision
23 November 2015, 1:58pm
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This book will provide some hints on how to install the Linux operating system, especially on older computer with less ram memory. This subject is mainly complicated by the support for peripheral devices.

Downloading The Linux Version ‹↑›

download an iso file for the version of linux

check a file against its md5 checksum. (download the file filename.md5.txt)

 md5sum -c filename.iso.md5.txt

or check the downloaded file with

 md5sum file
compare the displayed value with the 'md5' value on the download site

Burning The Downloaded File To Disk ‹↑›

burn at a slow speed?? dont use the computer for other tasks??

burn the iso to a compact disk, using the 'burn image' or 'burn iso' mode of the cd recording software.

to check if the iso on the cd is good

 dd if=/dev/cdrom | md5sum
 dd if=/dev/cdrom of=/dev/stdout | md5sum /dev/stdin

 dd if=/dev/cdrom of=image.iso  dumps the cd data to 'image.iso'

Partitioning ‹↑›

This is a big topic in itself. The partition table seems to be in "msdos" format.

Uefi Boot Partitioning ‹↑›

This is how I got mx-15 to boot. On disk, create new partition table in format GPT (this deletes all data) Then, new 100Meg fat32 partition (small). Manage flags as set boot and esp flags. Now add new partitions as per normal: eg / root ext4 30G, swap 5G, /home ext4 100G etc. This makes installing grub2 simple for uefi booting os

Hints For Partitioning ‹↑›

create an ext4 / root partition about 30 gig

create an linux-swap partition at least as big as ram (eg 5gig) (to allow for hibernation of the computer)

create an ext4 /home partition as big as you can. This allows you to install a new operating system, or version of linux without losing your data in /home/user etc

create a fat32 partition to use from windows

Uefi Vs Bios ‹↑›

Modern systems use uefi bios which can be trickier to make play with linux

Booting ‹↑›

Questions, how to boot from disk with no boot loader (can grub do this)

Grub ‹↑›

Grub is a bootloader.

Secure Boot ‹↑›

This is a system where the bootloader actually checks a "key" value in the operating system before loading it. This means only OSes with a valid key will boot. Luckily this can be turned off on many computers (eg Asus e402ma)

File Systems ‹↑›

ext4 - journaled, recommended ext3 - not used much ext2 - old but good system, compatible with grub4dos fat32 - easily seen from windows but not good for linux

Since ext4 is a journaled file system, some have suggested it is not such a good idea for solid state drives (ssd)...

Live Cds ‹↑›

'live cds' are compact disks which can run a version (or distribution) of linux without installing it to the computer hard disk a list of linux live cds

Live Usbs ‹↑›

On windows, use a program called "rufus". On linux use "unetbootin" to create a live usb. Then press ESC on asus machine to access boot device menu. If CSM (legacy bios boot) is disabled then only UEFI options will appear. But if CSM enabled then UEFI and legacy for each device will appear (at least on asus).

Distributions ‹↑›

This section will appraise various versions which I have tried and some notes about their installation.

Linux Mint 9

Mepis MX linux version MX-14.3-non-pae.iso This seems generally a very fast and easy to use distro. I did have some problems with skype and sounds on an R52 ibm thinkpad. Also runs on the Asus e402ma (64bit) but seems to have some video problems (has to boot in safe video mode)

Antix From what I saw, very primitive, using wicd to connect wirelessly and no automatic mounting of usb sticks etc. Also, on the asus e402ma didnt detect the sd card.

Linux On A Usb ‹↑›

good simple instructions for getting a variety of distributions on a usb 'pendrive'
oo- - download an 'iso' of the linux distribution. - use some program to install that iso to the usb pendrive - go into the bios on startup and change the boot settings to usb, if possible - multiple distributions on one stick is possible but harder


Linux Modules ‹↑›

If hardware doesnt work a module needs to be installed

see all modules which have been loaded


load a particular module

 modprobe ...

remove the ralink wireless card driver

 modprobe -r rt2860sta
 rmmod rt2860sta     the same

show information for the given module

 modinfo rt3090sta

Blacklisting Modules ‹↑›

If the kernel loads incorrect modules (or device drivers) it may be necessary to 'blacklist' them, that is, prevent these erroneous modules from loading.

black list a module

 sudo vim /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf
 type ... blacklist modulename

Compile A Module ‹↑›

each module needs to be compiled for a particular kernel. If a particular periferal is not working then a module may need to be compiled and installed.

find the technical specification of the periferal or hardware which is not functioning

 lspci, lshw, lsusb, linuxinfo etc

make sure that the kernel headers and a compiler is installed

 sudo apt-get install build-essential linux-headers-generic

download the source for the module for that periferal or a compatible one

 wget ...

unpack the module sources

 tar ...

change directory to the module source folder

 cd ...

compile the module

 sudo make; sudo make install

build dependencies between modules

 depmod -a

load the module

 modprobe modulename

unload a module

 modprobe -r modulename

Wifi ‹↑› a good page on the broadcom wifi chips used in eeepcs

find out what wifi chip is in your computer

 lspci -v | grep Net

The above will display the ethernet and wifi hardware information.

example output --- 01:00.0 Network controller: Broadcom Corporation BCM4313 802.11b/g/n Wireless LAN Controller (rev 01) ,,,

Now google 'bcm4313 linux module' to find out what linux module you need to install. In this case 'brcmsmac'

find out if the correct module is installed

 lsmod | less

add a non free line to /etc/apt/sources.list ------ # Debian 7 "Wheezy" deb wheezy main contrib non-free ,,,

update package list and install package with module --------- apt-get update apt-get install firmware-brcm8021 ,,,

reinsert needed module to activate it

 modprobe -r brcmsmac ; modprobe brcmsmac

Software ‹↑›


Checking Hardware ‹↑›

look at the Linux start up messages

 dmseg    here you can see what hardware was detected

use lspci to get the names of chipsets of hardware

 lspci -vv    provides a more detailed listing

see lots of hardware info


display information, such as type, manufacture for network devices

 lshw -C network

Debugging Usb Devices ‹↑›

check if a usb device has been recognised

plug in the usb device and look in /proc/scsi

 cat /proc/scsi/scsi
the make and model of the device should be displayed

see what drive the usb device is attached to

 dmesg | grep sd

check PCI devices

 cat /proc/pci

rescan the the scsi bus to (hopefully) detect a new device

 echo "- - -" > /sys/class/scsi_host/hostX/scan

Analysing Installed System ‹↑›

find out what linux kernel version is used in distribution

 uname -r   (eg: 3.2.0-23-generic)

find out what version of linux mint (or other distro) you have

 lsb_release -a

find out what distro version is installed

 cat /etc/issue

find out on what debian version the distro is based

 cat /etc/debian_version

Linux Modules ‹↑›

check what modules are installed


Offline Package Install ‹↑›

copy .deb packages from /var/cache/apt/archives where it is appropriate

install a package offline ----- sudo dpkg -i /path/to/deb/file sudo apt-get install -f ,,,

Appearance ‹↑›

install an apple osx style dock menu

 sudo apt-get install avant-window-navigator

start the osx style dock menu


Set the hide method to 'fade out'. Put the gnome panel at the top of the screen

Install a desktop wallpaper rotator


Cpu Information ‹↑›

get information about the cpu

 cat /proc/cpuinfo

getinformation about Ram memory

 cat /proc/meminfo

see what Linux version is running

 cat /proc/version

Usb Device Trouble Shooting ‹↑›

see if a device is recognised

 lsusb ... insert device... lsusb again

use dmesg

Cd Recording Software ....

infrarecord ( for windows

First Things To Do After Installing ‹↑›

 apply all updates

turn on the 'uncomplicated firewall'

 sudo ufw enable

check the status of the firewall

 sudo ufw status verbose

install some microsoft fonts


remove mono (for security reasons, viruses etc)

 sudo apt-get remove mono-runtime-common

But Banshee and Tomboy will not run

install good alternatives to banshee and tomboy

 sudo apt-get install gnome-mplayer xpad tips for making firefox more efficient

disable hibernation (mint/ ubuntu?)

 sudo mv -v /etc/polkit-1/localauthority/50-local.d/com.ubuntu.enable-hibernate.pkla /

reenable hibernation

 sudo mv -v /com.ubuntu.enable-hibernate.pkla /etc/polkit-1/localauthority/50-local.d

install some usefull non free firmware

 sudo apt-get install linux-firmware-nonfree


gparted - the graphical partitioning tool
parted - the command line equivalent