Installing Linux

Brought up on Windows, most people think of Linux as an alien platform. As such, they tend to think it must be really difficult to work with Linux. Over some forthcoming posts, I will show just how easy it can be to install and setup Linux. That’s not to say that there aren’t some complicated configuration options available – indeed these options can be very powerful, but there are complicated configuration options available on Windows too! Here I am going through a basic OS configuration and will enable a couple of other things as well to show how straight forward it can be to administer your own Linux machine. I will use Redhat Enterprise for this demo, but the same principles apply whatever your Linux distribution. I am using a virtual machine technology from Oracle called Virtualbox for this demo. As a tester, this means I can set up multiple machine configurations and environments that suit my needs accordingly.

VirtualBox is an operating system virtualisation program that allows you to emulate a full computer system on your desktop.  There are other virtualisation technologies available, including VMWare and Hyper-V, and the process is quite similar with all of these. Virtual Disks created in VirtualBox can be imported into any of these programs. To get started, download the latest version and install it.  Once installed, start the program from the Start menu.

In our example we will install Redhat from an .iso image that we have previously obtained.

      Create a new Virtual Machine

From the front end of Virtualbox, click the ‘New’ button. This will start the new
virtual machine wizard. Select Next, then enter the OS type and the name you want to call the machine. Be sure to select 64 bit if you have a 64 bit OS image/CD.

Select the memory that the Virtual machine will use. 512mb is probably sufficient for a basic install of Linux, but you can give the machine more memory if you wish – it will certainly help performance!

VirtualBox Settings

The default options for the ‘add hard disk’ wizard should be fine. Click Next after ensuring ‘Create new hard disk’ is selected. In this Wizard, select the default options. The only thing you may wish to change is the size of the hard disk. If you have the space it is recommended to create a 30-40 gb drive as this will give your new system room to grow. Click ‘ Finish’ to close the wizard.

One more change you should make is in the networking settings. Select ‘Settings’ for the Virtual Machine and find the networking section. Change the adapter type from ‘NAT’ to ‘Bridged’.
This will ensure you can get a real IP address from your DHCP server.

Network Options

   Installing Linux (Redhat)

Select the Machine you have just created and press the ‘Start’ button on the toolbar. This will start the ‘first run’ wizard.

On the installation media page select the browse button and navigate to your ISO image. If you have a DVD image you can select the drive here instead.

Installation Media

Close the wizard by selecting Next, then Finish. This will start the machine, booting from the CD image.

Once the installer starts, press Enter to begin the installation. You can generally skip the media test section and proceed straight to the installation section. To do this press tab until ‘Skip’ is highlighted and press Enter.

Once the graphical mode installer starts, you can mostly go straight through the wizard clicking Next – the menus are fairly self-explanatory.

If you do not have a Redhat installation number to hand, you can select skip and enter it later.

You will see a message about unreadable data – this is because the virtual hard disk has not yet been formatted. Clicking ‘Yes’ will do this for you.

Preparing the virtual hard drive

For the network settings page, you can leave all the options at their default and click next.

The next page asks for a root password. Enter something you can remember. This is equivalent to adding a user to the system administrators group on Windows.

When the option is offered to include extra software for Software development, ensure you tick the option before clicking next.

Optional but useful stuff!

Go and make a cup of your favourite beverage (tea/coffee/gin etc) – the system
will then install, taking a while so an ideal opportunity to catch up on some reading or make some lunch. After a little while you should see a screen which signifies that you have finished installing the operating system.

Installation Complete!

Once the system has rebooted there are just a couple more settings and personal preferences still to complete.  You can mostly just click ‘Next’, but you may wish to either disable the firewall on the appropriate page if you are on an internal network. If you keep the firewall and SeLinux enabled, you will need to open any ports you intend to use – and be sure to add Samba as a trusted service.

When you advance to the ‘Create User’ page, be sure to add a user:

That’s it! – once the wizard is finished you can log in as the user you just created.

Log in as the user you just created