Date: Wed, 28 Jan 1998 16:21:53 +0000 (GMT)
From: "Eric L. Green <>" <>
Subject: [S.u.S.E. Linux] Installing SuSE Linux

I installed SuSE Linux last night. Here are my impressions:

1) Gosh, there's a lot of software on those disks! I set aside a 1gb
partition for SuSE on my "big" drive, and swiftly filled it up with
goodies. Nice stuff. 

2) I like the various default configs you have. It would allow me to
standardize on a reasonable set of software without doing what I have to
do with Red Hat, i.e., tell the technicians "install the whole bloody

3) I like the ability to read a config off a diskette. That would
similarly allow me to standardize things.

4) Gosh there's a lot of options on that install menu! I had no problem
because I've installed Linux a couple hundred times, but I *know* that my
technicians couldn't do it. They install Red Hat Linux all the time, a
minor miracle in itself (I could swear they couldn't pull it off, since it
does not require a soldering iron, but they manage -- except for
partitions, where they always beg me to set up the partitions for them).
Even the Slackware install is easier for the newby to get through. I know
it's all explained in the manual, but Reading The Fine Manual is something
we here in the 'States always do AFTER we mess up :-).  

5) The LILO config in YaST needs help. What we are typically doing is
upgrading machines that previously had Windows 3.11 or Xenix on them.
Most of these machines were originally configured with 270mb hard drives
and later upgraded with a 1.0 or 1.2gb hard drive when the 270mb was
filled. They are generally configured as /dev/hda and /dev/hdc. Here is
how I partition them:

  Drive /dev/hda:   Partition 1: DOS (200mb)
             Partition 2: Swap (50mb)
             Partition 3: /boot (10mb)
  Drive /dev/hdc:   LINUX

Note that there is no Linux root partition on the first hard drive.
However, it is quite legal for LILO to install a boot sector on the /boot
partition. In fact, the Red Hat "liloconfig" tool in their install will
allow me to do that. Note, though, that I had to fuss at them for over a
year before they got that fixed. I'm sure you can do it faster :-). 

Also: SuSE installs the kernel in the default location, /, rather than
into some directory such as /boot that can be placed on the first hard
drive. That's a problem here because we're talking old computers without
LBA mode, and a /dev/hdc with more than 1024 cylinders.  Yes, it'd be nice
for them to upgrade their hardware, but we are talking about schools,
i.e., no money. Even on computers with only one hard drive I often set up
a /boot partition for the kernel on systems that do not have an LBA BIOS.
Often the "/" partition does not logically go below the 1024 cylinder
boundary because I have to use that area for DOS and can't fit "/" in that
area too. I know we're all Linux fans, but DOS/Windows is not going away. 
Neither are all these pre-LBA machines -- we're salvaging them by putting
Linux on them, after all.

6) One thing I messed up was not saving the default config to the hard
drive and having YaST come up in German after the reboot. Not nice for me
:-(. Thankfully I remembered where the language selection was on the menu.
Hopefully the manual guides people through this step. (But, as I
mentioned, we Yanks are famous for never reading the manual :-). 

7) I need to Read The Fine Manual to see how to install RPM's off of
non-SuSE CD's. YaST is great, but I haven't figured out how to point it at
any old arbitrary repository of RPM's yet. I did install XRPM, so I can
take a look at that next, but XRPM/GLINT/etc. aren't as great as YaST at
looking at a repository. Too many keyclicks involved with the GUI tools
and they don't give you that summary line beside the RPMs to tell you
whether you should be interested in them or not. 

Overall score on the install part: B. The only real "bug" is the inability
of the LILO configurator to set up a boot sector on a non-root partition.
The user is not guided through the process as clearly as with Slackware or
Red Hat, but the process is simple and good documentation is probably
adequate (now if we can only get people to read it :-). 

Next: a scorecard on initial use of the system, "X" configurations, etc.

Eric Lee Green          Executive Consultants
Systems Specialist                    Educational Administration Solutions
   You might be a redneck if you put on insect repellant prior to a date.

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