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Re: Questions, questions, questions...*sigh*

On Tue, 5 May 1998, James A. Bates wrote:

> Hello,
>    I am new to Linux and haven't the slightest idea how it works,
> really. I'm attempting to install Debian later today. I have so many
> questions, it's sad. :-)

 Well, this is the place to ask them. :->

>    First, let me tell you about my hardware, etc., in case anyone knows
> if anything is not supported by Linux: 

> Modem: Boca Internal Fax/Data PnP 33.6

 I seem to recall that some Boca modems were "Winmodems" - that is, they
don't have all the hardware that normal modems do, and use software -
Windows-only software - to make up for the lack. If it *is* a Winmodem,
it's not going to work under Linux, ever.

 Also, Linux has been slow to adopt plug-n-play, but support is there.
Make sure you get the "isapnptools" package.

>    Okay, I have a harddrive currently running Windows95. Later today I'm
> installing another harddrive with approximately 500 MB to run Debian
> on. Should I have this second drive as a slave to the first one or
> should I put it as secondary and have my CD-ROM as the slave? My CD-ROM
> is currently running as the secondary IDE.

 It doesn't really matter a whole lot. Either way will work, but yes,
you'd want the CD-ROM to be a slave if you put the second hard drive
there. Make sure the CD drive is jumpered properly for that if you go that

>    Do I need to partition the harddrive I'm putting Debian on?


>  If so, what do I use to partition it?

 The normal Debian install process will drop you into the appropriate
program when the time comes.

> How many partitions do I need? I've read quite a bit on partitioning and
> it seems there are several different types of partitions.

 There are two main partition types you need to be concerned about at this
point. First, you need to set up an "ext2" or "Linux" partition. This
holds your files and such. Then, you need a "swap" partition, which Linux
uses in managing virtual memory. The normal rule of thumb is to make it
twice your physical memory, so go for a swap partition of 64MB.

 When you get more experienced, you may want to split up your file
partitions a bit, but it's a needless complication for your first install.

>   Could messing with the second drive destroy any data on my first one
> (the one with Windows95)?

 Theoretically, no. If you make a mistake when partitioning, though, and
accidentally repartition the wrong drive, then may the gods have pity upon
you. Be very careful when repartitioning. Ideally, you should make a
backup of all your critical files on Win95 before you embark, just to be
safe. If you do everything right, you won't need the backup, but why take

> I've downloaded several Debian packages to my current harddrive. Will
> Debian be able to set them up from a different drive? What's the easiest
> way to do this?

 Yes, you can set them up from another drive. You will have to mount that
other drive, though, and that might be a little daunting to a complete
newbie. I'd really recommend getting a CD-ROM and installing from that.
You can get them for under five bucks these days.
> There seem to be a lot of X Windows. Which one is the best? AfterStep?

 Well, technically, there's only one X Windows, but a lot of different
GUIs on top of X. There's a lot of religious debate over which "window
manager" is best, but FVWM is common, and doesn't eat up a lot of colors
or memory. It may be simplest to get that one to work and then look at the
> Lastly, having such limited knowledge about this, should I even ATTEMPT
> installing Debian? :-)

 Sure, as long as you're careful in partitioning there's no danger to the
rest of your system. At worst, you have to reinstall. You'll probably have
to do that a few times anyway. With Linux, though, once you get it right
you don't have to reinstall again. :->

 Definitely look at the install guide. You can find it at the Debian


Ray Ingles                 "...it's not a plain, ordinary steel nut: it's a
        (248) 377-7735      'hexiform rotatable surface compression unit',
                            which is why it cost $2,043 for just one..."
ray.ingles@fanucrobotics.com  William Lutz, on Pentagonese, in _Doublespeak_

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