Assignment 1 - Redhat 7.3 Installation on 2nd Harddrive / INTREX computer
INLS 183 - Distributed Systems (new window)
September 23, 2002
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Last spring, I purchased an INTREX-built desktop computer with 2 40-GB IDE harddrives with the intent of installing both Windows and Linux on this system. I previously installed Windows XP and various Windows compatible software on the first harddrive. I elected for Windows to format the entire drive as a single primary partition; currently ~14 GB of this drive is in use. I considered partitioning the 1st drive and installing Linux in a dual boot mode there, but after some research decided to install Linux on the second drive until I have read more about various disk partitioning strategies and software and have identified a location to copy/store the 3GB Windows partition backup file I created with Windows Backup software. Losing and having to reinstall the Windows partition is not an acceptable risk so I took the safer route for this first assignment.

Installation and Troubleshooting

I elected to install the RedHat Linux distribution because of it's reputation for smooth installation and configuration and because it is widely used and well supported. I downloaded the 3 Valhalla Redhat 7.3 ISO images from Ibiblio's distro site. I created installation CDs from these images using Nero CD writing software. I had to repeat the ISO image downloads for disk 1 and 2 images when CD verification routine found errors in burning the original copies. Also, the CD Burner software needs be explicitly set to burn an ISO image to result in usable disks.

I edited my computer's BIOS settings to set the CD-ROM drive as the first bootable drive so that RedHat would successfully boot from CD. BIOS settings are accessed by hitting the DELETE key when the system presents the setup options menu during the powering on process. The RedHat CD had previously failed to boot when CD was set as the 2nd bootable drive. Alternatively, I could have used the boot floppy I had created using the RAWRATE DOS utiliy.

After consulting key portions of the RedHat 7.3 Installation Guide and recording my system hardware and network settings, I began the installation by rebooting my computer with the 1st RedHat CD in the CD drive. After some initial messages, the boot: prompt came up along with a menu that offered boot options including text mode install, expert mode install (for use when HW not detected properly) and the option to conduct a media check on the CD-ROMs before installation.

Unfortunately, when the system booted the Linux install menu (and later the Linux - Windows OS selection menu), my keyboard (old Lexmark Model A built for IBM circa 1984) locked up and prevented me from typing in the media check command. I ran the media check on a separate laptop computer by booting into the install menu, typing in "linux mediacheck" at the boot: prompt and following the prompts to test the 3 RedHat 7.3 CDs. This keyboard problem also prevented me from selecting the Linux OS over the Windows XP default from the GRUB bootloader menu after installation. I checked the, and Linux Documentation Project (ibiblo) sites for docmentation on this problem without much luck. I did find an old document on the site about this brand of keyboard locking up with Windows for Workgroups. It referenced a "fix file" to install which I did not install given it's age and the lack of explicit correlation with the XP OS. I will purchase and substitute a new keyboard to see if that fixes the problem (see findings below).

After confirming the integrity of the RedHat CD-ROMs via mediacheck on the laptop, I reinitiated the installation on my INTREX computer, this time just allowing the boot menu to time out and proceed to the installation configuration screens. Once I reached the first installation screen, the keyboard was functioning properly again. In this CD-ROM boot of the installation, the screens can be navitated with either TAB/Arrow/Enter Keys or with mouse clicks. The server class installation we did in class using the boot disk and the network installation was more like a text interface and we had to naviagate solely with TAB/Arrow/Enter keys. Also, the order of configuration screens was slightly different. I made the following configuration selections:

  • Install Type: Server (I want to set up my home machine (in Linux mode) to serve web content)
  • Selected Disk Druid and created the following partitions on my second harddrive (/dev/hdb/). My first harddrive (/dev/hda/) with its NTFS partition was visible and available for partitioning and had to be intentionally deselected as each linux partition was added.
  • dev/hdb1= /boot ext3 47MB
    dev/hdb2= / (root) ext3 6997MB
    /dev/hdb3 swap 1028 MB - my computer has 512MB RAM

    When I created the 4th partition the system created an extended partition on which it set up the /home partition and the remaining free space:
    /dev/hdb4 extended 30090MB
                   /dev/hdb5= /home 5993MB
                   free space 24,098MB
  • Boot Loader: I selected the GRUB Boot Loader and set it to install in the Master Boot Record on disk drive 1 (/dev/hda where Win XP is installed). I also re-labelled /dev/hda NTFS drive as /mnt/windows and set the Windows XP boot image as the default (what the system boots into if I don't choose Linux from the selection menu provided.) I provided a GRUB password; recommended by ITS Security's Securing a Linux Workstation document.
  • Network Configuration: I selected "configure using DHCP" since I use DHCP via RoadRunner (RR) as my Internet Service Provider. I had previously obtained and recorded the IP, subnet mask, gateway, DHCP server and DNS server addresses for my RR setup by running ipconfig /all from the CMD prompt. I also selected a hostname and domain. However, these settings were not available to fill in when "configure using DHCP" was selected. I also left the default "activate on Boot". Since my RR DHCP provided IP address seems to be constant, I'm not sure if DHCP is the best selection here, but can change this later by installing and using the Linuxconf GUI configuration tool. If it was correct (ie it works), I'll need to set my computer's $HOSTNAME manually (in /etc/sysconfig/network on RedHat 7.3).
  • Firewall - For maximum security without disabling this machine as a server, I selected HIGH SECURITY option and NO TRUSTED DEVICES (eth0 was only device). Also selected CUSTOMIZE to allow incoming DHCP (to get on internet), SSH (secure/encryped remote access) and WWW. I also allowed the same port set we allowed on our class servers. I don't anticipate running Mail or FTP servers on this computer except for class work purposes and can change these settings as needed in IPCHAINS configuration.
  • Language: English
  • Time Zone UTC-O5 US Eastern with Daylight Savings time - recommmended (by text) for cross platform time synchronization.
  • Root Password: provided password and also setup additional user account for myself.
  • Package Selection - selected complete packages rather than to see individual package items.

  • Classic X Window System
    X Windows

  • X Configuration - the utility's preselected choice acurately matched my video card (NVIDIA GEForce2 MX generic)

The installation took about 45 minutes. See the install.log. I created a boot disk (overwrote the one I prepared beforehand) and accepted the default "unprobed generic" monitor selection and lowered the resolution to 800 X 600 so visibility is better on my old 14" monitor. I selected "text login" to avoid access problems when X Windows won't load and selected GNOME (start with the older desktop first) as my default desktop GUI. I ejected the boot disk and rebooted the system. I was presented with a menu that offered the choice of loading Windows XP or RedHat Linux. Due to the keyboard locking problem described earlier, I was not initially able to select/arrow to the Linux option so the system auto loads Windows XP which I had selected as the default in the Boot Loader configuration screen. I purchased a new keyboard, attached it in place of the old one and this successfully resolved the problem; I am now able to arrow to/select Linux 7.3 for my OS on the boot loader menu. I selected and successfully booted into Linux and proceeded to test functionality.

I was able to successfully login with both my account and the root account. As root, I updated the sudoers file (see script) and then successfully executed the tsch shell via sudo (see script). I was also able to telnet to and ftp the install.log there. I registered the installation with the RedHat Network (see script). Next steps will be to download and selectively updates via up2date, implemement some basic security, finetune network settings and to install apache and the openssl updates.
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