Linrad support: Install Linux (for Linrad users)
(Nov 13 2006)

Any Linux distribution will be fine

There are two different ways to run Linrad under Linux. Terminal mode with svgalib or graphical mode, X11. Your installation therefore has to include X11 or svgalib. (Preferrably both)

The major distributions are: Debian, Slackware, Ubuntu, CentOS, Fedora(RedHat), Mandriva(Mandrake) and Suse. In case you want to use the Linux installation to replace Microsoft Windows, it will be a good idea to find the latest version, but if you want to set up an elderly computer to use as a radio receiver only it will probably be easier to use an elderly Linux distribution.

Get the installation CD(s) and follow the instructions on screen.

It is very easy to install Linux if you have done it before. In case your only experience is with Microsoft Windows you can not expect to get the CD(s) and just follow the instructions on the screen. There are many alternatives and it will be useful to have someone to ask about things that are really simple when you know a little what all is about.

Different Linux distributions are different in this respect. In general, modern distributions are easier - but only on reasonably modern computers.

Linrad may need kernel modules. They are usually compiled as part of the installation of svgalib, OSS or Linrad and they require that the Linux distribution contains the kernel headers. Some distributions are difficult in this respect since the kernel headers are not included in the distribution CD. Getting them separately over the Internet may lead to problems with different version numbers. There are also some distributions for which module building fails completely. This link Linux distributions tested with Linrad-02.21 gives a complete overwiev over those Linux distributions that I have personally tested.

Linux is safe and stable

Once you have a computer running under Linux everything else is easy. In all Linux documentation you are adviced to not run the computer while logged in as root.

Running Linux as root is no worse than running MSDOS. You will be able to erase files you should not touch and so on. If you log in as root only to run the linrad program you will be perfectly safe (as far as I know) no guarantee. Personally I always run as root. I do not want all the security, setting permissions etc.

Once you have a machine with Linux running on it you can get detailed instructions from this site exactly what you have to do to install Linrad and get it running. You will not have to learn anything about Linux to use Linrad under Linux. It is ok if someone else supplied a working installation for you.

Search the web

There is a lot of information on the Internet. Try to search for the exact phrase "Install Linux" and you will get many interesting sites to look at.

If there is nothing valuable on the hard disk

In case you have a separate computer or a separate hard disk so you do not have to worry about loosing any data belonging to Windows or MSDOS there is no reason to hesitate. Make sure there is only one hard disk in the system, the one you want to install on. (Some distributions may erase the contents of other hard disks in case you make seemingly innocent mistakes.)

Get a Linux distribution CD. Put it in your CD reader and go ahead. On a modern computer, just make BIOS boot directly from the CD. On older machines you have to boot MSDOS or Windows to be able to read the CD. The CD will have an installation program which you simply start.

The installation procedure is more or less automatic, select default for everything except the package selection. It is a good idea to make your own selection and select everything in case your hard disk is big enough. For svgalib, OSS or SDR-14 you need the packages kernel-dev and kernel-headers, they may not be available on the CDs for a modern distribution and they would then have to be downloaded from the Internet. The kernel on your CD may however be considered old by the developers so maybe only more recent kernel headers are available. Then you would have to install a more modern kernel and sometimes that may cause problems.

Selecting keyboard, language etc. is straightforward but some distributions require knowledge of what a mount point is.

Even if the installation procedure seems to fail it may be ok for text mode. The screen set up for X11, the graphical interface has problems with some hardware combinations under some distributions.

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