You need Windows for a program you use for work, your favorite game runs only on Windows or you are a developer that works on some cross-platform project. And of course, you can't even think about giving up your favorite OS. Whatever the reason, you need Windows and a virtual machine won't cut it so all you're left with, if you don't have a spare machine, is dual-boot. I usually recommend against multiple-boot machines, but I can't argue with the fact that here are situations when the idea is very useful. So this is what this article is about: making sure you need a dual-boot system, acknowledging the requirements, making backups if need be and proceed. You are expected to have some experience in installing Windows as well as Linux, at least Ubuntu in this case, and some courage. But first let's make some concepts clear.
We don't want to lie to you: any task that involves advanced partitioning schemes isn't for the faint of heart. But it isn't rocket science either, and we're here to help you. Various operating systems have various partitioning schemes but since the partitioning concepts of the PC are so "smart", there are some things you should know. Every OS that I know of that is installable on the PC requests a primary partition to boot from. Linux is the most flexible in this respect, as you can have its' /boot or / on a logical partition, but I'm not so sure if your BIOS will be able to boot from it. Windows, Solaris and the BSDs absolutely demand primary partitions, with Windows being the most "oppressive" in that respect. So whenever you install a dual-boot system with Windows involved, install it first, as it won't ask you and overwrite the MBR. If you want to dual-boot Linux and BSD or Solaris, install Linux first. Now that we settled this, we will insist you make backups if you have other partitions on the target disk, and you still need them. Our setup will start with a blank drive, and we'll show you how it's done.
Installing Windows 7
As said, you need to install Windows first, and this is more than an advice, and it doesn't apply only to Windows 7 either. We suggest you don't try over-complicated setups, because your chances of having a system actually up and running in decent time are decreasing rapidly that way. Take note that this article is not a step-by-step how-to on installing Windows 7 and/or Ubuntu. We will only refer to the parts that involve partitioning for a successful dual-boot experience. So, when you will get to Windows' partitioning screen, here's a screenshot for you to get an idea:
So, since Windows asks for a minimal primary partition size of more than 12 GB (!) , I gave it that, it auto-created it's system one and left me the rest of the disk empty and blank. After installing finished successfully, I was prepared for the tricky part: installing Linux. No, I'm just kidding, it's as simple as it can be.
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You may consider this article as somewhat of a "part two" of the Command line programs for everyday use in linux article I wrote a few days ago. It's all about going step-by-step to get you, the user, proficient at the command-line and become envy material for your friends. The distribution chosen for this is Ubuntu, but these commands that are about to be exposed will work on any other Linux system you might encounter, and you will be warned when there are exceptions. What you will get is a how-to about how to accomplish various tasks using the command-line. And one of the advantages is that you can use these commands regardless of desktop environment or lack thereof. You are only required to have a minimal Linux knowledge base for this article, so get to your terminals and let's start.
The reasons you might want to go the command-line way can be coercion (your graphics driver started driver decided to stop working all of a sudden) or, better, because you don't want to rely on the distro-specific tools Ubuntu offers. Or you don't have a GUI at all because you want to install Ubuntu server and ... GUIs and servers don't mix that well. You don't want to be in a situation when you're deprived of the graphical UI and you start panicking because you have no idea how to do anything at the command line. This article is here to help you.
Configuring wired and wireless networking
In my experience, that's one of the most common scenarios when the new user starts sweating in front of a terminal: you have to start the system and realize that you have no Internet connection configured. What to do and where to start? The command you're looking for is ifconfig, and of course I recommend reading that manual page. But what you'll read here should suffice to get up and running, unless you have some exotic string-and-tin-can way of connecting to the outside world. First let's see if your network card (we will start with wired networking) is recognized by the system:
# ifconfig -a
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Virtualization packages are means for users to run various operating systems without "bare-metal" hardware - basically, you can run more than one operating system on a single computer without dual-booting or similar approaches. Virtualization software emulates a real machine and "fools" the guest operating system into thinking it's running on a real computer. Besides the more obvious advantages, virtual machines help create a greener and easier to administer computing environment. Looking at the trends in the IT industry, virtualization has seen quite a boom in the last few years, because it fits the concepts of utility computing and/or software as a service. Virtualization can be useful to you if you are an enterprise architect, developer, a home user or basically everything in between. We will begin with a short introduction about virtualization in general, then we will specifically treat VirtualBox and KVM as they seem to be most popular open source full virtualization solutions. You are expected to know your way around Linux systems, how to install a Linux distribution and how to install software on it, although we will show you how to install the two aforementioned virtualization packages on some of the popular Linux distributions.
There are two types of virtualization : one that can run the guest system as-is (as in, unmodified) and another that request a modified kernel on the guest's side in order to run. The first category is named full virtualization, because it emulates a complete hardware environment, the second is named paravirtualization , because it doesn't emulate hardware and hence needs special modifications at guest level, a good example of this type of virtualization being Xen. These are part of a bigger category named hardware virtualization, but there are also other (software, network or storage, amongst others) virtualization types, which we will not detail here. The two pieces of software we will talk about fit into the full virtualization category. Other popular hardware virtualization technologies include QEMU, Bochs, VMware, Parallels, HyperV or OpenVZ.
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Every Linux user, after a while, starts creating a toolbox that he/she takes with him/her everywhere. However, that depends on the task at hand. You might need to install a distribution, you might just need a livecd, doing security-related work or just backup. And so the toolbox gets bigger and bigger, thus becoming less and less convenient. The subject of today's article is NetbootCD. NetbootCD is not a supplement for a live Linux environment, but rather it is designed to help you install multiple Linux distributions using a single multiboot disk as oppose to requirement of 7 Linux installation disks.
In this sense NetbootCD is a CD disk that will allow you to netinstall various distributions by offering you a simple menu so you can choose distro/version and other simple options. From this reason a decent Internet connection is absolute must. You will only need the knowledge to install your distribution of choice, which nowadays is a walk in the park, with simple and easy to use installers present in many Linux distributions. We will show you how to use the NetbootCD and also how to hack it in order to add more distributions to the list, provided you have some scripting knowledge. Actually, you can use the disk also as a basic live Linux distribution, but more on that later.
NetbootCD is based on Tiny Core Linux, so you won't have to get some huge ISO. One can download disk images and put it on a CD. There is also an option to put it on floppies, but that will not be dealt with here, since floppies are error-prone and almost extinct. The above link will guide you, however, should you really want to choose the floppy way. We recommend at least 512 MB of memory, more with Fedora, because the kernel and initrd images of the distros you choose will be downloaded to RAM. Now, let's see what we get with NetbootCD.
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This article here is somewhat related to our previous one, in that it treats the subject of booting and installing Linux using the network, be it local or not. This time we will treat installing Linux without optical, floppy or other removable media, by just using the LAN. You are expected to have at least two computers in your network, and the client will need a NIC and a BIOS capable of using PXE. We will guide you from beginning to end, but some basic networking and Linux configuration knowledge, plus the use of an editor of your choice are required. You will learn what PXE is, how to configure a DHCP server, how to configure a TFTP server so the client can have access to the files, plus lots of interesting things, as usual.
PXE (pronounced "pixie") stands for Preboot eXecution Environment and was introduced by Intel and Systemsoft in 1999. In short, it's a capability most modern network cards and BIOSes have that enables the system to boot from LAN, just like it would boot from hard disk or CD-ROM. The PXE support must be present in the NIC's firmware which, if set up accordingly in the BIOS, will get an IP address from the PXE server and download the necessary boot images. In order for an IP address to be available, the server must offer DHCP. After an IP address is leased, the TFTP server (which can be the same box as the DHCP server) hands out the necessary files to the client, so it can boot them after loading. That's the whole idea, so enough talk, let's get to work, shall we?
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