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Building 'Nefarious' - Part 2: Install
Part 1 :: Part 2 :: Part 3

This is the second part of a three part article on building 'Nefarious', a AMD Athlon 64 box running Mandrake Linux 9.2 AMD64. I stated in the first part, that I would be using Beta 3 of the Mandrake 9.2 AMD build. As it always happens, mere seconds after I had finished documenting the install of Beta 3, RC1 was released. I re-installed with RC1, but since there where no major differences between Beta 3 and RC1, you will see Beta 3 screenshots sprinkled amount the RC1 shots.

Anywho, on to the installation.


I started by downloading all three ISOs of Mandrake 9.2 AMD64 RC1 and burn them with K3b. If you haven't used K3b yet, do so. Next, I checked the BIOS to make sure it booted from the CD. The K8V allows me to choose which CD/DVD is 'primary', so I switched the DVD player to primary and dropped the CD in.

I was greeted quite quickly with the standard Mandrake install splash screen, with an addition of the AMD64 logo in the bottom corner. Since I need all the spare time I can get, I pressed 'Enter' to install. The kernel started loading...

...and then promptly panicked. Rated on a scale of 1 to 10 of things that I was anticipating going wrong, this was an 11 (The numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven...). Fortunately, the panic gave me enough info to determine that it was USB that was causing the problem. I unplugged the mouse and keyboard, fit the USB-PS/2 adapter on, plugged them in to the PS/2 ports and started again.

Now that we're back on track, the install is pretty much like a regular 9.2 install. Since 9.2 hasn't hit the general public, I'll step through the install and note the differences where they come up. As I've already stated, the occasional Beta 3 screenshot will pop up where there was no difference between Beta 3 and RC1.

The first thing we are presented with is the language selection. The advanced tab offers us the choice of installing multiple languages. Since I'm a unilingual kind of guy, I'll only be setting up one language. Canadian spelling usually defaults to the British style, but the keyboard layout is 'American', so I opt for 'English (American)'. The license agreement pops up next and I, of course, read every word of it, consult legal council, and then accept the license.

Mouse configuration is next. Since I'm planning on getting my the mouse working with USB after the install, I select a standard PS/2 mouse to continue with the installation. I'm behind a firewall, so I selecting a standard security setting should be sufficient for now.

Moving on to disk partitioning, I go with Custom disk partitioning so I can set it up for my particular needs (Maxtor 120Gig SATA Drive as a 'plain' SATA, not RAID - at this point, the Promise Controller does not support SATA RAID on Mandrake Linux). I've partitioned it out so there is a separate partition for /, /usr, /var, /home, /tmp and a swap partition. I set up all partitions for XFS. (Normally I would leave '/' as ext3 in case I need to recover the system from a floppy, but I don't have a floppy drive, and I can use the Mandrake Install CD to recover). I highly recommend that at the very least, you create a separate partition for /home. If you ever really mess up your system, you can always do a complete reinstall, and choose not to format your /home partition, leaving all of your personal data intact.

I've also left some freespace at the end of the drive, which I'll be using to test other distributions and OSs on the AMD64.

Package selection is fairly standard, selecting most of the desktop orientated stuff and KDE (Nothing against GNOME, I'm just a KDE kinda guy). I tried to deselect a few options, but it appears that RC1 had difficulty deselecting packages - it worked fine in Beta 3, so it should be a quick resolution. The only irksome thing here for me is Webmin. Although I recommend it to many people, I have no need for it, but I can't find it in the Individual package selection area. The services page gives me the option not to start it by default, but if I had choose other services, it would appear to be a 'all or nothing' choice (individual service enable/disable is offered later in the install). Once I'm done with the package selection, the install continues. I didn't wait around to see if there where any ads in the install process, by this time I was running low on coffee.

The next section is where you enter the name of your cat, and add a 1 to it. The advanced option will let you choose from either local or networked authentication. I add my user account next (advanced option lets you select your shell), and I opt not to autologin.

Next is the bootloader install. This was a smart move on Mandrakes part. By putting the bootloader before the X configuration, we're insured that we will be able to boot back into Linux if something goes wrong. Next we are presented with the configuration menu. I reset the Country and Timezone, and have the system sync its time with ntpd.

I had to do a bit of tinkering with the monitor and resolutions to get them to display something satisfactory (for me). In the end I selected Flat Panel 1280x1024 with the same resolution. This produced a very crisp output.

Although I had already looked up the card, I was quite happy that it detected and configured the 3Com 1Gig card without hesitation.

Moving on, I disable the services that I will not be using, and make a note to myself to remove them after reboot. Once again, Webmin is nowhere to be seen. It's kinda starting to freak me out. Being RC1, we can skip the offer to update packages.

The final screen congratulates us on a job well done, and gives us the option of saving our package selection, or generating an install floppy. Since both options use a floppy, I opt to reboot.

Upon reboot, we get a clean interface showing us the progression of the boot process. I stab for the ESC key so I can see whats going on. As it turns out, not much. Everything appears to be 'OK', with no failures. I did discover later on that the 'quiet' boot will switch to verbose mode if it encounters an error. Up comes the login screen (mdkkdm).

After our first login, 'drakfirsttime' runs, to allow us to configure which desktop/mail client we are going to use and asks us to fill out a short questionnaire. 'drakfirsttime' is optional, and you can quit the wizard at any time. I butchered the pictures of drakfirsttime*, so instead, you get a picture of my cat**. Once drakfirsttime is done, the welcome screen comes up, offering us the great riches of all things Mandrake. Before I do anything else, I 'correct' the layout of kicker.

* I could have ran drakfirsttime manually, and provided screenshots, but I'm seriously lazy.
** If you guess his name, and append a 1, you've got root! I've popped open Mandrake Control Center, and selected Harddrake to check out the system. Everything appears to have been detected correctly (8 USB ports, and a non-functioning USB subsystem.....), and it is _very_ responsive.

I have to flip the switch on the Altec-Lansing speakers to '2/4 Channel' from '6 Channel' to get the center and rear speakers to work. The sound breaks up occasionally, and since I plan on completing this series using this box, I have to have tunes. I edit '/etc/modules.conf' and add 'options snd-via82xx index=0 dxs_support=2'

[pasnak@nefarious pasnak]$ cat /etc/modules.conf
alias eth0 sk98lin
alias sound-slot-0 snd-via82xx
probeall usb-interface usb-uhci ehci-hcd
above snd-via82xx snd-pcm-oss
options snd-via82xx index=0 dxs_support=2
alias ieee1394-controller ohci1394
probeall scsi_hostadapter sata_promise sata_via ide-scsi
alias /dev/nvidia* nvidia

This clears up the sound problem, but alsactl is reporting errors:
Nov 8 06:52:46 nefarious alsactl: /usr/sbin/alsactl: set_control:805: warning: name mismatch (Input Source Select/IEC958 Output Switch) for control #38
Nov 8 06:52:46 nefarious alsactl: /usr/sbin/alsactl: set_control:807: warning: index mismatch (1/0) for control #38
Nov 8 06:52:46 nefarious alsactl: /usr/sbin/alsactl: set_control:892: bad control.38.value type
Nov 8 06:52:46 nefarious sound: Loading mixer settings failed
Running 'alsamixer' and then '/usr/sbin/alsactl store' clears up the error messages. I'm not overly impressed with the sound quality, and may end up trying an SoundBlaster Audigy.

I ran a few apps to make sure everything was working:

Now that the OS is installed - for the most part functioning - and the hardware has been all detected, I can close everything up and move it into the office.

Besides the issue with USB, the install went smoothly. There is still an issue with the Promise Controller, but since I'm not using RAID, it's not an issue for me. Following some advice on the cooker-amd mailing list, I attempted to disable USB2.0 to get my devices up, but when I did this, no USB devices would work. However, if I left USB2.0 enabled, and plugged a USB device in after boot, it would work. Weird.

That wraps up the install portion. Next, I'll be working on customization and benchmarking. This will include the NVidia driver installation, configuring DVI, testing the DVD burner and some benchmarks (hdparm, oggenc, kernel recompile, and whatever else I can think of). If I get time, I'll also recompile some PLF apps for AMD64.

Part 1 :: Part 2 :: Part 3

Last Updated Wednesday, April 21 2004 @ 09:21 AM CST; 36,353 Hits View Printable Version

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J.P. Pasnak
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