Preparing to Install Chakra

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Pack Your Bags!

By now you're probably just dying to get started on your Chakra Linux adventure. But hold on: there's a few things we have to get together first! This chapter is all about packing a bag for our journey.

The Machine

The first thing we have to do is find something to install Linux on. There are several options that you can try:

Virtual Machine

You can run another operating system inside of your present one by installing it as a virtual machine, which is a way to run one operating system (the guest) inside of another (the host). Virtual machines are my favorite way to try out new operating systems if I don't have a spare computer handy. A popular and open source virtual machine program called Virtualbox is recommended. You can get Virtualbox for Windows, Mac, or Linux hosts. Please read VirtualBox for help with installing Chakra in VirtualBox.

Dual-Boot on a Single Hard Drive

Lots of people who just want to take Linux for a test-drive do it with a dual-boot. You install Linux on the same hard drive that your Windows or Mac OS is already installed on and then you can choose between them at boot time. If you're going to go this route you'll have to shrink the partition that the present OS is sitting on.

Note: It is highly recommended to shrink the partition on your hard drive before you boot into the LiveMedia! This will help you avoid any difficulties that may arise when you are at the partitioning step during installation.

If you're running Window XP or later, there's a built-in tool called Disk Management that'll do the job (see 3rd party tutorial for Windows). On OS X 10.5 (Leopard) or later, the Disk Utility will also do the job (see 3rd party tutorial for OS X).

On Windows, it's advisable to defragment your hard drive first.

Dual-Boot with a Separate Hard Drive

If you're going to dual-boot I think you're much better off with a separate hard drive, if you happen to have one. If you don't, go down to your local computer store and see what they have lying around used. There's a store near me that sells old 40GB IDE hard drives for $5 a whack... that's a real cheap way to get extra storage space!

Note: It is highly recommended to partition the hard drive that you will be installing Chakra on before you boot into the LiveMedia! This will help you avoid any difficulties that may arise when you are at the partitioning step during installation.

Another Computer

Ideally you'll use a separate box (geek term for computer) to try Linux out. You probably don't want to shell out cash for another computer just to give something a try, and the good news is that you don't have to. Got an old machine gathering dust in the closet? What about that old clunker your neighbor put out at the curb for the recycling man? You don't need much. An old Pentium 4 machine will do quite nicely. Just make sure it meets the system requirements. Linux makes very efficient use of hardware and will run well on very little.

Check your Gear

Before going any further take inventory of your hardware. What's your processor architecture? What video card and sound card do you have? What about ethernet? Do you have a wireless card? If so, what make and model is it? I'd do this before installing any operating system that didn't come with the computer, including a different version of Windows. That way if you wind up with hardware support issues you'll know what you've got and can go looking for drivers without having to tear your computer apart. You probably won't have any trouble; most major hardware is supported in the Linux kernel and more stuff is being added all the time. Check out this great resource for more details.

Dual-Booters Prep Your Hard Drives!

If you haven't done it yet, go ahead and shrink down your Windows or Mac partition so you have some room for a Linux installation. I recommend at least 20GB. See Installing_Chakra#Partitioning_Schemes for considerations on sizing this partition, in particular regarding room for pacman cache growth.

Obviously if you're going to be putting a lot of pictures or music or videos on your hard drive you'll need a lot more. If you're serious about transitioning away from Windows, try to give yourself enough room to duplicate everything you're used to doing in your Windows or Mac environment. Oh, and one more thing: back up your files on the Windows/Mac partition. Most dual-boots work just fine, but they have occasionally been known to blow up an existing installation. This is why I don't really recommend dual-booting with a single hard drive.

Get Your OS

You have to get your software before you can install it. Most distros of Linux are 100% free to download and install, and download instructions are available on their websites.

Getting Chakra

To download Chakra go here.

Please, check if your processor's architecture has 64 bit support. Run this command in the terminal or command line prompt:

In a Linux environment:

cat /proc/cpuinfo

Looking for Long Mode (lm) in the flags line, will show if the system is ready for x86_64.

In a Windows environment:

wmic OS get OSArchitecture

In an OS X environment:

uname -m

If you have a 32bit computer, you cannot install Chakra. If you indeed do have a 64bit computer, download the "x86_64" ISO file. If you would like to download Chakra using a torrent, you may click the "BitTorrent Download" link.

There may also be additional files available for this release of Chakra, though as this is a beginner's guide, I will not get into them. KISS ;) You may also read the release notes if you are interested in knowing what we changed in this new release of Chakra as well as what the system requirements are, and if there are any known issues.

Burn Baby, Burn

What exactly is an iso file? It's a complete image of a CD or DVD saved as one file and stored on your hard drive.

If you plan to install Chakra on your computer (as opposed to a virtual machine), you need to put the Chakra iso file onto a USB stick or CD/DVD. Check out the instructions on the Bootable_Medium_Creation Chakra Wiki page to create a reliable medium.

If you are planning to install Chakra on a virtual machine, you do not need to do this since virtual machine's can read an iso file as if they were actually a real CD or DVD.

LiveCD/LiveDVD

With a LiveCD or a LiveDVD, you can actually try out Chakra without actually having to install it. The whole thing just boots up and runs straight from the CD/DVD; the downside is that performance is kinda sluggish since your CD/DVD has to spin up every time you do something. Luckily, LiveCD's/LiveDVD's are only meant to give you a quick look at Chakra and captivate you by its beauty ;)

Of course once you are captivated by Chakra, you can use the LiveCD/LiveDVD to install Chakra on your computer since it comes with Tribe, our installer.

Bootable Flash Stick

You can also use a USB flash stick instead of a CD or DVD as bootable media. There is no performance impact with a USB stick since there is no disk that needs spin.

Virtual Machine

If you're going to install Chakra in a virtual machine, all you have to do is choose the .iso file as your boot medium when you first start the virtual machine. (Remember to deselect the .iso file as your boot medium after the installation or you will boot back into the LiveMedia)

Time to Install!

Our bag is packed. Now the journey begins. In the next chapter you'll install your new operating system.

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