Slackware Linux Help
First, a little help on help. Whenever you encounter a text
viewer like this during the installation, you can move around
with these commands:
PGDN/SPACE - Move down one page
PGUP/'b' - Move up one page
ENTER/DOWN/'j' - Move down one line
UP/'k' - Move up one line
LEFT/'h' - Scroll left
RIGHT/'l' - Scroll right
'0' - Move to beginning of line
HOME/'g' - Move to beginning of file
END/'G' - Move to end of file
'/' - Forward search
'?' - Backward search
'n' - Repeat last search (forward)
Also, you're running a real multitasking operating system now, so
you're not confined to the installation program. You can log into
other consoles and look around at any time without disturbing the
installation process. To do this, you need to learn the commands
that control the Linux console. You'll use these commands all the
time when you're logged into Linux.
"Virtual" consoles and scrollback:
Right now, the screen you're looking at is probably VIRTUAL CONSOLE
NUMBER ONE, (or /dev/tty1 in Linux-speak). There are usually
several virtual consoles available. When you log into the install
disk, there are four consoles. To switch among them, use Alt-F1,
Alt-F2, Alt-F3, or Alt-F4 to select which of the four consoles you
wish to use. While you're using a console, you get a small amount
of text scrollback buffer. To scroll the console back, hold down
the right shift key and hit PageUp. To scroll the console forward,
hit PageDown while holding the right shift key down. This can be
especially useful for reading the boot messages, which can go by
too fast to read otherwise.
On the install disk, the first three consoles are login consoles.
The fourth console is used to show informational messages during
installation, such as disk formatting status, kernel messages, and
A useful trick is to log into the second virtual console during the
installation. Then you can use commands such as 'df' to check how
full your hard drive is getting. Also, once the Slackware CD-ROM
has been mounted on /cdrom, most of the commands in the disc's live
filesystem will be usable.
PARTITIONING YOUR DRIVE (MBR SYSTEMS)
If you have a newer machine that uses GPT (all UEFI machines do),
or you wish to use GPT, skip to the section below on GPT PARTITIONING.
Now lets take a look at how you progress through a typical Linux
installation with the Slackware distribution. First, you'll have
to make sure your hard drive has been partitioned to accept Linux.
The setup program does not do this for you.
You will need at least one type Linux partition, and optionally a
swap partition. In my opinion, (if you have a fair amount of drive
space) it's easiest to manage a system that's partitioned along these
lines (ignoring any Windows or other partitions for the purposes
of this illustration):
[ 8 gig or more for / ]
[ whatever space users need for /home ]
[ swap space (match the size of your RAM) ]
Some people like a separate partition for /usr/local, but I find that
I usually regret dividing my free space when I don't have to... the
partition I want to add to is always full that way. :^) Besides, when
the time comes for an operating system upgrade you can always back up
/usr/local regardless of whether it occupies its own partition. In
fact, having a separate /home partition is also optional. Probably the
simplest way to approach things initially is with just a single root
Linux partition, and a swap partition of about 1-2 gigabytes.
The amount of drive space you'll want to give Linux depends on what
software you plan to install, and how much space you have to spare.
My primary Linux partition is 23 gigabytes. If you've got that
kind of room to spare, it will make it easier to compile and try out
large pieces of software, or to work with large files such as might be
used in desktop publishing or CD-ROM mastering applications.
The entire Slackware system (everything - all the X servers, Emacs,
the works) will use about 8 gigabytes of hard drive space,
so 10 - 15 gigs is sufficient for a complete installation.
In the past, I've actually done development work on a single /
partition of 110 MB. (Of course, that was back in the days of Linux
version 0.99p11 or so...) Still, with careful selection you can still
squeeze a small Linux system onto a system, but this is not recommended
for beginners. It's more useful when utilizing Slackware as a base for
an embedded system. Most people should be going a full installation.
It's faster and easier, and less error-prone.
Partitioning is done with a partitioning tool such as fdisk. There are
two versions of Linux fdisk available now. 'fdisk' is the standard
version, and 'cfdisk' is a friendlier full screen version. Most
people will probably want to use 'cfdisk' now, unless they're used
to the older version (like me). Either one will get the job done.
Make sure you use Linux fdisk to tag partitions as type 83 (Linux, the
default) or type 82 (Linux swap) so the Slackware setup program will
recognize them. Use the 't' command for that, and 'w' to write out the
If you prefer an easy to use graphical partitioning tool, you can make
all your Linux partitions directly from Linux 'cfdisk'. Or you can
make them with the older 'fdisk' using the 'n' command to create a
partition and the 'w' command to write out the changes when you're done.
By default, 'fdisk' and 'cfdisk' will partition the first hard drive in
your machine, which is /dev/sda. To partition other drives, you'll
have to specify the drive to partition when you start 'cfdisk'. For
example, to partition the second IDE drive:
# cfdisk /dev/sdb
If your machine doesn't have much memory, you might have already
learned how to activate a swap partition just to make it this far.
Normally you won't need to format or activate your swap space by
hand, but if you're installing on a machine with low memory you will
need to format and activate a swap partition to be able to install.
Once you've made the partition with fdisk, you need to use 'mkswap'
on it, and then activate it with 'swapon'. Checking the partition
table with 'fdisk -l', we see these lines:
Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
/dev/sda8 16650 16898 2000061 82 Linux swap
So, the command to format would be:
# mkswap /dev/sda8
And to activate it:
# swapon /dev/sda8
If you have a Windows partition that you'd like to keep and need to make
free space for Linux, boot the machine into Windows. Move the mouse into
the upper right corner, and select the search function (magnifying glass
icon). Enter diskmgmt.msc to start up the Disk Management tool. The disk
partitions will be displayed as a bar chart at the bottom of the window.
Mouse over the main Windows partition (probably the largest NTFS partition)
and right click to bring up a menu. Select "Shrink Volume..." from this
menu. Shrink the partition to make enough free space for Slackware's root,
swap, and other partitions.
NOTE: Rather than creating true free space, this resizing operation may
leave the extra space in the form of a generic (but allocated) partition.
Take note of the size of the "free space". When it comes time to partition
on Linux, you may need to delete this partition to make actual free space
before you can install.
If you are installing to a machine that has Windows installed, then you'll
already have an EFI System Partition (this is used to store boot files on
machines that use UEFI). To check this, you can use gdisk. We'll assume
that you'll be installing to /dev/sda. If you'll be installing to some other
device, use that in the command below.
gdisk -l /dev/sda
If you see a partition with Code EF00 listed, then you are good to go.
If not, you will need to make one. To do that, use cgdisk:
Select the free space from the menu using the up/down keys, and then select
"New" to make a new partition. Hit ENTER to accept the first sector. Then
enter 100M as the partition size. Give the new partition a hex code of EF00.
You make give the partition a name (such as "EFI System Partition"), or just
hit ENTER to use no name. A name is not required.
At this point, you've got a GPT disk with an EFI System partition (with or
without Windows). The next step is to make the partitions for Linux. If
you're not already in cgdisk, start that up with "cgdisk /dev/sda" (or
whatever your install device is). Start by making a swap partition. A
good rule of thumb is to make the swap partition equal to the amount of RAM
in your machine. So, select the free space again, and then "New". Again,
hit ENTER to accept the default first sector for the new partition. Then,
enter an appropriate size, such as 2G. Enter the hex code for Linux swap,
which is 8200. Give the partition a name if you like.
Make your root Linux partition (optionally if you leave some space you can make
any additional Linux partitions that you'll need). Select the free space, and
"New". Accept the default first sector by hitting ENTER. To make the
partition use the rest of the disk space, just hit ENTER again when asked for
a size. Or, you may choose a smaller size if you're planning to make more
Linux partitions. Hit ENTER to accept the default hex code, which is for a
Linux filesystem. Name the partition (if you like), or hit ENTER again.
If you have any more free space and partitions to make, now is the time to
When you're done, select "Write" to write the partition table changes to the
disk (verify by typing "yes" when prompted), hit a key to continue, and then
select "Quit" to leave cgdisk.
RUNNING THE SETUP PROGRAM
Setup has quite a few options, which can be slightly confusing the
first time you look at the menu. It's not really that hard, though.
You just need to start at the top of the screen and work towards
the bottom through the menu options. When I install, I usually do
these options in order:
ADDSWAP (set up my swapspace)
TARGET (set up my Linux/Windows partitions and /etc/fstab)
SOURCE (select the source location for the Slackware Linux
SELECT (pick the package categories to install)
INSTALL (install the software, generally with "full")
CONFIGURE (configure the newly installed system)
Note that after I select the SWAP option, setup will allow me to
run through all of the other options without ever returning to the
I hope that these options will be mostly self-explanatory. Just read
the screen carefully as you install and you should do just fine.
REMAPPING YOUR KEYBOARD:
KEYMAP: This option lets you remap your keyboard to one of the many
international maps provided with Linux. If you are using a US
keyboard, you can skip this option.
...WHEN YOU'RE DONE:
EXIT: This leaves Slackware Linux setup.
Have fun installing and running Linux!