Installing SuSE 9.3 Pro on a Sata Hard Drive (net install)

Date: 8/11/05


Introduction:

At the time of this writng, SuSE 10 beta is available. However, for the purpose of this article, I set out to install SuSE 9.3 Pro on my new sata drive. I also wanted to see how the network installation would go on my system, so I grabbed the net-install iso image from     .
and burned the image on a cdrw.

    Basic System Specifications;

        Asus A7N8X-E Deluxe Motherboard (nForce chipset with AC97 Audio with dual onboard LAN)
        AMD Sempro 2500+ processor
        Seagate ST1200023A 120 gig ide drive
        Seagate ST340810A 80 gig hard drive
        Western Digital WD25000JD-80H sata drive
        512 mb DDR 2100 RAM
        NVIDIA GeForce 2 MX400 video card
        KDS Rad-5 LCD Monitor
        D-Link DWL-G520 wireless PCI card


Installation:

After booting the cd, I allowed the kernel 2.6.11 to load and navigated through the process, picking "network" as my installation method.

SuSE should pick up your network card without a problem. My nForce onboard nic was easily configured using dhcp.

One of the most frustrating parts of a network instllation, is finding the ip address of a good download site. I have an old favorite mirror, ftp://mirror.mcs.anl.org, which fares well for those with DSL or a broadband connection. The actual ip address for the site is 140.221.37.133. The SuSE net installation will ask you for this.

You can search for the ip address of your chosen mirror, by going to http://www.network-tools.com from either Linux or Windows. Type in the site name (in my case mirror.mcs.anl.org) and it will return an ip address. In my case, 140.221.37.133. Say "no to a proxy server or logging in other than anonymous, unless you know otherwise. SuSE willmake this site your default download location for yast, once the system is running.

Once SuSE loads the initial setup screen (this can take a while), take note of a few things. You can choose (to some extent) what packages are installed. SuSE will also propose a partitioning and mounting scheme for your system. This includes any empty space on your sata drive! The typical installation will use ~ 2.1 gigs of space.

I had already prepared a parttiion for my SuSE installation. If this is the case, click the partitioning title. When presented with the partitioning options during the installation, choose "custom partitioning setup" then "Custom partitioning for experts." SuSE had no trouble seeing my sata drive.

Since I had a partition that i wanted to install to, I highlighted it, picked the edit button to designate the partition as my root filesystem (/) and allowed SuSE to format it as resierfs.

SuSE will see your sata drive as sdx, with x being the actual number of the partition. Once you have done this, allow the installation to proceed. As the process continues, you can click on the "details" tab to actually see what packages are being installed.

Choosing your bootloader: Be careful with this. I already have grub on the MBR of my ide drive. I picked loading grub to a floppy. SuSE proposedto install grub on the MBR of the sata drive. If you already have windows on your system, grub will find it and add a boot option to the grub menu.


Typical installation packages (~2.1 gigabytes);

By default, SuSE installs the follwing helpful packages;

1. Filesystem tools: xfsprogs, reiserfs, jfsutils, ntsprogs, e2fsprogs, parted 1.6.21.

2. Basic GUI: Gnome, KDE 3.4.0, xorg 6.8.2, qt3-3.3.4

3. cd/dvd utilities: cdparanoia, cdrdao 1.1.9, dvd+rw tools, mkisofs 2.0.1, cdrecord 2.0.1,.

4. Multimedia: k3b 0.11.22, kaffeine, xine

5. Graphics: Gimp 2.2.4, acroread 2, Java 1.4.2, Macromedia Flash

6. Web Browsing/e-mail: Konqueror 3.4 and Firefox 1.0.4, k-mail.

7.  Bootloaders: Grub 0.95 and lilo 22.3.4

8. Download Managers: yast, wget

9. Office Suite: Open Office 1.9

10. Networking Tools: Samba 3.0.13, wireless-tools, net-tools.

11. Emulators:  Wine 20050211 (out of date)


Packages not Installed:

1. Most development libraries. For users who plan to install packages by source later on, you will need to use yast to resolve any dependencies.

2. Nvu: My all time favorite web page tool. Yes, yast can install it as an add-on option later on. Open Offcie is the default web page editor onSuSE.

3. Mplayer. this can be installed later on. 

4. QtParted: a utility to create and format partitions. It is not an option to install through Yast using the default download web sites. I have to agree with SuSE. This package, in my opinion, is not totally stable, but useful to some.

5. Wine20050711: The latest version. This can be installed by downloading it from Wine hq and clicking on the downloaded file in konqueror to invoke yast to update.


Conclusions:

    Pros:

        1. Very stable and responsive on sata drives.

        2. Improved hardware detection and configuration utilities.

        3. Improved Yast interface with easy installation of SuSE RPM packages.

        4. Excellent default basic package installation choices.


    Cons:

        1. Funky networking setup that was confused by my onboard NIC devices and wireless card, even though the wireless card was seen.

        2. The lack of some basic development packages installed by default. This always confuses new users who try to install packages outside of Yast.