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Welcome to the article where I shine the rays of the open source movement unto the unbelievers. that was a mouthful, what I meant is that I can imagine many of my readers are still lurking in the dark lands of closed source, chained to their software by the proprietary formats they have been using. They heard about open-source, yet they have no idea why would they make the switch. Worse yet, many IT managers and consultants shy away from the idea. The primary reason being that they either have very little information about the open-source movement, or they have misconceptions about the current status of Gnu/Linux systems. In this article I will demonstrate how to install a Gnu/Linux system (more commonly known as just 'Linux'), right inside your current Windows operating system! I believe this helps many people who are interested, but are afraid to take the plunge and install another full blown operating system. This helps them take a look and interact with Linux, without having to mess a lot with their computers.

During the course of this article we will be using computer hardware virtualization software called VMware. If you've used VMware before, then you can safely skip this paragraph, if not keep reading. VMware is virtualization software that creates a complete virtual PC inside of your running hardware. What that means is that after installing the VMware software, you will have access to a complete virtual PC inside of your running operating system. You can boot this virtual PC, change its BIOS settings to boot from CDROM. Actually boot any operating system from CD, install it, tweak it, and turn it off, all within your actual Windows session! It's hard to imagine and even harder to believe without seeing it for yourself. But if my description made you believe you can install Linux right now, inside of this VMware thing, which is running inside your Windows session. Then you got the basic idea of how this works. During the rest of this article I will be describing in detail how to setup the virtual machine and install Linux inside it.

VMware is a very mature piece of software, made by the knowledgeable folks at www.VMware.com, it used to cost a considerable amount of money, however, they recently decided to offer free (as in zero cost, but not free software) versions of their software. So, head over to www.VMware.com and download the freely available 'VMware server' package. You will find they have a Windows version and a Linux version of their software. If you want to use VMware to install Linux inside of Windows and follow this article, then choose the Windows version. The Linux version of VMware allows you to run the virtualization software itself inside of Linux. This would allow you to have Windows running inside of Linux, or better yet, it would allow you to have one version of Linux running inside another version of Linux. Actually this is how I will be using VMware to complete this demo. I hope it's not too confusing, but it doesn't really matter which operating system VMware is running on, installing Linux inside it, remains the same.

I won't go into details about installing VMware on Windows. Let's just say it installs like any regular piece of software. Also, you will be able to find installation tutorials and manuals should you need them. Assuming you have successfully installed VMware and have the main window now open. The first step to proceed is to create your virtual computer, so go ahead click File -> New Virtual Machine. Follow the Wizard, choose Typical image, this is easier to follow. Custom allows you to hand-tweak the virtual hardware that will be available in your virtual machine. We now need to select the “Guest Operating System”. We will need to choose “Linux”, and in the version drop down menu, choose “Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4”. This chooses the virtual hardware that is best compatible with the virtual hardware created. Now choose a name for your new operating system, and a location to save the files into. I will call mine Fedora5, also note that the files that will be created can easily grow to reach a few gigabytes. So choose to save the virtual machine files on a partition with enough disk space.

The next screen lets you choose the virtual networking options of your new virtual PC. You have four options to choose from, which I will explain right now. The first option “Use bridged networking” means that the new virtual machine will appear on the network as a new and completely separate computer. It will have its own IP address and will be reachable from the outside. This is the most flexible option. The next option “Use network address translation NAT”, this option lets your virtual PC share the same IP address with your physical computer, which in our case will be running windows. This option is useful so that the virtual PC can access the Internet/LAN without consuming an extra IP. This might be handy in a tightly controlled environment. The third option “Use host only networking” installs a private network between the newly created virtual PC and your physical PC. The virtual PC however in this case has no direct access to the Internet/LAN. This option can be useful to share files, or test client/server connections between your physical PC and the virtual one, without giving the virtual machine direct network access. The final option “Do not use a network connection” simply disables network access to the virtual machine. In most cases the first option should be selected, however, please note that adding a new PC on enterprise networks can get you in trouble. So, if you're testing this at work, please take necessary actions, or notify the administrators.

The final screen lets you set the virtual disk options. It's important to understand that the hard-disk that your virtual PC uses is stored on the host (physical computer) as a regular file. On this screen you can setup the size of the virtual disk. You could leave the default 8GB. Split the disk option helps the host operating system manage the large files. I usually un-select the “Allocate all disk space now”, as it wastes a lot of space immediately. Un-selecting this option, conserves disk space, however, it might slow down the virtual machine performance.

DIAGRAM 1

Congratulations, click “Finish”, and you have made yourself a brand new virtual computer. We now need to download the ISO images of the Linux operating system we want to install. You can head over to:

http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Distribution/Download

to download the ISO images of the latest fedora release (now 5). Now, download the ISO images, and save them to your computer. VMware has a feature to use an ISO image as its CD drive. So, in the VMware summary window, double click the CDROM icon (or edit the virtual machine settings) then browse to locate your first ISO image, and select it. Bingo, you are now ready. Click “Power On” on the main VMware window, and watch your virtual machine boot for the first time. You will notice the BIOS boot up screen, and then the computer should start booting from the virtual CD drive, which points to your first fedora ISO image. So, you should be facing the fedora logo on your screen. First timers will have to pick their jaws off the floor. That's it, the highly impatient can simply hit “enter” and follow the on screen installation wizard. You are not installing on your physical computer, so there is nothing to worry about.



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Posted by ROOT Technologies


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