A step-by-step guide to installing Mandrake 8.2

Mandrake 8.2 is friendly to Linux newbies. Here's how to install it on your PC.

(LinuxWorld) -- About two weeks ago, I decided to go ahead and burn myself a copy of the current version of Mandrake Linux. Mandrake reached version 8.2, and I heard good words about the newest Linux distribution. I was curious how well the new version integrates into my life at the office. Let's go ahead and try it.

First, we need to download the ISO images of Mandrake Linux. (If you don't have a CD burner or a buddy with a burner, consider buying a copy of the software at the Linux Mandrake Web site.) These images are found at Mandrake's Web site -- To find the ISO images, you navigate to the "download" section. This will bring you to a page asking you to register with the "Mandrake Linux Users Club." If you want to be in a club, I suggest you sign up. I don't want join the club, so I scroll all the way to the bottom of the page and click the "Send me to the download page" link.

Eureka! Here we find mirrors. Click the "Download Mandrake 8.2/i586 ISO Image" link. This will drop you down to the actual mirror URLs. I like the "Virginia" mirror for no particular reason. Click on the mirror of your choice, and download the ISO images. Version 8.2 consists of three images, and I suggest you download them all. At the very least, you get the first and second image.

Warning! These ISO images are big -- each totals 600+ megabytes in size. If you connect to the Internet with a modem, I suggest you rent some movies (Scarface or The Godfather trilogy are good suggestions) and prepare to wait. If you are at work, it might be a good idea to download these files after normal business hours. In my office, I am hassled for downloading large files, and for good reason. Even with a T-1 connection, these downloads can take nearly two hours each -- during which your firm's Internet access may be lethargic because of your heavy bandwidth use.

Let's burn one

Do you know how to burn a CD image? If you are currently using Windows, it probably won't be too hard for you to figure it out. When I make CD's with Windows, I prefer to use Nero. Nero is CD-burning software. Nero installs in a flash, and is easy to use. If you are using Linux or Unix, you can use xcdroast or just use cdrecord at the command line. has linked to a great "how-to" for CD-burning. This how-to document takes you through three simple steps to burn a CD successfully.

  1. Scan the bus
  2. Open a terminal and type: cdrecord -scanbus This will tell you which SCSI device your CD-writer is attached to. The device number will actually be a series of three numbers separated by commas. My CD-burner is 0,0,0

    "Wait! I have an IDE CD-burner, what about me?" Well my friend, you need to set up SCSI emulation for your CD-burner to work. Spend a few minutes searching and Google for more information on this subject.

  3. Tab A into Slot B
  4. Insert a blank CD into the CD-burner.

  5. Type some gibberish
  6. We are going to pretend that you saved the first install image to /home/nick/install.iso

    That being said, type: cdrecord -v speed=8 dev=0,0,0 -data /home/nick/install.iso

    • -v is for verbose
    • speed is the speed of your CD-burner; my CD-burner works at 8x.
    • dev is the three numbers separated by commas that we procured from step 1 "Scan the bus."
    • data means we are burning data (as opposed to, say, dinner).
    • /home/nick/install.iso is, of course, the image file we downloaded.

There you go. Repeat this process with all three Mandrake installation images.

After you burn and label your CDs, you should back-up your data. If you are like me and have nothing to back-up, our next step is installation.


Power-down your machine by yanking the power cord out of the wall. (Go ahead, you've always wanted to do it.) After rebooting, enter the BIOS setup and be sure your computer is set to boot from the CD-ROM drive. Save your changes to the BIOS, if any, and exit the setup. Place the first installation disk in the CD-ROM drive. Yank the power cord again and reboot.

The first screen that appears gives you a few options. You can start the install in normal graphical mode, or you can press the F1 key to view other options. These other options consist of a text-mode install, a low-resolution graphical install, the standard graphical install, an expert-mode install, and rescue mode. You also have the option to pass options to the kernel. We are going to skip all of this. Just press enter

The Mandrake Installer is set up to ask you (the user) a bunch of questions. Based on your answers, the installer puts everything together and readies it for use.

  • The first question asks what language you want to use. I like English, and it is the default. Make your choice and click Ok
  • Read the License Agreement. If you agree, click Accept If you do not agree, well, bummer. Click Refuse Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.
  • You are asked two questions. No. 1: Are you an expert, or do you want to continue with the "Recommended" installation? I suggest you leave the default "Recommended" selected. No. 2: Is this an install or an upgrade? This is an install, so click Install
  • It's time to deal with the disk(s). No. We need to configure the disk(s). So, the Mandrake installer wants to know if -- A: You want to use existing partitions on the disk, B: You want to ERASE the entire disk, or C: You wish to participate in custom, or manual disk partitioning.

The best thing to do is actually learn how to partition disks -- what is needed, what is not needed, and how much of what is needed to use. All of this information is available online at various Web sites, some are below in Resources. You can locate similar documents searching Google's secret Linux collection. (See Resources below for this URL.)

Today we assume that I know absolutely nothing about partitioning a disk. I am going to select Erase entire disk.

All of your data is about to disappear.

You backed up, right?

ALL existing partitions and their data will be lost on drive hda.

Click Ok

When you click Ok the Installer begins creating partitions immediately. The Mandrake Installer looks at your disk, decides what partitions you need, and creates them on it's own. If you had chosen custom partitioning, this task would have been left to you.


Now that the disk has been readied for Mandrake Linux, it is time to select software for the system. Mandrake comes with a whole slough of programs and software. Here, we find ourselves with a screen offering some different categories of software. We also have the option at the bottom of the screen to go through with individual package selection. If you know exactly what Mandrake offers, and exactly what you need/want, go ahead and check the Individual package selection box.

I will not do that. I don't want to go through 3,056 packages. I will, however, put a check next to: Office Workstation, Game station, Multimedia station, Internet station, Network Computer (client), Configuration, Console Tools, Documentation, Web/FTP, Mail/Groupware/News, Firewall/Router, KDE Workstation, Gnome Workstation, and finally Other Graphical Desktops.

This will not install everything in every one of these groups; rather it will install the default packages for each of these groups. If you find that you need any other packages, you will be able to install them later.

Now you can sit back, read the presentation shown during the installation, and get ready to use one of the coolest Linux distributions available today.

Post-installation setup

Wow. This has been painless, and it will continue to be so. The folks at Mandrake did a great job creating a simple, user-friendly installation. Now that the file-copying is complete, we can whiz right on through the rest of the installation process, and get our new Mandrake box booted up.

  • Immediately following the file-copying process, you are asked to enter the root password. I suggest you use both upper- and lower-case letters. I suggest you slap a number or two in there. The more obscure your root password is, the harder it is for some schmuck to crack your machine. In a perfect world, we wouldn't need to worry about this, but alas the world is not perfect, and there are too many schmucks out there.
  • After giving the root password, you are given the option to add a user account. Add at least one user account. Generally, it is not advisable to use the root account for normal computing sessions. The possibility of creating problems with your system is too great. You can always su root whenever you need to make changes to the system.

You are almost done.

  • Mandrake Install has a Network Configuration Wizard. Remember all those Wizards from Windows? Well, Mandrake has finally broken down and made its own Wizard. This Wizard is great. If you have DSL, the Network Configuration Wizard will work it out. Dial-up? No problem. Just make sure the Use auto detection box is checked, and click Ok

    Network Configuration Wizard will detect all of your network connections and give you the option to configure them all. If for some reason it does not detect some hardware, you can go ahead and configure it manually. For more on manual network configurations, see

  • The Wizard detected my network card. Click Ok
  • Go ahead and type in your static IP address. If your IP address is set up using DHCP, leave the "IP address" field blank. Instead, you will check the "bootp/dhcp" box. Click Ok
  • Now you need to name your computer. My computer's name is Lucy (after my cat). Click Ok

Some networking files will be copied; networking is complete.

Mandrake Installer now shows you a summary of some system defaults. It shows a PS/2 mouse, a US keyboard, my time zone (defaulted to America/New_York), and my printer definitions (none). This summary also shows the soundcard -- which Mandrake auto-detected!

You can click on each of these summary items to change it. I will change my time zone and printer. I will also change my mouse.

  • I live in San Francisco so I select the Los Angeles time zone.
  • I print to a Windows printer so I go through and set that up. The Mandrake Installer takes me through the process quite easily and painlessly.
  • I have a PS/2 scrolling mouse so, I select PS/2 scrolling mouse and click Ok

Become an X man or X woman

The Mandrake XF86 setup is straightforward. You don't have to do anything. It doesn't ask, it just does. All of a sudden, there is an X server and a penguin in front of you. Is this the correct setting? Click Yes

That's it for X Window System.

Finally, the installation program gives you the opportunity to download some new packages. I always say No I would rather do anything like that on my own after the system is installed and running.


Now you can exit the installation program, remove your CDs, and reboot the system. Easier than Windows, right?

During the boot process, you will see a clean little bootloader come up. Choose Linux and press enter. This will boot the new Mandrake Linux system. By default, Mandrake starts with a graphical boot and login. If you wish, you can change this in a minute. Go ahead and log in. I suggest you do not use the root account. Log in with the other account you created during the installation.

When you click Ok, another wizard is going to attack. This wizard is called the "First Time Wizard". Go ahead and read along with the dialogues, and follow the instructions.

  • Choose your preferred desktop environment. I like Gnome.
  • Next, you are asked to put in some personal information. Type away.
  • After the personal info, you can enter all the info for your e-mail configuration. If you need help, see your systems administrator, or call your ISP/e-mail provider.
  • The last part of the First Time Wizard is a dialogue that asks you to register and create a user account with Mandrake. Go ahead -- be nice -- enter a login and password, then click the appropriate button.
  • Lastly, click Finish Your desktop session will start up, and you are ready to do some hard-core computing.

Configuration changes

Undoubtedly, you will want/need to change some things based on your current situation. Most every configuration option can be accessed through the Mandrake Control Center. There should be an icon on your desktop. Mandrake Control Center can also be accessed via the main menu (Main Menu--->Configuration--->Other--->Mandrake Control Center).

The Mandrake Control Center requires the root password before access. Supply the password, and configure away. The Control Center slightly resembles the Control Panel in Windows. Just browse through and peruse your different options.

As far as software is concerned, everything is available in the Main Menu. This Menu is located at the bottom left, just like Windows. Browse through the menus to find your Web browsers, e-mail clients, newsreaders, and so on.


You are now one of the many cool new Mandrake Linux users.

More Stories By Nick Davis

Nick Davis is an and editor.

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Most Recent Comments
Avery J. Parker 02/24/04 03:26:58 PM EST

Most distributions (including Mandrake) have a directory on their boot cd that contains "images". These images are for making a boot disk which can then be used to boot. (Usually rawrite is included (a windows utility to write the image to floppy)). Some of the boot images are cdrom.img (to boot the installer from cdrom if the system can't via bios...) network.img *(to install from nfs/ftp/http) pcmcia.img (if your laptop requires pcmcia before recognizing a network card or cd-drive)/etc.

In other words, browse the cd under your file manager and read the any README's in the images folder, that should give you a good start. Along with more detailed instructions on using rawrite (under windows) or dd (under unix/linux) to write the image to floppy.

james fondren 12/05/03 07:47:34 PM EST

i dumpstered an old computer with factory installed win95 the unit has a cd-rom, however, the bios wont allow me to config the boot sequence to the cd. so i would like to know if there is an alternative method for installing mandrake. perhaps there is a way to config the boot sequence and then follow the instructions from this article. please help me or direct me to a source for the help that i need. otherwise the article is concise and anybody in the world should be able to find success following these directions!
thanks sincerely,
james fondren