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Mandrake 9.X Install How To. Step by Step

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Mandrake 9.X Install How To

List of steps

1:  Research your hardware for compatibility
2:  Order/Download Mandrake 9.1
3:  Dual booting and preparing windows
4:  Change your BIOS
5:  Installation of Mandrake 9.1 OS
6:  Partitioning
   A: Single Drive system
   B: Two Drive System
7:  Selecting packages to install
8:  Final installation and setup of passwords
9:  Installing the Boot loader
10: Monitor test
11: Reboot

DISCLAIMER: I assume no responsibility for data loss. This is a use at your own risk guide. No exceptions!
Requests: If you notice an error please email me with the info. Please be specific and realize that each system will be a little different depending on hardware and other variables.

This should also work with 9.2.  The only change being the it will ask you what CDs you have.  If you have all three just click next on that screen.  

   Research your hardware for compatibility

You can check your hardware compatibility by going to or  There may be more sites but, these are the two I used.  Another good tool for searching for Linux information is  It is important that you check your hardware, especially video card, modem and components that are built into the motherboard.

You also need to see if you need any patches to get through the install.  Some issues are 1Gb or more of memory, slow to install, and AMD read errors.  You can check for these at .

   Order/Download Mandrake 9.1

You can download or order Mandrake from their website or from or . There are other sites that sell similar to these.  If you can, do support Mandrake either by buying from them or supporting after the install.  There are links on the site.

If you download, you will need to check for errors.  Visit this link for how to test.  You can do this in Windows or Linux.

   Dual booting and preparing windows

If you plan to continue using Windows and Linux, have no fear,  You can install both operating systems either on the same drive or on separate drives with almost no problem. It is always easier to install windows first since it overwrites your master boot record. You have the choice of boot loaders – either grub or lilo. The default is lilo, but a lot more users are starting to use grub. It's up to you.  

If you keep Windows on a single drive installation you must run ‘scandisk and defrag’ (antivirus must be disabled for these steps) before you install Linux.  Make sure that  ‘make programs load faster’ or something to that effect is NOT selected.  This will move the data to the first part of the drive.  When defrag gets finished DO NOT RUN ANY PROGRAMS, GO DIRECTLY TO SHUTDOWN.  This will ensure that the data stays on the first part of the drive.

I recommend about 10Gbs for Linux.  You can get by with less depending on what you plan to install and do with Linux.  I have put it on a 2Gb drive with no problem and some space for data.  Your choice on space.

   Change your BIOS

You need to change a couple of things in your BIOS.  You need to make sure that you have ‘plug n play’ or PnP disabled and that you can boot from your CD drive.  Windows will usually work just fine with it set this way.  It should recognize your hardware just fine.  You will however need to change the boot sequence from CD back to your hard drive after the install.

   Installation of Mandrake 9.1 OS

If you have the rest done it is time to start the installation.  Put the #1 CD in the drive and reboot.

 You need to look and see if you get a message on the screen right after the memory count that says ‘hit any key to boot from CD’ or something to that effect right at the bottom.  A few motherboards require that you confirm booting from CD.  If the system boots from the hard drive, you may have to do a bit of research on how to boot from CD.

You should get a screen with a lot of text scrolling up.  This is good.  You should get a screen that says ‘F1’ to rescue or ‘enter’ to install.  If you need a patch you must hit ‘F1’ and follow the instructions with the patch.  If you have no patches just hit enter.

The next screen will ask what language you want.  Click the language and then ‘next’. The next screen is the license agreement, click accept and next.  The next screen is for the mouse.  Make sure you select the right mouse and port.  If you change the selection you will likely have to test the buttons.  Mine required me to push each button and roll the wheel.  When done click ‘next’ for each screen.  The next screen is for the security level. I always use ‘standard’.  You can leave the password for this blank.  Root will give you all the permissions you need. When you set any passwords always write them down so you don't forget.


Now comes the partitioning part.  DrakX will appear and you will have a few options that may vary with your system.  I suggest you use ‘Custom disk partitioning’.  This will allow you to control the sizing of the partitioning.  This is important if you are dual booting.  If you are not dual booting you can select the appropriate action.

Note, in Linux you must have a root partition and a swap partition at a minimum.  You can have more than that if you want but you must have those. If you only pick a root and swap partition, you must ensure that root is large enough for linux to fit all of its files on it. Usually 4-5GB is more than enough. For easy setup I recommend you have a root partition and the swap partition. (also see  on how to partition) In most cases this will be just as good unless you are running a FTP server or something else requiring more space.

A bit of information about swap.  It is generally recommended that you have twice the amount of system memory, no more than 512MB however.  You can have as much as you want.  The upper limit is 2Gb.  Remember, if you have a small amount of system memory and use swap a lot that it will slow you down.  Linux will run with 128MB, and even less, but 256MB or even 512MB is better.  If you plan to use a program that will need a lot of memory, you need to adjust this to suit your needs, both on system memory and swap.

   Partitioning:  Single drive system

If you have Windows on your system you should have one large partition colored blue. (Resizing can also be done with partition magic 8.)  You will need to resize this partition.  Click the mouse inside the blue part and some options will appear on the left.  You should have the option to resize.  Click resize and a box will come up in the middle of the screen with a slider.  Put the pointer on the slider and move it till you get the size you want.  You can make more precision adjustments with the arrow keys.  You are adjusting the Windows partition not Linux.  Make sure you leave space for your Windows data.  When you are done click ‘OK’.

You should have some that is colored blue and some that is white.  The white is ‘not used’ yet.  Click inside the white space and the options will appear on the left to create a partition.  You can click ‘auto allocate’ at the bottom to let the software do the sizing or click ‘create’ and a box will appear for the sizing, file system type and mount points.

The first partition can be swap.  Click on the slider and move till you have the amount of swap you need.  Select ‘swap’ for the file system.  Remember note above for swap. Click OK.

The second partition needs to be root “/”.  Click in the white space and then click create on the left again.  In the box slide the slider all the way to the right to use the remaining space or the amount of space you want to use.  Make sure there is a “/” in the mount point selection.  The file system I use is “ext3”.  You can use Linux native (ext2) or ReiserFS if you want.  Click OK.

You should now have a blue space on the left, a blue space in the middle and a red space on the right.  If so you should be good to go.  Click ‘Done’.  It will format the new partition and write the table to the drive.

   Partitioning:  Dual drive system

If you have installed a new drive for your Linux, your install may be little easier and less likely to loose data since you will not have to mess with your windows OS at all. When DrakeX comes up you will have a 'tab' for each hard drive on you system. They will be labeled hda, hdb, hdc etc. hda is primary master, hdb is primary slave, hdc is secondary master and hdd is secondary slave. You will most likely have windows on hda and it will be colored blue. Just click the tab for hdb or where ever your new drive is.

If this drive is new it will be all white, unpartitioned or unused. Just click in the white space and choose 'auto allocate' if you want it to setup the partitions automatically. If you choose 'auto' you may skip to the last part of this section. If you want to setup your own partitions read on.

You will need at least two partitions, one swap (/swap) and one root (/). I will explain the easiest way to do this. You can set up the partition in dozens of different ways. When you click in the white space, you will have the option to 'create' a partition.

Now you will need swap space. It's like extra memory space on your hard drive and yes Windows does something similar. Click create. The window should come up, just pick 'swap' from the pull down menu and slide the slider till you have the amount you want. Remember note above for swap.  Make sure you have swap in the file system. Click OK.

Click in the white space again.  Click create and a window will come up for size and file system type. This partition will be "/" or root. I suggest ext3 for file system in the pull down menu however you can use Linux native if you wish. Click OK and you should see your newly created partitions.

You can leave some blank if you want to and have a large drive.
When you have the partitions the way you want or you chose 'auto allocate' just click 'DONE'.   It will then tell you that the partition will be written to disk. Just click 'OK' and it will write the partition info and format the new partitions.
   Selecting packages to install

After the formating is finished you should see a screen that says “looking for available packages”.  Depending on system speed this may take a bit to load with little or no drive activity so don't reboot unless it's been there for 10 minutes or longer.  You should at some point see a screen listing package groups.  Here is a brief listing and the very basics of what is in them:

Office Workstation --- This is Open Office etc, like Microsoft office sort of.
Game Station --- This is some games for Linux.
Multimedia Station --- This is for when you have a CD Player/Writer etc
Internet Station --- This has all the Internet stuff, Mozilla, KPPP, K-Mail etc. Recommended for Internet use.
Network Computer --- If you are on a LAN you will need this. Configuration --- This has menudrake and all the other config tools you need. Recommended to install.
Scientific Workstation --- This has the calculator and some other scientific stuff.
Console Tools --- The is all the console tools. Recommended to install.
Development --- This is for programmers, but some software may need some of it to run. If you have space to waste, install. Documentation --- This is all the how to's. Recommended to install.
LSB --- This is for third party software installs from what I have read. I would install just in case.

If you have specific package(s) that you want to install just put a check in the box next to “Individual Package Selection” at the bottom.  In the next screen you will be able to pick the packages you want to install.  

When you are done with selecting the software just click 'Install'.  This will start the copying process.  You will be asked if you really want to install CUPS.  This is a print server so just click 'Yes' and the install will continue.  If you want you can watch the slide show or click 'details' to see the file names being copied.  The copy process may stop for a minute at times, this is normal for some systems.  Don't reboot.  You will be prompted to change the CD's when needed.  Just put in the next CD and click OK.

   Final installation and setup of passwords

You should eventually reach a point where it wants a root password.  Make sure you remember this password.  If you have broadband I suggest that you use a strong password that will not be guessed.  Click next when entered.  

It will then want to set up a user.  You can set up as many users as you need by clicking 'accept user' and entering another user.  When you have entered the last one click 'Next'.

   Installing the Boot loader

You should see 'preparing boot loader' on the screen.  After that's done, you should see the summary page.  Anything in red should be configured as much as possible here.  Just click configure and go through the steps.  They may vary from system to system so details can't be provided here.  It may install more packages during this too.  Some hardware may require more setup after you have booted into Linux.  It will usually tell you what command to run for this, just write it down so you will have it.

If you want to boot into Windows by default click configure 'boot loader' or 'lilo', Grub if you chose it.  When it comes up you should see windows in the list.  Double click Windows and a box should come up.  Put a check mark in the box next to default and click OK.  Windows should have a “*” next to it.  It will boot to whatever has the “*” next to it with no input from you.

   Monitor test

I recommend that you test your monitor settings here. Just click configure and adjust to what you want then click 'test'. If you don't see anything just wait, it will come back at the original setting, after about 15 or 20 seconds, and you need to adjust before leaving. If the setting works you should see a box that asks if you can see this and if it is correct. If you see it and the display is normal click 'yes' to save the setting. Click 'Done' when finished. When finished with this part just click 'next'.


You should come to a screen that says it is time to reboot. Click 'reboot'. You will probably see some strange messages during the shutdown but don't worry, it's just closing out files it used during the install. Don't forget to change your BIOS to boot from the hard drive when the system starts to boot.

When you boot your system a screen you probably have never seen before will come up. It will ask if you want to boot 'Windows', 'Linux', 'Linux non-fb', 'failsafe', or 'floppy'. Note you have 10 seconds to pick or press one of the arrow keys. Use the arrow keys to change which one you want to boot too and hit enter when you have it selected. If you pick 'Linux' and it's the first time you will see a screen that wants to know what desktop and theme you want to use. Just pick the one you want, KDE, Gnome etc, and it will then want you to pick a theme. Just pick the one you like and click 'finish'. You can change these later if you want. I use KDE and the theme that first comes up. It will also want to know what mail program you want to use. I use Kmail but you can pick whichever you want. Then type in your mail information, email address etc and click 'finish'.

You should after a few minutes have your new Linux desktop. You have successfully installed Mandrake Linux.

Good job and good luck. Raise the hood and see what's under there. This is not Windows. You can raise the hood here and see how it works.

E-mail address for authur to report errors.  dalek@<nospam> .  Please, no requests for help.  Please post for help on the forum.  I'm still new to.  I may not know how to help with your particular problem.  I most likely will see the post if I'm available and can help.  Thanks.

This is a site that is recommended by by those that have broadband.  It's not suited for me because I have a very slow dial-up connection.  If you have a fast connection, DSL, cable etc, this may good for you to check for new/upgrades on your software.

As always.

 :D  :D  :D  :D  :D

I just ordered Mandrake 9.2,,,,am scared to death about installing.  Datek "How To" will really help.  One difference I have is my SATA RAID 0 array.   Will it make a difference? If yes, how to deal with it?

There are problems in 9.1, that I have read about.  I am not sure about 9.2.  I think it supports SATA.  It is fairly new release though.  It is hard to say how good it will do at the time.  Always possible to have bugs ya know.

I would try it and see what it does.  It shouldn't do anything serious if it does not work as far as windoze goes.

Post back what you get.  I'm curious now.  Also, you know it is free to register to this forum.  Hint, hint.


 :D  :D  :D  :D

I have read one thing about mendrake 9.2 ..
ion mendrake's website..

"the 9.2 version has problem with LG cdrom drives and it can render your LG cdrom drive unusable"

I have a LG drive.  It just happens to be one that was not affected.  Whew, what luck.  If you have a LG drive, do not install 9.2.

Still curious about SATA though.


 :D  :D  :D


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