General Notes: Installation
Preparation || This is the "discovery" phase in which you gather not only the needed installation files or CD, but explicit, detailed information about your system components so you can interact with the installer in a knowledgeable, intelligent manner. Seriously - record the make and model of your hard drive, CD drive, monitor, mouse, video card, sound card, printer, modem, and any network adapter cards you may have. Check the lists of Linux-supported hardware at the Linux Documentation Project (LDP) site. It really helps to have the manuals for your monitor, video card, and printer handy. I promise: you may regret it if you skip this phase!
Install Prep Checklist || If you intend to bring a rig to a meeting to have Linux installed, please do a little homework:
Partition || RedHat, Mandrake, LinuxPPC and other distros based on RedHat have partitioning aids built into the installer. In general, for most needs, a single large root and ~50MB swap partitions will suffice. Multi-user or application server systems generally make use of separate partitions for the different limbs of the Linux directory tree (/root, /usr, /home, /etc, and so on). A minimum for general desktop use system is 950MB root, 50MB swap for a total of 1GIG. Most distros recommend a minimum of 1.2G. This can be a dedicated drive, or a Linux partition on a larger drive, sharing the drive with Windows, Mac, or other OS for a dual-boot setup. The advantage of dual-booting is that you retain a known functioning, productive environment until you are confident enough and have acquired enough applications and resources to switch permanently to Linux (...the goal - right?!).
Installation || Follow the documentation accompanying your distribution files. Most RedHat-based installers (RedHat, Caldera, Mandrake, LinuxPPC) are pretty self-instructive, and some are more graphical than others. In general, it's a good idea to install all the offered packages you have room for. Many of the "Development" packages contain libraries required to install third-party software, for example.
Setup || This phase involves getting your Linux working for you; selecting and customizing your window manager, connecting to your modem and printer, and learning to use and manage Linux. During this phase, you will be depending mostly on Web-based resources such as HOW-TOs and newsgroups to create print queues, install productive applications, and play audio CDs. As mentioned above, the LDP is a good place to start. The right margin of this page lists a few helpful sites for new and experienced Linux users.
Linux Documentation Project
Linux Newbie FAQ
Linux MAN Pages On-Line
Linux on Laptops
Official WindowMaker Site