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Painfully slow installation of Linux

Posted on 2005-04-05
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Last Modified: 2013-12-15
Hi all,

<WARNING> Totally new to Linux, be gentle pls. :) </WARNING>

I'm installing Linux and the first part of the installation is painfully slow:

So far, I have tried with:
- Mandrake Linux 9.1
- Mandrake Linux 10
- Fedora Core 2
- Fedora Core 3
- Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4
- Red Hat Linux 9
- CentOS 4

They all behave roughly the same:  
Boot from the CD, everything seems normal until a message reads "loading /sbin/loader" it stays there for about 10 minutes.  (Doing what?)
Then it starts enumerating the hardware:
-  video Card  ....  wait 5 minutes
-  monitor .... 10 minutes
-  mouse ....
if running graphical install 15 to 20 minutes, in text mode about 10 minutes
then it starts asking questions about the installation with the following pauses:
QUESTION                  GRAPHICAL INSTALL         TEXT INSTALL
- Language?                10 minutes                         8 minutes
- Keyboard?                 8 minutes                          6 minutes

and so on...   From boot to the point it starts formatting the drives:  1 to 2 hours.  After that it goes much faster, format, copy, post-install config about 10 minutes all.

As a reference, Install Windows XP from boot to finish: 35 minutes. (including Service Pack 2 and updated drivers)

Hardware info:
MOTHERBOARD:
Product name     Intel(R) Desktop Board D865GLC based system
Board model       Genuine Intel(R) D865GLC system board

PROCESSOR:
Processor           Intel(R) Pentium(R) 4 CPU 2.40GHz
Bus speed           800 MHz
L1 cache            Data Cache 8KB, Execution Trace Cache 12K Micro-ops
L2 cache            Advanced Transfer Cache 512 KB
Form factor         Socket 478
Stepping            9
 
SYSTEM:
Physical memory     1,024 MB RAM
Memory speed        DDR320
Memory type         DDR, Synchronous
Form factor         DIMM
BIOS date           03/07/2005
BIOS size           512 KB
BIOS version        P24 (BF86510A.86A.0075.P24.0503071605)

HDD:
Seagate      Barracuda 7200.7 SATA
Model Number:ST3120026AS
Capacity:120 GB
Speed:7200 rpm
Seek time:8.5 ms avg
Interface:SATA 1.5Gb/s

VIDEO CARD:
nVidia GeForce FX 5200
128 MB DDR
AGP 8X

NOTE: Install finishes without errors.  Once installed it is not that bad.  (Windows XP seems to run a bit faster, but it may be a matter of perception)

If it's already installed, why do I worry?  you may rightfully ask,,,  The thing is I'm gonna be installing several diferent distributions and configurations of linux in several
computers with exactly the same hw config, and at over 2 hours each, it's going to take way too long for all the tests I need to do. Specially taking into account that format- copy-config only takes 10 ~15 minutes.

Booting from rescue disk or similar... 35 to 45 minutes a pop.

Also tried other distributions that failed to complete for reasons I don't have time to solve, so those are already scratched from my list:
- Slackware
- Debian
- Lycoris

If you read this far, thanks in advance for any help....

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Question by:IvanVillamizar
6 Comments
 
LVL 88

Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 13715271
This may have to do with APIC, so when the install CD starts booting, you should get a commandline where you can enter further boot commands. These might be different depending on your distro, but usually it'll be something like:

linux noapic
or
linux26 noapic

you can probably press f1 to get the list of commands for your distro. Use the commands which turn off apic or apm. You should also see other things that you can turn off during booting. Maybe you need to experiment a bit.
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Expert Comment

by:David Piniella
ID: 13718848
if you're going to be doing a series of installs on similar hardware, you may also want to look into automated installs -- redhat does this and I believe other distros do as well (google for "redhat kickstart")  -- all you need is a network-accessible location that you can put all the install media on (your own FTP or NFS server, for e.g.,) and then point it that way....SuSE also supports this and I would be surprised if other rpm-based distros (mandrake in your case,) didn't.
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Author Comment

by:IvanVillamizar
ID: 13719010
I know I could do one install and create disk images, but we'll be testing different configurations, different packages, different kernels, etc.  So disk images are not an option, as per automation of the install process (asuming it works something like Windows answer files & setup manager?), I don't thnk that would help since the phase that is taking too long would be roughly the same... am I missing something?

 
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LVL 38

Assisted Solution

by:wesly_chen
wesly_chen earned 400 total points
ID: 13719200
Hi,

   In your case, kickstart will be good fit for you. Fedora/RedHat/Centos all support kickstart installation by default.
http://www.redhat.com/docs/manuals/enterprise/RHEL-4-Manual/sysadmin-guide/ch-kickstart2.html

   As my experience, kickstart over http is much earlier than FTP/NFS. You just need to run
system-config-kickstart (or redhat-config-kickstart) to configure the kickstart for each different system.

   Since all the CDs are copied to the http server, so you don't need to change the CD from time to time during installation.
Besides, a well configuration kickstart config file, it allows hand-free during the installation. (Well, just need to type
linux ks=http://<kickstart server>/path-to-config-file  and reboot when installation complete).

Regards,

Wesly
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LVL 9

Accepted Solution

by:
David Piniella earned 1600 total points
ID: 13719597
I would also do some test installs with the boot-time options as mentioned above -- acpi can be troublesome w/ some machines, ditto other modules (had a machine that wouldn't boot until i told it to ignore all USB devs because it couldn't scan a particular device and ID it properly).
0
 
LVL 5

Author Comment

by:IvanVillamizar
ID: 13720741
Found the culprit!.

It was my UPS. Disconnecting the USB monitoring port did the trick.  Installation is now down to about 40 minutes. Depending on packages selected. First phase of install (up to formatting) is about 3 minutes  (from 2 hours... Hypersupercalifragilisticspialidociously cool!)

 I really don't care about UPS monitoring right now, so I'll leave that darn thing disconnected until I get the time to play with it.

dpiniella's last post gave me the tip, although not exactly pinpointed it, and Wesly_chen's although not exactly the point of the question will help my ultimate goal: (easier, faster installations).  So I'll spli the points.  Hope you don't mind.

Thanks a lot for your quick responses.

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