If the system already has an Operating System on it (e.g. Windows) you should consider whether you are going to install PCLinuxOS alongside this OS, so you can use both, or are you going to wipe the existing OS and replace it with PCLinuxOS. If it is the former then you are probably going to have to make space on the hard drive to install PCLinuxOS. This can be a tricky operation if you don't have a spare hard drive in the system so you should ensure that you have backed up the resident OS and have a clear idea of how you would restore it if something were to go wrong with the installation. If the resident OS is Windows then you should also ensure that the drive is de-fragmented and that the Windows OS is properly shutdown (i.e. not hibernated).
To install PCLinuxOS you will first need to create installation media which can be on a DVD, USB memory stick or SD card. The first step is insert the media into the appropriate device and boot the system. If you are very lucky this will be enough to boot the installation media but the chances are that your system will just do a normal boot. If this is the case then there are further steps you will need to take in order boot the installation media but unfortunately different PC manufacturers implement different methods for doing this. Nearly always this involves pressing a key during the Power On Self Test (POST) phase of the power on. This is usually occurring when there is a manufacturer "splash screen" or other text on the screen when you first power on. Sometimes you will see a message on the screen which says something like:
Press del to enter BIOS setup or press F12 for a boot menu
A boot menu is the best option as it will allow you to simply select the device you want to boot from a menu. If this option isn't offered then you will need to go into the BIOS setup where there will be option to change the order in which the system looks for devices to boot. You'll need to change the settings here so that the device you're using for your boot media is tried before the main hard drive.
When the system successfully detects and uses the PCLinuxOS boot media you will be presented with a boot menu. If your system has the newer UEFI firmware you will see the menu on right. Older legacy/BIOS systems will get the menu on the left.
To begin the installation you can either select Install PCLinuxOS from this menu or you can boot into a live session using one of the other options and then click the Install Me icon on the desktop.
Format and Partition your Hard Drive
Now you need to partition and format your hard drive. Please be very careful with your selection. If you select Use existing partitions or Erase and use entire disk it will auto select and FORMAT your partitions. All data on those partitions will be lost forever. In addition if you have Windows installed an additional option will be presented allowing you to re-size the windows partition to make room for Linux. This is an experimental feature and should be used with caution. Please make sure you have your Windows partition backed up before attempting to re-size it.
Custom Disk Partitioning
If you wish you can use Custom disk partitioning. Lets start by partitioning the hard drive.
You need to set up 3 partitions. A swap partition, a /home partition and a / partition (known as root). The swap partition is a temporary storage area in the event you run out of memory. Linux can swap memory to and from the swap partition as needed. As a general rule your swap partition should be double your memory.
Now we have our swap partition created.
Next we need a / partition. This is where all your data and programs are stored. A minimum of approx 4 gigs (4096 mb) is required though you probably want to make it at least 10 gigs (10240 mb) if you wish to install additional programs from the repository. Please note the default file system type is ext4. You cannot install Linux to a fat32 or ntfs formatted partition.
Now we have our /root partition created.
Finally we need to set up a /home partition. This is where you can store your personal data. The size of the home partition depends on your personal needs. Since I am using a small hard drive I selected about 2.0 gig (2000 mb). On large hard drives I would recommend at least 10 gigs (10240 mb) or larger.
Now we have our /home partition created.
In some situations where you have deleted and re-created partitions the installer will identify a partition as native ext2. In the event this happens please press the Toggle to expert mode and select Type and change it to Journalised FS: ext3.
Now we have our hard drive set up with a swap partition, a /home partition and a / partition. We are now ready to format the hard drive partitions and begin the installation.
The install is now formatting your partitions.
Copying PCLinuxOS files to Hard Disk
We are ready to copy the system files from the livecd to your hard drive. This process takes between 10-20 minutes depending on the speed of your computer.
Setting up Boot Loader
Once the files have been transferred to your hard drive we need to set up the boot loader so that your new install can be booted from the hard drive. The system defaults to GRUB2 graphical as the boot loader.
If this is your only Linux install you can select to install to the Master Boot Record (MBR) or EFI System Partition (ESP) depending on whether your system has older BIOS firmware or the newer UEFI firmware. The Master Boot Record (MBR) will always be identified without a partition number such as /dev/sda, /dev/mmcblk0 or /dev/nvme0n1 Usually the default shown in the Boot Device field will be the correct selection.
If you already have previous Linux installs on other partitions you may wish to prevent PCLinuxOS taking over control of the boot from another distro. In the past this would have been achieved by installing the loader to a partition instead of the MBR and then chainloading from the controlling distro. Since GRUB2 does not support installing to a partition you should instead select "Do not touch ESP or MBR" which can be found in the advanced options of the second screen below.
Installation Complete: Reboot
The installer has finished installing PCLinuxOS to your computer and you are ready to shut down and reboot.
User & Password configuration
On first boot you must set up a new root password. This is your administrator access password. Normally you run Linux as a user and elevate yourself to root access only when you need to perform various system functions. This keeps Linux safe and secure. Write your root password down and keep it in a safe and secure place. If you forget your root password you wont be able to perform system tasks such as adding software or configuring your system.
Enter the user name and password you will be using to log into the system. Once you are finished click the Next button.
If you run into something you don't understand please click on XChat from the PCMenu > Internet > Xchat IRC and it will log you into our help channel.
Help can also be found by searching and/or posting questions to the PCLinuxOS Community Forum