How to Install CentOS on Your Computer

Anaconda Feature

While CentOS is mostly used in servers, it can also be used on the desktop. This tutorial will show you how to install CentOS on your desktop. 

Before You Get Started

To get started, you need to download the CentOS ISO files on the project’s website and create a bootable USB. I’m using a new minimal ISO of CentOS 8.2 for this tutorial.

Note: for everything in the CentOS installer, you’ll check your options and click “Done” in the upper-left corner. It’s always there so you know where to go. It’s just an odd placement.

Once you are done creating the bootable USB, insert it into your computer and boot it up.

Choosing Your Language

This is the first screen you’ll see. You can either type at the bottom to search for your language, or you can search through and click on your option.

Anaconda Centos Keyboard Layout
The language and keyboard layout are the first things you choose.

The Main CentOS Install Screen

The main screen in the CentOS installer, Anaconda, is where you see all the options available to you. As you can see, there are a lot of tweaks you can make to the installation. We’ll start with the Localization column on the far left. 

Anaconda Centos Main
Once you choose your language and keyboard layout, you’re greeted with this summary screen with all your possible options to configure.

Localization

Anaconda Centos Main Localization

Keyboard

Under the Keyboard section, you’re able to add multiple keyboard layouts and test your layout configurations. This is nice if you live in a country with multiple languages or often switch between multiple layouts for different languages. 

Anaconda Centos Keyboard Layout 2

Language

Under “Language Support,” you’re able to choose multiple system languages to go along with your keyboard layouts that you selected above. Once again, you can type to search for your language in whatever keyboard layout you’re using, seen top right next to “Help!”

Anaconda Centos Language Support

Time & Date

“Time & Date” is for your time zone and time and date format. If you turn on your networking, you can choose to use network time rather than configuring things manually. 

Anaconda Centos Time Zone Ntp

Software

Anaconda Centos Main Software

Installation Source

“Installation Source” gives you options for installing from the actual “DVD” file that your ISO file represents or installing on the network. Most newer options will allow you to choose “Closest mirror” for your network, so downloading the “minimal” or “netinstall” ISO and choosing the network installation option saves time and effort. If you do choose to download the whole 8 GB ISO, you can just choose everything from the disk without having to turn on networking. 

Anaconda Installation Source
You can see that I have two sources: the ISO or “DVD” in the virtual optical drive, or I can choose the network option with the closest mirror.

Software Selection

“Software Selection” gives you options for the packages you install right out of the gate. This is nice if you’re doing a particular thing with it, but these are actually all DNF Groups that you can install later with the dnf groupinstall command. It’s nice if you want to start right away with these packages installed, but otherwise I would choose a base on the left and leave it at that. 

Anaconda Centos Software Selection
The options on the left are the base environment. The options on the right are for extra packages or groups of packages for specific software.

System

Anaconda Centos Main System

Installation Destination

This is the strangest part of the CentOS installer. It shows up as an error on the main screen, so you click on it expecting to have to do something specific. 

If you don’t have any specific partitioning requirements, all you need to do is click on it and click “Done” in the upper left. Automatic partitioning will automatically fill any free space that you have on your disk, including installing alongside other OS that are on your disk or data partitions you may have. Automatic partitioning is suitable for most users. You can also delete partitions to make more space for your installation by checking the “I would like to make additional space available” box and clicking “Done,” which will bring up a menu of all your partitions and give you the choice of which to delete. 

Anaconda Centos Installation Menu
If you’re just looking to install it without any manual partitioning, just click “Installation Destination” on the summary screen and click “Done” on this screen. You have to confirm that you want automatic partitioning.

However, if you do have specific partitioning requirements, like remounting an old “/home” directory, choosing a specific file system, or selecting specific sizes for your partitions, you can choose “Custom,” bringing you to a manual partitioning menu. You can generate some partitions and modify them, or you can just create mount points with the little “+” button on the bottom of the screen. 

Anaconda Centos Manual Partitioning

You can choose whether it’s a standard device or an LVM volume, whether to encrypt the volume, and which file system you want to format the partition with.

Anaconda Centos Manual Partitioning Partition Type
Anaconda Centos Manual Partitioning Fs

One nice thing to note about the CentOS Anaconda installer is that no matter the partitions you create, it won’t touch your disks until you click “Begin Installation” on the main screen after you’ve selected all your installation options. 

Kdump

Kdump is the kernel dump program that will capture information in the event of a system crash. It’s generally useful, so I recommend leaving it on. However, you’re more than welcome to turn it off by unchecking the “Enable kdump” box. 

Anaconda Centos Kdump

Network & Host Name

“Network & Host Name” is usually where I go first when installing a new system. It defaults to the network being off, but you can turn it on to get access to additional software packages and security policies. 

Anaconda Centos Hostname

You can also change your host name. It defaults to “localhost.localdomain,” which is quite unhelpful. I’ve changed mine to something more specific and useful. 

Security Policy

You can choose to download a security policy for compliance with various regulations and policies. For most servers and workstations at home, you can just leave that alone.

Anaconda Centos Security Policy

Begin Installation

Once you finish everything in the menu to your liking, you can click “Begin Installation” to get things started. There, you’ll set your Root account password and create your user and set your own password. Let the installer finish. 

Anaconda Centos Installation Progress
Anaconda Centos Set Root Passwd
Anaconda Centos Creating User
Fedora/CentOS/RHEL have a password dictionary built in – I chose a weak, common password for this test installation, so I’m getting notified by the system.
Anaconda Centos Complete

Once the installation has completed, reboot the computer, and you will be on the CentOS desktop.

Now that you know how to install CentOS, check out the differences between RHEL, CentOS, and Fedora and how to manage these systems with Cockpit.

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John Perkins John Perkins

John is a young technical professional with a passion for educating users on the best ways to use their technology. He holds technical certifications covering topics ranging from computer hardware to cybersecurity to Linux system administration.

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