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Linux Headaches

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Taking a moment out of my usual project development blogs to bash/praise Linux. Don't get used to me using the blog for personal opinions though. I leave that to the other bloggers. Yeah, I'm looking at you Martyr2.

Since I managed to use a USB to serial conversion cable to set up my printer to work with my laptop, my old desktop has since been left gathering dust. I figured, why not put install a Linux distro onto it to make it at least run more efficiently than Windows. Its a Compaq Presario 5000 series, specifcally model 5BW175 if you're curious as to its specifications I'm sure Google will turn them up for you. Quick overview is a 700 MHz Intel processor and 128 MB RAM with a 20 something Gig harddrive. Not the most powerful PC on the planet. A friend managed to snag me an extra 128 MB of RAM kicking it up to 256 MB. [email protected]$$. Anyways, I must've downloaded about 20 different distros. Here are the ones I remember:

Ubuntu
Xubuntu
Mandriva
Vector Linux
Damn Small Linux
Knoppix
Debian
MEPIS
Poseidon Linux
GNOME (the LiveCD available at their site)
Crunch Bang Linux

Needless to say you can go nuts looking at all the different distros. I know I'm slightly madder for it. Some of these couldn't load the LiveCD, wouldn't complete the install, etc. (I've also discovered that apparently my DVD drive can no longer read DVDs and only CDs for no apparent reason). A lot of them the desktops, like GNOME and KDE were just too taxing on the RAM, so I opted not to use them. I had settled on Debian, given its availability of packages and that I could install it with the LXDE desktop environment. However, Debian failed to properly set up my sound card, and after hours of trying to fix the problem I just gave up. I went with Knoppix that uses LXDE as well (and from what I've read online Knoppix is THE distro in terms of hardware detection and setup). Why? Well because using the Synaptic package manager I somehow managed to fatally harm my LXDE desktop attempting to modify the ALSA package so that it would redetect my sound card and hopefully get audio working. Not my brightest move, but ehh, such is the way of the Grim Pirate.

What I wanted to gripe about is the fact that it seems that most of the Linux documentation fails to take into account the fact that there are users who've never used a Linux distribution before. So if errors happen, you're sometimes caught :: blinking glassy-eyed :: I realize that Linux is perhaps oriented towards the uber computer savvy, and honestly I think that while at times its a good thing, its also one of Linux's shortcomings. I was trying my best to decrypt how to troubleshoot the sound card issue and they're just like check some file and check some other file and run something and module-app this and that. Seriously, my brain is kinda mildly warm right now.

In any case, Knoppix gave me an idiot proofing solution. So in terms of distros I'm giving my Knoppix my seal of approval. Screw all the others.

9 Comments On This Entry

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cfoley 

10 June 2009 - 01:22 PM
If you're not totally sick of going through distros I'd like to recommend Zenwalk. It's one of the more fully featured of the light distros. I used it a couple of years ago on a laptop with similar specs to your desktop and it worked fantastically. They do a live CD so you can check it out quickly.
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numeric 

10 June 2009 - 02:49 PM
Yeah I love Knoppix - I picked up a live CD on the front of a magazine recently and it's always the first thing I reach for when someone beings me a dead/dying/virus riddled PC. I'll be rebuilding my home network soon and adding two PC's to it in the process and I know the decision of what to run on them is going to drive me mad, because I'm using Ubuntu for everything Linux related at the moment. Moving on is gonna feel like taking the stabilizers off my first bike all over again :rolleyes:
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WolfCoder 

10 June 2009 - 05:32 PM
I could always modify my Ubuntu if I wanted to move on. Anyway, I'm spreading the word of Linux, I love how I can put the CD in and show them if they want it or not, or if the OS will work at all. They decide if they can use it and then I can help them install it.
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grimpirate 

10 June 2009 - 08:15 PM
I have a Zenwalk LiveCD. Sadly, it didn't work out. I don't recall if it crashed or if the install lagged or what happened, but I couldn't get it on my system. I actually had high hopes for that one.
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Martyr2 

10 June 2009 - 09:25 PM
I am not sure what is being implied by the call out on me. After all blogs are all about opinions and sharing of ideas as well as discussions. I do them all.

As for the post, I get where you are coming from with the distro overload. Everyone has to have their own flavor and support only limited things. But the tide is changing and from what I can tell Ubuntu has really helped in that matter. I am sure things will improve.

:)
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cfoley 

11 June 2009 - 12:14 AM
That's funny. Zenwalk worked a treat on my hardware and Knoppix refused to boot up. Funny old world. :)
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galorin 

11 June 2009 - 07:23 AM
I'm by no means the biggest Linux guy out there, I've only been doing the Linux thing since 2001. It has gotten a ton easier to get a a random computer booted up and working.

The distro glut can be mind boggling, we have distros that are a derivatave of Ubuntu, which is a derivative of Debian. or one that is a derivative of mandriva which comes from Mandrake, back to Red Hat, and on and on... So many to choose from, just hit distrowatch.org to get an idea of the grand scale of Distro glut.

Personally, I prefer Slackware. ;-)
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Ambercroft 

13 June 2009 - 08:07 PM
I'd recommend Zenwalk for newer hardware only. It went in my laptop and only the wireless connection maybe an issue. It's low down the list of things to resolve.

The older systems I have, AMD 2600 256MB ram, Zenwalk won't recognize the harddrives ( PATA ) but does on a new system ( same drives new motherboard )

So my older systems use Slackware which has been my usual distro.

B)
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grimpirate 

13 June 2009 - 10:33 PM
@Martyr2: I'll call you out on whatever I want. More importantly it was in jest as your blogs tend to focus on important, concise, and intelligent treatment of programming related issues. I'm calling you out on taking yourself too seriously. Grim 1 Martyr2 0. Ahh, life is fun.
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