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Linux diversity and ibuprofen

By jck ·
Wow...what a difference.

Last night in my insomniatic fit for the month, I decided to work installing Debian.

apotheon wasn't kidding when he told me it wasn't a starter distro. I installed it...no GUI. I "apt-get install kde" and KDE didn't load after install.

hm...this is a way different beast than it was in 1999.

Then I installed Kubuntu. I went to the sourceforge site and tried following directions to install the driver for my wireless card. No luck. Couldn't compile...couldn't ifconfig...weird. Got the insmod to work, but Kubuntu didn't even find my wireless card on the PCI bus so the driver didn't associate to it.

So, I think it's either back to Mandrake or I might try Gentoo next. I don't know. I just know I need to have it detect a wireless card so that I can get updates and what not and start getting comfortable with the KDE/Gnome names for programs and what they do, and start learning the different packages and what they contain.

I gotta go buy Linux for Dummies...if that will even help.

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Would love to hear how it goes

by RexWorld In reply to Linux diversity and ibupr ...

When you get around to trying the other distros I would love a comparo. I've got an ancient ThinkPad that really doesn't run XP that well so I was thinking of converting it into a Linux box. But I am no admin, I need one that can install and detect the wireless PCMCIA card and all that stuff.

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best bet for that

by Jaqui In reply to Would love to hear how it ...

is mandrake. ( sorry, mandriva now )

download specific drivers for network card beforehand though.
even if they find the card they may not have the drivers for that particular make / model.

either way you may need to have them to be able to build the driver yourself. since a lot of hardware manufacturers don't supply linux drivers it's not unusual for any type of device to need tweaking.

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funny thing about Mandrake

by jck In reply to best bet for that

the RT2500 is a listed wireless device, but it won't load properly.

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did you install

by Jaqui In reply to Linux diversity and ibupr ...

the xserver?
then, did you use startx?
or change default runlevel to 5?
( debian's default is 3 which is console mode )
runlevel 5 is graphics mode.

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runlevels, startx, etc

by jck In reply to did you install

see...that's my weakness...never done any of that. I know that KDE did load the X libraries, cause I watched it all load and setup. It just never went into graphics mode on its own.

In the day that I used Linux in college, it was about loading X1186 or something like that on the machine, then running X11 or something...it's been 15 years.

When I did the work with Linux in 1999, it was just setting up the TCP/IP on Linux so that the PCs could talk to the Sun machine.

All the GUI starts and modes and such is new to me...I remember stuff from Unix too that isn't the same in Linux, which is frustrating. Too much AT&T System V in college I guess.

Thanks for the input tho. I'll keep those things in my head.

I'll reload Mandrake tonite (and I'll download the latest "Mandriva" version onto CD again, since I have over 200 blanks) and see if I can get it flying "out of the box".

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If that doesn't work

by jmgarvin In reply to runlevels, startx, etc

Make sure to get either madwifi or ndiswrapper. Also, you wireless will probably be ath0 (or some such) rather than eth0, eth1, or whater...

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learning curve and ease of use

by apotheon In reply to runlevels, startx, etc

Debian has an extremely steep learning curve for Linux beginners, but when you're familiar enough with what you're doing to understand what's going on when using the apt system Debian becomes about the easiest Linux distribution in existence. Thus, for people trying to learn how to use it, it can start out as an incredibly frustrating, difficult distribution, but upon gaining some familiarity it becomes so simple and easy to manage that everything else is frustrating and difficult in comparison.

At least, that's my experience.

Typically, for installation of a GUI system, one should first install the x-window-system package (and all required dependencies), then the window manager of choice, in that order. Thus, installation would look something like this:
# apt-get install x-window-system
# apt-get install kde

In fact, unless you specify otherwise, that should change the default runlevel to 5 so that you automatically boot into a GUI system. After installing all that, you should be able to get into it without restarting the system, though -- simply by entering "startx" at the CLI. Depending on how KDE is set up and what you use as the display manager, though, the default setup may or may not need a little tweaking to make it work with the startx command without a restart (I only ever use xdm, so I can't really speak for kdm or gdm on Debian).

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Results from last night - 4/20/2005

by jck In reply to Linux diversity and ibupr ...

I reinstalled Mandrake 10.1 over Kubuntu last night, and Mandrake's harddrake (when I try to configure the Ralink RT2500 card) tells me that DrakX errored in configuring it.

I'm not sure why. I tried putting two different RT2500 drivers (one from RaLink, one from sourceforge) on the thing by using the typical command line stuff from the su account:
depmod, modprove, insmod, ifconfig, iwconfig, etc.

I even put the kernel source onto the machine and did the ndiswrapper stuff that worked for my ADMTek 802.11b card, but when I do ndiswrapper -l, it says "rt2500 Invalid driver!"

I am going to get a different driver I saw last night and the actual source code (if available) and try installing that driver and if that fails , I'll compile the source myself for the driver and try to get it working through the kernel again

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"just works" distros

by apotheon In reply to Results from last night - ...

It's admirable that you're trying all this nifty stuff but, if you're really running into a lot of difficulties getting wireless connectivity on your hardware, maybe you should just default to the distros that tend to work best with weird hardware. In particular, that seems to be MEPIS and Knoppix. Knoppix seems to work with a broader range of hardware than MEPIS, but MEPIS seems to be more friendly about how it works with the hardware.

One of the benefits of both MEPIS and Knoppix is that they are Debian based and thus allow for a reasonably easy way to investigate the setup and configuration of the system when it works with your hardware so that you'll better know what to do with a vanilla Debian system.

Here's some encouragement: Sometimes, Linux is kind of frustrating for the power user new to Linux systems. Sometimes, it takes several runs at the same thing before any joy is achieved, and several more before you understand WHY it works now. I suffered some pretty extensive frustration in my early experimentation with Linux, and I wasn't even dealing with wireless networking at the time. Ultimately, though, I learned enough so that I started to understand how to make sure that everything worked without having to always use the most user-obsequious distros, and ultimately it has become the OS that I wouldn't want to live without.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that there's a light at the end of the tunnel. Obviously, if all you wanted was a plug-and-play system that doesn't let you control any more of its internals than Windows does for the rank newbie, you could have it. If you want to understand what your computer is doing and be able to make the occasional decision for yourself, there'll be some frustration while learning it all. I think that'll end up being well worth it for you in the long run, and some day you may be writing something like this for someone else taking first steps into the realm of the Linux enthusiast.

Good luck, and if you have any specific questions for me you do have my email address.

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yeah...I don't care about pretty

by jck In reply to "just works" distros

if the OS isn't good.

Part of this whole thing is an experimentation. I'm a *very* pessimistic person when it comes to getting opinions from things like articles, reviews, etc., especially when it's about software. I did find for hardware that Tom's Hardware Guide is a very unbiased (but sometimes vague in their conclusions) website for that so I depend on them for finding out performance with things like motherboards and such.

When it came to Linux, there are mainly 2 general attitudes you'll hear about it in the context of what OS to use on your computer:

1) If I can't just click through and set it up, I'd rather stick with Windows.

2) Linux is much stronger and versatile than Windows if you know what you're doing.

Well, I'm not *exactly* a newb to Linux. I just haven't messed with it in long enough and with only one distro (Slackware circa 1996?) that I don't know all the tools and names from Knoppix, MEPIS, Debian, Mandrake, etc., plus all the interfaces like KDE, gnome, etc. Plus, I've got quite a bit of Unix experience including Informix, shell scripting (ksh, bsh, csh, etc)...so all in all, I'm probably what most would consider "good enough to cause trouble" with a system at work.

Keeping that in mind, I wanted to use this as a time not only to sharpen back up on a technology that I haven't used in better than 5 years. But, I also wanted to prove for myself to an almost certain conclusion which OS was actually better for different things, especially in the arena of graphics and sound.

I kind of expected, since MS is one OS made by one company and Linux is a sundry of different OSes with the same base kernel, that MS installs would go WAY smoother. It's just been the situation with actually knowing or figuring out how to get a driver installed...going through the motions...and it fails. That's frustrating. Or when you go to a website and find a checklist for an install "how-to" and one of the steps doesn't work and the bin file to do it isn't even on the distro that you can find. For instance, one set of directioons for Mandrake 10.1 kernel 2.6.8.1-12 for the RT2500-based card I had...used qmake...there's no qmake on my machine...I couldn't find an RPM with q in the name...so...frustration level...up 10%.

I know people are human...and I know it's an uphill battle til I know these things in and out like you and Jaqui do. But, when something simple like a "linux driver" isn't installable into the system by insmod-ing it...it gets kind of tough to stomach.

If it weren't for my innate geekiness and desire to actually see if there is this Utopia in Linux that makes Microsoft look like a proverbial "project" of OSes, I would just go back to MS and sit and pay their BS prices and put up with their technology enhancements like "transparent windows" and file systems that don't even work yet.

And...thanks for being willing to field question...it is much appreciated.

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