Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Coffee Shop, CLUE, and Linux

It's about 5:30 PM, and I have left the office for the day. I am sitting in the Caribou Coffee shop not far from work, enjoying a strawberry-banana smoothie. It is quite tasty, but in a weird way, it reminds me of the taste of those Gerber baby bananas. Or at least sort of how I remember them, since I haven't eaten any of those in a very, very long time.

In any case, I decided to stop by and relax for a few minutes. After I leave here, I am headed to the monthly general meeting of CLUE, the Colorado Linux Users & Enthusiasts. Hopefully, it will be a good program tonight, as I haven't made the effort in several months. I am particularly interested now, since over the last weekend I managed to get GNU/Linux up and running on my laptop.

Last November I posted on here about my intent to do this from the time I purchased this machine over a year ago. My efforts were thwarted in that there were no drivers for some of the hardware in any of the Linux distros I tried. Well, after trying the latest Mini-Me 2008 version of PCLinuxOS on this Gateway MT-3705, I decided to take the plunge.

In order to not risk mucking up my Vista installation, I went to Best Buy and found a 120 GB laptop hard drive on clearance for $62. What a deal! I went home and replaced the Vista drive with the new Hitachi model, loaded PCLinuxOS Mini Me, and we were off to the races! I haven't tried a couple of things, like burning DVDs or CDs for example, but so far, so good. I did have to use Ndiswrapper and a Windows XP driver for the network card, and it is working perfectly. The sound, another problem on previous Linuxes (except Fedora 8), also works from the get go. I couldn't use Fedora though, since it doesn't support Ndiswrapper without some complicated tweaking, which was more than I wanted to do.

Since Mini Me is a light version without much software, I then fired up Synaptic to get Firefox, OpenOffice.org, and a host of other programs; grabbed the Microsoft core web fonts, and now this machine is doing great. I have had quite a few hits on this blog about this subject from other users of the same machine, so hopefully this will help others.

So for now, my Vista install is safe and sound on the hard drive I removed. If I ever need to get to it, it will be pretty easy. However, if I ever do want to reinstall Windows on this, I will likely repartition and make space for XP after I round up the drivers for it. Vista is nice, but XP just seems to be a better choice.

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