I love Linux, I really do, but I’m not sure the feeling is mutual.

My brother gave me an aged Compaq Presario laptop, for me to mess around on with Linux. Here is a quick summary of the story so far:

  • Installed Puppy Linux, liked it for a while.
  • I come to the realisation that Puppy doesn’t let me do a lot of the things that are quintessentially Linux-y, which I want to be able to do.
  • Puppy suddenly starts hating my hardware. Unable to access internet: wired, or wireless.
  • Attempt Ubuntu install: Ubiquity (Ubuntu’s installer dialogue) will not run on the laptop.
  • Install MEPIS 7, begin to like it, but discover that its kernel version has a known conflict with my hardrive.
  • Wait until near the end of our broadband month, to ensure that I have the bandwidth to download MEPIS 8.
  • Succeed, install, win.

Now I have MEPIS 8, I am seriously happy (happy is serious business). Had a little annoyance with trying to install wbar on it, though. Can any Linux buffs help me out, here?:

apt-get can’t find wbar, so I downloaded the .deb manually. I tried opening the deb with dpkg, but it complains that a dependancy is missing, and I did apt-get -f install to sort it out, but that just seemed to remove an older one, even though I’m pretty sure it wasn’t installed to start with. Is wbar obsolete now, or am I doing something wrong?


Linux: is it easy yet?

The short answer: Potentially, yes. If you use Ubuntu, and you’re fair in terms of what you want it to do.

Linux distribution choice flowchart

The long answer:

Wanting it to do less than it’s supposed to because doing so would be hard is BAD.

I have now installed 3 Linux distributions, and attempted a total of 4 installs. I’m young and inexperienced, but an advanced computer user in every respect (for background reference).

The good: I installed Ubuntu for a friend yesterday, and it was super-easy through every stage, and with my limited knowledge of using the terminal, we managed to get the Flash player plugin for Firefox working, got it to work nicely with his wireless network, had it print to, and scan from a HP Photosmart, sync to his iPod, and even play a Windows-designed Driving Test Theory program from DVD. (Admittedly, we had to use Virtual Box with Windows XP on it, because the disc thought himself counterfeit when we ran him through WINE).

The bad: That same ubuntu disc, 4 days prior, failed completely on my laptop. Ubiquity loaded, and then it hang; the installation window never loaded, and the cursor stuck. Puppy Linux was my previous preference, and turned out to be a huge disappointment. I managed to make it look quite pretty, but the limited console ’emulator’, lack of support for devices (like the mouse), and its sudden and complete failure of all of its internet connection abilities contributed to me kicking it out of the house as though it were a rabid wolf.

I then applied logic that looks like the flowchart to the right.

The mediocre: I ended up with SimplyMEPIS 7… 7, because that was the disc that Alisha, my sister had. (I have no facilities at the moment to download something so big or to write it to disc.) It worked, and I liked it, but it threw an “Exception emask” with my hardrive, which is a known issue with that model of laptop, it transpires. I wasn’t impressed, especially since that meant it took 5 minutes or more to boot, and yes: I tried everything. I tried upgrading to 8.0 a few minutes ago, and ended up blamming my installation. It’s now a bit confused over whether it is Mepis or Debian, is certainly not 8.0, runs slowly, and has a bit of an ordeal updating the graphics, leaving trails of malformed icons everywhere.

My conclusion: Use Ubuntu, and try to get a nerd to help you set it up. If it doesn’t work, stick with Windows. If that is not practical, then “meh”.

Honestly, I do not know, yet.