New lives, new machines

Posted on Sunday, July 11, 2010 | | In , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Parnaparnti's Win98 install went well, but the 98 had great difficulty with every piece of hardware on the system except the keyboard and mouse. I decided to try Win XP, knowing that the machine was just within the requirements for it. That install went smoothly, and XP properly detected every device without problem. It runs a bit slowly, but the friend I gave it too seems satisfied with it, and that's what counts.

So Parnaparnti has left my home for a new life. In his place have arrived three new-to-me machines, generously donated by the local library, who now don't have to pay to have someone take them away and recycle them.

The first of these machines has been dubbed 'Adelaide' and has been installed with Win XP and Ubuntu Karmic Koala 9.10. The XP did a 98 on me - failing to properly detect the video/display settings. I have a driver disc for that problem, which I'll get to later. Adelaide's primary function is to be my Linux print server; the Windows is there for scanning purposes, as the scanning function of my Epson Stylus combo printer/scanner/copier is reportedly not supported in Ubuntu (and I haven't tried to wrangle with XSane yet, though I plan on it).

I had originally tried to install Lucid Lynx on Adelaide, but the install disc gave me some unusual problems, not the least of which was the fact it would blank the screen halfway through the install process, leaving me unable to interact with the machine at all. So I installed Karmic, which seems to work well. The -14 kernel runs smoothly; the -22 which came with the initial updating does not. Molasses flowing down a glacier would run faster, I think. There are possible solutions to that issue as well, which I've bookmarked and are on my to-do list. For now I'm running -14, which is just fine for my purposes.

The other two machines have not been touched yet. I'll be poking around in those later this month, I hope.

Parnaparnti and the Tale of the Repartitioner

Posted on Monday, May 24, 2010 | | In , , , ,

Having received a new Dell Inspiron laptop from one generous friend, I'm working on refitting the IBM Thinkpad another generous friend gave to me a couple of years ago. I have great friends. The Thinkpad will be going to yet another friend who's in need of a laptop, as hers died a while back.

When I used the Thinkpad, I had a 4GB Windows 98 partition and a 7GB Xubuntu Linux partition on it. My friend doesn't want to use Linux, so I'm removing the Linux partition. Easier said than done, for me.

I'm still fairly new to Linux, and partitioning still makes me nervous. I used a Puppy Linux CD to get access to Gparted (my Gparted live disc was a bad burn or something, as it tosses I/O errors everywhere when I try to run it on any of my machines. I got tired of sweeping the I's and O's off the floor, so I switched to Puppy). I saved a session file on Saturday in the hopes of speeding up the boot process the next time I used Puppy. Puppy gave a kernel panic on loading the file, but deleting it solved that issue. Partitioning time. Oh dear.

I couldn't unmount sd6, the swap partition, for some reason, and therefore couldn't delete sd5, the main Linux partition. Gparted said to unmount partitions higher than 5, which was already done - the system was running off the CD, not the Linux on the hard drive. I shrugged and tried the other partitioner that comes with Puppy, pdisk. Choosing the cfdisk option, I didn't see the swap partition at all, and was able to remove the Linux partition. I think my mistake was in maximising the Windows partition with cfdisk. It said that a reboot was necessary, and warned me the partition might be unusuable. Greeeaat. A reboot showed that Gparted didn't know what type of partition remained: the type was black - unknown - instead of the FAT32 that was there before. I rebooted without the disc and confirmed that the Windows partition was unusable. I said a few choice words and went to get the Windows 98 setup disc.

I had originally planned to just reinstall Win98 from the CD anyway, but was worried (and still am) about any proprietary drivers that might have gotten eaten up when the partition exploded. I have a disc with a bunch of files for this machine, given me by the generous friend who gave me the Thinkpad, and I hope that the Windows install will go smoothly and that the machine will not have any hardware issues. It's less of a concern with Windows, of course, but I want to present my friend with a fully working machine, not a machine that she'll have to hand to her husband and say, "Hubby, fix this."

I've utilised fdisk in DOS to delete all the partitions and created one that spans the entire disk. It's formatting in Windows Setup now. Time will tell if this reinstall will go smoothly and my friend will have a nice old Win98 lappy to play with. Personally I think Linux is a better choice for an old machine, but I'm not the person who'll be using it.

My Linux To-Do List

Posted on Thursday, January 07, 2010 | | In , , , ,

I added a gadget that will hopefully help me track the things I want to get done with Ubuntu. I've started saying 'Ubuntu' instead of 'Linux' all the time because I spend 99% of my time using Ubuntu. I periodically tinker with other distros, but mostly I'm settled into Ubuntu and its various options.

My biggest concern is the wireless card. I have a few options on this task which I haven't completely exhausted yet. Mostly I'm consulting what people have already written on Ubuntu Forums and applying that information to my situation. No luck yet though. As it stands I'm mildly disinclined to fuss too much over the network card because my schedule has me in a room with easy access to wired internet when I'm doing my work. And at other times I've been booting into Windows Vista and running Ubuntu via VirtualBox. I'll get that wireless card sorted eventually. Or I'll take the computer to the computer help guys' store in town. Or I'll get a new wireless card.

I'd love to be able to customise Conky to my heart's content, but I don't understand it as well as I'd like to. I've run into problems trying to set up weather forecast information with it, and all I really want is a nice date/time script (which I now have) and a weather script, which is being evil. I'll work that out eventually.

And once I get Kurdnatta's Ubuntu straightened out (probably meaning a reinstall, blah), I'll focus on setting up XSane so I can run the printer's scanning functions from there and converting him to an entirely Ubuntu machine. Maybe. There are some games I still run on the Windows 98 OS, though I have other options for those, I think.

The 'Ow My Printer' Saga: Good News and Bad News

Posted on Friday, January 01, 2010 | | In

Well, actually it's not much of a saga, because it's over. I fixed the printer tonight. I opened it up to see why that paper was jammed in there and I discovered the problem.

The good news: I removed the blockage.

The bad news: The blockage was three CDs.

Naturally the top CD, the one which now sports a pair of gouges in its surface from having been dragged and dug into by the printer's drive wheels (I don't know if they're called that, but you know what I mean), was the store-bought music disc. The other two were an Xubuntu disc that had started spouting data read errors and an unknown (probably a weirdly-functioning GPartEd) disc. Ninety-nine percent certain I had ripped the music CD.

Why were there CDs in my printer, you ask? I remember having set those discs in the printer tray because I didn't want to forget about them. I don't remember starting a print job with the discs still in the tray, though the last time I tried to print I was in a bit of a hurry and may not have noticed the discs having perhaps slid deeper into the paper tray.

The moral of the story is: don't put CDs in your printer tray. At least the printer still prints.