My old laptop Lappy is old. Quite the old gentleman among laptops. He runs - or rather limps - with Windows ME; he needs a good few starts to get on his feet and sometimes I think he has something of a slipped hard disk. Any normal person would have got him a bed in a home for the computer aged.
But I have this urge to tinker and keep things going as long as they can – I hate throwing things away just because they don’t work any more (you should see my cellar).
I have been wondering for a while about maybe trying out a Linux operating system as a way to rejuvenate him; this whole Linux thing has fascinated me for a while – such a great concept – and I have been looking for a way to try it out. So, a bit of research last Friday and on Saturday I was busy getting Mandriva One downloaded. I was trying it out on my old PC which has served as a guinea pig on a few occasions. The reviews I read all said things like, ‘Mandriva is ideal for newcomers…’ ‘installed in just a few clicks’, statements which immediately make me suspicious but it was actually dead easy.
You download the OS file, around 400MB, save it on your computer, burn it onto a CD, tell the PC to start from CD-ROM, insert the CD and boot …and there you have it- a ‘live install’ which runs from the CD and doesn’t change your hard disk until and unless you want it to.
When I got my first PC back in 1999 I was a complete e-ignoramus. So much so that I thought you just switched off the PC with the switch at the back when you were finished, like a TV or a light. I remember my daughter Nicky exclaiming, ‘Daddy!!! You have to shut it down!!’ In the meantime, in my tinkery way, I think I know my way around Windows fairly well and I realised early on that you can always use the forums if you need help. Now, the good thing about Windows forums is that you get not only e-ignorami turning up but also absolute doughnuts who start threads like:
Doughnut: My PC won’t run! Can anyone help!!
Windows expert: Have you plugged it in to the power socket?
Doughnut: Oh wow! Great tip!! Now it works fine!!!
And that makes you feel better in a superior ignoramussy way.
With Linux/Mandriva I was a little bit back to those 1999 days. Gingerly feeling my way around a new environment. It has a nice feel to it definitely and you quickly realise this has been created by people who have thought problems through, which I really like.
But the forums…!
In the Linux forums they don’t say ‘have you tried plugging it in’, they all seem to come from the higher world of IT development and programming and reply with stuff like,
‘…extract ndiswrapper sources with the command tar zxvf ndiswrapper-version.tar.gz. This will create ndiswrapper-version directory. Change to that directory and run make uninstall, make Login as root and run make install…’
‘…make sure there is a link to the kernel source from the modules directory. The command ls /lib/modules/`uname -r`/build should have at least 'include' directory and '.config' file…’
This calls for a serious, ‘HUH?’
Anyway I am going to persevere. My PC has already managed to connect to the Internet via a Netgear USB adapter which I have had for years and had never worked until Mandriva came along so who knows what else I will discover.
Maybe Lappy will Linux on ME (very bad pun on ‘Lean on Me’ – no? Ok)