The Road to Linux (Part 1)

I decided recently to install Linux on an old machine I have (well, actually I decided a couple years ago and haven’t gotten around to it until now). It’s an ancient 488Mhz Celeron with 256MB of RAM and (currently) about 120GB worth of Hard Drive space (spread over two drives). The hard drives in the computer are 20GB and 100GB. The 20GB one has been in there with Windows 98 installed. I recently installed the 100GB one for Linux (dual-boot, yeah!).

Installing the hard drive proved to be an unnecessary challenge. First I had to open up an older computer that no longer functions (failed motherboard) and remove the 100GB hard drive so I could put it in the PC that would eventually run Linux. After opening the case, I located the hard drive. There it was in a metal enclosure…in the most idiotic place ever. It was attatched vertically on the front of the case, just below the wires connected to the system’s power button. There was no visible way to remove it. Above the drive were the optical drives, preventing it from sliding upward. After an hour of searching through Compaq’s website and talking with a support guy, I found a page with details on replacing hard drives. Looking at the pictures of different types of mounting methods, I saw one that was vertical. Aha! Going back to the case, I searched around for a little hard to see screw that was just out of reach of my screwdriver. I spent 15 minutes looking for a longer one. Once I found a suitable screwdriver (magnetic, to prevent the screw from falling who knows where inside the computer), I took the screw out. After that, all I had to do was pull the enclosure out with a “swinging motion”, so the hard drive would pivot on this hidden bracket. I quickly took the hard drive out of the enclosure and closed up the computer (it had some more functional cards that might be useful in the future).

It was time to install the “new” hard drive. I opened up the computer that would run Linux in the future. Dodging wires, I slid the drive into it’s slot, connected the wires, and set the jumper for SSCE, like the one already in there. I plugged the machine back in and started it up. What? “Primary Master Error”? I must not have set the jumpers correctly. I opened the case up again (after disconnecting the machine, of course). I set the old drive to be the primary drive and the “new” one to be secondary. I closed the case, plugged everything in and…somewhat success. No error, but I had to go into the BIOS. After 15 minutes of work, the BIOS recognized the new drive, and Windows booted off the other one. Time to install Linux easily and live happily ever after, right?

Wrong. I put my recently burned Ubuntu 6.10 disc in and rebooted. I was soon greeted with the Ubuntu logo and a set of choices. I hitthe option to start the Ubuntu Live Desktop, where the icon to start the installation was. Okay, the resolution was too high for my old monitor (which can only go up to 640×480 for some reason. It needs to be replaced). I wnet back to the menu. I set it to use 640×480. I got the Ubuntu loading screen and waited ages. Then it X11 started and everything turned brown with vertical lines. The flickering was so crazy I couldn’t see anything, even though the desktop had loaded. I’m guessing Ubuntu isn’t compatible with my ancient motherboard’s onboard graphics. So no I’m downloading OpenSuSe. If that doesn’t work, then I’ll try Fedora Core 1. The local library has a book with a couple CDs with Fedore Core 1, so I’ll try those if SuSe doesn’t work.


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