a technical diversion

by josephzizys

Well I went to the computer store, but decided against buying a tvtuner and box, I want to wait until I have my austudy approved first. Money might be pretty tight soon if I don;t hear from them by march. Instead I bought a wireless card for my old thinkpad 600, hoping to get it running again and onto th ehome wireless network. I have installed Puppy Linux on it, which is a fantastic distro, but so far I havn’t been able to get the card installed.


When I say that I have installed Puppy on it, well at the moment it is ‘simple pup’ befoe that I tried ‘mypup’ and before that ‘icepup’. I have been trying out distros on this thing like nobody’s business. Lets see; Fluxbuntu, check, Teenpup, another Puppy deriviative, check, Puppy, the original, check, Tinyme, a PCLinuxOS derivative, check, Xubuntu alternative install 7.10, check, Damn Small Linux, check, Freedos, check, Nimblex sub 100, check, Goblinix, check, Oh, and standard Fiesty and Gutsy to start off with before I realised I needed something slimmer.


The machine, as I say, is an IBM Thinkpad 600 with a 3 gig hard drive, a cdrom, and 64 megs or Ram. I remember when that was a lot of ram to have in a desktop pc, but aperantly it is a pathetic amount for todays os’s. Well, undetered I did my research and tried every lightwieght distro I could find, the only one I havn’t tried yet that I know of is DeLi Linux, and that’s next.


My requirments where that the distro would provide a GUI and that I could download it, burn it, install it and then get wireless working on the 600 without having to install any new packages (because without the card my 600 aint got no internet to download from.)


So far I have got the best results with Puppy and it’s derivatives. A big factor is the install giving me my 1024 by 768 screen resolution as an option under Xorg and it working no probs, a lot of other installs default to 800 by 600 including Xubuntu and Fluxbuntu, and there is no easy graphical way to change it.


Also Puppys are fast a lot faster than the Ubuntu derivatives both to install and to run.


My main difficulty at the moment is the Atheros chipset based pcmcia (cardbus) card that I have in the 600, I can’t get it to work with Ndiswrapper yet in any of the Puppies, although I feel I am close with simplepup since it at least tells me there is a card there, just that it isn’t doing anything.


Its Australian too, which is nice. I like the look and feel of it as much or more than Ubuntu, and love the lack of bloat, it’s great to have a second distro to play with as I think you learn so much more about Linux when you use multiple distros.


The other tech thing I did yesterday was to install WordPress onto my x22 under Ubuntu so that I can play around with widgets and plugins and so on and see how it all works before I start tinkering with my live blog. It was a relatively painless process compared with the wireless saga on the 600, just a bit of research, a few sh sessions and we’re off and running apache, mySQL, php5 and WordPress.


So I was thinking about my ‘stack’ the other day amongst all this and I guess it goes something like;

  1. Optus ADSL2 Broadband Internet conneciton.

  2. Seimens Speedstreem cable modem

  3. Netgear Wireless Router

  4. Pcmcia wireless card

  5. IBM Thinkpad X22

  6. Ubuntu Fiesty

  7. Apache 2

  8. MySQL

  9. php5

  10. WordPress

  11. Firefox


Thats basically how we get from A to B in this house!


My guide to hacking tech and open source:


Rule number one: Have a machine with a working internet connection at all times! Especially when you are using a Linux distro, but even if you are not, almost every question or problem you have has been had by someone else and they have posted to forums about it. Get ready to scroll through endless pages of waffle only tangentially related to what you are doing in order to discover your solution. It’s painful but it is worth it, if you have no internet access then you might as well take you machine and your disks to a tech store and say ‘help’.


Rule number two: never screw araound with what your not willing to lose. Always have everything important backed up, always, and don’t become too invested in the outcome, it should be mostly about learning.


Rule number three: Don’t be fooled, most of the time the nerds don’t know what they’re talking about either. Nerds have a strange machismo culture all of their own, and it’s based around knowledge. If you can appear all-knowing, then you are in contention to be alpha-geek. no one is actually all-knowing so nerd culture revolves around appearing all-knowing by willfully engaing in jargonisms and pouncing on any display of ignorance like it’s a wounded zebra. Consequently al lot of your research will lead you to believe that there are all these ubergeeks out there but that their advice for some reason dosen’t work for you, well often it’s because it is bad advice based on incorrect understanding of the issue, but you will almost never hear that disclaimer from a geek, they will assure you that you are an idiot and that they could solve your issue with their heads cut off if only they weren’t constrained by acting through the cypher that is your feeble body, improperly executing their magnificant instructions. So if you do find a genuinely authoratative source of Know, then hold on to it, which brings me to rule four;


Rule number Four: Bookmark it! if it looks even vaguely useful, tag it so you can get it back! It can be so frustrating when you have worked your way miles down the rabbit hole and find yourself in need of a piece of information that you remember seeing on a page the night before last but you have no idea where or what it was exactly, you can usually retrace you googlesteps but it can take forever and it doesn’t always work, so remember, bookmark it!


There are probably other rules I could give you, but I will leave it at that, just remember that all the solutions look easy, but a lot of posters spent a lot of time hacking away at things to get there, so don’t freak if you take a whole day to do an install right, its better than having it break in a week when you unplug a usb cable or something by accident and lose all you work.


Ok, so thats some more tech stuff, hoopefully it is a little out of my system now and I can get back to writing that fairytale tommorrow. Or perhaps not, whatever.


Yours etc