October 19, 2009
Adventures with Linux
Posted in authored by John Gohde tagged Alternatives to Microsoft, Blog Talk Radio, Blogger News Network, BlogTalkRadio, BNN, Free Stuff, Freeware, IBM Personal Computers, Linux, Nearly Free Programs, Operating Systems, Personal Computers, Red Hat LINUX, Simon Barrett, Used Computers, Windows XP at 4:21 pm by John Gohde
Anyone looking for an alternative to fooling around with Windows XP, and other Microsoft operating systems, is often advised to switch to Linux. It is an easy 15 minutes install, they say. Linux they claim is easy to use. And, will work on the smallest of computers.
But, … Is it really true?
Ever wonder whether LINUX is as easy to use as they claim that it is? I recently read a Sept 2009 post by Simon Barrett on BNN who claimed that he was using a commercial version of Linux.
A year or so ago, I purchased for $4.25 from Goodwill a copy of the complete Red Hat LINUX 5.2 Operating System Deluxe. I know that Linux is a free program that can be downloaded off the net, but the fancy box came with a printed instructions book, one diskette and 3 CD’s. There was a convenience factory here, for buying a copy on CD. It, also, contained four books on CD, or about 2,500 pages of text. Red Hat is a commercial version of Linux that was discontinued in 2004, when the company started releasing Red Hat Enterprise Linux. One problem with using Linux is the large number of different versions that have been released under a variety of different names.
My first question was, if Linux is so easy to use then why do you need 2,500 pages to explain how to use it?
Being totally frustrated by trying to install a legal copy of Windows XP Pro on a fairly new IBM PC, I decided to try out my copy of Linux on this machine. Guess what, the Linux diskette installation failed in approximately 10 seconds. Admittedly, this personal computer was probably too modern for it to work on version 5.2 of Red Hat Linux that has a release date of October 1998 .
Next I tested Red Hat Linux 5.2 on an old junk computer. I have read in a number of places that Linux will work on obsolete computers with absolutely no computer resources, such as RAM and hard disk space.
Unlike Simon Barrett of Blogger News Network, my test computer was not laying about in a cardboard box.
The test machine is a NEC Ready 7022 which I fished out of a garbage dumpster for free. It has about 40 MB of RAM and a one Gigabyte hard drive. The computer is in operating condition. I have actually successfully surfed the Web with it, running Windows 95. I would actually characterize this junk computer as being better than the Windows 98 computers that I have previously used.
My ultimate goal is to get this NEC 7022 PC up and running on the Web with Red Hat Linux 5.2.
Booting the PC with the diskette and CD #1, I was presented with a text based graphical interface that reminded me of how these text-based GUIs used to look back in the DOS days of Turbo Pascal.
I hit enter on the keyboard and the installation process began. I had to enter a number of fairly simple selections. Eventually, I ended up with the first major roadblock: The Hard Disk Partition screen. It was not at all self-intuitive. I ended up using the Disk Druid program rather than fdisk since their fdisk program was a lot more complicated looking than the DOS versions that I was familiar with. In brief, I positively had to read through the printed manual in order to figure out how to create the required multiple hard disk partitions.
I will continue with my experiences installing Linux on a junk computer in a future post. But, to give you a sneak peak, unlike Simon Barrett of Blogger News Network who claimed that his install was just 15 minutes, my complete installation took at least 3 hours.
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