[conspire] Preparing dual-boot system

Daniel Gimpelevich daniel at gimpelevich.san-francisco.ca.us
Sun Jan 20 10:17:51 PST 2008

On Sat, 19 Jan 2008 14:42:53 -0800, hirohama wrote:

> Hello.
> I'd like some recommendations on how to prepare my hard drives so that
> I can install a multi-boot system next Saturday; I'll probably arrive
> around 8 PM, so I'd like to do whatever preparatory work that I can
> ahead of time. I'll probably just go with a few flavors of GNU/Linux
> and maybe a free version of BSD. I'm new to GNU/Linux, so I don't know
> what distributions might appeal to me most. I won't need to make a
> final decision, as I can experiment and revise as I learn more about
> what's available.

As long as you bring the machine itself when you arrive, the rest may be
decided on the spot.

> I primarily used BSD-flavored UNIX systems with X Windows as a
> programmer during the decade of the '80s. I've only used Windows XP
> and Windows 2000 for a few years, but have accumulated some data files
> that I'd like to access via some Windows freeware applications. Is
> there an Windows emulator under GNU/Linux up to the task for most
> simple applications? As long as most work, I will be happy as I can
> borrow a Windows machine to view and print out the few things that
> might not work. Is there good support for burning disks under
> GNU/Linux? Limitations?

Sure, it may be possible for the Windows "freeware" apps to work, but in
most cases, there will be no need even to bother, because there may be
native apps that can replace them altogether.

> The system is a eMachine T6520

As with any eMachines that has a 250W Bestec PSU, you MUST replace the PSU
before it fries your motherboard, because it always will.

> CPU: AMD Athlon™ 64 3400+ Processor (512KB L2 cache, 2.4GHz, 1600MHz FSB)
> Chipset: ATI RS480
> Memory: 1024MB DDR (400MHz)

(Also supports Dual Channel RAM)

> Video: ATI Radeon(R) Xpress 200 (PCI-Express(R) ) with 128MB DDR
> shared video memory

The 128MB gets deducted from the 1024MB total you have. You can probably
change that amount in the BIOS setup to 64MB or less for most uses. If
not, you may have a crippled BIOS, but that's easily fixed with a BIOS
replacement from MicroStar International for their MS-7145 motherboard:
The video chipset should be supported out-of-the-box in any modern
GNU/Linux distribution.

> Sound: AC '97 audio, Dolby 5.1 (6-channel)
> (I'm not too sure what the following means.) Media Reader: 8-in-1
> digital media manager [Secure Digital™ (SD), Smart Media, Compact
> Flash, Micro Drive, Memory Stick(R), Memory Stick PRO, Multimedia
> Card, USB 2.0]
> Network: 10/100Mbps Integrated Ethernet LAN

All of the above should work just fine.

> Modem: 56K ITU V.92-ready Fax/Modem

This may pose a problem if you need it; eMachines, more often than not,
used Lucent LT Winmodems, and the driver for those will not work with
kernels capable of taking advantage of multi-CPU computers. This may not
sound like it applies to you since yours has only one CPU, but some
distributions only have multi-CPU kernels on a "just in case" basis. If
it's not a Lucent, the above does not apply, and it may either easily work
or not work at all, as well as anywhere in between.

> I'll be in an environment with a wireless network signal. I don't know
> whether I should get a wireless network card or an external receiver
> that will connect to the Ethernet port. I'm wanting to reduce my
> exposure to wireless signals, so the external receiver via the
> Ethernet port might be my preference. Specific peripheral
> recommendations would be highly appreciated.

I'm having trouble parsing what you said here. Where the receiver is can
only minimally impact your exposure to the wireless signals, unless you
either use a specialized antenna to concentrate the signal, or are in
physical contact with the antenna. If you had asked about a specific
peripheral recommendation a year and a half ago, the answer would
definitely have been the D-Link DWL-G550, which came with an external
antenna on an extra-long cable. What's available today has changed many
times over, and the best choice may be quite different, even if that model
is still available. What kind and/or speed of wireless network signal will
you have? How far away will it be? What kind of encryption will it have?

> Hard Drive 1: 200GB
> Hard Drive 2: 80GB
> Optical Drive 1: 48x CD-ROM
> Optical Drive 2: 16x DVD±RW multi-format double layer
> Possible OS if needed: 1: Genuine Microsoft(R) Windows(R) XP Media
> Center Edition 2005 or 2: Windows XP Pro. Currently, a fresh install
> of the XP Media Center 2005 is on the 200GB disk. I don't know how the
> disk is partitioned--it could be a 200GB NTFS, and I can check if it
> is important to know.

What's on the 80GB disk? Will you want to be wiping Windows out entirely,
or keeping it around for some odd reason?

> Thanks for being there and helping support the transition away from Microsoft!

Don't forget to thank Microsoft for driving you away in the first place...

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