[conspire] (forw) Re: (forw) Re: I7000

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Sun Feb 22 13:36:02 PST 2009

More.  (Mike might be joining this mailing list, to post more directly.  
Please welcome him, if he does.)

----- Forwarded message from Mike Kirk <mikalk at charter.net> -----

From: Mike Kirk <mikalk at charter.net>
To: Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com>
Date: Sun, 22 Feb 2009 11:58:54 -0600
X-Mailer: Microsoft Windows Mail 6.0.6001.18000
Subject: Re: (forw) Re: [conspire] I7000

Rick - I think after researching the different options of Unix, I have 
decided to try the Ubunto - Desktop version. Since both of my I 7000's have 
256 ram, 366 mhz, 6 gig HD, I will try it later this evening. I will just 
put it on one and see how it works. Any other suggestions on downloading 
anything that will work with my WIRELESS card ? I want to be able to use 
this laptop to communicate wireless with my home network Linksys WRT54GS 
wireless router? Will I have to download and install anything else special 
to work wireless - or will it find the hardware and network automatically 
like windows 2000 did?
                                                                       Thanks for your help and support
                       Mike Kirk 

----- End forwarded message -----
----- Forwarded message from Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com> -----

Date: Sun, 22 Feb 2009 13:34:17 -0800
From: Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com>
To: Mike Kirk <mikalk at charter.net>
Subject: Re: (forw) Re: [conspire] I7000

Quoting Mike Kirk (mikalk at charter.net):

> Rick - I think after researching the different options of Unix, I have 
> decided to try the Ubunto - Desktop version. Since both of my I 7000's have 
> 256 ram, 366 mhz, 6 gig HD, I will try it later this evening.


You are correct that that Inspiron 7000 configuration does satisfy the
rock-bottom minimum hardware requirements for the Ubuntu Desktop disc.
I would like to say it'll therefore run Ubuntu, but it's closer to the
truth to say that it'll _walk that disc briskly_.  I think you will be
quite unhappy with the extreme sluggishness -- and with the fact that
the sluggishness will persist after HD installation, permanently.

There will be three root causes of that slowness:  (1) The "Desktop"
disc image, as opposed to Ubuntu's "Alternate" image, boots up as a
"live CD" Linux distribution.  That means that it operates entirely from
the CD used as a boot volume, plus a RAMdisk, providing a graphical 
desktop to operate from.  A CD used in real time as a boot drive is
inherently slow to start with:  It's just a great deal slower to seek to
new sectors and to read data than is a hard drive.  The Ubuntu Desktop
disc attempts to ameliorate this situaton by also putting often-needed
data into a RAMdisk for quick access when it's needed repeatedly -- but
that becomes a further difficulty on a machine that doesn't have a great
deal of RAM in the first place.

(2) Having booted the "live" system from the CD and associated RAMdisk,
it'll be pretty severely bogged down already, but _then_ you'll be 
attempting to run the graphical program that carries out installation to
your HD, on top of that.  The additional RAM -- and it is a serious
amount of RAM -- required to run the graphical HD installer will
absolutely bring your system to its knees.  The installer will,
according to the Ubuntu Release Notes, eventually successfully conclude
-- but it'll take a really long time.

(3) The particular graphical system run by both the "live" (CD-booted)
system and by the system you can eventually use it to install natively
onto your laptop's hard drive (and subsequently boot entirely from the
HD) is GNOME, the GNU Network Object Model Environment, a "desktop"
superstructure on top of the Unix "X11" graphical windowing system that
is notorious for gobbling RAM.  So, not only will the live-CD system be
dog-slow; so will the eventual installed system.

By contrast, the antiX SimplyMEPIS disc that I mentioned typifies a more
pared down sort of Linux distribution -- but with a compromise I made in
the name of user-friendliness to make the task easier for you:  Although
it is a live CD distribution, and thus requires a good bit of RAM to
boot its from-CD live system and run the optional HD installer from
there, it's at least based on the modest IceWM window manager, and
avoids the overhead of a "desktop" superstructure.  The installed system 
would then be a IceWM-based variant of the user-friendly SimplyMEPIS
distribution, which is a close member of the Debian family, and thus 
mainstream and _not_ a peculiar distribution with limited prospects for
improvement, adding optional packages, etc.

There are, as I mentioned, the Alternate disc images for the Ubuntu
family of distributions.  Those are just straight, non-graphical
installers that put the Linux distribution onto your hard drive.  Thus,
the installer is not RAM-gobbling.  However (of the Ubuntu family), the
Ubuntu Alternate disc installs GNOME, the Kubuntu Alternate disc
installs KDE, the Xubuntu Alternate disc installs Xfce4, all
RAM-grabbing "desktop" setups.

There are a large variety of other options.  One is "U-Lite" (formerly
Ubuntu-Lite), an unofficial Ubuntu variant using the lightweight LXDE
desktop, and a downloadable CD installer image that runs a non-graphical
HD installer.


If you'd nonetheless like to try one of the Ubuntu discs -- even the
Desktop disc -- it's possible you might like it despite the dire
performance problems, but don't be surprised if the slowness is pretty

> Any other suggestions on downloading anything that will work with my
> WIRELESS card ?

Two things to note:  (1) In the Linux community, we download "driver"
software after installation (particularly driver software from hardware
manufacturers, which almost inevitably is non-open-source _and_ sucks on
other grounds) only as a last resort.  A well-chosen Linux distribution
_should_ have a full set of hardware support software built in.

(2) It is difficult to help you until you identify your wireless card.
The ideal description of your card would not be just make/model, but
would be the _chipset_ of your card, and also the type of bus it
connects to your machine over (which will be either USB or, more likely,
PC Card = PCMCIA).  As a newcomer to Linux, you will probably have no
idea what chipset the card uses.  Members of the Linux community can
help you determine that information and understand it.

Essentially, on all operating systems, hardware drivers have to be
written to speak to the software interfaces of particular chipsets from
electronic comonent manufacturers.  A particular chipset might be used
by half a dozen manufacturers under variant board makes and model
numbers, but the real, underlying driver problem is that of supporting
the underlying chipset.  When you, as the user of a mass-market
operating system, pick out what hardware you have to determine what
driver will be loaded, really you're navigating a big look-up table
someone has built in advance, where picking a particular make/model of
board (or other retail gear) implicitly selects a chipset, for which a
driver then is picked.  In other words, you are shielded from the
underlying chipset reality, and allowed to deal only in retail
makes/models.  We of the Linux community find it more fruitful to deal
with the underlying chipset reality.  For one thing, if you know your
card's chipset, you can make the matching Linux driver work, even if the
card's retail make/model is too obscure (or new) to be on anyone's
lookup table.

Please be forewarned that 802.11 wireless hardware is, in general, among
te problem areas in Linux support, because many of the hardware
manufacturers are uncooperative with our community, and it's necessary
to reverse-engineer driver support for the hardware, which takes time.
Consequently, it's often the case that really brand-new chipsets (of
various types, not just wireless) have only poor, fair, or no Linux
support for a while.

However, hardware that's been on the market for 1+ years typically has
at least pretty good Linux support.

> I want to be able to use this laptop to communicate wireless with my
> home network Linksys WRT54GS wireless router? 

Not relevant to your question, but, did you know that you can, at your
option, vastly improve your WRT54GS by re-flashing its firmware to run a
custom Linux distribution with a great deal more and better
functionality than what Linksys/Cisco sold it with?


By the way, among the reasons why you should consider joining the
mailing list (or Web forum) of at least one Linux user group -- and I'd
encourage you to find one or more close to you physically -- is that
you'll find, in general, that people are reluctant to spend much time
corresponding with you in private e-mail to help you solve your
problems, because that amounts to free-of-charge technical support for
strangers, and the same time/energy could have been spent helping build
the Linux community via participation on public forums, such as mailing
lists and Web fora -- where each asking and answering of questions helps
_many_ people, not just one stranger.

(No offence intended or taken, but I cannot continue giving private

----- End forwarded message -----

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