[sf-lug] the build-a-box project

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Tue Sep 5 15:28:41 PDT 2006

Quoting vincent polite (vpolitewebsiteguy at yahoo.com):

> Yeah, I figured it would be rather time-consuming. I guess it really
> comes down to a debian version and a red hat version? Just to find out
> how cranky they get. 

If you're asking specifics about what distros get cranky and in what
circumstances, I'm not really the right guy to ask:  I'm pretty down on
the concept of multi-boot configurations, for most (not all) situations, 
and vastly prefer one OS at a time, per box.  

My friend Bruce Coston has some ridiculous number of Linux and BSD
installations plus MS-Windows simultaneously installed, and selectable
from a GRUB menu at boot time, on a single box with a huge hard drive --
and has occasional comments about how this-or-that Linux distribution
proved to not be installable on IDE partition #16 or something like
that.  I have no direct experience with such things, since I try hard to
not be in that situation.

> Since I got your ear Rick, it seems like debian is catering more
> towards the desktop, and redhat is catering more towards the, for lack
> of a better term, system? By system, multiple computers at your whim
> and mercy?

I'm not sure I understand the question, but it might be the caffeine
deficiency talking.  ;->

Given that, I'll [ab]use this space for a micro-sermon about

J. Random User tends to come into (say) installfests with his/her main
machine, even though there may be a nice PII/PIII in his/her closet
gathering dust that would have been a better idea as the machine to
bring.  J. Random is nervous, mumbling a lot when we ask about
tested backups, hasn't given much thought to boot strategy, but assumes
two OSes are better than one:  The user wants to retain MS-Windows but 
add a Linux boot option.  The LUG duly accomplishes this, and sends the
user home.  

One serious operational problem:  The other, pre-existing OS load is
what the user is accustomed to, while the Linux load is unfamiliar, odd,
has a learning curve, and lacks the usual apps and data files.  So, what
inevitably happens?  J. Random spends 99% of subsequent computing time
in the familiar OS, and never gets to know Linux at all -- making the
effort pretty much a waste of everyone's time.

My view:  Most people who come in saying they want to dual-boot are
kidding themselves, and don't know it yet.  The LUG's helpers most often
_do_ know it, but proceed anyway on the "users know what they want"

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