Tuesday, July 26, 2005

My tryst with Linux.


I bought my home desktop PC in 1997. It had Windows 95 operating system. Later on I switched to Windows 98. I was using the PC mainly for internet browsing and email. I had Internet Explorer and Outlook Express. After a few months I received a virus (WORM_KLEZ.G) through email attachment. It started sending mails to the people in my address book. I removed that virus by removing some entries in the Windows registry.

Later on I installed Zone Alarm firewall and AVG Anti virus.

In Sep 2004, I bought HP/COMPAQ Presario 2500 Laptop with Mandrake Linux 9.1 CDs and my tryst with Linux began.

The CDs were supplied by HP with the Laptop and the installation was very smooth. I visited Mandrake Linux site and found that Mandrakelinux 10 Official was the latest version. I downloaded the ISO images and burned CDs. ( I tried to install this version but was getting error message "Kernel panic".

I looked for support on Mandrake site but either there was paid incidence of support or I was required to join Mandrake Club by paying a fee.

I searched on Google and found a free forum ( After reading a few posts on this and other forums I realised that Mangrakelinux 10 was not able to detect the devices on my Laptop. Somewhere I got a hint to pass the following command to the linux kernel.

linux noauto nofirewire

During the installation I was asked to install or upgrade. I first tried "install" and Mandrakelinux 10 Official got installed on my Laptop.

I found that free downloadable version of Mandrakelinux 10 did not contain many important drivers for the Laptop. Therefore I installed Mandrake Linux 9.1 once again since it had all the drivers.

I was accessing the Internet through eth0 and there was no problem but when I was using Dialup through ppp0, I found that the speed was limited to 14.2 Kbps, although the internal modem was 56 Kbps.

I discovered that the modem driver supplied by HP was free version and I was suppossed to pay to Linuxant ( to get the driver with 56 Kbps. Moreover, Linuxant did not have the driver for Kernel installed in Mandrake Linux 9.1.

I had to reinstall Mandrakelinux 10 (this time I had chosen "upgrade" option to retain other drivers). I paid Linuxant and downloaded and installed the required driver for 56 Kpbs.

I found that ACPI was not working in Mandrakelinux 10 and battery status was not indicated. I had to "turn on" ACPI in boot configuration.

Subsequently Mandrakelinux (renamed as Mandriva Linux) announced many upgrades to the OS (Version 10.1, 10.2, LE2005) but I was required to pay for the Mandriva Club membership to download the versions with all the drivers so I decided to look for another Linux distribution.

I found over hundred Linux distributions but the main ones were Fedora, Suse, Mandriva, Debian, Ubuntu, Gentoo, Xandros.

I was most impressed by Ubuntu because it had excellent (free) support forum ( and they were shipping free CDs ( I could not wait for the free CD to arrive and bought it (at $1+shipping) and it arrived next day.

I wanted to keep Mandrakelinux alongwith Ubuntu on my Laptop so I first tried to learn the dual boot method and installed it on my daughter's desktop which had WindowsXP. I was advised to buy Partition Magic. I downloaded the free Demo version ( and used it to learn the types of partitions and the process. Then I used WindowsXP administration tools to alter the sizes of existing partitions on my daugther's desktop and created a partition to install Ubuntu.

I inserted the Ubuntu installation CD and selected to use the existing partition. There is an excellent partition program built inside the CD through which I selected the partition (created in WinXP) and formatted it for required Linux partition. I also found that Linux could use FAT32 partition of Windows so I mounted the Windows drive E (which had data files) in Linux FAT32 without formatting it (since it had data files).

Ubuntu installed very smoothly and I logged into Gnome desktop. I was very much impressed with it since I was using KDE desktop in Mandrake. The only problem was the resolution (I think it was 640x480).

I searched on Ubuntu forum and got the solution. I had to insert two lines in the xorg.conf file. ( HorizSync 31.5-48.5 VertRefresh 59.0-75.0).

During installation I had chosen Grub bootloader which asks you to chose Ubuntu or WindowsXP when you switch on the machine and loads Ubuntu if you don't chose anything.

Then I decided to install Ubuntu on my Laptop. I created the required partition in Mandrake Linux. Initially it did not allow me to resize the /home partition. I had to kill the processes which were using the partition. I killed the processes by (#fuser -km /home) command and resized the partition.

I inserted the Ubuntu CD and rebooted. The installation was very smooth. As before, I selected to use the existing partitions. I mounted the new partition at (/) and also mounted the /home partition (without formatting) to share all the existing files made in Mandrakelinux.

Once again I could login to Gnome desktop after installation and there was no problem with the resolution.

I love Ubuntu very much.