Saturday, 7 May 2011

Linux does it!


About three weeks ago I decided to give Linux a try. It was a couple of things coming close together that prompted me to do it. First, I was innocently working away in my studio where there came the most awful computer inspired wailing from downstairs. What on earth was wrong? Going to investigate I discovered that my wife, having spent an afternoon working on a document, had returned to her desk with a coffee ready to wind up for the day when she discovered that good ole Windows had started an automatic update and dumped her work. A bit like the sweet little dog who greets you, tail thrashing and look-what-I've-done-aren't-I-clever, when he's just eaten the meal you set out on the dining table. Sweet little dog. Good ole Windows.

Sorting out M's computer I discovered that installing Microsoft updates automatically is the recommended setting. Not for me it isn't. So that was easily changed and all will be well. But a couple of days later I had problems myself. Tried to print a document and my pc told me there was no printer driver installed. I've been using that printer on that machine for a long time. But never mind, I can install it again. So, second attempt – still no printer driver installed. And then I can't access my external hard drive or get a wireless internet connection. Major hardware failure – my machine is disintegretating. Googling around on a different machine I picked up the suspicion that something like this could be the result of a … Fill in the blanks.

So I decided to have a go with Linux. Only problem, as I understood it, was that getting a wireless internet connection could be a bit tricky. Lots of solutions posted out there but they all involved very geeky things. Same with printer drivers. But the problem was not insurmountable. It could be done and I would do it in due course. So I loaded up Knoppix on my old machine. No wireless connection, of course, but that's what I expected. Just give me time. I found a Linux compatible wireless usb adapter. Still nothing, but never mind. I'll try an ethernet cable. Except that to set up the network I need to enter all sorts of codes that I don't understand. No trouble – I'll get advice from somewhere.

Then I tried OpenSuse. Nice. Liked it a lot but I'm no closer my router or my printer. Still Windows-dependent for a lot of stuff but at least I can find my way around Linux while I'm waiting for a solution. Then I tried Ubuntu 10.10. But instead of using my original machine, the one that refused to speak to my printer, I loaded it into the newer one. It recognised my printer and set it up; it connected to the router and asked for my password. And all is running well. It looks like it really was a hardware failure on the old machine after all. If I hadn't googled around before starting I might not have been expecting problems and I might just have got there a bit sooner.

Ok, back to writing now. Where was I before all this?

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