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dashing_cavalier's Journal: My Linux Journey, Part 1

Journal by dashing_cavalier

This is the first in a series of journal entries about my installation of Mandrake Linux 9.1. My goal is to set up my desktop workstation with Mandrake running KDE with a dual boot with Windows XP. (I know, I know, but my wife still has to use it, plus there are some games I like that will only run on XP :P) By necessity I have to install / configure in chunks since I only have so much free time each day (I have a three year old son plus lots of "honeydos") so any time I can spend working on the install is a miracle...

So, let the fun begin...

Part 1 - Prepping the System

First things first, I have a Gateway E5200 that I got back in 1999. It's a Pentium III 500 MHz and I had previously bumped the RAM up from 256 MB to 512 MB. I have a 30 GB hard drive plus a CDROM and a CDRW. Granted it's not the most up to date box in the world, but it should be good enough for Mandrake 9.1. I actually bought (yes, *paid* for!) the Mandrake Linux PowerPack & Definitive Guide bundle. I want to try to do my part to keep Mandrake around, plus it's cheaper than buying Windows XP and definitely a lot better - that to me is worth $79 + shipping!

First thing I really had to do was buy a new hard drive. With Windows XP I had partitioned and formatted all of the old drive. Rather than have Mandrake fight XP over the old drive (and from what I've read it would probably work just fine) I went ahead and got a new 30 GB hard drive from CompUSA. So last night, I installed it. It did not go smoothly, as it seems that Gateway used to (still does?) go out of their way to make it difficult to get to the hardware inside the box. The hard drive bay was screwed into the case, betwixt the cooling fan and the 5.5" drive bays. Took me forever to get the bay uninstalled so that I could add the new hard drive. Finally it came out, almost ripping all of the other wires out of place in the process. (I *did* remember to unplug the box, of course! :P) After setting the new hard drive to "slave" mode, attaching it to the drive bay, and fixing it with the screws, I plugged in the connector ribbon & power cable. Of course I had to reconnect the IDE cable back to the motherboard as it was way to short to allow free access to the drive bay and had to be unplugged. Finally, after twisting and turning the drive bay I managed to get it back in place and screw it back to the case. I put the cover back on, plugged everything back in and powered up...

... only to have the system fail to boot! Yeah, it stuck on the BIOS screen, not recognizing any of the IDE drives save for the CDRW (which oddly enough was the secondary slave - weird!) I guessed maybe the IDE ribbons were not plugged in solidly, so I powered down and went back into the case. I removed the entire 3.5" drive bay again (sigh) and unplugged the IDE ribbon from the motherboard. It just looked too old and twisted to be funtional (plus it was barely long enough to be of use) so I just replaced the whole ribbon with a new one from the new hard drive. This ribbon was much longer and more flexible, allowing me to easily reinstall the 3.5" bay without worrying about inadvertently unplugging the IDE ribbon from the motherboard. Once everything was reattached, I closed the case, powered up, and...

... this time it booted just fine! I watched the BIOS screen as it booted and the BIOS recognized all of the IDE drives this time (whew!) and Windows XP came up. I half expected Clippy to pop up and say, "I see you have installed a new hard drive, would you like me to help you format that?" but mericfully no Clippy appeared... I did get the "New hardware installed" popup, but I just had to click the X to make it go away. Yeah, I definitely don't want XP to mess with my future home for Mandrake!

As it was now 12:30 AM, and installing the darn hard drive took *way* longer than expected, I decided to give it a rest and come back to install Mandrake later. Can't wait!

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My Linux Journey, Part 1

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