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Journal dutky's Journal: Visiting Turkey

Lina and I are finally going to visit my friend Ozan in Istanbus, Turkey. We've been planning to do this ever since Ozan went back to Turkey two years ago. Unfortunately, we'll only be there for six days (actually, only five days, since about one day will be eaten up in air travel) so we won't get to see much of the country: just Istanbul itself. While this is disappointing, I'm not too upset about it, since the main reason to go to Turkey, for any length of time is to see Ozan again.

Faced with the 12-15 hour flight from the east coast of the U.S. to Istanbul (we have two layovers along the way, in New York City and Munich) I have again been thinking about the hacker's handheld. Since there is no way in hell I'd get a home-brewed tablet computer past the security goons and the airport, I've put the last few days effort into getting a Toshiba Portege 3020ct working (in other words, wiping the Microsft filth off the hard drive and installing Linux).

Installing Linux on the Portege 3020ct is a bit of an adventure because the Portege doesn't have a CD-ROM drive (at least, mine doesn't have one) so I had to do an NFS install. The newest version of Slackware (10.1) did the job quite nicely, but with a few hickups.

The first installation went smoothly, until I had to install LILO: the non-expert options for MBR and superblock installation failed and screwed up the superblock on the root partition in an unrecoverable (by me) manner. All successive attempts to rerun the installer failed when it came time to actaully install the packages: once the package groups were selected, some text would flash by (too quick to read) and the isntaller would say everything was installed. In the end, I had to dismantle the install scripts and build my own scripts to untar the Slackware packages directly onto the destination partitions.

I probably could have just used the tag files, but I got fed up and decided to do it my own way. I was rather impressed that I could simply read the install scripts and duplicate the desired functionality in a few dozen lines. This is what I really like about Linux in general: all the inards are, with a bit of effort and patience, available for anyone to muck about with.

I don't want to make it sound like I'm complaining about Slackware, I'm not. Slackware was very good about recognizing the weird hardware setup on the Portege: I'd read web-pages a few years ago recounting the difficulty of installing and using Linux on the Toshiba Portege, but it just seemed to work (modulo the installer crapping out). Once installed, all I had to do was rebuild the kernel to get better support for VFAT and ACPI, download a few packages not found on Slackware, and fiddle a few configuration files.

In 1869 the waffle iron was invented for people who had wrinkled waffles.