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Journal bandy's Journal: distros

After a very long time I'm back to installing Linux again. Way back when it was Slackware, if only because it had a picture of J.R. "Bob" Dobbs on the cover. It ran decently well but it wasn't my main operating system.

Some time after that, I again wanted a Linux to try out and a friend gave me Red Hat cds. No go. Just wouldn't install, no matter how hard I beat upon it. My friend runs Red Hat and doesn't have a problem with it, but he indicated that for those of us he has given a set of the disks to, there have been zero successes. Oh well.

Now I'm working for an outfit which hopes to sell Linux laptops in addition to laptops.

As time has passed during my seven plus years in ISDN land, the distro landscape has changed a little bit, and for the better. It seems as if Red Hat is the dominant player in the US market, possibly because of all that publicity during their IPO. Europe, on the other hand, wants SuSE. SuSE, it turns out is descended from Slackware, which is now called a hackerish release.

SuSE's laptop support is near-superb, although it required a re-configure and re-compile of the kernel in order to enable the battery info. I'm typing on it right now. The gecko is cute, too. The mini-PCI 802.11b works right out of the box.

Red Hat, on the other hand, seems to be stuck in the past. It has some APM support, or so it claims, but it doesn't register anything on our laptops. The guy from RH told one of our guys to try the "Taroon" beta [2.4.21 kernel] and it would "just work". Chy'eah, right. APM is still brain-dead, ACPI support is in the kernel but there's no way to turn it on, and "make xconfig" is plain broken. The wireless card doesn't work, either. I'm backing down to a fresh RH9 install and will patch in the ACPI code from SourceForge.

In stark contrast to the quick install SuSE gave me after I had managed to scramble the kernel and its modules a few days ago, Red Hat's seems to be pessimised. The CD spins up, it reads something goes to install it, the CD spins back down, then the system hangs for a bit before going on to the next package.

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The first rule of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts. -- Paul Erlich