Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Landed (or stepped) in Linux - OpenSuSE 11.3 on my Alienware Area 51

I threw away Windows and loaded openSuSE 11.3 on one of my laptops (Alienware Area51 that I purchased in 2003).  Yes, you heard right, a 7 year old laptop.

Linux loaded fine, ran great, except for the WIRELESS support.  It took me a few nights of gcc compiling, kernel module loading and blacklisting, but I finally got the Ralink rt35xxsta driver working in OpenSuSE 11.3.  This was to get a non-supported Lynksys/Cisco AE1000 USB WiFi device working.  It seems to be OK, but every now and then it asks to re-associate with the AP.  And it asks for my root password when I boot.

But I am not complaining here.  Stories of Linux/Wireless woes are legion.  I am actually one of the lucky ones.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

I am threw with Windows and PCs

Thank you Microsoft and Toshiba, I have finally seen the light.  In 2008, while working at Circuit City, just before it went belly-up, I mistakenly purchased a Toshiba Satellite.  I say it was a mistake because now only 2 years later, I have a door stop that used to be a laptop.  First the hard drive failed just after 2 years.  That is just unacceptable.  I have an Alienware that I purchased in 2003 that still screams.  I have a Dell that I bought in 2000 that still chugs along, albeit slowly (mostly a Windows pollution issue).  At the time I did not know that Satellite was Toshiba's code for poor quality.  Perhaps Toshiba is Japanese for crap.

I purchased a new hard drive and it took 4 hours to prep it after I installed it.  Then I tried to reload the Windoze P-OS and alas the CD ROM is now misbehaving.  That's for hours of my life that I will not get back.

While I was trying to fix the POSHITA laptop, I was also trying to download a 4.7 GB Suse Linux ISO image.  It is really not important what I was downloading except that it was Linux.  I am looking for an alternative to Win-blows.  I could not even attempt it with Microshaft's Internet Exploder, it doesn't handle files that large.  I had to use Firefox.  However, it kept locking up after about 2 GB.  So, I downloaded Google Chrome and it downloaded the ISO finally.  Three web browsers later, I then tried to write the image to a firewire DVD burner.  Alas, failed again.  Every time I would try to write the file, Windows would say that it could not continue.

I then tried to copy the image to a thumb drive.  However, Windows complained once more.  This time it said that the drive was full, when there was over 12 GB free space.  I was able to finally copy the files down individually.

This would be funny if it wasn't true.  Twenty years ago it was challenging trying to get PC hardware to work with the correct IRQ or even DOS.  Now, it is just annoying and costly.  PC manufacturers don't see their piss-poor quality as an issue because MacBook Pros are so expensive.  And most companies do not use MacBook Pros because they are so expensive.  However, I have never met an unhappy Mac owner.  Furthermore, the people in the Apple store just look happier.  I never saw that kind of happiness in CompUSA or Computer City (both of which are now defunct).

It is not just Mac; I have worked with Unix and Linux in the past, and lately (the last 4 weeks) I have been concentrating on Linux again.  If anyone spends anytime with that OS they realize how they have been lulled into believing that only Windows delivers value to organizations.  Microsoft has most of us, companies included, by the short-hairs.  Everyone wants productivity and most software runs on Windows.  It's the ultimate catch-22.

I really stepped in tech-sand this evening, like so many times before.  Again I was a victim of software and hardware vendors' planned obsolescence.  I see it as just another episode in series of minor Greek tragedies that I euphemistically refer to as PC repair.