Friday, August 26, 2011

...Aaand we're back.

To say that this week has been rough on the state of my computer would be an understatement.  To start off this semester I've made one giant mistake that is often disastrous in both Computer Science and life itself in that I made a last-minute change.

A week before, I had upgraded my laptop's hard drive to a Solid State Disk Hybrid Drive, the Seagate Momentus XT, which combines a small partition of flash memory and a 7200 rpm hard disk.  To my dismay, I found that my existing Windows 7 installation on my computer would not work with the new hardware, even if I cloned it and restored it with Clonezilla.  With not having a optical disk drive (the trade-off with portability) I had a hard time creating a bootable usb drive with the recovery disk I received with the laptop, only to find out that I needed an install cd with the disk.  This is where I gave up recovering my old configurations and started looking for alternatives.

Having found an official Windows 7 SP1 iso online that I could boot with help of Plop Boot Manager, I made a fresh install on the new hard drive only to find out that the Product Key that came with my laptop (and, after a year being spent on the underside of my laptop, was nearly illegible) did not work with an SP1 install.  One would wonder how good a Product Key is if it doesn't work with the updates that it's good for.  Instead of putting myself through more trouble I decided that since there is software available for installing and making a bootable install on a flash drive via UNetbootin, I'd try for a linux partition in replace of my Windows 7 Install.  Instead of the traditional Ubuntu install, I thought I'd stray from what I was familiar with and install Mint Linux LXDE, a distro based on linux that employs both the lightweight manager LXDE and proprietary software like Java and flash by default.  While I did like the window manager, I was unfamiliar with the distro's navigation.  I could not bring up the file system other than from the menu bar, among other things.  The system did not work well with my NVIDIA ION GPU, as well, always resulting in weird artifacts when, say, I'd launch the terminal.  The system crashed a fair amount of times, often when taxing the GPU by watching videos, so I decided to install another linux distro I'd heard was good: Debian.

As opposed to Ubuntu, which is sponsored by Canonical, Debian is tied directly to the GNU open-source project and doesn't have a centeral supporter, and instead is developed solely through volunteers.  This makes it a great incentive for people to support truly free and pure software.  Unfortunately, Debian did not play well with my experience with Linux and with installing a system.  Whereas Ubuntu has live CD's with an easy install system, Debian employed the old system of a series of menus with options about the installation.  Looking to keep a partition to install Windows 7 later on, I tried my hand at manually configuring the partition (1 Ext3 partition for Debian, 1 Swap partition and 1 NTFS partition for Windows 7).  When the installation finished, the morning of the day Assignment 01 for ICS 314 was due, I found that the LILO bootloader did not boot into the Debian install but was dropped down to a busybox shell provided by LILO.  No amount of Googling and tinkering made the install bootable and so I missed Assignment 01.  As soon as I got home, however, I decided to return to the tried and true Ubuntu install.

As of this blog, I am now running Xubuntu 11.04, an Ubuntu distro that uses the XFCE window manager as opposed to Unity, Ubuntu's new window manager which has received mixed reviews.  It is an upgrade from 10.04, which I had installed alongside my Win7 install on my previous hard drive.  It seems to be just as good as I remembered it, if not better with significant improvements.

I've learned a lot about the perils of last-minute changes enough from my work as an A/V Operator at the East-West Center.  I should have given more time for me to get up to speed with my hardware and software but I was unable to get my configuration on par with my desires in time for Assignment 01.  Instead that leaves me with a wake-up call and an incentive to work extra hard in the future to catch up.

1 comment:

  1. Read my blog post about Linux:

    Linux will never be intuitive to use.