To inform entertain and excite my kids, Jamie, Patrick, Aaron & Sarah Middleburgh, our family and friends.

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Middleburgh Linux'd Out

I have now installed and run different flavours of LINUX, on

Lest Old Friends Be Forgot

A year ago I installed Damned Small Linux onto a USB flash drive. Unfortunately I didn't think it lived up to its’ reputation, no doubt due to the fact that I had difficulty connecting to the internet using WIFI, which is my preferred method at home, where I have access to 4 IBM ThinkPads of different vintages. The techies at work had prewarned me that my biggest challenge would be finding one Linux version with the necessary drivers for all of them.

Rising to this challenge I burned a Xubuntu 8.04 Live CD and installed it onto a PC internal disk. The installation went like a dream without any connectivity problems etc. This experience has somewhat spoiled me but did vindicate my choice of “distro” which had been based on four considerations:

Not that I didn't have issues:

Sticks & Moans

I was sufficiently impressed by Xubuntu to try loading it on a 2GB flash drive. Although more rewarding than DSL it only encouraged to look at some other ”distros” - about 20 in fact.

I came to the conclusion that Linux “distros” are rather like kit cars. In the same way that different kit cars are built over a standard production chassis and use standard running gear and engines, distros are build over an independently maintained Linux kernel and have standardized desktops such as Gnome, KDE,XFCE etc. The finished products ,like kit car models, however are all different reflecting the different visions and agendas of the various “distro” developers.

Xubuntu is a derivative of Ubuntu which is itself a derivative of Debian. A search using Distrowatch's "based on" search shows the Ubuntu is one of two major linux versions which have spawned most “distros”. The other is Slackware.which was developed by Patrick Volkerding in 1992 and is the oldest surviving Linux distribution. A year ago I tried out Slax which is a minimalist implementation of slackware. I actually prefered Nimblex, discovered through the Slax forum: In particular I liked it's configurator(shame about the version) and its’ comprehensive modules list.

Slax modules are application packages and to work all dependent components are required. Unapproved modules are frequently incomplete or contain incompatible components.(easy to test though!!) On the Slax site only approved modules were searchable and the administrator had taken it upon himself to be the official approver and bottleneck. Notwithstanding common sense has prevailed and there are several lists cited in the Slax forum which document modules including those unapproved.

Two richer slackware “distros” which are simple to install to a USB stick mention note:Vectorlinux which is more up to date, and Wolvix.I was very tempted to adopt VectorLinux as preferred USB solution but in the end (because it was the soft option) I gravitated back to Ubuntu “distros” and installed

I also installed Parted Magicwhich is a tool kit to manage disc partitions etc on my old 64MB USB drive: it proved its’ worth when I used it to fix up a USB hard drive install that had gone of the rails.

Back to Basics

Because of the challenges associated with persistence and alleged issues about running an operating system off of USB flash drive (ie speed and limited life - number read/ write actions?) I decided to install Linux on an external USB hard drive (well why not! –after all I had just installed to both a normal hard drive and a USB flash drive. I followed these pendrivelinux instructions with 2 small but significant variations:

I also discovered like others, that I had problems with GRUB which appeared to get very confused where it was loading from especially when the internal disk held a copy of Linux. I can't actually remember how I fixed this other than the resource used was here!

And They Said It couldn't Be Done!!

For completeness I installed and tested the “distro”s on a 2GB SD card. I used Syslinux to load boot member and make the card active. I copied the files from the USB drives and then tried to boot using a USB card reader. One PC declined to recognise the card as bootable. Some of the “distros” didn't boot properly due to file formats or because the Xserver didn't start. Several including Crunchbang did load although on 1 PC there was a problem with the WIFI connection dropping - This I believe was due to the device contention on WIFI card which according to the TAWBook was a strange dual combocard..

The Screen Saver

A question posed on one Linux site went as follows : You've loaded Linux, played with the screen saver .... now what? And the answer is go play with thecheat sheets and/or go get certifiedAnd If you read this far perhaps you should( be) ??


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