June 23, 2006

When my CD arrived, I was overjoyed.  I couldn't wait to try it out!  But as a busy teacher, I would have to wait.  But the opportunity presented itself soon enough.

My machine at school was a 800 MHz machine that had been running Win98 before they re-imaged it over the summer to XP.  That would be summer 2005.  The machine only had 64 Mb RAM and seriously whimpered under the yoke of XP.  Fortunately I knew our building tech guy well and he got a hold of 2 more Win98 machines that didn't have network cards.  I took the RAM from one machine and put it on my networked machine which stopped whimpering so loudly.  Then I worked on the non-networked machine.

Using XP, the computer administrators effectively made it impossible for teachers to install their own software.  I could see their point, to avoid infecting the entire network with junk.  But I had specialized things to install, like a scanner, a digital camera, several very specialized programs and assorted adaptive switches and touch screens.  This is why I got a machine that was not networked, so I could put my own stuff on it.  I didn't need internet access, I just needed to be able to scan, print and run things for the kids.  But Office XP was only available over the network.  What to do?

This where I installed and seriously began working with Open Office.  It is now a real working part of my classroom set up.  I was able to get some real work done, finally.

But then my networked machine started whining.  It was seriously going to pieces.  The hard drive made all of these knocking noises and would often refuse to boot at all.  My computer technology friend was overwhelmed from tons of teachers who were having problems with all of their former Win98 machines whining under XP.  So if I wanted to get online, I was on my own.

Enter the Simply Mepis CD.  I had to set up the machine to where it would boot off the CD.  This might be a daunting task to some, because it involves fiddling with the BIOS.  Fortunately most newer machines already boot from the CD.

I put the disk in the CD drive and I was pleased to see the initial screen for setting up the type of installation come up relatively quickly..  "Installation" being relative, because it is loaded in the RAM, not the hard drive in Live CD mode.  It took a couple of tries to figure out the setting, mainly because my monitor is on the old side.  So I chose a lower resolution plus went to the minimal options installation.  For some reason, the higher settings would not work on this machine.  Probably having only 128 Mb RAM and being only 800 MHz.

So once I got that worked out, Mepis proceeded to load.  It takes a few minutes for this to boot up and to get to anything resembling a desktop.  But once you finally get to it, it looks and feels very familiar except it is new.

Mepis even found the Apache server that runs our network.  I wasn't able to access the network drives, but I was able to get online and access the internet and email.  What’s more, I was able to use the tabbed browsing of Firefox.  The regular network boot up under Windows is still using IE 6, and ONLY IE 6 since us teachers can't install our own stuff.

Mepis proved an excellent program for web browsing and checking email.  What about other stuff?

Well stay tuned.  Also, keep in mind that we're only using the live CD and have not actually installed anything.  Also, this is at work.  What about my home machine?

This was about a year ago all of this took place.

Stay tuned for more.  More problems and hopefully more solutions.


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