Archive for November, 2006


Yucky Wine

November 29, 2006

The biggest problem that I had, up to a point, with Wine and Puppy was finding a version for Puppy.  And mike gave me a god idea with the forums. [DOH!]  so
I found what were touted to be the most stable version of the various files and downloaded them.  I then attempted to install them.


Okay, this is the major problem with Linux that I thought I had somehow escaped and gotten past.  I mean I got my modem working and had played with several distros.  I sort of fell for the Puppy but now I’m having second thoughts.


I didn’t write down the error messages, and sorry I can’t be more specific, but the Pup did not like these new files AT ALL.  I had gotten an earlier version of Wine to sort of work on the old machine I had put an older version of Mepis on.  I thought I knew what I was doing but knowledge of one distro does not always readily transfer to another one.  I can see the benefit of this when it comes to escaping a virus or malware (who’s going to write malicious code for EVERY distro?!?). 


The other problem besides the thing obviously not installing and working are the problems describing the process of it not working.  Maybe it’s just me, but I have a hard time figuring out exactly WHAT the problem is.  I click on the bone icon (the dotpup packages), expecting stuff to happen and I’m not sure if it did or not.  I click the Wine icon and it opens a window and then closes.  Or nothing happens.  Or I get so far as to a point where it wants to be configured and then it closes when I try to set up sound.  No error, it just closes.  And then I have to start over.  Or I might get an error message that I totally am clueless as to what it means.  And I thought MS could be cryptic.


No I did not memorize or write down each and every little thing.  I am a lazy Windows user, remember!  I am clueless and a nOOb!


At the moment, I have this delicate configuration of 4 different machines running 4 different OS versions that can do what I need to get done.  It would be really, really nice to have one machine (or better yet, all 4) that was proficient enough to perform as needed with all the different hardware and software that I have.  This seems to be asking too much.  Okay, what I have works for the moment. I’ll just let some hair grow back or wait until necessity drives me to mess around some more!LOL!




Linux to the Rescue Again

November 9, 2006

 And this time it wasn’t because I was screwing around with anything!

Something died on another of my new machines,  (Not the one I screwed up with the attempted dual boot) so I spent a half day working on that.  It would not boot at all, even with a live CD.  That’s when you know you have a major screw-up.  So I took new machine #3 out of the box.  However Mr. Khan has not had any of us installed as users yet, so I’ve been using Puppy Linux just to my Paraeducators can check email and surf the web.


And since they’ve been using it they can barely tell the difference.  They do kind of know something is different, but by and large they have not complained or anything.  While all of them have a computer at home with access to the internet, NONE of them are using Firefox.  So when it comes to tabbed browsing, they have no idea what they are missing.  I think this is the sad state of affairs as folks have placed all of their trust in Microsoft.   Anyone who has never used anything else (which is most people) have no idea of how inferior their stuff really is.  I showed one of them how to get around a bit in tabs and she became an instant believer and convert. 


So Linux is operating again pretty much full-time in the classroom, but it is decidedly doing lighter duty than I put my machine through.  Still, there are 4 different adults using this one machine and it seems to be working for all of them.  I try to tell them about the OS they are using and their eyes just sort of glaze over.  They are just not all that interested.  They just like the fact that it works.  I think they represent more typical users who have modest needs, and Puppy Linux pretty much fits the bill for anything these 4 are going to to.


I, OTOH, do have more extensive needs because I’m creating instructional materials using specialized software packages.  WINE is supposed to work but I have yet to get a copy of it installed and working. 




How Linux ruined My Day

November 3, 2006

There are days when I wonder; would I be better off never having heard of Linux? Today was one of those days.

It all started because I was trying to run an innocuous adaptiv technology program called Boardmaker. Elain and Loraine had recently installed it for me, but had failed to test it. So I thought it would work, and it said I had insufficient priviledges. Which is crap, because I DO have administrative priviledges on this machine and I proceded to attempt to invoke them. But still, the program failed to work properly, largely because it has issues with XP and multiple users. Making it work required all mannerr of jiggery and fiddling. I became frustrated.

Ever gotten frustrated and did something dumb that seemed like a good idea at the time?

I’m under a bit of pressure to produce something and I needed this program to do it. So I came up with the scheme of partitioning this 80 gig hard drive, installing Mepis in a dual boot situation and the using WINE to get Boardmaker to think I was on my home machine with unrestricted administrative rights.

So I used QT Parted to repartition my hard drive and then blindly let it install Grub, thinking I would get some sort of message with an option of which OS to boot at startup. All of this seemed to go swimmingly well. Too well.

While doing all of this, a young lady came to my room with some questions. She had been referred to me by Loraine and Elaine, who are the twins who do most of the basic IT stuff around the school. Apparently the young lady, who I’ll just go ahead and name Halle as in Halle Barry, had just bought a new computer. from Wal-Mart and it came with Linux preinstalled. I asked her which distribution and she said she didn’t know but I guessed Linspire. Yes, it came with Linspire, which I had tried once as FreeSpire. She was having trouble getting online, because she was using dialup and her ISP was Bellsouth.

I was kind of excited to find someone else around getting into Linux but sensed her frustration. I almost suggested she take it back to get an XP machine but she insisted she did kind of like it. So we brainstormed and came up with the fact that there was an ISP provider who had an icon on her desktop to try for 3 months while she looked in the Freespire community for someone who was also using Bellsouth.

While we’re talking, my machine is in the process of becoming the district’s only dual boot XP/Linux machine. Or that was the idea. While talking, I rebooted and then looked over and noticed it wasn’t booting. It kept saying there was no boot disk. It was not locating the hard drive. I went from feeling pretty good to feeling like crap in less than 2 minutes. I was totally distracted from helping Halle at this point, and mumbled something about me maybe not being the best authority since I had apparently fried the school’s computer…one of the brand new ones!

She thanked me and said it had been helpful and went off to lunch or class or wherever. I was now in deep shit. Putting Mepis or whatever distro on an old P3 destined for the scrap heap is one thing. Frying a brand new machine is a different matter entirely. Loraine and Elaine, who live and die by Microsoft and FUD would have a field day. And then there was the head of IT in my building, Ghengis Khan. I don’t call him that just for the hell of it!

Fortunately I had a student out and all my paras were present. They could do most of the real work while I attempted to save my system from my own folly. And so the race was on.

Again, Mepis 6.0 has a few issues that made life harder than it had to be. It’s much more difficult to locate partitions. I did a live CD boot with Mepis 3.1 and those partitions both appeared right on the desktop. Whew! A look around revealed the Windows stuff was all still there. Good. Now I just had to figure out how to get the thing to boot and do it without total administrative access.

I used my other networked machine (the new one I let the paras use) to search for a solution to get the system to boot. I really was not keen on losing all of XP because there are still things that HAVE to be done with XP. Important stuff like grades and attendance.

For the next 4 hours, I was diligently trying various things. Most Master Boot records need the XP install disk in order to be fixed. Since I did not have an XP disk, this was not an acceptable option. I tried copying a few suggested files from the sister machine to fix the crippled one. Nothing doing.

The tool that finally did it was a little program called Gag46 orr something like that. Very simple, very small (fits on a floppy) and fairly elegant. Using this floppy, I could have my dual boot, but more importantly, Windows would boot.

The first thing Windows did when it booted was to “correct” the partitioning work I had done, so now Mepis was knocked off. But that’s okay.

It was a long and frustrating day, and Boardmaker STILL doesn’t want to work!

Grub eventually decided to “work.” Actually, there is no menu to pick the OS like I get with Gag46. No, just a command prompt looking exactly like an old MS DOS prompt, with commands every bit as cryptic. The one I got to work was “reboot” and then used the Gag46 to get XP back up.

As it stands now, I can use the floppy to get back to where I was before I had my bright idea. I’m not saying I’m giving it up entirely, as I still think the idea has merit, but just not this second.