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The Linux Chronicles – Blue Smoke and ….



So there I am on Monday night, reading Craig’s List and minding my own business when I hear a little pop from my laptop, my venerable 7 year old Dell Inspiron. Simultaneously, the screen goes blank and a wisp of magic blue smoke leaks out. Damn! My machine has committed suicide. Just when I had it set up perfectly.

I was on Craig’s List because I was looking for a new computer anyway. I sez to myself “Now the search is serious. I’ll just get back online and look harder”. Oh wait. That was my only computer other than my server.

I dug the server out of the closet – an ancient 400 mhz Compaq – and tried to install Ubuntu. I proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Ubuntu and the Gnome desktop won’t run in 128mb of RAM. Damn. Well, let’s get more RAM. Oh wait. I’m offline. Well, let’s look for local computer dealers. Can’t do that either. I finally had to resort to the yellow pages!  Memo to self: get a second computer

I called every compute shop listed within about 100 miles and finally found a used Acer Aspire laptop (question of the day: where are all the used laptops going?). I drove over to nearby Athens, TN and bought it for the princely sum of $300. A couple of years old but many times faster than my old Dell.  Wonderful screen, sucky keyboard.

It came with Vista already installed. Not wanting to contaminate my cabin with those awful bits, I yanked out the drive and replaced it with an identical drive that I bought along with the computer. I figured that I’d make the drive available if I ever sell this machine. Anyway…

Now I faced the task of moving Ubuntu over from the old drive. This computer has a SATA drive so I could not use the procedure I outlined in a previous post. I developed a modified and somewhat streamlined method of moving that I’ll outline below.

This task is complicated by the fact that the new drive (80 gig) is smaller than the old one (120 gig). The partition copy won’t work directly. One must first shrink the partition on the 120 gig drive to a size small enough to fit on the new one.

I had a few problems – nothing serious. The internal modem did not have a driver on the Live CD. I’m not sure if one is even available. This machine does not have a serial port so I could not directly plug in my external modem. I did happen to have a USB/serial adapter laying around. It plugged in and the driver loaded without incident.

The serial adapter is mounted as /dev/ttyUSB0 so I had to edit my dialing scripts accordingly. Handy little tidbit to know.

Well, that’s it. My new machine is now set up just like I want it, complete with VMware and winders XP running in a window. I’m composing this post using BlogDesk, a windows program that is running in the Windows window. Can I type window any more times?

This ends the more or less irregular Linux Chronicles. My machine is now like I want it so I’m going to proceed to use it. I’ll post future Linux Chronicles when something new happens but they’ll be few and far between. I don’t intend to diddle with this machine.

Now that I’ve had Linux up and running for a couple of months, my major thought is, “why did I wait so long to do this?” This is a wonderful computing environment. I have thrown off the microsoft shackles and won’t be paying any more winders taxes. Yippeeeeee!!!!

Posted by neonjohn on February 27th, 2009 under Computing

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