One of the things I want to blog about is my adventures setting up my work computer. It is a really sweet machine, a Dell Inspiron 9400. It has the widescreen resolution, and they bought me a second monitor so we wanted to get it running in dual head mode. Of course, the very first thing I did was to wipe Windows XP off of it. I used it long enough to download the Fedora Core 5 ISOs and burn them, and then installed it. I never got FC 5 working quite right, so I switched over to Ubuntu. It turns out the issues I had were unrelated to the distribution and I probably could have gotten FC working with the same amount of effort but I’ve got it going now and will stick with it until there is reason to not.
I’m not going to go into a lot of detail just now. Later on I’ll post snippets of config files so that other people in the same boat can get things going faster. As much as I like this laptop, I got a little shafted in that it has the least common internals. It has the Intel 945GM video card and the Dell wifi card, both of which are off the beaten track for Linux. For now, though, I want to give an example of what makes an open source operating system so cool.
I compiled my own 188.8.131.52 kernel a few days ago and that’s what I’m currently running. The box has a built in SD/MMC card reader, and I thought it would be neat to see if it worked under Linux. It read a 256M card no sweat, but when I put in the 2G SD card, it failed to mount and I got a lot of errors. A little googling showed me that the kernel lacked support for internal card readers above 1G. I could plug it into my USB card reader, and then it would read just fine but not on the built in card reader. I found this patch that addresses that issue. Because the code is removing 40 lines and adding in one, I just went directly to that file in my source directory and made the edit by hand. I rebuilt and reinstalled modules, and rebooted the box. I stuck in the 2G card, and voila – it mounted automatically and was right there on the desktop. Fantastic stuff. It can be a real pain sometimes, but moments like this make me so happy that it all is worth it.
This post complies with my work blogging rules of the road.