Although I have tried Linux before, it seems to be the month of the Open Source, so I gave it another try recently. WOW! What a difference a year makes. The installation I tried was a CD I burned myself (love those toys) of Linux-Mandrake. Mandrake is really nothing more than Red Hat 5.2 with the K Desktop Environment thrown into the install program.
So, here’s my experience and impressions so far. I downloaded the full ISO image of the CD (45 hours, don’t try this without some industrial strength download-resumption software). Then, after I burned it onto a blank CDR, I ran Partition Magic to clear up some extra partitions. I created a Linux Ext2 partition (500 megs) and a Linux Swap partition (80 megs). Prepared, with all my most important data files backed up to a CDRW disk (toys, toys, toys!), I plunged into the install routine with hope and more than a bit of dread. About 10 months ago, I tried something very similar with Debian (an older version to be fair) and ended up spending much time rebuilding my trashed partition tables and FATs. This time, though, was very different.
After the CD booted (love those bootable CD’s), it started the Linux-Mandrake-Redhat install routine. I stepped through the easy-to-follow (for a geek) setup and had myself a working Linux box in no time, with a dual-boot configuration to Win98 (scourge of evil but a necessary evil), and even had KDE running in a crappy 256-color mode. My modem wasn’t recognized, and my printer would not print. My sound card made one squawk and stopped. ARGH! After many trips to the HOWTO files from the CD, I got everything working, with the exception of my video. I can SEE everything, but I can’t convince the X server that my video is capable of more than 8-bit color (currently using 16-bit in Win98, with on-the-fly to 24-bit). And, more maddening, the video gives me little drop-out lines. Totally undocumented by any other victim/user of Linux that I’ve been able to find with WebFerret, Slashdot, UGeek, or 32bitsOnline. But, I have an old crappy video card, and that Riva TNT looks awfully nice, especially at $89…