So, I’ve got my Linux/Winblows dual-boot box up. I’ve been playing in Linux, using the Mandrake distribution, and surfing along. Then, what should happen but the local cable company tells me they’ll be glad to allow me to be a beta-tester of their new service. Of course, this would be a no-cost setup, with 128kbps access for at least one month before they’ll charge me for it. What geek would say no? Not I, that’s for certain.
So, I headed down and picked up my bag of goodies. Remarkably, compared to horror stories I’ve heard about cable and DSL service, they set me up good. I got a relatively well-written instruction packet, which was only a little inaccurate. They gave me a 6-foot cable and a splitter for the wall, as well as a length of Cat-5 cable to connect to the ethernet card (which I hadn’t bought yet). Of course, being a true geek, I knew that a splitter would introduce too much noise, so I just got my 20-foot cable out of my closet-o-junk and hooked up my magic black box (it really is black polycarb). Now, living in the middle of nowhere as I’m forced to by the government, I had all of 3 stores to try for a network card. Since I actually work during the day, some places are closed by the time a normal person can get to them (gotta love the South). So, to the one place I knew was open late did I go, intending to buy an Intel EtherExpress card, since it is well-supported in all OS’s and is also thought to be a good card. At the local store, I find exactly one PCI ethernet card. Again, as a true geek, I will accept no ISA cards, in case I need more bandwidth someday. The card, when I peered through the dirty glass case, was in the familiar blue-and-white box I’ve come to associate with Intel Ethernet cards, and so I plunked down my 40 bucks and left a happy camper.
Here’s where it goes awry. The card was not, actually, an Intel card, but some Taiwanese knockoff named Addtron. Surprisingly, the driver disk did include Linux drivers, although it was a peculiar exercise getting them installed. So, now I had my super-fast connection in both Windows and Linux. All is right with the world, one would think. Naturally, I can’t leave my system alone for more than a few days. After hooking up my second printer, I had run out of IRQs. And, for some reason, my 6-year-old sound card was acting very oddly, and causing random machine lockups. Since the company was bankrupt, I was unable to get further assistance or new drivers from them. So, off to the store to buy a Soundblaster Live card. Being on night shift this month, I got it set up and then left my machine in Windows, since most of my programs are still in that monstrosity.
I’m on vacation now, and felt the overwhelming need to destroy my machine with more crap. So, noticing that Mandrake has a new CD, version 6, out, I had to try it. Version 6 includes Linux kernel 2.2.9, instead of the 2.0.36 in the older version I had been using. The 2.2.x kernels are supposed to be better, faster, and all that rot. So, away I go, booting into Linux for the first time in a few weeks, and trying to set up my new OS. Since nothing important had been left on Linux, I simply wiped it and started over, and then the trouble began.
My network card, which included Linux drivers, included them only for 2.0.x kernels, and they oh-so-thoughtfully rejected my plea for the source code so I could rebuild them. For some reason known only to their upper management, they have a policy against releasing the source code for their drivers. This makes absolutely no sense to me, since you must actually purchase one of their cards for the driver to be of any use anyway. So, what would it possibly harm to let me see the source?
Next, I decided to set up my SBLive. Here’s another pickle. The SBLive includes, on their website, the drivers needed for Linux. But (you knew there’d be one, eh?), the drivers are (naturally) only in binary, and will only install on 2.0.36 or 2.2.5, which is at least a month old. In Linux-land, compiling for one specific patch level is absurd, but there you have it. No response at all from Creative Labs, which isn’t surprising since they don’t actually have an email address listed on their website. Now, how the hell is that a good idea? Faxes are better than email to a technology company?
*SIGH* So, now I’m off to re-install Linux Mandrake 5.3, with the 2.0.36 kernel. But, yaknow, if I could get the network card to work, I’m not gonna sweat the soundcard too much. Mandrake 6 includes a great Windowmanager built into the bootup, too. Oh, well, it’s not easy being on the bleeding edge of technology.