CyberTech Rambler

August 2, 2006

Linux on Year 2000 Notebook?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 12:26 pm

A few weeks ago, Ed Bott complained about installing Linux, but there was a serious flaw in that experiment as he uses a virtual machine on VMWare, which others and I (annonymously, using a different pseudonym) point out. In my opinion, that complain was seriously compromised by the use of VMWare because a significant part of his problem seems to be VMware specific problem, meaning that his virtual machine is not a true representation of a “generic PC”. It is only to be expected.

Today, I noticed that he posted a new posting about installing Linux. To his credit, this time he took virtual machines out of the equation. The post is about comparing installing Linux (Ubuntu Linux to be precise) and Windows XP on a six years old notebook. Windows XP installation takes time but does work perfectly. Good for Windows. Linux installtaion is however, problematic.

Let’s look beyond a few facts, i.e.,

  • the fact that the blog’s name is “Microsoft Report”
  • Ubuntu Linux? It is a brand new distribution which is not around 6 years ago. The developers are very ill-suited to deal with such an old notebook compared to other distributions.
  • On a Notebook. This is a compounding factor. Notebooks, especially those circa 1996-2002 are not very generic and should be considered custom-build computers. Nevertheless, Linux notebook support is rather bad until about a year ago. I based this on the fact that my Linux installation fails to wake up after the power manager (may be the bios) suspended the notebook after a period of inactivity. This is Linux fault no doubt, but has to be taken into account to see whether the poster has an axe to grind. I do not know whether he has a axe to grind. I am going to assume not and that the situation imposes on him to use the notebook. It is difficult to locate any 6 years old machine.
  • Notwithstanding the fact that he uses a notebook, Linux boot well. The build model assumes that it is a desktop, and as a desktop, it works perfectly.
  • His main gribe seems to be about Wireless Access. How many people heard about wireless access back in year 2000? I am rather surprise that the wireless adapter was recognized.

Does he has a point? Yes. He managed to demonstrate that installing Linux on old computers are not that straightforward, if you want to use things that in year 2000 that is not really mainstream. Most people, like me, will just says that it is an old computer so you cannot expect full functionality as with a new computer. His post makes me rethink this position. Should I compromise because I use an old computer, especially since Windows can do it?A lot of people who still hangs on to Year 2000 machines because they just works. The fact that they are hanging on for so long suggest that they, rightly, decided that upgrading is not worth the trouble. Hence, the chances of them upgrading is slim. Some will be encouraged to switch to WinXP with the cease of support for WinME. A few will switch to Linux. By demonstrating Linux work on notebook (with the USB ethernet cable), Ed Bott did indeed prove that Linux is a viable solution for Y2K desktops out there.

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