About a year and a half ago, I decided to make my laptop a dual boot machine with Windows XP and Linux. I had just received it back from a repair under my best buy service plan, and it was returned to me with a 100 GB drive instead of the original 60 GB one, so I figured, that’s plenty of room to set up a linux partition.

I originally tried Ubuntu, which at the time was in it’s Breezy Badger release. There were a few hardware compatibility problems, and I couldn’t connect to the Pitt network with the available software, so I switched to Debian. Debian had a more updated version of XSupplicant, which, at the time, was the only available client with which one could use Linux with Pitt’s required 802.1x authentication set up.

Getting XSupplicant running was a struggle the whole way, but eventually I had it up and running. It worked for about a week and then just stopped working, and nothing I could do.. reinstalling, reconfiguring, etc, could get it working on the network again.

Eventually I gave up trying. Recently, however, my laptop fell upon hard times and had to be fixed again (this was a fiasco. Maybe I’ll write about it sometime). When I got it back I decided to try again.

I put in a 120GB hard drive, set up Windows XP (which always needs to be loaded first, it seems if you want to dual-boot. XP doesn’t like to share), and then installed Ubuntu’s latest release. Luckily, there’s a fork of XSupplicant called wpa_supplicant, which works much better, and some enterprising Pitt students had written a nifty little connection script to help get it going.

After using the lappy for a week or so under Ubuntu, I decided that thing had been stable enough and got to setting things up on the my desktop computer as well. I put in a 250 GB drive I had kicking around (yes, I had a 250 GB drive, far larger than any other hard drive I have, just kicking around), and dropped Ubuntu on that machine too.

Overall, the switch is going well. I’m still using XP for job search stuff, as I just can’t seem to make my resume look as good in Open Office as it looks in Word. Also, when I start playing online poker seriously again, I’ll probably still use XP on the desktop for that, as I doubt that PokerOffice would run very well under Wine.

The only real complaint I have so far is that I can’t get my laptop’s wireless card running. That’s my next project as far as this stuff goes…

4 Responses to “Linux-fied.”

  1. Derek C. F. Pegritz Says:

    Good luck with getting that wireless card to work. I’ll bet you a Heineken it NEVER works under any version of Linux.

    I was dual-booting Ubuntu on my laptop for a while, and was never able to get the built-in wireless card to work. Mind you, this was an extremely generic, run-of-the-mill card (I forget the manufacturer offhand, but I do recall that it was the first name to pop up when I googled “generic wireless card adapter”)…which means that there’s almost certainly a working Linux driver for it somewhere on the ‘Net. Right? Nope. I found a bunch of drivers that people said might work with it, but none of them did. I even had an old Linksys wifi card that I tried as well: there were “drivers” for it everywhere…yet none of them worked, either. Mind you, both cards worked fine–and still work fine–in WinXP.

    All told, my experiences with Linux have been universally bad–mainly because of driver issues. Take this with a grain of salt, however, as this was last summer that I was doing this, and no doubt the situation has improved greatly since then, what with Ubuntu gaining in popularity so much in the past six months. Nonetheless, that Heiny bet stands. 🙂

    I still find it very weird that there’s so much trouble getting Linux to work with wifi cards. HOW many people are part of the Open Source development community these days? I could understand if there weren’t drivers available for some esoteric piece of ultra-proprietary hardware whose driver specs are guarded more carefully than Fort Knox…but ultra-generic wifi card? Seriously, Double You Tee Eff?

  2. The AntiDJ Says:

    Well, as I understand it, the issue is that the wireless card makers don’t release the information that is needed to the open source community so that can can make drivers. That means most of the drivers that there are have been reversed engineered from windows drivers, which is why they are buggy. The networking companies don’t release the info, because, well, I’m not really sure. Maybe just because they’re lame.

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