Interesting weekend (cont)

* If you don’t know who or what something is, check the Glossary page.

Ubuntu Studio

I don’t blame you; it’s easy to get confused watching HIM do his thing. Understand that HE’s NOT approaching Ubuntu Studio as a Linux distribution for newcomers. That means that if something doesn’t work as expected…it’s irritating, but it’s okay. HE’ll tinker with it until he figures a way around the problem. For the awhile, we’re committed to this Linux distribution. We’re into content creation, and there are just too many goodies in Ubuntu Studio. We’re going to stick with it for awhile…and frankly, it’s working pretty well.

Back to Defiant

Okay, so you know that HE loaded PCLinuxOS onto Defiant so that we could finish our movie. Now that we’re out of newbie-mode, we’re really curious about the whole *buntu problem with maintaining a wireless connection. If we can’t keep a reliable wireless connection, that would be a serious no-go for running Ubuntu Studio on Defiant. We’d probably continue using Ubuntu Studio on Whitestar, but move back to Arch Linux for Defiant. Just between you, me, and the fence post, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if we look at Ubuntu Studio long enough to decide which programs we like the best and then move, with those programs, back to Arch Linux. Arch is still our favorite Linux distribution and, as  you’ll see, whenever we’re in doubt, we immediately go back to it.

HE installed PCLinuxOS so that we could get through our movie, but now it was time to see what we could do with Defiant and Ubuntu Studio. HE started the morning with a new install of Ubuntu Studio onto Defiant. Once again, there was no problem with the install, but we had to do something about the internet connection. One of our favorite Einstein quotes is “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.” We hope that we’re not quite ready for the loony-bin, so we’re going to try something different…even if it’s wrong. (Since we believe in the power of failure, we look forward to being wrong.)

Once Ubuntu Studio was installed onto Defiant, we used the package manager (Synaptic) to load wicd, then removed networkmanager. An interesting aside: We use networkmanager to manage the network connections with Arch Linux and we’ve never had a problem. With Arch Linux, the wireless connection is rock-solid. That, however, has not been our experience with the *buntu’s. We went through the setup of wicd and had a solid Internet connection. We reloaded all of the software that we use that’s not included with Ubuntu Studio. Understand that this is all done about six feet away from our wireless router.  We’ve never had a problem in RoboFrog’s lair. Now…it’s time to add a little distance.

We took Defiant to MsRoboFrog’s library. It’s one floor up. In the library, Defiant is about twenty feet from the router. Everything worked well initially…and then it hit the fan!

Defiant started making a sound like she was grinding corn. RoboFrog thought it sounded like the fan bearings had gone out. I’ve never heard a computer make such an ugly grinding sound. It was frightening…for me. HE, however, said “Wow, that’s really cool!” I wanted to strangle HIM. “Really cool?” In what universe?

I turned around and there HE was on another machine running Google searches. Finally, HE turned back to me and said,  “This is cool. Here are instructions for how to get into a ThinkPad T43 case. Let’s see if we can get her fan out.” I was incredulous. Defiant was our only working (or used to be), current laptop. HE’d never been in her innards before, but now, HE wanted to take her apart. I thought I’d just scream. Too late! HE’d already flipped her over on her back and was removing screws, while I was trying to figure out where we could get another laptop that we could afford.

HE got Defiant’s case open (A surprise to me. It almost looked like HE knew what HE was doing.) and removed her fan. Wow! I was impressed. Then, HE pushed her power switch. There was that sickening grinding sound again.

HIS brow knitted and HE said, “It’s not the fan.”

That was obvious even to me. HE turned Defiant off and removed her DVD drive and pressed the power switch. Again, that awful grinding sound.

“It’s the hard drive,” he said. “I’ve never heard a hard drive make that kind of sound.” (Me either!)

I looked at Defiant. Her innards were scattered all over the table. I thought “She’ll never work again.” HE came back from the basement with a drive in HIS hands.

“Where’d you get that?” I asked.

“From an old machine, ” he said. “It’s not big enough for what we’re trying to do, but it’ll allow us to verify that the hard drive is the problem.”

It’s at times like this that I really rise to the occasion. I said, “Oh…”

I was amazed! In about fifteen minutes, RoboFrog had collected all of Defiant’s pieces and stuffed them back into her case. He looks at me and said, “That should do it.”

“That should do what?”

“That should let us get Defiant working again,” he said simply.

“Oh…” (I told you; I’m really good in a crisis.)

HE grabed a USB stick and started loading Arch Linux.

“I thought we were going to run Ubuntu Studio.”

“You’d never get Studio onto this drive. Not enough room, but this will confirm that the drive is the problem.”

Well, HE did confirm that the drive was the problem. Amazingly, HE took Defiant apart, figured out what was wrong with her, and put her back together with a “new” hard drive. HE loaded Arch Linux and as far as I could tell, she worked the same as always. We ordered a new drive for Defiant. HE was right. There wasn’t nearly enough room to load Ubuntu Studio, but we could listen to Pandora, watch stuff on Hulu, and stream movies while we waited for her new drive. That should take five or six days. Then, we’ll return to Ubuntu Studio, Defiant, and the wireless problem.

2 responses to “Interesting weekend (cont)

  1. I’m wondering if you might be experiencing issues due to recent updates on some WiFi drivers. My 2nd laptop uses ath9k (Atheros drives for the card) which broke as of 3.2.1.x and up, I even wiped Arch off before realising it’s the kernel driver, and tried to install Fedora (want experience in RPM based Linux for career advantages anyway) and as soon as I complete an update and install a new kernel, bang goes the WiFi. Try running “lsmod” to see which kernel modules/drivers you have loaded.

    i should warn SHE that distro hopping can happen for 6-12 months, depending on the user and level of Linux experience. ArchLinux feels so much more “back to nature” compared to ubuntu distro’s, and if you like to tinker, it’ll probably be your natural home. If I can suggest something to make your lives easier though, try using VirtualBox instead of wiping/installing different Linux distro’s all the time. My Asus laptop runs Windows and 6 different Linux distros via VirtualBox, allowing me to keep my main OS clean, and test and play with the virtual machines.

    If you want something “sexy” to try out, head over to Bodhi ( http://bodhilinux.com/ ), Jeff who maintains the distro is a really nice guy and very open and talkative on IRC and on the forums. It uses the fantastic E17 GUI, its minimal with what it installs which is very important as it allows the user to decide what to install.

    • Robert,

      Thanks for the comments. Defiant is a ThinkPad T43. Uses ipw2200 (Intel) driver. I ran into a problem with Arch over the weekend. It won’t stream movies from Amazon. I loaded Ubuntu 11.10. It won’t connect at all upstairs (~60ft/18m from the router). Switched to PCLinuxOS; no more problem. As soon as my new hard drive gets here (hopefully this week) I’ll load Ubuntu Studio onto Defiant again. I’ll take a look at drivers for PCLinuxOS before installing Studio. Be interesting to compare.

      You’re right about Arch. I can’t explain why, but Debian and Arch Linux always “feel” like Linux and everything else “feels” like something else.

      I’ve heard good things about Bohdi, but never tried it. Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll take a look at it.

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