We’re back … I think!

* If you don’t know who or what these are check the Glossary page.

Shoot-out At the OK Corral

RoboFrog is an irresistible force when HE* gets in one of HIS* moods, and trust me, for three weeks HE has been…grouchy. It all started innocently enough. Remember that Defiant’s* hard drive died. HE ordered a new one from allhdd.com and chose not to expedite the shipping. It took about seven days to get the drive.

NOTE: Our experience with allhdd.com was very good. They had the product that we wanted at a reasonable price. Their communication was excellent and the drive arrived at the promised time. We will definitely purchase from them in the future.

It’s fun to watch HIM* when when HE gets something like a new hard drive. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a kid in a toy store any happier or more excited. Replacing Defiant’s (IBM ThinkPad T43) hard drive isn’t a big deal. There’s an external cover to the drive bay on the right side of the machine, held on with one screw. To replace the drive remove the bay cover, slide the old drive out, remove the metal cage from the old drive and install it on the new drive, push the new drive into the bay, and replace the cover. That’s it. Install an operating system and you’re done. At least that’s what HE had hoped.

Note: There are two caveats when replacing a hard drive on a T43. First, they’re really picky about hard drives. You need to get one that specifically works with this machine. Check here for drive information. Second, don’t get the drive upside down. Make sure to maintain the same orientation for the new drive as the old.

That’s when things went bad and RoboFrog transformed from kid-in-the-toy-store to The Terminator. Changing the drive was no problem at all. Loading the operating system, though, turned into a three week nightmare.

I don’t want to get into a long discussion of Linux distributions and the trials and tribulations HE had trying to find a distribution that would work on all of our machines. Frankly, we’re both completely worn out with trying to find an acceptable Linux distribution.

First, we retired Untouchable* (at least temporarily). We decided that life had gotten too complicated. We’re going through a dramatic change, removing clutter, getting things organized, and looking for ways to simplify everything in our lives. We will undoubtedly write about this in the future, but for now, we decided that a desktop and a laptop were all we needed. Second, Untouchable got the boot because it’s the only 64-bit machine that we have. Now we install both machines from the same medium; that’s one small variable eliminated. Whitestar is our only desktop machine (I’m not counting Chatterbox, our file server) and Defiant our only laptop.

All of our equipment is older, on the order of eight years. We suspect that’s one of the reasons we’re experiencing so many Linux problems. We’re starting to consider new machines. To simplify things further, we may buy a very capable laptop with a docking station. That would bring us down to one machine plus the file server. Our biggest worry is that if our one machine dies, we’re completely out of business.

Back to finding a Linux distribution. RoboFrog started with Ubuntu Studio 11.10, and as I said, this is where the problems began. It worked…okay…not great. And, that’s when HIS mood went sour. HE shut down everything we were doing and informed me that we weren’t doing anything else until we had an acceptable operating system running on Defiant and Whitestar. Notice that I said “acceptable operating system.” For the first time in five years, HE put Windows™ back on the list of possibilities. I was stunned. I never thought I would hear that from HIM.

Over the past three weeks HE repeatedly installed

  • Ubuntu Studio 11.10
  • Xubuntu 11.10
  • PCLinuxOS 2012
  • Fedora 16 Xfce
  • Fedora 16 KDE
  • Arch Linux
  • Kubuntu

HE would run one of them for a couple of days thinking HE’d finally found us a home. Then a problem would pop up. After HE told MsRoboFrog, for the third time, that the problems were resolved SHE started giving HIM the evil-eye. I noticed that HE took Defiant to the basement and stopped mentioning computers to MsRoboFrog.

RoboFrog always had great confidence in the Linux world because no matter how many distributions HE tried or how much trouble HE had with them…HE always had Arch Linux to come back to. That confidence has been shaken.

Arch has been our favorite distribution for a long time. Sadly, we’re retiring Arch Linux. We get all of our news and media entertainment from the Internet. We read the morning news on Yahoo! and Google, stream music from Pandora, movies from Amazon, and TV from Hulu. All but the morning news depend on Adobe Flash Player® to deliver content. Something changed recently with Arch Linux and Flash. We tried Arch Linux a couple of times on both Defiant and Whitestar with the same results. Flash video looks more like a slideshow (and not a particularly fast one) than video. That’s a deal-breaker. We searched the Internet and Arch Forums, but found no way to correct the problem. We’ve lost an old friend.

You may wonder why, given the wireless problems we had with the *buntu’s, that we’re testing them again. Remember that we installed the Diamond Wireless Range Extender? Well, the problem with losing the wireless lock is gone. We’re very happy with the Diamond Wireless Range Extender.

So…who won? We’re holding our collective breaths, but HE has Kubuntu running on all three machines: Whitestar, Defiant, and Chatterbox*. (There’s an interesting story about Chatterbox and Kubuntu, but I’ll save that for another time.) Kubuntu is not just running okay; it’s running extremely well. We’ve been running Kubuntu for four days. Don’t laugh; that’s twice as long as any of the others.

We’re going to continue testing Kubuntu (and try to steer clear of MsRoboFrog for a while) and hope that we truly have resolved our Linux issues. For the moment, I don’t have to worry about HIM taking us back to Windows™. It wouldn’t be the end of the world, but it would certainly be a significant failure in what we’re trying to do here on the LilyPad.

More Kubuntu next time…and, I hope we’re back!

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