Dellbert 2

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

Dellbert* is a rescue computer. My guess is that he’s about 14 years old. By today’s standards, he doesn’t have much computing horsepower. The thing that intrigues us about machines like Dellbert is that they’re free. Most of the folks who know us here at The Robotic Frog (TRF) know that we like tinkering with computers. A couple of times a year someone offers us an old computer that they just want to get rid of. It was fun collecting them until they came up on MsRoboFrog’s* radar. MsRoboFrog doesn’t appreciate our treasures (junk) as much as we do. We’ve negotiated a loose treaty with HER, the conditions of which are that when we bring a machine home, we get rid of a machine. We don’t think SHE knows about Dellbert and Old Blue yet, but in the spirit of upholding our agreement, we got rid of a couple of dead computers that we raided for parts.

Firefox

Initially, Dellbert had 128 MB of RAM. We had no problem loading Debian 6.0.5 (XFCE GUI), Debian Testing (XFCE GUI), and Ubuntu 12.04 Server (LXDE GUI) even with this limited amount of memory. Interestingly, we were not able to get Lubuntu to load. Go figure. The distributions would load, but things were sluggish and there was a lot of disk swapping. Where things really came to a grinding halt was when we tried to get a browser working. Knowing that we were extremely short of memory, we decided to stick to lightweight browsers.

Our favorite lightweight browser is Midori. Midori wouldn’t run at all (even with 384 MB). Next, we tried Arora. At least Arora tried to run, but there was so much disk swapping that Dellbert was effectively locked up. Time for something really light. Our third try was Dillo. Dillo ran very well. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that we’re used to, but it was acceptable. As we searched the Internet for lightweight Linux browsers, we came across one article that surprised us. The article recommended Firefox. We assumed (you know what that gets you) that Firefox was a heavyweight. We simply hadn’t considered it, so we gave it a try. Firefox performed very well…and that’s the browser we’re using with Dellbert.

Memory, memory, memory!

Last time I told you that we raided an old, blue Candy-Mac for a couple of memory boards that…to our surprise…worked perfectly with Dellbert. Dellbert now has 384 MB of RAM (random access memory). Did it make a difference? You bet it did! Most of the disk swapping is gone and everything works faster. If you’re going to play with an old computer and you want to do one thing that will make a big difference…add memory!

So…Now what?

The purpose of our two rescue computers is to determine whether old computers are of any practical use today. We’re using Debian 6.0.5 on Dellbert because it’s rock-solid and there aren’t a lot of updates. We’ve set up a LAMP (Linux-Apache-MySQL-PHP) server to experiment with hosting a web site. More about that another time. We’re working our way through a book on HTML and using Dellbert as our test-dummy. It’s surprising how well Dellbert is performing. We’ll give you a peek once we figure out what we’re doing.

From famine to feast…

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

RIP Kubuntu

To famine!…I left the title I started this post with (From famine to feast…) because it illustrates how frustrated we are trying to find a Linux distribution that works with our old hardware.  I thought I was going to tell you how we went from no satisfactory Linux distribution to having two that were performing excellently. Two minutes after I wrote that title, I broke Kubuntu. That’s the second time.

The first time we broke Kubuntu was when RoboFrog first installed it. The installation was no problem, but the software updater froze while updating the system. It reached 48% and just stopped. HE* waited for 20 minutes before taking any action, then forced a reboot. HE told me before HE did it that it probably wasn’t going to be a good thing. HE was right. The system no longer booted.

We knew that interrupting a software update wasn’t a good thing, so we chalked that one up to our own stupidity. RoboFrog reinstalled Kubuntu and used command-line tools to update the system. Everything went perfectly. Kubuntu was functioning extremely well. The system was beautiful. We used it for six days…before I broke it.

You see, I’m the crash-dummy here on the LilyPad.  The-Frog is our fixer…I’m the breaker. I really have a talent for it. I can break almost anything. Luckily, HE can fix almost anything. It’s a great partnership, a yen/yang sort of thing.

How did I break Kubuntu? I went into System Settings->Input devices, selected Apple Aluminum Keyboard, and rebooted. On reboot, KDE slowed to a crawl. I tried to change the keyboard setting back. I clicked on the ‘K’ application menu and waited. It took more than 20 seconds for the application menu to appear. Wow! I selected the System Settings application, got the bouncing cursor that tells me that the application is loading, the normal cursor returned…and nothing. I tried that a couple of times with the same result. Rebooted…same result. That’s when HE stepped in an took Whitestar* away from me. HE already had the Xubuntu disk in hand and before I could say boo, Kubuntu was gone.

I told you last time that I figured out that HE has a thing for Xubuntu. I think HE was just waiting for an excuse.

This is all happening in real-time. HE’s already loaded Xubuntu onto Whitestar and updated it. The updater worked brilliantly. RoboFrog changed a few system settings that I’ll tell you about next time, turned to me and said, “Now let’s see if I can break it.”

“Break it? You just got it fixed.”

“Trust me,” HE said. “This is our system. It’ll work.”

HE hasn’t been that confident in a very long time. HE proceeded to bring up Synaptic (our preferred GUI* package manager) and marked every single piece of software that we normally load. We usually only mark and install half a dozen packages at a time until we get everything loaded. We’ve tried this with the Ubuntu Software Center and it just chokes. It likes one or two packages at a time.

Synaptic says that we asked it to install 715 files! I keep watching Whitestar as I write this on Defiant waiting for something bad to happen. In the time that I’ve written this, Synaptic has already completed the download and just finished the installations! From the point that RoboFrog took Whitestar away from me, in about 40 minutes, HE loaded Xubuntu, updated the system, and loaded all of our software. The system didn’t even break a sweat when HE asked Synaptic to load 715 files. Maybe there is light at the end of this tunnel.

Another 15 minutes and HE has Whitestar talking to the server and reloading the backup files. I’m a bit surprised (impressed, really). In roughly an hour HE has gone from nothing to having Whitestar completely restored.

Amazingly, I’m back to Whitestar. The first thing that I notice is that Xfce is very fast. I loved KDE. Even with the problems we experienced, if we had new hardware, I’d want to give it another shot. Xubuntu, though, seems to be running very well on our eight-year-old hardware. It’s beautiful; it’s fast. Now if it’ll just behave itself.

Okay, that’s enough of the Kubuntu saga. We have moved everything to Xubuntu. If I read RoboFrog correctly, this is where we’re going to stay for a while. Kubuntu lasted for six days. This is day three for Xubuntu. We’ll see how it goes.

RoboFrog gave Defiant to me a couple of days ago with Xubuntu loaded and told me to put her through her paces. I’ve already had a few pleasant surprises. Next time Xubuntu…I hope!

Interesting weekend

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

Linux stuff

We’ve had an interesting few days trying to get Ubuntu Studio working. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that HE* ran into trouble. Let me make a quick point about Linux distributions in general and Ubuntu Studio in particular.

HE usually tries to look at new Linux distributions from the perspective of a naive user. By naive user, I mean someone who is probably familiar with a GUI (Graphical User Interface) system like Windows™ or MacOS™, but isn’t familiar with CLI (Command-Line Interface)… in fact, may not even know what CLI is. Our position at The Robotic Frog is that if a distribution claims to be for naive users  then that user should have a reasonable chance of getting it working on any mainstream, non-exotic hardware (HP, Dell, Lenovo, etc). The distribution must achieve four things: 1) The installer must be reasonably understandable and work without the need of special-knowledge intervention, 2) The software updater must work properly, 3) The recommended software / package manager must work, 4) The system must operate properly (no video or sound problems, keyboard and mouse work as expected, wireless works properly, etc). Sadly, there’s only one Linux distribution that we’ve tried that meets these criteria…and it’s not Ubuntu Studio.

Before someone decides to lynch me, let me be clear that we love Linux here at The Robotic Frog. It’s our operating system of choice and we would only grudgingly use something else. Windows™ and MacOS™ are terrific systems, but Linux continues to suit our needs best. We highly recommend it for those who have some computer experience and enjoy learning new things and tinkering. For a naive user, we recommend Linux only if they have a techno-dweeb on hand to help get things going the first time.

Ubuntu Studio

Whitestar*

Screenshot of the login screen of Ubuntu studi...

When we loaded Ubuntu Studio onto Whitestar and were impressed…only for the wrong reason. Based on the information at the Ubuntu Studio web site, we expected something that looked like this. I’m pretty sure that in a perfect world, it would have looked like that. This isn’t a perfect world, though. We’re using Ubuntu Studio 11.10. Ubuntu Studio apparently used Gnome2 as their GUI prior to 11.10. They are in transition from Gnome2 to Xfce as their GUI environment.

We were greeted with a screen that looked something this…which made us pretty happy. We didn’t expect Xfce, so we were surprised at first. Once we confirmed that we’d installed the correct distribution, we were in love. Xfce is our GUI of choice. This had to be a good sign. So far, we’re extremely happy with Ubuntu Studio on Whitestar. It’s running very well and has a treasure trove of creative software. All of the other applications that we consider critical are in the repositories. We had one minor glitch.

We like to listen to music with Pandora while working on almost anything else. We had Pandora playing on Whitestar as we began loading Ubuntu Studio onto Defiant*. Suddenly, the music stopped. We looked up to see what had happened. The picture of our screensaver was on the screen, but was frozen. We’ve had trouble with screensavers from time to time, so we immediately suspected it as the culprit. We tried keyboard and mouse with no response. No problem, we’ll open a terminal window and shut it down from the command-line…or maybe not. I can’t remember the last time this happened with a Linux system. The whole machine was locked up. The only way we could correct the problem was to power the machine off and reboot. (brings back memories of the ‘blue screen of death’) Once it came back up, we disabled the screensaver and haven’t had a problem since.

Defiant*

Getting Ubuntu Studio installed on Defiant was no problem. We were impressed. As we said in our previous post, we were concerned about a *buntu being able to maintain a wireless Internet connection due to our experience with Xubuntu. We went upstairs to the point on the LilyPad farthest from our wireless router. There, for two hours, we worked on our previous post. Ubuntu Studio maintained a rock-solid connection. We thought we were home-free.

We stream movies from Amazon.com. In fact, we stream almost all of our audio and video entertainment. It has become a rarity that RoboFrog and I watch television or DVD movies. We stream movies from Amazon.com, music from Pandora, and television from Hulu. MsRoboFrog watches some television, but if it were up to RoboFrog and myself, we’d maintain our Internet and drop the cable television altogether. (That’s also why it’s important that we have a reliable wireless connection.)

Okay, so RoboFrog and I decided to watch a movie. Guess what? Half way through the movie, we lost the Internet connection. Just as with Xubuntu, the only way we were able to reestablish our wireless connection was to reboot.

MsRoboFrog doesn’t always fully appreciate the dweebish techno-creative genius at work on the LilyPad. RoboFrog and I were trying to get the wireless working again when MsRobofrog walked by, stopped, and looked at us with that look. You know the one, right? Looking at us with slightly squinted eyes, HER head cocked almost imperceptably, SHE says, “What are you doing with all of those DVD’s?”

There must have been six of them spread across HER coffee table. “Trying new Linux distributions,” says I. SHE shook her head, gave us that other look…and without another word, went to bed.  Now, I tell you this micro-story so you’ll understand the setting. There are five or six different Linux installation DVD’s on the table next to us. I’m watching MsRoboFrog as SHE walks away toward the bedroom wondering if I’m in trouble for something I forgot to do, making a mess on HER coffee table…or maybe it was simply random curiosity. HE, however, is unperturbed. HE grabs the PCLinuxOS installation DVD and says, “Hey, we know this works really well up here. Let’s load it up and finish the movie.” …and off HE goes.

Before I finish this story, let me say that we really like PCLinuxOS. It’s the only distribution we’ve tried that meets all four of our newbie criteria. The only thing that keeps us from using it is that our hardware is old and slow. It runs really well on all of our machines, but is a bit sluggish. For someone new to Linux, this would be a terrific one to try.

PCLinuxOS loaded without a hitch; we finished our movie (no problem, here, maintaining an Internet connection); and…went to bed.

There’s more to this story. I really am coming back to Ubuntu Studio…and what made the weekend so interesting. Next time…

Conclusion of the meltdown!

WordPress / Blogging

We’ve been experimenting with themes for The Robotic Frog. I think we’ve tried all that are available at WordPress.  We had a few surprises, though. Here are some things to consider when choosing a theme for your blog.

Comments

We like comments at The Robotic Frog and encourage you to share your thoughts. I was surprised at the number of themes that don’t have a link for comments. I assumed that every theme had a comment link unless you turned it off from the Dashboard. Not so. If you want comments, make sure your theme includes a link.

Consider where the comment link is located. Once I started looking for it, I found that many themes have links at the top of the post, but not at the bottom. The reader finishes reading at the bottom of the post. Doesn’t it seem reasonable that the comment link should be there?

Fonts

I want the text to be as readable as possible. I found many themes that I liked…except the fonts were difficult to read. Make sure your fonts have the look that you want.

Tag Line and Page Links

There are some very nice themes that don’t display your tag line and/or page links. Check for this when choosing a theme. Also, themes display your page links in different orders. If that’s important to you, note how the prospective theme handles page links.

Back to the meltdown…

I decided to start with Whitestar*. “Well you know,” says HE*, “that Fedora probably won’t load from the DVD. We’ve had that problem before.” I know HE’s correct about this, so I have HIM prepare a bootable USB stick with Fedora 16 Xfce…just in case.

HE was right. It wouldn’t load from the DVD. This is a curious problem. The installation begins and then after you’ve made a couple of choices it decides that it can’t find the drive from which it started. I don’t know about you, but that seems really weird. Even more puzzling is that Fedora 14 loaded perfectly from DVD onto Whitestar. The “Honey, I lost the DVD” thing started with Fedora 15. It seems that Fedora 16 perpetuates it. (Fedora isn’t the only Linux distribution that has this problem with Whitestar.) As with Fedora 15, Fedora 16 loaded from the USB stick and all was well.

Fedora 16 Xfce was very attractive. All of our critical software was available in the repositories and most of the odd packages with which we want to experiment were there as well. There was one minor glitch. The Xfce weather applet doesn’t work with Fedora. It worked just fine with Xubuntu (and Arch Linux). That’s annoying, but not a reason to stop using Fedora. We’ve had really good luck with Fedora in the past, so I was hopeful that we were about to end this saga.

On to Defiant*. HE started the installation. Perfect, but what about the Internet connection. Xubuntu had problems maintaining the connection upstairs (see previous post). We ran Defiant from about three o’clock in the afternoon until almost midnight. It didn’t lose the Internet connection a single time. We experienced one minor (to us) problem.

Fedora 16 Xfce clearly recognizes Defiant as a laptop. Trackpad tap and scroll, however, are not enabled. With Xubuntu, the trackpad just worked. As I said, this was a minor problem for us because we know that it’s two lines added to a configuration file for Synaptics (the software that makes the touchpad work). The biggest problem we had was figuring out where Fedora keeps the configuration file. Once that was determined, we added the two lines, rebooted…problem fixed. While this was a minor issue for us, I can see it being a deal-breaker for a new Linux user.

Untouchable* was still running Xubuntu. We use external USB hard drives for our backups and they were connected to Untouchable. We had no problem getting Defiant to talk to Xubuntu. It was drag-n-drop to reload Defiant’s files. All seemed to be working well. We had two machines back up, and so far, no major problems. Time to shutdown and head for bed.

“Huston, we have a problem.”

I got up the next morning and there HE was, staring at Defiant. The shutdown screen was still displayed. Defiant was hung up on something and didn’t turn itself off. We had rebooted Defiant several time last night and didn’t see this problem.

“What was the last last thing YOU did last night?” I always have to keep an eye on HIM.

“Not much. I set up the file sharing.”

Eventually, we determined that this had something to do with disconnecting from the NFS server. We never found a way to correct the problem, but we did find an acceptable way to get Defiant to shut down. It was a bit of a kludge, but it got the job done. Crisis avoided. We’re getting close. Only one more machine to get working.

Out of time and out of gas!

There were no problems loading Fedora onto Untouchable. Not a surprise. Everything loads on Untouchable. Then came the deal-breaker. We moved the backup drives to Whitestar. Backup wasn’t an important issue at RFCC until we started working on this blog and putting a lot of time and effort into creating content. We realized that we were one hard drive crash away from disaster, so we put a lot of thought into figuring out how to do backup as reliably and painlessly as possible. Whitestar is our machine designated for handling backups. That means it must operate as our file server. This is usually a pretty simple thing. We searched for documentation for how to do this with Fedora. The most recent documentation we could find was for Fedora 13. I looked through the online documentation for Fedora 16 and found documentation for Samba (software that can also be used for file sharing), but not NFS (the system we use at RFCC). We tried the instructions from the Fedora 13 manual and they didn’t work (probably our fault). At this point, I looked at HIM and said, “Stop! No more.” I was out of patience, out of time, and out of gas with this entire project. I directed HIM in the strongest terms to get us back to Arch Linux as quickly as possible.

Arch Linux logo

It took a half day to reload Arch Linux, our software, and restore our backups. What a relief after all this to have three systems working perfectly: filemanagers working, weather applets working, file server working, trackpad working, wireless Internet working, and no startup or shutdown issues! Arch Linux with Xfce as our GUI environment continues to be our Linux system of choice.

Conclusion (Finally!)

Let me be clear about how we feel about these Linux distributions. Our preference is Arch Linux, but Arch is not without it’s problems. It’s just that we’ve used it enough that we know where the potholes are and how to steer around them. If Fedora Xfce and Xubuntu were the only choices we had, we would gladly use either of them. The problems we experienced can be overcome or minimized. Linux Mint Xfce is a different story. RoboFrog’s position is that if the installer and updater don’t work, you’re lost before you ever get started. The irony is that if a newcomer asked us for a recommendation for a first Linux system, we would recommend the main Linux Mint distribution (Ubuntu derived). Anthony Venable writes a blog that I follow. He recommends Ubuntu for newcomers and I have no reason to fault that recommendation. It would be The Robotic Frog’s second choice. In fact, we’ve just installed Ubuntu 11.10 on a new machine (Chatterbox) because of Anthony’s recommendations. If you’re a first-timer interested in Linux, check out his blog.

Whew! We’re finished…for now…talking about Linux distributions. Next time, we’re returning to content creation. Thanks for hanging in there!

More meltdown on the LilyPad

* Check the Glossary page if you don’t know what or who these are.

=========================================

Technically, Untouchable* and Whitestar* weren’t broken-broken. Linux Mint Xfce installed and was workable. It just wouldn’t load updates. This brings me to a point of policy here at RFCC*. We try a lot of Linux distributions and only have a few no-go rules:

  • The installer and updater must work properly.
  • We must be able to load the distribution on Untouchable, Whitestar, and Defiant*.
  • It must boot and run properly on all three machines.
  • We must be able to load software with the package manager.

At the point that a distribution fails one of these requirements, it gets dumped. We usually don’t try to fix the problems. This, of course, is a generalization (If you don’t know RoboFrog’s point of view on generalizations, check the Scratchpad page.). But I don’t have a lot of control over…HIM*. Sometimes HE* gets curious and just has to tinker. I think it’s a waste of time, but when HE gets in a mood there’s no stopping HIM.

“Relax. This isn’t a problem,” HE says. HE immediately picks up the Xubuntu Xfce 11.10 installation disk and starts loading Xubuntu onto Untouchable. There’s not much to say at this point. Untouchable is already broken. HE can’t make it much worse.

xubuntu

Xubuntu easily loaded onto Untouchable and presented a very attractive Xfce screen. The update manager signaled and all updates loaded perfectly. I had to give HIM credit. There seemed to be a lot to like here. I turned around and HE was already loading Xubuntu onto Whitestar. I held my breath. As I said, we have more trouble with new installations on Whitestar than any other machine. Surprise! No problems. And of course, HE immediately started loading Xubuntu onto Defiant.

Xubuntu loaded and updated without incident on all three machines. This almost never happens. Whitestar, usually our problem child, had no problems. Defiant, our second most troublesome machine, also loaded without incident…wireless worked immediately, trackpad tap and scrolling worked. I was getting pretty optimistic. Maybe one of the *buntu’s was finally going to be a favorite at RFCC. Then HE loaded all of our software. Still no problems. All of our critical applications were available. HE had the file server running on Whitestar with Untouchable and Defiant talking to it. I was impressed. I told HIM that I would take it from there and get all the backup files on the appropriate machines.

I double-clicked on the filemanager (Thunar)…and nothing happened. Well, maybe it missed the double-click. I double-clicked again. Nothing. I stared at the screen considering the possibilities. About ten seconds later, the filemanager window popped up along with a dialog box describing permission problems and such. Hmmmm. Then another filemanager window along with the same dialog box showed up. So, the system got both double-clicks and just had to think about them for a really long time. What was displayed in the filemanager window was fine; it just took a long time to get there and it brought along the dialog box with its cryptic error message. I closed both filemanager windows, both dialog boxes, and double-clicked again so I could see how long it took for the filemanager to come up. It popped up immediately with no error message. Okay, well that happens sometimes. Maybe the system has worked the problem out. Rebooted and tried again. Nope. Took almost twenty seconds for Thunar to come up and it brought the error message with it. I tried again with the same result. Finally, on the third try, Thunar came up immediately with no error message. We had the same result with all three machines.

I went to the Internet to see if anyone else was having this problem. Yep, but it wasn’t perceived to be a big problem. Since the filemanager is a program that we use a lot, for us, it was a deal-breaker. Time to dump Xubuntu and look for something else. We’re running out of options. Only Fedora Xfce left…And…now you know how Defiant got dragged into this mess. All three machines down at the same time.

One final comment about Xubuntu on Defiant: My wireless modem is in the RFCC (basement). Wireless worked perfectly in the RFCC, but Defiant gets used a lot upstairs (two floors above). Upstairs, Xubuntu wouldn’t hold a lock on the wireless signal. It  connected during boot and everything looked fine. Then, it would hold the signal for about ten minutes…maybe. Once the signal was lost, I couldn’t get it to reconnect. The only way to restore the wireless connection back was to reboot. This is the only time I’ve ever had this problem with Defiant. Other Linux distributions (in fact, every other Linux distribution I’ve tried) will hold the lock all day. This, by itself, was reason enough for a no-go with Xubuntu.

This really isn’t a blog focused on reviewing Linux distributions. We got ourselves into a mess, though, and it put us offline for a week. We’re actually interested in content creation and we’re coming back to that.  This problem, though, underscores the importance of the post we intended before the meltdown (which we’re getting back to, I promise). Before that, though, Fedora Xfce…next time.

Meltdown on the LilyPad

We’ve been mostly offline for the past week here on the LilyPad. This is the result of a meltdown of the RoboFrog computing center (RFCC, my basement). I wish I could tell you that the meltdown was the result of a computer virus, a critically malfunctioning operating system, sabotage, equipment failure, lightning strike, or a random act-of-God. The truth is that it was the fault of one person: RoboFrog’s wife’s husband. So that he can save face, I won’t mention his name. Let’s agree that we’ll refer to him as…HE, HIM, HIS.

There are three…let’s call them production computers…here on the LilyPad. Actually, there are quite a few others, but they’re mostly older, decommissioned machines that get used for special projects and tinkering. The three production machines get used every day. This blog is produced on all three depending on wind direction, position of the stars, mood, and location of RoboFrog. Naturally, the three production machines have names.

My favorite and most capable machine is Untouchable (There’s a reason it’s named that!). It’s a desk machine that I assembled specifically to run Linux. Prior to last week, only one Linux distribution had ever failed to install and run on this machine: Ubuntu 11.04. (Ubuntu 11.10 runs just fine.) The second desk machine is Whitestar. Whitestar is a Dell Dimension 8400. It sits next to Untouchable and is intended to be the experimental machine here at RFCC. Finally, there’s Defiant, the RoboLaptop (second most-used machine); it’s an IBM ThinkPad T-43. So that’s the cast of characters. All of the machines are on the order of five to six years old and there’s nothing exotic about any of them. It’s pretty crowded on the LilyPad. Back to the tale.

HE is an incurable tinkerer, always wondering if the flies are thicker over someone else’s lily pad. We had perfectly installed and configured Arch Linux systems on all three production machines. Xfce is our GUI (graphical user interface) of choice at RFCC. The Linux world is going through a metamorphosis in the area of look-and-feel and GUI functionality. Gnome, Ubuntu (Unity), and KDE (the three top Linux GUI contenders) each have their own ideas about where things should go. We’ve decided to sit this one out at RFCC. Since our machines are…mature…we decided to use Xfce while the heavyweights fight it out. We immediately found our machines more responsive and the environment familiar. Lately, we’ve noticed several of the major distributions touting a version configured with Xfce. HE…decided that we needed to try three of them: Fedora Xfce, Linux Mint Xfce, and Xubuntu. To which I said, “No problem. That’s why we have Whitestar…so we can experiment with new things.” That was all HE needed. Immediately, HE decided to load Linux Mint Xfce on Whitestar.

Linux Mint 11

We like Linux Mint here at RFCC…a lot. **IF**…we were going to run a heavyweight distribution, Linux Mint would be the first we’d try. When Linux Mint came out with an Xfce version, we took notice. I really can’t blame HIM for wanting to give it a try.

HE loaded Linux Mint Xfce on Whitestar with no problem whatsoever. There’s a reason (not necessarily a good one) for everything at RFCC. Whitestar is the experimental machine because we have more trouble installing new Linux distributions on it than any of our other machines. I was impressed that HE managed to get Mint installed so easily. It’s Linux Mint, though, so that shouldn’t have been such a surprise. Then it started!

Linux Mint automatically runs the software updater when you log on the first time. The software updater got HIS attention and HE told it to update everything. Then, it gave HIM a message saying something about not being able to access the repositories. Okay…now we had a broken computer. HE immediately decided that this might be a Whitestar thing instead of a Linux Mint thing. Before I could stop HIM, HE started loading Mint Xfce on Untouchable. (Did I mention that there’s a reason it’s named Untouchable?) You can see where this is going. Everything worked exactly the same on Untouchable. The installation was flawless, but it wouldn’t update. Two broken machines at RFCC.

A rational person would stop while they were ahead…right? I was already a bit miffed with HIM, but as usual, HE was excited about all of this. HE kept babbling on about having a golden opportunity to try some things we wouldn’t otherwise have tried. Frankly, I wasn’t amused at having two computers down and excited is not the word I would have used. There’s more that I’ll get to next time and I’ll tell you how HE managed to drag Defiant into the mess.