technology notes… mobile and embedded.

My tryst with Linux.

with 8 comments

Playing around with my PC was a favorite activity during college. I used to try various OS’s at home .Notable were QNX (provides a host of features including a HTML browser  at a size of 1.44MB Floppy)  and  BeOS (another interesting OS which used to run OpenGL stuff which was otherwise not possible with my  440ZX Motherboard.)

During this time, I came to know of Linux from a friend. The whole idea of installing an operating system whose source code is available for users to change, sounded very attractive . Besides Linux is  based on UNIX. and I always wanted a UNIX environment at home after using SCOUnix for programing at my training institute.

But Linux was notorious for its ‘usability’ issues and installation was not quite easy.  We had to manually configure the mouse, soundcard ,and the gfx card. This was not easy as it sounds. I used to have a diary with all the device names/ model number and IRQ assignments before starting to install Linux.

The first distro I tried at my PC was RedHat 6.2, that came for free with PCQuest. LILO was quite primitve and GRUB was  still in the alpha stage at that time. So the paritions have to be made in windows using some tools like Parition Magic.  Once the partitions are made, it used to be a 1 hour wait (thats what was possible with a Pentium 350 MHz, 32MB RAM) until all software gets installed by the Anaconda installer .

Unlike current versions ,Configuration of display happens almost at the end of the installation.This was most annoying part.  I had an AGP card on my PC and there was no inbuilt support for it in the kernel.XWindows never worked fine for me and I had to work on a 640x 480 resolution.

Fastforward to 2008 and it all seems funny.   Today Linux is a name you cannot ignore and the latest edition from Canonical (Ubuntu Hardy) has an installation procedure that is ALMOST seamless, except for a couple of ENTER presses. As a popular AD from IBM shows, Tux is no more the new kid on the block .


Written by sujai

August 20, 2008 at 2:26 pm

Posted in life, linux

Tagged with , , ,

8 Responses

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  1. I still find blog posts where they bash Linux using descriptions like you posted here. Tech Blorge was one. I actively avoid that site. They might call us Zealots but they’re Zombies and they are getting more disparate every day.

    Yes, Linux has come a long way but some people refuse to accept that.

    Richard Chapman

    August 20, 2008 at 3:50 pm

  2. @Richard
    Thanks for your views.The post was not Linux bashing. I cannot agree on that. The post is about my experience/observations on installing Linux for the very first time and what Linux has become over the years.


    August 21, 2008 at 6:46 am

  3. hmmm..yes,last month i installed ubuntu Hardy in my system in just 10mins.
    frankly, i didn’t get to know any nuances of installing an OS, as it was quite seamless.

    The only thing which we can define as harder than ENTER presses was the HD partitioning in windows and specifying the same in ubuntu!!

    a fan

    August 21, 2008 at 8:37 am

  4. I guess I was unclear. TECH.BLORGE used old, antiquated descriptions of installing Linux to describe contemporary installations. I’ve seen that tactic many times. We need not worry though. I’ve come to realize that nobody, as in not a single person, reads these blogs and news commentaries about Linux who would be considered a normal user. Not one.

    Richard Chapman

    August 23, 2008 at 3:37 pm

  5. I remember the demo of WaveGuide patterns you guys gave in college. Was that in BeOS?


    August 27, 2008 at 3:53 am

  6. @ Ranjhith
    You mean the quiz we conducted in college for ‘Interface 2001’
    I think that was with GNUPlot on Red Hat 7.1 and it was not GL .It was just 2D stuff that possible with Matlab/Simulink. I dont remember very well. Nags did that mostly.


    August 27, 2008 at 7:26 am

  7. Can you also tell what are .la files. I presume that .la is a linked archive, but how can we create a .la file.


    October 11, 2008 at 3:54 pm

  8. @Amitava : Welcome to WhiteNoise 🙂
    .la is an archive created by Libtool from .lo files.
    you can think of .la as a .a file that is ‘portable’ across many systems. Similairly .lo is an object file that is ‘portable’ across systems. In many cases these files will be scripts that will then point to the actual .a/.o files.
    You can find a better explanation here: http://sources.redhat.com/autobook/autobook/autobook_75.html


    October 12, 2008 at 7:47 am

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