I said I wouldn’t write about the old Dell Latitude L400 again, unless there was a “breakthrough”. Well, there hasn’t been one, so I’m not really writing about that machine (but of course, I really am)
Really, this is more of a Linux posting than a specific laptop one…
So, unless you’re a real geek, or someone else is making decisions for you, it’s simply mind-boggling how many Linux distributions (“distros”) there are out there. For the techies at heart, perhaps that’s a good thing, as there has to be some distro out there that is preconfigured to your personal taste. Statistically speaking, since there seems to be at least one distro for every three people on the planet, that statement has to be true, right?
No wonder that Linux doesn’t catch on with the mainstream public. I don’t pretend to understand all of the issues with why one should pick one distro over another, nor why so many distros get “forked” or built on top of, etc. I listen to what other geeks have to say (many of whom work at Zope Corporation) and hear which ones they use and wish others did, etc.
Anyway, back to the old laptop, of which this post is ostensibly not about
I decided to completely abandon any hope of using it for the originally intended purposes (Poker and remote Slingbox machine). Still, I was happy with it for the short time that I was using it as a guest browsing machine in my apartment. At that time it was running Ubuntu 6.06. A number of the developers at Zope Corp swear by it. In all of my trials and tribulations on this laptop, it was by far the most stable and least hassle to get running.
So, I decided that I would wipe out all traces of my previous attempts to install a dozen other operating systems, and go back to Ubuntu 6.06. Of course, I couldn’t get the same exact CD that I previously used to install again. Go figure…
I downloaded Ubuntu 6.10 (the current stable release), and it took me numerous tries before I got it installed. When I did, it wouldn’t stably boot, even with APCI=OFF (which wasn’t necessary to add the last time I successfully installed Ubuntu).
Those of you who have read my previous rants on this laptop know that I had hoped to use PCLinuxOS as my personal distro. Apparently, they still have “problems”, and my setup was not spared. In particular, I could never get my WiFi card working, and it’s an Orinoco, which you’d think every distro would correctly support, if they do any WiFi at all…
So, on to find another distro, or finally, toss this machine into the actual garbage dump.
Looking on the wonderful Distrowatch site, I happened to spot a distro called SIDUX. It had all of the features that appealed to me with PCLinuxOS, but was Debian-based (like Ubuntu), and I’ve had good personal success with Debian-based systems in the past, including Xandros.
All I can say is wow! It just works. It installed correctly the first time, had the Firefox (I mean Iceweasel) 18.104.22.168 update when it came out, etc. I had it up and running for three straight days (not under any particular load, but still, pretty amazing for this particular machine). It has crashed a few times, so there’s still something sickly wrong with the laptop, but this has been by far the most stable operating system that I’ve had on the box, and it’s attractive and reasonably peppy (on ancient hardware) to boot.
I’m pleased that I now have a reasonable guest browsing machine, and I do not intend to dork with it any longer, and this time, I’m serious.
P.S. On SIDUX, I was able to connect to a remote RDP server, over NAT from a hotel, using an SSH tunnel, and play in one full Poker tournament without anything crashing. The graphics were painful, so I won’t be doing it again, but the fact that I could do it at all was shockingly cool! Unnfortunately, I finished one of out the money (bubble boy), so SIDUX didn’t help in that regard…