Quick Tips

My New Linux PC

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Recently I ran windows update on a six year old laptop running Windows XP SP2, yes I know it is ancient, but it is still useful. Everything was working fine before the update, and you can probably guess what happened next. After the updates, the machine started to Blue Screen. I spent a little time troubleshooting it and figured out that it was the wireless driver that caused it to crash. Unfortunately, there are no further updates to this driver and I decided it was time for a fresh install.

So I did what everyone should do before reinstalling the OS on a pc, I made a data backup to an external hard drive. Then I cracked open the original vendor restore disks and got the OS restore process started. After about an hour, the machine was back in working condition. I tested the wireless, which seemed to work fine, but this was with XP SP1. I wanted at least XP SP2, for decent wireless connectivity. So I installed SP3, which recreated the BSOD problem. I rolled SP3 back and installed SP2. Only to have the same problem over and over. At this point I was fed up and decided to do something different.

I believe a computer is a tool and as long as it does what you need it to do, it is a useful tool. Making the most of old hardware is good for the environment and easy on your wallet. Getting back to the subject, I decided I will install Linux instead, so I installed Ubuntu 8.10. After about 45 minutes, it was done. It works wonderfully and I am a happy camper. I tested the wireless functionality and it never crashed on me.

In general, I do prefer to use XP on this machine, mostly because of the amount of software available that I am familiar with. I think this is the case with most people, comfort is a big factor. I've had a good experience with Ubuntu on this machine so far, but there is still a learning curve with certain things, such as playing DVDs and hardware compatibility with certain USB thumb drives.

Some lessons I learned, which should help many of you.
  • Store your Data in one location for easy backup. Or keep your data on external drives and make another backup.
  • Always save your system restore disks, make sure this is the first thing you do after you buy a computer. You never know when you may need it. If you decide to sell you old machine, its best to restore it to the original defaults.
  • Fixes and patches can sometimes make things worse, learn about what you are installing before installing it.
  • It's great to have an alternative operating system to fall back on, grab a copy of Ubuntu or better yet, Linux Mint - which has built-in multimedia support for DVDs.
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Photo by Andrew

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

You should have choosen linux Mint xfce editon. It is built upon Ubuntu 8.10, but uses XFCE window manager so is faster. However, the best part is Linux Mint has everything you would ever need installed by default (yes, all the codec to play anything). Give it a whirl, it is a faster Ubuntu with all the goodies.

FrugalNYC said...

Hi Anonymous,

I actually looked into Linux Mint, as I have an older version of Mint on another much older machine. The reason I went with Ubuntu is to try out the latest version of Ubuntu at the time. Linux Mint did not port that version of Ubuntu yet, at the time of my post.

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