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Wasting time most efficiently requires a computer 
25th-May-2009 04:22 pm

Had an appointment on Saturday morning -- the first day of the 3 day weekend. As I was trying to get ready for it, my desktop computer started being very sluggish and resisting all efforts to turn programs off. When the message flashed that my virus protection software wasn't running I stopped trying to close programs to get others to run better, but started trying to reboot. A few minutes after I'd planned on leaving, I got it turned off. Unplugged the network cable, turned it back on, and started a defrag, just on GPs.

During the weekend, I had a friend help me with my laptop -- I've been running it dual-boot -- with Windows in the main section (that's what was on the computer when I bought it) and Gentoo Linux in the rest. I keep trying to love -- or even like -- Linux, and I keep failing. With Gentoo, I've learned a lot -- or at least gathered many notes and added many things to my Bag-O-Tricks -- but it's been a pain. If I don't keep up on updates, doing whatever it wants to do every couple of weeks, it's likely that things will stop working, and when I try to do the appropriate updates, I'll learn new definitions for pain, and require help from my Linux Guru. (I hate being lost and confused and not able to get my computer working.) Anyhow, if I _do_ stay on top of the updates, my Linux partition fills up, and new and unusual portions of the computer are at 100 percent capacity, and I can't do anything (surely no X, and not even every line command) until I figure out what is okay to delete (usually requiring more help from my LG).

Anyhow, my brave friend offered to help me buy an appropriate Hard Disk and put it into the laptop -- a task which I have been most afraid of. We bought a Mongo HD. Obtained for me a downloaded (at much time and frustration cost) an Ubuntu install disk and started at it.
I hate giving up (on Gentoo) -- but I also hate having to put so much energy into having a working computer. And I hate thinking "Windows never gives me this kind of grief" about a product I so much want to like.
Using the Ubuntu disk, we created a partition for Window, and another partition for Linux and had it do its thing. Zip zap. Done. Then I got my restore disks from the Windows box that I created when I first got this laptop, and it warned me it would delete everything from the first partition -- but that is cool. Ubuntu installed easily. Windows installed easily. Googling ensued, and we (er, he) figured out how to reference grub, the lilo equivalent for Ubuntu, to enable me to choose how I boot. This was made easier by the fact that the computer defaulted to Linux on boot. That confused me, but it did make things easier.

Ubuntu doesn't seem to recognize the existance of my wireless modem.

The laptop only recognizes somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of the new HD. The thought that sprang to my mind was that the HD was actually smaller than what they'd sold it to us as. My Guru, though, wondered if he should be disgusted with my computer, since it's newer than his, and HIS bios recognizes Very Large Drives... Oh. While I blinked cluelessly, he found reference to a newer version of the bios, downloaded a package, and gave me a site on his local network where I could fetch it from. Since I'm comfortable with Windows (once I tweaked it, like making it classic-style, and showing me extension, and stuff like that) when I tried to run the flash and it failed, I realize quickly that this was due to the fact that I hadn't unzipped the product, I was just too tired to think, and I'd do it in the morning.

The desktop defrag of C: had finished when I got home. I started it on my other HD, and after an hour it was still looking at the same gif file. Add that to the fact that that drive was barely fragmented, and I finally quit that. Started a virus scan of my entire system (over 200,000 files, which blessedly only found 2 things -- one cookie which must have been identified by name because the file was 0K, and one PopCap installer).

Back to the laptop, Windows, and I installed the anti-virus program. Then I tried to use the wireless modem, and while it found our household network, very strong signal, it kept trying to connect then telling me it "must have moved out of range". Googled, and learned that I might need to install "the latest updates". Okfine -- started installing windows updates. I think it was after SP3 that the modem started to work, and it prompted me for our key, took it, and I'm back online.

Right now, none of the Windows IDs have passwords, and there is not an "admin" ID, so I'm guessing we're all admins who don't have passwords.

I'm a bit torn. I don't want to be spoon-fed my Linux... but I do want to like it, and as much hassle as Gentoo was, while I might learn to love it, I don't think I'd ever like it. Ubuntu doesn't _feel_ like Linux yet. When it boots, it has a cute little graphic that displays, rather than an "I'm loading this now, and it is okay" and an "I'm loading that now, and oh boy did it crash and burn". I wonder if I can configure that.

Then again, while I say I don't want to be spoon fed, if it turns out that usb and etc. are PnP that will make me very happy. That would mean that I'd be able to recommend this to folks who are even less savvy than I am.

Anyhow, here it is, evening on the 3rd day of a 3-day weekend, I don't feel I've gotten anything completely done, and I'm running back and forth between installing upgrades on the laptop, doing a virus scan on the desktop &/or defragging it, and putting time in trying to out-process the snail-mail I've received in the last month or so... not quite thrashing ... but overall I think I'm happy with the changes to the laptop. My Guru will give me a command to let me know if the flash (which worked!) of the Bios has solved my "it's not all there" problem, and in the next weeks/months/years I'll work on finding all the items I had installed on my laptop and putting them back. Although, when I do the Garmin software, I think I'll request it change my language to Russian.

And since I'm now off the pager, I may take a bike ride. And if I ever finish the mail, I may even see how far I've fallen behind in LJ-land.
25th-May-2009 10:10 pm (UTC)
That's a lot of install and update stuff!
26th-May-2009 01:52 am (UTC) - And that's why I'm not rabid about linux
I like *nix. I spend an awful lot of time doing stuff in shells even when I was under windows or am running on my mac. Some things I just need to be able to point and click but I spend more time typing than I do clicking.

Linux has always had two big issues for me. The first one is core driver support. Things are significantly better these days than it used to be. I have a good chance of downloading someone's distribution and having it recognize my video card, networking and mouse enough that I'll have a system that will be immediately useful. If you don't have working networking, half the time you might as well forget it - you can't manage to get enough data moved over to fix the problem without *already* having a working box.

Even after all this time, you can still be very hit or miss on distros for finding hardware. You'd think this would be a mostly solved problem by now.

The second big headache for me is why we even have so many distros. People are rabid about doing things their way. To some extent, that's good - they have options. They can go as spoon fed or as hardcore as they want. I personally don't care to compile most of my stuff from source, even when I have a very fast machine. I'll do it when I need to, but then I become responsible for the dependency and rebuild hell. One day of a new libc or something else that is fundamental getting an update can mean a day of tortuous recompiling. When I'm in a server environment, this is fine since I can sometimes avoid unnecessary crap included in my binaries but this is far less of an issue these days than it used to be.

I'm a much bigger fan of pre-built packages for my casual use. This means that someone has resolved not only the dependencies, but has found a set of workable options for configure and related packages that are probably needed. It *does* mean that I'm also doomed with their choices if I don't agree - or I have to build from source myself. But most of the time, it'll just work.

But these are all "getting it running" problems. And that's the reason why I'm really not rabid about Linux: So many people that I know who use it spend more time building their software and fiddling with their kernel rather than actually *doing* stuff with their boxes. It's like those people who play D&D who spend more time rolling characters than actually playing them.

It's computational masturbation.

All of that said, people who like to play with kernel code or making packages have a recourse under Linux whereas they don't elsewhere.

If you're having trouble loving Linux, find a distro that mostly works and spend more time finding packages that you love. It's easier to spend time playing with desktop managers to see what fits your mood. Find a good office package that you like. Realize that you'll spend much time finding things you hate and having to try out packages - but at least spend time with *operating* your OS rather than fighting it.
26th-May-2009 02:00 am (UTC)
I'm particularly fond of Debian -- it's the disribution that Ubuntu is derived from. Less emphasis on spoon-feeding and doing everything from the GUI, so it's like Gentoo in that respect. But it's a binary distribution with the same fantastic package-management system as Ubuntu, so it's a snap to keep up to date.
26th-May-2009 02:01 pm (UTC) - OT- picking up shoes...
Hey there,

What does your schedule look like this Sunday? I'm arriving at the airport around 6pm, and meeting for a latish (well, latish is, I guess, relative to your usual expectations for dinner) and shoe pick up might be a possibility if it works for you.
26th-May-2009 04:09 pm (UTC) - Re: OT- picking up shoes...
Sounds good -- as of now I'm free on Sunday the 31st. I think I already gave you several of my numbers. I live in Ypsi -- and very close to my place is a local Greek/Koney joint (but they may have short Sunday hours) -- a Ram's Horn (where I've never eaten -- don't know what to expect) and a Mexican restaurant. But I'm pretty much game for anything between Romulus and Ann Arbor -- or a bit to either side.
26th-May-2009 04:19 pm (UTC) - Re: OT- picking up shoes...
I think I may have gotten your numbers, too. But I don't know where I put them.

So... if you could email them to me at gibbs_da at yahoo dot ca that would be cool.

Also, maybe your address in Ypsi. I'll have a rental car -- maybe I could give you a shout when I arrive, then drive over, meet at your place, and we could wander out and find dinner.

Greek/Coney island would be fine, or Mexican. Or there is lots of other choices around.
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