Some of you will know that I’m a Linux user from my previous posts. I’m not a distro-tart: I tend to stick with a particular Linux distribution rather than swap between the different flavours. I started out over 15 years ago with an early Slackware release before moving to Red Hat around version 5 (1998?). I then hopped over to SuSE for 7.3 (2001?) and have been with SuSE ever since. After I moved to SuSE Linux, I ditched Ms Windows and never looked back.
A few weeks ago, I decided to upgrade my PC for a bit more oomph. It was basically a complete rebuild as my motherboard was still AGP graphics, so everything’s new – new ASUS mobo, AMD AM3 processor, DDR3 memory, all SATA drives, ATI (PCI-e) graphics, the works. None of this stuff was cutting-edge but none of it was complete rubbish either. All the gear had arrived in the post and Sunday afternoon was free – I was ready to go.
New drives meant new install of SuSE 11.2….or not. First of all, I couldn’t get SuSE to see the SATA drives until I changed some BIOS settings. Then the bootloader wouldn’t install unless I only had one HDD and disconnected the two mirrored drives. And even then, when I rebooted after the initial install, I got buckets of SATA data errors and the OS failed to boot.
After tinkering with BIOS settings and kernel modules for a couple of hours I gave up. Life’s too short. I bunged in a Linux Format magazine coverdisk that had Ubuntu 10.04 on it. Twenty minutes later, I had a working system, with all my drives, including the RAID mirror and it had also installed the proprietary drivers for the graphics card. No fuss, no muss. Boy, was I relieved!
I sometimes feel that it’s a bit churlish to complain about an OS which is essentially free, i.e. no cost. In my defence, I have previously supported SuSE and Red Hat by buying the box sets, but in this day and age, if Linux wants to have any chance to succeed against the Redmond machine, it has to just work. I’d consider myself somewhere between a power user and an expert and if I can’t get it to work on a fairly ordinary system, there’s no hope.