Registered: Nov 2001
Location: Federal Way, WA
Distribution: Suse 9.3
Success: Suse 9.3 Toshiba 1800-S207
After 3 days and some diagnostics, I have my Toshiba 1800 S207 running Suse 9.3 and Window 2000
Here are the steps I took:
1.The laptop. I shopped extensively for a suitable older laptop. I selected the Toshiba 1800 S207 for it's reliability as a Toshiba, the DVD/CD-RW capability and a reasonable 20GB hard drive. The final decision had to do with what was available on eBay at $399.
2.I removed Windows XP Professional. I received the machine with the XP operating system installed, however, without a Certificate of Authenticity. I would be at risk if it failed or if I wanted to register it. I've written to the reseller for confirmation but I don't think I'll get a OS disk.
3.Partitioning. I had already created a separate partition for /home so that installing multiple Linux distributions was easy to do. The Linux distribution / partition has 4GB and /home has 2GB. /Swap has 500MB, 256MB of RAM, and the balance is set up as a FAT32 partition for common storage.
4. Added Windows 2000 Professional. I had an OEM disk I purchases a few years ago with some equipment. From what I've read of dual boot, it was important to partition and install Windows first. This allows the operating system to throw it's weight around without causing problems. I set up a 4GB partition for Windows 2000. After W2K installation, I downloaded all the software and BIOS upgrades from Toshiba and installed them. There had been some problems with unexpected BIOS rebooting, etc, that I wanted to avoid.
5. Dual boot configuration. I used Grub and all the distros tried to set up the Windows command as:
This failed until I set Grub menu.lst as:
6.Installed various Linux distributions until I found the most suitable. This was the most time-consuming exercise. However, I've run RedHat 7 through 9, Mandrake 8 through 10.2, Simply Mepis, Vector Linux, Fedora Core 2 through 4, so I have developed some preferences. I don't like Gnome, I like the latest KDE, sorry.
7.SUSE 9.3 was my first installation. I use this distro on my main box and I've been impressed with it's slick, professional, but friendly, look and feel and ease of installation. The most impressive point was that the D-Link AirPlus DWL-G630 worked with a native driver. Suse recognized the Atheros chip set ar5211 and got it running. The wireless worked for a while and then started to fail (more on this later). I couldn't get Samba to recognize my local heterogeneous network either (more on this later). So in the spirit of exploration I moved on.
8.FEDORA CORE 4. Tried to install FC4, but the first failure was the white screen of death. It came out three days before my laptop arrived, so I had great hopes for it. However, it doesn't support some Trident display cards. I filed a Bugzilla report on this previously, but there were not installation warnings or anything. I started finding angry comments from users about this lack of support later. Goodbye FC4.
9.MANDRIVA LE 2005, or Mandrake 10.2. This distro installed flawlessly as it has on so many old and odd machines of mine. Mandrake really is the best new user's choice. However, they've really gone overboard on the ugly, crazed penguin theme. Their entire look-and-feel could be called THE CARTOON DISTRO. However, I know the architecture well and I was able to get DLINK G630 up and running with Ndiswrapper and Windows drivers. The startup of wifi can be a bit buggy, but if you use “ifdown wlan0” and “ifup wlan0” you're able to maintain a reasonably good connection. As a distribution it runs and installs well, but Samba still didn't work (more later).
10.Other research. While I was working on other distributions, I kept looking for comments on the failures I had experienced. This normally brings up what I need to know without posting a request for help on any of the forums.
11.Suse WIFI network failure. Suse uses eth0 to obtain a DHCP address. So once you activate both interfaces, WLAN and LAN, and then disconnect from the LAN, it can't obtain an IP address and hangs your WLAN. Following on-line advice, I set eth0 to start only when plugged in. Disabling it has fixed the problem. My wifi connection gets it's IP address and remains running. I've been running three hours and rebooted twice to make sure.
12.SAMBA. The first step was to run Windows 2000 and try Network Places. None of them were available, so it wasn't the Linux distribution or Samba having the problem. Being lazy, I just reset my LINKSYS router and access point and rebooted my Linux storage server that acts a a Win Server, since those two had been up over a month. The network came up without a problem.
13.Reinstalled Suse 9.3. I kept the machine's network devices disconnected until the installation was complete. I needed to reset the proposed partitioning in YAST so that my /home and shared partition were recognized and the time zone was corrected (again) – after that, up she came.
14.After installation steps: I went back to YAST and set up the LAN card to only activate when plugged in. I plugged in and set up the DLINK G630 for WPA and it worked fine. Samba came up with my work group fully visible. It all seems to be working well, which means I have to go play with something else.
15.Likes. The machine has a nice crisp display and the price was right. The distribution have a clean look and feel, all the latest applications like OpenOffice.org 2.0 (beta) and KDE 3.4.
16.Dislikes. The touch pad is way too sensitive. I had to reset the mouse to double-click to avoid activating or highlighting almost everything I mouse over. We have a new Dell with a touch pad that's much less sensitive and my new Toshiba Satellite at work isn't as sensitive either. And how do I reset the screen brightness under Linux? Something to research.
17.I hope this helps someone else. If you have questions, post them here and I'll try to answer them.