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Old 04-17-2005, 02:26 AM   #1
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Question Catch 22: Dual Boot - Can't download Linux Drivers necessary to this machine

Hello, I have a problem.

First off, I had Windows ME natively installed on an HP Omnibook XE2 Laptop. The computer is 5 years old, so there is good reason not to install XP due to speed issues (I have a much larger desktop at home running XP Home - I use this as a portable for school).

Luckily for me, I had pre-partitioned my 40 gig HD (the old 5Gb one totally wore out) into a primary and secondary partition using the ME-Boot disk when I re-installed the OS, simply because I liked having the programs, docs, and all my "stash" in a different area than my OS.

I have also rescently ordered all of the nessesary components to build a gigantic powerhouse workstation (dual 64bit Opteron 250s @ 2.4Ghz - 4 Gigs Reg ECC DDR 400 RAM w/ 128bit memory bus configuration - WOW!). The whole point of this is so that I can reap the full potential of all that 3D digital art software (namely Bryce 5 & Poser) without waiting hours till completion for huge renders.

And sense Windows XP has announced developements toward their new 64-bit OS, I am not gonna waste my money just yet on outdated 32bit OS. So I decided to invest in RedHat Enterprise Linux 4.0 WS, which seems to be the best alternative for the time being that can harness it's full potential (I don't need a frikken dedicated web-server OS), and later on, I can set up a dual boot with XP 64-bit.

= = = = = = =

Back to the topic at hand:

Sense the people at were nice enough to bundle it in with the x86 version, I decided to take the liberty to familiarise myself to the OS by cleaning out all the crap off my D drive, and then deleting and repartitioning the remaining 30 Gigs of disk for Linux.

The dual-boot setup took off without a hitch, and Linux (especially such a powerful build as this one) seems to run surprisingly smoothly for an outdated computer that barely meets the minimum specs (500Mhz Celeron @ 256 megs SD-100 RAM).

I distinctly remember that the HP website I believe, had a set of Linux drivers, in addition to windows, for my LapTop. But now I am at a predicament:

There is virtually no viable input/output for the OS besides the touchpad, keyboard, display screen, & sound card. I cannot connect to the internet via my USB modem - heck, the single built-in USB port on my LapTop is totally nonfunctional and does not even have the 5V power applied to it while running under Linux. Same with the PC-card slots and everything else.

The only workaround I can come up with is to download the Linux drivers with Windows ME and somehow transferre them to the Linux partition, which I have no clue how to do. Until I can solve this problem, my Linux partition is totally isolated from the outside world.

Here is the way my HD is partitioned:

3 primary partitions:

hd1: 8Gb - FAT32 Win ME (includes boot menu thingy)
hd2: 256Mb Linux swap drive
hd3: ext3 root Linux OS

Please forgive me as I know that my terminology is bad - this is my first real attempt at Linux, save for a cheap Knoppix demo boot CD I tried last december.

They said that you could effectively access the Windows FAT-32 partition using a dual-boot senario, but my Windows and Linux seem to be about as separated as the US is from China.

Please help me firgure out how to access my FAT-32, as I will need to know the details of this anyway when I set up my BIG JABRONEY workstation when I get out of school...

Also thinking about picking up "Linux for Dummies", because right now, I am one - is this book a good idea or a waste of time???
Old 04-17-2005, 02:33 AM   #2
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Location: Indiana
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Ok, so lets say that you have download the stuff inside of windows.

Boot your linux OS
Log in as root
mkdir /mnt/windows
type mount -t vfat /dev/hda1 /mnt/windows
*** This assumes that your kernel has FAT32 support ***

That should mount your windows partition to /mnt/windows
From there copy all you want to your linux partition.
Old 04-17-2005, 04:18 PM   #3
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Thanks musicman for the tip.

It seems I have bigger problems than just accessing the FAT32 partition that windows is residing on.

The command "mkdir /mnt/windows" didn't seem to do anything at all, and it seemed the option to create a subfolder in the /mnt directory was greyed out.

I did the command "mount -t vfat /dev/hda1 /mnt/windows" and at first it did not seem to do anything, but then I noticed the "SMB - Windows on Windows" icon on my desktop.

I tried clicking it, and it geve me some kind of "not found" error.

And so it turns out apparently, that I don't have root access, WTF???

When I first installed the system, it prompted me for a password & login, for example:

Username: Blah-Blah-Blah
Password: Yackitty-Smackitty
(bogus login)

And I have been using this since I installed. It seems that everytime I try to change something, it prompts me for the admin password, which is identical, but that gets annoying after typing it over 20+ times, and the system is wayy to smart to let me use something dumb such as tapping the spacebar, like I did with windows XP Home.

Trouble is if I don't have root access then who does???


?? ????? ?? ? ???

Also, all of the documentation is on DVD-ROM, which sucks 'cause my LapTop won't read it, however my Desktop at home has a Combo drive on it, and the new Workstation system that I am building will have one of those fancy CD/DVD "EVERYTHING" writers; maybe that will help when I get home.

Also picked up two "Dummies" books on Amazon

Last edited by I_M_Tired_Of_XP; 04-17-2005 at 04:29 PM.
Old 04-17-2005, 04:21 PM   #4
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Did you create a root password?

If you haven't, you can still create one with:

sudo passwd

If you already created a root password and just don't remember it, that's a problem.
Old 04-17-2005, 04:33 PM   #5
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Either I haven't created one yet, or it is identical to my default login.

I'm gonna log off windows and see what I can do.
Old 04-17-2005, 06:07 PM   #6
Registered: Jan 2005
Location: Canada
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If it is giving you too many problems since you are starting off, try using a different distro that works better for you. There is one out there that will work for you.

I use suse ( get iso's from ), and when I install it, everything is set up for me, I can access my xp partition (read only) and I have a fat32 partition that xp and linux can both wright to.

Old 04-20-2005, 02:32 PM   #7
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Wink It's all cool...

Being brand new to the OS, and not knowing a lot, I am a fast learner, and I'm starting to get the feel for it. As for my LapTop, all of the ports apparently work, but so many of my USB / plug n play devices are either not compatiple or the manufacturers are just plain lazy and do not supply Linux drivers.

I did some research online on my modem, and there are no existing drivers for it, so I'll have to get one that's universally compatible, like the US Robotics v92 serial modem.

The "root" issue was so ludicrously simple when I figured it out, it never uccured to me that "root" was a username, and I managed to configure the computer to login to my default account without a password.

I ordered some "dummies" books on; they are both copyright 2005, so I don't have to worry about getting old or outdated material.

The documentations disk is on DVD-ROM, so I will be able to access it when I get home.

There's a bunch of awesome screensavers & games bundled in to play around without getting online.

As for the FAT32 issue, I ordered a 1 Gb USB Flash stick for now, and I'll figure out how to do all that fancy stuff later on as I get more comfortable with Linux (It took me months to master all the ins and outs with win95 on our first family PC when I was a teen - now I am a borderline XP computer geek).

Take care and thanks for the help...
Old 04-20-2005, 02:36 PM   #8
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BTW, you have to get your feet wet first before you learn how to swim; dispite being a newbie, the Linux water ain't as cold as I thought it was so it's all good.

Thanks again...


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