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Old 01-30-2002, 04:37 AM   #1
Dog and Pony
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Question How "plug and play" is Linux?

I've been managing Linux systems, and installed a few flavours during the past year or so, but never gotten real serious about it. My question is this: when you install and get one system up, how sensetive is linux to changes in hardware? I by this it is possibly huge changes, such as switch of MB, CPU, GFX, you name it.

I must say I was quite impressed by my old windows 98, when I switched everything but the network card (and of course the HD it was installed on). I switched from a P100 to an AMD K6-2 500, I switched every other card in the machine, new memory, everything including the box was new. Windows 98 needed about half an hour of constant thinking and tinkering with PnP and drivers, but after that it just worked!

However, that isn't gonna be enough to keep me on that platform. but for several reasons, I would like to do something like that again, but with Linux. I'd like to simply install and configure my system and all on one hard drive, which I'll be using. Then, as I will build up a new computer to run this on, but can't afford a whole system at once this time (I think), I would like to switch hardware (including MB/CPU) when the time comes, and finally end up with two computers, my old one as it were, and this new machine with all the new parts, and my Linux.

Thing is, I don't want to wait with install until I have all parts, and I don't want to reinstall or reconfigure the whole system when I change hardware.

So, how hard is it? How much is there to it? Constant recompiles? Some tweaking of configures? How do you find it, and how hard is it?

If it does mean I put in the new card, fire up and then have to go into kernel recompile, that is ok, as long as it is fairly obvious, and I have no problem getting there in the mean time.

Hope this wasn't too hard to understand what I want. Typical real life examples on hardware switches would also be appreciated.

Thank you for your time. :)
Old 01-30-2002, 06:34 AM   #2
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Generally it's much simpler than windows. There are VERY few occasions when you'll ever need to use a driver disk or such like as opposed to having to constantly insert this or that disk for windows. as the linux kernel contains the drivers already you seldom need to do anythign as annoying such as that.

My CMD64X controller card... windows keeps screwing up, and i keep having to reinstall it with the cdrom every few weeks and it's annoying... in linux, if you've got quick eyes you can just see a line confirming it's been found fly up the screen on each boot, and i never EVER had to configure anything about.

The drivers for your mobo etc.. are always recognised on boot in next to no time, so generally whilst windows seems clever going "found PCI bus.. installing drivers" and so on, linux just does all that for granted and you never even know.

the only thing you should posibly have little trouble with is cards like network cards / soundcards etc. but most distro's that use programs like Kudzu on boot will find them instantly and pop up a screen about it, askling what you want to do about it. assumnig that that happens, you should only actually need to reconfigure X to use the new graphics card and you should be done.

A week or so ago I saw someone building a brandnew system, new mobo, AMD XP1500 etc.... it wa bolted together, the old harddrive put in, and it booted perfectly, a few confirms in kudzu and it went striaght to X (as the same AGP card was being used). couldn't have been easier.
Old 01-30-2002, 06:46 AM   #3
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Of course, if you decide to do a kernel recompile before you put the harddisk into the new machine, and you decide to leave out anything (i.e. not compiled in the kernel, or as a module) that might be in the new machine, you may face problems. However, if you just do a stock install of any of the newer distros, and leave it at that (for the time being), you really shouldn't have too many problems (except for X).

Lets say, you have a bog-standard RTL8129 network card (that is the right designation, isn't it?), and you do a recompile to only include this NIC, then when you put into the new machine, which might have a 3Com509c NIC, because you decided to get rid of the module/driver, it won't be found. -- This was just an example, no specific information should be picked up from this.

As I/we said, with a stock install, you should be fine.
Old 01-30-2002, 07:18 AM   #4
Dog and Pony
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Thumbs up

Thank you my friends, that was about what I needed to hear, and what I hoped would be the case. Or at least close enough.

I'm a bit surprised that Linux would go behin dones back to that extent, but ah well, I assume it is a good thing when you do the average startup.

What you basically are saying is that if I keep a "bloated" standard install for now, without too much tweaking and recompiling (maybe none?) I should be fine with putting new stuff in, and when I am satisfied, I can do the tweaking then instead. That sounds ok by me.

Again, thanks a lot! I am now gonna go out and buy a dedicated HD for Linux, and maybe some other goodies... we'll see. As a last question, any opinions on which distros would survive this the best? I've mainly used Slackware, where just about everything is roll your own, but I would like to try Sorcerer perhaps, or maybe I'd go for SUSE or Mandrake as "mainstream" distros with lots of tools. Any recommendations with the above situation in mind?
Old 01-30-2002, 07:23 AM   #5
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why do you think it's going behind yuor back? i don't quite follow that. What's the need to ask you for confirmation on wether or not to use the North Bridge found on the motherboard? it's there... it MUST be used... just get on with it surely?


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