[Smaug] question about meeting

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Sat Jun 18 00:00:57 PDT 2005

Quoting Jorge Lizarzaburu (Jorge.Lizarzaburu at driscolls.com):


> So I went to the website and  I follow the instructions and yes I try
> to install it didn't detect my pcmcia network card (witch is
> Xircom)...

Not intending to sound in any way critical, but Xircom have in my
experience been notoriously uncooperative with the open source
community, which is one reason why support for their cards has sometimes

> ...but for one reason it was telling me that my hard drive was full,
> knowing that mi HD is 3.6gb free space, because is only 3.6gb, so I
> lost interest on installing it after the second attempt and 2 hours
> later.

Something's mysterious, there.  It's possible that you had your system
divided into multiple filesystems, one of which (e.g., /tmp) became full
at one point.

Gentoo is not really designed for new Linux users.  In fact, it's pretty
much an expert Linux user's distribution, generally.  It's good that you
were willing to give it a try, and I salute your enterprising spirit in
that regard.

> In the other hand ubuntu was easy, put the cd on, and setup run ok( I
> follow some instructions on the website), but it didn't detect my
> pcmcia network card (witch is Xircom) also I couldn't change my
> desktop size.(too small)

Before we could help you, you'd have to tell us what you tried.  Users'
"I couldn't do [foo]" statements don't lead anywhere, y'see, since
you've not given us enough information to let us help you.

> Then kubuntu, I try to install over ubuntu but not luck....

Again, you give us nothing to work with:  Basically, we're sitting and
hoping you'll let the other shoe drop, i.e., "I tried to install over
Ubuntu by doing A, and the computer then did B, I did C", etc.  

> I choose kubuntu because, I like how you can play with kde and
> graphics.

Perhaps you weren't aware of this, but you can run "sudo apt-get install
kubuntu-desktop" on an Ubuntu system, to add all the Kubuntu
KDE-oriented packages to it.  Similarly, you can run "sudo apt-get
install ubuntu-desktop" on a Kubuntu system to add Ubuntu's
GNOME-oriented packages.

Either way, you end up with a system with both GNOME and KDE packages on
an Ubuntu/Kubuntu foundation.  Isn't that cool?

> Then I was checking   http://distrowatch.com/ and I run into
> http://www.damnsmalllinux.org   this livecd Linux os detect everything
> on my laptop, I was surfing the internet playing games, etc, the only
> problem I'm still trying to make my desktop to the size I want.(too
> big).

Again, you don't mention what you tried.  But you might want to just
bring the laptop to any Smaug meeting:  I'm sure people can help.

> I'm going to keep playing with it.  I'll see you guys on Monday, I
> bringing my laptop to play with it, I promise my self that I will
> learn Linux and I always keep my promises.


> Question before I forget I know Linux is different than Windows, why
> is so hard to install a driver in Linux?

First, just for perspective, I'll bet you've never installed a retail
copy of Windows onto a blank hard drive of a recently released computer,
have you?  Talk about your driver problems!  It tends to be an
especially masochistic and frustrating experience on recent-production

A lot of people think they've "installed" Windows because they ran the
little routine when they unpacked their Windows-preloaded computers, in
which they enter their names and the product activation codes:  They
confuse that with installing the operating system.  Well, it's nothing
like the real thing:  In such cases, you are merely individualising a
painstakingly tweaked Windows preload copy on the hard drive that some
poor-bastard technical grunt (often) had to slave over for huge amounts
of time at the factory, solving driver problems in advance so you don't
have to.

If you were to start your installation, instead, with a blank hard drive
and a _retail_ copy of Windows -- instead of those "recovery CD" things
you get in the box that are just another safety image of the factory
techie's tweaking work -- then you would know just how wretched and
painful many Windows driver situations are.

And, mind you, Microsoft has the advantage of being able to deal behind
closed doors with uncooperative companies like Xircom, because Microsoft
is perfectly glad to sign non-disclosure agreements and use
manufacturer-provided driver source code that it is prohibited from
releasing to the public (because Xircom and the like regard the
information as secret).

That gives Microsoft a tactical advantage over Linux because the open
source community distrusts binary-only drivers, works hard to avoid
them, and will not in general sign NDAs just to get information from
hardware manufacturers -- so the community has to work around the
perennial lack of assistance from the likes of Xircom.  The community
eventually succeeds in reverse-engineering such hardware and making
drivers -- that are often much better eventually than the proprietary,
binary-only ones, because of peer review and better quality control --
but that inherently takes time after that particular hardware chipset
shows up on the market.

There _are_ pieces of software you can install (easily) into Linux
distributions that assist with running proprietary drivers -- as with
your Xircom card.  The one I am thinking of in that case is called
ndiswrapper -- which lets you use Win32 drivers for PCMCIA cards on
x86 Linux laptops.

ndiswrapper isn't provided on most Linux distributions by default for
(probably) a lot of reasons.  I'd speculate that one of them is that
most Linux users would rather avoid the necessity for it, and (well)
avoid things like Xircom cards.  ;->

Again, no criticism intended.

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