New Linux

Since Madelyn reached toddler stage Erin and I have used one desktop computer: our reliable PowerMac 2xG5. Two reasons: first, MED’s toddling was contemporary to our big-ass house renovation project, which involved moving everything to the basement, and we were slow to find the room to set up a second computer. Second, given that Madelyn wants to Get! Into! Everything!, the less we have around, the better, to some extent.

But since I’ve dominated computer use lately, much to Erin’s chagrin, it’s become clear we again need two computers. So I juggled the SCSI drives in my venerable PogoLinux workstation, downloaded the latest version of Ubuntu, and got things up and running pretty quickly. Here are the details:

  • Let me say first how impressed I am, still, with Ubuntu; its installer is great and the OS is simply outstanding. I know that I sort of “think Linux” since I’ve been using it on the desktop for about ten years now. But the slickness of the package management/automatic updates, the flexibility of the installation, and the well-designed bundle of core applications make for a lightweight but powerful OS.
  • Using Synaptic, I added the “Universe” package and had Thunderbird and Emacs (with Tramp) added to the base install in minutes. Meanwhile, the system found and installed a bunch of updates; Firefox also politely asked to update itself after I used it a short while.
  • I am using a five year old computer, an Athlon 1.1GHz x86 with a 32MB video card and 512MB of RAM. And it seems fast! Seriously, this machine has that snappyquick feel; video looks great and the display renders quickly. I was thinking about getting a new computer, but why bother? Sorry, Intel. Maybe next month if there’s still a hole in my pocket I’ll get a 512MB stick of RAM and a new flat panel.
  • It ain’t all good: Linux fonts still suck.

I picked the “alternate” Ubuntu installer because I wanted to use Logical Volume Manager (LVM) to merge my two 36 GB SCSI drives. That was pretty easy to do with the pseudographical installer. I selected one of the drives, installed a new partition table, created a new partition, and selected LVM. For the other drive, I set up three partitions:

/dev/sdb1 = /boot (ext3, primary, 228MB)
/dev/sdb5 = swap (swap, 1.5GB)
/dev/sdb6 = LVM (whatever space was left)

Once I picked “LVM” the installer showed a logical volume management option and automatically populated it with values which made sense. I created a single volume group (“Ubuntu”) and then a logical volume (/dev/Ubuntu/root) which included the two physical LVM volumes (/dev/sda1 and /dev/sdb6). So I end up with a 66GB “drive” forged of the two volumes.

Given the flexibility of LVM, I could easily drop a pair of 250GB SATA drives into this machine, set them up as RAID 1, and finally have an easy way to back up Erin’s video projects quickly…

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6 Responses to New Linux

  1. Mollie says:

    When Olie was in that stage we had to put a password on a screen saver. It was either that or have file names of “zzzzzzzzzzxxxxxxxxx” and “.;/././;’.,.,.,.,..,.”

  2. cbd says:

    I think for Madelyn this stage will last for a while. She’s fascinated by the computer. I’m thinking about setting up a linux box for her and seeing what she can do with it.

  3. Erich says:

    OK, but her Linux box should only have a CLI.

  4. cbd says:

    Agreed. Though now Madelyn only knows the letters m, e, d, k, b, a, and s. I am working on ‘c.’

  5. Dean says:

    My son, who will be four in June, has readily adapted to Win XP and Mac OS X 10.4.x. Thanks for giving me the idea to add Linux to my wife’s PC again! My son will be happy with a new OS to move around in and my wife will get the ‘pick your OS’ boot screen that she loved so much a few years ago!

  6. cbd says:

    And you can’t go wrong with a bootable CD if you don’t want to have a three-OS computer.

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