Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Adventures with Linux

Ok, I admit it. I've been a blind bastard. Blind to Linux and open source. I've read about it and been keeping up with what's been going on in the "community" but never really "got" it. Well, I think something finally hit me - that light bulb turned on. Anyway, I've decided to write some stuff about my Linux experience.

Here's a brief history of my dealings with Linux as a total newbie (warning: boring stuff ahead). What got me interested in Linux, was my India trip in summer 03 when Rahul and Hrishi were using it. Before that, I never really thought about trying it out and didn't have much interest in it. But the way they spoke about it, I couldn't resist having a go at it. So after coming back, I installed Red Hat 9 on a couple of machines. At the time, I had a network setup over the phoneline and wasn't able to get Red Hat to recognize the NIC. Basically I gave up after several futile posts to message boards and many email exchanges with Rahul. Last May, I installed Mandrake 10 in the hopes that it would work. No luck there either. I realize it was my network setup - which was quite rare. So I gave up on that too. Last summer, I changed over to a wireless network. This time, I was a little more hopeful because this was a more common network setup. Anyhow, long story short, I had a usb wireless adaptor and Mandrake didn't recognize it. I remember spending an interesting afternoon with Rahul on messenger giving me step by step instrutions to recompile the kernel with added support for wireless drivers. Unfortunately, didn't work. Also tried Knoppix without luck. Finally, I installed Mandrake on a laptop which had a wirless card built in. This was pcmcia so I was hoping for better. Again, no luck.

Looking around I came across ndiswrapper on sourceforge. This is a really neat project which uses windows drivers to get linux to recognize the card. I had some trouble with the newest vesion (1.1), so tried different versions (.10, .09), compiled and can it. It worked! So configured "wlan0" and now writing this post in Opera 8.0 on Mandrake 10.0! Just had a feeling of euphoria!

You would think that having struggled with it for so long, I would be quite sick of it. In some ways I am, but I've also learnt a lot in the process. And this is the essence of Linux.

I'll post some stuff about some stuff I've liked about Linux next time.

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