Archive for the “Linux” Category

My thoughts related to Linux, the OS and applications.

I’ve needed to post something here for a while now. I guess now is as good a time as any for you see, I have a plethora of other activity going at the moment and I can’t actually interact with -any- of it, so I might as well write.

On my primary Windows machine, running XP SP3, I’m engaged in a huge backup. I’ve not accomplished a full backup for better than a year so I’m due. The size is approximately 50GB and I’m only backing it up to a local external USB drive. It’s now on day three. I calculate is has a few hours left to go. In order to allow that machine to run with as much CPU and RAM available to the backup, I’m avoiding using that machine. Please understand, that machine is nearly 10 years old, running a 1GHz processor and a maximum of 512MB of RAM. Yes, I’ve checked and double checked, that’s the maximum the motherboard will take. Sigh.
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I had the hard drive in my Home Linux system crash a couple months ago. Since then it’s been an interesting experience getting things back together and “normalized” again. Fortunately I’m using removable drives via the front of the case -and- my previous system is still sitting on a functional drive. I was able to use the old hard drive in the system while I strategized on a plan going forward. That plan was executed, well, let’s just say “attempted” a little over week ago when I was on vacation.

Nobody usually starts a vacation by saying “hmm, I think I’ll get that Linux system upgraded and back to normal.” Nobody except me. What in the world was I thinking? It should have been simple, yes my last backup was a few months old but no matter. Let’s install the latest version of Ubuntu and just keep on trucking. That seemed to be my first mistake.

I’ve used Kubuntu in the past and I’m running Ubuntu Studio Edition for video and audio editing on another machine. The Ubuntu series of releases seem to be redefining ease of use for Linux users; bringing the idea there is a replacement for Windows into reality. So I start off by downloading an ISO for Ubuntu and then Kubuntu. I burn the CD’s and I’m ready.

The install takes a couple of tries to get started. Darn video thing again, need to shut off APIC or APCI or… I forget… anyway, I finally get the installer running. Now to configure things.

I worked on configuring the video, for hours. I could -not- get the default drivers in Kubuntu to properly display the Operating System on my NEC Multisync LCD 1850E. Kubuntu recommended a download from NVidia. Well… okay, I’ll bite… … Wrong answer.
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I recently installed SUSE Linux 10.0 on my notebook computer and after using it for a day, I’m not sure it’s really better than previous versions for user customization. I have not installed a version SUSE Linux since before it was acquired by Novell. The last real lnstall I did was SUSE 8.2 on a home and work machine.

SUSE 8.2 was fantastic in it’s ease with which I could change things, like the GRUB boot screen or the KDM login screen. It looked decidedly Linux and was a far cry from Windows; a welcome difference from Windows. It was only a couple years ago, that Novell purchased SUSE Linux and has been working on it themselves. Now, with the latest version, 10.0, I find myself looking at screens closer to Windows, than Linux.

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I recently took a Saturday, and installed SUSE Linux 10.0 to my new notebook computer. The installation was to the hard disk this time, versus the Knoppix boot I had done previously. Installing to the hard disk went smoothly and I was smiling happy by the end of the day.

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Running Knoppix 4.0.2 on an HP ze2315us
(Last updated: 9 Jan 2006)

General Hardware Specifications of HP ze2315us:

  • Processor: 1.8 GHz Mobile AMD Sempron™ processor 3000+ with AMD PowerNow!™ Technology. / No Issues
  • Video Display: 15.0″ XGA TFT Brightview Display (1024 x 768) / No Issues
  • Video Processor: ATI RADEON® XPRESS 200M IGP / No Issues
  • Memory:512MB 333MHz DDR System Memory (2 Dimm) / No Issues
  • Hard Disk: 60GB (4200RPM) Hard Drive / No Issues
  • Floppy: None / Integrated Network: Integrated 10/100BASE-T Ethernet LAN (RJ-45 connector) / Untested
  • Internal Modem: High speed 56k modem / Untested
  • CD/DVD: DVD±R/RW and CD-RW Combo Drive with Double Layer Support / CD and DVD read operations tested fine. Writing operations untested
  • Wireless: 54g™ 802.11b/g WLAN with 125HSM / SpeedBooster support / No Issues, requires additional work to install
  • Sound: Altec Lansing / No Issues

Basic Installation of Knoppix 4.0.2:

Knoppix 4.0.2 is a great distribution for testing the functionality of a new PC. It comes as a “live CD” distribution. This means you can simply insert it to the CD drive and reboot the machine. The latest version of Knoppix can be obtained from one of the hosted download mirrors.

This How-To will not cover installing Knoppix to the hard disk of a ze2315us. The author is simply documenting the fact Knoppix will boot and run on this system and appear to operate normally, to include video, sound and wireless networking. For information about installing Knoppix to the hard drive, please refer to these instructions. Be forewarned however, this author assumes you have a good working knowledge of how Linux works, how partitioning works and that you know what you are doing.

It is assumed, that if Knoppix works from the live CD distribution, then is should work even better when installed to the Hard disk of the computer.

After inserting the Knoppix 4.0.2 CD and rebooting, Video and Sound came right up. The only item not working was wireless networking.

Setting up additional features (Wireless) for Knoppix 4.0.2

To get wireless working, I initially referred to this posting from the Linux on Laptops website. This gave me a good idea of what I needed to do. At first, I tried using the tools included with Knoppix, to point the ndiswrapper to the appropriate file in the MS Windows folders. When that didn’t work, for whatever reason, I then reboot into Windows, and downloaded the latest drivers for the Wireless chipset from the HP web site. I installed these to a location I could easily find once I rebooted into Knoppix. Once I had the new drivers downloaded, it was a breeze to install.

  • Boot Knoppix from CD
  • Using a file manager (such as Konqueror), copy the BCMWL5.inf and BCMWL5.sys files to the /home/knoppix directory. This will help you find them faster.
  • Open a terminal window (note: I may make notes in the following commands, if so, they are preceeded with “/*” and end with */”
  • bash# su – /* you need to be the super user, knoppix should not ask you for the password, if it does, it’s “knoppix” */
  • bash# /usr/sbin/ndiswrapper -i /home/knoppix/bcmwl5.inf /* I assume you copied the files to home/knoppix. Pay attention to capitization, in my case, the file names were in all lowercase. */
  • bash# /usr/sbin/ndiswrapper -l
  • you should see:
    Installed ndis drivers:
    bcmwl5          driver present, hardware present
  • bash# /usr/sbin/ndiswrapper -m
  • you should see:
    Adding "alias wlan0 ndiswrapper" to /etc/modprobe.conf
  • bash# modprobe wlan0 /* this will install the newly created module, so you can use the wireless */
  • At this point, the blue light on the silver Wireless button, should come ON.

We aren’t finished yet. The wireless circuitry has been activated, but it still needs some brains to function. You now have to configure networking. Please note, in my case, I assigned static IPs for my internal network. In your case, you may need to use DHCP. You may need to play with these next settings a little, to get it all working.

  • Go to the panel and click on the Penguin icon, which should pop up a bubble with “Knoppix”, from now on, I will refer to this button as the “Penguin” button.
  • Penguin>Network/Internet>Wavelan configuration
    • Enter SSID of the network you wish to connect to, if known. In my case, I typed in my Access point SSID
    • Enter Cell Identifier, if known. In my case it was left blank.
    • Enter Mode. In my case, it was Managed
    • Enter Channel number. In my case, I entered the channel number of my access point.
    • Enter WEP key if you have one. In my case, I entered the WEP key associated with my access point.
    • Enter additional parameters if necessary. In my case, I had none, and simply clicked through all prompts.
  • Penguin>Network/Internet>Network card configuration
    • You should see two entries, one for the internal lan card, the other for the wireless lan card; wlan0
      • Click on wlan0
      • Enter DHCP broadcast IP if needed. In my case, I’m using static, so I left this blank. I’m not sure what to enter here if not using static IPs.
      • Enter IP, unless doing DHCP. In my case, I entered a static IP I had assigned for this notebook computer.
      • Enter broadcast address. I believe the default should do.
      • Enter NetMask. I believe the default should do.
      • Enter the default Gateway. In my case, I needed to enter the IP of the access point.
      • Enter nameservers. I entered the primary nameserver that the access point used.
      • It will then drop into the wireless setup you did previously. Click through and verify it is all correct.
    • Penguin>Network/Internet>KWiFiManager
      • You should see that the Wireless card is active and you are either hooked up to a network (as in my case), or that networks are in range. You’re IP hookup may be different (DHCP versus static), so play with it a bit.
    • Start a browser and see if it works.
    • BE AWARE: Once Knoppic from CD is halted, the entire wireless installation GOES AWAY. In order to make everything persistent, you will need to install Knoppix to the hard disk. However, there is a way around it.

      Save the Knoppix configuration:

      • Penguin>Configure>Save Knoppix configuration
      • Select the items to save (I would strongly suggest saving the Desktop as well)
      • Select the destination. I would suggest a USB thumb-drive. On my install, it was listed at /dev/sda1
      • Save, then pay attention to the dialog that comes up after the save. It will instruct you on how to use the configuration you just saved.

      Next time you boot the Knoppix CD:

      • Insert the CD into the CD drive.
      • Insert your configuration media. In my case, it was the USB thumb drive
      • Boot the system
      • At the Knoppix boot prompt, enter:
      • boot: knoppix lang= myconfig=scan /* My language was “us”. “scan” tells knoppix to scan for the configuration, which found my USB thumb drive just fine.

      Knoppix will then boot fine and grab the configuration information from the saved media. However, I must caution you, I did still have some difficulty. I had to modprobe the driver again, and re-config the card. I’m not sure why, as it should have done it automatically, but I may be wrong. Instead, I typed up a quick script file to handle it all. I then placed that file on the desktop so it was easily available, and made it executable. The script file looks like this:

      • #!/bin/bash
      • sudo modprobe wlan0 /* install the driver */
      • sudo ifdown wlan0 /* bring the interface down just for good measure */
      • sudo netcardconfig /* this brings up the same configuration you used before, all entries should be good, but check */
      • sudo ifup wlan0 /* bring up the interface again */

      And that should do it. Again, if Knoppix is installed to the hard disk, and after the wireless has been inititially configured, it should all work every time. Note, you may have to edit the system configuration to make sure the wlan0 module is installed on boot-up. This author assumes you can work that through on your own.

      Items that appear to work:

      • Video resolution is 1024×768
      • Keyboard repeat rate is annoying on start up, but can be adjusted in the Configuration panel
      • Mouse sensitivity is annoying on start up , but can be adjusted in the Configuration panel
      • Power messaging (i.e. battery level) appears to work
      • USB thumb-drives appear to work. (tested with Sandisk Cruzer Mini 256M)
      • Sound works
      • Ctrl+Alt+Fx appears to work, in order to switch to other consoles.

      Unresolved Items:

      • CD and DVD burning were not tested
      • Wired Ethernet was not tested (but the card shows up in the network configuration)
      • The modem has not been tested, and might not be very soon.
      • Video out the external jack was not tested
      • Pressing the Wireless key (silver) will not necessarily disable the wireless card (in Linux)
      • Other Hot-Keys (function-blue keys) not tested

      Overall, I am pleased with how well Knoppix works on this notebook. I started to do a hard disk installation, but Knoppix does not come with a disk partitioning tool that is smart enough to simply “re-size” my Windows partition without blowing it away, so I’ll have to use another tool for that. At least, it -looked- like it wanted to blow away my Windows away, so I’m holding off. My next work will be to try and install SUSE 10, which should be arriving ala Amazon any day now.

      I hope this has been useful to you.

      Asa Jay

      Linux On Laptops

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Copyright 2014, Asa Jay Laughton