Experiences with SuSE Linux 10.1

I can't say I've been highly sucessful with Linux up to this point, but I have built a loyalty to the SuSE distribution. My first experience with Linux came in 1999 when I bought a copy of Red Hat 5.1. I did some reading through the internet and in the Red Hat manual before my install, so I understood how to partition and what to expect during the installation. I was able to get Red Hat to install without a glitch, except for the fact that my video card wasn't supported. I wasn't able to get Red Hat to boot into x-windows. I tried a few things, but of course back in those days I only had one computer. It's not like today where I can install Linux on one laptop and use the other laptop or my iMac to search Google for the answer to my problems. Looking back I am trying to remember why I didn't just buy another video card. Maybe I was broke or drinking too much or something.
I tried Red Hat again with version 6.0. A guy at work copied it for me. I had the same problem; no compatibility with my video card. The next year, 2000, I was at Best Buy and saw some Linux Distributions. One of them was SuSE Linux 6.4, and it had my particular video card listed on the box as compatible. I took it home and installed it as a dual boot with Windows 98SE. About that time I upgraded my computer, and as soon as I bought a new monitor and some small parts I built a dedicated Linux box to play with. At the time I only had dial up, and I managed to configure Linux to use my Earthlink account. It was about that point that I met my wife and stopped playing with the Linux computer.

Later on I bought a copy of SuSE 8.0, but didn't get very far with it. When I try to use Linux, I always hit that one deal killing impediment right away. At this point, my wife and I were back on a cable modem, but we were sharing the internet connection through a hub with my computer working as the server. When I booted up into Linux, I couldn't figure out how to share the internet connection and my wife couldn't use the internet. I later tried to put SuSE 8.0 on an old laptop, but hit a network configuration problem and took the easy way out by going back to Windows.

I found out not too long ago that Novell released SuSE Linux 10.0. I downloaded the 64 bit evaluation version (not the OSS version) and tried to install it on my laptop (AMD Turion processor). I had some package errors during install and after start up I couldn't acheive a run level high enough for KDE to run. Recently I downloaded 10.1 and tried to install it on my older P-III laptop. It installed fine, but here's my current deal killer: Linux doesn't yet support wireless networking very easily.

Last night, I decided to go for broke and set up SuSE Linux 10.1 as a dual boot on my new laptop with XP. From my experiences, if I can just get the wireless support working, I can start to transfer files from my Windows partition and gradually resize my partitions until I can either wipe Windows entirely or keep a small partition for occasional uses. I may load Windows as a virtual machine for those few programs that I must have that won't work in wine. 

It takes overnight for SuSE Linux 10.1 to install on my 800 Mhz laptop, but it installed on my 1.6 Ghz in about an hour. It booted up and looks beautiful! My video chipset is fully supported (and I've heard very bad things about Linux and ATI). The blue background is actually soothing, and when I started this blog this morning I chose this template because it looks like that nice swirling blue that Novell has chosen for SuSE Linux. Once again, though, I can't get Linux to support my wireless. It did auto-install support for my built in LAN, so I took an unused cable off my router and plugged it into my laptop. The auto update worked great. By this point, I had to help get the kids ready for bed, so I had to give up.  (During the install, I brought my 22 month old up to play in my computer room. I really need to child proof that room.)

I read on slashdot this morning that the new Linux kernel does include support for Broadcom 43xx wireless chipsets. I'm not sure of the actual chipset that this laptop runs, but I do know it to be a Broadcom. I know ndiswrapper does not like Broadcom drivers. The driver that came with my laptop is the same driver that came with the Belkin PCMCIA card that I've been trying to get to work in my other laptop. I cannot get bcwl15.inf (may not be the exact order of letters) to work for anything on either laptop. I have a D-Link PCMCIA card for which ndiswrapper will load the drivers, but then the system can't see wlan0. Ugh.

This time, I am determined to make it work. I'm tired of messing with Windows and I am not going to install Windows Vista on any computer that is under my care.

I'll blog more about my successes and frustrations with Linux as I encounter them. 


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