ioGear USB to Serial Adapter

I went to the local Best Buy yesterday and picked up an ioGear USB to Serial Adapter because my laptop doesn’t have a Serial port, and I need one to be able to configure some routers and switches I’ve been working on. My laptop is running SUSE Professional 9.1. I plugged the adapter in, turned on the laptop, and it worked! Hotplug activated it and I was able to use it with minicom to configure my switch using a console cable. So, if you’re in need of a Serial port, I highly recommend one of these. It also has an activity LED that shows when stuff is going back and forth, which I found useful. The adapter is also compatible with Win 98/ME/2000/XP and MacOS X, so it is a good choice regardless of which OS you run.


HP Dumps 64-bit Interests

“The company said its decision was based on a lack of 64-bit software applications from Microsoft and the trend toward 64-bit extension Xeon chips coming from Intel and AMD’s Opteron.”

Somehow, this doesn’t surprise me. The Opteron is a smoking processor from everything I’ve read, and beats Intel’s Xeon – even their new 64-bit Xeon – without even breaking a sweat. I see a big trend towards companies using the Opteron. Intel has a lot of catching up to do to come out with a viable alternative.

See also: a head to head comparison over at AnandTech and another over at GamePC. It is an exciting time in the processor market, with lots of great options to chose from, and as usual – Intel is playing catch up. I look forward to the next few months of development – the end of the Socket A/Socket 462 Athlon XP/Pentium 4 series is coming soon!


D-Link DWL-G510 PCI – Works in Fedora

My desktop is running Fedora Core 2, and did not detect my D-Link DWL-G510 PCI Wireless Card by default. I did a quick Google and found what I was looking for: Ndiswrapper. Ndiswrapper is a SourceForge project created to use Windows XP drivers to enable the functionality of Wireless cards that otherwise would not work.

After downloading, all I had to do was type two commands as specified in the documentation to get the card working properly. I am amazed that it was that easy. Thanks to the people who wrote this kernel module! It works like a charm.


SuSE is Excellent

SuSE 9.1 Professional is by far one of the slickest Linux distributions I’ve seen. YaST is an amazing tool that allows you to configure everything about your computer, much like Control Panel in Windows, but significantly more powerful (and user friendly). I’m also vastly impressed by the availability of RPM’s for SuSE – I was able to find Firefox 1.0PR, Thunderbird 0.8, and gaim 1.0.0 – all the latest releases – in RPM on SuSE’s FTP server. Try that with Fedora or Red Hat!

I’ve been a long time user of Red Hat products, but SuSE has really caught my eye. I’m not quite ready to dump Fedora on my desktop, but if my laptop continues to impress me with SuSE, I may have to. I’ll post a more detailed review as time goes on, but I wanted to let everyone know about my initial thoughts.


Experiences with hotplug

As I stated in a previous post, Fedora Core 2 comes with a crippled/incomplete hotplug installation. Unfortunately, for anyone using things like a USB Wireless card, this can cause problems. Some things I learned about hotplug:

First, see if it is installed and running:

/sbin/chkconfig –list hotplug

If off, you can switch it on with:

/sbin/chkconfig hotplug on
/etc/init.d/hotplug start

This should work on any SuSE 9.1 Professional system. Other distributions may vary. There are development packages for Fedora Core 2 that should enable a full working installation, but I was unsuccessful in getting them to work. YMMV, but I would highly recommend backing up before installing any kind of development/testing packages. It killed my installation.


Vidalinux Beta 2 – Preliminary Report

Here’s what Bowman has to say about Vidalinux Beta 2.

Just thought I’d report some preliminary details about an installation of the latest Beta install of Vidalinux on a custom built IBM T42. Install goes pretty rough initially due to a lack of updated drivers on the Beta install. Naturally, this will be fixed on the final release. Beta is about a month behind, which was a crucial month in updates for the ‘ati-drivers’ package. Using the vesa driver at a setting of 1024 (opposed to the ATI 9000 at 2450), I was able to get my machine up and running without any sudden freezes.

I have a few immediate recommendations:

1. Update your kernel source using either the Vidalinux recommended kernel sources or the Gentoo sources. I personally recommend using the Gentoo kernel sources if you have any idea of what’s going on… but for most entry level, I would recommend using the Vidalinux custom sources.

2. Recompile and install the kernel. This isn’t totally necessary, but if you had to leave out a couple things during installation, you’re going to have to reinstall the kernel to get those things running on your machine!

3. emerge ‘sync’ (Duh)

4. MAKE NEW USERS!!! – One thing I noticed during the whole installation – there is never a segment where you can add a user. So, adduser, passwd. Or, you can do the graphical thing and lose about 3 minutes.

5. emerge anything else you’ll need. Off hand, I noticed I had to emerge tbp (which lead to another kernel compilation), I had to emerge wireless drivers (which lead to another kernel compilation), and a few other ‘non default’ programs (tex, vim, etc).

Overall, the installation is significantly easier than the typical Stage 3 Gentoo installation, both with good and bad sides. It’s nice that someone else out there thought that having a GUI would knock out a few hours of the Gentoo installation process (especially the first hour, which is now done in about 3 minutes).

So far, I’d say if you’re wanting to install a very basic installation of Gentoo without all of the hassle, Vidalinux is for you. In addition, if you’re willing to spend more time tweaking than installing, go Vidalinux.

But, as with any installation, I’d recommend keeping a very good live CD around for any boot time issues that arise – like my issues with the video driver. My personal recommendation is the SystemRescueCd.

Thanks to Bowman for contributing this post.

W200 Multiport – Giving up

(I’m working on hour 19 of being awake here, so you’ll have to forgive me if this post isn’t as eloquent as normal.)

I’ve decided to buy a Cisco AiroNet 350 PCMCIA 802.11b card to replace my Compaq W200 Multiport 802.11b device, since I’ve had incredible amounts of trouble getting it to work with anything other than Windows XP. I’ll probably end up eBaying it shortly, but if you’re interested in purchasing it, let me know.

From what I’ve read, pretty much every modern distro will have native support for the AiroNet 350, so I shouldn’t have any problems. I’ll be sure to update here when I get the card in and get it setup (hopefully). I bought it off of eBay for about $30 or so less than retail.

SuSE 9.1 Professional – quick note

I thought I’d post a quick note saying I got SuSE 9.1 Professional installed on my laptop this evening, but still have not successfully installed the drivers for my W200 Multiport 802.11b card. Everything else works, and I’ve downloaded and installed Firefox 1.0 Preview Release and gaim 1.0.0. I’ve got some more work to get the laptop ready to go, including either figuring out the wireless card or tossing it out the nearest window. I must study now – two tests tomorrow. Be well all, and have a good night.

Barron’s Online – Sun Strikes Back at Red Hat

I saw an interesting article on Barron’s Online about Sun Microsystems and their efforts to regain lost market share to successful Linux companies like Red Hat (who interestingly enough now boasts themselves as “The Open Source Leader”). Sun has recently started marketing workstations and servers based on processors from Advanced Micro Devices and Intel. Sun’s lost market share can be attributed to their long-time proprietary hardware, most of which was overpriced and underpowered. It’s rare that I see a well-written article commenting on things related to Linux/Unix, so I definitely recommend checking it out.

Fedora Core 2 + Compaq Evo N1015v = SuSE Professional 9.1

Well, after having such amazing success with installing Fedora Core 2 on my desktop, I decided it would be worth a shot to try installing Fedora Core 2 on my laptop. I knew that really the only hurdle out of the box would be getting my Compaq Multiport W200 802.11b wireless card functioning, but I never could have foreseen how much of a hurdle that was.

After spending about two days messing with it, and thanks to the help of Øystein Olsen at the University of Oslo, Norway, I was able to figure out that my problem was not with getting a driver to work, but with the fact that Fedora Core 2 comes with a crippled version of hotplug. He directed me to a webpage by Bill Moss at Clemson University, which I was already familiar with for posting other Fedora Core 2 tips. The page detailed a few RPM’s that would need to be installed from development in order to successfully install a functioning version of hotplug. I went and grabbed the RPMs, which were newer versions than what he recommended, and they had requirements for about half a dozen additional RPMs which were dependencies. After satisfying all of the dependencies, I installed the RPM’s, re-installed the driver and firmware RPMs, and then rebooted.

Upon reboot, I noticed many, many errors, and realized that most likely my installation was toast. So much for using development RPMs. Because Øystein Olsen was able to get his W200 working with SuSE, I decided it might be worth a shot, since I needed to reformat anyway. As I type this, I have about an hour left on the installation, since I elected to install everything, as I normally do. I will report back here after the installation and the subsequent hours of projected frustration. Hopefully, I will be able to post from my working wireless card!