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Linux for learning/I need hardware

by Steven Haninger / April 1, 2005 9:04 PM PST

I'm fair with most Windows OSs and have dabbled a bit to load and get familiar with Linux. My frustration has been that my own PCs tend to have hardware not fully supported natively in most distributions. My primary goal to get started will be to just set up a rig with Windows networking compatibility and eventually put together a simple file server for a small school. I have no time limit. For this purpose, I need a basic PC to start. I generally build my own but have considered finding a used P3 or such. Recently I have been thinking one of these small "Shuttle" types might also be a good choice. These, however, tend to be weak in the PS area though I've seen some 300+ watt offerings. I am wondering if anyone here has any experience with these types of PCs and Linux. I am thinking something like Mandrake + Samba. Thoughts would be appreciated.

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"fully supported".
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / April 2, 2005 1:53 AM PST

Even with my careful selection of hardware, I've yet to find full support in any distro.

For example, any VGA card has a 320x200 mode that is great for some TV out app we have but isn't "fully supported".

Maybe you can get by with "enough" support?

Tell a little more about what you didn't find supported with the latest Mandrake or Suse.


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My last attempts were about a year ago
by Steven Haninger / April 2, 2005 3:11 AM PST
In reply to: "fully supported".

with several current (at that time) distibutions including Mandrake, Fedora and Slackware. The Suse "Live CD demo" would not boot on my system which had an ASUS P4C800 board w/2.4g Intel HT CPU and integrated 3Com gigabit LAN. HD installations of other distributions would encounter fatal errors while installing and reinstallation attempts might or might not be successful. I know one (Mandrake or Fedora) eventually installed but could not configure the NIC or my Radeon 9600. I had another system (P3, ATI 7500, 3Com 905TX nic) that both Mandrake and Fedora would install and configure just fine. That PC ended up being an emergency donation to the school when it fell on some tough financial times and lost a classroom computer. I know Knoppix 3.7 will boot on my current PCs but have not tried HD installations of the newest Linux distributions at this point. I did not want to tie one of these just to play with but would prefer a small box. The Shuttles and such might fit my needs as long as a their proprietary nature would not cause installation problems. Such was the reason for my post in hoping someone would advice on these boxes. I am currently downloading newer distributions and have some spare HDs to try on my other rigs as well. Thanks.

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If no boot, try KNOPPIX.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / April 2, 2005 3:16 AM PST

Let me define "boot" as the boot command line showing up. You didn't tell much so I can't offer any suggestions.

However, my last non-64 bit machine has some Fujitsu motherboard that seems quite nice, but sound was non-function in Suse 9.1 but works in Suse 9.2. To fix it in prior releases I installed a SB PCI 16 card.

NICs are 2 to 5 dollars about town here so if one doesn't work, we get another. Not a show stopper.

The video cards are a continual race from newest to seeing good support. I've been sticking to the nvidia side of the street with some success.


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Ok, I get a poor score for wrong terminology
by Steven Haninger / April 2, 2005 4:03 AM PST

but this line is contained in my message "I know Knoppix 3.7 will boot on my current PCs" so I have already acknowledged that Knoppix 3.7 works on the same PC that SUSE did not initialize, load, start, whatever on the same PC a year ago. It halted at some point and, Linux ignorant that I am, I cannot provide exact details of it nor is it important to me at this point in time. If what you are saying is "don't expect a no-hassle installation", I can accept that. If you have no experience with installing Linux on Shuttle boxes and nothing much to offer, that is also fine but perhaps someone else here does. But, I do appreciate your knowledge and attention. Thanks.

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Linux since version 0.13
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / April 2, 2005 4:41 AM PST

On too many variations of hardware. Sorry, I don't have a Shuttle box, but did have some Shuttle K6 motherboards sometime about 4 years ago.

A few do want zero _________ (insert troublesome word here) installs. One poster was lamenting they needed to supply some monitor refresh rates and that was there criteria that Linux wasn't ready. Their choice on that, but as far as things go, that's durn close.

No offense, but that sort of click here user is better off on the Apple hardware and OS. Again, no offense intended.


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Just FYI
by Steven Haninger / April 2, 2005 12:08 PM PST

I took the time to download a 2.1 gig DVD ISO of Mandrake 10.1, burned it and was able to sucessfully install it on a spare HD I hooked to the rig that a previous version would hang either while installing or while running after finally completing and installation after many attempts. All major hardware seems to be working this time. The only problem noted so far is with APM. This is no big deal. Thanks again for your replies. I believe it was you who suggested Linux to me a while back as an alternative to Windows XP Pro for use as a file server in a small school. I knew of the 10 connection limit but figured it to workable as the school is not financially well off enough to afford an MS server/client package. Your advice was Linux but I couldn't even get it going back then and gave up. Today's effort is more encouraging. Thanks again

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Steve, you might also look at Mandrake 10.2
by chuckieu / April 3, 2005 4:12 AM PDT
In reply to: Just FYI

Still in beta, but I haven't found any problems that weren't deliberate changes that probably only affect my equipment. I have tried Red Hat 9, Fedora Core 1, Fedora Core 3(not impresseed), Mandrake 10.0, 10.1, and 10.2. Mandrake 10.2 is better than 10.1. Xine plays better, Fire Fox and Thunderbird 1.0 are the default, etc, etc, etc. They dropped the backend that supports my Umax scanner and won't let me substitute some files to make the workaround install my printer, but that is my problem. I am testing Mandrake 10.2 on my original box with a Shuttle AK12A board, 512MB SDram, Athlon 1.2G. Using Mandrake 10.0 on newer box with Shuttle An35n Ultra, Athlon XP3000+, 2x256MB Crucial, USB 2.0, Firewire, and DVDrom and DVD dual-format, double-layer.
Mandrake, Suse, and probably most of the latest distros
will do what you need. I have lost faith in Fedora, but many haven't. Gigabit I'm not too sure about, but I suspect it will be fully supported if it isn't already. Just trying to encourage new users. chuck

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thanks, that was good information
by Steven Haninger / April 3, 2005 5:21 AM PDT

Unfortunately, since my first attempts to install Linux went bust, I'm fairly non-conversant in it's language. I'm not an IT person but get around ok in Windows environments which I find to be both a plus and minus in that some relearning of terms which accomplish the same objective is needed. It took a while to figure that "nameserver" and DNS are much the same. My interest will be in learning some simple networking skills at first and building on these. I'd prefer to dedicated machine to a multiple boot system such as I have now and I'd like to play around with several distributions as well. The Shuttle or other small form factor PC seems a good option for space saving and portability reasons. Since these are very proprietary, and most have multiple on board devices, I thought it best to ask if folks were using them successfully before outlaying money for one. My thinking is that one is well off to stick with hardware that's been mainstream for a bit if you don't want to deal with too many driver issues. But that goes for Windows as well. Thanks again.

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Don't forget your local library.
by chuckieu / April 4, 2005 6:22 AM PDT

Depending on where you live, you might be surprised at what they have on Unix/Linux. The books don't have to be the latest to apply. I still pull out my Red Hat 9 manual
(bought before I remembered the library) for answers for my Mandrake. One reason I love Linux is multiple desktops
with a push of the button, and I just opened another tab and Googled "shuttle+Linux". One link was a guy relating his experiences with Linux and a Shuttle Zen ST62K. Stuff like that. chuck

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