Home > Dell, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Ubuntu, Vista > The doctor is in

The doctor is in

June 15, 2008

[If you think I don’t write enough here, I have a good excuse: I’ve been blogging at the Lindependence 2008 Felton Diary here. I’ll get here when I can.]

I’ve mentioned this before in blogs, but it bears repeating: For years, I have hoped to be a thorn in Dell’s side, the pebble in ol’ Mike’s Gucci loafers about dependability and quality of the machines that came from the Dallas conglomerate.

So when Dell decided to see the light and offer Ubuntu as an OS option, I asked for a nice bearnaise sauce to go with the crow I dutifully, and happily, ate.

Fast forward to late last week, when I helped my commercial neighbor Ron at Long Cabinet Company with the memory on his Dell laptop, it was one of those opportunities to show that what we do, hardware- and software-wise, is not exactly some sort of black magic. In addition, it showed Ron how Dell and Microsoft are working together to make Vista unusable.

Ron’s wife had bought Ron a gig of memory and he asked me to install it. Thanks to Dell — more crow, please — adding memory on the laptops is merely a matter of just removing a panel, popping it in, and putting the panel back on; 60 seconds, tops.

This was the easy part: The harder part, and the part I couldn’t explain other than to say that it’s a huge mistake by both Dell and Microsoft, was trying to justify to Ron how Dell could sell a machine that they said was Vista-ready with “only” 512MB of RAM and how Microsoft could make an “new and improved” operating system that . . . well . . . oh, never mind. In the end, both Dell and Microsoft took a back seat to an explanation of how GNU/Linux doesn’t have the same problems that Ron was experiencing.

One more convert in the making? One can only hope.

[FSF Associate Member](Larry Cafiero runs HeliOS Solutions West in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)

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  1. clintthewookie
    June 15, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    512mb RAM works with Vista Home Basic. I recently looked for an upgrade for my aging XP. But then I found the solution! LINUX! (Puppy Linux to be exact, none of the other distros support my wireless card out of the box -with most claiming to. That is extremely disappointing so I only trust Puppy now.)

  2. June 15, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    Interesting, Clint. I think Ron had Home Basic on his Dell, and it “worked” but it was pretty dang slow. I have had good luck with wireless running Fedora, but that’s the only one. I’ve never tried Puppy, but it’s good to know that it handles wireless well.

  3. June 15, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    Well, I have recently done two mail-in/in-house installs of Linux on Laptops and it doesn’t come down to the distro. It comes down to the hardware. Now Puppy worked for Clint, and prior to reading this, six days ago it was, Puppy failed miserably not only with wireless but video resolution and sound on one of these older laptops. I ended up putting an older Kernel version of Sam Linux. On that machine, it worked “out of the box”. If you talk to the owner of that computer, he will tell you that Puppy sucks and Sam Linux is the best distro in the world. Success and the “goodness” of a distro is about as far away from an objective observation as one can imagine. That’s another reason to have nothing but respect for those that build the Kernel and make the distros…they are doing it blindfolded and with their hands tied…and still putting out a better product.

    That said, I just walked in the house from a couple of HeliOS Project installations (previously Komputers4Kids) and we had a similar experience that many Linux Advocates have. The parent of the child didn’t want Linux but they requested Windows. I explained to the lady that we don’t do Windows and preceded to “splain” why. The father of the house was the person I had made the arrangements with to come do the install but he isn’t residing at that residence. Had I known that, I would have talked with the guardian of the child. We do this for the kids…not the parents.

    The lady said that if I would just put Windows on the computer, she would have someone else come over and “fix” the registration of the license. We’ve dealt with this before, and it’s a bit sticky. Are we in the business of giving Kids computers or operating systems? Can we refuse to give the child a computer because they don’t want to use Linux? You damn right we can. Not only do we leave Linux on the machine, we lock the bios so it cannot be reformatted. We’ve consulted with our attorney and it is fine to do so. It turns out that the mother of the child does have a computer in her bedroom but upon asking her about it, it turns out that there is so much spyware and virus activity on it that she hasn’t been able to boot into it for weeks.

    All she wanted was a fresh install of Windows so she could foul that one up too. And I already know why…she is a MySpace Cadet. Their slogan should be, “A virus a day…we promise”.

    Sorry to be so long winded. The other mail in computer had Vista home premium on it with a full gig of ram and it ran slower than all of our P3 900 gig chips with 512. Again, if you are lucky enough to hit the “sweet spot” between system and software, you are lucky. The problem is with Windows, that sweet spot turns sour in a matter of a few months…just about the time the Linux install is going to need its first reboot.


  4. Amenditman
    June 16, 2008 at 9:30 am

    My desktop box, Hp Pavilion Slimline 3100, came with Vista Ultimate (ultimate what?) and 2 GB of ram and there were times it would freeze due to lack of available system resources.

    When I tried to fix it by downgrading to XP Pro I found out there were no drivers for some of my hardware for XP. I couldn’t live without a USB bus or the PCI slots. I am not a Windows novice as I have been using it since 95 and currently have 3 desktops and 3 laptops in my home, for which I am the tech services dept., all running XP.

    This was the last straw for me and I formatted the harddrive, thereby losing my restore options, and installed a Linux OS. That was April 7, 2008. I had a pretty steep learning curve but I forced myself to climb it by not considering a dual boot. Let’s face it, something new and different or something familiar and annoying, I’d just be lazy and boot the familiar and never learn the new.

    The point of this is that I had a brand new HP computer with hardware from many name brand vendors and software from Microsoft which I could not make work the way I wanted it to. Microsoft allowed me the option to downgrade to XP, HP recommended against it and would not support it, the hardware manufacturer’s did not provide XP drivers for critical systems, and all said it was my choice and I was on my own.

    After weeks of dealing with the merry-go-round they have created to deal with this, I came to realize that they have designed this to be as close to impossible for the average end user as possible. Microsoft, HP, ASUS (my motherboard is manufactured by them), and others are working together to force the OS-Hardware upgrade cycle right down our throat.

    I had two options. First, bow down and fork over some additional cash, or second, start from scratch with something completely different.

    I haven’t found anything I couldn’t get working in Linux with a little help from the community forums. There is definitely nothing for Windows which I can’t live without or replace with FOSS.

    As to Helios comment about Linux first reboot, the only time I have any instability is when I attempt something new which I have no idea what I’m doing.

    My new motto is: Tweak it until it breaks, then learn how to fix it.

  5. June 16, 2008 at 9:55 am

    Ultimate what? Ultimate disaster, maybe?

  6. clintthewookie
    June 16, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    Puppy works pretty well on all machines I’ve tried (I think it is about 8, 7 desktops and a laptop). The only exception is an old Toshiba Portege 7020ct laptop that I’ve been trying to fix forever. We got it off Ebay running XP, but it had so little RAM we put Win98 on it. It crashed about a month later and would not boot. I reinstalled it and it worked, then when I undocked it it crashed. Now Windows won’t install properly. I’ve tried every Linux distro I can find on this baby, but it crashes on every one (I think when it uncompresses the kernel)

    My grandmother has an eMachines with 256 ram and a 64mb video card. XP runs, but even tweaked to be as fast as possible, crawls along very slowly. SO whenever I go over. I bring my puppy live cd and save file on my thumb drive. Then it’s fast enough for me.

  7. invaderzimrox28
    June 25, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    hi dad! XD

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