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Still an Ubuntu virgin I am

July 07, 2006

ubuntu logoI had this idea of trying to resurrect an old Sony VAIO laptop (PCG-Z600TEK) with a free distribution of Linux OS. The laptop is to be used as a wireless picture frame if all goes well.

The laptop had previously suffered from intermittent HD crashes and had been collecting dust in a cupboard for a good 2 years.

Weighing in at just 700Mhz and 256 MB of RAM, it is fairly weak by today's standards and I had a feeling that the original Windows 2000 was too much for it.

Ubuntu is a very popular Linux distribution at the moment so I decided to follow the masses and give it a try.

The download was easy as can be but the problems started shortly afterwards because no matter what I did I was not able to burn a single distribution properly.

All in all I tried 4 distributions (AMD64 server/desktop and i386 server/desktop), 3 Cd/DVD authoring software packages, 2 CD-RW drives on two different PCs and about 10 different CDs (two different brands). None was successful!

If you are planning on giving Ubuntu a try, the first thing to check is the check sum of the distribution after the download. This is to ensure that the download was 100% successful.

On Windows you can use the free digestIT or MD5Sum . If you are using Firefox there is a MD Hash Tool extension available.

Compare the generated MD5 check sum with the official Ubuntu MD5 check sums. If there is a discrepancy re-download.

Second step is to burn the ISO distribution to an empty CD. Various CD/DVD authoring can do this, e.g. Nero burning Rom, Alcohol 120% and the free CDBurnerXP Pro.

Using slower burning speed (1-8x) should help towards a successful burn but it didn't in my case.

Once burned, pop the CD in your CD drive, make sure to enable booting from CD/DVD (optical drive) in your BIOS and restart you computer.

Make sure to select "Check CD integrity" in the Ubuntu menu as a first thing. This is where it was reported over and over that my CD was corrupted.

I have posted a few questions on the Ubuntu forums and maybe there will appear a workaround at some point. Until then the Sony VAIO laptop will be collecting some more dust.

Heard on Slashdot: Ubuntu is an ancient African word, meaning "can't configure Debian".

One more disc burned and tested on a third PC (Dell Latitude D505) and Ubuntu booted up properly. It appears that the Ubuntu 6.06 is very sensitive about hard ware being used.

From a quick tour of Ubuntu 6.06, Linux on the desktop has come a long way. It was responsive, esthetically pleasing and with all that Unix goodness.

Short lasting experience though. The Dell Wireless TrueMobile 1350 WiFi card is not supported natively and I was not in a mood making it work with the ndis wrapper.

A memory test on the VAIO showed severe problems so no wonders Ubuntu did not boot up on it.

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