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What I like about linux…

What I like about Linux is that the install CDs are also live CDs.

Every once in a while, I decide to try out the latest linux distro that will conquer the desktop market. Having a live CD is really useful : you don’t have to install anything. No risk corrupting your hard disk and losing everything installed and running like a charm (under Windows). But the end result is always the same : after some time trying to get everything up and running, reading obscure forum posts with countless lines of CLI commands and config files to update, I abort, and go back to my working Windows install.

This time, I received an old NEC laptop, with only 256 Mo of RAM,  Windows XP installed on it and running, but slowly. Since my girlfriend wanted a laptop just to be able to download some pictures and take them anywhere she wants, I thought a lightweight version of Linux would be a good replacement of XP. Since this laptop is really old, hardware support would not be a problem. I downloaded the latest version of Xubuntu, supposed to be running fine with only 256Mo, and tried in on the laptop, using the live CD.

Everything ran fine until I tried to connect to my wifi network. A small icon indicated that I had no connection, although wireless networking was enabled. The problem seems to come from a button on top of the keyboard, which enables or disables the wireless network card. Pressing the button changed nothing : the led stayed off, and no networking was possible. I thus googled, already thinking : why is Linux unable to handle a network switch on a 5 year old laptop?

Anyway, I found forum posts indicating that rfswitch was perhaps the solution. So I downloaded it, put it on a USB stick, and plugged the stick into the laptop. Nothing happened. A quick look at the Removable Media parameters : yes, removable media are supposed to be mounted automatically at insertion. But nothing happened. Great!

So I plugged an ethernet cable into the laptop, and downloaded rfswitch. Look at this project. No description of what it does and how it works, and a dowload which gives you two C files, a Makefile, and a README giving no instruction whatsoever on how to install and run the « software ».

So after two hours trying to find a solution to a problem that should not exist, after having discovered that USB sticks didn’t work, after Firefox crashed twice, I decided that I would stay with Windows and wait for the next linux distro that would conquer the desktop market.