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.comment: Little-Iron Chef - page 3

Relieving Ennui

  • March 28, 2001
  • By Dennis E. Powell

With the Linux drive in the notebook, the first thing to do was come up with an XF86Config that would work. This is usually a fairly simple procedure, and I've gotten reasonably good at bending XFree to my will. But this time, XFree86 was fighting me every inch of the way. I was able to get X running after a fashion, but the results were not satisfactory -- random black blocks would appear here and there. The whole thing was unusable.

I dumped out of X and pondered a little, glancing at the teevee.

Wow! That's the biggest rat I've ever -- oh, yuck! Look what he's doing to it!

Getting the PCMCIA network card to work in Linux was a piece of cake. All I had to do was fill in the PCIC= line in /etc/sysconfig/pcmcia with i82365 and save it, put the right DNS information in /etc/resolve.conf, and put my gateway and the machine itself in /etc/hosts. I plugged in the card and fired up Lynx, one of the essential console programs. Though my Panasonic KXL-783A PCMCIA CD reader has supposedly been supported for some time, I've never gotten it to work under Linux. A working broadband connection, though, was actually better, because you can just about always find newer stuff on the net than you'll get on a distribution's CD.

The XFree86 that came with the distribution was 3.3.something, and I realized that the doc that had spoken so glowingly of the NeoMagic vid chip was from 4.02. So I downloaded that first. The KDE on the machine was an early pre-release of 2.0, so I downloaded 2.1 and QT-2.30. And to round things out, I downloaded the source for Linux-2.4.2 as well as that of all the things that its /Documentation/Changes file (one of the most useful documents in all of computing, I'll say again) tells me are necessary for the upgrade. Then I commenced compiling.

My desktop machine, a K6-2-550 underclocked to 500 to avoid the ``internal compiler error'' messages that never are an internal compiler error, is scarcely cutting-edge hardware. But it's blisteringly fast compared to a P-133, though the amount of memory, 256 megs vs. 56, is no doubt a leading factor, too. After many, many hours -- more than a full day in total -- I had everything built and installed. And XFree86 still didn't work. The documentation bore no connection to any reality I could find.

What's more, I'd compiled support for my PCMCIA network card, which is a NE2000 clone, in the kernel before I'd compiled the new version of pcmcia-cs, whose documents said it might not be such a good idea to build the support modules with the kernel -- that the ones pcmcia-cs cooks up are better. I took this with a grain of salt, because everybody says that their modules are better than the kernel ones, but this is rarely true. In this case, it was. I was offline.

Having just about had my fill of compiling, I was in no mood to rebuild the kernel and pcmcia-cs. Suddenly OS/2 looked more promising.

The Junkyard Chef, I noticed about now, was pretty slick with a kitchen knife, peeling the tread off a Pirelli 195-50-15 without getting any of the steel belt. The doctor speculated that he would cut it up for serving dishes. Joey was scraping something off the sides of the Dumpster, apparently in hope of making a sauce to go with the rat.

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