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SuSE Linux Demonstrates Old PCs Still Have Use - page 2

From The Out Of His Mind Department

  • May 12, 2003
  • By Rob Reilly

The hardware was a standard old office 133 Mhz. Pentium, over-clocked to 150. It had 64 MB of memory, a 3.0 GB Maxtor disk, a generic 10/100 NIC, 2 MB Mach 64 video card, generic Soundblaster audio card and a WinTV TV/capture card. The monitor was a 17 inch NEC Multisync XE17. I ran a standard AT keyboard and no-name 2-button serial mouse. Power supply was a generic 150 watt unit. Nothing special, but nothing really unusual, except maybe for the age of the components. The machine was donated for testing purposes, from my pal John in Melbourne, Florida. He runs an elementary school computer lab using a Linux Terminal Server Project setup. Total cost: dinner.

Installation was about as straightforward as you can get, albeit a little slow on the old 133. The number 1 CD was inserted into the 4X CD drive and the machine was started. Very soon the usual SuSE installation screens came up. I had a choice of text or 640x480 video mode during installation. I always liked the 1024x768 in version 8.0, myself. There are now 5 CDs and 2 DVDs instead of the 7 CDs and 1 DVD of version 8.0. SuSe also now has light blue backgrounds instead of the old light olive green color scheme.

As you would expect the "Installation Settings" screen eventually appeared where the mode, keyboard, mouse, partitioning, software, booting and so on were set.

Partitioning of the 3.0 GB drive was set to 2.7 GB for / using the default Reiser journaling file system. Since I had 244 MB allocated for swap when I had 128 MB in the machine, I just left it there, even though I had yanked out 64 Megs.

Software was the default system including help docs, the KDE desktop, office applications, graphical base system and the C/C++ compiler/tools. OpenOffice.org, evolution, the gimp and gnucash were included in the office applications group by default. I made sure Mozilla, Lynx, and FVWM2 were included, as well. Total software space used was a scant 1.72 GB.

SuSE now uses GRUB as its default bootloader. I chose to go with the tried and true LILO, instead. Just a personal preference and something I'm halfway familiar with.

One thing that always tripped me up with SuSE was that the time zone always seemed to default to USA/Pacific. I'm in the Eastern time zone and it seemed like a little bit of a pain to change it once the system was up and running. Set it to the correct one during installation and save yourself some trouble.

The only task that I had to spend any time on was setting up the video mode. The default seemed to be 640x480. I simply went into the YAST2 control center-> Hardware -> Graphics Card and Monitor and changed it to the 1024x768 and 16 bit color setting.

Another cool feature was that during installation you are asked if you want to install the latest patches to the installed packages. If you answer "yes," YAST2 goes off does the job automatically. Past versions allowed you to update only after installation.

SuSE took care of finding all the hardware, it configured the network card, and loaded all the chosen software with very minor changes on my part. This is the perfect version for a complete newbie to Linux. I think SuSE has done an admirable job streamlining installation.

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