And away we go...

How I used the occasion of a flaky PC problem to begin my journey into Linux. Here's the story.

Recently, my PC starting acting quite goofy - hard drive problem type of goofy - so I pulled the drive and took it to work so I could try to backup some data from it before it went totally kaput. I was also going to run some diagnostics on it, but my box at work didn't have enough memory to do a lot with it. I burned a CD with the data that I pulled off and, with that and the drive under my arm, headed for home and a long evening of playing nursemaid to ailing hardware. Long story short, I was able to get the drive back into reasonably sound working order.

I was actually secretly hoping that I'd have to replace the drive so I could go ahead and start running Linux or, at the very least, make the machine a dual boot with Windows for legacy applications. I had, however, a couple of old drives lying around and, while the case was open, I took the opportunity to add them to the box, one on the same controller as my primary drive and one on the secondary controller with my CD-ROM.

A friend had recently burned a set of RedHat v8.0 cds for me, so I dropped disk 1 into the drive and hit the power.

The drives all spun up and introduced themselves to the BIOS in a very friendly way and, with the whir of the CD sounding like a fighter plane throttling up to full afterburner, I was greeted with the initial install screen. I hit [Enter] and soon found myself looking at the beginning of RedHat's graphical install program.

Without delving into every detail of the install, suffice it to say that it went very smoothly. All of my hardware was found without a hitch with the exception of my modem, which I later found out is a WinModem (even though the box didn't say that when I bought it - and I looked.) Grub installed itself nicely onto the master boot record and plays very nicely with my existing Windows installation.

It is rather frustrating to not be able to get online with it, though. That's currently the primary use for my PC. I'll be doing some development work in the not-too-distant future, but for now, that's pretty much it. Also, without the ability to hook up to the Net, I can't get any updates or patches for the system. I guess I'm shopping for a modem.

But at least I've taken my first step on my Linux journey. Mind you, I've taken small steps before. I've played with Linux off and on since 1994 when I got my first Slackware book, but I didn't have the time to devote to knowing every minor detail of my hardware and wasn't enough of a hacker to dig in and fix all the "idiosyncrasies" that it had in those days. And I've installed about 4 different versions of RedHat going back to about 5.1 or so. But now, for the first time, I have a machine up and running that doesn't require me to physically remove and reinstall hard drives in order to switch operating systems. We'll see where this goes once I get a modem and start using it more often. I'll keep you posted.