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Left in the lurch by Linux

19 January 2010

For more than ten years now I’ve been trying to use Linux, but it it just doesn’t seem to like me.

When I retired from Unisa 10 years ago I bought a new computer with an unimaginable amount of disk space, a whole 8 Gigs, so I thought I would try Linux.

I got Mandrake Linux and installed it, but it did not recognise the video card on my new computer, so none of the GUIs would load. So when I was feeling bored I would load up Linux and play with commands like cat and ls and stuff like that, but eventually I tired of that, and so didn’t use it very much.

Later, after I’d added a 40 Gig drive I tried again, and got KDE to work, but again, it didn’t seem to do very much. But I recently had to swap the 40 Gig drive for a 450 Gig one, and a friend gave me the latest distribution of Fedora, version 12, and I installed that. Well, it’s almost back to square one, but not quite. It doesn’t recognise my monitor (Flatron W1542S). I hoped that it being the latest distro it might, but it doesn’t. So there is a GUI of sorts, but it looks like Windows loaded in “safe” mode. Big characters and lots of things don’t work, because the buttons you need to click on are below the bottom edge of the screen, and there’s no way to scroll down to them, or scroll them up so you can see them.

So I can play with ls and cat and things like that, and yes, I know it is a very powerful operating system, but if it doesn’t do very much, I’ll go back to Windows to get some actual work done. For me, Linux remains a toy.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. 19 January 2010 8:32 am

    Ah, ten years ago the linux community was still trying to build hardware drivers for video cards, very few manufacturers interested in doing so.

    As to your problem with Fedora try the following:

    ctrl with keypad plus or minus to try and change the resolution. If not then then

    press ctrl+alt+f3
    login by typing you user name and password
    type the following command:
    rm -f ~/.config/monitors.xml
    and press enter, then ctrl + alt + f1

    That should get Fedora to rebuild the control file and hopefully you should get a working screen. If that fails then try a different distro. Suggest Ubuntu if you can cope with the brown-ness.

    I’ve had lnux running exclusively on my laptop for a number of years, Zenwalk in particular.

  2. Nicholas permalink
    19 January 2010 2:37 pm

    If you haven’t already, why not try the latest Ubuntu (place appropriate as well :))? The good thing is that you can download it as a Live CD (Desktop Edition), which means that you can run it off the CD before committing it to hard disk. That way you can see beforehand if it works with the hardware you have. Worth a try, anyway. You can get it at:

    • 19 January 2010 3:08 pm

      I have a disc with Ubuntu on it, though I’m not sure of the latest version. But I’ve been put off Ubuntu because I’ve heard that one can’t log in as root, or at least that one doesn’t have to in order to make system changes.

      • 19 January 2010 6:32 pm

        Ubuntu based distros tend to use the sudo option for operating as root. So instead of using su to login you prefix your command with sudo and then give your password.

        Each way has its own benefits.

        You can also order a free Ubuntu cd at should a download cause misery to your bandwidth. But as you have a cd I’d just use that to start with. You can then use the ordered cd to do an update.

  3. Nicholas permalink
    19 January 2010 6:38 pm

    Yes, and you can still create administrator and user accounts with different passwords so as to add that extra layer of protection. I recommend giving it a try because it seems to have good hardware recognition and because you can just pop it in your CD drive, turn on the machine, and the machine will boot up into Ubuntu without touching your hard disk. The current release, 9.10, I would recommend because it seems to be a good, clean release without show-stopping bugs. It is thus a good basis to evaluate things on. Looks a bit nicer and cleaner too.

  4. 25 January 2010 10:13 pm

    I’d add my voice to trying Ubuntu. The Sudo thing is good: easy and secure enough. I like the fact that they’ve gone for a warm colour rather than the eye-watering shiney metal colours most other OS peops go for!

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