I got the new laptop yesterday, as anticipated. So I spent most of the
day 'preparing' it. This consisted of:
- Sitting through the somewhat embarrassing initial install where it
asks you how you want the machine configured. This is embarrassing
because the installer insists on playing this muzak that is impossible
to turn off. It refuses to recognise the mute or volume down buttons,
despite recognising every other key including the 'dim the display'
function button (so function-end should work if function-down does).
Gee, Dell, who thought that would be a good idea?
- Removing all the useless software other
companies have convinced Dell to leave around on your machine. The best
part of this was removing Microsoft Works and replacing it with a useful
program, OpenOffice. In one of my many talks with Dell, probably the
"Let's go over the options you've chosen to see if we can sell you anything
more" one, I took great delight in answering their "We can't remove Works,
but don't worry, it's free" with "Yes, and so is OpenOffice, and the latter
is actually useful for something."
- Installed all the Windows XP critical security updates, downloaded all
the Norton's Internet Security patches, and updated everything that seemed
to need it. This takes two or three reboots because, of course, some
patches won't work without others already installed. However, don't
expect anything more than a cryptic 80070005 code and a "install failed"
message. Hey, it's Windows - did you expect the programmers to care?
- Repartitioning the disks to make way for Fedora. I've become used to
the System Rescue CD, but I was a
little surprised when my first attempt to use the various frame buffer
drivers, from the two Intel options down, locked up before restarting the
system on the new tempfs memory partition. I reverted back to 0.2.17 and
it worked, but I haven't given this the exhaustive test that I probably
should. Most of the repartitioning work was done in qtparted, but I
did the NTFS resize manually beforehand using ntfsresize.
Then it was time to go home, and after doing the cooking and shopping
and picking the laptop up from work (I rode home, and I didn't feel like
carrying the new laptop in my pannier bag) it was time to try my hand at
configuring WiFi. The computer was easy, it was the bundled Belkin
mumblejumble 802.11g Wireless Router that was ... interesting. Mainly
because it's made the process of letting it control your entire network
and connection to your ISP really really easy, which means that everything
else has been left out in case it confuses people. Once you get past the
two big stickers that say "Do not plug this in before you've run through
the install process on the supplied CD", leaving implications that it will
open your internet connection to 1337 haxors, snip all the flowers off
your roses, and steal all the chocolate from even your most secret hiding
What I've gone with is a sort of routed configuration: the Belkin
maintains one /24 range for the wireless addresses and anything else
that hangs off it (it has four wired ports so we can have small LAN games
for regular computers), and the "Internet WAN" port is connected to my
regular wired home LAN as a static IP machine. The Belkin then does NAT,
so it's not really 'routing' per se, as the machines on the wired segment
can't see individual machines on the 'Wireless' segment. Still, with a
bit of help and a couple of ten-second hold-downs of the rest button, I
got the bulk of the settings I wanted - WPA 1 and 2 with reasonably
long pass phrases, and the password to administer it isn't "" any more.
But actually getting a 'routed' network seems to be impossible - if I
disable NAT, I can no longer get access to the router at all and it
comes up with an address in the "I can't get a DHCP address" range.
This morning, amid much hammering of servers,
Fedora Core 6 was
released. I hadn't quite been up all night checking on it, but at a
sleepless 5AM I checked and Lo, the torrents were available even if the
main page was unavailable. I set the home machine to download it via
BitTorrent, set the work machine to retrieve them off
it wasn't yet on
went back to sleep.
I'll tell the story of installing Fedora Core 6 soon.