Friday, October 26, 2007

Linux Distro Hop

I tried to run the new Ubuntu release, 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon), last week on a weird-ish machine (two processors and two video cards -- one a PCI card and one on the motherboard). It wouldn't run. Instead the live CD churned a bit and stopped, then dumped the screen to a BusyBox command-line prompt. I chimped on the keyboard a bit before giving up.

I decided to see if some other Linux distros could conquer that box. Ubuntu 7.04 failed like 7.10. PCLinuxOS gave me an X-Window, but it didn't look good. I've got Ubuntu running on a bunch of machines now, and I don't want to have to learn to use the new menu structure of the PCLinuxOS GUI. I decided to move on.

Debian worked, and that is sufficiently close to Ubuntu to look and feel comfortable to me. But that set me to wondering why, if Debian works, Ubuntu doesn't. I think Debian worked because it uses a text-based install, and I was able to indicate the video card and driver I wanted to use.

Back to Ubuntu. According to the documentation I found, there is supposed to be a text-based install option for Ubuntu 7.10 on the "Alternate" CD. Turns out that for now, that is not correct. The Alternate CDs I downloaded from different servers, none of them had a text-based option, at least not from the initial menu.

For now I am using Debian on that weird-ish box. Debian is a little different (Iceweasel = Firefox). Debian appears to be a bit more dogmatic than Ubuntu about open source purity. This may or may not be a problem. I'll keep you posted.

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