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LinuxPlanet: Editor's Note: The Support Call HOWNOTTO

Jul 16, 2001, 13:00 (52 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Michael Hall)

When Michael Hall made a routine call to technical support for a laptop purchased from a major (and allegedly Linux-friendly) hardware vendor, the first piece of advice he got was "dump Linux." Learn about how to make all the wrong moves in this informal "tech support HOWNOTTO:"

"Our first HOWNOTTO, then, is to assume that tech support for any company cares what you think or what your diagnosis is. Much the same way Army medics have special troubleshooting flowcharts for the human body, support technicians have a program of their own. Much like Army medics, they don't care what you think, or how much you cry as you undergo whatever cure they have in store for you. I know about Army medics and their troubleshooting flowcharts because I saw one pulled out when I reported a paratrooping injury that involved being unable to lay down or turn my head more than five degrees to either side without screaming. My own diagnosis, without the benefit of the flow chart, was "painkillers, lots of them." The medic and his flowchart agreed that a cautious regimen of Motrin in miserly amounts and a quick return to duty would help with the screaming.

The cure, in my particular case, first involved running some diagnostics that came on a CD. I pointed out that I'd already run all the diagnostics, but the tech shrugged this off and asked me to run them again. In the spirit of cooperation and out of a desire for a quick resolution, I booted the CD, ran the diagnostics, made small talk with the tech, before reporting that no... by gosh... there was nothing wrong with the RAM I had in the machine.

The second step of the cure, then, involved a session with debug.exe. I then did the second HOWNOTTO of this column: I admitted that I wasn't running Windows on this laptop, and hadn't, in fact, ever run Windows on it. Its first bootup was into an install CD for Debian. That made the cure all the more painful, because the tech became suddenly pleased with the fact that the "cure" actually entailed overwriting the partition table on the machine and reinstalling WindowsME."

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