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Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen

Jun 21, 2007, 01:30 (25 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Randall Cooper)

[ Thanks to Randall Cooper for this article. ]

I'll try to make a long story short. I'm a Linux user and have been for many years. My current distro is Kubuntu 7.04, which is installed on my Asus F3J series laptop, with its ATI Radeon X2300 monitor and its Intel 82801G sound card. Everything works, though getting the ATI monitor to work wasn't a simple process. But that's not the story I want to tell.

I'm leaving on an extended trip and decided that I wanted to leave my computer behind and bring only my USB drive and a LiveCD distro. I defined my requirements for a functioning system: email (including the ability to import my email/contacts/calendar from Kontact if I couldn't use that suite), wireless net access, reliable audio/video, and Skype. Knowing that my laptop is a tough machine to configure, I determined that if I could succeed with it, I'd likely be able to succeed with any machine I might encounter.

I started with Puppy Linux 2.16 NOP. And this particular version of Puppy is great: OpenOffice, Opera, booted right in to the ATI with 1280x800 screen, etc. etc. Except that Puppy can't run Skype. Because Puppy can't recognize the microphone on my system. As far as I know, there's nothing especially odd about the built in microphone on the Asus laptop. But Puppy doesn't see it. And considerable searching of the forums and wikis doesn't produce a fix.

So I move on to Fedora 7 (just out). But I don't get very far, because Fedora can't boot the graphical interface. It freezes in a command line level. The ATI card is too much for it. And considerable searching of the forums and knowledge bases doesn't produce a fix.

At this point, I'll remind the reader that I'm working with LiveCD's. So making changes to the system is difficult or impossible in most cases.

So I move on to Berry, which is based on Fedora 6. This one boots the ATI graphics, but can't recognize the 3945 wireless card. So it's a no go.

So I move on to Kubuntu (the system that works on the laptop right now). But, remember that I said it took some doing. And the problem is that I can't get the LiveCD to get past the ATI graphic problem (Kubuntu can't be installed on the ATI as a LiveCD; you have to use a text based installer).

So I move on to Mepis. But Mepis 6.5.02 can't deal with the sound card (a known problem, as it turns out, but one not reparable on the LiveCD).

I'm a Linux user for many years and have no intention of changing. But I confess to disappointment. The fact is, there should be a distro that can handle the sound card, wireless card, and graphics card of a laptop. And in particular, it should be able to do so when those devices are so common. The fact is, I am able to find distros that handle one or two of those three, just none that can handle all three.

That means that if somehow they could join forces, they could have it all. We could have it all.

I'll get by, probably by using more than one LiveCD during my trip. But I wish that weren't necessary. And I don't think it should be.