Dual-boot? Doesn't always work
Yesterday, I finally talked Marilyn into putting another hard drive on her 'puter so she could add a Linux OS. Although I've installed several different distros on my own machine, I could never get her to even try Linux. Well her XP OS messed up enough to finally tick her off to the point of considering trying something, anything out. As I have been checking out so many distros, one retail version caught her fancy. She thought that the ease of CNR and having license fees taken care of by Linspire for most, if not all the multimedia codecs would make the difference.
SO! She purchased a new 500G drive which I promply installed in her Dell XPS, and things went downhill fast from there. The drive is Western Digitals, SATA 300MB/s Mo/s, 500GB Go WD Caviar SE16. Turns out that this drive isn't capable of being used in a dual boot scenario. I tried hooking things up several different ways, but I could either get her XP running, or her new Linspire running, but neither OS recognized the other drive. Even the setup software for the Western Digital drive states that it is not capable of dual boot configuration. What I fail to understand is, why don't these people put a notice on the packaging that their drive only works as an extra storage device or the (single) boot drive.
5:00 AM this morning I finally gave up, but not before visiting LinuxFormat, where I read an interesting article about Dell computers deciding to start building desktops and notebooks with pre-installed Linux. They are still debating which Linux to offer, but the decision to go forward with these offerings has been made. Dell also stated:
"For new Linux desktops and notebooks, we’ll use drivers already in the mainline kernel.org kernels for as many components as possible. In these cases, the drivers will be included in your distribution of choice. This includes storage, wired networking, power management, USB, and more.
For device types where a choice exists between a component with a non-Free driver and one with Free driver availability, in our Linux offering we'll opt to bundle the component with the Free driver. Wireless network adapters is one such example; Printers are another. We recommend Linux users buy our printers which have PostScript engines in them, as opposed to those which don't and for which no Linux drivers are yet available. The Tech Specs tab for each printer on dell.com show if it has PostScript or not.
Some components, particularly some video cards, have working 2-D open source drivers, open source 3-D drivers actively being clean-room written by the community, and closed-source 3-D drivers available from the video card manufacturer. In these instances, while we continue to encourage the development (by all parties) towards open source drivers, we will provide the closed-source drivers for people who wish to use them.
The last category is devices for which no open source drivers are available at all, such as software-based modems. In our desktops these are add-in cards, so you can substitute a hardware-based modem available from your local electronics store quite easliy. However, we can't substitute hardware-based modems in our notebooks without redesigning and significantly increasing the price of the system. If it's important to you to have a hardware-based modem, you would add one into your PC Card or ExpressCard slot.
Dell recognizes the importance of open source, GPL-licensed drivers which are maintained upstream in kernel.org. They allow users the widest choice of Linux distributions, effectively taking the specific hardware and distribution out of the decision-making process and let you focus on solving your business problems. We will work with our hardware partners to develop, test, and maintain Free drivers, and continue to make progress towards that goal for all drivers. Most drivers are in good shape now, but there's clearly longer-term work to be done. Work that we're doing now at the driver level will pave the way for more Linux offerings in the future. There's no way to please everyone, but I'll continue to share more details around our strategy as we have new developments. Stay tuned."
Things are changing!