Dual-boot? Doesn't always work

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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!

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Disk setup software makes the difference! Sometimes!

After all the mucking about trying to get Marilyn's 'puter to dual boot, and getting the comment from another user that "a drive is just a drive, it doesn't know how it's being used or anything about dual booting," I had a thought. Since most of the setup software from the drive manufacturers is the same, maybe the problem is just something in Western Digitals specific program. I re-installed the drive with Hitachi's setup software and "voila," things began to work. (I had to use the setup software because Linspire, for some reason won't install clean unless it reformats a FAT32 partition or drive.)

NEW problem though. Turns our Linspire isn't written to dual boot, so back to square one.
I'm not quite ready for the two or three pages of steps to get Linspire's boot loader to work properly, so... I had been talking up my Kubuntu 6.10 install a bit, so Marilyn has decided to let me put that on her machine. I'll give it a try, and let you know how it goes, but it should be pretty smooth, as it has worked so well with my machine.

Ta, ta!

Getting Kubuntu Installed

On tuesday I finally got Kubuntu 7.04 installed on Marilyn's machine dual booting with XP. To say the least, she was impressed by the ease with which new programs were installed using Synaptic. We installed Wine so she could play some Windows games, but will still have to configure it, as it no longer "just works out of the box," like it used to.

In the meantime, I'm about to take Boris Vinnick's course on Unix so I can learn to do some "real" tweaking. Wish me luck!

Greg, the cheesyone.

Worzie's picture

I think kubuntu is a great

I think kubuntu is a great choice. Not that I have used it in depth to make that suggestion; I just know ubuntu has a great support network and following. Thus leading me to mention that many LUGers around Montana have been hanging out in the #ubuntu-montana chat room. It's an IRC channel that is found on the Freenode server. I use Xchat; I'm sure there are many many other clients out there. Using or knowing anything about ubuntu is NOT required. We prob talk less about that in fact. But for your ubuntu needs/questions... Bodhi Zazen is almost always there for you. He is the team leader for team Montana in the ubuntu forums.


I am about to install this in a VM and am interested in what all the great comments about this version are. The only thing I am not looking forward to is Gnome. I haven't used it since it first came out and switched to KDE when it came along. Well, we shall see

kubuntu workds for me!

Yeah, Warren,

I use kubuntu almost exclusively when I'm running Linux. I also have SuSe 10.2, Mepis 6.0 and Xandros, but I can do so much more in kubuntu because there IS so much support out there. Thanks for the heads up on #ubuntu-montana chat room!


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