Linux on the Laptop

I finally did it. I’ve been threatening to do it for a few years, but I think that Open Source software has matured to a point where I can actually run Linux on my work laptop for most of the time. I’m taking baby steps, though. I took the 20Gb partition and partitioned off 3Gb for Linux. As I slowly get rid of the junk over on the Windows partition, I’ll change the sizes of the partitions.

The installation was relatively painless, but it did give me one heart stopper. I used Partition Magic to shrink the existing XP partition and create a Linux partition. During the shrinking, Parition Magic aborted with an error. Upon rebooting, my machine wouldn’t boot up, but presented me with a blue-screen error. I had to boot in to recovery mode from the XP CD and run chkdsk /f to bring the machine back to life. After reading some comments on the Internet, I’ve come to the conclusion that I should run chkdsk /f every time just before running Partition Magic.

I installed Red Hat on the Linux partition. This is the first dual-boot install I’ve done, and it went very smoothly. It auto detected the XP partition, and configured Grub to dual boot. Again, my readings suggest that once I’ve done this, it’s best not to delete the Linux partition, or I might lose access to XP (the Grub configuration files are actually on the Linux partition, so deleting them makes Grub unable to read it’s configuration).

I haven’t had any problems with drivers for my Dell Inspiron 4100 laptop. Redhat sees all of my hardware, even my Orinoco wireless card.

The next job is to play around with some wireless sniffing software. There’s someone in my neighborhood that my wireless card tries to associate with once in a while. I’ll have to see if I can find out more…

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