Living In The Mint Field
Previously, I mentioned moving this computer from WinXP to Linux Mint:
»A First Look At Linux Mint
»Second Look At Linux Mint
I also mentioned some of the issues I faced helping a co-worker get online with WinVista.
The Vista user was able to get online quickly using a D-Link DWL-G820 wireless bridge. In fact, this should be a piece of required equipment, since any kind of search for "Vista wireless DHCP" comes up with pages of people unable to get an address, and not just Toshiba users. It may be that many of these people are using the same Intel chips on their wireless cards, but since it appears to only cause problems with Vista, I would look there for an answer.
I converted this computer to Linux Mint 2.2 ("Bianca") in May. I have been pretty happy, even thrilled, with the way everything just works—most Linux desktops are not quite this usable out of the box, and Windows certainly isn’t. When I plug in my external DVD drive, I don't have to install drivers first and I don't have to fight with Nero after it seizes control of all media files. I can record ISOs without having to install Roxio or Sonic first. Most fairly modern peripherals work without requiring additional drivers. Since I am on the other side of the country, my printers are at home, but using the LiveCD before I left, I was able to autodiscover two of the three printers (one of them uses a print server and I have to install the network versions of drivers for it–the Windows driver has no network capability, although I can print through a Linux computer using IPP by telling Windows it is an AppleWriter using PostScript–it works). A good idea is to plug in a USB hub with a couple of external hard drives, a DVD/CD burner, a couple of flash drives, and a printer or camera before you install (don't forget to turn everything on), because most of these items will then be pre-configured and instantly visible when you plug them in later.
Now for the negative part of the story. This month, Mint 3.0 "Cassandra" came out. The recommended way to upgrade was to install from scratch (the Fedora method). Since my installation was not even a month old, and since I had some configuration changes to preserve, it did it the non-recommended way. Anything that you've removed will be reinstalled during the upgrade process, while some things you’ve installed may be removed. My experience with VMWare Server and VirtualBox says you should remove them first, since you’ll have to remove and reinstall them anyway. Your virtual machines will be okay, especially those stored on external media.
(Note to InnoTek / VirtualBox: you need support for storing virtual machines on external VFAT/FAT32 drives, including splitting a virtual hard drive into slices that will fit into the file system. VMWare supports this quite nicely. This can make a virtual machine portable between computers.)
And that's it. Using Mint, I can watch Numb3rs, which I otherwise could never do. I can still watch Gary Brolsma videos on YouTube. Thanks to OpenOffice 2.2, I have a better office suite and can use both international-standard ODF format and a pretty good interpretation of the proprietary secret-sauce formats used by the market leader.
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