Linux revisited !

I still remember those bleeding experience I had 3 yrs ago to install Linux in my box.I'll give one sample. After installing everying, X came up and asked for a userid. I typed the userid and pressed Enter - nothing happened. After few tries, I thought I've messed up some options in the installation and reinstalled again. Same Login page; Same error :-( Ok. I thought this time, I install only the minimal stuff and try. So left out all the devel packages, entertainment, games, etc and installed it. Same Login page; Same error. :-( Didn't know what went wrong, I asked one of my juns to look at it. He came typed the userid and pressed Enter - voila! It asked for the password. Then I realized what was wrong - I was using the Enter in the numeric keypad!!! Guess the code has been written based on the scan codes rather than the Ascii values. For this, I've repeated the installation twice. Then I understood the value of free software. We have to use it at our risk. I was thinking of the amount of testing that would have gone in Microsoft's dev centers for the same login page in Windows. You can not only use the numeric keypad, you can use the mouse to click on the Login button or just but tab to the button and press space to make it work.

Finally everything is over, I've to bleed to make it co-exist with Windows ME. I had bought the latest (at that time) 40 GB harddisk and LILO didn't recognised only 32 GB for some reason. So dual booting was another trouble. Not to mention about the drivers for the devices I had. If installing itself was really a painful experience and working in Linux was more than that. Finally I decided. OK. Enough! And uninstalled Linux and happily went back to my Windows ME and started playing Age of Empires.

I've been told that the story now is different. Fedora is far better than what those earlier Redhat distributions used to be. Thought of giving it a try. Got installation CDs and started to install. I had the same old 40 GB hard disk. 3 yrs is a long time and I thought it should recognize the entire space. Yes, it did. Partitioned it with Disk Druid and started installing. First two notable differences:

(*) Fonts - Even a hard core linux enthusiastic will say that Linux sucks when fonts are compared to windows. The result is always an ugly looking GUI. Now the fonts are pretty neat and so is the design of the GUI. It was very neat.
(*) i18n - Internationalisation support was good in those days itself, but for creating a Tamil UI, I've to install few things. After all, even Windows 2000 doesn't support Tamil by default (XP does!). Fedora i a surprise. Not just the OS, but the installer itself supports tamil and so you can install just with Tamil itself.

The installation was pretty smooth. Its packaged with firefox :-) It automatically found my network card, graphics card, sound card, mouse & installed the drivers for it. After inserting the installation CD, all it needed was few mouse clicks & about an hour time. Boom - the installation was complete !!! I was told that things have changed, but didn't think its changed to this extend!! Another surprise was sify had a client for Linux too :-) So connecting to net was not a problem.

Not everything is smooth, first big surprise was xmms doesn't support MP3!!! Redhat has removed mp3 support due to some legal issues, but still its really bad. How good is an audio player without mp3 support? Another issue is that NTFS is not supported by the kernel by default, so I can't mount my windows drives :-( Thats bad. I've all my MP3s & data there. May be should find a module or recompile the kernel with NTFS support. Let me see.

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