[Techtalk] "I need to use Windows because ..."

caitlynmaire at earthlink.net caitlynmaire at earthlink.net
Sun Aug 11 23:03:48 EST 2002

Hi, Suzi,

>   I was given a link to PSPP here as well, and when it is finished, it
> will be exactly what I'm looking for!  :)  I'm signing on to help with
> development there, willing to test and do whatever an novice
> programmer can do!  :)  Will write documentation in exchange for
> feature?

Cool.  Good luck.
> > No, it sucks to *you*.  I've installed Linux on a number of *very*
> > new Toshiba and IBM laptops and got everything working relatively
> > painlessly.
> No dear, it sucks to the kernel hacker I'm married to, and several 
> other's I've spoken to.  It's something I know is in active
> development for future kernel updates.  It is just, due to the nature
> of open source and the moving targets of laptop firmware,
> fundamentally a difficult field for open source.

It is really hard for someone who has done three laptop builds in the
last month on new hardware and has gotten it all working to just accept
this as fact.  No, not everything worked after the initial install. 
However, even in Windows one has to often add drivers or even patches. 
Linux is no different.
> Been there, done that, didn't work.  It wouldn't mount.  I've tried 
> fancier things than your instructions, gave up, asked others, asked 
> people who write chunks of kernel, and with my firmware and the
> current kernel, there is no way.  Something incompatible with the way
> it treats ACIPP or something or another.. I forget the alphabet soup

If ACPI is the issue (and that would not surprise me) you need a 2.4.17
kernel or later and an appropriate acpi driver.  Toshiba kindly provides
one for their systems which certainly makes life easier.  A good
resource for ACPI support is here:


I should point out that ACPI support varies widely between vendors. 
People who are buying new laptops are well advised to research how good
the vendor support is.   
> Again, not with my particular laptop. 

Which laptop in particular?  I'm getting curious.

> I'm pretty sure this isn't me and 
> the people who advise me: the guy that WROTE syslinux and SuperRescue 
> happens to be my spouse?  His rescue CD is the one that doesn't work? 
> What happens is the USB CD drive can boot into the rescue CD's menu, 
> then the rescue CD's OS cannot recognize the drive. 

You didn't specify USB CD.  You said there was no rescue disk support. 
There is for SCSI and IDE.  Even this issue *shoud be*fixable, BTW.  You need
to build a custom kernel for USB boot support.  The kernel on the rescue
CD would have to include that patch.  Then it should work.  Yes, this
means making a custom rescue CD.  I have links to config files generated
for both Toshiba and HP Omnibook, if those will help.

> We've even 
> recompiled and rewritten the kernels on the CD, and no dice.

That's the correct approach.  Again, I'm curious (and stubborn).  Which

> Luckily, 
> network connections are often still available, so we've settled on 
> copying a disk image to a server and mounting that instead.  :)  so 
> there is a workaround for me, but doing it the natural way would be
> nice.


> Laptops are a bit of a moving target, and that makes it harder for the
> developers to keep up with every firmware oversight and shortcut and 
> every wierd piece of specialized hardware laptops use. 

Again, agreed.  That won't ever change, and isn't unique to Linux.  My
mom's Toshiba came loaded with Windows XP Home.  It shuts down at random
(frequently) when she tries to print.  It's an XP bug with her
particular hardware.  The problem does not occur when she boots to
Linux.  At least with Linux you can talk to developers and new patches
and fixes are coming out at lightening speed.

> I understand the 
> problem, and am willing to work around it, but that does not make it
> not exist.  It is a weakness on Linux, and even when working closely
> with developers, sometimes I can't get everything to work.

It's a weakness in *every* OS, as I've already shown by example.  Linux
isn't worse (or better) than Windows in this regard provided one sticks
with major manufacturers that do a decent job of supporting Linux or for
which developers within the community have done a good job.  This
includes *most* Toshiba, IBM, HP, Fujitsu, and Sony laptops, and
probably others that I have no experience with.

> I still use 
> Linux, I still usually prefer it to windows or I wouldn't be here
> trying to make things work.  But Linux is very much a work in progress
> and there are things that just aren't up to speed yet.

I will say again that this is no different than Windows.

>  If it was, we could 
> all go home...  :)

Not so.  New stuff will always need to be done.  

All the best,

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