Sunday, September 16, 2007

Further adventures in Arno's Linux world

I really, really hate eating my own words but, maybe I was a bit hasty proclaiming PCLinuxOS as equal to a little better than Kubuntu. At least considering how I multi-boot several operating systems. Something a normal computer user would probably not do. So, PCLinuxOS might still fit the bill for single boot machines, but for multi-boot it sucks because it loads GRUB (Grand Unified Bootloader) in a place that causes problems. It does not give you the option to not install it nor recognize that GRUB might already be on the machine. Needless to say my system was non-functioning for a while, forcing me to look deeper into the mysteries of GRUB and multi-booting. If you are at all familiar with boot loaders, first there was LILO and then there is GRUB. GRUB is more flexible of course than LILO but still a bit of a tweak to manage. There are programs to manage GRUB called Grubed and Start UP Manager (SUM) but you still might have to learn to edit from the GRUB menu screen or the config file. If you want a sweet explanation see the article entitled "Guru Guidance, A better way of booting" in Linux Magazine, April 2002. It gives a quick but through run down of GRUB and how to edit/understand the menus and config files. So, armed with new knowledge I will attempt to tweak GRUB to make it work for me. Yeah, it is probably too much for most computer users but, I'm "learnin linux" folks. I am hoping one day a single boot/multi-boot option would be put right in the system rom on the motherboard and be quite automatic once selected.
Well, does this deter me from using PCLinuxOS? Not yet, but it is quite a let down, the LiveCD was so inviting. But why on earth would anyone want to have more than one operating system on one computer? For me it is looking first-hand at the fresh ideas that drive folks to put together different Linux distributions. Linux is really a "Kit"of lots of pieces that fit in various ways. Some distributions are for different purposes. General use, desktop style Linux has been fully reviewed and experienced by their many users and documented on many web sites. It is all waiting for you to look into it.

It's been at least a half an hour since I typed the above story. I have edited my GRUB config file, deleting a couple of old entries and adding a new one for PCLinuxOS. I am now triple-booting MS Windows XP, Kubuntu, and PCLinuxOS. It is not rocket science to learn about Linux, we'll leave that to the programmers. But users can benefit from learnin a little linux.

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