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You've got a heart of stone, Dave; would you like to do the honors?

I spent much longer than I intended over at my church installing DSL today.

As a result, I missed the weekly LAM meeting. Brian and Lummy were on the road at IU, anyway, but Arun was around. Oops. I am evil. :-(

It turns out that we got a misconfigured DSL router. Luckily, I had brought my windoze laptop, and was able to sit down in the basement of the church's administration building with the router and talk on the cell phone to tech support. It took about 3 hours (with long periods of, "Hmm... let us try some things and call you back") before they got the router going -- they did it all by remote admin. Kinda cool, actually. I think they even flashed the BIOS to upgrade to the latest rev.

But in the end it all worked out. So I had to reset the TCP settings on all the machines in the building and add virus protection to the small number of machines that didn't already have it (they never had net access anymore, so it didn't matter until now).

Today also reaffirmed my believe that Netscape 6 is a piece of junk.

The story that follows is a bit extreme in what I was trying to do, but suffice it to say that Netscape performed horribly, and IE performed adequately.

Two of the staff members at the church have fairly old machines: pentium 133's with 16MB (!) of RAM, and run Windoze 95. They even had the original version of IE (3.something, IIRC). Most web sites won't even work with that version of IE anymore (including windowsupdate.com
-- IE 3.something has no java, no javascript, no CSS, etc.), so I decided to upgrade them to the latest IE.

Well, the 3.something IE couldn't view any sites to download the latest IE. Which is actually pretty ironic in itself. :-) But frustrating, nonetheless. :-(

So I decided to download netscape instead. You can only get netscape 6 these days (or at least you can only get netscape 6 from an IE 3.something browser). So I downloaded and installed Netscape 6.01.

S L O W   C I T Y ! ! !

The machine was swapping so hard that it literally took minutes for any mouse action (hover, single click, double click, etc.) to take effect. Even if you left the computer alone and did nothing, it would continually swap thrash like a bad habit. The hard drive was so busy that it was like listening to a mini gang war inside the chassis (complete with munchkin-like cries of "help me!" and "oh God NO!").

"Painful" is not enough to describe how slow it was. "Agonizing" starts to describe the feeling. I mean, the computer was not just slow, it was in its death throes. Navigating to and downloading the IE installer took over 45 minutes. Incredible.

So I installed IE 5.5 and it worked great. I mean, yeah, it's still a pentium 133, but we had no constant thrashage as there was with netscape 6.0.

So I uninstalled netscape 6.0 faster than Notre Dame shorted its VA Linux stock, and ran with IE 5.5. It does pain me to say it, and I've said it before, but IE really is a better browser these days. I've even been woefully unimpressed with Mozilla on linux. Blech. I have hopes for Konquer and Natulius (sp?); I haven't gotten around to trying the newest versions yet.

Speaking of which, on a lark, I tried the new Mandrake 8.0 beta on my laptop last night.

I wanted to see KDE 2.1, the new Gnome, Evolution, and Nautilus, as well as Linux 2.4.

Are there still bugs?

Oh yeah, baby. Lots of them. Here's some of my experiences:

  • No matter what I did, I couldn't get PCMCIA recognized. It seemed to be a PCMCIA-enabled kernel, but then again I'm no expert here (this was my first experience with 2.4).

  • Someone really needs to scrub their default-selected list of apps. On their "features" announcement page for 8.0, Evolution and Nautilus are two of the highlighted apps. They're not installed by default -- you have to go into "individual package selection", find them, and select them. And once you do install Evolution, it doesn't run because it's looking for an earlier version of some shared library than is installed by default (and trying to install the earlier version breaks all kinds of dependencies, etc., etc.). pine isn't even installed by default. WTF!?

  • DrakConf, their all-in-one system configurator, seems to a) be missing tons of stuff that was in 7.2, b) has oodles of debugging output, some of which contains "ERROR: blah blah blah". How could they release this?

  • I do have to admit, though, that Aurora, the new GUI boot sequence, is cute. I tried to use DrakConf to change the orientation of the boot icons in DrakConf to no avail (the change didn't seem to want to commit).

  • Props to 8.0 for correctly determining my video hardware for X configuration. I didn't get far enough to see if it ID'ed my sound hardware properly.

After these problems, I determined that I had better things to do with my time and re-installed 7.2 on my machine. I'll wait for a stable 8.0. It seems like they only released this beta to meet some deadline. So unless you're a 'drake developer, and/or into pain, I'd advise waiting until 8.0 is stable.

Don't get me wrong -- 8.0 looks promising, but it needs work before I'll use it.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 1, 2001 11:01 AM.

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