Illustration for article titled An Open Source Rant - Linux

See what I did there? I combined the animal mascot for Linux with a car to keep it Oppo-relevant. Possible incoherent ramblings after the jump.

A quick recap for those who didn’t read my last post. I have a older Dell that was dropped in my lap from a family member because due to their negligence it had become unusable from less than diligent upkeep. Previously I had wiped it and reinstalled Windows, but it was still pretty slow and they decided to just purchase a new machine. So, the Dell sat in my closet for a couple years, until recently...


For some stupid reason I decided that I would attempt to resurrect the Dell. The scope of the project was to make it at least able to run Netflix. The plan was to install Linux which is theoretically not full of bloatware of which Microsoft OS has been maligned as being. Off I go to the interwebs and download an Ubuntu ISO, burn it, and boot from it on the aforementioned Dell. The install went pretty smoothly, but thats where the fun stopped. Apparently Ubuntu has a bug that essentially prevents you from seeing your installed Apps on their version of the desktop. This is probably the biggest bug I have ever experienced in my history of OS. This bug is well documented and has not been addressed for over a year with no documented solution. The big issue here was that this was my first foray into the scary world of Linux and its hard to tell the difference between a bug and how things are supposed to be. Anyway, I fire up the pre-installed Firefox browser and head over to Netflix to try my luck. Surprise! Netflix doesn’t work on anything other than Chrome in Linux. No worries, I’ll visit the built in App store to download Chrome right? Wrong, its not listed. So I go to the Chrome website and download their Linux version, which also fails to install. After a bunch of internet digging I find out I need to execute a dizzying number of commands in command line to add a repository to my OS and then tell the OS to download Chrome from there and then install. All of which I do. Fire up Chrome, go to Netflix.... and its just as slow as with Windows. Somewhere in the midst of this I had posted on Oppo and many of you suggested Linux Mint.

Off I go to download Linux Mint ISO, burn the disc and boot from it. Only this time the install fails multiple times. Feeling pretty defeated, I holster my mouse and keyboard and walk away. A couple weeks go by and I re-think my goal. Instead of a Netflix machine, I am going to use it as a firewall PC. My reasoning being that most networking equipment has the computing power of a Gameboy original. So I do some quick Googling and the apparent two favorite Firewall distros are ClearOS and Smoothwall. So I download both ISOs and start to work again. However as before for some reason either of these refuse to boot. In a fit of desperation I put my Windows disk in. And it boots. Using the Windows disc, I delete all partitions and start over. This time ClearOS installs smoothly and everything is looking good. I am at the “Getting Started” screen and the machine is failing to pull an IP address despite being plugged directly into the router with link lights active. A search of the interwebs proves fruitless, so I post on the forums. Fairly quickly a developer responds telling me to execute a line in command prompt to check my NIC, which I do. As it turns out my Intel NIC isn’t supported anymore. The developer, being unsure as to whether his own product is able to auto-mount USB drives suggests that I install an older version of ClearOS. Their website clearly states that they support MOST NICs. I wasn’t aware that Intel was too small to make the cut. I thank him for his time and promptly try Smoothwall. Which also installed smoothly, the second time. The install process did ask me some odd questions about what color I wanted my NICs to be and I am pretty sure I may have made some mistakes. But it did install and thats where the story ends last night.

Ultimately the moral of the story in my mind is that I won’t talk crap about Windows anymore. I have used pretty much every distribution from Windows 3.1 to 10, and none of them (including ME and Vista) have given me this many problems.

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