Harnessing the power of the 440LX

Well, If you are still wondering what the 440LX is all about…it’s the chipset that my PC has been thriving on for the past nine years : -)  , and is still kicking on. Taking into consideration the burden that I have put on it for the past two years in terms of incessant formatting , wrong configurations, stupid setups and the like, It has proved to be quite a robust machine. Now loaded with two Operating systems and literally switched On whenever there’s a fleshy mass roaming in the house , I at times wonder how it still manages to pull along.

My date with computers started when we got one way back in ’98 for the sole purpose of internet connectivity and e-mail. Then, I was only interested in one utility of it..games!! Me in front of the comp. would only mean the PC churning its processor to render graphics on the screen to add effects of the vehicle streaming on the highway , or the sound card tweaking out sounds for Mario or Dave hopping around :-) Never was i interested in learning stuff with the comp. Fortunately, once i joined Engineering things changed and Games have become my last priority. As days passed, I developed a fascination for the machine and slowly started realizing it’s true potential.

My Experimentations slowly started and the system responded with much more challenging problems. In my curiosity to understand stuff, I happened to delete quite a few windows files. Then started my bout with formatting. I never seriously counted how many times I’ve actually formatted the drive, but am sure the drive has been cleanly erased using fdisk at least couple dozen times or more (to tag on to the lower limit :-) ). Nevertheless, each episode has taught me that the previous format wasn’t really necessary and with time I started learning the tricks of the trade.

Installing Windows was always a breeze and frankly it has no real charm in the true sense of it. Setting up Xp from a non bootable, mid way through a 98 setup was the only hurdle I had to overcome to have windows upright in the system. Configuring the boot up and log off screen to one’s needs and other such small hacks could easily be learnt on the net. Playing around with Windows wasn’t any thrill at all.

Linux was something that I’d been pretty afraid of two years back. Then,The word Linux used to reel back only one constant string of thoughts..commands commands and commands. One of my friends a bit geekier ( if u could call that) than me jumped in a bit earlier. It was then that I slowly started realising that Linux wasn’t really that tough to cope along with. Well for a newbie it definitely seems quite uninviting but once you get to have a hang of it..it’s pretty cool, actually much more interesting. The only difference between Windows and Linux, as I see it from a non technical aspect is that Windows feeds you with a silver spoon, Linux does not feed you at all! :-) It gives you the freedom or rather the choice to prepare the meal first and then do whatever you want with it. And that is how, i feel, things should be if you wanna learn stuff.

Sometime in my second year of Engineering I had the System all for myself. I had the freedom to handle it the way I wanted. I was the blacksmith and it was my mold. And moreover high time I had actually tried out something new, something different.I happened to get an FC3 installation diskette somewhere and wham! it went into my system’s drive, and again started my Formatting bout. I had no idea what an ext2 or ext3 or swap meant then. Had all sort of weird stuff like Grub , lilo, rpm, debian etc popping up. If i remember right, I spent almost a week trying to figure out how to partition the drive and set it up for Linux.Once that was done, installing Linux was a cakewalk. Just the same as a windows installation but for a few hiccups here and there.

Frankly, I detested Linux the first time I set it up on my system. Had quite a few issues regarding configuring the desktop, mounting the drives and getting used to the Linux environment was definitely difficult. The mouse that i had then was a Logitech PS2 three button mouse. Linux just didn’t recognise the mouse and Connectivity to the Internet was another backdrop.I just didn’t understand how to configure the mouse and the net connection. The worst part was that for every minor issue that raised, I had to reboot back to windows and troubleshoot it and then get back to linux, and if that particular solution didn’t work out then the whole reboot process had to be repeated. This was a big time pain in the ass and more or less drained my zeal to get to have a hang of linux. I had even tried installing different flavours of Linux like FC4 , Mandriva, Ubuntu and Kubuntu. All issues used to get solved within a week or so but for the core problems of Connectivity and Mouse configuration. At one point of time I got pissed to the core and got back my system to cater only to Windows.

Last month for reason’s unknown I installed FC4 again. This time I did some serious homework.I googled for stuff and did all that I could find regarding mouse issues for my grand old system’s configuration. None of the suggested tips worked and when I finally reached the peak of my patience an idea struck me like a bolt from the blue. It occurred to me that the mouse manual could be of some help. Man! you should have seen the reaction on my face when i realised that the mouse was just not built for Linux! :-) For almost a year, I’d been brainstorming for possible errors in the installation process , killing the Xserver, terminating the GNOME and crashing stuff like crazy and now I realize it’s all not just worth it! There definitely should be a way to get my PS2 mouse to work in Linux, probably write drivers for it and stuff but that part comes in later. Probably once i get to understand the kernel better.Well it was definitely hell of a relief to get a solution to my problem. I just went out to a nearby PC accessory store, bought a USB mouse for around 200 bucks and connected it to the USB hub and in moments the cursor moves in my Linux environment after about a year :-)

With renewed enthusiasm I now started searching for tips on configuring a net connection on my system. My ISP uses a Cyberoam client. which needs to be installed and configured before use. A bit of googling splits the beans and I get to know that the client for linux was developed for RPM and not for debian packages. Had I known this way back, I could have saved a couple of formats :-) . Anyways, tried out stuff here and there and finally when things just seemed to be working out the process ended up with something called a ‘segmentation fault’ at the end of it. No leads from here. I pledged not to get back to Linux again :-)

The other day , Microsoft removed administrative previleges from my system. ( Had activated Automatic upgrades and probably Microsoft found the bad guy :-) ) I had to re-install Xp. Once installed, I had to set the connectivity in the OS. While pinging in the IP values in the client program it suddenly struck me that I was pinging in a value in the serverIP address box which seemed quite new. I hadn’t used the value for ages . Ideally, that shouldn’t be the case .I mean, I’ve been playing with these numbers for almost a year now, trying to configure the client in Linux and they’r supposed to be impregnated somewhere in my grey cells for good…Only then with some thinking out of the box did my holy neurons realise that I was actually pinging in the my terminal IP address in the place where I should have been giving my Server address . No wonder the bash was running into a segmentation fault! Nirvana at last! :-) .In my eagerness to set things right I directly restart my computer to enter Linux. Lo and behold ! What do I find? The Grub boot loader has been overwritten by the Windows MBR :-( . Huh!! back to square one. Logged back into Windoz and here I am googling my way to learn restore back the Grub! I remember coming across the procedure way back sometime. Didn’t care about it then! You realise you’re enlightened the moment you realize all around you there’s an illusion!! …Strobing back on the leads now and the saga continues. I’m not really sure when I am gonna end up getting the Grub getting it’s shins kicked.All that I know is that I at least have something to look forward to while installing a fresh copy of linux.

I’ll probably throttle my 20Gb harddrive to give me 10 Gb for my Linux installation, for now the demand is justified! :-)

3 Responses

  1. Srikanth Perinkulam Reply to Srikanth

    @niranj

    Senior to me even in that sense :-)
    Nevertheless, outdated systems are always preferable. You learn things the hard way :-)

  2. jnarin Reply to jnarin

    I was surviving on a 440 BX till about a year back. Well, let me think – That’s right from 1999 to 2006. :-) I had to lost about 8 GB of storage space on a 40 GB, ‘coz my processor couldn’t address more than that.. :-) I thoroughly abused the PC, started with Windows 95, moved to Windows 98, ran dual boot on Mandrake, and later Redhat, and then Windows ME, and finally, Win XP, dual boot with Mandrake. :-) I’ve never had a single problem with the PC, except for the lack of a USB port, which I later overcame by purchasing a hub for Rs. 200 (in Kanchipuram!). :D I used to burn my CD’s at 8X speed on an ancient HP CD-R/RW drive. Oh yeah, had 64 MB of RAM originally, and then dumped it and picked up a 128 MB stick.

  3. calvin Reply to calvin

    srikanth’s experiments were succesful ( GOD KNOWS!!!) to some extent or the other. but ill bet that he never tried out initially on his so called 440lx.
    myself and my computer used to fall prey every alternate day….
    it sustained severe hard disk injuries
    dude …
    thanks for formatting my system a million times….

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