All I wanted to do was put Linux on an old laptop.
I started out by watching some YouTube videos on how to install Ubuntu Linux. Me, listening to instructions. Who would have ever guessed?
According to the vids I watched this was going to be a piece of cake. Within 5 minutes of completing my download I should have Ubuntu up and running, at least according to this Linux gal.
Download the latest distribution of Ubuntu (12.10 desktop). Check. Burn it as an ISO image to disk. Chec… Crap. It’s too big to fit on a CD. Off to the computer store to buy some DVDs.
Burn it to a DVD. Check.
Reboot the target computer with the Ubuntu disk image in the Drive. The live disk will come up and I can just cruise through the prompts to get up and running.
The damned computer chugs and chugs on that disk before finally, painfully, booting up into Windows NT. No sign of Ubuntu. Crap.
After checking out a few more YouTube videos I decide to change the boot order of my computer, making the DVDROM drive the first boot device. This turns out to be very simple after three or four failed attempts to get to the bios. Each one of those boot attempts is a painful reentry to Windows NT. I finally discover the F2 key will get me there, but only if I’m really, really fast.
After changing the boot order so the DVD drive is first in my list I try again.
Again I get a long, slow, painful boot up into Windows NT.
What the hell?
So I go online and start reading on the tech forums. Probably a bad disk. Burn another one and try again.
Back to the forums. Well if that won’t work, then put it on a thumb drive and make that the primary boot device.
Out to the computer store to buy a thumb drive.
More misery. I’m getting really sick of seeing that Windows NT welcome screen.
So I go into my bios and make the DVD the only bootable device, and try again.
The computer now informs me that there are no bootable devices available. Press F2 to try again or just slit your wrists now to get it over with.
I set the bios so only the USB port is bootable. Again, the computer tells me there are no bootable devices available. Press F2 to try again. Have a nice day.
It appears the only bootable device on my old Dell Inspiron is the internal hard drive.
Dell is evil.
I burned that DVD on my newer computer. Maybe my new DVD drive writes disks that my old DVD drive can’t read? So I download Ubuntu onto my old computer and go to burn the image. What? Roxio is not on my computer? Roxio has been on every computer I’ve ever had, at home or at work. I’m stunned. So I go out to download Roxio. Guess what? Despite the fact that it has come on every computer I’ve ever had (except this damn NT box), it’s not free. Crap.
More online research. Google – open source, burn, dvd (or something like that). I find something called InfraRecorder with a GPL license. I download it and install it on my dog of a Dell. (Sorry dogs, I shouldn’t besmirch you like that. I like dogs.)
InfraRecorder is great! Really, for the first time in this post I’m not being snarky. Go get it. Now.
So I burn Ubuntu to my old (2x) DVD drive. Do you know how slow 2x is? Oh… my… god. But eventually the deed is done and I try rebooting with a disk I am certain my old DVD drive can read.
Same frigging results.
More online research turns up the fact that a lot of people can’t seem to get past their old installation of Windows NT. This is a fairly common problem. The recommended solution is to find your original installation CDs and reinstall Windows so you can reformat the drive.
I conducted an exhaustive search of my CD racks to no avail. However, I did get all my old music and software CDs nicely reorganized. See, something good did come of this. Next I searched the garage. No luck. Then a little tucked away book case. Viola!
I reboot with the original Windows NT Restore CD. Remember how the vendors quit shipping the actual full distributions years ago? Seemed like a bad idea to me at the time. So this is it, a Restore CD. I throw it in and reboot. I’m told that the current version of the OS on my computer is newer than the one on the CD so I cannot proceed. Sorry.
Microsoft is evil.
If you’re still with me you are probably waiting for the happy ending. Well there isn’t one. My Dell Inspiron is still sitting there to my left, mocking me.
Amazingly enough it is still in one piece. (See photo, above.) I have not throw it to the floor and stomped it into oblivion (though that has been tempting). No, I am going to have you, Inspiron, one way or another.
My next try will be FOG, an open source disk reformatting program. If that doesn’t work, I’ll try Wipe Disk, though I’d rather not spend any money. If that doesn’t work, I may just yank the hard drive, and put in a new one. I’ve invested too much effort to throw in the towel now.
My little 5 minute installation of Ubuntu has now taken me two and a half days to no avail.
Ubuntu is evil.