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Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Ubuntu

Hi, yes, I'm Linux-ified again. Hurrah! I don't have to get incredibly annoyed at Windows 98 when it crashes for the umpteenth time that session... Again. I had a nicely setup Suse 8.2 install on my main desktop box a few months ago (god it was too long a break) but managed to screw it up by ignoring my intuition and letting fsck try to 'fix' supposed problems it had found with my ext3 partition - it was actually completely fine. Is fsck ready to cope with ext3 properly?

Non-techies or Windows-only geeks better look away now (and for the rest of this post) - unless you want newbie help with installing it when the CD image ends up broken every time you try writing it. I tried 3 times without luck, my CD drive (or just the apps?) won't write CDs slower than 2x and you need to write them slower to get more reliability. Dunno if it's my 3-yr old drive or a problematic ISO image but it caused problems.

I've heard a fair bit about Ubuntu and my mate Jon has just started trying it out so I thought I'd give it a go - I've never tried a Debian-based distro before so thought it would widen my Linux horizons. I downloaded and installed the Hoary (latest, unproved version) .ISO CD image last night ready to write onto CD and install. I eventually got it working after a bit of messing round in the install. Several other people have (so I hear) had problems getting the CD image to write properly - mine would boot fine, but get stuck when doing the main copying/installing the base system part, due to a broken CD. As I still had .iso CD image on my hard drive though, I used a work-around involving booting with the CD (it got that far fine), and fooling it into using the hard drive image as though it were the CD. A lot faster too!

How? If you need to ask, here's the solution.

  1. Use Ctrl-F2 from the install menus (once it's booted and found the CD obviously) to switch to another virtual terminal, and press Enter to activate it.
  2. You need to unmount the CD where the install will try and read it from (/cdrom) and mount your .iso image file instead. First, run: umount /cdrom
  3. Next, presuming it's on a Windows drive somewhere (type vfat) you need to mount that first to get access to the .iso. We'll use a temporary directory we create to attach it to: mkdir /cdimage; mount -t vfat /dev/WINDRIVE /cdimage (replace WINDRIVE by the partition of your windows drive, you can work this out from the menus where you partition your system - if it's the C: drive it's probably hda1, if the image is on CD and that's in the Primary Slave IDE slot, it'll be hdb and you won't need "-t vfat")
  4. This should return ok (if it's on a Linux drive instead of a Windows one you probably don't need to read this far or you know how to fix it already!). Next, the clever bit (one of the bits that makes you realise how nice Linux is) - mount the .iso image file as though it were a device: mount -o loop /cdimage/YOUR-ISO-FILE.iso /cdrom (again, replace the YOUR-ISO-FILE.iso by the directory and filename of your Ubuntu CD image, tab completion is handy here)
  5. That should return ok without an error, now if you run a "ls /cdrom" (no quotes) you should be able to see the contents of the CD image as though you were listing the contents of the actual CD (if it had written correctly). Now you can switch back to the install menus (Ctrl-F1) and carry on, with Ubuntu blissfully unaware that you're pulling a fast one (literally...) right beneath it's eyes.
  6. Play with your spangly new Ubuntu install. Oh yes, and..
  7. Curse Ubuntu for not having a proper list of options for how to get hold of the source files (at least, when running from the anyone-can-do-it CD image). Maybe it does if you boot from floppy, I don't know.

5 comments:

  1. I may be going back to the stable version after having some fun with the latest bleeding edge one, as it didn't pick up my sound card (a pretty standard Soundblaster Live PCI) in the install and I really can't be bothered to fix it; and the versions of some of the apps are just a little too cutting edge (ie. they crash every now and then)...

    If I wanted stuff to crash regularly I'd have stuck with Windows 98.

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