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Re: [school-discuss] use on Dell

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on Wed, Mar 23, 2005 at 12:52:37PM -0500, Michael Dean (mdean@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx) wrote:
> Since the various strands are talking about Linux distributions, I have 
> a question to pose:  Which distribution will work on Dell desktops and 
> laptops in a grade school environment.  Only certain Dell servers are 
> supported by Novell Suse and Redhat, and to my knowledge, due to the 
> peculiar Dell bios not many distros will  load.  

    How to ask questions the smart way:

> An experienced Linux/Unix Network Reseller has tried several flavors
> already on our school's desktop computers, with no luck.  

Hrm.  "No luck", eh?  As the #debian irc bot says:

    Look buddy, doesn't work is an ambiguous statement.  Does it sit on
    the couch all day?  Does it want more money?  Does it waste its
    time on IRC all day long?  Please be specific!  Define 'it' and
    what it isn't doing.

What isn't working?  No boot?  No X?  No network?  Is this a "total
failure to get off the ground" or "wrong shade of vermilion" "no luck"?
More detail is required:

    What model(s) of systems?
    What key hardware:
      - BIOS
      - Mobo
      - CPU
      - RAM (type and quantity)
      - Disk controller
      - Disk type(s)
      - Video
      - Networking
      - Sound (if desired)
      - Mouse
      - Other

If you can get a CLI boot off of Knoppix, Tom's Root Boot, or other, you
can run the 'system-info' script I've created which generates a pretty
good inventory.  Recommended is running from Knoppix (or related) or
LNX-BBC, which do better HW detection than most.


Barring that, there's a utility called Belarc which will produce a
similar system summary from within legacy MS Windows:


Both produce printable/postable output.  Both are highly valuable for
system inventory, and would be a good addition to your system
documentation binder.  And both would be good candidates for posting to
list for more informed support suggestions.

> These include  Gnoppix, Knoppix,  Suse, Redhat and Debian.
> Unfortunately schools can't change their investment in hardware in
> order to migrate to Linux, and many schools desire to migrate today
> due to the NT situation.  

HW upgrade shouldn't be necessary.

As these systems are currently running NT, I'm going to assume HW from
the 1996 - 2001 timeframe.  Pinning that down further would be helpful.

> My own open source technicians are experimenting with older Xenon
> 4-way Dell servers using Novell Suse 9.1, but the Adaptec SCSI RAID
> controller is not recognized,

Make?  Model?  LSPCI output?

Generally aic7xxx, but YMMV.

Have you tried loading modules or did you stop at "wasn't autodetected"?

> nor is the on-board Ethernet.

Make?  Model?  LSPCI output?

> www.dell.com/linux has been helpful and we are exploring their lists,
> but the same could not be said for Novell support.

Mailing lists and IRC are generally your best bet.  Since you're in the
area, I'd suggest the LUGoD, BALUG, NBLUG, or SVLUG user group lists as
well.  'http://<group>.org/' will get you there.

You're also going to get the usual "try this distro" advice, and you're
welcome to do the usual "um, no, this is what we're doing".  However I
_would_ suggest you look at Ubuntu as an alternative to SuSE.  It's got
the polish, the packages, and is very, very, very easy on the updates.

What district / schools (off-list if you'd prefer)?  I've got downtime
this week due to spring break.


Karsten M. Self <kmself@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>        http://kmself.home.netcom.com/
 What Part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?
    I wish I didn't love you so much.
    - Casablanca

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