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Desktop productivity with Debian GNU/LINUX

  In early '99 I tried Slackware Linux. After a lot of reading and research to
find out the specs for the computer's hardware, the install went well except
for two things.
  When I got my 8 bit ISA modem I needed an interrupt less than 8. I had plans
for both serial ports so I set the modem's IRQ @ 5 (second parallel port),
and used the corresponding address for that IRQ. The sound card (AWE 32) was
set at IRQ 5, and since it was a 16 bit ISA card, I moved it to 12 I think (I
knew then, it's documented someplace).
  Anyway, LINUX was able to discover the sound card because the module that
set up the sound card was hard coded to an interrupt of 5. The modem went a
little better. After a lot of searching, I found the How To that explained how
to modify which file to point to a serial port on interrupt 5. I actually got
connected to the Internet and was able to browse with LYNX. The NETSCAPE
browser wasn't on the CD's and I didn't want to download a 60 Meg file @ 28.6.
  So problem #1 was LINUX wasn't smart enough to find a sound card if it wasn't
on interrupt 5 (unless the user was smart enough to edit and recompile the sound
Problem #2 was stair stepping when I printed. After some e-mail correspondence
with Patrick Volkering, he suggested that I download a different prn file. I did.
It was a monster of a file, with lots of printers, and I tried to set it up for
my printer (OKIDATA OLE 810e, and then an hp equivalent. Still had stair-
As I didn't have time to keep playing with LINUX, I gave up.
Spring of 2000 I got Mandrake, LinuxWorld's editor's choice for 1999. This
should be the ticket. After installing it, I still had problem #1 & problem #2.
Also couldn't find the How To on setting up the modem, so never got connected
to the Internet. Not too impressed with LINUX up to this point.
Have a new motherboard/chip (DFI socket7/K6-2 550mhz), same modem, diff sound
card (Audigy PCI). From the reviews I've read lately, Debian is the best LINUX if one
ever gets it installed. Some articles mentioned KNOPPIX as a great way to get
Debian LINUX installed, so I downloaded the ISO (we now have a T1 connection
where I work), burned a CD, and tried it out. Booted up great. But no sound, and it
can't find the modem or my printer. So much for KNOPPIX as an installer, or even as
a trial for LINUX. It was well behaved, when I shut down it ejected the CD & asked me
to close the tray and press enter. When I did it finished shutting down the computer.
Nice touch.
The KDE file manager is a kludge. I understand now why XANDROS created their
own. The problem with XANDROS is that it's too proprietary.
Open Office appears to be a nice suite if I could only find my files! I never
figured out how to get to the disk the files were on using the programs file open
browser. The only way I could open files was to click on one of the partitions on
the desktop and then browse until I found a file and then clicked on it. Not real
handy. (I had downloaded and installed OpenOffice 5.2 in WinME and had the same
problem at first, but after some reading was able to find my files). With LINUX Open
Office, I'm stuck with only LINUX partitions.
A problem that I am having with WinME is playing CD's through the IDE inter-
face. Since I have both a DVD and CD/RW drive, I didn't hook either one up to
the audio plug on the sound card, as  the Plextor rep said I could play them
through the IDE interface. I can, using Plextor's player, but no other Windows
player that I've tried will.
I wish I could devote the time learning LINUX  that I did when I first started
using DOS (1984), but I don't have that much free time anymore. My first
exposure to Windows was Win95 (I had been using OS2 at work previous to that),
I read very little, I started using it and learned as I went. That's the way it
will have to be with LINUX, I will have to be able to do something without
devoting hours trying to figure out each task that I want to do. Until LINUX
progresses to that point, I and many others simply can't make the switch.
If I get the Debian disks and managed to get LINUX installed (I hear you have a
new version with a better installer), will it be able to find my sound card,
modem, and printer (Okidata OLE 810e). Can it print to a printer without stair-
stepping? Can I easily add a USB HP Ink Jet, and an old Epson dot matrix
later? Assuming Debian LINUX can find my sound card, can LINUX CD players
play through the IDE interface?
In short, will I be able to do something productive with Debian LINUX? And then I
will want to network it with our laptop running WinME, and a LinkSys Print server,
and possibly a US Robotics broadband router (if I can use the "back up" dial up
connection on a permanent basis, which would then have an external modem).
All without requiring a PHD in networking? If I get that far, LINUX will be for real,
and I will also load it on my old 100 mhz Dell and network that too.
Any hope?
John S. Pickard

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