As a long time Linux user, one of the things I always look forward to is the periodic upgrade of my home desktop PC to the latest and greatest Linux distribution. New toys, new look and feel, new kernel and everything (usually) working better than it did.
For various reasons I have been a couple of years behind the curve on this particular machine. In fact it has been running Ubuntu Hardy Heron 8.04 with a 2.6.24 kernel and KDE 3.5. So it’s old and well past its Use By date. The boot disk is a 20G Western Digital IDE device made on the 18th of December 2000. A few years ago I added a 250G WD IDE as a data drive and it’s almost full.
So I bought a nice new 1.5TB WD SATA drive and resolved to install a new system.
First, I found the few things on the 20G boot drive that I still cared about and copied them to the 250G drive. Then I pulled the machine down, removed the 20G drive and installed the 1.5T drive. I sometimes use a netbook with Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx and I quite like it so I downloaded a USB installer image of that to a 4G USB stick. It didn’t boot past the Ubuntu splash screen.
Sigh. Okay, my CPU is an Intel dual core E2160 and that’s a 64 bit beastie so I downloaded the x86_64 version and whacked that on the USB stick. It didn’t get past the splash screen either. Not good.
My dislike for RPM based Linux systems is something I have never hidden, but in desperation I swallowed my pride and downloaded a Fedora 13 installer image and put that on the USB stick. It worked. Well, sort of.
Fedora 13 installed and gave me a bootable system, but with some things not working and with some fundamental tools missing.
Chris was delighted. He’s currently a Fedora devotee and gleefully handed me a Fedora 13 DVD to sort me out. He (and I) assumed that my USB installer wasn’t quite right and a DVD with everything on it would get me going.
Except it didn’t. My system wouldn’t boot from the DVD. I messed with boot order in the BIOS but no matter what I did the system would boot to its half baked Fedora desktop where I could see, browse and open files on the very DVD it refused to boot from. So Chris made me a new DVD, verified it and booted a system from it. And it didn’t work for me.
Now I should confess here that my DVD reader is a faintly odd and rather old Panasonic LF-D321 which was marketed as an IDE DVD-RAM device many years ago. With nothing making any sense, I headed down to the Computer Fair and bought a new SATA ASUS DVD reader-writer-RAM-what-have-you for the princely sum of $25 (less than 10% of the price of the Panasonic). I set it up to read the Fedora DVD and… it didn’t.
This was all rapidly heading into Insanity territory and I performed quite a few reboots with different BIOS settings and much head scratching ensued. Finally, I took a magazine cover DVD containing an Ubuntu 10.04 installer ISO, booted my broken Fedora installation, copied it from the DVD, then burned it to a blank DVD-R. And that worked!
The system booted from that DVD when it wouldn’t boot the Fedora DVDs (which it could read though) and I very soon had a working machine. I pointed the updater at my ISP’s mirror and brought everything up to date then installed KDE.
Ahh, all’s well. A little bit of fettling Firefox with Adblock Plus, X-Marks and Download Statusbar. Add the old 250G drive to fstab via its UUID and get Amarok to rescan my music collection. Bliss.