More Windows and Linux issues

Earlier this week I was helping my wife’s teacher colleagues with fixing windows on a generic Packard Bell computer. Well now my wife’s Sony Laptop, appears to be on the injured player list as well. While she has not been kind to the Sony over the years, it has managed to work. But lately it has been causing her grief. She did manage to drop the thing on the Netgear 401 WiFi adaptor (PCMCIA) and it looks to have broken the connector from the mother board. Windows continued to work and I managed to get her wireless again with a Belkin’s USB WiFi adaptor. And this worked for a while.

Now Windows XP was never stable on this laptop. It regularly locked up, took long pauses for no discernible reason, or generally blue screened. This was something she took in stride, and was fine with. Until the Sony became really unstable. Now it may have been the damage to the PCMCIA mount, or not. And with the assumption that it just needed to have the OS reinstalled, she proceeded.

It’s been three days now, the Sony has yet to operate on windows. After three failed attempts to reinstall Windows. Everything from the install CD’s failing on the third disk with an unknown error, to not being able to install the virus software, to having to uninstall the XP service pack 2 and reinstall it.

This brought my wife to her current dilemma, and breaking point. She has known for a long time that Mac’s just work. And that I have been a supporter of Linux. So we embarked on a journey of exploration for a User friendly Linux install for her Sony. I personally had been dying to try out the different distro’s and had quite a selection. We started with Mandrake (now Mandriva) 10. I had this on CD from one of the magazines. This installed great all three CDs full, and seemed to be going great up until we found we couldn’t use the built in track-pad. Nothing I tried would get mandrake to recognize the mouse.

On to XanderOS this I thought would be good, as one of the applications my wife uses a lot were the MS Office suite. Having CrossOver office on it made it interesting. Mind you we have been Installing OpenOffice on the school machines she is in-charge of at her school. So she was comfortable with the Star Office in this distro. So on to the the install, not a problem even the track-pad worked this time, and I even managed to get it on the internet. On the built-in ethernet adaptor. There was nothing I could do to get it to recognize the Belkin USB adaptor. My wife, a fan of WiFi, (why have a laptop if you can’t use wireless) found this useless.

Lycorius never finished installing, Knoppix, while fine on the liveCD, it was too crude for my wife. And I couldn’t easily install Gentoo, or Ubuntu.

This could just be a broken Sony Laptop, But that’s only part of the problem. While Windows XP did install, it did not provide any better service than it’s previous erratic behaviors. But worse were the Linux installs, either they were too hard to install, or did not provide enough coverage of the hardware to produce a viable laptop operating system. Now I know that Linux may work better on a more generic desk side mini tower. But really, how many people are really using simple generic systems. And how do you win the hearts and minds of the general public, who can barely manage to install Windows XP, if the alternative is in the Linux distro’s which are so bad.

As another thought, from what I can tell, Linux will never be a widely used desktop, until one of the big PC builders Dell, Sony, HP or someone else starts building Linux configured Laptops and desk side systems. Then Joe user could rightly migrate from Windows XP to a safer, and stable Operating system.

I hope someone, an Outsource builder, or overseas manufacture will fill this role. Maybe Lenovo will utilize the IBM think pad design’s and pump out Linux laptops. That would be something to see, something my wife could buy and use.