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PC is a paperweight - linux help needed

So I had a PC with a SuSE linux installation that was getting a bit crufty and error-prone, and a new TV card that I wanted to be able to use before Saturday. Time to upgrade my linux system, and because I wanted to avoid an afternoon spent in frustration trying to get a development version from the Net to work, I bought SuSE linux 10.0 and installed that. And spent the afternoon in frustration trying to get it to work.

I used the "Upgrade" option. My initial plan was to have a clean install, but on second thought, there was still some stuff on the drive that I might want to back up first, so I didn't go through with that just yet. I may still do so, if I can't fix the many problems I've got right now.

What I can't do:
1) use the mouse or the Wacom tablet. Oh, YaST will pretend to recognise and configure them (Logitech serial mouse, Wacom graphire) but neither it nor SaX cause the pointers to actually do anything. The keyboard accessibility of just about anything is severely wanting, by the way, with apps having seemingly arbitrary tab orders which skip some widgets within dialogues entirely.
2) Scan. Until today, I had a crap generic canon scanner hooked up to the PC, because the Epson Perfection 1660 had been used as the studio for a while, and when I got it back, the PC wouldn't recognise the Epson anymore. I had high hopes for getting the Epson scanner to work again, because upgrades in the past have always been useful for letting the PC recognise whatever was connected to it, but it's the same story as with the Tablet: the configuration tools (YaST again) pretend to configure it, but the end result of the process is that the scanner doesn't actually do anything. In fact, it doesn't even pretend to configure the scanner all that well: it adds a driver that is not associated to any scanner device to the list of entries while leaving the existing scanner device in the list as an unconfigured device.
3) Get online. I can kind of, sort of set up the DHCP connection to my cable modem, but it doesn't seem to find the name servers, and no data passes from my ISP to me or vice versa. I should note that none of the LiveCD -based distributions I've played with in the past year worked at all with my cable modem. They all report that they've found a DHCP service and then proceed to do exactly nothing. Is this a kernel 2.6-related problem?
4) Watch TV. Or maybe I can - I can probe the card and scan for channels but actually getting any moving pictures has proved elusive. Since I'm not familiar with the interfaces of linux TV apps, I have a hard time accessing them well enough to make sense of them and find a way to put pictures in those screens.

All in all, it's been pretty disastrous, to the point where I'm wondering if I shouldn't have got Windows instead. I expect some problems getting linux to work, but it's never been quite as bad as this, and without the mouse and the Internet connection, I can't do the things I usually do, which is try do figure out how to do things within programs, and go online to look for solutions from people who have had the same problems before.
I tried to go online with the iBook, but it seems that the version of the cable modem I have doesn't support OS X. Will check out what to do about that when I can.
If you read this, it means that I have cycled to the workplace with the iBook containing the draft of this message, and posted it from there. I will be looking for answers and solutions myself, but if you know what might solve the problem, please email it to reinder.dijkhuis@gmail.com or respond on the forum (because comments on the blog are still b0rked and I dare not attempt to fix them for fear of the entire server getting overrun with spam again. This fear is also the reason the forum is now registered users only and protected with CAPTCHAs), and I'll, er, write your answer down (because the studio currently has no printer), take it home, try it there, and if it doesn't work I'll just ride back in the studio to say so.


Technical stuff and updates (as they come in, which will be very slowly) below the fold:

Technical stuff: The mouse, if I recall correctly, briefly worked during the initial install - for as long as the first CD was being read from. To rule out IRQ conflicts as best I could (but I need to look into that again, because there was a lot of stuff sitting on IRQ 10), I took the Wacom tablet and the TV tuner card out again. Still no Internet or mouse and it seems to have completely forgotten the scanner again. The bootlog confirms that no eth0 interface could be set up.

Meanwhile I've been looking at Kubuntu on liveCD again, mainly to confirm that the mouse hadn't physically broken down at the exact time I installed a new OS. The mouse works on that, but the DHCP connection does not. It's very pretty though, and easy to learn. It's also very bare bones, but a bare-bones OS that is easy and consistent to add to may be the second-best thing after a full-featured OS that just works, which I'm not getting anyway right now. I like the control panel the Kubuntu folks stole from OSX - made me feel right at home.

Observation: those of you who have followed the blog long enough to remember earlier tech blegs may wonder why I keep doing this to myself. I suppose the answer is that at some level I do enjoy it. There's the potential reward of a much improved OS on my home PC, for which I'll need to do some thinking, experimenting and exploring. I deliberately picked a time when I didn't urgently need to use the PC (except to watch Doctor Who on, but there are still alternative solutions for that), so I can muck about for a couple of days, and learn.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 12, 2006 10:09 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Don't you think he looks tired? Part 2.

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