Test Driving Linux/Solutions to Common Problems

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Test Driving Linux

The folks over at Mandrakesoft have put together a list of the most common support issues for Move and the usual solutions. If you're having trouble getting the Move CD to work, if your hardware isn't getting recognized, or if you have problems with the USB key, this handy resource should save you a lot of time and frustration. Keep in mind, however, that the version of Move included with this book is unsupported, so please don't call Mandrakesoft with problems.

Contents

Your Computer Won't Boot from the CD

Most modern computers are configured to attempt to boot from the CD before booting from the hard drive. The reason for this is to make it easier for you to use the Windows Restore CD when your computer gets messed up with viruses and spyware. But sometimes the settings get changed, and when you need to boot from a CD like Move, you find that it doesn't work.

The problem is almost always that a setting in your computer's startup code has changed the boot order to make your computer boot from the hard drive first. To fix this problem, boot up your computer and read the text that appears on the screen when your monitor first comes to life—you should see something like "Press F2 to Enter Setup" in the lower left or right corner. Press the specified key to enter your computer's setup configuration screen. Look for the setting that specifies boot order; the exact location will vary depending on your computer's manufacturer. When you find this setting, simply change it to boot from the CD-ROM before the hard drive, save the setting changes, reboot your machine, and you should be all set.

Alternately, some computers display the available boot devices during bootup, so booting from your CD-ROM may be as simple as choosing it from this list. Pay attention at boot time, as often these lists appear for only a few seconds before accepting a default like the hard drive and continuing to load Windows.

Move Won't Boot Completely

When Move always hangs during the boot process, it may be having a hard time configuring itself for some of the features of your hardware. One workaround is to disable some of the hardware checks Move performs during boot. To do this, press F1 when the Move boot splash first comes up, then enter one of the following commands and press Enter:

linux noapic acpi=off nolapic pnpbios=off
linux noapic acpi=off nolapic

Oddly enough, the Move CD sometimes starts booting and then gets hung up at a later point, because its boot program suddenly thinks the CD-ROM drive itself has disappeared from the system. If Move reports that your CD-ROM drive cannot be found, try entering the following command after pressing F1 at the Move boot prompt:

linux noprobe acpi=off noapic

If this command doesn't do the trick, one of these two commands might work:

linux noapic acpi=off nolapic pnpbios=off
linux noapic nolapic

You may experience problems booting Move with a PCMCIA card in your laptop. If so, try booting the laptop without the card, and once KDE is fully loaded, put the card back into your laptop and it should be automatically recognized.

Problems with the USB Memory Key

One great thing about the Move live CD is its ability to save your settings and data to a USB key. If this feature isn't working for you, there are a few things you can try:

  • Plug the USB key into a different USB port and try again.
  • Some USB keys are not supported. Visit http://www.mandrakesoft.com to see if your USB key is in the supported hardware database.
  • If you have a powered USB hub, plug the USB key into it and try again.
  • Check your BIOS setup for a USB setting and toggle the setting between USB 1.1 and USB 2.0.

If you get the USB key error "Bad Size Recognized" or if Move refuses to boot when you are using a key, your USB key's format is probably corrupted. To fix this problem, simply reformat it as a FAT filesystem. Your USB key probably came with a utility to do this; if you can't find this utility, you can format your key from inside the Windows My Computer window by right-clicking on the USB key icon and selecting Format. Another option is to format the key during the Move boot process. To do this, press F1 during bootup to bring up the Advanced screen. At the command prompt, type the following command and press Enter:

linux formatkey

During the boot process, after you accept the license, you are told that formatting the USB key will cause all data on the key to be lost, and you are asked if you really want to do this. Click Yes and continue as you normally would.

Setting Up Your Monitor

I've tried out Move on about a dozen different desktop and laptop computers, and although it almost always configured the video card correctly, it only got the monitor's configuration right about half the time. You'll know that Move failed to figure out your monitor correctly if the text is much larger than you expect it to be, if the fonts are blocky, or if your screen "scrolls" when you drag your mouse to the edges.

The solution to this problem is usually quite simple. First, launch the hardware configuration tool by clicking K Menu→ Administer your system→ Configure your computer. (If you can't see the K Menu, drag your mouse to the bottom left corner and the screen will scroll so you can see it.) This brings up the MandrakeLinux Control Center, a centralized place for several different configuration tools common to all distributions of Linux made by Mandrakesoft. The control center is used to configure your video card, monitor, network connections, printer, mice, and so on.

Click once on the Hardware icon and then on the Monitor icon to bring up a list of hundreds of different monitors. You need to find and select your monitor model from the Vendor list (click the triangle to expand the list), choose a generic setting that is similar to your monitor, or enter some custom settings. Generic settings work particularly well for laptops and LCD displays; you usually just need to select the maximum resolution for your monitor from the flat-panel options. When you click OK, you will be told that you need to log out and back in again for the change to take effect. Click OK again to close this screen, but don't log out yet.

Back at the Hardware screen, click the Screen Resolution icon. This brings up a simple screen with just two options: the resolution drop-down list and the choice of how many colors to display. LCD and laptop screens have a preferred resolution, which is usually 1024 768 for 15" screens and smaller, and 1280 1024 for 17" screens and larger. Pick the resolution and color depth that is appropriate for your monitor and click OK. You'll again be told that you have to log out and back in for the changes to work.

Back at the main screen, click File→ Quit to exit the control center, and log out of KDE by clicking K Menu→ Logout and selecting "End session only." KDE will shut down and restart, and your monitor should now be configured correctly.

Setting Up the Network

Move usually does a good job of configuring your network card, particularly if you have a typical Ethernet card built into your desktop or laptop. Move doesn't do so well, however, when you use a wireless card. And if you use a modem to make your network connection, you need to know how to configure Moveto dial out. This section helps you to set up your network in the event that Move fails to do so automatically.

Ethernet and Wireless Cards

As with your monitor configuration, most of your network configuration will be done from the MandrakeLinux Control Center. Go to K Menu→ Administer your system→ Configure your computer, click the Network & Internet icon, and then click New Connection. This launches a wizard that will help you set up your network connection. Choose the connection type appropriate to your network and click Next. If the next screen contains only the choice to configure a network device manually, it means that Move did not detect your network device. This is somewhat common with wireless network adapters, but it should be rare with Ethernet cards. You can try to manually configure your network card, but don't be surprised if it doesn't work. My suggestion at this point is to add a separate Ethernet card to your computer and try that, or, if you're using a laptop, insert a different PCMCIA wireless card or use your laptop's built-in Ethernet jack instead of wireless.

Note


Although Move has limited wireless network card support, a hard drive install of Linux usually does much better. Even if an installed Linux version doesn't detect your network card right away, you'll have a much better chance of successfully troubleshooting the problem.

Modems

When setting up a modem, I find I have to use a two-step process. The first part involves getting Move to recognize the modem, and the second part involves configuring a dial-up program to connect to your ISP. (If you have an external modem, make sure it is plugged in and powered on before continuing.)

To set up your modem, go to the MandrakeLinux Control Center, click Network & Internet, and then click New Connection. In the New Connection window, select Modem connection and click Next. Move will pause for a few seconds, and then it should tell you it has detected a modem. Now just keep clicking Next to move through all the remaining screens; don't bother entering any information. When you are finished, you will get an error message in the top left corner telling you that kppprc has failed because of a read-only filesystem. Just click OK to close the error window, and then close the Control Center.

Now go to K Menu→ Surf the Internet→ Connect to the Internet. This launches the KDE KPPP dialer program. Before you can use this program, though, you need to configure an account. Click Configure to bring up the configuration window.

The configuration program opens with the focus on the Accounts tab, so just click New to create a new account. You'll then be asked if you want to use a Wizard or to configure your connection manually. Choose Manual Setup, because the Wizard tries to force you to select a European ISP, which isn't much use for people living in the U.S. In the next screen, simply fill out a connection name, click Add, type in your ISP's dial-up number, and click OK. Click OK once more to get back to the Accounts tab and OK again to get to the main screen, where you should now have an entry in the "Connect to" drop-down list. Type in your username and password and click Connect. KPPP will dial your ISP, and you will be on the Internet.

Note


Not all modems are created equal. Some modems, known as Winmodems, require Windows-only software to be installed on the computer. These modems are not supported by Move, and generally have very poor support in Linux.

Configuring Your Printer

If your printer is plugged in and powered on when you boot Move, it should be recognized and set up during the boot process. You know your printer has been detected if you are presented with a window asking you if you want CUPS to be configured to start each time you boot Move. You should answer Yes to this screen and finish booting Move. Once you are in KDE, you should be able to use the printer from any application.

Note


CUPS is the Common Unix Printing System, and is the default print system in most distributions of Linux and Mac OS X.

But if you didn't set up your printer during bootup, you can still do so after you are in KDE. To do this, first make sure the printer is connected and powered on. Go to the MandrakeLinux Control Center (K Menu→ Administer your system→ Configure your computer), click the Hardware icon, and then click the Printers icon. This launches a printer detection program that should open up a window telling you which printers it has detected. If it didn't detect your printer, try clicking the Quit button, double-checking your printer connections, and powering the printer off and back on. If it's a USB printer, unplug the USB cable from the computer and reinsert it. Once you've completed this little ritual, click the Printers icon again.

Your printer should now be detected, so click the Yes button. After the computer thinks some more about your printer setup, you'll be presented with a window asking you if the CUPS printing system should be started automatically next time you boot. Go ahead and click Yes for this too. After some more thinking, you'll be presented with a window for the Mandrakelinux Printer Management Tool. At this point your printer is fully set up, so you can just close this window by selecting File→ Quit.

You should now be able to print from any application by clicking the print icon on the toolbar, choosing File (Location in Konqueror) → Print, or using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-P.

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