Mandrake: Last Impressions

Wasn’t it just days ago I had a fresh Mandrake install? Yes it was…

Well, it lasted a day or so, until I tried to change the resolution on the monitor. A simple change to XF86Config right? Well, along the way things went very bad. Ok, everything went bad, really, really bad. I probably hosed something in mtab along the way, but the system was dead. So I thought I’d try a re-install. That didn’t seem to work either. Well, the first few times, but finally I got a complete install done, and it just woundn’t boot into Linux from BootX.

Thus ends my experience with Mandrake. For now anyway… If I get ambitions I might actually check to see if the CD‘s are good, I have a feeling disc 2 was the problem with the install. Don’t take this as a poo-poo on Mandrake, just my experience.

I hear Fedora Core 2 runs on PPC, but it still seems a little bleeding-edgy. I might try Gentoo now (since I found the CD) or perhaps go back to Yellow Dog, you’ll find out next week!


Validation is like Math

I’m constantly surprised by the number of people who don’t quite understand how validation works. I don’t claim to be an expert, but as I understand it, you have a set of rules, and if you present something that breaks those rules, then what you have done is not valid.

People constantly posts messages to the www-validator list with the belief that their invalid HTML is somehow correct, and the validator must be wrong. (Some go so far as to suggest the validator be fixed to report their invalid markup as valid!) I can’t complain too much, because these people are most often not well versed in writing valid markup, or understanding what the DOCTYPE they chose actually allows, and they get big credit for attemping to validate their work. (May 2004 seems to have more messages than any previous month so far.)

Still, it often feels like someone keeps telling you 2 + 2 = 5, and every time you explain that it’s a simple matter that 2 + 2 = 4, another person comes along to tell you 2 + 2 = 5.

While it’s true that the W3C MarkUp Validator has it’s limitations (as most validators probably do) chances are it knows HTML better than most people do…

(And please, for the love of all that is good, tell everyone you know how to encode & into & within HTML!)


The Ultimate Sniffer!

I found this in a bit of Javascript used by a banking site today:

// Ultimate client-side JavaScript client sniff. Version 3.03
// (C) Netscape Communications 1999-2001.  
// Permission granted to reuse and distribute.

Obviously the “Ultimate client-side JavaScript client sniffer” was written 3 or 4 years ago, and still works flawlessly. I bet it handles everything from Safari to Firefox without a hitch!


Mandrake: First Impressions

I finally got Mandrake installed, and it took a while. There are normally two parts of the “taking a while” to deal with. There is the “this doesn’t work I need to find the answer on [search engine of choice] before I can even get the install to start” and there’s the actual install process, which always seems to take some time.

Remember, I’m attempting to install Mandrake Linux 9.1 PPC on a old Beige G3 PowerMac. I suppose we can ditch that “attempting” word, as I got it to work, but not easily…

First, there was the issue of just getting the installer to launch. Mandrake has some simple tools to do this, but they didn’t seem to work. I used BootX, and tried many variations, and finally found this thread on Mandrake 9.1 install problems that fixed things. Giving BootX the proper parameters got things going, below is what I used:

root=/dev/ram3 ramdisk_size=40000 
install-text automatic=method:cdrom

Once BootX kicked the install, things went smooth, until I started to get errors installing some things. I’d guess I hit the ‘OK’ button at least 100 times after seeing ‘There was an error installing foo-1.0.1’ (or whatever the exact phrase is. Still the install finish after a few hours (hours?!) and things seemed ok. (I really should check the ISO’s against the md5sum and such when doing these things, as it may have been a bad CD, but the system did eventually get installed.)

Time to login! Hmmm, Mandrake is supposed to be so friendly, why is the menu, which is usually full of apps and such, almost empty? Ahhh, another useful thread on empty menus lead me to run update-menus, and menudrake to fix things.

Success! Mandrake 9.1 on a PowerMac…

But now what? I started using the system, and it seems ok, but certainly doesn’t wow me yet. I was pretty impressed with Fedora after using it, but Mandrake is taking a little time to get comfortable with. I suppose I’ll have to get used to what makes Mandrake, well, Mandrake, as it were.

Who knows? I might ditch Mandrake by next week and install Yellow Dog instead. ;)


Linux Reboots (Lot’s of them!)

I’m running Fedora at home, and though I don’t consider myself a Linux-newbie, I often like to play the role to get a feel for the current status of Linux on the Desktop. So I run up2date because the dock-thingy at the bottom of the screen tells me to, and I click-click-click my way through a bunch of updates, and at the end it tells me that I should really reboot so that the new kernel can be used. Reboot? Isn’t this Linux? I mean, it’s bad enough I often have to reboot Mac OS X because Apple has some system update that requires one, but not Linux too? Sheesh, it’s turning into a Windows world! (Ok, I’m exaggerating a bit…)

On top of that I have an older Mac that I’ve been attempting to install Linux on, and while I did manage to install Debian, I never got a GUI environment, so I burned a Gentoo CD and promptly misplaced it. I then burned some Mandrake CD’s and attempted a number of installs, after all, Mandrake is the easiest to install Linux, right? No success yet… Perhaps I’ve got a bad CD, I don’t know, but what I do know is, sometimes getting Linux on the Desktop is 10 times harder than actually using Linux on the Desktop.