Sunday, June 23, 2013

Destination: Linux Mint

One of my side endeavors has taken me down the path to installing another linux machine (currently running a couple Ubuntu systems).  Over the decades I've noticed various flavors seem to come and go in popularity, so I suppose I should check out Mint to see what all the furor is about.

I have an older Windows XP system that was retired, collecting dust that could be repurposed.  The system has parts I don't even care to look at, but does have an e6750 for a CPU, and its newest hardware component is an NVIDIA Geforce 7600; all in all, it was one of our gaming systems 8 or 9 years ago; in other words, perfect for a linux box.

I've never really done the "boot from USB" before, so naturally I had to give this a try.  From one of my primary workstations using Win7, I downloaded Universal USB Installer and the latest Linux Mint 15 w/ MATE from their website.  I was more or less following along with this website and their directions.

When on an actual linux desktop (most my linux work is through SSH/putty), I usually prefer using fluxbox or xfce... I suppose this MATE thing would get me back to the Gnome2 days a bit... ah well, let's see what happens.

So, I got all that stuff, but realized I had to go out and buy a new USB drive because the ones I have are either too small (< 1 gig) or are in use doing other things (like automated backups).  I found a Sony USB 16 gig on sale for $11 so I got that.  Right away I was suspicious that there was likely some sort of lock outs or proprietary software on the drive... nothing that some re-partitioning and formatting can't fix, I hope.

Thankfully, my system's BIOS supports booting from USB (that would have been a wrinkle in the plans!) as this system doesn't have a CD/DVD drive.

I did all the instructions, including using that BOOTICE program only to find that my system refused to start using syslinux complaining about something like "syslinux error no configuration file found".  Some quick googling goes to show that my BIOS likely can't read the FAT32 partition on the USB drive... so I ran bootice again, set the USB stick to USB-HDD multi-partition (due to the > 4 gb size, single partition can't be used for FAT16) and set up a primary partition for FAT16 (thus a 4 gig limit).

I plugged it back in to the system and it seems to be trying to load, the system ran through its POST routine, but now is just sitting there.  The hard drive sounds like it's churning away, but I can't really be too sure *what* is really happening at this point.

Before all the craziness, I did fire  up the system just to see if it still worked correctly.  Thankfully, the old WinXP system still ran in all of its dated glory.  Always a good idea to have a base of "known" information before doing crazy stuff like this -- that way when things go wrong, at least I *know* what USE to work before I screwed with it!

I'm going to let this thing run for a while and start troubleshooting shortly... I'll continue in the next blog with some progress if/when that happens.

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