Linux Installation on HP Pavilion Desktop (June 2008 purchase)

Mark Bieda HP Linux install installation

This is just a brief post about my (read: my student’s) experience with installing linux on a new HP Pavilion. This is a standard model available at Futureshop and BestBuy: intel quadcore Q6660 processor, 640 Gb harddisk, 3 Gb RAM. Nice machine, only $899 here in Canada (sure to be cheaper in the USA).

So I’ve installed linux on several laptops and desktops, including Mandriva, Red Hat, Fedora, Suse. And of course I have run Knoppix and, as indicated in an earlier post, have been using DSL (Damn Small Linux) under VMPlayer for a while now.

So this time, let the undergrad do it!

Here are the notes:
(1) this computer had Windows Vista on it. Home Premium edition. We wanted to keep windows, not because I love windows, but because I have some key software that only runs on windows (e.g. NimbleGen SignalMap for looking at data).
(2) Installation of OpenSuse 10.3 caused a conflict with the windows system which led to a restore operation (nothing was lost, no big deal). So we dropped working on this one – and went to working on Ubuntu 8.04 LTS.
(3) The big problem was that the ethernet card, built into the motherboard, has known problems with talking to current linux distros. The joy of a new computer!
(4) Ubuntu installed well except for the ethernet card deal, which is a big problem.
(5) To solve the ethernet card problem, we just ended up buying a new card for the computer – it was only $19.76 at our friendly University of Calgary MicroIT store. Model is “Gigabit Ethernet PCI Card” from The model number appears to be ST1000BT32. This solved the problem, although MFU (My Friendly Undergrad) had to do something to disable the BIOS from trying to connect to the one in the motherboard (which was not deadly, but led to one of those long pauses in bootup).

The Results
Everything seems to run very well. The computer is happy, it talks to the internet (from both windows and linux) and, as usual, everything runs just a bit (or a lot, depending) on the linux side vs the windows side.

I am a longtime KDE user, and I really like KDE in this distribution (downloaded and installed as packages in Ubuntu). I guess it is technically Kubuntu, but like I said, the undergrad was doing the installation so… I got to skip on thinking about this stuff.

Howto install linux… basic options

Ok, so I have another post on howto install linux.

This is just a short list of the top options – all this stuff is covered elsewhere, so I won’t be boring.

The basic list is: dual-boot windows machine (a favorite of mine), a Mac (ok, it’s FreeBSD, but you could also do linux under parallels), Vmware Player, Vmware server + your linux of choice, a live CD (e.g. Knoppix, but there are a bunch now).

To me, it seems the Vmware Server or dual boot windows or mac are the real options…

Howto install linux to a computer… fast

Ok, so I have been in the unfortunate situation of jumping from one computer to another.

The fortunate thing is that, along the way, I’ve had to learn to get linux going quickly.

This entry is about getting linux going fast but temporary. You will want to look at my other post (coming): installing linux… longterm for some other advice

Here are options that I have really used

1. Knoppix live cd
The basic deal here is that you just boot the computer with the CD installed.
Ease: very easy
Minuses: slow boot
Pluses: Truly excellent hardware recognition – I’d recommend trying this for the cool new laptop that seems to hate standard distributions. Also, nice full system.

2. Vmware Player + DSL (Damn Small Linux)
The basic deal here is that you download the Vmware player (easy), install Vmware player like any other windows software, then download the damn small linux virtual machine from the Vmware site.
Ease: very easy
Minuses: several. DSL is a micro-distrib of linux. Yes, it is graphical, but a huge amount of stuff is missing.
Pluses: After you install the Vmware player software, you can always jump into linux – just start the Vmware player. And you are just running it like any other app in windows – which means that you can be doing windows stuff in another window at the same time.

What do I do: well, I currently use the Vmware player + DSL. But this is just temporary… I need to do a few things fast…

When I finally do my long term deal, I will install linux fully to a partition… or try Vmware server…