[frgeek-michiana] Re: Investigating alternative distros

  • From: Tom Brown <tbrown@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: frgeek-michiana@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 14 May 2005 16:05:44 -0500

dd doesn't resize drives. Our drives vary widely in size. The best solution will copy and resize on the fly and in one step. We haven't found a FOSS utility which does this.

The FB-2 spec doesn't include usb so that is not a reliable load method. The spec does include cdrom so each box already has a device which allows us to install VL from removable media -- it just takes too long. Rick Tribble is experimenting with a memory card ide adapter. This will be terrific for solving problems but is probably not the best solution for the immediate problem.

Although I haven't mentioned it before, there is a productive division of labor issue to address.

When we trained less experienced volunteers to install, but not configure, VL 3.2 on hard drives, their productivity and sense of accomplishment went up dramatically. Advanced volunteers later installed the prepared drives in FreeBoxes and configured everything. Their productivity also went up. At the end of the FB-1 production cycle, four volunteers could finish 8-12 boxes per lab. I think the max was 15 in one night. We don't yet know how to make the VL 4.3 installer follow the two-step install like VL 3.2. The 4.3 installer wants to run uninterrupted from beginning to end. If we stop it prior to the configuration stage, xwindows related files are not installed and lilo isn't configured. Perhaps one of us will hack the scripts later, when there is time.

For now, Ghost allows us to keep our division of labor and saves us precious time. This is the first time we've officially used proprietary software. I think it will be temporary.


At 10:51 AM 5/12/05 -0500, you wrote:
Tom, you might want to consider using unix 'dd' program instead of ghost
Another option which I've found very helpful is to go to Fry's Electronics
and spend the $45 on a usb-IDE harddrive case.  That you can you use a
boot floppy to boot from the usb device and then simply define a partition
on the target drive and copy all the files over...

I'm curious to know what problems you forsee with this approach (except
the obvious one of PCs not having USB, however that should be less and
less of a problem as time goes on)

        Mike Neuliep

Mike Neuliep, Illiana Internet LLC | Providing solutions in wireless internet,
PO BOX 593, Peotone IL 60468 | security, bandwidth, colocation, education
Cell 708-932-9547 mike@xxxxxxxxxxx | and networking. --Cisco CCNP Certified--

On Thu, 12 May 2005, Tom Brown wrote:

> I am concerned that replacing VL right now may actually delay getting
> FreeBox classes going again. I would prefer that we focus on getting VL 4.3
> to install and configure properly. Once we are building 8 FBs every Tuesday
> night, then we may have the time to look for an alternative distro.
> 1. We have the install problem at least temporarily resolved with Ghost.
> The Ghost standalone version worked in my tests (although slightly
> imperfectly), and the corporate version has worked flawlessly for Jay and
> Goose. Cloning a drive takes 15-20 minutes. Ghost is unfortunately
> proprietary software.
> 2. The longer people wait for a class and a computer, the more likely they
> are to drop out. While we are exploring other distros, FreeBoxes are not
> getting built. Until we can build 8 FBs every week, we will continue to
> postpone classes. The last time we suspended classes for 8 weeks, we lost
> 50% of our waiting list.
> 3. Instructors will need additional time to to revamp the classes to fit a
> new distro. So classes will be postponed again.
> 4. Previous explorations of alternative distros have ended with the same
> conclusions:
> (a) the distros are too large for our hard drives;
> (b) the installers require too much memory;
> (c) to make other distros work we would need to customize the distro,
> essentially creating and maintaining our own distro -- this adds more
> on our plate;
> (d) smaller distros (RULE, puppy, etc.) don't have enough apps and the
> desktop managers are uncommon so we again face creating and
> maintaining our own distro.
> 5. We have already agreed that VL 4.3 provides everything our clients ask
> for except games.
> 6. We have the additional issues of building a new lab and transferring
> refurb/recycle activities to our new warehouse space. These projects
> are falling behind.
> 7. John and Jay have skill at configuring sound cards. They need to teach
> the rest of us. Configuring sound is the biggest stumbling block right
> now.
> Jackie and I are frustrated because we cannot tell new prospects when they
> are likely to take the class and get a computer. I fear that distro
> shopping will just prolong restarting classes. Then we lose more clients.
> Tom
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