Installing Linux on my girfriend’s laptop: an overview

Jen’s off to see Shopaholic with her sisters, and left me alone with her laptop. Moo hoo ha ha.

I now have a couple of hours to free some room on her hard disk for a Linux partition, and install Arch on it. At this time, I’m still not decided if I’ll put KDE or GNOME on it. We’ll see. My plan  is to keep updating this post while I’m working, so if you’re reading this, don’t forget to come back later to read about Jen’s reaction when she finds out I changed her life with open source/corrupted all her data beyond repair because I did something stupid/made the laptop explode and took the whole of Belgium with it. We’ll see.

  • First of all I have to create a new partition. She hasn’t much room left on this hard drive, so 5GB will have to do. There are two NTFS partitions on the HD, I’ll have to shrink the second. I’m a little bit worried because trying a disk defragment threw an error (stupid XP), and no fixes I found on the net actually fixed the problem.
    I could use the Arch LiveCD to re-partition the drive, but I find gparted is simply easier, so I’ll use a Linux Mint 6.0 LiveCd for this.
  • I hate Vista. I’m typing this from the laptop of Jen’s sister (Jen’s laptop is reformatting the HD and I don’t want to much strain on it), and just opening the Network Center took a whole minute. Then, I typed an entire paragraph down, clicked “Update post”, only to find out nothing happened and everything I wrote is lost. At first glance, seems like a Flash problem in Firefox…everytime I use Vista I find more reasons not to. The whole thing is slow as molasses.
    Anyway, I went about reformatting Jen’s HD as safely as I could: After Linux Mint had booted up, I moved/resized both partitions, created two new ones, completely ignored the safety-warning yelling at me I should do a backup, and hit Enter. Fingers crossed.
  • Apparently, the move/resize of the second partition will take another two hours. Ah well, I have time, and my boy is watching Who Framed Roger Rabbit? I think I’ll join him.
  • Partitioning has finished. I booted up Windows to look around, and it looks like nothing went wrong. In the meantime, internet connection went down, so I checked the modem. Instead of one modem, I found four devices, all with lights flickering in every colour imaginable. Me being the genius that I am, I switched them all off and then turned them back on. To my horror, the laptops couldn’t even connect to the wireless network after that. With visions of parents in law burning me at the stake, I checked everything again. Seems like a network cable had come loose, I plugged it back in. Nothing happened. I saw another loose network cable and plugged that one in. Nothing happened. I really started panicking at that time. Finally, I worked out that both cables were in fact the ends of the same cable, and plugged one in the switch, the other in the access point. After that, the internet was back, and the pizza my mother in law had bought for me was burned to a crisp. I suck.
  • Arch is installing now. I hope the wireless connection doesn’t give me too much trouble.
  • Arch is installed, configured and updated. Configuring wireless was no trouble at all, using the excellent Beginner’s Guide at the Archlinux Wiki. However, xorg.conf has me stumped at the moment. There’s an intel driver in that laptop somewhere, which means I can’t use nvidia-xconfig like I always do on my PC, which means that so far X refuses to boot. I’m trying now to copy and use the xorg.conf of the Mint LiveCD.
  • That didn’t work. Neither did using the xorg.conf of the PCLinuxOS LiveCD (but it did point me in the direction of the right touchpad driver). In the end, I noticed X started if I ran xorgcgf as root, so last night I let the laptop download and install kdemod-complete. That works, and looks great.
    Things still to do: Install some kind of Qt networkmanager (I’d really like to try out the plasmoid), make the fonts somewhat less blurry, and installing/configuring some software.
  • The kNetworkmanager plasmoid is in testing, but I don’t want to enable that repository, so in the end I decided to install wicd, and gtk-qt-engine to make it look good. Works like a charm. Fonts are being worked on now.
  • Fonts are okay, I installed the “-lcd” packages. I tweaked the gtk looks, by installing the oxygen icons and a ported oxygen theme, which improved the Firefox scrollbars.

I could go on and on like this, because there’s still some tweaking and configuring to be done, but the main things are installed and are working just fine. She already used it a couple of times, telling me she didn’t notice the difference with Windows.

I guess that’s a good thing 😉



4 Responses to Installing Linux on my girfriend’s laptop: an overview

  1. Kellen says:

    I did a move and resize of a very large partition and it took FOREVER! haha

    As far as wireless goes I use wicd, but I don’t know if that’s QT 4. I’m thinking it’s not.

    What’s this plasmoid network manager you speak of?

  2. […] Installing Linux on my girfriend’s laptop: an overview I could go on and on like this, because there’s still some tweaking and configuring to be done, but the main things are installed and are working just fine. She already used it a couple of times, telling me she didn’t notice the difference with Windows. […]

  3. I’ve installed Linux for my mum, my mother in law, three aunts, 3 sister in laws, 4 nieces, my 80 yr old neighbour, an ex-girlfriend and oh yes, the wife. So you can say ‘been there, done that’ w/ the ladies and whenever I gave/showed KDE-Gnome-XCFE, KDE would win out about three quarter of the time.

    I now dont even bother.
    For a KDE3.5.1 experience, I have to recommend PCLinuxOS2009 which was released this week and for the best KDE4.2, I would recommend Mandriva2009.

    I love the lightweight feel and flexibility of Arch, just like I like Lenny and Gentoo. I’m just not sure I’d put my girlfriend on any of them.

    My mum never used a computer before her laptop and she knows how to add games (she eventually added them ALL from the repositories!!) and I know at least 5-6 other women running Linux based netbooks.
    Linux is easy enough for your mom, girlfriend and/or wife and grandmother. I wouldnt have said that 3 years ago.

    Agree on wicd, I prefer it too.

  4. […] de mi van Celettu barátunkkal? Letapadt az XP-nél. Ááá, dehogy. Miközben megfertőzte barátnője gépét is az Arch Linuxal, sorra tesztelgeti a disztrókat (Arch, PCLinuxOS, Xubuntu, Debian). Februárba ezt írta: […]

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