Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Running Linux on a Gateway M685 - the adventure continues

As noted in a prior post I started to install Linux on a brand-new Gateway M685 notebook. I tried SuSE 10, then tried Ubuntu Dapper Drake (Alpha 6). What I neglected to mention was that I even tried Fedora Core 5. FC5 had serious problems with the display. After booting, the display came up completely garbled. And this was in its simplest, default GUI installer. So far the best Linux experience has been with Dapper Drake. I now hold a very high opinion of its capabilities. Booting with the display set to the correct resolution and with excellent screen performance was amazing, and the M685 was usable enough that I could use Ubuntu to look around and even save what I found onto a plugged-in thumb drive.

What I neglected to mention earlier is the SATA chip on the M685. Windows shows it as an Intel 82801GBM SATA AHCI Controller. I looked at Ubuntu's dmesg output. Although it looks like the Ubuntu kernel (2.6.15) attempted to identify SATA devices, it failed to find any hard drives. So now I need to rummage through the latest kernel (2.6.16) and check if it supports this chip. Another avenue might be to check SuSE 10.1 Beta 9. It was, after all, SuSE 10 Beta 3 that I got to install and work on my first Gateway.

In the past I'd be sorely tempted vent my frustration at the various failures to install Linux out of the box on brand-new hardware. But I've moved well beyond that. I'm just going to document my experiences and let the facts speak for themselves. Linux apologists will flame me for being incompetent, while Windows apologists will point to this as yet another reason not to bother with Linux; just more noise to drown out the signal. I'm going to report this on Ubuntu's Bugzilla and see what kind of response I get there.

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