PCLinuxOS Day 12 – Attempting to triple boot my laptop
Last friday my car broke down. This in itself has nothing to do with the series about PCLinuxOS, but it did leave me with a couple of unplanned spare hours. A perfect opportunity to change the operating systems on my laptop. I wanted to upgrade Ubuntu to 7.10, to install Sabayon Linux and to install PCLinuxOS. Yes, this was going to be a triple boot laptop.
Before upgrading Ubuntu to 7.10 I first had to clean up the hard drive. Contrary to my own advice I had installed Ubuntu 7.04 without a separate /home partition. This necessitated copying some folders to an external harddrive. I then designed a new partition table. I kept the hidden restore partition (sda1) in case I want to sell the laptop on a future date. The entire table became this:
sda1 – fat32 (the hidden restore partition)
sda5 – swap
sda6 – /home
sda7 – Ubuntu 7.10
sda8 – Sabayon Linux
sda9 – PCLinuxOS
This layout will give me the least headaches when upgrading in the future or replacing one or all of the distributions, since it wouldn’t change the numbers on swap and /home. I had no plans of sharing /home with Sabayon Linux or PCLinuxOS, but it would be mounted as a /data folder for each of them.
I had quite a few expections for PCLinuxOS on my laptop. The responses to my earlier review pointed out that PCLinuxOS was the only distribution – in the opinions of the contributors – that would recognize multimedia devices, screen resolution and wifi out of the box. I didn’t expect too many problems with my Acer Aspire 3681 WXMi laptop then.
The installation was amazingly fast. I tried using the wifi option with the live cd, but when selecting it, it requested the location of the driver’s .inf file to cooperate with ndiswrapper. Since I completely ditched the Windows installation already, that was a problem. Once the installation was finished the wifi did not work and necessitated the installation of a bcm5x driver. Not a problem, but not out of the box either.
The screen resolution was stuck at 1024 x 768. A bit too low and I knew 1280 x 800 was possible. Under Ubuntu I used 915resolution to fix the problem, but it wasn’t in the PCLinuxOS repositories anymore. Searching through the forums I found the message that 915resolution had been replaced by a x-related package (sorry, lost the name). I installed it, logged out, restarted X and found myself on the command line. Well, another disappointment that I didn’t expect. I know how to fix problems like this, but as I only had a couple of spare hours I decided to drop PCLinuxOS for now and move on.
Installing Sabayon Linux
Sabayon Linux is a favorite, though I haven’t used it as much as I wanted to. I believe Sabayon to be one of the greatest looking distributions around that offers an insight on the bleeding edge of developments. It’s based on Gentoo, but installing it doesn’t require compiling the whole thing from scratch.
I downloaded Sabayon 3.4f and sat down to install it. Sabayon wasn’t fast when I tested it in the past, but the installer has improved. It took somewhat more than an hour and a half to give me a working system with a 10 Gb footprint (meaning a ton of software). Wifi worked out of the box with a very nice resolution. Sound was a no no and I still have to figure out how to get the intel driver up and running.
For Ubuntu I used the custom made Ubuntu 7.10 dvd that I compiled for readers of my book. It includes three desktops (GNOME, KDE and Xfce) and extra software. The wifi problem was solved by incorporating the bcm4x package. This installation took about one hour. Again the sound wasn’t working, but I had the solution to that problem close at hand. The screen resolution defaulted to 1280 x 800 without needing my intervention.
After that it was a matter of tying the Ubuntu GRUB in the MBR to the Sabayon Linux GRUB in it’s own boot sector. Not complicated, but it required some fiddling. I wrapped up the procedure by copying the files back to the /home folder. At the end of the day I didn’t have a triple boot machine, though PCLinuxOS 2007 and Minime still run in virtual machines.