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Julian H. Stacey's Blog 2012-08-28

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A quick look at Linux, by a dedicated [Free]BSD-er

I was having trouble with Adobe Reader (Linux version) & HMRC CT600 running on FreeBSD using ABI/emulation, so I tried to install a native Linux partition for test & comparison.

Target Host: Acer Aspire 5741

Seems to be some problem of faint background graphics during install, all 3 Linuxes seem to suffer it. I suspect this is a laptop/ bios problem not Linux.

  • FreeBSD fdisk pre Linux:

    ******* Working on device /dev/ad4 *******
    parameters extracted from in-core disklabel are:
    cylinders=232581 heads=16 sectors/track=63 (1008 blks/cyl)
    Figures below won't work with BIOS for partitions not in cyl 1
    parameters to be used for BIOS calculations are:
    cylinders=232581 heads=16 sectors/track=63 (1008 blks/cyl)
    Media sector size is 512
    Warning: BIOS sector numbering starts with sector 1
    Information from DOS bootblock is:
    The data for partition 1 is:
    sysid 165 (0xa5),(FreeBSD/NetBSD/386BSD)
        start 63, size 20479473 (9999 Meg), flag 0
        beg: cyl 0/ head 1/ sector 1;
        end: cyl 1023/ head 15/ sector 63
    The data for partition 2 is:
    sysid 165 (0xa5),(FreeBSD/NetBSD/386BSD)
        start 20479536, size 16381890 (7998 Meg), flag 80 (active)
        beg: cyl 1023/ head 255/ sector 63;
        end: cyl 1023/ head 13/ sector 63
    The data for partition 3 is:
    sysid 165 (0xa5),(FreeBSD/NetBSD/386BSD)
        start 36861426, size 172951758 (84449 Meg), flag 0
        beg: cyl 1023/ head 255/ sector 63;
        end: cyl 1023/ head 15/ sector 63
    The data for partition 4 is:
    sysid 0 (0000),(unused)
        start 209813184, size 24628464 (12025 Meg), flag 0
    I calculated values to set partition 4 with dc:
        36861426  172951758 + p 209813184
        234441648 209813184 - p  24628464
  • 1st try: ubuntu-12.04-desktop-amd64.iso

    Screen goes dark for Ages installing. Assumed it had crashed, walked off, half hour later it had something on screen
    It found wireless LAN
    It configured X, found & used camera, nice feature :-)
    Twice Installed, & failed to reboot.
    FreeBSD fdisk after:
    The data for partition 4 is:
    sysid 5 (0x05),(Extended DOS)   1st try, Ubuntu self selecting where it would go.
    sysid 131 (0x83),(Linux native) 2nd try, using ubuntu partition editor & selecting primary
        131 = Ext4, show by: dd if=/dev/ad4s4 of=/tmp/t count=40 ; file /tmp/t
        start 209813502, size 24627202 (12025 Meg), flag 0      1st try
                    dc 209813502 209813184 - p 318      = Extra offset before start.
                    dc  24628464  24627202 - p 1262     = Reduced size.
        start 209813504, size 24627200 (12025 Meg), flag 0      2nd try
  • 2nd Try: KNOPPIX_V7.0.4CD-2012-08-20-EN.iso

    Gave more info than ubuntu what it was up to, which made me happier. Went dark a long time. A very faint but large Knoppix graphic image in middle. Installed, failed to boot
  • 3rd try: debian-6.0.5-amd64-CD-1.iso

    Yet more info than Knoppix I recall, made me happier still. More of a traditional question answer session, did I want this or that.
    It noticed I had 3 UFS partitions
    However, when I selected Yes to first optional, (web server I think), It rushed off to do that, leaving me waiting ages for next question. So they haven't learnt the approach FreeBSD has had for many years now, of noting all the bits the user wants, keep asking user more questions with no waiting, then when all collected, only then go in to a big install & l;et user wander off.

    Installed failed to boot. However, fair enough, it did previously demand to install GRUB somewhere, which I didn't let it, cos afraid it would trash my other 3 Bsd partitions, after it claimed (approx, but in my words) ~Don't see any other OSs, so should be safe to install Grub~.
    I then tried to tell it to install Grub to hd(0,4) but that was rejected (probably as already taken for Linux)
    It then warned I'd have to hand boot with

    /vmlinuz /dev/sda5 root=/dev/sda5
    FreeBSD fdisk after shows:
    The data for partition 4 is:
    sysid 5 (0x05),(Extended DOS)
        start 209813502, size 24627202 (12025 Meg), flag 0
            beg: cyl 1023/ head 254/ sector 63;
            end: cyl 1023/ head 254/ sector 63
  • 4th try: ubuntu-12.04-desktop-amd64.iso on external USB Disk

    • The external video is Useless, just some junk blurry purple/scarlet graphics, cos the internal wide LCD screen is in some mode the external cant cope with.
    • I trashed my internal MBR :-( It told me I could retract changes later, but I couldnt.
    • External 80G USB disk boots.
    • How do I become root to halt ? It only asked me for 1 user name & password when I installed, its not a null password, & doesnt want user jhs's passwd & after Ctl Alt F3i
      Sigh - Answer: sudo su I temporarily forgot how far Linux lovers are removed from real Unix.
    • vi /etc/group shows jhs not in group root
    • How to escape to an xterm : Click on top icon
    • After screen times out in 24x7 mode, then touching Space, when it comes back, only the external video is on, not the LCD screen ! Some problem with X, as Alt F7 switches to graphics, then external video works too.
    • The moused on trackpad on laptop dies after screen timeout, the F7 F1 switch does not rescue it, killing process & restartingdoes not fix it. I plugged in a USB trackball.
    • Firefox is crippled, you need to know to push Alt to get top bar so you can edit preferences.
    • How to fix the BSD MBR on internal disk ? their fdisk seems a bit strange, man fdisk mentions cfdisk sfdisk parted. I booted a BSD USB stick to repair my BSD MBR.

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