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GNU/Linux Desktop Survival Guide
by Graham Williams

Optima (Vivaldi)

Vivaldi is a basic server with significant disk storage. It is used as a data server for a work group of researchers using a mixture of MS/Windows-2000 and Linux machines.

The base install (8 November 2002) was Debian GNU/Linux 3.0 from the Debian CD-ROM. The NIC (eepro100) was not recognised. The additional IDE CMD680s card were not recognised by kernel 2.4.18.

The main challenge was the fact that the machine had an ASUS P4B533-VM motherboard with on board network interface card. It also had two additional IDE cards (CMD680) for additional disks. This mother board is best supported under kernel 2.4.20 and beyond. The default 2.4.18 installed fine but the CMD680's were not recognised. Kernel 2.4.19 recognised the CMD680's but not the on-board IDE so booting was a problem! Kernel 2.4.20 had not been released so a pre-release was compiled (pre11). That worked just fine.

The on-board video was originally run as vesa because XFree86 4.2.1 does not have a driver for the 82845G AGP. See Festival (104.18) for further details. However, even with newer kernels and XFree86 4.3 (23 March 2004), whenever a users exists from X the screen remains blank forever! Seems to require a reboot

Grub was installed but this resulted in a strange error:

  root (hd0,0)
  Filesystem type is ext2fs, partition type 0x83
  kernel /Vmlinuz-2.4.20-pre11-p4 ro root=
  [Linux-bzImage, setup=0x1400, size=0x10ea0d]

  Error 28: Selected item cannot fit into memory

Reverting to lilo fixed the problem! However, at a later stage (27 June 2003) a new kernel was installed (kernel-image-2.4.21-1-686) and the next reboot stopped at LIL. To recover the system it was booted from a Debian CD using a rescue kernel:

  linux: rescbf24 root=/dev/hda1

Lilo could not be fixed easily so instead grub was again installed, and worked just fine.

Another problem is that on occasions the power up gets no further than checking the first IDE and reporting Primary master disk fails. This is well before Linux even comes in to play and seems to indicate some serious hardware problem.


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