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Saving Old Fedora Chronicles Hardware
With New Fedora Software

Eric 'Renderking' Fisk August 18th - October 28th, 2009 Bookmark and Share

The Fedora Chronicles RantsThis is my third time trying to write this rant... on two machines using four different HTML editors, on three different operating systems. I'm excited and scared at the same time about computing again. And that's a good thing. That's the conclusion to this adventure, but the beginning of my rant.

And imagine, this all started thanks to the words "pterasaurs" and "postosuchus."

My sons have been demanding more and more time on my computer. This week they've discovered Google to look up subjects like "pterasaurs" - the subgroup of dinosaurs that pterodactyl belongs to. They also wanted to know if there really is a dinosaur called "Sukasuchus" or if we're pronouncing it wrong. They've been using YouTube to watch "Walking With Dinosaurs" one day and "Ghostbusters" the next. This has been really great because they've been interacting with media, rather then just passively watch their one movie a day and then go back to Legos. They're actively searching out information, asking questions using a strict word filter and my more then casual monitoring.

But suddenly there's a lot less time for me to do things on The Fedora Chronicles. This  is a one computer household... or is it?

Discontinued Operating System

Gateway LogoDown in the basement, directly under my desk, is a shelf with every thing I've bought in the past related to computing. Cables, obsolete media, software that's now incompatible with the operating system I'm using now. In another corner are three computers from my past. A Gateway Pentium Pro 266mHz machine with 100 Megs of memory (with no monitor) and a Gateway Pentium 3 600mHz Dual Processor with 1 gig of memory that's was running Windows2000. Then there's a PC using an AMD processor that ran for a little while but we stopped using it because of a weird plastic smell coming out of the back.

The thought occurred to me that I should try loading my HTML editor on the Win2K machine. Since this had been in the basement for years, disconnected to the internet, I had to load some of the operating system updates. None of them could be easily found on the Microsoft website.

Pentium III LogoI should also add that I had to take an hour or two just to get this server back on the internet using a power drill, a shop-vac, and a long CAT5 network cable. All the while I'm thinking about my life and the past 15 years of computing. I was wondering what life would have been like if I started The Fedora Chronicles years earlier. I was imaging what my world would have been like today if I learned HTML years before, if I worked harder with some people while never getting involved with other websites.

I was sentimental for an earlier time in my life where there seemed to be more opportunities, more doors open. The possibilities back then were endless. I turned right when I should have turned left. What if I used this computer back in the day to also manage this website in a much earlier incarnation. Could I still do that now, at least part time when my children were using the newer machine up stairs, in a room that's becoming less and less my office?

All these thoughts are running in my head while I'm trying to go on-line and play "Catch-Up" with the system's programming and updates...

After a few more hours of trying to update everything from the OS to Internet Explorer (you need the latest Service Pack and IE Browser to properly run Microsoft's FrontPage or Expressions ...) I realized that it was hopeless. This machine's time came and went, and I was depressed since I wondered that maybe I didn't get enough use out of it...

The Fedora Chronicles Win2K WindowsThis is where I could rant for paragraphs about the concept of "discontinued operating systems" and the frustrations associated with those words. Win2K was the first OS that I had ever purchased that didn't come preloaded on a computer. I had this weird sentimental attachment to it because of the hours I had spent trying to get work done. The more hours that passed and the updates and upgrades failed, the more it seemed clear that the days of running any programs I use on "Win2K" were over.

I don't even think I could donate this to a local school or library because of the built-in obsolescence. There are fewer and fewer newer programs you can buy today will run on a machine that was state of the art only yesterday. There are some third-party web development tools? But how well can they run on this dinosaur and it's OS?

That was all day Tuesday into Tuesday night... and I got less done. I didn't get this thing running what I needed. What am I going to do with this machine, since it can't even run the basic programs that I'm using for building web pages?

How am I even going to get rid of it?

Wednesday, A New Beginning...

It's rare that new beginnings start on a Wednesday.

I can't say too much about this because I'm saving it for another rant ("Fifty Four Weeks") but by mid-afternoon we were told that we're being given a new beginning. That our lives could either pick-up where we left off before it was interrupted, or we can have a new start. This was the point in our lives where we had to turn the page. With out elaborating, we worked so hard just go back to "normal." Or to just find a new "normal" because of one life altering event.

My wife and I had a feeling of euphoria. That this was a different kind of milestone, like those that come only a few times in a life-time. This was the feeling that's associated with weddings, births, graduations. But it was also like something else, like the feeling one gets when they move into a new house or start a new job. But the house is still the same and we have the same occupations.

Our lives are not back to normal, though. Not normal that existed before, but a new normal. "I think it's a new, better normal," my wife said.

While my wife and I were celebrating (a very quiet, subdued celebration) while I was talking and thinking about one last chance for the old Computer that's sitting in the basement. I was thinking about downloading an open source Operating System. What more could I lose besides a couple of more hours?

And what better way to start a new point in your life then learning something new and different?

The Fedora Chronicles: Fedora 11Between Thursday and Friday, I learned where to find the latest version of "Fedora," how to download it, burn an "image" onto a CD-ROM, change the BIOS to boot from the CD-ROM drive, and how to find the patience to let the install just do it's job and ignore some "Buffer I/O error" messages.

If you don't know what any of these things mean, don't worry - they're not as complicated they sound.

I don't know much about Linux operating systems. Right now I'm in the process of learning how to install software by writing command codes in a terminal window. I know for sure that I don't know what I'm doing as I'm following instructions because of the error codes. There's a lot of jargon that I don't understand because it's the first I've heard of these technical terms.

I think I figured out that there are some downloads that come with an installer program, some that don't. Maybe there's suffix or prefix that indicates whether the programs will self-install or not. I don't know. I'm still looking for answers.

But I do know that this OS has brought new life to a machine that was apparently "old" and obsolete since Win2K was deemed "Discontinued" by it's maker much like Dr. Frankenstein discarding his creature before moving on to the next experiment, much to his own peril. I'm thinking about all the other computers that I know that are out there that are sitting in people's basements or garages that are only a couple of years old that are even newer then the Pentium 3 machine which is now running Fedora 11.

Because of the way Microsoft uses "Built-In Obsolescence" I'm not the same gung-ho customer that I used to be.

I'm thinking about all the other people out there who pay good money over and over again to get "The Latest" just to be able to do things like everyone else and having to start the process over again each time a new operating system is released or the one they're using is discontinued. Installing Fedora 11 is a great (if not the best, or only) way I know to bring new life into these older computers and get more use out of them. To me this is a really exciting idea...

Fedora 11 and the entire Linux Open Source movement is not about bringing old computers back to life, but about a new way of doing things. It's about taking away the built in restraints of big corporations and being set free. Linux and Fedora11 is about doing a lot more while using less resources so that the computer will be freed to do applications. Because of this new "smaller footprint" approach, older computers can do more.

On this other machine, the only thing that's holding me back is me. There's nothing I can't do, I just haven't found a way to do those things yet.

I'm reminded of when I first starting using computers. I've returned to the days of being just a little intimidated by what Jason Cousineau - Cousi on our forums - calls "The Magic Box" syndrome. What's going on inside is now a mystery to me, I'm not sure how to do much since I've been using Fedora11 for less then Ninety Six hours. I'm not sure why it does what it does... but that's OK. It reminds me of when I was first learning to master MS-DOS in the early 1990's and Windows95 and Windows98 after that.

I'm scared. I've always been afraid of change, but this is a good kind of change. This is a good kind of scared, seat of your pants while learning more in a few days then I have in months. This is a new and exciting challenge, reminding me of when I was younger and the possiblities were endless. And isn't that what working on computers in specific and life in general is about? Learning exciting things?

 I get it now, I get why there are so many "Linux" converts.

If you want to follow my progress into the World of Fedora/Linux Operating Systems, Open Source programs then feel free to check out our new table on The Electric Speakeasy: "Tech Support"

Feel free to also ask your own questions and offer help and suggestions to any of the issues presented by our fellow members.  Bookmark and Share