Saving Old Fedora Chronicles Hardware
With New Fedora Software
Eric 'Renderking' Fisk August 18th - October 28th, 2009
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"
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
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.
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
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...
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
And what better way to start a new point in your life then learning something
new and different?
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
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:
Feel free to also ask your own questions and offer help and suggestions
to any of the issues presented by our fellow members.