Computers. Grr.

Published on 13 October 2002 in

Weekends are supposed to be relaxing. Or at least, so I am told. A chance

to unwind after another busy week. If only it always was.

There has actually been so much that I could rant about in these hallowed

web pages. The National Film Theatre seeming to think their audience are

mindreaders could be one. The rain is another. The fact that the Shakespear’s

Head (a Wetherspoons pub) decided it was going to close the kitchen at 8:55 on

a Saturday night when I was starving could also be in there.

They pail into insignificance towards the hassle my computer has given


Computer User.

I’m not what you might call a newbie when it comes to the old computer –

Dragon 32, ZX Spectrum Plus, Atari STE and a few PCs behind me. I’ve also ran

Linux for a fair few years.

My first installation didn’t go very well (my own stupidity meant I trashed

Windows 3.1) but nowadays I use Linux pretty much exclusively. I do have

Windows 98 installed as well, but hardly use it.

Earlier this year I got a HP Notebook. It’s very nice and we now have a

little network of two PCs in the flat. So that’s good.

I’m not an expert, but I can cope.

Don’t get me on about Red Hat 7!

My distro of choice is Mandrake – has been ever since Red Hat screwed up

Red Hat 7. I normally like it because it makes things very easy when you want

it to be easy, but also lets you get under the bonnet and have a good play

when you feel the need.

For various reasons my Mandrake 8.2 setup wasn’t working properly – I

managed to screw it up tinkering and the printer didn’t work anymore and as

for CD burning… Don’t ask.

So I decided to upgrade to Mandrake 9.0.

It’s easy Mmmm-kay!

Installing Mandrake is a doddle. Reinstalling from scratch and moving to

9.0 held no fears.

Everything seemed to go fine. The anti-aliased fonts on GNOME apps looked a

bit odd but it was curable.

There was just one fatal flaw. I couldn’t get networking to work.

Oh why do you taunt me so?

My networking requirements are pretty simple. I have one notebook PC and

one main machine. I have a modem. They all need to work. Simple. Did it in 15

minutes in Mandrake 8.2 using their nice little config util.

Could I get it to work on Mandrake 9? Not on your nelly. I’d get the LAN to

work fine but everytime I tried to get to the internet, domain names refused

to work.

So then I’d get domain names to work on the internet, but lo, networking

stopped working and the notebook PC refused to talk.

You spin me right round baby, right round like a record baby, right round

right round..

And lo, I went spinning round in circles for most of Saturday and Sunday.

To be honest it drove me to the edge of insanity.

Something to do with the DNS server seemed to be the answer which was great

as there wasn’t a DNS server installed on my PC. But could I get it to accept

this and use my ISP’s when necessary? No chance.

Around 5pm this evening I got fed up, and downgraded. 8.2 had networking

sorted correctly in a matter of moments and now everything works. The only

difference is that I didn’t specify a ‘gateway’ on 8.2 but had to on 9 because

it insisted. Although I’m not even sure what a gateway is…


Some would hold this up and say Linux isn’t ready for the home user. Well a

home user with a network tends to have a clue what they’re doing anyway. But

the trial and torment did rather annoy me. It’s not particularly the best way

to spend your weekend being stressed about two computers not talking to each


It made the half hour and two reboots to get Windows 98 to recognise a

(Microsoft brand) USB mouse look like a mere pinprick.