Sunday, November 19, 2006

My first (bad) Ubuntu experience, long live SuSE

SuSE 9.1 is no longer supported so it was time to update my home firewall. SuSE has been my choice since its 6.0 version many year ago. But now that there are so many hallelujah stories on Ubuntu, I thought lets give it a try. The installation went well but as soon as it was prime time the computer simply rebooted right after grub had loaded the kernel and the initial ramdisk. No error message or anything else to shed some light on the matter, just a friendly beep and the process started all over. I tried the 6.06 and the 6.10 versions, with the same results. The weird thing is, the hardware is not even that old (its an AMD-K6 at 400MHz) and has more than enough memory (almost 400Mb) and harddisk space (6 and 30 Gb).

After that I went through hell to get the firewall running again. My steps included:
- installing an ancient SuSE 7.0 from CD
- figuring out how to get that SuSE 10.0 installation DVD copy I accidentally still had on my MP3 player to the firewall's second harddisk
- trying to update SuSE 7.0 to 10.0 (it refused)
- figuring out how to make a SuSE 10 installation boot CD (see previous post)
- installing SuSE 10.0 from harddisk

Weirdly enough the hardest step was to copy the SuSE 10.0 installation files to the firewall's harddisk. First I tried WarFTP to serve it from my Windows machine. However, I kept getting access denied errors (configuring WarFTP is a science), and the ftp program is not really suitable for recursive retrieval. I finally succeeded by using the smbclient program.

Perhaps I'll try Ubuntu again when SuSE 10.0 is no longer supported. Unfortunately this is already next summer, sigh.

Update 2006-11-22: In my hurry to write this article I made a small mistake: my previous SuSE version was 9.2 and its support has been discontinued as of today. SuSE 10.0 is good to go until October 2007. See also SuSE lifetimes.


  1. I have installed different versions of Ubuntu without much pain. I do however recall a situation quite similar to what you're explaining... I managed to work around it by using a network installer:

    Maybe something to try next summer ;)

  2. I don't know what went wrong for you but I too have installed multiple versions of Ubuntu with only minor problems, mostly due to exotic hardware (it was a bit of an adventure to get quad-screens set up back home :)

    I absolutely love Ubuntu (coming originally from Debian and even erlier from SuSe - yes, I am talking 5.x :) and I am actually writing this from my brand new finalist laptop running all on Ubuntu. No Microsoft products installed.

    I have to give the new SuSe kudos for the brilliant new theme on the Desktop and they DO have nice support. For everything else, especially the community: Ubuntu all the way!

    Btw: I wonder why the hardware for your firewall is so heavy. 400 MB ram? I hope that is because you run some _very_ heavy apps on it as well ... then again, since it is the firewall probably not!
    I run a complete linux distro very conveniently on a hacked netgear wireless router and it is a smooth as a new chevy.
    Maybe you should reconsider your setup if it gives you a headache? The netgear comes complete for 50 Euros - no strings attached...

  3. And, the netgear device will probably use less power as well... which makes it a much cheaper solution.

    Saying this: I have been using ubuntu on different laptops day after day for the past 2 year (after switching from Debian) and recently decided to order a macbook pro. Problems with wireless, unsupported printers, hard to manage multiscreen setups, bad hibernation support, unchecked updates and the likes are part of the why... sometimes it just has to work!