Installing OpenSUSE 10.3 onto a HP nc4010

I installed OpenSUSE 10.3 onto a HP nc4010, and it went smooth. I am still working out the problems (here and there) as well as creating a number of new problems as I keep piling on the software (I always do that….)

This time I downloaded Billix and expanded it to cover installs of OpenSUSE 10.3, OpenSUSE 11.0, and Fedora 9. Billix is not actually a Linux distribution; it is a collection of distributions that are installable from the USB stick or CDROM (as well as utilities such as chntpw, memtest+, and Darik’s Boot and Nuke).

The biggest problem with installation so far seems to be that the grub installers I’ve seen so far cannot cope with the situation that Billix presents:

  • The boot disk (install disk) is the first in the chain (i.e., hd0).
  • The operating system is being installed on the second disk (i.e., hd1).
  • The startup disk (after installation) will be what is hd1 during installation, but will become hd0 on startup.

The end result is that the operating system install does almost everything just right but then installs grub onto the USB stick, and configures it to boot the hard disk. Thus, if you boot normally, the process halts mysteriously with no message; if you boot with the USB stick in place (booting from USB), then the USB stick will boot the operating system located on the hard drive.

Recovering both Billix and the native operating system are easy enough. To recover Billix, just redo the master boot record initialization process:

  • Install the MBR: install-mbr -p1 /dev/usbstick
  • Reactivate and reinstall syslinux: syslinux -s /dev/usbstick1

Note that install-mbr requires the disk device (such as /dev/sdb) whereas syslinux requires the relevant partition (such as /dev/sdb1).

Once the disk is properly configured, it is just a matter of finishing the install process. The install process reboots to finish, and it is all quite straightforward. Installing OpenSUSE is a breeze, and the amount of work that has gone into making a very easy-to-use desktop Linux is obvious from start to finish.

Even the bluetooth daemon, which caused problems after hibernation under Kubuntu, had absolutely no problems in OpenSUSE. Even turning the device on and off using the button on the laptop worked beautifully.

One thing that stood out was that there is no way to pair a bluetooth device. Nope. But let me explain…. If you try to pair a device, there is no way to do it. If you try to use your bluetooth device (copy files to it, etc.) then the system will ask you to pair the device at that time. I would have prefered both options, but oh well.

The experience in using OpenSUSE has been a delight; everything has been designed to present you with the best possible Linux experience possible. The choice of task bar applications on startup, the configuration of the desktop, the entire experience shows an attention to detail that many distributions do not have.

As a system administrator, you should try Billix. As a user, you should try OpenSUSE. Simple, eh?

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