Every year or so I try to install Linux on a machine that I’m considering almost a “throw-away.”

The last time it was on an Asus EEEpc. That didn’t work very well. Most of the hardware wasn’t recognized at all and I was left with a computer that couldn’t really talk to the outside world. Not even the WiFi would work.

I’m sure if I was persistent enough I would be able to get it to work. But at this point I’m not as much for simply dicking around with a computer to get it to nominally work.

I booted into Windows 7 Enterprise with my BizSpark VLK and presto: things worked. I did have to install a few drivers to get the Intel Atom power save features to work but it was all very straightforward.

I did it again yesterday with a Dell D830. I installed Ubuntu on it and here’s what my experience was — and it’s not good.

When I first installed it and logged in it started to do an update. Not uncommon since the bits are fairly static once the ISO gets released. No problem. Until something had an unrecoverable error installing something or other. Sheesh.

Ok. I don’t have a lot invested in this install. Let’s do it again. This time it installed OK and the update worked. When restarting it dropped to console with errors. WTF? I know enough about Linux to be able to scroll the hard console and sure enough when it ejected the install CD it had something that was still trying to access it. The prompt to “Press Enter” scrolled off with all the errors.

This isn’t something I would give to my mom. This isn’t something I would recommend to any non-technical person. I guess if someone did all the work and had a good working install that would be acceptable. Certainly for a server Linux quite rocks.

But back to the install. I pressed enter and it rebooted and I was able to log on.

Then I suspended it. It’s a laptop after all and it’ll spend a good deal of time not really on.

It suspended fine it seemed. But it wouldn’t wake up. WTF?

Like I said before. I don’t want to spend an unbounded amount of time making a machine work. If I really tried I’m sure I could make it work. Hell, I have the source. I can hack the damn thing to work.

But then I installed Windows 7 and things just seem to work. Sure I had to babysit it installing SP1 and a raft of updates. So be it. I didn’t have to read README files or ponder why it wasn’t waking up from sleep.

I’m not a Windows fan-boy… if anything I get annoyed by it. But Win7 doesn’t suck. More than that it does seem to work on this old laptop.

Maybe I’ll try again in a year or so. I really do want it to work… but I don’t want to spend all week getting it to work.

This machine (I happen to be typing on it right now) will live down in the basement to provide entertainment while I’m loading ammo or cleaning guns or what-have-you. It’s a reference. It’s a interface to Google docs that holds my load data spreadsheet.

Every once in a while it might come upstairs out of exile if I need a non-virtual Windows machine.  :-)