Tiny Core Linux.

I have an old Gateway laptop computer that I use to play around with Linux. It bears a sticker proclaiming its design for Windows XP, so the laptop is quite old but still in good shape. I wanted to find a minimal Linux distribution for it that was light on its resources yet still functioned like a full-blown desktop computer.

Bodhi Linux was the first flavor I used and was one of the few distributions I found that supported my wireless card right out of the box, so it didn’t take me long to get it up and running. I was able to browse the web, check my e-mail, and have a little fun with some games.

A few years later I decided to upgrade to a newer version of Bodhi and noticed to my dismay that it no longer saw my wireless card. Downgrading back to the older version proved futile as the servers for downloading the software I needed were no longer reachable. It was time to resume my search for different lightweight flavor of Linux.

Xubuntu has a very nice look but it didn’t see my wireless card, so I used my Ethernet connection to install the system updates in hopes of resolving this issue. Upon rebooting, it crashed to recovery mode, which was as far I got before giving it the boot.

Then I found Tiny Core Linux, which is truly Linux at its bare minimum. I downloaded the ISO image which is a surprisingly small 110 megabytes. Installation on my laptop was extremely swift and I now have a nice, fast-loading system that supports wireless networking with relative ease. I had no problem finding and installing my favorite programs, including Firefox, Thunderbird and DOSBox.

For the first time in my years of using Linux, I have had to install a program by building it from its source code. I needed help doing this and got that help from the Tiny Core Linux chat room on IRC. After some guidance in the right direction, I was able to install KeePassX from compiling its source code. That alone made using Linux all the more rewarding. You just can’t get this feeling from installing programs in Windows.

AT&T vs. Linux, Round one.

At work today I was working with a customer who was having difficulty connecting to the Internet from their desktop computer. Every time they tried going to a web site, they were re-directed to the AT&T High-Speed Installation page, the first page that comes up after setting a new DSL modem. This page guides new users through the process of creating their user accounts and then configures the modem with their logon information. For the customer to keep reaching this page sounded like their modem just needed to be re-configured with their member ID and network password. But when the customer tried entering that information at the Installation page, they got some message about their operating system not being supported. Further probing revealed that operating system to be Linux. I tried to have the customer access their modem’s interface through their web browser but they still got that same Installation page. It didn’t look good.

Fortunately the customer had an iPad handy, and she used that to connect to the Installation page and enter their existing account information. Afterwards the modem was configured accordingly and they were back in business.

During the course of troubleshooting, I did some research about the relationship between AT&T and Linux, and I came across this page which bears an eerie resemblance to the issue at hand. In fact, I found myself making the same references to having a Windows computer handy to configure the modem.

Still, I can’t help but wonder what AT&T has against Linux. It may be too busy trying accommodate Microsoft and Apple to have any time to provide support to alternate operating systems such as Linux. Or maybe it doesn’t want to, for reasons unclear. Still, I sense that Linux is gaining popularity and it’s only going to be a matter of time before it finally catches up to the competition. Maybe then these telecommunication giants will finally take notice and reach the same conclusion that the rest of us have known all along, that Linux is here to stay.