I was always a Linux aspirant. Actually my fascination towards it started when one of seniors at college gave me a copy of Redhat Linux 9. I think it was back in 2002,way before the dawn of Fedora. After that I tried many flavours to various degrees of satisfaction and success, but never evolved into hardcore user. Though in my heart I wanted to be one, the factors that worked against it were the truth that neither I was given the brain of a geek, nor the phenomenon called internet which equipped the noobies like me to evolve into one. I was using a P3 desktop with a win modem back then about which I sadly came to know after long sleepless nights reading resources from various Linux help sites . Also I never understood the man pages. I still find it hard, but back then I was pathetic. So I usually uninstalled them after the initial phase of fascination worn out.
The distro which holds the record for most consecutive days in my system is OpenSuse 10.2 which clocked an amazing 2 and a half months. The experience was good. When this happened, I had already moved from my beatup P3 to a brand new Acer Aspire 3680 laptop, which is fast reaching it’s doomsday but still enjoys the privileges of employment. Though the processor degraded to Celeron from P3 it’s speed improved. So did the primary memory.
Anyway my experience with OpenSUSE was good. It automatically identified all the drivers which was indeed great relief. SUSE also showed great reliability and I was also able to connect it to net. But I couldn’t utilise it to upgrade my Linux gyan as I never had internet connection at home and the office internet wasn’t meant for personal use(The lamer always has excuses). So after remaining in my system idly for some time It had to make way for the higher demand of disk space. So I unistalled it and never ever thought of going back to it, until recently.
Now a days I am home doing nothing but refreshing my computer fundas. I had quit my job and is seriously preparing for GATE 2010. Most of the time I am in front of huge stack of books or video lectures. Wherever I look I see computer stalwarts only these days. And mostly it’s during these kind of times I go crazy and start believing that I am not meant to be a low life and I am destined to do big things in the field of computing. That”s when I erase Windows and power up my PC with Linux. This time I was not fully on high. I decided I give Linux one more chance. So I made some space in computer and looked around for some distros.
My Suse DVD was with me, but sadly my laptop decide not to recognize it. Now a days it won’t recognize most of the DVDs. Even if the disk has the smallest of scratches, the drive would start to cough and sneeze. I searched deeper in my cupboard. Out came Ubuntu (Breezy Badger) and Fedora 2 (Wow, it awoke pleasent memories. The cover still featured the “Future is Open” slogan penned down by my friend).
I have this big thing with me. If the nerds preferred a way I too would follow it even though I am a noob and there are other ways a noob should follow before aping the masters. So most of the time my choice of the distro depended on the opinions of the who is who of the linux community. So I thought a Debian based distro should be a wise man’s choice and opted for Ubuntu. But the badger crashed on me with a broken X Windows.
Though the true giants preferred the console, I was realistic about my ability and decide this is not going to work for me and I needed a GUI. Left with no other choice I loaded the Fedora. It was functional, but the resolution sucked. It reminded me of the XP before the drivers were loaded. But it was working so I was happy it would serve my purpose. The next step was getting internet connection. This time I was pretty determined to hook my linux to the net and hack around with it and ain something out of it.I am using the wireless USB contraption from BSNL. ZTE is the manufacturer and the box only contained drivers and manual for Windows. So it meant I’m left in a paradox. I need internet to get into internet. As I said I was adamant this time I rebooted most of the time to my XP to browse net and check for a solution. It was pretty hard. But I remained motivated. I was determined to succeed. But all my efforts left me with no solution. My box refused to cooperate.
At last I decided I need to upgrade. Most of the tips I found on net catered towards Fedora 8 or high. So I decided it was the fault of the version of the distro(Little did I know It wasn’t the version but the window manager which was at fault). I looked into the Fedora site. I was surprised to see Fedora has grown so fast. The latest version was 11. I was aware of the scene till Fedora 6, after which I lost track. It was like Leopold walking down the lanes of modern London. I booted up my torrent and after 38 hours, state of the art, off the mill Fedora was in my hands. I decided for the CD version, since I was sure my DVD drive is gonna go berserk if I insert another DVD.
Installation was smooth, except for the couple of times when the check utility complained about the bad bad checksums. But that turned out to be a false alarm and was rectified on a second try. I opted for Gnome for the window manager as it was default. I didn’t knew the pros and cons of the two windowing systems. So I never cared and it costed me big. The finished product was good. The looks were great and now I needed to check the functionality. After some minutes I felt the distro isn’t fast. I believe it’s my RAM and I think if I could plug in more I could get better performance. So no grudges on that grounds. But the issue that really made concern was a report of broken kernel now and then. But I decided it to let it go until something really broke.
Next was hooking into internet. This process alone took me full two days, except for the 6 hour sleep in between. I did all the known tricks of the trade but my system refused to detect the modem. I also couldn’t find the PPP client. So after trying out all the prominent techniques I was still left standing in the rain. Also after rebooting, the system decided it isn’t going to cooperate with me any more and started showing random errors, the ones which I obviously didn’t want at this juncture of time. Some of the errors were Latin to me but conveyed a feeling that the kernel is now a real mass of junk and he system needed a reinstall.
I was also fed up with all the numerous failures and needed time to rewind. So I placed the first cd in tray and rebooted. This time I decided to go with KDE and I thank for the moment. Because now my system would let me get into the internet and draft a blog from it. But this also wasn’t a piece of cake. It required lot of effort. But the difficulty can never be attributed to any of the features of the OS or KDE but only to my lack of knowledge. The difficulty I felt was normal for a first time user configuring the PPP. KDE was indeed a revelation. Commands which surmounted to nothing in Gnome were giving positive output in KDE. My modem was detected, the KPPP was configured and I was able to dial. But still I wasn’t able to get in. KPPP crashed with an Exit status : 19 message. I was sure my credentials were correct but it was saying I have a wrong username or password and I cannot be authenticated.
I once again rebooted into XP and browsed the web for reasons and found that I am not alone. Many respondents said that it was normal and BSNL responded like this at times. Some even said I need to get back to the exchange and get the modem reconfigured. But I knew this wasn’t true. If I could get it working in XP it should work in Linux too unless it is only meant for Windows. But that wasn’t the case and the web had several examples of EVDO users from Linux. So it was surely something I missed. So I decided o dig deeper. After so many rebootings I decided I am gonna read the friendly manual. So I read the help and the man pages and tried several more wrong things before I hit the jackpot. The authentication method in KPPP was the culprit. Once I fixed that I was able to log in to the net.
Though it was a long try I found the end result so rewarding. I now know what Einstein might have felt when he invented the electric bulb. Now that I am able to log into internet. I am going to use Linux for all of my computing unless the situation demands. I wish In a year I can become proficient in Linux. Till then it is lot of hard work and joys of sharing the end results.
The method to configure the Wireless USB modem in Fedora is given in the next post.