Thursday, March 02, 2006

Dead Disk, Live Wireless

It's been an interesting few days. On Friday my hard drive crashed, leaving me considering sending my disk to a data recovery place and paying hundreds of pounds, as I didn't have a recent backup. I know, I'm an idiot! But first I tried connecting the drive to my desktop machine and running knoppix. Reiserfsck said my disk might be dead, but I didn't give up, I bought another sixty gig disk (unfortunately there weren't any 7200rpm ones at the local shop so I had to make do with a 5400rpm one), used dd_rescue to copy everything across, then ran reiserfsck again, and it looks like I haven't lost anything important. Hooray for ReiserFS! That was quite a relief, when I finally got it working again. So now I'm doing regular backups like a good boy.

Today I bought a Gigabyte GN-WIKG mini-pci wireless network card for my laptop, installed it, booted up SuSE, entered my wireless passphrase into YaST, and I was up and running and connected. I chose the card because of there being native, open-source drivers for it (rather than having to use closed source drivers and ndiswrapper), but I wasn't expecting it to be that easy! Now if only there was a good KDE utility for switching wireless networks on the fly, so I didn't have to use scpm. I'm sure there must be one somewhere. It'll be nice when wireless is as easy as on Windows XP.

Speaking of XP, I'm currently fixing a friend's laptop. They're running Windows XP, which is a mistake to begin with in my opinion, and had a corrupt registry. Which meant it blue-screens when booting. And when entering the recovery console. And when trying to do a reinstallation. But I've finally got it to work by putting the disk in my desktop computer, copying some registry files around, rebooting the laptop, copying some more files, rebooting into the recovery console, rebooting again, and then restoring a previous configuration. Now I'm defragging it, virus checking it, removing spyware, removing 'helper' applications... all that fun stuff. 'As easy as Windows XP' - what was I thinking?!

3 comments:

superstoned said...

you should've told your friend he had to fix XP himself or install Kubuntu ;-)

Daniel "Suslik" D. said...

Wireless manager

The fact that you ask about this means you (as many others) still don't use kde-apps.org to your own peril. There are 3 wireless managers there.

Anyway...

Wireless Assistant Is one way to go. It talks directly to iwconfig and needs a sudo power. Looks a lot like the one in Windows XP SP2'n'up. However, doesn't support some encryptions modes.

For a more complete, but recent solution - look at NetworkManager system (now) used by both, Gnome and KDE. The Gnome pannel plugin was awailable for quite a while. KDE's pannel applet is awailable in Kubuntu (last beta?) and (Open)Suse 10.1 Beta3 and up. Its called KNetworkManager. The solution appears to be "userspace" and still has rough edges. In my case, it failed to pass the encryption key properly. Also may have problems after hybernation. YMMW.

James Ots said...

Actually, I had come across several utilities on kde-apps.org, none of which worked. KNetworkManager looks like it'll be good when it works, but at the moment it's going to be too much work trying to shoehorn it into my setup. I might have a hack around in Wireless Assistant though - see if I can make it work for me.