No, not a walk to enlightenment.

Well; maybe this is.

As many of you know (who follow this blog; all 5 of you!), I’ve been trying out different Linux distros on my laptop.  This laptop has lots of proprietary hardware (Via sound, Unichrome graphics, Broadcom wireless, etc), but I’ve managed to find something that works with a minimum of fuss.

Zenwalk.  A very nice Slackware-based distro (I’ve given up on using something that sticks to just debian or whatever) that runs with XFCE as it’s default window manager.  I love XFCE.  It’s so lightweight, fast and simple.  It’s perfect for a laptop or an older desktop that has limited graphics capability. 

Anyway, Zenwalk has a fairly easy setup.  I don’t recommend it to anyone who’s unfamiliar with partitioning or balks at a non-friendly GUI setup.  If you’ve set up Ubuntu before it went liveCD, then you should be fine.  (Not that there’s anything wrong with the liveCD approach; this is just a warning that if you’re not used to a text-based install, it might be a little daunting.)  I’ve had experience with this before, so I just kind of dealt with what I was presented with.  I like being thrown a loop sometimes; it allows you to become more comfortable with different setups.

After you do the setup (partitioning, basic install (which really goes pretty quickly), and LILO setup (yes, this uses LILO; I’m not very familiar with it, but I’ll give it a whirl), you’re presented with an XFCE login screen.  At first, I didn’t see where I had to log in at, because the resolution was messed up (as usual).  I decided to get my hands mucky with the command line…

cd /etc
cd /X11
nano xorg.conf

And I got an error.  Well, apparently nano isn’t installed on here.  (And yes, I’m quite aware that you can use vi or emacs with this; I’m not familiar with either one, and I’m not going to mess up my system with them.)

A different approach was needed… I decided to do this:


The thunar command opens up a graphical file browser; using su opens it as root so you can modify your files in there.  I browsed to the xorg.conf file and found where the resolution was set.  Hrm, all of them are set to 1280×1024.  I needed it to be 1280×768.  I changed all of the resolution settings, saved, and rebooted.

Lo and behold!  I had the correct resolution on my laptop screen.  After a short celebration, I decided to tackle the sound issue.  This just required me to go into the sound preferences and uncheck the “external amplifier” checkbox.  Simple!  I was on a roll.  Now for wireless.  Ugh; usually this is an uphill battle.

So, I mess around and finally find the wireless utility; it’s under the NdisWrapper config utility.  I don’t use NdisWrapper at all (RaLink doesn’t require it), so I kind of ignored that and went to “configure network”.  I found my networks, and clicked “connect”.  Yahoo!

Now I’m waiting on a couple of updates and I think I’ll be good to go.  This distro seems to be the best one yet for my laptop.

I’m hoping this one will stick around for more than a month.