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Alive 5
                      MIGRATING TO MANDRAKE LINUX

For a fair  amount of  time  now, probably since  the first  Alt Party in fact,
maybe even before that time as well, I  became rather intrigued  by the name of
an operating system which, having  started from lowly  beginnings in Finland in
1991, was gradually gathering in importance and going from strength to strength
as the months and years went by, from 1991 to the present day.

The first time I ever used  any version  of Linux (I believe it was the Debian
distribution that they use at Fishpool), I was  impressed. The sheer stability
reminded me of the  good old  TOS  here on  my Falcon  and my ST, as  that  is
probably the nearest  thing  you  can  compare to  when  it comes  down  to OS
stability. LIke TOS, it is rocksolid and is only (from my experience) known to
crash as a  result of  something  you've done  personally as  opposed to doing
nothing at all !

The next Alternative Party came and  went, as did the  third one  in January of
2002. More use of Linux  followed there, with  the 'getting to know' phase just
about done on one of Q-Funk's computers in his rather nice flat in Espoo. I was
getting, over this time, gradually more and more  cheesed off with Windows, one
of the perennial problems being that, for a commercial piece of software it was
very unstable, with programs often crashing for  no reason and also not working
properly at times as  well. This was especially annoying when I had left the PC
on to download something large from  people on Kazaa or  the other file-sharing
networks that have grown up in the last few years.

After viewing the various  sites for  the distributions  of Linux, I eventually
settled on downloading a copy of Mandrake Linux, v8.2, from the Mandrake mirror
site that was based in  London. Taking up 3  blank CD's (stuffing  them totally
full of software it has to be said). I took the plunge during the month of May,

The first initial install  went quite  smoothly, with  the installation program
fully and correctly detecting all hardware inside the machine. It took a little
while to install, bearing in mind the speed of the old pc, it was a  500mhz AMD
K6-2 - fortunately this was not for long.

I was fortunate enough to get ADSL installed here at home as well, like a lot
of other people on #atariscne now also have, with either ADSL or cable. While
that  had  worked  pretty  well  with  Windows, using  it  with Mandrake once
everything was configured correctly was a dream !

The difference on my PC in using Linux compared to Windows was pretty huge - no
unexplained crashing of the OS. Yes, Linux  programs do also crash as well, but
at least when they do go they don't take the OS down with them, which is a good
thing. I was pleased to have banished the infamous 'Blue  Screen of Death' that
I had seen with Windows forever !

The Mandrake distribution of  Linux has some  seriously excellent pieces of
software with it, I can list a very small amount here that I have regularly
started to use, but I feel like I am just scratching the surface so far.

Browsers such as Netscape and Opera are  available, in  fact, the  only browser
not available for obvious reasons as a separate program is M$ Internet Explorer
! To be honest it isn't missed, as Mozilla and Opera do a lot more than IE does
and better as well. The same goes for other stuff that I have used so far.

Pan is the name of a  Usenet  newsreader  package, and this is very powerful. I
don't think I ever saw a usenet package as good as this on Windows ! As well as
being very fast when it came to downloading, it also used the full power of the
DSL modem to squeeze an  average download  time of 56k per  second. Whether you
are downloading CD's, pictures or  whatever, this is  much faster than Windows'
average speed, which on  my  system was  around 45k  per second. This gradually
dropped, whereas with Linux no drop occurs at all.

IRC is catered for with a full suite  of programs,  the one I  use being called
KVIRC. It is not quite as functional as Mirc on Windows, but it does a good job
and the new  version  which  I installed  recently just  about matches  Mirc in

In closing, I would seriously think it is worthwhile everyone who uses a PC and
is not using Linux yet to seriously consider swapping over. Microsoft certainly
have a bit of a fight on their hands  right now  with Linux already taking over
much of the server market, the  fact that Linux is also very secure  means that
interest is also being paid by the security services and the military.

There are a few distributions around, notably Red  Hat (, Debian
(, Slackware, Mandrake ( along with a host
of others. Mandrake  is  certainly the  easiest  to install  for  me  at least,
however it is worth viewing all sites of  the distributions  and making up your
own mind.

Good Luck !

Alive 5