RedHat 9 Linux on a
Used Micron GoBook

GoBook Specs

28 Jan 2003:

I bit the bullet and got an $85 2.5", 9.5mm Fujitsu 2020AT 20GB drive for the GoBook. The old drive in its caddy slid out fairly easily after removing the single securing screw in the bottom of the case. Replacing the drive was simple - remove the four side screws holding the caddy parts together and keep track of how they go together as you transfer them to the new drive. Insert the new drive in the caddy back into the case and mate the connectors until the bottom securing screw can be re-inserted.

Power up the GoBook and enter the BIOS. Set the number of cylinders to 35,968. The BIOS won't let you set any other values correctly for this drive, but setting the cylinders will get you about 18GB capacity - plenty!

No description
RedHat 9 on the GoBook - I customized "transparent" left panel and moved/shrunk desktop icons.

With all that room, I chose to install EVERYTHING on the RedHat CDs made from ISO-downloads. My use for this laptop is to demonstrate dynamic Website designs so I wanted Apache, PHP, MySQL server capability, as well as several current browser clients including IE running under Wine. After a smooth graphical installation of RH9, I customized the Gnome panel using the "transparent" mode and set it to auto-hide on the left edge of the screen. I created a second auto-hiding panel on the bottom edge to hold the battery monitor, wireless monitor, and the task list. The screenshot shows the desktop with MidnightCommander running in a terminal, a Nautilus window of my home directory, and a "window-shaded" Galeon window at the top. I used RPM to un-install RedHat's Wine package, then downloaded and compiled the latest version. My WPC11 wireless card came online using the procedure at, and I did a couple of other things which I documented at the bottom here.

RedHat 8 and 9, unique among the newest distributions in this respect, do not provide means to play MP3 music or sound files. RH default to OGG-Vorbis format. This means converting all my mp3 music files to ogg. A good friend of mine happened to run across this problem and gave me a shell script he wrote that uses 2 utilities you have to install to do the conversions. First install mpg123 and (optionally) mp3info-0.8.4-2.i386 (Mp3info allows the script to migrate bitrate info from the original file, speeding up the conversion). Then copy mp3ogg to your /sbin directory and give it 755 permissions. Read the comments in the top of the script to familiarize yourself with its usage. Basically, you invoke the script from within a music directory containing mp3's. It will convert all the mp3's in that directory and (optionally) delete the originals. On a PII/266 it takes about 1 minute per minute of actual play time.

The furnished CD player under Gnome wouldn't play an entire CD, for some reason, only a song at a time, so I installed Xmcd, a full-featured player from .

Data CDs didn't auto mount, in fact there was no /dev/cdrom. So I created it with "ln -s /dev/hdc /dev/cdrom" and made an entry in /etc/fstab : "/dev/cdrom /mnt/cdrom iso9660 noauto,user,ro 0 0".

Oh, and after all that you can (as root) edit the huge file "/etc/gconf/gconf.xml.defaults/schemas/apps/panel/global/%gconf.xml". Find the line (heh, it's the first one) "<entry name="tooltips_enabled" mtime="1056919319" muser="root" type="schema" stype="bool" owner="panel"><local_schema locale="C"><default type="bool" value="true"/>" and set that last parameter to 'value ="false"'. This will obviate those vexatious tooltips.

18 Sep 2002:

It was time to get some productivity aids going, so I chose to upgrade to RedHat7.3 by saving what little customization (bookmarks, mail, etc.) I had left on the GoBook onto the LAN server and did a full re-install. The second time around, I chose the 'Laptop' and 'Development' software options. (The FIRST time, I tried Gnome and KDE so I could demo them both, however that pretty well filled the little guy's puny 2GB drive, preventing installation of 'gcc' (compiler for adding new apps) and although it looks nice, KDE3.0 runs like a 14-year-old hound with a dead nose on a PII/266 laptop.)

Installation went smoothly. I selected "generic laptop 800x600" monitor, the installer correctly identified my video system, and I used the wavelan_cs driver to activate my Linksys PCMCIA card as the 'eth0' interface. Instead of 'netcfg', RH7.3 has a util called 'neat' that you get when you choose 'Programs>System>Network Configuration' from the Gnome 'foot' menu.

To enable sound, I just put 'modprobe maestro' at the bottom of my /etc/rc.local file. Then I checked 'Enable sound server startup' under 'Programs>Settings>Sound'.

As is usually the case with a RedHat installation, I had to add PATH=$PATH":/sbin" to both my user and root .bashrc files to use things like 'modprobe', 'lsmod', and 'insmod'.

RedHat 7.3 screenshot

I loath Nautilus for any number of reasons, but mostly be cause it's slow and takes up too much screen space on a small laptop. I turned it off in the session manager section of the Gnome Control Center, and installed the more efficient (I think) 'gmc' RPM from the RH7.3 CD. In this screenshot you can also see 'Everybuddy', a multi-protocol chat client, and the classic 'mc' running in a terminal window.

I subsequently added support for my new FireWire PCMCIA card to grab digital images from my Sony HandyCam, and was able to discover how to make the gmc icon text readable against dark backgrounds.

29 Jan 2002:

I've had a wireless LAN running here now for a couple of months, and we're still happy with it. I can take this GoBook anywhere within clear line-of-sight of the WAP and hack on it.

ISP <-- modem --> P2/266 <-- hub --> MacG3/OSX (office)
                  server      ^
                            WAP11   (kitchen)
                            / | \
                           /  \  +-> WMP11-Dell P3/450
     generic P200-WMP11 <-+    \        (livingroom)
          (basement)            \
                                 +-> WPC11-Micron GoBook
                                        (anywhere :D)

July 17, 2001

I took a day off for my birthday, and upgraded to RH 7.1 while taking a break from some yard work. It just gets easier and easier to install LInux, I swear. Actually, I swear MUCH less than the first attempt at putting LinuxPPC into my PowerMac G3!. I actually have no complaints with this distribution. I bypassed RH 7.0 when I heard the gcc compiler was fouled up. RH 7.1 does not come with Bastille, so I'll add that later, and "ifdown-ppp0" network script to terminate a modem session doesn't work, so there are some things to do here that will make it interesting for awhile. Anyway, now I can get back to hacking Perl out by the pool ;)


June 19, 1999: Robin decided to try Linux in a dual-boot configuration on her Dell Dimension. When the CDs arrived from inside "RedHat Linux 6.0 Unleashed", she spent the first evening reading the installation manual, and I installed.
I tried tried (yup, twice!) the "upgrade" option, but the resulting install refused to boot. I did a full/everything install** and then restored my /etc/X11/XF86Config file to regain a 16bpp-800x600 screen.
I chose to run Gnome as the default and set up transparent terminals, Enlightenment window manager, and got PPP up and running again by midmorning the next day. Admittedly, I did take a six-hour sleep break.


** (so easily, I might add, that I am leaving it to you to follow the instructions accompanying the 3-CD set; and it IS worth the $80 !)

[ Screen shot (100KB, in a new window)]


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Linux: Micron Millennia
Linux: NEC Versa 2650
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