27 June 2005

Slackware vs Fedora

Well friday was an interesting day as I was helping a student install Linux on his laptop. I got to see redhat fedora core 3 for the first time and slackware 10.1.

FC3 looks very nice with the anaconda gui-based system installer. Just one annoyance really, it didn't set-up the network card correctly which proved to be a major stumbling block given the lack of documentation.

This lead to the installation of slackware 10.1 instead. Slackware at least has documentation but in this case proved worthless. It had the same problem detecting the network card and the documented solution didn't seem to work. For some reason the kernal still seemed to be looking in the 2.2.26 directory when it should have been checking in 2.2.29 for drivers. I couldn't find out how to fix this from the docs but I suspect it involves recompiling the kernel (something I've not attempted without help yet).

So I went back to Slackware 10.0. Same problem detecting the network card (damn that Toshiba satellite pro 4600). At least with version 10 I was able to fix the ethernet card by editing the /etc/rc.d/rc.modules file (slack cmd: joe /etc/rc.d/rc.modules)

The fix is to scroll down to the ###Network device settings ### section. I wasn't sure which driver to use so I removed the #'s from three lines:

/sbin/modprobe eepro
/sbin/modprobe eepro100
/sbin/modprobe eexpress

After saving (ctrl+k, followed by x) and rebooting, the network card came up with an IP address and I was able to get to google. Good old Slackware 10.0. May not have the fancy bootloader of FC3 but the online docs fixed the problem.

There does seem to be a lack of troubleshooting advice for Linux. I used google to look into these problems and it returned a lot of forum posts about people having the same problem. Ironically the usual reply to these posts is "have a look on google". This is not a helpful reply for us win admins and now I have a better understanding of why staff/students come to us for help rather than wasting time with search engines.


It looks like the only line which actually needs uncommenting is this one:

/sbin/modprobe eepro100

IP settings are set by using the netconfig command and ifconfig eth0 will show whether or not the card is working.

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