I am the Penguin

I am he as you are we etc etc whatever…. HOLY CATS IT WORKED! I’m actually posting this from my dual-boot machine running Linux, accessing the Internet via my wireless network which is now also running happily as a hamster under Linux. I was so psyched I had to call my best friend, who is a bona fide stud programmer and approximately 500x more technical than I am, and he was just as fired up despite the fact that he was taking the call in a wet, naked and half-showered state. He’s been contemplating going Penguin himself, and now that I’ve achieved exit velocity, he has no choice but to follow suit if he wishes to preserve the tattered remnants of his techno-manhood.

It turns out that the trick was to ignore the linux-wlan-ng download that pops up on most Google searches and go with the preconfigured packages (RPMS) put together for the Red Hat distros by an RPM packager in Raleigh, Tim Miller, who I will soon be recommending to the Vatican for beatification.

Make sure you read the README, and keep in mind that as usual, the programmer/guru tells you everything you need to know, but not exactly what you need to do or what you should expect. I would add the following directions:

1. Figure out which version and kernel of Red Hat you’re running. Do this by firing up a terminal (System Tools / Terminal) and typing cat /proc/version.

2. Click on the appropriate Red Hat version (7.3, 8, or 9) found under Serve up the packages! Download the appropriate three packages, as indicated by your wireless card/adapter and kernel number.

3. Install each package separately. Do this by finding where you saved the RPM files, then right-clicking on the first file. Select Open With, then Install Packages. Click continue to complete the installation of the package. You’ll do this three times, once for each package.

4. Edit the file as directed in the README. It’s just the one change in the first file, followed by the renaming of the second file.

5. Stick your PCMCIA card in. Don’t reboot or anything, and don’t expect a happy little beep or a message telling you that new hardware has been found. Nothing happens.

6. Fire up Mozilla – Internet/Web Browser – then type in a web address. Watch in shock and delight as it actually appears.

7. Phone your friends. Post on your blog. Cackle madly and gesture rudely in the direction of Redmond.

8. Celebrate. You’re driving the tank!

Driving the tank

I don’t know if it was the perfect synchronicity of yesterday’s good news out of Dallas, caffeine, Neal Stephenson and a random good mood, or what, but the computer gods elected to smile on my usually fruitless technical efforts this morning. I mounted my floppy! In Linux! Not only that, but this amazing feat of Eloian prestidigitation was followed up by an even more amazing stunt… I also managed to mount the hard drive partition that lets me access my Windows files! It’s actually pretty easy, of course, once you find a decent set of instructions on how to do it.

There’s still a lot to do before I can make the leap into full-blown Penguin mode. The hard drive mounts automatically now, but I’m still doing a lot of manual navigation due to my unfamiliarity with both Gnome and Nautilus, and I only have read access to the drive right now. This is functional, for the time being, but I’d originally set up three partitions to allow for safe(?) writing to the shared third partition from both Windows 2000 and Linux and I’d like to get that going too. The bigger challenge is getting the Penguin talking to my wireless network. Unfortunately, it turns out that my WUSB adapter is version 2.6, not the version 2.5 for which the Linux drivers are available, so I’ll have to strip a PCMCIA card from one of my other machines. I’m not too happy about that, but all will be cheerfully forgiven if I can just get the wireless up and running.

Unfortunately, the instructions that came with the linux-wlan-ng-0.2.1-pre9 download are not exactly user-friendly. Hard to imagine, I know, with a filename like that.

So, does anyone else suddenly have the image of an out-of-control tank lurching wildly across the countryside, as farmers, sheep and chickens run for their lives? But so what? I’m driving the freaking tank! Yee-ha! Say, I wonder what this big trigger thing does….