Friday, November 12, 2004

Sri Lanka to flirt with Desktop Linux - Part2

After typing the previous blog, and having failed to fall asleep, I got up and ended installing some goodies on my Mandrake box. By about 3AM I managed to get a beta version of Suns Looking Glasses 3D desktop, DVD watching, CD burning and a 3D demo of UT2004 working.

The next day (or shall we say after a couple of hours of sleep), I went over to the Narada center, where I heard Anuradha's and ven. Mettavihari's voice. Ven. Mettavihari suggested I bring the barebone and show it to Anuradha just before we left, and a good thing I did! It didn't boot. The most peculiar error was reported by LILO about some date problem. Oh well tried using the Mandrake CDs to recover the automatic method but that didn't seem to work either. Now time was running out, so Anurdha just opened a shell and installed the boot loader the old fashion way :) - using the Command line!

Unlike the previous day,we did managed to get to ICTA on time. When we got to the conference room, there awaited an HP machine waiting to have Mandrake Linux installed on it. We took the bold move of asking them "Who is your least computer literate user? We would try that user to install Mandrake". Though this may seem like shooting your self in the head.. it has been done before, one guy did put his wife on the line and proved she had an overall better experience installing Mandrake Linux than she ever did with Windows! So a young lady at ICTA took up the challenge, as everyone watched with eager (horror?)! There was also a sense of excitement in the room and Riza and Anuradha took some pictures just to document this (perhaps to be historic) event. There was a sense of humor when the installer came to a screen, where it detected that windows had already been installed and offered to remove it. Unfortunately the answer was a NO! so we told her to go ahead with custom disk portioning where she learned how to resize the existing NTFS partition. It seemed like the hard disk had a lot of data, and hadn't been defragmented for some time, so the resize process took about 15 minutes to complete. But that time was used wisely to demonstrate Sinhala Linux, which resulted in a lot of wows!, geee cant we have that on windows? and a lot of other sounds made when one is really amazed! Oh but wait!

The rest of the installation went quite smoothly and took roughly another 15 minutes. Once everything had installed, the installer politely rebooted the machine into a shiny new Mandrake Linux. We then demonstrated OpenOffice office suite, Evolution Email/Groupware app, Mozilla browser and a host of other applications that really seemed to convince them that Linux was ready. By the end of the demonstration, they were said they were quite impressed (this was without seeing any 3D games/dvd playing etc.) and wanted to try installing it some of other machines. Things are looking quite good, and the next step is to work on a proposal that would list the applications as well as other enhancements we can make so that the new user does not need to install any software and everything just works out of the box.

We left the 3 Mandrake CDs for them to try out and came back with sense of happiness and accomplishment. I hope, looking back, this day would been a signinficant step in the right direction.

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