Step 1 - On Thursday, I upgraded my memory from 128MB to 256MB, just to ensure I had enough to support the graphical environment (though I admit I'm a command-line sort of Unix guy). I had ordered a 128K DIMM from some online memory mill on Tuesday, and Thursday when I got home from work it was there in my mailbox. Talk about service! Well, the place is physically located in Stockton, so it's not a long journey for the memory to make. Anyway, I took apart the HP box for the first time, and discovered the motherboard was way on the other side of the open case, so I had to fire up the laptop (thank goodness for the wireless router!) and go to the HP site to get directions. I had to remove two screws and slide the drive cage out to access the memory slots. I popped in the DIMM, reassembled the computer, hooked it up, and viola! 256MB, tested and functioning perfectly. So far so good.
Step 2 -Friday on the way home from work I stopped at CompUsa and picked up Partition Magic 8.0 and RedHat Linux 9. I got home and performed the following:
A. Deleted a bunch of pictures and music files from my 27GB C; drive.
B. Defragmented the drive to get everything up front.
C. Installed Partition Magic and resized C: to 10GB, leaving 17GB unallocated.
D. Popped the RedHat install CD in the drive, rebooted, and installed Linux. Man, that RedHat is well-designed--it sets up its own partitions, detects all the hardware (including a CD-RW drive, a DVD drive, a USB hub, printer and even my CompactFlash card reader), and installs the dual-boot loader in the boot record.
Everything went well except for two details--my Ethernet adapter was not detected, nor was my sound card. At this point it was pretty late, so I went to bed.
Saturday morning I booted into Windows and went online looking for answers. Long story short, for the NIC I had to disable PnP detection in the BIOS. Once I did that and booted into Linux, the card was found and I was online! I got a little misty as I fired up the Mozilla browser and navigated to my website, all within Linux. Wheee!! This made it easier to hunt for the solution to the sound card problem. The Riptide combo modem/sound board in the HP Pavilion series is kind of non-standard, but in true Open Source fashion, someone had written a driver just for it, so I downloaded the code and ran RPM to install the package. It did a recompile for my architecture, and after it was done I put a CD in the drive and woohoo!! rich, glorious sound from the speakers. And all before lunch!!
Saturday evening we went to see the new pre-Broadway musical Wicked at the Curran Theatre. Our friend Douglas, whom we've known for years (from our bear club back east, actually) is production soundman for the show, and he got us very good house seats. When we picked up the tickets at the box office, we discovered he had paid for them too. The big sweetie--we can't wait to have him over for dinner to show our appreciation.
The show is based on the book by the same name, by Gregory Maguire. I read it when it first was published, and have reread it several times since. It's a retake on The Wizard of Oz, told from a more political perspective, starting at the birth of Elphaba (who will later become the Wicked Witch of the West), her upbringing and college years (where she meets the blonde and self-absorbed Glinda), and her being eventually labelled wicked for her non-conformist views. The story is quite dark and intriguing, and the tone of the musical is similar, though the story line has been altered quite a bit. But it's still fascinating, and the music, sets, sound (Hi Douglas!), and performances are all fabulous. The two female leads are incredible. The actress who plays Glinda injured her neck and was out the last few days, but she was back for our performance, wearing a jewel-encrusted neck brace, which she cleverly brought into the story line a few times. We laughed, we cried, we gave a standing ovation and meant it. I hope it does really well on Broadway.