Originally Published: Sunday, 10 September 2000 Author: Emmett Plant
Published to: daily_feature/Linux.com Feature Story Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Linux Unplugged

Sometimes the easiest solutions in the world are skipped because of a problem with the wetware - The human mind. Read on to find out how I managed to waste an entire day because of a simple error, with a startling revelation to boot.

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I got a new machine this week, and I couldn't wait to install Debian GNU/Linux on it. Debian's my favorite distribution, because I love dpkg, the Debian package maintenance program. If you're on a high-speed network like I am, Debian is definitely a good way to go if you're focused on a workstation.

Guess what? I suddenly realized I didn't have a Debian CD. How does that happen? I'm the Editor-in-Chief of Linux.com, and I don't have a CD? It's like Steve Jobs having to call Woz for a copy of MacOS 9. I poked around and I found a copy of Corel Linux that had been sent to me by the PR people at Corel. It was a beta, it didn't work, I called on my friend Chris, who informed me he had Debian proper on CD. Chris, crazy Linux zealot that he is, ran home from work to lend me the Debian CD's. I tried to install it and it had a weird issue where it couldn't recognize the CD-ROM that I was installing it from. Much sadness.

Tried Storm Linux next, which is another Debian variant. Same problem. Much sadness, indeed. I tried Red Hat, but I ended up with about a bazillion broken packages and decided to torch it. Something had gone wrong, but I didn't have the time or energy to track it down.

I kept going, and I settled on Mandrake. Hooboy, is Mandrake easy to install. The thing is a breeze. You think Caldera's got an easy install? You're nuts. Try Mandrake. It went through, auto-recognized all my stuff, and worked beautifully. Except for one thing.

My network. It just wouldn't get on the network. I spent the next several hours working with my routing table, linuxconf, and several other different ways of setting up networking under Linux. I'm no slouch at this; I was a sysadmin before I was a writer. Playing with routes, trying everything in the world to get this thing to work.

I felt like a total fraud. I'd spent the last year of my life telling people that Linux was a great networking solution, and I couldn't get on my network. I've been writing about Linux for a long time, and for the first time, I started doubting myself. It was a bad scene. I had tried everything to the end of my technical expertise to no avail.

At that point, I had been trying to figure out the networking issues for about three hours. I was in the process of going to the back of my machine to open it up so I could take out the network card and beat it with a large hammer.

Stunning realization.

The cable wasn't plugged in.

I plugged it in.

Everything worked beautifully.

Moral of the story? Don't forget to plug your network card in. I failed the first test - Make sure everything's plugged in. It's several dfays later, and I still feel like a monkey. The only path to absolution is to share the tale with others. Hope you enjoyed it.

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