IN THE BEGINNING, I wanted to check out the ease of use between one package and the next but some packages failed too early in the set-up process to make such an evaluation. Instead, tests are made to find out how far along the installation could go before a critical failure brought it to a halt. Available machine is an AMD A6-3620 APU with a Radeon 6530D on the motherboard.

The steps following boot up where there were problems are

  1. Partitioning

  2. Expanding packages or RPM's

  3. Rebooting

  4. Setting up ancillary devices

  5. X-window manager

  6. Getting the modem to dial out

  7. Printing anything

Warning, with the change to 2.6 Linux kernel, things that did work under the older versions are now kaput due to a lack of drivers that can be compiled, even to date, mid-2007.


When Set-up Died


Dual-boot installations that share a drive with Windows 7 from 3.11.x distributions, mostly

FreeBSD 10.0 RC5 AMD64


Using the free player from VMware was my test to see whether a distribution could work on my system at all. FreeBSD can be setup and rebooted under VMware, but it never launches the X screen or whatever passes for its GUI. The most common problem with other distributions was that MBR could not be found. An installer script would write something to boot or GRUB that looked as though it should work, but would not effect the machine's booting after POST.

Bridge xfce 2013.06 x86_64


BootMGR is missing.

Debian GNU/Linux 7.0

First boot

Blank screen: it is a plain-vanilla video card.

Fedora 20 Live LXDE x86_64


GRUB rescue warning

Finnix 109

First boot

There was a very specific warning, "i8042 : no controller found," that I was too lazy to look up.

Makulu Linux 5.0


I have no idea why Makulu installs correctly and Debian, from which it forked, does not. The Xfce version is what I am using now. There is an Enlightenment desktop available, but I found some problems with the screen resolution changing on its own. One may download a copy at .

Mint 16


GRUB error 15 : file not found.

Oracle Linux R6.5


BootMGR is missing


First boot

Blank screen


First boot

Blank screen

Steam OS


BootMGR is missing



Trisquel is one of the distributions recommended by Richard Stallman. Although Trisquel is a branch of Ubuntu, it does not install all that spyware that comes with that distro. Also, all the Ubuntu flavors I tried, failed on the post-installation reboot.

There is a problem with drivers. Trisquel does not incorporate proprietary software. Resolutions available are for 4:3 and 5:4 screens. I guess that means there are no free drivers for my 1920X1080 16:10 screen. You can install your own drivers. Being Debian/Ubuntu, that would probably be apt-get install something something sed -a -b -c. Help on the Trisquel forum is in the vein of "Why would you want to that evil corporate software on your open-source machine?" Well, I would have also liked to have bought my screen at some hippy commune made out of organic hair and twigs, but the standard set by those evil corporations for desktops has been for some time 1920X1080.

2.6.x distributions--Brave New World of Non-functional 64-bit Systems

Gone are those heady days of watching DVDs and dialing up the Internet on a GNU/Linux machine. Though, at least now the video card set-ups seem to work on the first try on a Soltek KT890Pro 939 AMD64 Athlon 3000 and a (forgot which manufacturer) KT600a AMD 2500..

OpenSuSE 10.2 64-bit

Nothing bad happened.

No working modem.

There appears to be no working modem drivers for ones I own, an internal HCF and an external BestData USB HSF. Conexant has freeware 64-bit drivers that will start up a connection at 14.4kb, just not my modems.

Mandriva 2007 (2.6.17) 64-bit

Nothing bad happened.

No working modem.


rPath 1.0.3

X-window setup

This is for the 32-bit machine. Maybe I had a bad download, but nothing seemed to work.

Ubuntu 6.10 32-bit

No working modem.

Ubuntu 6.10 "Edgy Eft" came with a live DVD from called Ubuntu Gamers. Interesting marketing concept. However, no working modem, even for this 32-bit system.

Mandrake 10.1 32-bit

No working modem.

No working modem, which is a shock, because I could get modems to work for 9.1. The difference being the new distributions using Linux 2.6 kernels. BestData's external USB modem came with its own drivers you could compile on a disk, but BestData stop support for these drivers and now refers everyone to Conexant. I don't know what the big change is between 2.4 and 2.6, but working modems is not apart of the new kernel.

2.4.x distributions--when drivers worked

FreeBSD 4.1

X-window setup

Would not start X from startx or xdm. However, you could start the xf86config and leave in the middle of the set-up to use other apps requiring X.

Mandrake 9.1


They saved space on the CD's by leaving off documentation, but everything worked...the video cards, the odd modems, the printer, everything.

Redhat 7.0


Never got a good looking display, blurry.

Slackware 7.1

Never booted

It failed so early. Not even starting with its own image file on a floppy could get this thing to work.

SuSE 8.0


They do a good job of packaging software with their distributions.

Older 2.2.x distributions--when failures were more spectacular

Caldera 2.3

Printer test

Quick. Was on the web in 25 minutes.

Debian GNU 2.1

Copying files

Could not find cd-rom again.

FreeBSD 3.2

First reboot

Wiped out the master boot record.

LinuxPro 5.4

Selecting master boot record

Never rebooted, but at least it was not a FreeBSD in its destructive powers.

Mandrake 6.0


Does not like to share space with Windows 98.

SuSE 6.3

Sax XF86Config

Documentation is in sort-of English, a language by Germanprogrammers invented.

TurboLinux 3.6

Printer test

One of the few that I could get the sound card to work.